Escape For Victory

There was almost something poetic about Jonny Bairstow’s knock today. In a nutshell it summed up so much that had gone wrong in the past. That Adil Rashid was there at the end as well, was strangely appropriate. Two talents somewhat unfulfilled at the international level. Two “what ifs”. Two players seemingly relishing their chance to shine.

Today’s win is one of the really good ones. It’s the one dug out of adversity, when you are, to all intents and purposes, dead in the water. You are left 45 for 5. The rocks on which we are building this revival had gone – Hales had failed at the top of the order, Root had gone at three, and then so did Morgan. With no Buttler to fall back on, it was now up to rookie Sam Billings, and fallen young star Jonny Bairstow. As I drove back from Costco in Croydon, in the middle of a rainstorm I heard the two lads put the partnership together to cement the innings and give us a shout. When Billings went, Bairstow piled on. I got back to see the end. Bairstow with cool hitting getting us home, and yes, with a bit of luck too, with the drop by Santner almost certainly costing the New Zealanders the match.

But the symbolism of a talent, abused and ignored by England for so long, bringing a new era home was not lost on me. Bairstow had become the world’s most experience drinks carrier. He was called up rarely, often without much in the way of top class cricket under his belt in the weeks building up to his appearances. He’d come into teams either shot of confidence, or knowing he wasn’t there for long. He’d been over-sold when he made a 95 at Lord’s against South Africa, or that 50 at Cardiff. But he’d be in and out more times than an Hokey Kokey convention and he withered. Today was brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. I’m thrilled for him, and I’ve not said that about a cricketer in ages. I thought it was reminiscent of the KP innings against Australia at Bristol in 2005 – maybe not as violent, but every bit as important because this won a series, this continued momentum, this set down a bit of a marker, and it was against pretty large odds. Good luck.

I’m not going to go into huge detail on the game. I’ll leave that to thelegglance who is going to do a series review in the next day or two. But a series win is important, but in the whole scheme of things not that important. It was the manner in which we played, it was seeing some of our talent set free. I love that more than anything. Adil Rashid was excellent with the ball today. Mark Wood looks like he loves it out there. Jos Buttler is a man with talent to burn. Eoin Morgan and Joe Root are the rocks at 3 and 4. It’s a team to get behind. It’s a team that enthuses.

On to the Ashes. And the return of those who were noticeable by their absence. ABC will return. They have a momentum they have to ride with, not destroy. We’ll be watching. Carefully.


40 thoughts on “Escape For Victory

  1. Zephirine Jun 20, 2015 / 8:44 pm

    This has been the ‘told you so’ tour for England, so absolutely the right batsmen to finish the match and the 50-over series.

    Great stuff! Can’t wait for the T20.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. SimonH Jun 20, 2015 / 9:37 pm

    Very pleased for Bairstow who endured some lousy treatment from England in the Flower twilight. More than dragging him around and not playing him I thought the way he was ‘set up to fail’ in the last two Tests of ‘the difficult winter’ was particularly egregious.

    Turning to the series’ result, is this the brave new dawn – or have we been here before? How have England performed before in the home ODI series after a WC debacle?

    1996 – beat India and Pakistan in two three-match series (net result 4-1)
    2000 – won triangular series against WI and Zimbabwe (net result 4-2)
    2004 – beat Pakistan in three-match series (2-1) then won triangular series against SA and Zimbabwe (net result 4-2)
    2008 – lost three-match series against WI (2-1) then won seven-match series against India (4-3)
    2012 – won five-match series against SL (3-2) and won five-match series against India (3-0)

    So in short, England usually have won the home ODIs after a WC. There could be a whole host of reasons for this. These wins didn’t mean much when it came to the next WC. Maybe this time it’ll be different – but I’d be failing in my duty as a relentless churl if I didn’t sound this note of caution from recent history.


    • metatone Jun 21, 2015 / 8:39 am

      I’d add that England dragged Rashid around for almost six months at one point. It’s really hard for a spinner to improve if he isn’t getting match bowling… Even more so if you keep telling him to remodel his action. I think that somewhere the England setup forgot that a bowling machine can be a decent practice option for batsmen, but the nets are of limited use for bowlers, because you get no sense if a shot would have been caught. Spinners are even worse, at least quicks can “aim for edges” in the nets – but the art of the spinner is as much about false shots as anything…

      (I’m going to do some churling in a separate comment below.)


  3. Benny Jun 20, 2015 / 10:01 pm

    I like that review Dmitri. Think I’d be happier to rely on Bairstow in that situation than Buttler. Also, from what I’ve seen of James Taylor, changing his game for notts according to the situation, I wish he was in the team. “Go out and biff every ball” is a refreshing change but not sure it’s the complete answer.

    I have a pessimistic feeling that when we step back to Cooky’s way in the Ashes, it will be rather dismal but, in the meantime, thank you Farbrace, Morgan and the team for a lot of fun and success

    Liked by 2 people

    • paulewart Jun 21, 2015 / 8:52 am

      Astonishing, Big Brother really is watching. Who’s the tail and who’s the dog? If this can be proved KP surely has a case for restriction of trade. It’s pretty outrageous if true, not only will they not allow him to play, they will not allow him to pursue an alternative career. The biblical term is, I believe, banishment.


      • SimonH Jun 21, 2015 / 8:58 am

        It’ll be interesting to see how many other newspapers cover the Mail story.

        At the moment, nearly twelve hours after it appeared, the answer is exactly – none.


    • escort Jun 21, 2015 / 8:59 am

      Thanks for the link
      . If the ECB are scared of Pietersen being critical of the team then does that mean they are worried Australia might thrash England? If England win then there will be very little for Pietersen to criticise. It also makes you wonder who the hell the ECB think they are too suggest to Sky who they can and cannot employ.


      • "IronBalls" McGinty Jun 21, 2015 / 9:08 am

        They’re still after Shane Warne too……”Something must be done”…can I detect the dead hand of Cook in this? Eoin Morgan wouldn’t give a toss who was commentating!

        Liked by 1 person

      • metatone Jun 21, 2015 / 9:58 am

        We all know England are up against it – unless we unearth at least one more very good bowler very quickly.


    • Arron Wright Jun 21, 2015 / 9:17 am

      I’m just as outraged as most on here and TFT, but I cannot believe anyone is surprised. The stink has been obvious since the soft-focus Downton interview at the start of last summer, and in case people still didn’t get it, *that* picture of Downton, Cook and Warne very shortly after “something must be done” was a smoking gun for me.

      Of course, if you’re inclined to go back a little further, fining Pietersen for his (entirely valid) comments about Nick Knight but hiring someone who called Pietersen a “cunt” on air while working for Sky is case closed. Well, isn’t it?

      Liked by 1 person

      • LordCanisLupus Jun 21, 2015 / 9:45 am

        I think it says a lot for my state of mind that although I was among the first to retweet the story when I saw it (about an hour or so before Maxie) I wasn’t angry enough to write about it! It’s in keeping with this organisation’s modus operandi. So Arron, I’m with you in that I’m not surprised.

        I don’t think KP was going to be in their commentary box under any circumstances. Haven’t they signed up Ponting? But maybe a verdict or two, where he’d be top dollar?

        If you didn’t think the ECB had a say in the commentary teams, just look at how Matt Prior waltzed into an ODI gig and panel role. Really, has he ever said a single interesting thing about the game? But an announcement of retirement and bish bash bosh, it’s in the box.


      • Zephirine Jun 21, 2015 / 10:38 am

        I’m both outraged and surprised.
        Maybe it’s because I’ve worked in TV, though not in news or sports, and even in other areas of broadcasting that principle of objective coverage is taken very very seriously. It really isn’t like newspapers where you reflect the proprietor’s views. If there’s any influence at all from the subject of a programme you have to declare it.

        The ECB ‘weren’t comfortable’. What??? It’s not their job to be bloody comfortable, it’s their job to provide cricket and Sky’s job to comment on it as they think best, critically or otherwise. The ECB sold out to Sky and now they want to dictate who can call the matches?

        I reckon what they’re scared of isn’t that Pietersen would come out with a tirade of abuse, but that he wouldn’t. So far as a commentator he’s been knowledgeable and pleasant and has certainly surprised quite a few people by how normal he was and how good at the job. You know, like somebody that isn’t some kind of lunatic monster after all.

        So, is this about Giles Clarke, still? Or does Murdoch dislike him as well?

        Liked by 2 people

      • metatone Jun 21, 2015 / 11:48 am

        Well said Zeph.

        Nothing to add – you nailed it all. The general insanity of the situation, the fact that they most fear KP being on TV and turning out to be a reasonable guy – and let’s face it likely less annoying that Swann, less boring than Strauss, etc. etc.


    • Andy Jun 21, 2015 / 9:37 am

      If that’s true it makes an absolute mockery of the off to get him working with the youngsters.


      • Zephirine Jun 21, 2015 / 10:40 am

        Wasn’t that offer what Latin teachers used to call a ‘question expecting the answer No’?

        Liked by 1 person

  4. d'Arthez Jun 21, 2015 / 8:46 am

    Off topic, but Pakistan are really having a pop at Sri Lanka. They have reduced them to 201/8, a lead of 84 runs. And still 46 overs of play left. Could be a bit of a surprise win, after Pakistan themselves were 96/5 in their first innings.


    • d'Arthez Jun 21, 2015 / 9:06 am

      206 all out. Pakistan just need 90 from 39 overs. Yasir Shah taking 7 wickets this innings. Fair to say, he might prove a handful in the UAE later this year.

      Mind you the pitch is doing something.


      • SimonH Jun 21, 2015 / 9:27 am

        Yasir Shah’s 7/76 the best figures for a leg-spinner in SL (beating Warne’s 7/94). From what I’ve seen he bowled well and there was substantial turn – but there was some reckless batting as well (two caught at deep square leg, three stumped).

        Pakistan need 90 off 39 overs and the weather set fair. They haven’t won away against a top eight team since 2011 (in NZ) and in SL since 2009.


      • d'Arthez Jun 21, 2015 / 10:11 am

        And Pakistan won by 10 wickets, chasing the target in just 11.2 overs.


      • SimonH Jun 21, 2015 / 10:20 am

        Pakistan win by 10 wickets and needing just over ten overs. That’s an extraordinary win given the match situation at the end of day three. It’s their first win in SL since 2006 (not 2009 as I’d heard earlier) when Mohammad Asif was the hero in a low scoring game in Kandy. Good to see that this is a three-match series and not a wretched two-deal job.

        Pakistan’s win is their 123rd in 391 Tests matches. India have 122 – in nearly 100 more Tests. Yet the ECB and their media goon squad regard India as the “iconic” series. We won in India, you know? We don’t like to mention it though. Pakistan? We really don’t like to mention that one……


      • SimonH Jun 21, 2015 / 12:45 pm

        Yasir Shah’s seven-for here (wickets in an odd order but never mind):


  5. metatone Jun 21, 2015 / 9:56 am

    Taking the positives:

    – As a Yorkshire fan, it’s great to see Bairstow and Rashid show their talents. England have messed them about far too much. Too often England have been given a pass on turning young players in to long-term “drinks carriers” – not playing is no way to develop a talent. If you don’t trust them enough to pick them, they are usually not gaining from “being around the team.”

    – While we have a record of coming to life in dead-rubbers, or after major tournament/series failures for once it feels like we have genuinely changed not only our approach, but our selection policies. We’re now trying to play the game the way other teams do. The most telling game of the WC for me was the game against SL. Playing the old way we “assessed the pitch” and “batted sensibly” to a “good total.” And then SL knocked it off with no apparent difficulty. And that’s the key – the top order mucked it up today, but if you want to win a tournament – then you need to have practiced scoring heavily under pressure. Because it will be needed.

    (There’s this blithe optimism that a home WC means swinging pitches and low scores. It might – but sometimes we get sunshine and things dry out. And then we get mullered…)


  6. dvyk Jun 21, 2015 / 11:14 am

    Regarding KP v ECB/Sky, I noticed that Boycott said last week that Sky forced Warne talk to Cook last year after the “something must be done” business. So they presented it as “clearing the air” although I can’t imagine Warne saying anything other than a polite version of “You’re crap because…” and I can’t imagine Cook even beginning to comprehend what he’s talking about.

    I wonder if “Sir” Geoffrey saw this coming.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Zephirine Jun 21, 2015 / 11:24 am

    Note that there are conflicts of interest around some of the BBC commentators – a few commentators have shares in sports management companies (as indeed does KP*) which they don’t declare when praising the players their company represents. And of course there’s Mr Agnew with his Waitrose contract. It’s surprisingly lax, I’ve always thought. But the BBC isn’t regulated by Ofcom and Sky is.

    *If this was the objection to KP it would be valid, but only if nobody else on the Sky team has any similar conflict of interest.


  8. metatone Jun 21, 2015 / 11:26 am

    Turning to “keeping things in perspective”;

    – You can only beat what is in front of you – but after Vettori’s retirement and injuries to Milne and then Boult, this is not the WC final reaching team. NZ of all nations can’t be expected to have a lot of squad depth.

    – Our own bowling situation remains a bit murky. It’s not clear that conditions will favour Willey very often with the white ball. I fear for Wood a bit as he seems to have rapidly become a pick in all formats and one can well imagine us bowling him until he falls apart. As a Yorkshire fan I have to wonder if Plunkett is the right pick for limited overs. Finn and Rashid still have to prove consistency, esp. under pressure.

    Of course, it’s fair enough that this new side is a work in progress (particularly on the bowling) but it can be a bit sobering to imagine Wood injured, Finn still down on pace, Rashid having a bad day and AbdV and Amla coming in to bat…


  9. Mark Jun 21, 2015 / 11:42 am

    What a pathetic toss pot Cook is. A cry baby of the worst type. This proves he is not a leader of men no matter what his psychotic , weirdo fan boys like to tell everybody. They write article after article elevating him, but he is a small minded, little man who seems to hold grudges against anyone who speaks against him or his ability.

    I also blame Strauss for this. He is now running English cricket. And who wants to bet Flower’s hand is not involved? This is a bunch of little people who are so bitter that they would run English cricket as nothing more than a vehicle for settling old scores. It is also a warning to anyone who steps out of line. “We will destroy you if you cross us.” Horrible, horrible people, and so typical of the fake niceness they like to project. They would smile at you while they stick the knife in your back. No wonder his fan boy mates in the media jerked off to C*** gate.

    I don’t know if KP would make a good commentator, but that is not the issue. It is how corporate and dishonest and petty the ECB now is. It is run by people who should be in a pyscyiatric ward. I can not support the England team under Cook now. If KP is the past then so is Mr Waitrose. He is the worst England captain to ever grace the postition. He is not up to the job mentally of tacticaly. Fuck him, and fuck the ECB. It is so typical of such a dysfunctional institution that they get some good things happening with this new ODI team, and then they have to take a giant dump on everybody to remind them who’s boss. I’m sorry for some of the guy in the team but as long as you take to the field with captain doofus as your leader you are alien to me.

    Liked by 3 people

    • emasl Jun 21, 2015 / 11:52 am

      Mark, will you marry me?!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Jun 21, 2015 / 12:03 pm

        Trust me, you would hate me.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Boz Jun 21, 2015 / 12:34 pm

      Mark, as we know professional sport is now big business, owned entirely by middle/upper class elites. Some footballers paid more in a week than manual workers are in a lifetime. Fans/supporters/outsiders are given short shrift, little acknowledgement and a great expectation to pay massively to support it – not just through gate money but through taxes and other funding, paying for travel, accommodation for what are frequently, too frequently, London based events – cup finals, wimbledon, test matches etc.

      As you are aware many people believe it possible to distinguish between the management/ownership of sport and the teams/individuals that participate. So you can hate the ECB but love the ODI team. This I find incongruous. Yes, in theory you can like the ‘game’ but that doesn’t mean that you support the team regardless, does it????

      I find it very difficult to have any interest in English cricket anymore. I despise what has happened in recent times. I despise the ‘outside cricket’ label and the odious manner with which the press treat the readership. To use one of LCLs analogies, if this was a girlfriend I would not want to know her anymore and she would be sacked.

      I was disappointed by England’s victory and the ensuing glorification of it over a second eleven NZ team who didn’t seem too interested during the last couple of games. NZ have brought an excitement to the game that England seem only too happy to steal despite them being patronised by the ECB and the media. Gower has said that it has bee4n a good warm up for the summer. I’m not interested in the ashes but hope that the ECB and Cook’s ECB Waitrose eleven take a thorough thrashing – I actually don’t care anymore. My interest in athletics and football has dwindled over the years and now, cricket, has joined them. I don’t like what professional sport stands for.


      • Mark Jun 21, 2015 / 1:08 pm

        Boz, I completely get where you are coming from. And yes it is a contradiction to like the ODI team now, and not the ECB and the test team under Cook. I totally get it.

        But I do love cricket and have done for 40 years. The alternative is to go away, and turn my back on a pastime I have grown up with and have a fondness for. I resent the fact that Iam being driven away from the game by scumbags who are getting rich exploiting the game for their own gain, but the alternative is to leave. Maybe in time I will leave and just turn my back. It is the way capitalism works, and the ECB have turned cricket into just another product to sell. In time I may just shut up my wallet and walk away and say fuck you. I feel football fams should do the same when they are being treated like shit. Newcastle fans should cancel their season tickets, and sky subscriptions and walk away. But they don’t because they love the club and the sport. It’s part of their life, and the Mike Ashley’s of the world know this and exploit them to the fullest.

        The ECB is just an extension of that predatory ethos of exploitation. But we stay because we care. The ECB and their lickspittles in the media will never admit it, and they will go to their graves denying it but sites like this do make a small difference. They were forced to dump Downton and Moores, and Cook and change the ODI side. Do you think they would have done it if the Selveys and the Newmams and the Agnews were the only voice in town? No, they were forced to make changes , while all the time pretending they were not listening to us. Of course they bring in an insider like Strauss to do it, but they did make some made changes.

        I have no allusions about the ECB, but complaining and putting pressure on them is still better than walking away.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Benny Jun 21, 2015 / 2:03 pm

        Like Mark I love cricket and have done for many, many years. I find it easy to enjoy cricket and not feel compelled to support ECB and the ECB XI. This is my selfish approach to it all – give me fascinating performances by talented players, whomever they represent. If I know that Chris Gayle is appearing on my TV screen, I’ll reserve a seat in front and send the family out shopping. The ODI series was really entertaining and I’m sad it is over.

        Have to say I am not particularly excited about the forthcoming Ashes. I am increasingly enjoying county cricket again. So basically, I’ll pick and choose what I watch but too independent to be a supporter of any organisation.


    • metatone Jun 21, 2015 / 11:56 am

      Indeed – you have to wonder if he’d noticed how essentially similar Moeen’s figures are to Lyon’s?


      • Arron Wright Jun 21, 2015 / 1:17 pm

        If he hasn’t noticed SA being that far ahead of other Test nations, I sincerely doubt it.


      • d'Arthez Jun 21, 2015 / 1:40 pm

        Yeah, but the best is whoever England played last if England are victorious. Hence South Africa can’t be the best. Until after this winter. Provided the result goes Englan, d’s way, otherwise the best is whoever England defeated last. At the moment that is still India …

        But onto Lyon. Underestimate him at your own peril. He is far better than his figures suggest. It is not like being an offie is an easy job in Australia. Unlike Moeen, who has basically done well with the ball in one series, Lyon has done quite well consistently (the one exception is the visit to the UAE, where he struggled horribly). And unlike Moeen, his role is clearly defined. And Lyon does have the backing of Clarke, unlike Moeen, who often only gets called upon when the three seamers have fruitlessly toiled for three hours …

        All around South Africa are probably the best Test team (Australia’s record in Asia is abysmal since the retirement of Warne and McGrath). Big tours coming up for Australia, England, and South Africa, while India will be hosting a few …


      • Pontiac Jun 22, 2015 / 6:23 pm

        One thing about Lyon’s numbers – there are only 10 wickets available to take in an innings, whereas there aren’t any limits to how many runs can be scored.

        Therefore, any bowler’s numbers are affected to some degree by how well or poorly his colleagues are doing. To some extent Lyon has the role of bowling when nothing is happening – then when something starts to happen, in some cases him taking a wicket – he comes off, and the quicks come back in and attack. This makes absolute sense from a team point of view.


  10. Mark Jun 21, 2015 / 12:02 pm

    I always felt sorry for Bairstow. He played well in the third test match against South Africa, and nearly got England home to a great victory. I think we only lost by about 40 odd runs chasing 350. He then immediately got dropped from either the 20/20 side or the ODI side. He had his technique taken apart by the commentators, but he made runs against a very good South African team. Some people seem to get endless chances, other very few.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Mark Jun 21, 2015 / 12:13 pm

    By the way the, ECB behaving like the ministry of truth is an indictment of Sky TV. They pay a fortune for the rights, and no one else will pay that kind of money. They should tell The ECB to mind their own business. “We will employ who we want. Warne, or KP whoever, and they will say whatever they want.” As Dmitri points out the big cheese goes straight in, even when he has nothing to say but boring platitudes.

    I suspect the ECB think Strauss was a good commentator. Because he says nothing of any substance. Just how the ministry of truth likes it. The only good thing about him getting the ECB job is It means he is no longer on Sky, so I don’t have to listen to him anymore. Every cloud hey?

    Liked by 1 person

    • emasl Jun 22, 2015 / 6:03 am

      Combo of Strauss and Gower guaranteed to sendme to sleep


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