A Little Bit Of This, A Little Bit Of That

Good day to you all.

I am not a rugby fan. Actually, I sort of prefer league to union, but that’s by the by. But I took more than a passing interest in this year’s England team at the Rugby World Cup because, as we all recall, when England were chasing a certain person out of the squad and were seeking to start a new path, the name Stuart Lancaster was being thrown about as if he were some sort of all-seeing, all-knowing guru. The candle to lead England’s sporting managers away from the dark days of unharnessed, unhinged talents, and instead embrace culture, good environments, hard work and playing with pride in the shirt.

So, when we went back to the greatest coach of his generation after the Ashes whitewash, Peter Moores was seen as a man very much in the Stuart Lancaster guise. Oh we had it all…..

The England rugby team has evolved particularly well and it would be wrong not to look at the way they’ve done that. That kind of stuff, the Englishness, the legacy you want to leave behind of the culture we want to create. – Alastair Cook

“Lancaster has done a fantastic job. In a very short space of time, he has sorted out English rugby. He’s talked the language of teams that Paul Downton and I like very much.” – Giles Clarke

Paul Downton, while not having a quote to hand (and there not appearing to be an easy one to latch onto online, was certainly part of the gang that thought Stuart Lancaster was imitating the culture of the All Blacks, which Paul and his crowd proclaimed as the greatest sports team ever (based on longevity of dominance – I suppose Brazilian football is probably a bit too fancy dan for out Paul).

Lancaster, from this perspective, seemed no more inspirational than someone like Brendan Rodgers, who got his cards yesterday. There was lots of seeing off old faces, trying the wacky non-conformist and getting shot of them, and then churning out dull, boring teams in the main, that frustrated the life out of you. You can see talent there, but you couldn’t see leaders. You could see ability, but you didn’t see belief.

Rugby people seem to be rallying around Stuart – hey, we could be inside and outside rugby before you know it.How people like Lewis Moody (I’ve just watched his Kicca monologue) can sit there and say that we should maintain a coach because, and I paraphrase, other World Cup winning coaches hit rock bottom and then built a team up (honestly, I was laughing at this point) I don’t know. It’s this mentality that kills us. Somehow, someway, honest toilers will become world beaters because of culture and good environment. It isn’t about that. It never really has been.

We English rush to say someone is amazing before actually settling in for the long haul. I know it was a good couple of years ago, because I was still driving home from work in those days, when there were 5 Live Specials on the new and wonderful regime Lancaster had engendered. Other coaches were keen to tap his brain, follow his lead, share his knowledge. Yet, it has to be said, I was asking “what has he done?” At that time, a win in an Autumn International against New Zealand seemed to be it. Absolutely nothing to sniff at, in much the same way as smashing Germany 5-1 in Munich wasn’t for Sven. The test, like for Peter Moores and every England football coach, is the World Cup (or Euros / Ashes). Wait until they’ve been where it really matters and take it from there.

With the debate over Lancaster’s future, there doesn’t seem to be much past “he’s a nice guy, and he’s got to be given the chance to turn this around in 2019, which we’ve been long-term planning for with lots of young players in the wings.” Cricket fans have heard this for 18 months now. We spunked a World T20 and a World Cup behind nice guys in charge, who created a good environment, but seemed to be lacking that bit of something else. I’ve come to the conclusion, sadly, that to coach an England team, the one trait you must not have is being English.

Feel free to continue the rugby debate. I think it’s a no-brainer that Lancaster has to go, but then I’ll be accused of all sorts, so what-o.

In the cricket world, England are out in the UAE and recovered from a dodgy position with runs for Cook (cue the salivating from his One Direction like followers in the media), Root (we’re going to be up shit creek when he fails), Bairstow (good on him, a nice surprise) and Adil Rashid (this could be fun). The bowling tomorrow is going to be interesting, as Rashid can stake his claim with a decent performance.

There were all sorts at Cuttack where India made a right old balls up of their innings and South Africa won their second T20 game. Wonder if the locals are blaming the IPL in the same way we blame the County Championship? Then there was a bit of naughties with the crowd, which had the hand-wringers out on Twitter (as a Millwall fan, God I’m used to that old shite), and we’ll see a hastily lifted up carpet with the afters of all that swept neatly under it.

There’s a One Day Series in Zimbabwe going on, but I’m not exactly on board with it. Been pretty busy and not that engaged in cricket, which I know a number of you are also feeling at the moment. The latest edition of the Cricketer didn’t even raise the rage. Selfey rambled on about the late Brian Close, while Henderson wrote a rather odd article about Zafar Ansari in which he both seemed to criticise him for mentioning that with the likes of himself and Rashid in the team, along with Moeen, there was a more representative feel to the squad, and then going on about Zafar’s Double First and British Asian club sides not socialising. Or something like that.  Lovejoy’s little bro wrote a wonderful intro to a piece on Ben Stokes that was like FICJAM’s little bro. Simon Hughes banged on about pace bowling, berating coaches and experts who sought to change mechanics to allow bowlers to last, but hardly mentioning the crippling effing schedules these bowlers have! The whole magazine is going down the pan, and even Tim Wigmore’s effort on Zimbabwean cricket is not enough to save it!

Humourous point that may resonate only with me. Playing International Cricket Captain on the tablet and Surrey were struggling against Glamorgan. Only KP stood firm with a doughty 106. As he reached his hundred, Aggers commentary goes “and that’s his hundred. Solid rather than exciting.” See! SEE! Even the games are programmed to slag off my KP!

I’m going for a lie down.

Be back soon.

57 thoughts on “A Little Bit Of This, A Little Bit Of That

  1. Sean B Oct 5, 2015 / 8:27 pm

    England loves an ill equipped, gallant loser as long as he is a nice guy! Bomb at the World Cup? That’s fine, tow the company line and we’ll pin it on someone who doesn’t sound like us! All aboard the gravy train Prpp Prpp! Now where’s my champagne and six figure salary? Giles, pass us the port old bean….

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Julie Oct 5, 2015 / 9:07 pm

    KP’s new book coming out.Now this is going to be interesting.Can’t wait to see the comments from our all knowing press

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mark Oct 5, 2015 / 9:38 pm

    Can the English coach in the modern era?

    Not many English coaches in the Premiership have been successful. English coach dropped from cricket team. English coach about to be dropped from rugby team. Mind you, Wales, Ireland and Scotland also have foreign coaches. Perhaps it’s a British thing? But then Ferguson was a Scot and he certainly could coach/manage successfully.

    Does the England coach get held back by the Blazers? Do they require a certain English aloofness that has to fit the system. Is all English team sport run like a private club in Pall Mall where the right tie is very important? Non of this is new. Brian Clough was kept out of the FA because the Blazers feared they couldn’t control him.

    We elevate players too quickly to greatness. We don’t ever seem to put things in context. The English are by nature conservative with a small c. They don’t trust flair. It’s flakey. It will let you down. Being let down by a flake is seen as an English crime. Losing through a lack of flair is seen as a lesser crime.

    And to add insult to injury English sport is a wash with cash. Bucket loads of tv money sloshing into the pockets of average players. Failure rewarded with huge salaries. Maybe we are a nation of watchers. We certainly are happy to pay out huge money to watch foreign imports at our football clubs. Who knows? But we won the Ashes, so it doesn’t really matter. And anyway all the elite sporting Blazers are getting richer by the day. That what really matters.

    Like

    • d'Arthez Oct 6, 2015 / 5:40 am

      Now, I know next to nothing about domestic rugby, so I can’t really comment on what is happening there.

      With regards to football, English players are simply lacking in the technical skills. It seems as if they are either never taught those skills, or worse, that these skills get coached out of them (you can make that argument on the basis on how many young starlets seem to regress after turning 21). Being overpaid for mediocrity and having a fanboi-press does not help matters either – if you can get 50k / week for hoofball, why would you even bother to play proper football? If no one is ever going to tell you that you have played like cr*p, that your attitude stinks, out of fear of alienating you (and thus costing the club millions), who is going to deliver the hard truths when they need to be given?

      Average English players come at a premium, so who is going to pay John Smith 50k a week, if they can get a guy, who is better for 10k a week, simply by hiring someone who used to play in say the Netherlands, Belgium, or one of the many African countries?

      Those are several reasons why England have mostly fared rather poorly in the Euros and World Cups. In football the national team coach is more of a figurehead, than in a sport like cricket. After all, how many games do the likes of Root play for their county sides? So Hodgson, or whoever the FA will put in charge next, can only do so much given the time constraints – and at most it would be akin to fiddling with the margins.

      The problems here revolve around the Premier League, and to solve some of those issues, drastic reforms are needed. Here, more similarities with cricket emerge – because the Premier League survives on the insane amounts that are being paid for the broadcasting rights, just like the counties survive on the Sky deals. In fact even non-performing counties like Kent, not to mention the likes of Leicestershire are more influential in world cricket than say New Zealand. So chances of positive change coming are between nil and zilch. Something similar applies to the FA.

      Throwing money at the problem is the preferred method, but the rot will only worsen that way – unless you invest in grassroots. The resurgence of Belgian football is something to look at. But that is not going to happen, unless immediate survival is at stake. At the moment, the press, the ECB, and the “fans” (I am specifically thinking of the ECB-approved ones) are actually starting to kill cricket off. These fans are being used as a justification for the continuous monetization of the game. That same monetization that is driving away people in hordes – either by putting up paywalls, or continuous scheduling of the same opposition over and over again. The ECB and the press are certainly not above distortion and outright lies. You’d have to have been braindead to think that 2015 came even close in terms of achievement when comparing with 2005.

      Hopefully the situation is not as dire in rugby.

      Liked by 1 person

    • paulewart Oct 6, 2015 / 7:55 am

      Ferguson was very much a hangover from a previous era. He’d established a formidable power base before the suits came in. I’d be surprised if we see another like him again (thank goodness!)

      Like

    • LordCanisLupus Oct 6, 2015 / 8:14 am

      I have a theory that for an English coach to succeed he needs to act like he’s not one of the lads. Then he gets branded arrogant and the team doesn’t play for him. Getting close to the players didn’t work for McClaren. Woodward was of his time. Also I think if a coach is English our attitude is the players he will be leading got him there. He owes them. An overseas coach has none of that.

      One thing I liked about Sven at the start was his first squad. He looked at all the premier league players and picked some outliers (Chris Powell for one). The press were outraged. One, it was such a shock so evidently he never leaked it. Two; he didn’t pick some press favourites. He soon learnt.

      Like

      • paulewart Oct 7, 2015 / 7:00 pm

        Funnily enough, Liverpool supporters on The Anfield Wrap have been making the very same point. They argue that Klopp may be forgiven a multitude of sins that Brendan can’t get away with. Familiarity and contempt, y’see, we recognise Brendan’s lower middle-management type.

        Like

  4. paulewart Oct 6, 2015 / 7:42 am

    ‘I suppose Brazilian football is probably a bit too fancy dan for out Paul.’

    No, it’s just too working-class, out of his ambit.

    Like

  5. paulewart Oct 6, 2015 / 7:49 am

    ‘ It’s this mentality that kills us. Somehow, someway, honest toilers will become world beaters because of culture and good environment.’

    It’s this that kills me. They take a couple of soundbites from Aussie and Kiwi culture without drilling down. It’s the lazy, half-arsed Ed Smith school of journalism: all soundbites and no analysis. The ‘no dickheads’ rule is the prime example, of course, which is quoted with abandon but never subject to analysis: it’s part of a broader culture, dickheads, and that culture is all about winning. Environment, culture, everything, is subjugated to winning. Have these people ever spent time with Aussies or Kiwis?

    Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus Oct 6, 2015 / 8:07 am

      My rugby mates point out plenty of dickheads that play or played for New Zealand. Maybe they come from the right kind of family?

      Liked by 1 person

      • paulewart Oct 6, 2015 / 10:02 am

        I’d argue that rugby is played exclusively by dickheads which renders the argument void 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      • Larry David Niven Oct 6, 2015 / 10:17 pm

        England would arguably have faired better if they’d picked two dickheads – Manu Tualagi and Dylan Hartley.

        Like

      • paulewart Oct 7, 2015 / 7:02 pm

        And Cipriani, of course, who it turns out, had a bit of a to-do with Mike Catt. All very KP if you ask me. Wrong sort of family and too much flair to be trustworthy.

        Like

    • Ian Oct 6, 2015 / 12:50 pm

      I support a conference football team that have just avoided relegation over the last two seasons. We avoided this relegation because of a goalscorer. He was probably the most slagged off player going because he was called lazy.

      Lost count of times I banged my head against a brick wall arguing with fans who thought he should be binned off for someone else who would work hard.

      Until talent is held above working hard in this country then we will only rarely succeed at sport.

      Like

  6. keyserchris Oct 6, 2015 / 8:02 am

    As I’ve said in previous posts, I do follow rugby, and can safely say English rugby fans were not falling for the guff about culture & values that Lancaster brought in. It was a good idea at the start of his reign to project the image of a refreshed, new side after Martin Johnson left. But the last two years have seen so much chopping and changing of personnel it has been hard to discern the plan Lancaster had for the team. The flair players like Joseph, Ford, Watson only made the team in the last year as injury replacement, last resorts.

    The players have been mostly respected and liked in the last 4 years, but the overly-defensive mentality of Lancasters coaching group (the rugby equivalent of bowling dry) has been an issue on and off for sometime, and it was truly shock to see that mentality come back from nowhere for the Wales game. Lancaster sent out a team not to lose that night, forgetting we had usually won games by trying to actually win them…

    I didn’t fall for the culture & values guff with England Rugby, and I certainly don’t with cricket. All teams need is a bit of pride & a clear disciplinary structure to deal with miscreants, nothing else.

    Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, and all that…

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus Oct 6, 2015 / 8:06 am

      One might say that this culture, good environment and honest toiler stuff is Stuart’s elegant escape mechanism to keep his job.

      Like

    • Larry David Niven Oct 6, 2015 / 10:22 pm

      Allegedly the more defensive and safe selections have come about from Andy Farrell’s influence and Lancaster’s inability to override him.

      A theory I’ve seen posited is that you need at least one bastard among your captain and coach to succeed. Woodward and Johnson in 03 were bastards. McCaw and Hansen are bastards. Gatland is a bastard, Paul O’Connell and Michael Cheika are bastards. Lancaster and Robshaw are both nice guys.

      Like

  7. paulewart Oct 6, 2015 / 10:05 am

    On a serious note, there could well be a confusion emerging from a largley Atlanticized business culture that favour the individual over the team and the older Anglo-Saxon culture that privileges the team. I’ve an Aussie friend who insists on there being a huge difference between sports education and values in Australia with their emphasis on team work and their American variant.

    Like

  8. d'Arthez Oct 6, 2015 / 10:20 am

    Meanwhile in the UAE, the Pakistan A squad have reached 103/3 after 50 overs. Wood picking the first wicket, the other two going to Moeen Ali. Before we get too celebratory, bear in mind that neither Khurram Manzoor (16 Tests) or Aslam (2 Tests, both against BD), managed to average 30 in their Test careers. Oh, and neither of those players average even 40 in FC cricket.

    The only one who has a decent shout of getting in is Fawad Alam (3 Tests only, strangely, at an average of 41, to go with a FC average of 56). On cricinfo, Misbah is also included in the 15, but it seems highly unlikely that he will have a bat.

    Worryingly for Rashid, he has thus far returned 11-0-36-0. Not a calamity, but given the low scoring rate, a lack of maidens is probably going to count against him.

    Like

  9. SimonH Oct 6, 2015 / 11:26 am

    Bayliss has already pre-announced that Rashid is playing in the Tests. If Rashid doesn’t go well in the warm-ups this could be an interesting test of the Bayliss-Cook dynamic.

    It was a pity about Ansari’s injury, mostly for himself of course, but also because I’m convinced they were going to play Ansari ahead of Rashid.

    Like

    • hatmallet Oct 6, 2015 / 1:27 pm

      I think with Bayliss in charge, Rashid was always the frontrunner. Under Moores, there is no way Rashid would have been in the squad for all the Ashes Tests. Personally I wouldn’t have picked him in the Ashes, didn’t feel any of the pitches encouraged a dual-spin attack, but Bayliss wanted to work with Rashid.

      For a 2 day game, it’s gone quite well. Runs for Cook, Root, Bairstow and Rashid, wickets for Wood and Moeen, and Rashid got some good overs under his belt.

      Like

  10. SimonH Oct 6, 2015 / 11:39 am

    Another piece of whimsy in ‘The Spin’….

    Like

  11. man in a barrel Oct 6, 2015 / 11:22 pm

    Moores and Lancaster seem to share a lot of characteristics. They seem to settle on a team and then change it for negative reasons.

    At the cricket world cup, we seemed to have a good team…Taylor at 3…Woakes etc. At the cup, Ballance is in, without haing a chance to display any form, Taylor at 5, Broad…and Woakes as also ran.

    In rugby, Ford, Burrell and Joseph seemed to have a good understanding. Come the world cup, Forde replaced by Farrell, Burrell by Bentley…

    I think everyone knew it would be a disaster apart from Lancaster.

    Bentley did a good job bottling up Roberts but that was all he did. Maybe it was enough. We has 10 points in the bank.

    So take off Bentley. Move Farrell there. Bring on Ford to a 3/4 line without pace and creativity.

    Roberts crashes past Farrell. Try. wales win.

    WTF

    Against Australia, the thought processes were even more contorted. But putting your only creative centre on the wing as a replacement and then bringing on Ford and Farrell was just cruelty. How was Ford expected to get the ball out to the wing with those centres?

    Like

    • Mark Oct 7, 2015 / 2:27 pm

      It’s the curse of the square peg in the round hole syndrome. Seems to be a problem with some coaches. They delude themselves into believing they are Svengali like. Mad professors in a laboratory, ever mixing the test tubes to try and find the right combination. Brendon Rodgers is another one who has just lost his job, and was constantly playing players out of position.

      I remember the last England game at the old Wembley. Kevin Keegan needed to win against Germany, and for some bizarre reason suddenly decided to play Gareth Southgate in midfield. He was a centre back, but the manager tried to be too clever. He then said he didn’t feel he quite had it at this level. He would have been better of keeping it simple. So would Lancaster.

      Like

    • paulewart Oct 7, 2015 / 7:04 pm

      The Peter Principle writ large.

      Like

    • Mark Oct 7, 2015 / 1:05 pm

      What a pile of shite this silly little man writes. Sounds like he is angling for a knighthood from Cameron with his British values claptrap.

      Perhaps he can explain the rise of some of the greatest cricketers of all time coming from a group of small, poor islands called the West Indies? No great Empire State to create the men there. Or how about the great cricketer Don Bradman from a country which had only a few million residents.

      I could go on and on. Pele, Maradona, Puskas, but it would be pointless. Ed Smith proves that sometimes you can be so clever, you end up a complete and utter moron. Why do people pay for this garbage?

      Like

      • LordCanisLupus Oct 7, 2015 / 1:13 pm

        I love how his last three paras were left out but then put back in. Wonder what happened there?

        Like

      • Mark Oct 7, 2015 / 2:46 pm

        That’s hilarious. They quickly put in the last 3 paragraphs which go against his main argument. He wrote them in the first place. Too funny.

        There are plenty of examples of great sporting achievement without any major nation behind them. Fans choose to get behind players for many reasons. And at many different times.

        His argument seems to come down to ………if my my dads uncles great grandfather had been a woman ,I would have been someone else. Genius!

        Like

    • paulewart Oct 7, 2015 / 7:15 pm

      My God he’s a tit, though, isn’t he? Not a jot of research. Lazy, lazy journalism. It’s telling that he’s only able to reflect on the recently retired Sachin Tendulkar’s greatness through the prism of W.G. Grace and Babe Ruth’s careers. Shouldn’t he have reflected on Tendulkar’s career while he was playing? Isn’t he a global superstar for our times? Aren’t journalists supposed to report on news? What a fraud.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. SimonH Oct 7, 2015 / 8:47 am

    Chris ‘Laughing’ Stocks manages to omit mentioning who dropped two of the four catches yesterday. It couldn’t have been back-to-his-best-leads-from-the front-greatest-strategist-the desert-has-seen-since-Rommel, could it?

    Meanwhile, we have this from Farbrace,

    ‘I think there is a feeling among the senior players who were here last time that even though they lost the series 3-0 they could quite easily have won it’.

    I think I’ve just fallen in love with this set-up all over again…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • d'Arthez Oct 7, 2015 / 1:32 pm

      England made all of 5 fifties in 6 innings in the previous tour of the UAE. Cook made 1 fifty, Broad made 1 fifty. So good were England’s batsmen, that none of them managed to score an unprecedented two fifties in a three-Test series.

      The other two surviving senior players are Bell and Anderson. All of those 50s were made in the first innings. So, I imagine that there will be jubilation in the press, once an England batsman does better than Prior’s 49* in a second innings. Never mind the fact, that just about EVERY single touring team in the UAE has batted better than England in 2012.

      So, if scoring all of 5 fifties in six completed innings is a good enough performance to have “just as easily won the series”, then pray tell, why are you not thanking your lucky stars that Australia could have just as easily won the Ashes 4-1 in England (they made 10 fifties in the three Tests they lost)?

      Just be honest. “We batted as if we were a bunch of zombies who discovered they had allergies for wood / bats”, but we are desperate to do better this time around”, would at least come across as less entitled.

      Like

    • Ian Oct 8, 2015 / 8:34 am

      I can understand that to some extent. They were only chasing 144 in Abu Dhabi then losing in Dubai after dismissing Pakistan for 99 in the first innings.

      Like

  13. Rohan Oct 7, 2015 / 9:28 pm

    Agree Dmitri, Lancaster out! The resetting of English Rugby culture was good and necessary, but this seemed to pervade and ‘fog’ everything Lancaster did in the following 4 years. In short, it became the all consuming mantra/ethos, instead of being the initial springboard to something greater and better………I am annoyed that I was taken in by it for too long……

    The parallels between English Rugby and the ECB are uncanny. I am sure somewhere, probably in a room full of champers, caviar and the right sort of families, those involved in the administration of these 2 behemoths are slapping each other’s backs! Hey, why worry our little minds about administrators though…..

    Disappointed to see a match report from the UAE, which basically said Ali=amazing and Rashid=shocking, with not much else commented on. I am sure it was not that simple and, although Ali took 3 wickets which was sound, it did not constitute the over the top, ‘oh look how amazing he is’ report I saw. Of course that’s not Ali’s fault, just a comment about some of the poor reporting, but hey, what’s new?!

    Like

  14. BoerInAustria Oct 8, 2015 / 5:00 am

    “Jos Buttler very close to a score for England, says coach Paul Farbrace”

    So he is due… I think I have heard that before. I suppose he is looking good in the nets.

    Like

  15. d'Arthez Oct 8, 2015 / 9:30 am

    Meanwhile, Finn is amongst the wickets this time around. Could he be coming in for Wood?

    Rashid has picked up his first wicket this tour. Sami Aslam, an opening batsman, and the only one to perform decently for Pakistan A thus far (43, out of a total of 73/6 now after 40 overs).

    Like

    • pktroll (@pktroll) Oct 9, 2015 / 9:33 am

      Finn doesn’t seem to think that he’s going to play and I can’t really see it either. I think England will pick Anderson, Broad, with Stokes as the all-rounder/3rd seamer with Ali and Rashid doing the spin bowling. Bayliss seemed to suggest a few days ago that England were going to go with Rashid and I just can’t see how England will go in with 4 seamers. They made that mistake in the UAE first test back in 2012 and also at Ahmedabad later that same year.

      Like

  16. Sir Peter Oct 8, 2015 / 3:12 pm

    Khurram Manzoor, Ali Asad, Usman Salahuddin all batted twice details are only known for both innings combined. What kind of a match is this?

    Like

  17. Sir Peter Oct 8, 2015 / 3:15 pm

    So for six innings they managed 17 between them? As Lionel Ritchie asked at Glastonbury “What the hell is going on?”

    Like

  18. Mark Oct 9, 2015 / 8:54 am

    From the cricket info site about this warm up match……

    “Players per side 15 (12 batting, 11 fielding) ”

    It wouldn’t be so bad if these matches lead to more away test series victories. But the number of away test wins is going down. All seems rather pointless. But hey, we won the Ashes, so 15 a side is fine.

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  19. SimonH Oct 9, 2015 / 9:29 am

    Both Newman and Stocks in their reports yesterday flirt with the heretical idea that it isn’t a straight choice between Wood and Finn for the Test team but maybe, just maybe, there’s a question about whether St Jimmy should play.

    Meanwhile, both openers in the Test place shoot-out have failed. Ian Bell though has made a fifty which I’m looking forward to reading about in the same terms that accompanied Cook’s fifty in the first match (back to his best, leading from the front, greatest knock since Goochie’s 154 etc etc).

    Like

    • Mark Oct 9, 2015 / 11:26 am

      Dream on Simon.

      Only the man of steel can lead from the front. Only he can score the great innings since Bradman. Must be pretty disheartening to know that if you score an innings of 180 it will not be seen as great as a “stylish16″ or a ” gritty 22.”

      Like

  20. SimonH Oct 9, 2015 / 2:29 pm

    Of course it was Cook who supposedly talked Bell out of retiring so all Bell’s runs are Cook’s too. They’ll probably be added to Cook’s career aggregate.

    I’ll give Newman credit for three things:
    1) He call Bell’s innings “sublime”.
    2) He appears to have actually watched the warm-up games (unlike, say, Selvey and Brenkley).
    3) He’s now got through two days without licking Strauss’s boots which must be close to a personal best.

    On the other hand, he writes “it is little wonder that the bulk of Test series these days are won by ‘home’ sides when it comes to this [lack of proper warm-up matches]”.

    I don’t recall the difficulty of winning away being mentioned much a few weeks ago when England at home had drawn with NZ and beaten Australia 3-2.

    Like

    • SimonH Oct 9, 2015 / 3:52 pm

      Selvey’s flown out today judging from Twitter.

      Meanwhile, ECB-TV’s promo for the series lacks Billy Joel songs and any footage from the last tour there but manages to squeeze into its 30 seconds ‘that’ piece of commentary from Nasser Hussain:

      Like

    • d'Arthez Oct 9, 2015 / 4:15 pm

      Did England offer New Zealand and Australia proper warmups? No. Second XI galore, and that of some of the worst county teams. But apparently it is acceptable when England do that. At least this Pakistan A side had several players who have had Test experience (Manzoor, Amin, Alam, Junaid, Aslam, Adnan Akmal). How many people without FC-experience were playing in the warmups against Australia?

      The ECB is desperate to start the home season during the IPL, almost as if to ensure that the opposition cannot prepare properly, since most teams’ (other than India and Australia), are utterly dependent on the IPL to make a good living.

      Like

      • Tuffers86 Oct 9, 2015 / 6:09 pm

        The bloody pricks should be playing proper three or four day FC cricket against associates like the UAE, Afghanistan or Nepal. Give something bloody back at least. Fed up with these shitty warm-ups against jobbers when they could be doing something constructive with the mission of improving world cricket.

        Sick and tired of this farce.

        Liked by 1 person

  21. SimonH Oct 10, 2015 / 7:50 pm

    More of a struggle than 3-0? That must be pretty bad…

    Like

    • Mark Oct 10, 2015 / 9:32 pm

      If Japan ever takes up cricket they will have more chance of wining the rugby World Cup with their cricket team than the cricket World Cup.

      ICC in a nutshell.

      Like

  22. SimonH Oct 11, 2015 / 9:07 am

    Flintoff on England players when he started his England career:

    “People say Kevin Pietersen is self-absorbed. He’s nothing like as bad as some England players from that era”.

    He explicitly excludes Gough and Fraser from that verdict. It’s interesting to look back at who was playing during Flintoff’s early career and who now has a position in cricket administration or in the media.

    Meanwhile, India are off to a good start in a large run chase in the first ODI against
    SA. Ashwin was injured in the field and only bowled 4 overs – not sure how serious it is but it’d be a huge loss to India as he has looked in a different league to the rest of their bowlers.

    Like

    • SimonH Oct 11, 2015 / 11:45 am

      India somehow contrive to lose despite:

      1) Being 23 runs ahead with the same number of wickets down at the start of the 48th over on the innings-by-innings’ comparison (273-5 played 250-5).
      2) Having an opener make the highest ever score in an ODI second innings against SA (and the second highest ever score by an Indian in an ODI against SA)
      3) SA giving the last over to a bowler, Rabada, who has only just turned twenty years old. That’s proper inexperience as opposed to trying to pass off 26 year olds with over a hundred List A games as inexperienced.

      His figures don’t look that outstanding but Tahir’s two wickets for five runs in his last over were crucial – as was SA taking 53 off their last three overs.

      Like

  23. Boz Oct 11, 2015 / 10:35 am

    brilliant post in the DT today

    where have we heard this before?

    “mussel • 2 hours ago
    On the 7th September 2015 Ian Ritchie said he would shoulder the blame if England failed to win the RWC. IR said he had picked SL and will accept full responsibility for results – ‘the buck stops with me for RWC results’ he said. Ritchie promised to take full responsibility for appointing SL if the team falls short. So, if Ritchie is to be believed (yes, I know, I know) then his future is completely linked to SL’s future.

    Ritchie has placed himself in charge of the relevant inquiry into SL’s running of the England RWC build up and campaign.

    Therefore, this enquiry will find that SL’s campaign was as good as could be expected given the circumstances and that no blame accrues to anyone concerned and that everyone (especially Ritchie) can keep their jobs.

    Needless to say, painful lessons have been learnt and many positives taken (Hwah, hwah, hwah). We now have only 4 years to prepare all the media handouts and find more foreign based League players and invent more ticket laundering companies so time is too short to have any more divisive inquiries. We call on all True Fans to Respect the Honour of the shirt and stand uncritically behind us! Preferably in a queue for our over priced, mostly corporate box, tickets.”

    Like

  24. Mark Oct 11, 2015 / 11:38 am

    Well India just made a pigs ear of that chase.

    At 200/2 you thought they were cruising but they never got ahead of the rate and couldn’t catch up in last 5 overs.

    Always amusing when one of the big 3 mess up. Because as we know, it’s only about the big 3.

    Like

  25. SimonH Oct 11, 2015 / 1:50 pm

    Azhar Ali out of the First Test with an infected toe. He’s probably now Pakistan’s most important batsman so it’s a massive loss. His close fielding and part-time bowling will be missed too.

    Pakistan will presumable play both Shehzad and Hafeez rather than choosing between them and one of them will bat at No.3.

    Like

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