The Ashes: A Review

This Ashes series was crap.  Bloody awful, one of the worst seen in this country in many years.

There, I’ve said it.  It runs completely counter to the narrative that so much of the media have gone with, whereby for some it was comparable in its wonder to 2005, but sorry it was rubbish.  Not because England won, not for a moment, but because there were five Tests, none of which offered up a contest.

With hindsight, Cardiff was the best of them, and had anyone said after that game that it would prove to be the case, there would have been wringing of hands across the cricketing spectrum.  Yet England’s win by the margin of 169 runs proved to be the closest the sides would be, with every subsequent result being even wider.  Aside from arguably Edgbaston, where the feeling was very much after day one that England had it in the bag, even if the final scorecard didn’t quite reflect that, it’s the only one where the game was in any kind of balance after the first innings were completed.

That England won the series was a welcome surprise, but winning doesn’t mean it was a good series in itself.  The greatest Ashes series of them all is routinely named as 2005, and Australians are as quick to agree about that as the English, even though Australia lost.  Because that series was a slugfest between two teams who fought themselves to a standstill and didn’t give an inch.  This was a series where as soon as one side got on top, the other waved the white flag of surrender and looked to the next match – the lack of fight, the lack of discipline and the lack of gumption was shocking from both teams.  This isn’t good Test cricket, it’s a slaughter.  What made this series a bizarre curiosity was that the slaughter went in both directions, meaning that at the start of every Test the unknown was which team would be wielding the cleaver, and which would be the tethered goat.

Test cricket can be one of the most captivating sports there is, because the timescale involved in each match allows for ebbs and flows, for sides to recover and fight back.  Magnified over a full five match series, it can rise to the heights of the majestic.  Not every five Test series can begin to reach such exalted standards as the very best, and when one side outclasses the other then it can be something of a long haul, even for the victorious supporters, who tend to feel a slight dissatisfaction about the lack of uncertainty about the outcome, but given even a modicum of competition, it is fascinating.

And therein lies the problem.  3-2 looks like it was a good series at first glance, but sport is only ever compelling where there is competition, and in each match there was barely any.  Indeed only one of them had that air of competition beyond the first day.

All of which makes analysing the series somewhat problematic.  Did England win it or Australia lose it?  Given both sides showed quite exceptional levels of incompetence mixed in with occasional brilliance, drawing conclusions from a little over or under half a series means that a caveat must apply in each instance.

For England, only Root so much as managed a century (two of them) in the whole series.  His batting was so far ahead of the rest of the team that when he failed, so did the team as a whole.  To put it another way, only he could look back on it as a batsman with unalloyed pleasure.  His next test will be to see whether he can replicate this kind of run scoring away from home.  There’s no reason to assume he won’t, but at present he is a player in a rich run of form.  If he carries on in the two difficult tours ahead, then he might really begin to be considered the real deal.

Cook had a real mixed bag with the bat.  Two fifties only in itself is a pretty poor return in a normal series, though in this one only Bell and Root passed fifty more often than him.  Yet both fifties were in defeat, and the second of them rather irrelevant given the match situation.  It’s somewhat ironic that in advance of the series this writer was anything but alone in feeling that for England to win, Cook would have to have a fantastic series.  In reality, his contribution with the bat to victory was absolutely nil.  His captaincy in contrast was fine.  Not outstanding, but decent enough.  The problem with Cook is not with Cook himself, it is how the media respond to him.  Competent captaincy is most welcome, he acknowledged himself that he had learned and changed his approach, good on him.  But it is now at the point where such competence is lauded as being worthy of Brearley, and it’s total nonsense.  Cook had a slightly disappointing series with the bat but captained perfectly well.  It isn’t disloyal or anti-England to state reality and not join in the hagiography.  Cook seems immune from any kind of criticism from sections of the press, and it doesn’t do him any favours.

The one thing which is certainly in his favour batting wise is that although he didn’t get the runs, he looks technically much more sound than he did during his miserable run in 2013/14.  At that time his head was far too far across to the offside, which dragged his feet across to the offside, making him vulnerable to both the straight ball and the edge behind.  That particular failing has been corrected, and he appears much more secure in his technique.  To that extent, his quiet series can be put down to one of those things, but given the poor time he had of it previously, he does need to start scoring heavily again fairly soon.

His batting partner Lyth has probably seen his Test career come and go, and the pain etched on his face with his second innings dismissal tugged at the heartstrings.  England have developed a habit of losing openers not called Cook in the last few years, and both Compton and Carberry must feel considerable irritation that they weren’t persevered with, in the latter case in the face of far better bowling than any of the other hopefuls have had to cope with.

Ballance has responded well to being dropped mid series, and time in county cricket getting his game back in order might be just what he needs.  He has plenty of ability, and he’s hardly the first to suffer a difficult sophomore season.

The middle orders of both sides have performed poorly.  Bell seemed to either have a relative feast or total famine, but in the context of the others, those three fifties represent a reasonable return.  There is a real question mark now over his future.  With the exception of the pleasure that was evident from his contribution at his home ground, he has cut an unhappy, if not a detached figure for a little while.  Some with a poor grasp of grammar might have described it as “disinterested” even.  If that is to be Bell’s last appearance in an England shirt, as seems possible from his comment about deciding his future in a couple of weeks, then it’s a loss to England, and one that smacks of carelessness.  He still has much to offer, and he’s only 33.

Bairstow and Stokes both did OK on occasion, and in the first instance deserves persevering with.  In the second, Stokes tended to show the difficulty faced by so many all rounders over the years of trying to get both disciplines functioning at the same time.  He is a player of immense promise, and at the stage of his career he is at, his ability to bowl wonderful spells as well as play match changing innings is as much as should be expected of him.

The same could be said for Buttler, who after coming into the side as someone who had batting talent but whose keeping needed a lot of work, proceeded to turn that on its head by keeping extremely well throughout (the legside catches standing back were good, the one standing up was outstanding) and being barely able to score a run.  His final innings of the series did appear to show a degree of learning from experience, and in itself that’s a promising sign.  The improvement in his wicketkeeping too implies a player willing to learn.

The final member of the middle order, albeit one who batted as low as nine when a nightwatchman was employed was Moeen Ali.  Like with Bell over the years, there is a predisposition to be both frustrated by him and to make excuses for him.  He is simply unutterably gorgeous to watch; his strokeplay is entirely reminiscent of Gower, and when his batting is flowing, there are few players in world cricket more enjoyable to witness.  His position in the batting order often meant he had to go for his shots at the end of an innings, and that’s probably the best way for him to bat, as his technique isn’t a tight one.  Of course, in his case there is a problem, which is that his primary role in this team is as a bowler – something that may be considered unfair on him.  He didn’t do badly in the series overall, looking back at previous posts in advance of the series, his final average of 45 with the ball was even a prediction for being considered adequate.  There are two issues here though, firstly that he was comprehensively outbowled by Nathan Lyon, and secondly England’s refusal to pick Adil Rashid, seemingly under any circumstances.

It’s doubtful there is a much better finger spinner in English cricket, and having gone with Moeen, he should receive sufficient faith for him to continue working on his game.  He will get better.  However, it is becoming ever more difficult to see a justification for Rashid’s continuing exclusion, and even harder to see why so many of the press are so dead set against him.  Moeen was tried out as being far from the finished product, and given time to develop.  Rashid seems to be expected to be a hundred Test veteran on debut.  Surely he will get his chance in the UAE, and long overdue.

Of all the bowlers, Broad was the clear stand out.  Given his record over the last few years, he’s in serious danger of being consistently underrated.  Barely a series goes by without demands for him to be dropped, yet he’s one of England’s most consistent performers with the ball, even without the stunning spell of 8-15 at Trent Bridge which was truly wonderful.  He even did well in the horror tour of Australia last time.  When he’s not bowling through injury, he’s a serious threat to any side in world cricket.  As long as he’s told to pitch the bloody thing up.

Anderson will most of all benefit from the break enforced by injury.  That he was even considered for the fifth Test is concerning.  He’s an exceptionally fit athlete, and could go on for several more years yet, if properly looked after.

The return of Steven Finn has to be the most welcome sight in the England team.  He’s still not back at the pace he was, no matter how much he tries to deny it.  Perhaps the confidence gained from being an integral part of the attack will allow him to up that pace, because a bowler of that height consistently bowling high eighties is going to be a difficult proposition anywhere.  What happened to him in the past is a matter of deep frustration, but looking forward he is still young, still taking wickets at a truly remarkable strike rate and needs to be allowed to just bowl.  If England have changed one thing in regard to their approach to him, then let it be to focus on his wicket taking ability, not how many runs an over he goes for.

Mark Wood is something of a conundrum.  He clearly has a lot of talent, but his injury record isn’t a good one, and there have to be concerns about managing him properly.  Australia did point the way there with Ryan Harris, who they wrapped in cotton wool and as a result got at least two more years out of him than anyone could have hoped for, including him.  Seam bowlers are almost always carrying some kind of injury, so it isn’t a matter of plucking him out of the team at the first sign of trouble, but it is one of ensuring he doesn’t suffer a major injury.

For Australia, this is the end of an era for many of the squad.  Harris finally succumbed to his troublesome body before it even began, and perhaps more than anything that proved to be the ultimate difference between the sides.  He has been an outstandingly good bowler who had an Indian summer to his career.  When he broke down in the 2010/11 series, the sadness was the feeling that would be it, a career over before it had even begun.  He may not have played 80 Tests, but he played a lot more than he had any right to, given his physical problems.

Australia’s top three all had decent enough series, with the proviso that like everyone else, when they were bad, they were very, very bad.  Chris Rogers was outstanding throughout, and probably wishes he could have played his whole Test career against England.  Oh hang, on he more or less did.   Warner in contrast made lots of contributions without ever going on to get a big score.  It means that his figures are decent enough, but lack a match changing or match winning innings.

Smith had a similar series to Bell in some ways, the difference being that when he did get in, he went on to a very big score indeed.  His idiosyncratic technique makes this quite likely, and with him it’s a matter of accepting that, and knowing that when he does get in, he is going to seriously hurt the opposition.  His batting went a fair way to winning two Tests, focusing on his troubles in the other three is somewhat harsh.

Clarke’s retirement at the end of the series broke the last link with the great Australian side of the first decade of this century.  He had a poor series, without question, but very few players call it a day in a blaze of glory, not least because of the need for team mates to do their bit to provide the correct result.  McGrath, Warne et al managed it when they whitewashed England, but that truly great side is an exception.  Few decide to retire because they’ve been playing so well, and Nasser Hussain’s beautifully timed retirement winning a Test match and series with a superb century simply shows he had a sense of timing with his career that wasn’t always present with his batting.

England gave Clarke a guard of honour, and predictably enough (and more than welcome) the English crowd gave him a standing ovation on his approach to the crease.  Sometimes English crowds make you feel quite proud of them.  Clarke deserves it.  He’s been a terrific player, a terrific captain, and for those of us lucky enough not to be Australian, he was our leader in cricket too in the most tragic of circumstances.  His honesty in the face of defeat, and refusal to hide behind platitudes also marked him out.  It has been nothing short of a privilege to watch him play, and to leave the game of cricket having made a positive contribution is as good a cricketing epitaph as there can be.  To lose him in the same week as the peerless Kumar Sangakkara is undoubtedly a blow to the game, and the ICC could do worse than listen to what they say about the future of cricket.  And pigs might fly.

Just like England’s, Australia’s middle order had a woeful time of it.  Ironically enough that failing was just as prevalent in the 5-0 last time, but they were bailed out repeatedly by the lower order.  Not this time, though Johnson and Starc had their moments with the bat.  The jettisoning of Watson was possibly premature, his trials with the lbw law are hardly new, and at Cardiff he was the recipient of a couple of decisions that were fairly questionable, particularly the first innings one.  His replacements didn’t do any better, although his career is now probably at an end, distinguished by being one of the great unfulfilled talents.

Voges made a late bid to extend his Test career, Mitchell Marsh shows a lot of promise as a true all rounder given that bowling was thought to be his weaker discipline (he didn’t bat well), Shaun Marsh showed again – and probably for the final time – that he simply isn’t quite good enough at the very highest level and Brad Haddin also reached the end of the road.  The manner of the conclusion to his Test career seemed to cause some discord in the Australian camp amongst the senior players.  It’s a difficult one.  His batting and keeping had both deteriorated to the point his place should have been in jeopardy even if it wasn’t.  Perhaps it should just be put down to being one of those terribly unfortunate instances where they were faced with two wrong choices, and went for the better cricketing one.

Peter Nevill looks a decent enough replacement anyway, although he didn’t contribute with the bat too much more than the rest of that middle order.  His first class batting record is a very good one though, and he looks a perfectly competent gloveman.

Of the bowlers, given the loss of Harris, Siddle did seem the obvious replacement.  With hindsight.  It is all too easy to look at his performance in the final Test and say he should have been there all along, but there weren’t many calls for him to be in the side at the expense of anyone else, and in advance it was felt that Johnson and Starc’s pace would be more than good enough for England anyway.  Both were intermittently major threats, and the rest of the time expensive.   Ironically enough, it was Josh Hazlewood who made way for Siddle, despite having a better record than either of them, and for reasons hard to fathom bore the brunt of the criticism of the seam bowling selection that saw Siddle called up.

Nathan Lyon too had a good series, and showed what he is – a very fine orthodox finger spinner.  He’s every bit the equal of Graeme Swann, and perhaps at long last Australia will be content with their lot in the spinning department rather than harking back to the days of Warne.

Given how the series unfolded, in this one perhaps more than any other, it can be said that 3-2 was a fair result.  Three times England hammered Australia, twice Australia hammered England.  If there was a sixth Test, it could have gone either way, probably with a hammering.

The England players will rightly look back on the achievement with great pleasure, for they were the underdogs in the eyes of everyone.  The win is there to be enjoyed, but these are two teams who are very much at the crossroads.  Australia will largely need a new one, and will have to spend quite some time rebuilding and finding the right combinations.  England are at least playing a much more positive style of cricket, but they look a deeply flawed side at this stage.  There are plenty of players in that side in the early stages of their careers, and there will be ups and downs in their own performances.  What is more worrying is the collective implosions they seem so prone to.  They have two very difficult tours ahead, and as a young side may well rise to the challenge.  But they are going to have to, because otherwise they are in trouble.

This wasn’t an especially enjoyable series.  When third day tickets become something of a risky purchase not through it being a poor pitch, but because either of the sides are incapable of lasting that long, then there is both something wrong with them, and something extremely wrong with the series.  Some of the batting was genuinely second rate, in shot selection and execution.  It is to be hoped this is something of an aberration, because more of the same is going to pall very quickly.  Recent history around the world suggests winning away is becoming ever more rare, in which case England will face both the next 9 months and the next Ashes series with considerable trepidation.

The most damning indictment of this Ashes series is that the two Test version against New Zealand offered far more entertainment, far more sporting hazard, far more tension that anything the five subsequent games did.  England won, and to that extent it was great.  But Test cricket supporters have always had one eye on the team and one eye on the wider game.  The game itself in this series was dreadfully poor.  Pointing to the other eye and ignoring that is simply refusing to see evil.

@BlueEarthMngmnt

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45 thoughts on “The Ashes: A Review

  1. man in a barrel Aug 24, 2015 / 11:19 pm

    I am struggling to disagree with anything in this assessment. NOT FAIR

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  2. northernlight71 Aug 24, 2015 / 11:49 pm

    Right on all counts. It was rubbish. Luckily, for the first time in my life, I didn’t care.
    Win/Win for me then.

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  3. Steve Aug 25, 2015 / 12:32 am

    Excellent wrap up. With regard Hazlewood, I think the issue is that while Starc and Johnson were bowling similar to how they usually bowl (even if they weren’t getting the results), Hazlewood, particularly by Edgbaston and Trent Bridge wasn’t bowling like he had in his earlier tests and seemed to have lost rhythm and consistency potentially because he was trying to bowl outswingers rather than concentrate on the line and length which is more his forte. Watching him drift so many into Cook’s pads was frustrating and not how he had bowled in West Indies or Australian summer.

    Even with perfect selection Siddle wouldn’t have been in until Edgbaston at the earliest (but why change a winning team!!) but more realistically Trent Bridge. While its possible that he could have had an impact on the game at Edgbaston, the likely hood of it impacting Trent Bridge given the catastrophic outcome is low (unless you were counting on him making his first test Century).

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    • ArushaTZ Aug 25, 2015 / 7:23 am

      I think the criticism of Hazlewood has been pretty ridiculous. What they’re basically saying, is that because he was billed as the new McGrath and failed to live up to those (impossible to meet) standards, he’s a failure and has let Australia down. Very little criticism of Johnson for not being consistently threatening, no criticism of Starc for being wayward with the new ball, to the extent that he often only bowled 2 or 3 over opening spells.
      They make excuses for Stokes and Wood, saying they’re young and inexperienced therefore likely to be inconsistent for a while but worth sticking with, yet overlook the fact that Hazlewood is only 24 years of age. He was on his first tour of England and arrived having only played 33 first class matches and just 5 Test matches. Despite that, he took 16 wickets in four matches at 25.75. That is a better performance than every England bowler other than Broad. What the hell do they expect from the poor lad?

      Hazlewood’s career so far: 9 matches 40 wickets Ave. 21.75

      I think that’s quite a good start.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Arron Wright Aug 25, 2015 / 8:04 am

        I agree. Fair to make the points Steve makes above, but to turn this into a #Lovejoymaths 3.5/10 (when Wood gets 8), or a diatribe like Selvey’s, is just rank.

        On a related issue, compare and contrast the way in which Wood and Rashid are treated and written about. It’s not quite at “Cook/Jimmy can never do any wrong” levels, but it still serves to alienate me even further from the England set-up and its nauseating hangers-on.

        And the way Anderson’s three consecutive wicketless innings (0-170 while Broad took 7-164) have been completely forgotten is one of my other lowlights from a deeply unsatisfying summer. Exactly as he was in the 2013 series, he’s been someone who delivered one outstanding performance when conditions suited, but otherwise gone missing. Yet Smith gets brickbats for *two* such performances and Anderson only fulsome praise. Go figure.

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  4. Boz Aug 25, 2015 / 4:51 am

    The announcement that BT will show the next Ashes in Australia is the major outcome as it further indicates the removal of the game from the general population. Harrison and Clarke’s total disregard for the cricketing public continues as the outcome of the ‘matches’ appears to have little significance to them – it’s all about the money – a more nasty group of individuals would be hard to find except for the present government!!

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    • metatone Aug 25, 2015 / 8:04 am

      To be fair, this is a CA decision rather than an ECB one.

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      • d'Arthez Aug 25, 2015 / 8:11 am

        That is a fair point Metatone. But we must never forget that the ICC is all about the money now: the BCCI and CA would love to follow the ECB money just to get their hands on even more money. It was only by accident that cricket is still on FTA in Australia, not some inspired vision of CA itself.

        How this would broaden the base for the sport is beyond me. But who cares about people playing the game, when the suits can hobknob with fraudsters, and suspected war criminals, right Giles Clarke?

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      • d'Arthez Aug 25, 2015 / 8:12 am

        the ECB model, not money. Lack of caffeine doing me in.

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    • escort Aug 25, 2015 / 9:28 am

      This was a cricket Australia decision. It’s got sod all to do with the ECB or anybody in the nasty government.

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  5. metatone Aug 25, 2015 / 8:08 am

    I would still rate Swann at his best over Lyon, but it’s clear that Lyon has become very good. What is interesting is that Lyon proves that DRS has made the finger spinner much more flexible. (At first I and others thought maybe it was just Swann.) A finger spinner of the requisite quality can now contribute in the way that before DRS only leg spinners did. (e.g. bowl early in the match, even on a good pitch and carry a threat.)

    Whether some of that is behind the treatment of Rashid, I don’t know. But I do think it’s clearly time for England to either give him a chance or let him go. He’s not going to get any more out of carrying the drinks. (Many commentators forget he did about a year of that in the past, and it did his game no good at all…)

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  6. metatone Aug 25, 2015 / 8:15 am

    I can imagine that Warner may have a few regrets. There were a couple of moments where he was in and if he’d carried on to a decent score it could well have changed the game and the series with it…

    I think Hazlewood will come again – and deserves better treatment than he has had. As others have noted, the real issue for Aus is that neither Starc or Johnson are made for low-scoring games on pitches where they aren’t getting the bounce to terrorise… Starc is young and will improve – you wonder if Johnson should now be a “horses for courses” pick (at least away from Aus.)

    Siddle’s figures are, I suspect, a little flattering. England clearly on the comedown after TB and winning the series. Also, one might say they were caught out by finally facing a bowler who could do what Broad had done…

    Aus have some rebuilding to do in the batting with retirements – but thankfully I don’t have to care about that because we’re not going to play them again for a while…

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  7. metatone Aug 25, 2015 / 8:26 am

    Bell will be a big loss if he retires, because there are few candidates for the no. 3 slot really making a good case.

    Wood – I’m worried about – England haven’t changed the medical staff and they have a poor record with injury management.

    I’ve said before, Stokes and Ali both suffer from the other being in the team, because if they both struggle with the ball, then the team is in a hole. I guess we all just have to grit it out and hope that one of them can quickly find a way to put in solid spells even when out of sorts. I’ve no idea if batting higher up would free up Ali’s mind when it comes to bowling – but maybe it’s worth a look, even if his technique is a little loose.

    Lyth – unlucky in some ways – I’ll always wonder if it could have been different if he’d been given the WI games to get his eye in. Still, he can’t complain I think…

    I’ve watched most of Bairstow’s career and I’m not convinced he’s a Test 5, but definitely believe he deserves more games to make his case.

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    • LordCanisLupus Aug 25, 2015 / 9:02 am

      Uses something called logic and evidence. It will never catch on.

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      • Arron Wright Aug 25, 2015 / 9:04 am

        It’s come to something when such a fair and balanced appraisal of Cook and Anderson almost makes me punch the air. That sort of writing should be standard, but it clearly isn’t.

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  8. SimonH Aug 25, 2015 / 10:00 am

    “Compton and Carberry must feel considerable irritation that they weren’t persevered with”.

    Both are also having very good CC seasons which for some reason I’ve not seen mentioned in the MSM. Carberry is fourth highest England eligible run-scorer (behind Hildreth, Borthwick and Hales). Compton is seventh highest. Both are closing in on a thousand runs and both average over forty. Both haven’t been converting fifties into centuries but it has been a damp, generally low-scoring summer. Carberry has the additional factor of playing in a weak team.

    Mark Stoneman and Nick Browne have both scored 900+ runs and stand more chance than Carberry or Compton. Both may well get call-ups into the Development Squad so Flower can run the rule over them (I think it probable we’ll never see another player selected without them going through that stage). They could take a punt on what we keep being told is the class of Alex Lees but his figures are quite moderate, especially when playing for a very strong team. Daniel Bell-Drummond’s century against the tourists in a warm-up match may turn out to be worth several in the CC for media attention (Vaughan has him in his team to retain the Ashes in 16/17 but then he has Joe Clarke batting at No.3).

    Whether Browne and Bell-Drummond have their D2 status held against them remains to be seen.

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    • Ian Aug 25, 2015 / 11:50 am

      Michael Vaughan recommending players ay? I just went to check if Clarke and Bell Drummond are signed up to ISM but it seems they aren’t which was a huge surprise to me.

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  9. Mark Aug 25, 2015 / 10:19 am

    “But Test cricket supporters have always had one eye on the team and one eye on the wider game.”

    Unfortunately this is increasingly not the type of fan the ECB want to encourage. For the Harrison’s of this world would prefer plastic fans. More like football glory hunters. It’s rah rah rah if we win, and ignore the bigger picture if we lose “Get behind the team” is a wonderful way of quelling dissent. And they can be relied on to consume their fill of branded burgers and fries, and gallons of either sponsored beer or sugary cola.

    “However, it is becoming ever more difficult to see a justification for Rashid’s continuing exclusion, and even harder to see why so many of the press are so dead set against him.”

    I would suggest that certain sections of the media are nothing more than ECB Machiavelli’s…..Whispering sweet nothings in the shadows to certain players, or sticking the knife in the back for others. Its all contrived and spoon fed to them from the dark corners of Team England. They are incapable of thinking for themselves. Preferring to have their talking points delivered to them in a brown envelope. Who knows if their instructions come with any extras?

    For the first time in my life an England Ashes win has been completely ruined by a media who insists that you can only enjoy it on their terms. If you refuse to obey you are branded a traitor. And that sums up the 2015 Ashes. It was more about a rotten media settling old scores than the cricket.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Rooto Aug 25, 2015 / 11:27 am

    Assuming Cook doesn’t pick the squad, but picks the team from it, my question is “what has Rashid done to upset Cook?” The selectors like him more than the captain.

    A much easier question to answer is “Is Cook’s personal mistrust/ dislike of Rashid enough to incite the regular mauling Rashid gets from the likes of Mike Selvey?”

    Like

    • SteveT Aug 25, 2015 / 11:43 am

      ‘Barmy’ Ronay’s best moment of the series

      ‘That catch by Ben Stokes. Otherwise I liked Alastair Cook name-checking Peter Moores after England had won the series. Cook isn’t a natural communicator and can come across terribly, but that was a glimpse of his best qualities.’

      Off-field events even more inspiring than what happened on the field eh? What is it coming to?

      Like

    • Mark Aug 25, 2015 / 12:30 pm

      Cook has a terrible record of handling spin bowlers. He learned his trade as captain under the dark theories of Flower. “Dry up the runs” was the only policy in town. Lucky for him he had a really good spin bowler in Swann. He could keep it tight and take lots of wickets of top order players.

      When Moeen came into the team Cook seemed suspicious of him. Only giving him short spells to rest the pace bowlers or as partnership breakers. Eventually he came to trust Mooem to the point he rushed him back after injury for the WI.

      There is a list of players as long as the M1 who have have been subjected to dark mutterings in the media from the ‘Machiavelli Mikes.’ Their spies are everywhere watching for the wrong move. Look out of the wrong window or pick your nose at the wrong time, and a Dossier will be produced.

      There is a claim and debate that the Sky commentators are banned from using the words “Kevin Pietersen. ” They deny it, but some are saying it is true. I think it is clear there has been an attempt to air brush him out of history by some. Aggers mentioned his name on Sunday during the rain delay on TMS and there was a groan from the media pack of Brenkley and Marks. But you can still say his name on TMS.

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      • Zephirine Aug 25, 2015 / 1:26 pm

        Bumble reminisced the other day about a great Pietersen shot, to a noticeable silence from the others.
        But Gower says things like ‘other people, but we don’t need to talk about them’. Given that Gower is far from stupid, this may be his way of drawing attention to some suggestions that have been made that one person shouldn’t be discussed.

        How ridiculous is it that we can even talk about this as a possibility, and that it might be true? But brand marketing rules these days and ‘lines to take’ replace independent thought.

        Liked by 1 person

      • dlpthomas Aug 26, 2015 / 12:10 am

        At the start of the series against Sri Lanka last year, Gower referred to Pietersen as “he who can’t be named”. I thought it was a joke at the time but maybe not.

        Like

    • emasl Aug 25, 2015 / 5:10 pm

      Yes

      Like

      • emasl Aug 25, 2015 / 5:12 pm

        Yes.
        This response is in reply to a comment about Cook not liking Rashid. Not sure how it ended up here

        Like

  11. SimonH Aug 25, 2015 / 12:47 pm

    Nick Hoult points out this morning that although Sky have the rights to the SA tour the rights to the matches in UAE aren’t currently sold so there is some possibility BT Sport could yet bid for those.

    Like

    • Arron Wright Aug 25, 2015 / 12:51 pm

      Ignore me: the sub-headline writer hasn’t read the article. Thought it was odd there was no Oval Test…

      Like

      • Arron Wright Aug 25, 2015 / 12:59 pm

        Tell the Guardian subs, not me 🙂

        Like

  12. Boz Aug 25, 2015 / 12:52 pm

    Fixtures for the Sri Lanka and Pakistan 2016 tours out – more back to back nonsense – why don’t they play them all on the same day>

    Like

    • SteveT Aug 25, 2015 / 1:23 pm

      Nice they are playing ODI’s against Ireland. Bet the Lankans can’t wait to get to Headingley and Durham in May. Pack your thermals lads! There’s also five ODIs v Pakistan, rather than four. Can’t wait to see the 2017 schedules. I think it’s 7 straight tests after the ICC Champions Trophy. Sheer insanity. Who’d be a fast bowler.

      Like

      • d'Arthez Aug 25, 2015 / 1:57 pm

        Oh, and South Africa are supposed to spend close to 4 months on the trot in England in 2017. First the ODIs, then the Champtions Trophy, and then the actual Test series. So they’ll be in England from May till the beginning of September.

        At least the West Indies get to go home between the ODIs and their Tests … (their break probably will be extended by their likely failure to participate in the Champions Trophy).

        Like

    • d'Arthez Aug 25, 2015 / 2:00 pm

      Well, there is the option to have 4 umpires, and bowlers running in at each end at the same time. Will be fun for the fielders. Admittedly a few rules have to be adjusted, but it would certainly result in 2-day Tests … (running between the wickets will be hilarious to see).

      Ring Colin Graves. He’d appreciate it.

      Like

    • SteveT Aug 26, 2015 / 12:03 pm

      Has anyone seen Pseuds Corner in the last Private Eye (not the current one, the one from Aug 7-20). Of the five extracts, the Guardian Cricket team have got two in there, one from Barney Ronay and one from Aaron Timms. FICJAM will be jealous

      Like

  13. SimonH Aug 26, 2015 / 7:00 pm

    Comprehensive win for SA in the 3rd ODI against NZ to take the series 2-1.It’s all been rather low-key with no associated Test series and some class players missing (no FDP, Morkel, Duminy, McCullum, Taylor, Boult, Southee) but not without some interest.

    SA won today largely because ABDV, after looking out of sorts, woke up and played the match winning innings. NZ only looked up to the chase when Latham and Williamson were together but the former was cleverly run out by Miller and Williamson on the charge was diddled by Tahir’s top spinner. Thereafter NZ lost wickets every time they tried to accelerate and were never up with the rate.

    SA have seen the faith shown in Behardien starting to be rewarded and Wiese and Rabada are looking the part in ODIs. Whether either could step up to Tests is more doubtful – Wiese is also no spring chicken but Rabada took six-for when SA U19s beat Australia last year. NZ saw Latham (top run-scorer in the series) progress as an ODI player and Milne (joint top wicket-taker with Tahir) looked sharp on his return from injury.

    Like

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