Ashes 4th Test, Day two review

And that is pretty much that. Still 90 runs adrift, only three wickets left, short of a cricketing miracle for Australia, or the arrival of a freak hurricane, England will go 3-1 up sometime tomorrow, probably in the morning and regain the Ashes.  After the carnage of day one, to all intents and purposes the game was already up.

Being bowled out for 60 more or less guarantees defeat anyway, so today was in some ways a fairly normal panning out of the situation as expected from the end of day one.  Australia did bowl a little bit better, though that’s not especially unusual when a day has been as bad as that, it would be hard to imagine Australia could do any worse. Yet such was the total dominance of England’s position, they could happily play their shots safe in the knowledge that it mattered little.

Mitchell Starc got just rewards for a bowling performance that was a cut above those of his colleagues, but with the game already pretty much gone, it will hardly be a successful set of figures he will look back on with too much pleasure. Once again, Moeen and Broad showed they like batting together. Moeen is simply gorgeous to watch when in full flow, reminiscent of David Gower, to the point you want him to succeed simply because of that. His batting this series has been a major plus point, the debate over him will certainly continue, but his performances at key times with the willow have been the least of the issues.

As for Broad, some time ago it started to look as though he was just beginning to get his batting back. It’s not entirely there yet, but he is staying in line, and looking to play shots, rather than desperately slogging. A Broad who plays like that is a serious asset in the lower order.

Australia couldn’t possibly have batted as badly as they did in the first innings, and the opening stand from Warner and Rogers restored both a little respect and a fair degree of sanity to proceedings. Yet the problems were still there, Rogers never looked entirely comfortable, while Warner was consistently squared up.  England have clearly identified that his strength to the short ball is also his weakness when he’s cramped for room, hence coming around the wicket. His arms don’t extend and the ball can only go up. Other teams will be watching.

From a promising start, Australia collapsed horribly yet again. In each case it was a grim shot, even allowing for the two lives provided when England bowlers overstepped; Smith looks completely at sea at present, which is remarkable when only four innings ago he looked imperious at Lords. His idiosyncratic technique was always going to be examined in conditions where the ball moves in the air and off the pitch. He’s more than good enough to work that out, but it’s far too late for this series, and not alone in having serious difficulty against the moving ball. Clarke too was hopelessly out of touch, while Marsh’s dreadful shot did little to change the minds of those who simply don’t think he’s good enough for Test cricket.

As previously mentioned, it is never quite evident that a team has lost it until it actually happens, any more than anyone expected England’s hammering last time out. The signs were there after the first Test of a team showing signs of distress, and only a pitch that couldn’t have been better prepared to entirely nullify England’s bowlers got Australia back into it. Yet the abject, spineless capitulation of Australia’s batting in the last two Tests has been every bit as shambolic as anything England produced in 2013/14.

Well as England have bowled, time and again players have been dismissed playing attacking shots that are exceptionally high risk, with no evidence of a willingness to graft in less than perfect batting conditions. These are not bad players, to be getting out in this way repeatedly betrays minds that are completely shot, a team that has no idea how to arrest the slide. There is always a temptation when England win to limit the praise to them by pointing out the faults of the opposition. Yet in just the same way as the most recent 5-0 said more about England’s abysmal surrender than it did a great Australian side, so this almost certain series victory is less about England being outstanding than Australia being dire.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of things to praise England for, the catching has been excellent, the on field direction has simply been far better than anyone could possibly have expected from the captain given his performance to date, while Joe Root in particular is starting to look the real deal, and Ben Stokes might still be inconsistent but is a major talent in the making with both bat and ball. Yet when Australia keep being bowled out to self inflicted calamity rather than England brilliance, that praise does need to be tempered by a recognition that England haven’t suddenly become a great side.

Future opponents will not be anything like so meek. That isn’t meant to be grudging, more a reflection on an astounding collapse in morale and stomach for the fight from Australia. England can certainly take pleasure from the way they have pressurised Australia – unforced errors are rarely entirely unforced when it afflicts the whole team – but there can have been few tours where Australia have been so appallingly inept on such a regular basis.

This has been a truly bizarre series, no match has even had the resemblance of a close contest, and this fourth match has been even more one sided than the three previous.  Australia are shot to pieces.   Quite why that is, will be a debate for the future. For now, they deserve every bit of the kicking they are getting from their own media who at least seem to recognise a team shambles when they see one.

@BlueEarthMngmnt

64 thoughts on “Ashes 4th Test, Day two review

  1. metatone Aug 7, 2015 / 7:18 pm

    I think the collapse puts the India series a while back in perspective.
    Modern players don’t come to CC much, and really can be foxed by English conditions.
    Back to back Tests can lead to mental disintegration – if you’ll forgive the phrase.

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  2. Tony Bennett Aug 7, 2015 / 7:26 pm

    Obviously Australia have been nowhere near as inept in their 2nd innings in in their first. But the fact that there was only one England bowler who was actually decent this time round rather sums up their plight. I’m delighted for Stokes, who has often seemed unlucky as a bowler. What a difference it makes to a team to have a genuine batsman who is also a genuine bowler.

    One of the more surprising elements in this match – I dare say the whole series – has been that Cook’s captaincy has been rather good. Has he got the hang of it? Or is he flattered by the lack of application Australia have shown? Of course I don’t buy the “brilliant declaration” rubbish, but generally he appears to have handled the attack and the field placings well. This will be blown up into Brearleyesque genius proportions by you know who, which is a matter of profound regret.

    I fully expect Voges to proceed tomorrow morning to a sedate and meaningless unbeaten hundred, accompanied for a few hours by the tenacious Starc, before England complete the facile victory that has been theirs since the first hour of the match.

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    • thelegglance Aug 7, 2015 / 7:31 pm

      Voges has at least shown his team mates how to bat in these conditions. He’s played quite well.

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    • pktroll (@pktroll) Aug 7, 2015 / 8:03 pm

      I thought Broad still bowled pretty well, without of course getting the wickets that he might have done. Sure Wood and Finn didn’t do too well in their first spell, but if there is a time to be off your game it is when you have such a stupidly big advantage. For what it is worth I thought both of them came back pretty well later on in the day.

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      • thelegglance Aug 7, 2015 / 8:59 pm

        Broad has been excellent. But he’s an excellent bowler. Except when they make him play when he’s injured anyway.

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      • Tony Bennett Aug 7, 2015 / 9:01 pm

        I was a bit unfair on Broad based on today. He did beat the bat quite a bit early on (especially Warner). I was disappointed that he seemed so knackered late in the day – he bowled what, only 25 overs in two days, and could scarcely get above 79 mph in his brief final spell. The bonus for me was Stokes who so effectively stepped up – a serious advantage.

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      • pktroll (@pktroll) Aug 8, 2015 / 8:44 am

        I got the impression that Broad actually cut his pace to suit the conditions somewhat and got the ball to zip around a bit more. Anderson often does the same too.

        Finn and Wood are going to have an inconsistent time of it for me. I am not sure that they are that repeatable in their methods. What they have though is good enough on their day.

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  3. Arron Wright Aug 7, 2015 / 7:28 pm

    So, two series wins from five since the difficult winter, both against “major” opponents playing quite staggeringly inept cricket.

    This will not be part of tomorrow’s narrative.

    Not looking forward to it tbh. We’ve had a brief taste so far: tomorrow is open season.

    By the way, Agnew is really pissed off about umpires no longer bothering with no-balls, and he’s dead right to be. The sport is turning into a video game in some respects.

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    • thelegglance Aug 7, 2015 / 7:34 pm

      Yes Agnew is exactly right. It’s not fair on the bowlers or even on the batsmen. Vic Marks did mention an idea put to him that the square leg umpire is of little value in modern Tests, and could be positioned at cover to watch for no balls. However, umpires don’t seem to have a problem calling no balls in ODIs, it’s just Tests where they don’t bother.

      Boycott at least has launched into a scathing denunciation of Australia in the Telegraph this evening.

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      • d'Arthez Aug 7, 2015 / 8:25 pm

        You could actually do it with technology as well. Should be much easier than Hawkeye and its predictive path. It would also saves the anguish caused by wrong calls (especially when a no-ball is called when the delivery is actually legitimate).

        If an umpire makes a wrong no-ball call in Tests, the damage is usually not that big, especially since supposedly all the dismissals are checked for overstepping. But in limited overs stuff, that may cost the fielding side 10-12 runs (plus the extra for the no ball call).

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    • BoerInAustria Aug 7, 2015 / 7:47 pm

      How is Pringle’s prediction looking like?

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      • Arron Wright Aug 7, 2015 / 8:09 pm

        He will need 6 wins out of 8, with seven of those eight in the UAE and SA. But with the best batsman since Hutton as well as a declaration genius and expert ball-parrier in the side, he’s probably pretty relaxed.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Zephirine Aug 7, 2015 / 8:42 pm

      Holding has been on about the no-ball issue for some time. The umpires don’t seem to warn bowlers at all any more. Sky had some footage of no-balls that hadn’t been called in this series, and some of them were shockers, way over the line. Finn seems particularly bad, but Wood is also careless.

      Bumble was offering some excuse about umpires having to stand where they can’t see the ball and not wanting to antagonise bowlers by standing nearer – but surely there’s far more bad feeling when a bowler has a wicket disallowed?

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      • thelegglance Aug 7, 2015 / 8:49 pm

        When Agnew was (rightly) having a rant about it, he mentioned that he’d spoken to Rod Tucker about it, and he expressed frustration that while he called them, some other umpires didn’t. I do think that they call them in ODIs gives the lie to the claim they can’t see it.

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  4. Arron Wright Aug 7, 2015 / 7:49 pm

    Nothing on “OhmyBroad”? Massive oversight that calls into question your credibility as a cricket blogger.

    😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Mark Aug 7, 2015 / 8:25 pm

    I know it’s Dmitris least favourite subject, but you can’t make any judgement about this England team without taking into consideration the pitch conditions.,England are chalk and cheese depending on what the surface offers.,If it offers very little, Enlamd are a very average side. On the other hand, if it swings and seams England can look like world beaters.

    Bizarrely, the same can be said albiet in opposite conditions, Australian are also Jekyll and Hyde. Who honestly belives that if we were going down under again this winter it wouldn’t end up 3-0 4-0 or 5-0 to Australia?

    Non of this seems to worry the cricket administrators, and the home fans. (Sorry, home customers) they get what they want. And they are paying big bucks to get what they want. Everyone’s a winner baby!

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    • Sean B Aug 7, 2015 / 8:31 pm

      My argument summed up in one, home teams generally produce home pitches to ensure they win. England have no clue how to deal with pace, Australia the same with swing

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    • SimonH Aug 7, 2015 / 8:58 pm

      Another parallel is with India. India whitewashed Australia by preparing a series of slow turners that made Ashwin, Ojha and Jadeja look like world-beaters. Hurrah! Home fans were happy. India then went abroad where they didn’t encounter those sort of pitches and looked absolutely hopeless.

      English green seamers are probably even less common in other countries than slow turners. Genuine pace, reverse swing and class spin are needed most everywhere else. They’re certainly going to be needed in UAE and SA. Unless England can get results in such places this strategy is a recipe for mid-ranking respectability, not long-term dominance.

      All verdicts are on hold until the winter tours.

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      • Mark Aug 7, 2015 / 9:55 pm

        And the one sided nature of each series reinforces home fans desire for revenge and an even more stacking of the conditions in their favour.

        It’s a nuclear arms race of pitches and conditions.

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    • Fred Aug 7, 2015 / 9:52 pm

      I agree it’s abysmal to see few teams able to compete when they tour. But it’s not a new issue, Australia has always found it incredibly difficult in India, and visa versa.

      I would think this Australian team is as familiar with English conditions as any have been in the past, with Rogers and Voges playing alot of CC, and a few others having done a few tours here. And yet still they couldn’t cope. I hesitate to say Australia needs more experience in English conditions, because they as a team probably play more in England than anywhere else. Broad bowled well yesterday, but not that well. The result was not because of unplayable bowling, but rather poor batting.

      Nor do I buy the stuff about Lehmann being the cause of this. He coached Yorkshire successfully and despite his rough persona he’s clearly a smart cricketer. I find it hard to believe he’s leading his team in the wrong direction in respect to English conditions.

      A top 4 of Warner, Rogers, Clarke and Smith is pretty damn good, (with the only proviso that maybe Clarke has hit a wall, he’s looking like a beaten man). Rogers knows England, and Warner and Smith learn and grow daily as a lifestyle. It’s astounding that Lords aside, they haven’t found a way.

      I don’t know why tourists are doing so badly. You can’t change the pitches, no one would accept that their pitches were modified to conform more to an international norm. Maybe more tour games are needed. The only other explanations are that historically travelling teams always find it hard and this is not such an exceptional event, or that we’re just at a low ebb of smart adaptable cricketers and things will get better.

      Maybe someone should go ask South Africa how they did it.

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      • Arron Wright Aug 7, 2015 / 10:06 pm

        But we’re playing their game. We’re only discussing the (spit) Big 3. SRI LANKA won here in May/June FFS, and shove your six inches of carry, they deserved it. New Zealand, given a proper series, may well have done, and they lost a cracking match; they did not lose like Australia and India.

        Everything still comes back to those three bastards in Dubai for me.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Fred Aug 7, 2015 / 11:12 pm

        That’s true, SL and NZ have done better in England than Aus or Ind. Aus also won in SL recently.
        It’s very difficult to pick a trend because there are so few teams, they only play each other every couple of years at best, and there are so many pitch, weather and seelction variables. It’s so difficult to establish a proper context.

        Historical comparisons are even more tenuous, the game has changed so much. Anderson and Broad are breaking records held by people who played a dramatically different game. There’s just no point comparing.

        If my memory serves, Eng, SL, WI and Ind have all been badly beaten in their latest Australian tours. NZ won the Hobart test. Only SA has been difficult.

        So how did SL compete so well in England?

        I have many things to say about those three bastards in Dubai, but I can’t blame them for this issue. It’s not their fault Australia scored 60 or that England collapsed in Australia last time around.

        It seems to me like the depth of cricketing expertise is being reduced, even though everyone is playing more cricket.

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      • Arron Wright Aug 7, 2015 / 11:29 pm

        No I can’t blame Giles and “N” ( and Wally) for 60 all out. I can totally blame them for seducing idiots (and far too many journalists) into thinking that Australia and India are more important than every other team, and so even the crap Test series of recent vintage are given a cachet they don’t remotely deserve. We here in England still have to read about Cook and his amazing win in India (tbf the only decent Big 3 v Big 3 series in a long time). His only other away win is Bangladesh. He has an Ashes whitewash on his record. Hussain won in Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Vaughan won in West Indies and South Africa. All four of those wins are as momentous as Cook’s in India, in terms of English cricket history. None of them have been valued anywhere near as much by mainstream sport writers. Much the same happens here with respect to Clarke, I’m afraid. The fact he got hammered in India is seen as overwhelmingly more significant than beating South Africa away (also, and on j

        This stuff is only going to get worse.

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      • Arron Wright Aug 7, 2015 / 11:31 pm

        The bit in brackets was going to say (also, and in no way coincidentally, the best Test series this decade).

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      • Fred Aug 8, 2015 / 12:39 am

        “Much the same happens here with respect to Clarke, I’m afraid. The fact he got hammered in India is seen as overwhelmingly more significant than beating South Africa away”

        Regarding M Clarke, I’m just astounded at how little respect he gets. He’s been Australia’s best batsman since Ponting, he led Australia to beat a very strong SA away, including some personal batting heroics, he’s led the team through transition (no McGrath or Warne for him to call on), he’s captained Australia well, he’s been articulate and honest with the press, he fields brilliantly, his test average today is 49.7, his ODI average today 44.5, he’s taken 31 test wickets as a bowler, he’s been a beautiful batsman, and he’s done all this despite a chronic bad back. What more do you want from a guy?
        I look at the hagiography that Cook gets and the criticim that Clarke gets and can only shake my head.

        I do take your point about the importance attached to certain matches. My comment was about the challenges facing touring sides, but I concede that using the standard of how Aus-Eng-Ind do against each other is limiting, and ignores the talent of the others, which is just what Srini, Giles and Wally want us to do.

        I think DOAG and an angry Kimber is a good sign, I’m hoping this might change things. But coming back to my original point, I don’t think it will help Australia play better in England, they’ve had every chance to learn, but apparently haven’t.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Pontiac Aug 8, 2015 / 2:29 am

        I suspect that there’s some kind of bullheaded point about strategy being made in the Australian setup and someone has gotten it all very badly wrong… twice. As if to say, ok, we’ve just won a world cup, we can score 300 runs in 50 overs, let’s just go out and do that. The run rates throughout all this have been nuts. Why are any of the #3-6 doing /anything/ other than looking to play out a maiden or two then maybe look for a single an over for their first 30 deliveries?

        It’s one thing when the openers get blown out in the first over. It’s a totally different thing when it’s second spell time.

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      • Arron Wright Aug 8, 2015 / 7:21 am

        Fred, I think SimonH diagnosed the English attitude to Clarke perfectly on here a few days ago, at least for the embedded press. He “pissed all over the legacy of Flower, Cook, Saker etc” with the whitewash. It probably is that simple.

        Liked by 1 person

      • d'Arthez Aug 8, 2015 / 8:16 am

        Fred “recently beating Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka” was in 2011. It was the debut series for Shaun Marsh (he made his debut in the second Test), Trent Copeland and Nathan Lyon.

        The last time Australia played Tests in New Zealand was 2010. Australia whitewashed the hosts, but it is nearly 5.5 years ago now.

        Let’s look at it in some detail:

        Since the start of 2011, there have been 47 matches between Australia and England across formats. A few of those were in World Cups / Champions Trophies T20 World Cups, but still. Compare that to the number of England / South Africa games which stands at 14. An eye-watering three of those were Tests. Pakistan stands at 10 (mostly all from the UAE tour of 2012). Bangladesh stands at 2 games in the World Cup, both games won by Bangladesh.

        Australia has played 47 games against England in that period. They have played 6 against New Zealand. 4 against Bangladesh, and 3 against Zimbabwe.

        India have played 42 games against England. 31 against Australia, and also (surprisingly) 31 against West Indies. 12 games against Pakistan, 11 games against Zimbabwe and 10 games against New Zealand.

        Now I am aware that this snapshot may not be fair, but scheduling is not rational: we have had 3 Ashes series since the last time Australia played Tests against New Zealand for instance, or England played against Pakistan. So it is impossible to take a “fair” snapshot courtesy of the ICC.

        Schedules are simply becoming increasingly dominated by teams of financially similar standings to make more money. Yay for the scrapping of the FTP. So you get a group of India, Australia, England, who dominate the fixtures between each other. England plays close to 50% of its ODIs against Australia and India for instance.

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      • Arron Wright Aug 8, 2015 / 8:34 am

        Btw Fred, Sky cricket are now tweeting a stat about Clarke having experienced the most Test defeats of any Aussie in England (10/20, soon to be 11/21). Someone will have to let me know when they get round to tweeting the flip side, that Cook has lost 11 out of 15 Tests in Australia.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Fred Aug 8, 2015 / 9:35 am

        D’ARTHEZ, so Australia overwhelmingly plays against England and India. That would explain Clark’s loss statistic that Arron quotes above. If they played other teams more often, it may be different.

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      • d'Arthez Aug 8, 2015 / 9:56 am

        Fred, That loss statistic for Clarke has been accrued since 2005, since it counts only games that were played in England. It also counts the Pakistan-Australia series played there. But jolly nice of Sky to credit Cook and co. for Australia’s efforts against Pakistan in that series too.

        Against England he’ll slide to 10 losses out of 19 games played against England in England, today. So it has taken a fair number of tours for Clarke to get there (4). The similar statistic for Cook has been accrued since 2007, and has taken all of 3 tours to acquire (11 /15).

        Clarke’s record may deteriorate to 11 out of 20 if England win the next Test as well, but that is still better than Cook has achieved against Australia, unless Cook somehow avoids defeat in each Test in the next Ashes down under. Chances of that happening are slim at best.

        Shall we mention that Strauss has most losses in the UAE too, by a non-Pakistani captain? Or if we look just at regular players, that the leader of the pack is none other than Cook, or just about the entire England team that played all three games in the UAE? I thought not.

        Oh, and it is not like New Zealand, Sri Lanka, or South Africa have played fewer games there …

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      • Fred Aug 8, 2015 / 1:31 pm

        D’ARTHEZ
        I think you’re suffering from the same flaw in your thinking that Arron does. You’re obsessed with these “fact” thingys, at the expense of emotion, nationalism and confirmation bias.

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  6. Sean B Aug 7, 2015 / 8:38 pm

    Another very strange day of cricket, but congratulations to England, they have turned up when it’s mattered, though some of the shot selection over the past four tests beggars belief.

    I was just getting into that nice warm, Ashes victors feeling, when I saw this and immediately my blood boiled:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/cricket/article-3189774/Alastair-Cook-got-England-players-right-close-Ashes-nation-too.html

    So Cook (who has had his first decent series as an international Captain) is now Mike Brearley and categorically we were all wrong to even think that KP should’ve been allowed to play for his country again. The ECB always knows best!

    How do these hacks even sleep at night, pretending they’re journalists, when all their doing is promoting the ECB doctrine and not actuay doing they’re job at journalists. Give me f**king strength…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Zephirine Aug 7, 2015 / 8:58 pm

      When England lost by 405 runs at Lord’s, many were wondering if Cook would even see out the summer.

      So this is a personal triumph – more so because it came in adversity. We no longer recall Pietersen’s triple century for Surrey, the intense pressure that put on Cook and the ECB during the Tests against New Zealand.

      We no longer consider Cook, negatively, against Clarke or Brendon McCullum.

      We are reminded, instead, that this is a captain who won a rare series in India, and gave English cricket some of its finest days in recent memory; we note, too, that he has ushered in a bolder, and more attacking style, and was unselfishly willing to embrace that to set an example to his team, even though it is far from his natural game.

      Don’t you just love that journalistic ‘we’? It means ‘we, the people I’m completely inventing to fit in with the angle I’m taking’.

      Totally out of touch. Cook’s doing all right as captain, though not with the bat, but he’s yesterday’s man. The reason he looks happier is probably because he doesn’t have to lead the side on his own any more. Sadly, KP is the day before yesterday’s man.

      Liked by 2 people

      • thelegglance Aug 7, 2015 / 9:02 pm

        Do you know something? I’m no trained (or untrained) journalist, but I wouldn’t bloody dare ever write “we” on anything I put on here. Assuming anyone agrees with a word I say is arrogant presumption, and you’d rip me apart if I did it, and I’d deserve it.

        That’s not me saying look how good I am, it’s me saying I’ve never dreamed of doing so. Never.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Tony Bennett Aug 7, 2015 / 9:08 pm

        “The reason he looks happier is probably because he doesn’t have to lead the side on his own any more.” Very perceptive. Although it is probably over-egging the pudding to say, as some are, that this is now Root’s team, nonetheless Root has become a prominent leadership figure, and I suppose it would be fair to say that Cook has lacked such support in the past. I’m not making any excuses for his past failings, mind you!

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      • Zephirine Aug 7, 2015 / 9:11 pm

        They all do it, though. The Guardian, as you know, is awash with ‘columnists’ and their standard technique is to invent something ‘we’ all do and then write some tosh about it, e.g. Why we all secretly fancy George Osborne or Why we wish we could walk through life wearing yellow pyjamas.

        I decided a while ago never to read any article that had the ‘we’ in its headline and it improved my quality of life quite a bit. But the ghastly Samuel sneaked it into that piece towards the end.

        PS. Oh, Ben…. Stokes gives interview while sipping Kool-Aid: “Cooky has gone through a really tough two years. But since the West Indies he has found the form that makes him the greatest ever England batsman that we will see.

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      • Tony Bennett Aug 7, 2015 / 9:14 pm

        Do they hand out scripts? Amazing.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Zephirine Aug 7, 2015 / 9:20 pm

        Tony (sorry, replies are coming out in the wrong order) I used to have this theory that Cook was a natural beta wolf, who had been at his best being the loyal lieutenant to Strauss and follower of Flower. Telling him he was a born leader and making him captain was actually quite cruel.

        I haven’t revisited that theory lately, but I think it still convinces to some extent. Root is now obviously one leader, but I think there are several – Moeen, Buttler, Stokes – and Bayliss is telling them to take responsibility for themselves. So Cook can be, if you like, one husky in the sled team rather than the alpha wolf having to be ahead of the pack.

        [closes cod psychology notebook]

        Liked by 2 people

      • Fred Aug 7, 2015 / 9:34 pm

        “we note, too, that he has ushered in a bolder, and more attacking style, and was unselfishly willing to embrace that to set an example to his team, even though it is far from his natural game.”

        We note too that as England shook off the Flower doctrine and some young players took a more attacking approach, Cook clung on by his finger tips to embrace a style that every one else was adopting, even though it is far from his natural game. He’s managed to get by, greatly aided by laughable Indian and Australian efforts in England.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Arron Wright Aug 7, 2015 / 10:10 pm

        Sorry to be blunt, but he was still fucking whitewashed in abysmal fashion, was treated as if completely blameless, has a shit home Ashes record as a batsman and is the most mindlessly indulged person I have ever seen in British sport (exceeding even late-period Beckham).

        Liked by 2 people

      • Rohan Aug 7, 2015 / 10:30 pm

        ‘we note, too, that HE has ushered in a bolder, and more attacking style’ this is precisely the sickly pro-Cook rhetoric I was abhoring in my post below. HE has done nothing of the sort. For the majority of HIS leadership, England have played dour, mindless, safety-first, attackless cricket. Based on bowling dry and grinding out big scores. The attacking mindset we have seen under Cook has coincided with the arrival of Bayliss and Farbrace. Allied to this certain players such as Root and Stokes appear to feel more comfortable in the international environment. As a result they are probably maturing and are, therefore, more able to take responsibility and let their voice be heard in the dressing room.

        ‘we note, too, that HE has had nothing to do with the more attacking style that has been boldly ushered in under Bayliss and Farbrace’ would be a fairer reflection of events.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Mark Aug 7, 2015 / 10:43 pm

        “We no longer recall Pietersen’s triple century for Surrey, the intense pressure that put on Cook and the ECB during the Tests against New Zealand.”

        They never recalled KP s triple century even on the day it was scored.

        So a county player should not make a triple century because it will put pressure on the poor little England captain? This Is probably the stupidest line ever in English cricket journalism. And that is saying something. But not surprising coming from a well known ECB stooge.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Fred Aug 8, 2015 / 12:49 am

        Rohan
        “The attacking mindset we have seen under Cook has coincided with the arrival of Bayliss and Farbrace.”
        I think it’s got more to do with the new players England has selected. Farbrace was the caretaker coach for one successful game and he was being credited for the change. Same with Bayliss, should we believe he turns up an two weeks later the team is transformed?
        What I think is that England finally faced the fact that things were changing,lots of new young players were selected, the World Cup was a disaster and then NZ turned up to wave the red flag at the bull. With Cook, Strauss and Flower calling the shots it may have been different, but with Ali, Root and Stokes in the team, England changed.

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      • SimonH Aug 8, 2015 / 9:44 am

        On top of Martin Samuels’ other idiocies, I liked the way he said ‘funky’ captaincy was overrated garbage then immediately praised Cook for two examples of said ‘funkiness’.

        Clarke’s legacy is that most captains are now ‘funked up’. In fact, it is almost now the norm and hopefully the term can be laid to rest (I never liked it but it’s a convenient shorthand for non-traditional field placings). The legacy of the kind of cricket Flower/Strauss practiced is….. errr, what exactly? Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery – don’t look at the bitter words about Clarke, look at their behaviour and you know they know he was, on this, right.

        (Just to clear, and I’ve written on this before, I don’t think Clarke alone invented ‘funky’ field placings. Border to Gooch in 1989 is the earliest example I can think of – and Fleming and Vaughan used them before Clarke. Clarke did take the idea to a new level though).

        Liked by 1 person

      • Arron Wright Aug 8, 2015 / 10:16 am

        SimonH, I was also going to mention Vaughan in that context. Also, some people need reminding that the recent NZ series did not invent quick run rates. I am watching an obscure series from 2005 in which run rates consistently exceeded 4rpo.

        Like

  7. Rohan Aug 7, 2015 / 10:19 pm

    So are we now in an era where test teams, apart from SA, do not win away series. Many on here have noted how test teams playing away have increasingly struggled over the past few years, but have we now reached a tipping point and winning at home and losing away has become the norm. If so, I wonder how long this will last. I certainly see no reason for it to change, as long as home teams get their preferred choice of surface.

    On another note, there was a section on the live TMS feed that was sickeningly pro-Cook. It listed his incredible declaration, his inspired decision to bring on Ben Stokes to bowl, his clever attacking fields and a couple of other points, which were all credited to Cook and not the actual player/players who made the difference. It’s all too much and for me, the constant ‘Cook is amazing’ rhetoric, spoils my enjoyment of some fine performances this summer from many other England players.

    I think if I am honest Cook’s captaincy has actually been okay this series. The problem is, that it was so poor in the recent past, that the improvement to average is such a drastic change, that it appears much better than it is. I guess it’s all relative. Cook captaining okay against Aus is better than the pitiful efforts he put in in the last ashes.

    Anyway, hopefully he steps down soon and we can be free of all this sycophantic nonsense.

    Like

    • Arron Wright Aug 7, 2015 / 10:37 pm

      You won’t be, though, because someday he’ll parry a dolly and someone will do a Strauss/Stokes/Ramps to catch the rebound and everyone will praise Cook for his quick thinking.

      It will never end.

      Liked by 1 person

      • LordCanisLupus Aug 7, 2015 / 10:43 pm

        I’ve had a good few beers tonight. I need them. This is going to be a tough couple of months.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Sean B Aug 7, 2015 / 11:03 pm

      Totally agree, a number of good points, very eloquently put

      Like

    • Fred Aug 8, 2015 / 12:55 am

      “Anyway, hopefully he steps down soon and we can be free of all this sycophantic nonsense.”
      I don’t want to spoil your day but you know what’s going to happen when he steps down don’t you? He’ll be on a microphone near you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Rohan Aug 8, 2015 / 8:02 am

        Oh wow! I hadn’t thought of that, Cook on Sky commentary, horrific, or even worse on TMS with FICJAM and LOVEJOY. He wouldn’t do that to us, would he? Certainly his sense of self entitlement makes me believe he would think he deserves it and that what he says is worthwhile and valid; he would think he is excellent.

        Like

    • SimonH Aug 8, 2015 / 8:17 am

      “An era where test teams, apart from SA, do not win away series”.

      I’m not convinced the problem is as generic as that, Rohan. NZ have recently won in WI and drew in UAE and England. Pakistan recently won in SL. SL won in England.

      The problem is more specific to the Big 3. India struggle in England and Australia. Australia struggle in England and India (and UAE). England have (‘difficult winter’ excepted) been slightly better against fellow Big 3 chums but haven’t beaten another top eight side in a series away since NZ in 07/08 (how many of the ‘greatest ever era’ goon squad know that?).

      This becomes a massive problem when Big 3 matches dominate the schedule and media coverage. But sod that. One unintended consequence of the Big 3 is that the non-Big 3 have scheduled quite a few matches against each other. SL v P was the last example and it was a terrific series (as was, for example, P v NZ) – much more enjoyable than what the Big 3 have been serving up.

      I’ll be watching these sorts of contests in the future.

      Like

      • d'Arthez Aug 8, 2015 / 8:31 am

        Australia do win a few series away. West Indies recently, South Africa (the one series South Africa have never won since readmission), Sri Lanka in 2011, New Zealand in 2010. All those are most recent efforts, so it is obvious that the schedule is highly unbalanced.

        But they generally struggle to get results in Asia. They have lost 10 Tests in Asia, and won just one since Warne and McGrath retired. That includes no fewer than 3 series whitewashes too. And the results in England after 2001 don’t make for pretty reading either. Lost 10, won 3, after today is not great.

        The quality of the cricket between Pakistan and Sri Lanka was much higher. Was entertaining to watch, and as an added bonus you don’t get all the media hype, nor all the blowing smoke up several people’s arses.

        Like

  8. Sean B Aug 7, 2015 / 11:02 pm

    I immediately grabbed for the wine after that Martin Samuels article (isn’t he the Muppet from the Sun – actually he’s writing for the Daily Fail, so about the same on the stupidity and racist stakes)

    Liked by 1 person

    • thelegglance Aug 7, 2015 / 11:08 pm

      He’s a competent enough football journalist (one person here will strongly disagree with me 🙂 ) but he shouldn’t be let anywhere near cricket. He’s a disaster.

      Like

  9. thebogfather Aug 8, 2015 / 6:14 am

    i just want to repeat what I posted yesterday, it may have got swallowed up in the general discussion and Gu waffle…

    my heart still sinking as cricket dies

    This is a shotgun wedding
    The blood of cricket everywhere
    Where monetary mutual bedding
    Is all that the ICC3 do care
    Fuck the cricketers
    Screw the supporters
    No series with warm-up games
    Away teams to the slaughter
    Test cricket – shat down the drain
    By self important bodies
    Accruing dollars before death
    Press luvvies and TV monopolies
    Deciding when to deliver the last breath
    And do they truly care?
    When the skill cupboard is bare?
    No

    Like

    • Zephirine Aug 8, 2015 / 10:12 am

      Excellent, Bogfather. From the heart.

      Like

  10. Grumpy Gaz Aug 8, 2015 / 7:17 am

    Cook’e captaincy agaisnt sides that capitulate to 60 all out has never been in question. Cook’s captaincy when under pressure is abysmal.

    The fact that Australia have been unable to put England under any kind of pressure at all recently does not suddenly make Cook a master tactician. Wait until we are the ones 60 all out and see what he does then.

    Liked by 2 people

    • SimonH Aug 8, 2015 / 9:51 am

      Well said, Gaz. This is the same set-up that delivered days three and four at Headingley against NZ.

      Cook has always been okay when Plan A works. Plan A is now more imaginative than it was. All that is some sort of progress. What it doesn’t prove is that Cook can come up with a Plan B or C when a session is going off the rails.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. pktroll (@pktroll) Aug 8, 2015 / 8:58 am

    I know there has been a lot of talk about the lack of experience in English conditions from the Aussie players but actually a fair number of them do have previous county experience, although not in more recent times bar Rodgers/Voges. Clarke, Smith have previously played county cricket with Hants/Worcs respectively. Mitch Starc played with Yorks. If you compared it to say the team of ten years ago then maybe not as some of those players had spent whole seasons here when not involved with their national side and they had many years of slugging it out before getting an international slot.The more condensed international programme makes it harder for the modern day international player, as well as the fact that the nearly players of test cricket are not of the same quality nowadays but this current lot are not quite the green (top) innocents that they are made out to be nor the fact that they were here only two years ago.

    Like

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