2nd Ashes Test: Day Four review

It’s one thing to lose, it’s entirely another to offer no resistance whatever, on a docile pitch, in good conditions.

This was as bad as anything on the Ashes from Hell tour, because this pitch offered absolutely nothing for the bowlers even on day four.  England at the start of play were clearly likely to lose the match, but few would have expected any side – not even Bangladesh – to surrender meekly in 37 overs.  This was abject, pathetic and spineless.  Sure, collapses happen, but with England they happen a lot, and they happen against Australia all the time – indeed even ignoring the three for not very many at Cardiff, it’s happened in 6 of the last 7 Tests against them.

That England went through the motions with the ball this morning is almost forgivable, given the match position.  Australia were so far in front even skittling them wouldn’t have made much difference.  But it did betray a side who knew their fate and didn’t rage against it.  The declaration when it came didn’t change the reality of what England needed to do, and what England knew they needed to do right from the start of play.

Instead, once again they flopped horribly.  Two of the first three wickets at least came from decent balls, though Lyth and Ballance both betrayed flawed techniques in how they got out.  What was extraordinary was how the Sky commentary team focused on these two dismissals and actually claimed Cook’s was a good ball at the time (Hussain in contrast did at least call it a “lazy little waft”).  It wasn’t, it was a dreadful shot, a short wide one that he went after and edged.  Getting out to a bad shot happens, it’s an occupational hazard of batting, but to seek to excuse it by crediting the bowler beggared belief, and merely fuelled the suspicion that Cook cannot be criticised on Sky.  Let’s get something clear here, players make mistakes.  They are human beings, and flawed intrinsically.  Pointing out a bad shot doesn’t lessen the person, it’s called being honest.  Stop making excuses.

England had lost their first three wickets for fewer than 52 for the 8th time in their last 12 innings.  It’s been repeatedly pointed out that the middle order will not always bail them out, and the horrible muddle England have got into over the last couple of years is still the same, even with different personnel.  Of the top four, the only one who is in any kind of form is Cook – and Cook the batsman is doing fine – indeed Cook the captain still didn’t have a bad match in the field, England certainly didn’t flop horribly because of his actions. Once again, the problem is not with what Cook does as a batsman, it is the way it is treated as though he’s Bradman reincarnated whenever he gets a few, while saying his dismissal was down to him being “desperately tired” as Mike Selvey put it – a tiredness that didn’t seem to afflict Rogers or Smith who scored far more runs.   And in mentioning Rogers, all cricket fans will have seen his dizzy spell with some concern.  Let us hope it was unrelated to the blow on the head he took at the start of day two.

And so once under way, the procession continued.  Bell again got out cheaply, and again in unconvincing fashion, managing to edge a ball that didn’t spin to short leg.  Stokes had the kind of dismissal that will haunt him for days to come, failing to ground his bat for an easy single.  Whether that was a simple matter of brain-fade or evidence of the kind of scrambled minds in the England team probably depends on how one wishes to think of them.

Buttler once again edged behind hanging his bat out to dry, and Moeen did absolutely nothing to prevent the addition of another piece of evidence that he can’t play the short ball very well.

By this point, not only were Australia rampant, but England were skulking around like a little boy who knew he’d been caught stealing.  Broad at least decided to go down fighting, throwing the bat.  That was another reminder of the dire displays in 2013/14, Broad reacting by trying to hit fours and sixes in a game long since gone.

Root’s dismissal as ninth man out was neither here nor there and entirely irrelevant to anything, while there was something apposite about the way Anderson’s stumps were shattered to end the torture.

The various Mitches had blown England away, and all credit must be given to them.  They will only get better having scented blood.

The only way of reacting to this omnishambles is that with the final wicket, Australia had gone into a 1-1 lead in the series.  It is scarcely credible that England had managed to fall apart so abjectly on such a placid wicket.  Yet they’d managed to, and shown no bottle whatsoever for the fight.  It is therefore ironic that the pattern of England wins and losses recently can be seen to be one of them being metaphorically flat track bullies, able to put sides away with aplomb when in front in the game, but collapsing in on themselves when challenged.  That is, except on non-metaphorical flat tracks where they aren’t just bullied, they are whipped, chained and thrashed.

The inquest will of course begin now, but there’s not much that isn’t already known and has been known for some time.

Bell is in awful form, and has been struggling for a couple of years.  Yet England set the precedent of standing by Cook when he had his drought, and they can rightly point to his form this year as being a justification for that.  So they’ve made a rod for their own back where Bell can legitimately say he deserves the same patience.  Whether he will get it or not is another matter, as is whether he should.  But missing straight balls as he has been isn’t terribly reassuring.

Lyth is perhaps one of two players under most pressure, but dropping him now would betray the same kind of muddled thinking that the ECB under Strauss have absolutely promised is a thing of the past in this brave new world.  Having not picked him in the West Indies when they should have, he then scored his maiden century only two Tests ago.  Lyth may not ultimately prove to be good enough, but that there is such a chorus for his replacement after two quiet Tests, and only four in total would be a return to the chopping and changing of the nineties.  And that worked so very well.

Ballance on the other hand has – at least for the time being – been found out.  He is clearly a highly talented player, and also young enough to improve, but his sophomore season is proving to be a nightmare for him.  The problem is that his place in the side is the critical number three position, and so the question of moving players around comes up.

Here is the rub though, moving Root up to number three is obviously an option, but Root didn’t perform particularly well as an opener two years ago, and there’s no pressing reason why he should do better now so high up the order.  Yes, he’s batting extremely well, but treating the symptom rather than the cause has never been much of a medical solution to anything.  Putting Root there would be to risk getting less out of England’s best batsman, not because of a certainty he would do better there, but solely because those above him currently are doing so badly.  That isn’t a justication, it’s negative selection.

Nor does it in any way address the problems Lyth and Bell are having, so while rearranging of deckchairs would give the selectors something to do, it doesn’t address the bloody great hole in the hull.

Naturally, as this was discussed, the elephant in the Sky studio hovered.  At one point Hussain talked about England needing a “Kevin Pietersen type” player in the top four, without a shred of irony.  At another, Ricky Ponting came dangerously close to saying the name of He Who Must Not Be Mentioned, and Gower flapped in utter horror (“don’t say it, don’t say it”).  This was extraordinary behaviour, but not necessarily for the reasons that might initially be thought.  There’s no reason to assume Pietersen would have made any difference in this Test, and no reason to assume he would be a panacea for England’s batting woes.  That’s not the point.  The ECB have made their decision and that is that.  But.  It is not for Sky to endorse that decision by refusing to even acknowledge the point, it is not honest to pretend it isn’t there.  An honest response is to point out the obvious that one player England could select is in the cold and then move on to the alternatives.  Each and every time this sort of thing happens, the recognition of what has been done is critical to the debate even if that decision is agreed with.  Pretending it isn’t there is ludicrous, no matter which side of the debate someone might be.

Once again, the fundamental point is that Sky’s editorial line is not meant to be at the behest of the ECB’s internal policies.  It’s a basic journalistic tenet, and one they have failed time and again.  It shouldn’t need stating, that’s the point.

More realistically in terms of England’s options, apart from moving those players around, Johnny Bairstow is the likely candidate to come in.  Should they do so then that certainly means changing the order as well, with Bell and Root at three and four.  A second spinner is also an option, if they also drop Lyth and move Root up to open.  That would be a lot of changes.

England were plainly unhappy with the pitch at Lords, which was more than obviously a chairman’s one, intended to last the full five days – so Australia (and England in a funny way) denying them the revenue from day five serves them right.  That’s somewhat ironic, because in one sense England were right to be.  Australia’s faster bowling attack is always going to be better on a very flat and slow surface where England’s fast medium offering is going to be akin to cannon fodder.  Yet this very flat, very slow surface was one on which England were shot out for 415 across two innings.  That’s woeful even on a green seamer, which if Cook has his way based on his post match interview is what we will get at Edgbaston.  The problem for him is that the Chief Executive of Warwickshire probably thinks otherwise.

Yet Cook was correct that for England to have a chance, their own bowlers need to have a chance in the game.  Over the last few years Test pitches in England have followed the same pattern, slow surfaces intended to stretch the game out to the full extent.  It is this tendency that Colin Graves was quietly referring to when he raised the idea of four day Tests – another example of treating the symptom incidentally.  That this has had the result of spectacularly biting England on the arse is exactly what they deserve, for it has been a long time since England produced the kind of quick pitches that might actually prepare them a little for facing the two Australian fast ‘n nasties, and even allow England to develop one or two of their own.

This match was nothing but total humiliation.  It is striking that in the Tests between these two sides, there are very few close ones, one side absolutely batters the other albeit Australia batter England rather more than the other way around.  To that extent England will feel that there is no reason they can’t win the next one, and they are of course right.  If anything has been demonstrated in previous Ashes series, momentum is a rather overrated thing.

Yet England did have a real chance to put Australia under huge pressure in this match.  After Cardiff there were definitely cracks in the side.  Not large ones, and as has been seen in this game, not critical ones.  But had they produced the kind of English pitch we used to get before they started trying to be clever and extract even more money from the poor spectator, it likely would have worked to England’s advantage.  Not so much to guarantee a win of course, but at least to give them a chance.  The Test against New Zealand at Lords was of course a fantastic one, yet that was so unusual compared to the ones we’ve seen in recent years that one can’t help but feel it was some kind of happy error. Certainly the two prepared in 2014 were every bit as lifeless as this one, and note that England could not bowl Sri Lanka out in one, and lost badly to India in the other.

Once England had lost the toss here, their chances of winning were very low.  The difference is that there was no reason why they should lose the Test.  And no reason whatever that they should lose the Test by the margin of 820-10 to 415-20.  Or to put it another way, based on this, England would have had to bat a whole additional Test to reach Australia’s match total.

And finally we come to the media in general.  At the risk of repeating a common theme on this blog, they went completely overboard once again after the win at Cardiff.  It was a terrific win there’s no doubt about that, but the “fickle” people in such places as here and at the Full Toss, repeatedly cautioned that England had a habit of losing their next match badly after a win, and that triumphalism was both premature and more than a bit ridiculous.  It didn’t stop them.  From writing a homage to Andrew Strauss as the architect of England’s success to saying Ian Bell was back, to long paeans of how the new England under Cook would go on to terrify all and sundry, this thrashing is matters coming home to roost.  Again.  Doubtless they will now swing the other way, demand wholesale changes and assume England will be blown away in the remainder of the series.  And that is indeed a possibility, and unquestionably a fear given this implosion.  It’s just not guaranteed.

England may well recover from here, it doesn’t mean they can’t win from here.  It does mean there is concern about how they will react to it – that is up to them, to decide whether there really are scars from 2013/14 or not.


154 thoughts on “2nd Ashes Test: Day Four review

  1. paulewart Jul 19, 2015 / 7:29 pm

    Indeed, the fickle ones are those that jerk their collective knees when England win or lose. The commentary here is commendably balanced.Reading Vic Marks’ smokescreen I couldn’t help but note that England captain’s follies really do come back to bite them, and us, on the bum. David Gower had a fine record at 3 before he was undone by the unsavoury sanctions buster from Essex. He had a good few years of top level cricket in him and wasn’t adequately replaced until Jonathan Trott stepped up. Similarly we haven’t really replaced our no 4 have we? Moral of the story? Don’t let craven, power hungry curmudgeons who ply their trade at Essex ruin English cricket.

    I’d give Bell a run at 3. He volunteered for the position in 2013/14 and should be given the chance now. The step up and concomitant vote of confidence might shake him from his rut.


  2. paulewart Jul 19, 2015 / 7:32 pm

    Oh, and I wonder if Stokes couldn’t step up too. He has the game to play at least one position higher in the order and would probably thrive on the extra responsibility.


  3. Sherwick Jul 19, 2015 / 7:34 pm

    “The ECB have made their decision and that is that”.

    Well, I’m *never* going to accept it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Simon K Jul 19, 2015 / 7:45 pm

      Me neither. I won’t be forgetting it when Cook is on the farm in his dotage. He can wear it like the scar it is.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Lydia Thayer Jul 20, 2015 / 4:25 am

        They act like what they did to KP is ancient history. Two whole months ago.


  4. Arron Wright Jul 19, 2015 / 7:38 pm

    Holy hell, they never cease to amaze:

    “England’s best batting line-up for the third Test would be: Cook, Cook, Cook, Cook, Root and Stokes. But even England’s phlegmatic captain was out to a shot that he might not have played with a clear mind as he chased a wide ball from Johnson the over after he had changed his bat.”


    Liked by 1 person

    • thelegglance Jul 19, 2015 / 7:42 pm

      It was Scyld Berry who wrote that lovely piece giving Strauss all the credit for the win at Cardiff.


      • amit Jul 20, 2015 / 11:02 am

        Haven’t seen a similar article blaming him for the harakiri at Lords. Have we?

        Liked by 2 people

    • Arron Wright Jul 19, 2015 / 7:43 pm

      That quote has given me an image of a load of cricket journalists (possibly wearing Viking helmets) in a greasy spoon café/plush media centre singing “Cook Cook Cook Cook Cooky Cook lo-ve-ly Cook, won-der-ful Cook”.

      (I trust I don’t need to explain this reference to a blogging community as erudite as this one)

      Liked by 1 person

      • paulewart Jul 19, 2015 / 8:30 pm

        A meta commentary on the collective scribblings of our press men? 🙂


      • Rohan Jul 19, 2015 / 8:32 pm

        Equally a Cook version of ‘Being John Malkovich’ would work, obviously changed to being ‘Alisdair Cook’. Cook cook, cook cook, cook cook and so son!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Simon K Jul 19, 2015 / 7:43 pm

      Watch out for that series average. Currently standing at an unspectacular 34.75. Keeps getting out to loose shots. Very much not excluded from the top order malaise on a fair reading of the numbers.


      • Arron Wright Jul 19, 2015 / 7:49 pm

        Of the “not many for 3” top order collapses shown in the middle of Berry’s article, Cook was one of the wickets on six out of eight occasions.

        For some bizarre reason Selvey quotes additional figures that can’t really be defined as top order collapses.

        Liked by 1 person

    • paulewart Jul 19, 2015 / 7:50 pm

      It was the bat. But it didn’t really count because he wasn’t bowled.


    • BoerInAustria Jul 19, 2015 / 8:22 pm

      And i have reached my “free article limit” on theTelegraph, now I am doomed to reading Selvey …


      • thelegglance Jul 19, 2015 / 8:24 pm

        Nah, clear your history and cookies, then close the browser and re-open it. Resets it all.


      • BoerInAustria Jul 20, 2015 / 4:42 am



    • dvyk Jul 19, 2015 / 10:39 pm

      That even outdoes GaryBallance GaryBallance GaryBallance GaryBallance.


  5. metatone Jul 19, 2015 / 7:42 pm

    It occurred to me reading the last bit that it’s the practice of playing 2 games a year at Lords that had disrupted some of my thinking around the Lords pitch. The first game (often in colder, damper conditions earlier in the year) has occasionally been an interesting one. However, 90% of the second games have been on Chief Executive pitches. It’s worth noting that if England had played well, this game would have been a bore-score draw. So I don’t think it was a great pitch overall and Chief Exec pitches (IMO) should be investigated just as much as ones where “too many” wickets fall in a day.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. BoerInAustria Jul 19, 2015 / 7:47 pm

    Great analysis as always.

    Obviously the renewal is still a work in progress and it will be interesting to see how the team will come through this – the team in Australia “fell” apart (in different ways, Trott, Swann, Prior, Flower and then KP).

    The vacuum of non-leadership still exists. I suspect (hope) we will see a new core team emerging. And maybe Broad emerging as sr. bowler?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. paulewart Jul 19, 2015 / 7:54 pm

    Arron’s stat mining got me thinking. We often refer to the sanctifying of Cook but what of Jimmy? He’s been a fine bowler, but was it ever really necessary to single out past England bowlers as ‘leaders of the attack’? I don’t recall Botham, Willis, Snow or either Fred being singled out in such a fashion.


    • Arron Wright Jul 19, 2015 / 7:56 pm

      SimonH has done some Jimmy myth-busting at the bottom of the day four thread. Enjoy.


    • metatone Jul 19, 2015 / 8:10 pm

      I’ve said it elsewhere, but a radical reading of Jimmy is that he’s like a great finger spinner before DRS. Lethal when conditions suit, possibly a liability when they don’t. I went all the way to the heresy of not picking him on dry pitches – but if that’s going too far at the very least he shouldn’t be taking the new ball…


      • thelegglance Jul 19, 2015 / 8:11 pm

        So the question has to be, why would England not ensure conditions suit him?


      • metatone Jul 19, 2015 / 8:13 pm

        Ask the ECB? Groundsman? County Chairman?


      • thelegglance Jul 19, 2015 / 8:15 pm

        Exactly. For all the accusations of pitch doctoring that come England’s way from Australia, the biggest problem is not that they ensure they suit England, it’s that they ensure they suit going the distance.


      • Rohan Jul 19, 2015 / 9:09 pm

        Just to add to this, credit where it’s due, according to those stats from Simon H. Broads record is very good. Same number of home ashes tests as Jimmy, but more wickets and much lower average. Fair play to him. He does always seem more ‘up for the fight’, if you know what I mean.


      • thelegglance Jul 19, 2015 / 9:14 pm

        Broad is the only player (who played the whole series) to come out of the shambles of the last Ashes with any credit.


      • Rohan Jul 19, 2015 / 9:17 pm

        Agree with that completely TLG. At times he also bowled very quick. I certainly remember one spell, either Melbourne or Sydney, where he was consistently over 90mph. Might have been the one where he was by far the best bowler, yet Cook took him off!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. metatone Jul 19, 2015 / 8:03 pm

    Well, my original prediction was 3-1 to the Aussies and I didn’t change it (in knee-jerk fashion) after Cardiff, so I’m not going to change it now…

    I’m an odd type, because I find that most of the time “margin of loss” is fairly meaningless in cricket. Does it really matter that once we were 3 down for not many the rest of the team didn’t concentrate that hard? I have to suggest that it didn’t change the result.

    To me, 3 points from this match require examination if England are to compete better.

    1) End of day 1, Australia 337/1
    At this point England are already 90% out of the running to win the game.
    The bowling needs thinking about. We fail repeatedly in these circumstances.
    In the short term, if the weather forecast holds true then we should get a better pitch for our current line up. But it desperately needs to be recognised that even in England you can’t guarantee friendly pitches during a dry summer. (This was a bit part of the story last time SA toured here.)

    Of course, looking to the longer term, and games away from home – the questions get even larger.

    2) The two batting starts.

    Not much to add beyond what you have said. Once you exclude players like Carberry and Pietersen, it’s a big ask to bring someone in and expect them to handle the pressure.

    I’ll note that Bairstow is no solution, because we don’t need another middle order batsmen, we need someone to come in early, either opener or 3 or 4. That’s where the real problems are.


    • Pontiac Jul 19, 2015 / 9:34 pm

      After the first day I was expecting the scores to go 550(d)-420-300-280 or something, with the last wicket falling after tea.

      And yes, the whole ‘oh but there are no suitable players in county cricket’ cries definitely have to be measured against the Comptons and Carberrys of the world, excluded from any further consideration apparently.


  9. Boz Jul 19, 2015 / 8:09 pm

    If anybody thinks that Cook is part of the top order, think again, he’s the captain!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. SHERWICK Jul 19, 2015 / 8:26 pm

    Why isn’t anyone talking about Taylor anymore? Wasn’t he supposed to be the Great Saviour?


    • Benny Jul 19, 2015 / 8:38 pm

      Is that the Taylor who scored 163 not out today?


  11. paulewart Jul 19, 2015 / 8:39 pm

    “When pressed on whether individuals need to be dropped or the batting order shifted around, Cook seemed to suggest a change in personnel. “It is down to players. It is not where people bat. They have to get stuck in,” he said.”

    Says skipper and opening batsman who got out playing a ‘lazy waft’. Maybe England wouldn’t be 30-4 if they played their best batsman. Just a thought.


  12. Rohan Jul 19, 2015 / 8:44 pm

    TLG great stuff, spot on and so right about the ‘fickle’ nature of the MSM. I predicted 3-1 to Aus before the series started, although I must admit to a slight wobble after Cardiff. I still said if Aus put us under pressure we will crack, which we did, but I was not sure, after Cardiff, that Aus still had it in them. Well today proved they certainly do. I would still not like to predict the next match though……

    A few other thoughts:

    Ballance’s problems seem similar to Roots in Aus in 2013. There Root as Ballance is, hung back in the crease too much and was not getting forwards. Root worked with Vaughan (I think I remember Vaughan talking about this on 5 live) and now takes a step backwards, but uses the momentum to then rock forwards as the ball is delivered. Is this something Ballance could look at, sometimes you need to go backwards to go forwards.

    The collapse could be attributed to many things. 1. Scars/wounds from the last ashes. 2. England being inconsistent, especially now they try to play more positively, supposedly under the new regime. 3. A lack of experience, due to the paucity of county cricket, against real fast bowling. 4. Simple scoreboard pressure. 5. Poor shot selection due to fatigue. 6. Lack of experience (ECB favourite). 7. Building for next ashes so not fully focussed (ECB favourite). 8. Aspects of all of the above.

    Ho hum. I have day 5 tickets for Trent Bridge, not sure I will get to use them.


  13. paulewart Jul 19, 2015 / 8:44 pm

    The photo looks haunting familiar. 2013-14 anybody?


    • Rohan Jul 19, 2015 / 8:48 pm

      Certainly looked and felt like it watching today and I watched pretty much all of 2013/14, albeit on TV. LETS HOPE FOR A TRUNAROUND NEXT TIME…….


  14. Rohan Jul 19, 2015 / 8:47 pm

    Forgot to add. Boycott was adamant on TMS that Cook was lieing about the pitch not being to ‘order’. He said they (TMS?) had been told otherwise. I must say as I was listening to Cook, I struggled to believe him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • paulewart Jul 19, 2015 / 10:16 pm

      Indeed he was, and Agnew was very uncomfortable. Boycott argued that Strauss was responsible which given the ground, makes sense.


      • thelegglance Jul 19, 2015 / 10:34 pm

        I don’t doubt they tried to get the pitch made to order, my argument is that they stuffed it up and actually hindered England. Which would explain why they seemed so annoyed by it.


    • Scrim Jul 20, 2015 / 6:24 am

      Bayliss has, after the match, also denied it and flat or said it doesn’t suit them.

      Boycott implied it was Strauss’ doing in his Telegraph piece, and I think he may have named him explicitly on TMS.

      Also, there was a moment on Sky on day 1 or day 2 where they were wondering out loud if the pitch had been prepared this way on someone’s orders, at which point they cut to Strauss hobnobbing around. This set off muted laughter from the commentary team and some sort of comment about the clever Sky director choosing the footage.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Belgianwaffle Jul 20, 2015 / 8:14 am

      Correct. What Boycott said expressly was, first, that he knew such a pitch had been requested, and second, that it would not have been Cook who placed the order with the groundsman, because that is not his job. Agnew’s question to Cook (did you order this pitch?) and Cook’s response (no) were both meaningless. Someone up the hierarchy would have done it (Strauss or whatshisname). And it beggars belief that whoever that was would not have consulted the team.

      It has come to something when Boycott, as partisan an England supporter as ever appeared on TMS, is less one-eyed than the “journalists” he works with.

      Liked by 2 people

      • paulewart Jul 20, 2015 / 10:56 am

        He has been for some time. He’s one of the few credible commentators out there.

        Liked by 2 people

  15. Mark Jul 19, 2015 / 8:57 pm

    One of the great mistakes English sport makes time and again is assuming that when we have any success it is always down to leadership. Whether it be captain or coach. In fact it is usually down to having very good players.

    Despite what the likes of Strauss and Flower may like you to believe, it is not about “trust” or “strategy” or whatever the latest buzzword out of the latest management self help book may tell you.

    It is about a word that is often shunned in England. The word is 6 letters long. The word is Talent. We don’t like talking about talent. It is something we don’t understand, and we don’t know how to nurture it, or motivate it. And when that talent is raw and aggressive, and individualistic we get very suspicious of it. Australia have a bowling attack of talented fast bowlers. They bowl considerably quicker,and with much better lengths. That doesn’t mean they will always bowl well, or that they will always win (see Cardiff) but over time they will get it right more often than not.
    I can’t help thinking Australia’s batting line up would not fare so well against their own bowling line up.

    Where are Englands genuine fast bowlers? Over the last 70 odd years England’s bowlers tended to come out of more working class areas, while the batters tended to come out of private schools. Not always the case, and some good state educated batsman have played for England. But not too many privately educated fast bowlers have emerged. With little cricket played in the state sector, and the former working class mining areas that produced a steady stream of decent bowlers all gone, where will the talent come from? And does a generation that has been walled off from cricket even care? And if you are a working class kid with a bit of talent do you want to even bother when the governing body is snotty about people from the wrong type of family, and is only interested in money and revenue extraction over all other aspects of the sport. Why bust a gut for a bunch of Blazers who in normal circumstances wouldn’t even employ you as a gardener.

    If, and it’s still a big if the wheels do come off England in this test series I want an appology from the English cricket establishment about KPs role in the 5-0 hammering 18 months ago. They told us he was totally to blame, and by getting rid of him Cook would be free to build a new team in his image. After today’s farce it looks exactly like the old team. But this time they can’t blame the upity South Aftrican.

    Liked by 6 people

    • MM Jul 19, 2015 / 11:01 pm

      Always dig your viewpoint Mark. Keep ’em coming.


    • Lydia Thayer Jul 20, 2015 / 4:28 am

      Agree absolutely.


  16. LordCanisLupus Jul 19, 2015 / 9:10 pm

    Martin Samuel is to the Ashes as Fishes are to Bicycles, and he signs off from this Ashes test in such a batshit crescendo, it’s worth reproducing:

    “Fear of change would be as potentially harmful as a second innings resistance that did not amount to three hours of play. Australia are already heading to Birmingham thinking they have England in terrified retreat: to confront them with the same XI that capitulated so pitifully here would amount to little more than surrender.

    Of course, the first name on a lot of lips will be that of Kevin Pietersen and it is hard to argue that he would not improve a top order that is currently superior only to Zimbabwe. The problem being that the two years in which England have struggled to make a start in Test matches includes Pietersen’s most recent England performances.

    His last ten Test innings against Australia, for instance – on the ill-fated 2013-14 Ashes tour – add up to 294 runs, which is still 111 runs shy of the 405 England fell short. This doesn’t say much for them, but it doesn’t say a whole lot more for him, either.

    The fact remains that England needed a batsman to save five Tests against Australia last time out and Pietersen did not do that at any time. Why would it have been any different here? And if the argument is that it could hardly be worse, the reply is that, yes, it could if his selection affected team spirit, with so many adversaries in the dressing-room.

    Better to go in a new direction rather than pick at old wounds. Pietersen’s average in Australia was 29.4. What would that have done here other than delay the inevitable by 30 minutes?”

    I laugh at all the batting stats when they could be applied in triplicate to three of our top five in this batting order. He’s a muppet, isn’t he?

    I thought we’d all moved on…..I thought no-one was mentioning him any more…. I thought the New England never needed him.

    Absolute batshit fucking lunacy. And you know how often I swear on here.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Rohan Jul 19, 2015 / 9:20 pm

      Dear Martin, remind me what the other England batsmen’s averages and cumulative runs totals were in that ashes series?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Arron Wright Jul 19, 2015 / 9:23 pm

      I have only one reaction to that:


      • Fred Jul 19, 2015 / 9:42 pm

        That’s a great video. The run up of Lillee at 30 seconds is beautiful, there’s no other words for it. Cricketing beauty.
        Johnson is not beautiful like that, but beautiful in its own way. He evokes for me a shark’s fin in the water, with all its suggested menace. And we saw his menace again today.


      • Fred Jul 19, 2015 / 9:47 pm

        Sorry, I made a mistake there. I watched that exploding brain video and then youtube suggested another video for me, which I duly clicked on, (I know, I’m hopless), and it was Lillee/Sobers. That’s the one I was referring to. It was much better than the young ones. here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EyFEYrAFci8


      • paulewart Jul 19, 2015 / 10:31 pm

        Great to see players sorting things out themselves. I can imagine Pitt the Younger sending Paul Downton or Andrew Strauss in to tell Ian Chappell ‘something must be done.’

        Liked by 1 person

    • Pontiac Jul 19, 2015 / 9:38 pm

      As Wolfgang Pauli said, “This isn’t right. This isn’t even wrong.”

      Liked by 1 person

  17. dvyk Jul 19, 2015 / 10:01 pm

    I really have tremendous respect for many England fans, especially those on here. You guys seem to have such a high pain threshold, for sitting down and sensibly analyzing what went wrong, and ready to show loyalty to any player who shows a bit of fight or a bit of promise. That’s not only loyalty, but a genuine love for the game. I really appreciate being able to participate in your discussions and learn from your understanding of the game.

    As for the English team…. My theory is that collapses like that are a sign of poor leadership. The management has been acting stupidly since before they sacked KP, and stupidity of that degree can’t be compartmentalised and blocked out from the rest of the game like other off-field disturbances. Every mistake that was made over the last 18 months was done so in order to sack KP and promote Cook as captain, both of which were the stupidest things anyone could have dreamed up in that situation. — Reappointing Moores… Downton was only appointed because he was one who would be stupid enough to sack KP. Strauss got the job over Vaughan because Vaughan couldn’t be trusted not to bring back KP. That, and all the other incredibly stupid things that have happened in that time affect everything. How do the rest of the players feel at watching the way KP has been treated? How do they feel each single freaking day that they open *any* major daily paper and read homage to Prince Charmless?

    I’ve played in enough teams that have had pathetic batting collapses to know the thought processes that go on in unhappy teams. And I’ve played with people who I would try to run through walls for. The whole culture is wrong in the England set up, not the team.

    And Cook’s attitude is unhealthy. There’s one word that he’s used twice now, and it’s very revealing. After Cardiff he said “Everyone was saying that it would be a walk over for Australia, and I’m listening to it and getting frustrated.” — As if the white wash was somehow an affront to his entitled status. And after this game he said it again — the loss today was “frustrating”. Again, as if he deserved something better. That is not an attitude suited for sport.

    You don’t feel frustrated if the opposition could have declared at 2 down in each innings and still won by a couple of hundred. A loss by 400+ *and* effectively 10 wickets is not frustrating. It should be demoralising, and with that also motivating. But entitled people don’t need no motivation.

    Who ever dubbed him Pitt the Younger had it spot on.

    Liked by 3 people

    • thelegglance Jul 19, 2015 / 10:35 pm

      Trifle harsh on the real Pitt the Younger who was rather successful as a leader! Now the Blackadder version, that’s different.

      Liked by 1 person

      • dvyk Jul 19, 2015 / 10:53 pm

        My grasp of English history is limited to the Blackadder version!


      • Sherwick Jul 19, 2015 / 11:14 pm

        I see Cook as Lord Percy in Blackadder II…

        Liked by 1 person

      • paulewart Jul 20, 2015 / 7:04 am

        I see him more as Captain Darling to Giles Clarke’s General Melchett.and Andy Flower’s Field Marshal Haig, though he does have Baldrick like qualities.


  18. lionel joseph Jul 19, 2015 / 10:02 pm

    I’m not sure you’re right about the wicket being a Chairman’s one.

    Certainly the wickets for the last two tests here, against the Kiwis and the Indians, were not produced under that directive, but moreover, Geoff Boycott’s piece in the Telegraph seems to make it pretty clear that Strauss requested this.

    Given his current 163 not out against Sussex, but more importantly his 98* at the MCG against the three Mitchells and Hazlewood this winter, i’d love to see Taylor get a chance in front of Bairstow. I’m not convinced Bairstow has got the lower gears and technique needed for test cricket.


  19. man in a barrel Jul 19, 2015 / 10:06 pm

    I thought the toss would be vital…it helped the Aussies certainly, but given the way the 3 Mitches bowled, it might not have mattered. Has Lyth ever faced such attacking bowling in his county career? Has Root? Has Moeen? Has Buttler? There must be something wrong with the speed guns or else the English batters are helpless aginst pace. Wood seems to have clocked up the same pace as the Mitches but he did not cause any consternaqtion amongst the Aussie batters.

    It looks like Anderson has shot his bolt for the series. Wood looked totally knackered last night after a mere 30 or so overs over 3 days. He is not fit enough…not in terms of running but in terms of core muscular strength.

    Ballance needs to be taken out of the front line for his own sanity…he looked mentally shot as he walked off roday.

    We need to pick a middle-order player with aggression – I voted for Taylor pre- match in my panel article…but bairstow might do as well. bell and Root need to move up one slot. Root is batting as a number 3 so why the hesitation in pushing hime up a little. Whereas Ballance was never a Test number 3….where did he bat for Yorkshire.

    finally…the best place to improve your batting is out in the middle, batting. how many days per season did Hobbs, Hutton, Sutcliffe, May, Cowdrey, Barrington, Boycott spend batting?

    Liked by 1 person

    • metatone Jul 19, 2015 / 10:24 pm

      Root started out at Yorkshire as an opener, so he can handle coming in earlier. But I’m hesitate to move him in the order because he’s the only thing working at the moment, so it seems daft to risk breaking it…

      Worth noting in passing of course that Root didn’t bat well when paired with Cook. That list is getting long enough that you have to wonder…


    • SimonH Jul 19, 2015 / 10:51 pm

      “How many days per season did Hobbs, Hutton, Sutcliffe, May, Cowdrey, Barrington, Boycott spend batting?”

      That’s all very well – but what were their bleep tests? were they trustworthy? did they want it enough? would they say “three bags full, sir” to the captain?

      Liked by 3 people

    • Grumpy Gaz Jul 19, 2015 / 10:52 pm

      Did you spot Nasser suggesting we needed a KP like player to take the game to the Aussies, and then suggesting a couple of batsmen that might do it but forgetting KP himself? How soon he is forgotten. At least if you work for SkyECB.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lydia Thayer Jul 20, 2015 / 4:34 am

        Can’t offend whichever monarchs at the ECB who banished KP from their kingdom.

        Liked by 1 person

  20. Grumpy Gaz Jul 19, 2015 / 10:48 pm

    I’m going to offer up the potentially controversial opinion that a team losing by 405 runs on a flat track is not going to be fixed by fiddling with the batting order. That if dismissed in under 40 overs on a cracking batting track, the order that 3, 4 & 5 come in matters not one fucking jot to the outcome.

    It is a convenient smokescreen for the lickspittle press to use so as to divert attention from the elephant in the room though. Expect not a single mention of the word ‘leadership’ in the reporting tomorrow.

    Oh well, at least the ECB Invitational XI lost fast enough that I can concentrate on the golf tomorrow. Silver linings and all that.

    As for the pitch, remember the last home ashes series? There was rather a lot of attention paid to the players who pissed on the pitch. There was rather less attention paid as to why they pissed on it. At least we had a quality spinner back then. What do we have now?

    Liked by 2 people

  21. man in a barrel Jul 19, 2015 / 10:55 pm

    Moeen is not putting the same revs on the ball as Lyon…I am seriously worried that he is injured and needs to rest his muscles without bowling. However can England afford to play 8 batters and 3 bowlers…plus Stokes?


  22. man in a barrel Jul 19, 2015 / 10:57 pm

    Rewmember the Caribbean tour when all the pundits from Sky and the BBC were saying that Rachid would be better for spending time in the dressing-room….rather than playing for Yorkshire. Cricket…the sport where you improve by not playing….


  23. MM Jul 19, 2015 / 11:21 pm

    Seriously, is Anderson finished? Wasn’t that asked of Johnson last week?

    Losing by 405 is… jeebus… it’s effing incredible. Monstrous, even.

    Lose one more Test and we have to win two, yeah? Or it’s no little urn for Cook[y] and Team Waitrose.

    Cannot see the next pitches saving us. Can’t see the tosses saving us.Even if we win one Test the Aussies won’t fail to win two. Win one and park the bus for two Tests? Never gonna work. Marsh and Nevill look like the final jigsaw bits. Team Waitrose are on for a – ahem – fisting now.

    So Strauss had better get on with doing some more vital building for the next Ashes/World Cup/knighthood.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Sherwick Jul 19, 2015 / 11:45 pm

    How’s Pringle’s 11 from 17 prediction looking now?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pontiac Jul 20, 2015 / 12:26 am

      He needs 8 from 10, doesn’t he?


  25. waikatoguy Jul 20, 2015 / 1:45 am

    I think far too much has been said about the affect of the pitch on this match. A wicket only has an influence on the result if it changes batting conditions over the course of a match. At Lord’s conditions didn’t change much at all. The wicket was slow and even throughout much of the match. If Australia had batted second they would have had perfect conditions on the 2nd and 3rd day to bat and probably would have made just as big a first innings score. What was different was that the Australian bowlers had a bit more zip in them and put more pressure on the English batsmen. I’m not sure quite what to make of Wood. Bowling gun barrel straight at 130 kph is not really going to cut it at test level. Is he really (after Broad and Anderson) the best England has?

    Watching Smith bat was a real treat, but kuddos to the old guy Chris Rogers who wasn’t talked much about before the series but is one of Australia’s best batsmen in English conditions. England are lucky that between 2008 and 2013 Australian selectors didn’t want to pick him (God knows why). I hope he is ok and gets to go out in style.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. paulewart Jul 20, 2015 / 6:46 am

    Brushing the pitch again and hanging the groundsman out to dry. Welcome to new England. Andrew Strauss really is a doos, isn’t he?

    Liked by 3 people

  27. paulewart Jul 20, 2015 / 6:46 am

    Glenn McGrath:

    Mick Hunt, the groundsman, is a good guy and produced some great pitches down the years. I played on pitches here with good carry so it can be done. Perhaps the three days of rain leading into the match made a difference but I have heard they were brushing up the wicket and cutting it so there was only ever going to be one result: a featherbed. If England go on and save this match it will be interesting to see what pitch we get at Edgbaston.



    • pktroll (@pktroll) Jul 20, 2015 / 7:20 am

      Raining cats and dogs in London at the moment. I have no idea if it is due to clear but it should be food for thought for England, like it may have been for the Aussies with Cardiff. Absolutely spineless stuff. I was due to go today as well. However by tea-time yesterday it was long since a lost cause. I went and watched my cricket team play (I am a long term knee injury sufferer). When I left home Bell got out. When I passed the pub near my tube station Stokes had departed just before tea. When I had reached the ground where my team was playing the last four wickets had already gone. My team played a lot, lot better in their match and showed more gumption than England.


  28. Belgianwaffle Jul 20, 2015 / 8:29 am

    Thanks again to all for creating this haven of sanity. A few points, in reverse order of importance:

    1) Terribly unfair on Lyth, but why not Compton for Lyth? He won’t score big runs, but he will stick around, and that is the main thing England need at the top of the order right now.

    2) That was a spineless display and a complete failure of team spirit. Creating team spirit is the job of the captain — by dancing naked to Ring of Fire if necessary — this was another shit game for Cook the captain, even if his on-field decisions were ok. He really has to go. Now. Broad as a short term replacement (even thought I don’t like him)?

    3) Well played Aus!

    4) Why the heck isn’t Rogers being sent to hospital for a scan? Concussion from repeated trauma to the head really isn’t a joke, and the Aus team saying he just had a dizzy spell without actually doing a scan is a medical scandal. I understand that it is his last series and everything, but he is already on the honours board at Lords, surely there is nothing at stake here that is worth premature senility and Parkinsons?


    • Zephirine Jul 20, 2015 / 9:16 am

      Re Rogers, the Aus team doctor Peter Brukner is apparently very conscious about concussion and has been involved in bringing in new and more cautious policies – which is why Rogers was taken out of action in the W Indies – so he will be doing the right things.


      • Belgianwaffle Jul 20, 2015 / 9:36 am

        Zeph — Thanks for that, and typical of you to know it! I honestly wasn’t having dig at the Australians about this, I was just genuinely a bit alarmed about how relaxed they seemed to be. Glad to hear that they are in fact taking it seriously behind the scenes.


      • Lydia Thayer Jul 20, 2015 / 11:31 am

        Like Belgianwaffle I was also very concerned. Thank you for sharing this.


  29. SimonH Jul 20, 2015 / 9:09 am

    So, if it was worth asking if Cardiff was more like Edgbaston 2005 or Edgbaston 1997, is this more Lord’s 1997 or Headingley 2009 (or even Lord’s 2014 against India)?

    England have rallied after thumping defeats recently. It isn’t impossible it’ll happen again. England won the next Test after Headingley against NZ and Bridgetown – but they were both in fresh series. There is Southampton last year but India were utterly abject and I can’t see that happening with Australia.

    The parallel with Headingley 2009 is going to be one Strauss will draw on I think. It was achieved by the injection of one new player (Trott), some blatant pitch doctoring (the Oval not watered for eight days before the match) and terrible Australian mis-reading of conditions (going in on a bunsen with four seamers and leaving out Hauritz largely because, from what I’ve read, Ricky Ponting thought he was too soft). Australia have a balanced attack so that last factor shouldn’t repeat itself. Also, a bunsen isn’t going to do the job given the relevant spin departments of the two teams. At most two new players (Bairstow and Finn) and a low seaming pitch are the way they’ll want to go – although Edgbaston this year has either turned or been a featherbed so whether they’ll get it is another matter.

    Australia pepped themselves up with two new players who both contributed usefully but mainly it was their big players playing better than made the difference. England’s one crumb of comfort is that Clarke and Voges haven’t made major contributions and if Smith fails there might be some vulnerability in their middle order. I think England also need an Australian injury or two to stand a serious chance – Rogers or Starc both have issues and there is quite a sharp drop-off in quality to their likely replacements (Shaun Marsh or Siddle).


    • Mark Jul 20, 2015 / 9:30 am

      1997 was when England won the opening Test match at Birmingham. There was a real vibe and excitement in the air. This was at the height of the great Aus team. We knew we would probably lose the series, but it was a great start. The noise at Birmingham was fantastic. The country was upbeat.

      Then the team moved to Lords, and on the opening morning, with the crowed expectant, and excited, this pillock comes on the tannoy and announces that Lords expects the crowd to be fair and balanced and not to boo the opposition. As Michael Parkinson said ……in one 30 second broadcast the English cricket authorities managed to suck out all the enthusiasm and joy that had been built up over the previous week. Just another example of why I hate the people who run cricket in England.

      As to what comes next, I think we have seen in this match the difference between 82/3 miles an hour bowling and 93 miles an hour bowling. It’s a world of difference. And very few county players get to see much of it these days. Which is why blaming KP for the last series in Australia was so ludicrous and unreasonable. If England are going to have any chance, they have to find some bowlers and pitches they can get the Aussie batsman in trouble on. Because England are just not going to score 450/500 on a regular basis against this attack.

      Liked by 1 person

  30. Boz Jul 20, 2015 / 9:19 am

    I liked the way Cook accepted full responsibility for this debacle; apologised to all the celebrities at Lords and the odd working class blokes able to stump up the daily gate fee; promised to come back fighting with a team spirit second to none; declared that he would repay his match fees if they lost again; would resign if the series is lost. It makes such a change from his whinning about poor batting and poor bowling despite his own great efforts and of course the poor pitch and the wind and not being saved by rain ………..If this is a national sports leader then I’m Queen Victoria

    Liked by 1 person

    • Belgianwaffle Jul 20, 2015 / 9:39 am

      Good of you to join us Yer Majesty! And from beyond the grave too.


  31. SimonH Jul 20, 2015 / 9:39 am

    Buttler’s batting and Stokes’ bowling aren’t receiving much discussion but both haven’t contributed.

    Buttler is the one player of England’s ‘new era’ I’m convinced is the real deal. So far though his batting has looked out of sorts. Like several players from the ODI series he’s not carried his form from those games forward. Any ideas what’s going on with him?

    When England beat NZ at Lord’s Stokes’ bowling made a telling second innings’ contribution. So far he has one wicket at 171. The wickets haven’t helped his style of bowling but he seems to be moving everything in to the batsman and the ball is swinging early from the hand which doesn’t worry class batsmen. I wonder if he has a slight technical fault.

    England’s averages are here:



  32. Zephirine Jul 20, 2015 / 9:45 am


    Oh no, sorry, forgot, it was all Kevin Pietersen’s fault.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Belgianwaffle Jul 20, 2015 / 9:59 am

      But Zeph, we did do something about it: we prepared pudding pitches on which even Boycott’s proverbial granny with her stick of rhubarb could bat for days against Thommo in full flight. So it’s all fine. Oh. Oops!


    • dvyk Jul 20, 2015 / 10:15 am

      Yep. Wer KP in the side, England would at least have someone who knows exactly how to throw something back at the Aussies. Root and Stokes are also capable of course, and might well do it, but neither is yet in KP’s league in that department. Yet Strauss and a good deal of English fans see his exclusion as a great victory. Usually when people shoot themselves in the foot they hop about yelling ouch ouch. They don’t sit there gloating and bragging about what a good shot they are.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Arron Wright Jul 20, 2015 / 10:56 am

        There is, literally, an England fan on the main Guardian thread writing that he’d rather lose 4-1 than have KP in the side.

        No wonder some of us can’t stand England winning, when it pleases people like that, is there?


        • LordCanisLupus Jul 20, 2015 / 11:35 am

          Dulcet tones. I read it this morning. I smiled. I imagine he (or she) would be leading the way slagging this blog off for being disloyal. For not being behind the boys. That’s it’s not about the individuals.

          Some people.


      • thelegglance Jul 20, 2015 / 11:02 am

        Only observation I would have about that Arron is that there are one or two who would rather lose 4-1 than have Cook in the side too. Personality based selection is never a good look.


      • Zephirine Jul 20, 2015 / 11:04 am

        “Usually when people shoot themselves in the foot they hop about yelling ouch ouch. They don’t sit there gloating and bragging about what a good shot they are.”

        Very good 🙂


      • northernlight71 Jul 20, 2015 / 8:31 pm

        I am literally only keeping half an eye on this series. That’s right. The Ashes, in England, during a period of weeks when I am fortunate in having rather a lot of free time. I ought to be embedded in cricket, stuck to the radio or (back in the days of terrestrial coverage) the TV and devouring every moment enthusiastically, whatever the result.
        But. But. But. I really find I don’t care. I give a small inner cheer when Cook is out, and play ERM bingo if I catch an interview with him.
        If you knew me, and knew what cricket has meant to me in my life, you’d understand how very very sad this state of affairs is.
        England lost heavily at Lords, it seems. Ho hum. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch of middle managers.

        Liked by 1 person

    • SimonH Jul 20, 2015 / 10:53 am

      If we’re honest (so that excludes most of the MSM for starters), we’re back to one of the perennials of English cricket – fast bowlers and quality spinners win Test matches and England struggle to produce them.

      The ECB are trying to cover this up by engineering a situation where RFM and finger spin can be a winning combo. It’s a short term fix – and I’m starting to think it’ll do England more harm than good in the long run if it comes off. Not only can’t our bowlers bowl the requisite styles, our batsmen increasingly can’t play them. If it’s masked at home it’ll be brutally exposed overseas – anyone looked forward to seeing Ballance or Ali against Morkel at Centurion or Newlands?

      Let’s face it – who doesn’t love watching genuinely fast bowling? Except Selvey, that is. We’ve seen so little of it recently in the UK I think some had forgotten what it looked like. The England victories over Australia that I hold dearest are the ones where Snow or Willis or Harmison gave the Aussies a dose of their own medicine. I can appreciate the skills of a fast-medium bowler but they’ll always be the supporting cast for me. Bowling where Jimmy is ‘the leader of the pack’ is like a film where a character actor is trying to play the lead – some oomph just seems to be missing.

      Loughborough is to blame, the counties are to blame, the schedule is to blame, there is more than enough blame to go round.

      Liked by 2 people

      • metatone Jul 20, 2015 / 11:00 am

        Another oddity is that with DRS a fit, talented and well-developed finger spinner can make a serious difference. (Canonically – Swann, but even Lyon is having a decent impact on this series.) But we can’t even do that…


      • thelegglance Jul 20, 2015 / 11:06 am

        It’s an excellent point – and actually something that in the back of my memory an attitude I recall Hussain complaining about when he was captain. And vocally too.

        I don’t think the England team are terrified of Australia – players rarely are – but I do think the people above them are, hence doing everything they can to nullify them rather than create a team that can win on its own merits. At the risk of being nostalgic, the difference to the side in the first half of last decade is so stark.


      • SimonH Jul 20, 2015 / 11:06 am

        Agreed – I nearly wrote ‘wrist’ or ‘mystery’ spinner instead of ‘quality’ spinner but a class finger spinner would do.


      • Zephirine Jul 20, 2015 / 11:08 am

        Perennial problems, yes, am I right in thinking Duncan Fletcher used to go on about fast bowlers, quite a lot? How the decades fly by and the problem remains unsolved.


        • LordCanisLupus Jul 20, 2015 / 11:38 am

          I am 100% convinced if Fletcher was in charge now Alex Hales would have been given a proper chance by now. At test level.


      • metatone Jul 20, 2015 / 11:15 am

        @Zeph – indeed, Duncan was obsessive about it to the point (some might say) of madness.
        Trying to turn Saj Mahmood into the next Devon Malcolm… (For example…)
        But he was dead on about the problem…


      • Mark Jul 20, 2015 / 11:36 am

        Brilliant Simon, I wrote on Saturday about Duncan Fletchers view of genuine pace or mystery spin. Swann was not mystery, but he was a very good bowler.

        We don’t produce enough of these types of players. And we don’t like to go too deep into why we don’t produce enough of these types of players. Because that means looking at how the game is run, and organised, and who plays it, and where it is played and what class of people are encouraged to play it. Much easier to focus on mental issues and momentum.

        I also think the fact that a lot of pundits are ex average county pros is another reason for the refusal to look too deeply into our failure. The Selveys, and Smiths and Hughes and Agnews were not top draw. They made a living as mediocre, hard bitten pros. They are not too keen to denigrate the system that they played in. The rise in players with foreign connections over the last couple of decades shows we don’t produce enough talent in England.


      • thelegglance Jul 20, 2015 / 11:38 am

        Well, it looked like we had found at least one of those – genuine pace – only for some people (whoever it might have been) to comprehensively wreck him.

        And now he doesn’t think he’s any slower than he was, in defiance of what we could all see.


    • metatone Jul 20, 2015 / 11:05 am

      Zephirine is shouting it – we should all be shouting it.
      And why isn’t the media shouting it?

      The problems of Lords were the problems of 2013/14.
      The failure to inquire into and address those problems, sidestepped by blaming KP, brought us this latest performance.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lydia Thayer Jul 20, 2015 / 11:40 am

        They just had to pick such an outstanding batsman to be their scapegoat, and so now we are without him when we need him. They should have just stuck with the tradition of blaming the pitch. Oh, but now we don’t have KP to blame and so have gone back to the pitch. If we don’t like pitches like the latest one we (whoever did it, that is) shouldn’t ask for them. And bring our batsman back. If Straussy has “trust” issues, he could see a psychologist. But I guess we should have known that those who couldn’t handle KP could never handle the Aussies.

        Liked by 1 person

        • LordCanisLupus Jul 20, 2015 / 11:49 am

          Until it is proved to me ( and others) that Giles Clarke isn’t in charge of English cricket still ( that apology from Bearley was not the sort of rapid response you give to a nobody) then KP is never getting in. The more I think of it, the more those events of May suggested a Clarke slapped of Graves than some long term strategy.

          Clarke remains top dog in my view.


      • emasl Jul 20, 2015 / 9:33 pm

        Selvey over in the Grauniad says you should not make somebody a scapegoat for a team failure. My brandy bottle is empty….


  33. waikatoguy Jul 20, 2015 / 10:25 am

    I thought the ball Myth got out to was actually a good one. It was on a line he pretty much had to play, but it came through at an awkward height that made it difficult to keep down. cooks dismissal was a poor one given the state of the game.


    • metatone Jul 20, 2015 / 11:07 am

      It was a good ball – and much less of a stupid shot than Cook’s.
      But Lyth has been out chasing wide-ish balls a couple of times in this series.
      There’s a cumulative fatigue about that, I suspect.


    • thelegglance Jul 20, 2015 / 11:08 am

      I like the typo! 🙂

      It was a good ball, no question. The criticism was that given the length he could have dropped his hands rather than push at it.


  34. dvyk Jul 20, 2015 / 10:33 am

    “If anything has been demonstrated in previous Ashes series, momentum is a rather overrated thing.”

    Allow Ed Smith to clarify this matter.

    Smith (writing after the Cardiff test):

    So my thesis is that there is a far deeper kind of momentum and a much more complex dimension of positivity. The first Test showed how important they are.
    The swing in momentum, away from Australia and towards England, did not begin in Cardiff. The contrasting performances there were a symptom of that momentum shift rather than the cause…. More fundamentally, momentum is a question of the team’s collective DNA. Is this team growing and developing, excited about the future? Or is it digging its fingers into the rock face, trying not to slip down from the summit?.
    …The most underrated team qualities are optimism and innocence. England lead Australia in that match-up. That’s why they have the momentum.

    You see, England don’t have that overrated kind of momentum; they have EdSmithian momentum. EdSmithian momentum can indeed be carried over from one game into the next, whereupon they can get totally demolished in the worst defeat ever, yet not lose any of their EdSmithian momentum.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thelegglance Jul 20, 2015 / 10:35 am

      Excellent find.

      Smith is the kind of person we’re all familiar with who pontificates in a meeting with 300 words where 2 will do, until someone brave enough pipes up with “Does anyone have any idea WTF any of that means?” And then he can’t answer.

      Liked by 2 people

      • metatone Jul 20, 2015 / 10:58 am

        See, the weird and dangerous thing about Ed Smith is that his concepts aren’t necessarily wrong. It’s always his analysis that lets him down.

        The momentum of match to match (physical wear and tear aside) doesn’t appear (according to the stats in most team sports) that important. There is a wider sense of momentum that matters, which (to be ultra simplistic for the sake of a comment) is: Is a team learning from experience?

        Aus: Won through the intervention of some great bowling. Batting was a bit unreliable at the top.
        Learning: Bring in some more great bowlers – Starc, Hazelwood. Bring in Rogers to shore up the order, promote Smith (in a purple patch) to 3.

        Eng: Couldn’t handle fast bowling. Couldn’t bowl out Aussie batsmen consistently on unfriendly pitches.
        Learning: Ditch KP. Back Cook to the hilt. Don’t change the bowling personnel or strategy significantly. Don’t do anything to prepare players for the fast bowling challenge.

        (I know that’s a simplistic treatment, but I don’t have time for more – but I think you get my point. Alas, Ed Smith never has…)

        Liked by 3 people

      • Mark Jul 20, 2015 / 11:13 am


        It never occurs to Smith that the simple reality is England just don’t play fast bowling very well. It’s got nothing to do with momentum or “complex dimension of positivity.”

        “The most underrated team qualities are optimism and innocence. England lead Australia in that match-up. That’s why they have the momentum. ”

        Nobody has a clue what you are talking about Mr Smith………The most underrated team qualities are batsmen who can score runs against 90mph bowlers, and bowlers who can take wickets.

        Once again the professional pundit concentrates on woolly, meaningless concepts of mental ability, instead of physical talent and the ability to repeat over and over again basic disciplines. It’s the English disease.

        Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus Jul 20, 2015 / 10:53 am

      I’ve read that twice now. I still don’t have a scooby what he’s on about. Pure 100% FICJAM.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Boz Jul 20, 2015 / 11:12 am

        It’s easy -what he’s saying is that momentum and positivity are multi-layered, multi-faceted ingredients that ebb and flow according to the dictat of each and every situation, intrinsically bound together with the incoming and outgoing of extramural activity and England, especially, have it in abundance due to their peculiar position in the stratosphere and the fact that Alastair Cook is the rightful leader of the pack. It has nothing to do with the greenhouse effect but more to do with the inane scriblings on the wall of a public school toilet. Simples!

        Liked by 1 person

      • MM Jul 20, 2015 / 5:28 pm

        Does Ed Smith look like the brainbug in Starship Troopers? I do hope so. A giant walking jelly thing sucking the brains outta everyone else.

        FICJAM is perfect. Can I use it?


    • Arron Wright Jul 20, 2015 / 10:53 am

      I absolutely hate the overuse of “momentum” (basic or FICJAM version) – it’s one of the laziest tropes in sports writing.

      Liked by 1 person

    • paulewart Jul 20, 2015 / 11:06 am

      Lots of words, no ideas. He contributes nothing but word count. Indeed remove the superfluous vowel and you have him summed up.


  35. SimonH Jul 20, 2015 / 11:20 am

    England’s averages:


    Two parts of the team that aren’t firing but aren’t attracting much attention are Buttler’s batting and Stokes’ bowling.

    Buttler is the ‘new era’ England player I’m most convinced is the real deal. Australia respect him and he did well in the 13/14 ODI series there. But so far he hasn’t looked like making any runs. Just a blip – or something more?

    Stokes has taken one wicket at 171. When England won against NZ he made a vital contribution with the ball which isn’t much remembered now. Pitch conditions haven’t helped him and he hasn’t had any luck (the Bell drop of Smith was off Stokes) – but there’s more to it I think. Stokes looks to me like he’s jumping in towards the umpire in delivery stride and falling over slightly to the offside – the result is that everything moves in to the batsman and does so from the hand which is one of the easier types of bowling for a class batsman to play. Stokes also doesn’t seem to have the ability of Botham or Flintoff to bully out tailenders cheaply. Stokes is probably never quite going to be in the league of those two as a bowler but he used to be able to bowl an outswinger and he has taken 6/99 against Australia in Sydney. I worry that England will try to convert him into some sort of ‘holding’ seamer rather than working with what he can do.


  36. amit Jul 20, 2015 / 11:22 am

    Did some digging on Statsguru. Turns out that Cook / Strauss / KP were top 3 run getters in English wins till the time KP was forced out. That mere 70 runs separated the top 3 just goes on to show that there was little to choose between them in terms of the runs scored. But, how these runs were scored, and what impact did they have on opposition, will remain an individual preference and I would’ve gone with the flamboyant KP. The point being that these were 3 players who together contributed to the success of the team and yet have found themselves on opposite sides with nothing but individual agenda driving them. Whatever happened to “team first”? Every time someone talks up Cook while dissing KP in public, they need to go back and revisit the number of runs he’s scored for the team.


  37. Boz Jul 20, 2015 / 11:28 am

    you’ll love this ……..



    • Zephirine Jul 20, 2015 / 12:23 pm

      County cricket’s answer to Malcolm Gladwell…

      Liked by 1 person

    • dvyk Jul 20, 2015 / 3:00 pm

      I’m going to write a book called Facts. Facts are things which influence us in many ways which we don’t perhaps first realize….

      Liked by 2 people

    • MM Jul 20, 2015 / 5:33 pm

      Fair play to Ed, he doesn’t look like the brainbug from Starship Troopers. My bad. But he’s certainly sucked my brains out.


  38. metatone Jul 20, 2015 / 12:11 pm

    One thing that is deeply weird about the ECB failures in talent development is that unlike our other major sports, the talents involved are relatively easy to quantify, both in themselves and in their effect on the game.

    Contrast in football, we need players with better ball control, ball retention and passing vision. Or in rugby, better handling, running lines and creative vision. Ball control and handling you can fix with better training at the youth level, but there’s a genuine difficulty in developing the rest outside of the team context. And a huge philosophical question of what to prioritise to win games.

    Yet by contrast, accurate fast bowling and being able to spin the ball and land it where you want it – well it’s clear how important they are and it’s not that hard to separate out those who can do it from those who can’t.

    Yet despite that advantage, the ECB sits in the mire with all the other England sports setups, clueless and impactless.

    Watching the Tour de France – it’s that time of year – one can’t help but thing we need Dave Brailsford to set up a fast bowling academy.


    • Mark Jul 20, 2015 / 12:57 pm

      It would be interesting to see how much more success Individual UK sport has had over the last 30 years as opposed to team sport. Golf, Tennis, Cylcling,Boxing as against Football, Rugby Cricket.

      I may be a false impression but it seems where there is more freedom of the individual we have had more success. It seems team enviroments allow governing bodies to have more control and therefore screw it up.


      • emasl Jul 20, 2015 / 9:38 pm

        I was flicking between the Test and the Davis Cup the other day. I watched Andy Murray, dead on his feet, one set down, two break points down in a tie break, force a win by sheer bloody determination and will power. He was exhausted at the end and in tears but he bloody did it. He played for England, who always make nasty comments about him and think he is a miserable git, but blimey oh that we had such a miserable git in the team. Yes OK I know we have Jimmy, but he is just miserable period….Andy needs to be drafted in to either give a team talk to the cricket team or to replace Alistair Cook

        Liked by 1 person

  39. Grumpy Gaz Jul 20, 2015 / 12:35 pm

    A recurring topic on this blog is the lack of free-to-view cricket on TV these days. However, the BBC today have chosen not to cover the last round of the Open until 1.45pm thus missing much of the golf from those still in contention.

    It is quite possible that players like Mickelson could shoot a very low round early then the rain comes in and the wind gets up and he ends up winning it without any of that round televised live.

    The BBC has chosen to show crap like Bargain Hunt instead of the Open. The two extra channels they have, BBC 3 and 4 are empty, nothing being shown at all they have the capability to show it all but they choose to go with a half-arsed coverage anyway.

    Why would these people be interested in showing 5 days of cricket? Why should they get exclusive rights to show the sport’s showpiece when they can’t be bothered to do a proper job of it?

    Much as you may hate the exclusivity and cost of Sky, not to mention the editorial bullshit of ‘something must be done’, but at least they cover our sport properly. The BBC just doesn’t give a toss and yet feels it has a divine right to the crown jewels.

    I agree that cricket needs to be available to all for the good of the sport but just gifting it to the BBC is not the way. the BBC lost interest in sport a long time ago, They don’t deserve the Open and they don’t deserve the Ashes.


    • LordCanisLupus Jul 20, 2015 / 12:41 pm

      If I were the BBC, having covered this event for as long as they have, and very well I might add (except for highlights) only for it to be sold to Sky, I think they are being reasonable doing what they are. I’ll bet there’s more complaints that the afternoon TV is disrupted more than golf fans missing an hour or two of golf. They don’t want cricket back, either, so that’s a red herring.

      Liked by 1 person

      • metatone Jul 20, 2015 / 12:45 pm

        I’ve often thought the traditional scheduling a bit of a nonsense for both golf and cricket.
        Surely the denouement should come on Sunday where possible?
        Monday is rarely a good day for the TV audience.

        (Although given the propensity for England collapses, maybe they have it right for the ECB XI.)


      • Grumpy Gaz Jul 20, 2015 / 12:45 pm

        They have BBC 3 and BBC 4, they don’t have to disrupt anything. Would they have chosen to cover the entire day if it hadn’t been sold to Sky? I don’t know, but I doubt it.


        • LordCanisLupus Jul 20, 2015 / 12:47 pm

          I think there are huge restrictions on times they can go on and what they can show Gaz. I don’t know for sure but I’ll bet the BBC would use them if they could. Not sure why they don’t use the red button either.


      • Arron Wright Jul 20, 2015 / 12:47 pm

        I agree with both of you – I think BBC Sport has deteriorated frighteningly under Barbara Slater (see Wimbledon, SPOTY, that godawful period where they sent Michael Vaughan to the Masters), but The Open was one of the things they unquestionably deserved to keep imo.


      • metatone Jul 20, 2015 / 12:49 pm

        Technical note – BBC3 & BBC4 are actually CBBC and CBeebies during the day.
        Both of which are pretty central to the BBC’s public service role, so it’s not entirely simple.

        (I’ll cheerfully admit that there’s nowt on BBC1 & 2 collectively that couldn’t be moved for a big sports event – as indeed happens with Wimbledon.)


      • thelegglance Jul 20, 2015 / 12:50 pm

        It can’t go on BBC3 or BBC4, it’s the same bandwidth that’s used for the BBC kids channels during the day. Red button should have been possible.

        As for cricket, I don’t entirely buy the “not interested” line the ECB pushes. If you don’t have a prayer of getting it, of course you aren’t interested, there’s no point. Same reason Channel 4 aren’t interested now.


      • thelegglance Jul 20, 2015 / 1:09 pm

        Oh and @metatone, the only reason the golf is on today is because of bad weather over the weekend. It was meant to finish yesterday.


      • metatone Jul 20, 2015 / 1:11 pm

        @TLG – well that makes more sense.
        I not a golf fan, so I don’t really pay proper attention…


      • Arron Wright Jul 20, 2015 / 1:23 pm

        While we’re kind of talking about golf, fans of Scott Murray’s brilliant hole-by-hole Open coverage at the Guardian (which still matches the standard the OBO used to set) will be deflated to see a harbinger of imminent decline: more than one published comment from M*** S****y.


    • metatone Jul 20, 2015 / 12:41 pm

      As I’ve said elsewhere – the BBC is a bit of a red herring here. ITV have happily upended their ITV4 schedule for the Tour de France. Channel 4 have a lot more channel space than they did when they covered the 2005 Ashes.

      Let’s put it this way. We don’t have Sky in our house. IPL has moved to Sky from ITV. It’s now impossible for our 11 year old to see an entire passage of play unless I take her to a game. As a result she’s a lot more inspired by rugby and football and athletics than cricket.

      Throw in that both those games have more money to attract talent and you’re damaging the talent pool. We see it in the decline of grassroots participation – and we’ll see it in the lack of top-level players…


      • Grumpy Gaz Jul 20, 2015 / 12:47 pm

        If it won’t ever be free i think they could at least provide a streamed service for a modest fee. Netflix can stream HD to a large number of people, I’m sure Sky could do it too.


      • metatone Jul 20, 2015 / 12:53 pm

        @Gaz – streaming would be a boon. The total satellite package is beyond many people.
        (We might actually be able to afford it if it was a priority, but I’ll never give Murdoch that money anyway…)


      • Grumpy Gaz Jul 20, 2015 / 12:58 pm

        I think Dmitri posted a while back on the Major League Baseball package he got online. That seemed a very good way of distributing a sport worldwide. Shame neither the ECB nor Sky has the vision for it.


    • Mark Jul 20, 2015 / 12:48 pm

      It’s a great point. There is no doubt the BBC has lost interest in sport. I think the fact so many sports ran off to Sky as soon as they could effected the BBCs confidence and and model. They saw the financial rights for these events going way past anything they could justify. And now the Golf governing bodies have taken The Open away from the BBC. So they won’t be showing this event in the future. (I wonder if this is why they can’t be arsed today)

      They don’t want cricket back, and they lost interest in boxing because many fighters built a reputation on BBC/ITV and then went off to Sky for the World title fights. So the BBC said stuff it. Why waste all this time promoting someone who will ditch us when he gets famous?

      The BBC seem to prefer radio coverage of sport. It’s a lot cheaper, and they can pontificate and interrupt with endless news bulletins.


      • metatone Jul 20, 2015 / 12:52 pm

        To be fair, Golf has no need of participation.
        One British player of prominence every 10 years or so who wins a single tournament is more than enough to sustain interest in the game. Throw in the fact that only the USA has a conveyor belt and you don’t need a big grassroots.

        We need a constant production of 11 top class cricketers…


      • thelegglance Jul 20, 2015 / 12:59 pm

        I’m well aware I owe a post about grassroots funding, which is of course related to TV coverage. I need to get that done, I have the raw material from the ECB to do it, and need to get of my lazy arse and sort it out.


      • Zephirine Jul 20, 2015 / 3:09 pm

        I think the current BBC decision-makers genuinely feel they’re fulfilling their duty towards cricket by providing TMS, which is a national institution and gets a large audience. It’s pretty obvious from the way TMS is presented that they think the cricket audience is older and middle-class, and they don’t expect young people to be interested. (A blessing in a way, since the BBC trying to do cricket in a down wiv da kidz stylee would be excruciating)


      • metatone Jul 20, 2015 / 4:43 pm

        @Zeph – I’d take “down wiv da kidz stylee” over Agnew these days…

        Liked by 1 person

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