Sharjah – Day 5 – The Final Act

He's got us by the......
He’s got us by the……

This won’t be a long piece (it is). I’ve not had the best 48 hours (and thanks for those who have sent kind wishes, but the real sympathy must go to my cousin who lost her mum, and to mine and my wife’s friend who is about to lose hers), and added to that terrible stuff having a raging migraine and head cold is not the stuff to make you want to blog.

So let’s get that self-pitying stuff out the way before someone gets all prissy about it and I flee to some grotty South London boozer to avoid the flak.

Karl Marx once said that “Every step of real movement is more important than a dozen programmes.” (and you don’t know how many deadly dull Marx quotes I had to go through to get to that one) and despite some of the more doom-prone members of my lovely comments section, I have seen some steps of real movement. I think James Taylor’s first innings was very promising. I think Jonny Bairstow hasn’t done at all badly with the bat. I think we’ve seen, in Mark Wood, a bowler who will do well on the sub-continent. It’s not all doom and gloom. But it’s not all sunshine and light either. Tomorrow, we’re going to need something special to pull this off, and hope is in short supply. This won’t be a draw. 240 in a day to level a series does not indicate that we’ll be trying to avoid defeat. They will deserve untold stick for that.

Now, I’ve got to be honest, and say that I’ve seen very little of the last three day’s play because I have a job. Following the game has come from comments here, and various people on Twitter. In a theme I’m going to adopt a bit more as the weeks go on, the tendency for extreme reactions in the press is getting tedious. This is, at one time, the worst display by spin some people have ever seen. Really? Is it? Richard Dawson? Simon Kerrigan? Ian Salisbury? Come on, people. I’ve seen England cough up 600 on pitches like this, and yes, they had good pace attacks too. I’m not saying our spinners are the world’s best, but we are a bit hanging judge here. If it’s not the worst ever, it’s the greatest ever, and yes, we’ve heard that about Broad and Anderson. There was an article I linked from Awful Announcing, which people have picked up here, about the Kardashianisation of Sports Reporting. These are good people (and not so good) resorting to this pants on fire, I don’t remember yesterday type stuff. It’s ADHD reporting and ex-pros are the worst at it. I’m looking at Shiny Toy Vaughan in particular.

This has been a series to appreciate stuff we’ve missed. Younus Khan, Misbah, Cook’s 263, Root’s consistency, the tantalising flair, if just for one afternoon, of Adil Rashid. There’s the two Khan’s Yasir and Imran, different in approach, in reputation, in appreciation of their talents. The left arm fury of Wahab on a mission, or the metronomic consistency on pitches with little assistance by Anderson and Broad. To lose this series 2-0 would not be a disgrace. They have come on some way for the experience, but lost key parts to it. More of this is for review if I get the chance, but this has been a series to savour, when I’ve seen it. It’s not the breakneck, madhouse that is Ashes cricket, but what test cricket was like when I was younger. Wickets were hard earned, but so were runs. Chances had to be taken, because they were few and far between. Hafeez has probably sealed the series, but is there one more chapter to be written. One more story of derring-do to finish this contest.

I still have hope…

It was noted that Kevin Pietersen made 115 this evening for Sunfoil Dolphins. I’ve not seen the strength of anti-reactions I usually see, which indicates that the print media have now sought to leave this be. Maybe. I saw some made a case, which any sensible person would back, that he should be in our World T20 team. I saw some doubt the class of opponent. It is what it is. He still is a damn fine player. That’s not the issue, and I wish people would stop that pretence. It’s personal. The end.

Australia host New Zealand in the first test at the Gabba (reminding me of my trip down that way in the same week in 2002 – oh those memories). Personally, I think Australia will win pretty comfortably, probably 2-0, maybe even whitewashing them. They are playing on the three wickets that would suit the hosts the most, and while it will be entertaining, it may bring the Aussies back up to their confident best/worst. There are huge question marks, but Aussie seems to regenerate better than most.

India v South Africa tomorrow as well, I believe. In Mohali. Again, a fascinating series, and will depend on the pitches put up for the games. South Africa are resilient on all surfaces, and I fancy a drawn series. Maybe 1-1?

Kusal Perera. You poor thing. Something about 99s.

A couple of things I saw from domestic cricket around the globe. How about those Sui Southern Gas Corporation guys who torched (geddit) Hyderabad in a pretty one-sided affair, with a particularly inflammable subject taking 5 for 29 in the first innings. He even added 60 to SSGC’s first innings pouring oil on troubled waters for the hosts. Enough of that.

We could be on the brink of another double ton early on tomorrow……

Comments on all the international cricket, a hope that Nathan Lyon’s #1 fan makes a seasonal reappearance, and that we can all enjoy the valedictory pieces of our press-men, as many come home after the test series.

As tradition dictates……”comments below”

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146 thoughts on “Sharjah – Day 5 – The Final Act

  1. greyblazer November 4, 2015 / 9:39 pm

    What do people here really think of Rashid?
    Ian Bell, an overrated player of spin, but he should go to SA

    2 Other very interesting series about to begin. I expect Australia to run out comftorbale winners, and I think South Africa will edge it 2-1 in India. We may just have forgot how to play at home.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sherwick November 4, 2015 / 10:24 pm

    “Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen struck his highest Twenty20 score, with an unbeaten 115 from 66 balls in South Africa’s Ram Slam T20 competition.

    Playing for the Durban-based Dolphins franchise, the 35-year-old came to the crease in the first over and hit 10 sixes and five fours in his innings.

    He moved to his hundred during a final over in which 30 runs were scored, with Pietersen striking four sixes.”

    Ten f**king sixes! TEN!
    Still, if there is one thing that we definitely don’t need, it’s someone like that.
    Well done Strauss, you c**t.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rohan November 4, 2015 / 10:51 pm

      Incredible isn’t it and again on the verdict tonight, they said you can’t drop Bell as there is no one to replace him. Really? No one queueing up to get into the middle order Bob Willis said. Really? None of those on the verdict ventured to offer an alternative to what England have currently got. Really? The silence, the complete airbrushing of KP from our consciousness, the omerta is amazing.

      Get him back in!

      Of course we are obsessed and we don’t need him as this much vaunted middle order has torn Pakistan to shreds and left the series result in no doubt. #about as much use as a cheese grater is to a badger#

      In response to greyblazer I think Rashid has potential and under Bayliss, who seems to like and understand leggies, he COULD flourish. Worth persevering with.

      Certainly his FC stats compare most favourably to Swann, out of the 3 current spinners playing for England. His FC strike rate is much better than Swann’s, I think it’s 50 something, which, if he could translate that into test cricket would be very good. His FC average is circa 34, again if he could replicate that in test cricket he will do well for us.

      He will bowl unplayable deliveries, he will take wickets, he will give away runs, he will sometimes struggle in the first innings, but he is exciting, bats well and is a potential match winner. I see him as more likely to run through a side than say Moeen, Patel or Ansari.

      Like

      • LordCanisLupus November 4, 2015 / 11:23 pm

        I wanted to keep this quote for posterior, I mean posterity.

        Yeh and the Ram Jam Slam minus all the top South Africans (who are in India) is totally comparable with playing a test match in the UAE. What undermines the arguments of many of Kevin’s fans is an embarrassing lack of understanding about cricket.
        Just let the bloke go about his business earning his living.

        When 8181 at 47 isn’t proof enough.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mark November 4, 2015 / 11:26 pm

        They stick with Bell because they think the County Championship cupboard is bare. English cricket is dominated by the theory of TINA. They have tried Gary Balance, and Adam Lythe. Other individuals faces don’t fit for whatever reason. They are picking from a small field.

        As for Rashid, I think he has promise, but will he get the bowling he needs in English conditions? The quality of English domestic cricket is poor. Don’t ask me what to do about it because I don’t know. Cricket, as we have know it for the last 40 odd years may well be on the wrong side of history now. Hope I’m wrong, but I do wonder if 5 day test matches will even exist in 20 years

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mark November 4, 2015 / 11:48 pm

        Iam almost afraid to ask who wrote that shite Dmitri. I’m guessing by the …

        .” What undermines the arguments of many of Kevin’s fans is an embarrassing lack of understanding about cricket.”

        Ahh yes, we don’t know what we are talking about. Only 3 test match wonders with special Magic beans can speak in hushed tones about these things.

        I know nothing about cricket, but I know this. When he got dumped he had just topped the batting averages of the 2014 Ashes series. Ram Jam Cook, and Ram Jam Root we’re all there on the tour. And they all did worse than him. You see, when he out did them, they fall back on the so called trust issue. Then, when he scores runs elsewhere it’s because the standard is sub par.

        As you say Dmitri, “It’s personal.” Always has been. And they have never had the integrity to admit it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Zephirine November 5, 2015 / 12:45 am

        KP reckons they need Swann back more than him:
        During this time we were very fortunate to have Graeme Swann in the team, because Straussy could just bring him on at any time and he’d make something happen. That’s what Alastair Cook has missed in the last couple of years, and he’s still missing it now. His biggest issue was never going to be my non-selection, but the inability to bring on a world-class spinner to get him wickets and cover for his lack of inspiration.
        Kevin Pietersen on Cricket, p.230. Bit of a snap in the last sentence there, but elsewhere he’s quite appreciative of Cook, as he is of many other players (he says the best batting he’s seen from an England player was Bell in the 2013 Ashes).

        Liked by 1 person

      • Rohan November 5, 2015 / 3:13 am

        Good points in response, you are all right, it is purely personal, which is far more embarrassing and petty than our lack of understanding.

        Even if we did have a lack of understanding of cricket, why would that be embarrassing. No more embarrassing than his lack of understanding of things he is not a so called expert on. It is not embarrassing to know less about one thing than another, it just means you have a greater propensity to learn more, which is good!

        Perhaps that’s his problem, after all he knew everything he needed to about cricket after his short international career, so stopped paying attention properly after that and has not really developed his knowledge since, a bit like an arrogant schoolboy. Whereas others have a thirst for knowledge and have kept learning and being inquisitive about cricket. They come up with new arguments he cannot comprehend…..

        8181 at 47, was at the time of exclusion ahead of our illustrious leader as well, yet there he is still captaining in his own unique ‘wooden’ and lacklustre style.

        Lastly, I hate TINA. How can you know that is the case unless you try others, it is ridiculous. If TINA was applied rigidly, I am sure many great players in many sports would never have got a chance……

        Liked by 2 people

      • Arron Wright November 5, 2015 / 6:17 am

        To me the quote sounds very occidental and Irish, and about as constructive as a pronouncement from Policy Exchange.

        Liked by 1 person

      • greyblazer November 5, 2015 / 7:35 am

        Interesting tweet from KP about his hamstrings, I thought he had a dodgy knee?
        As much as I’d love to see KP hammering Steyn , is he actually fit for test cricket. 4 tests in 6 weeks?

        Like

      • d'Arthez November 5, 2015 / 8:05 am

        English middle order (#3 through #7): 8/5 in this innings. Or 2/5 today, since Root scored his runs yesterday.

        To put that in perspective, it is the worst performance since 1886/1887 for England.

        http://goo.gl/H7WqFm

        Clearly, there cannot be any talk of lack of solidity in the middle order.

        Like

  3. Sherwick November 4, 2015 / 11:27 pm

    From the Guardian today “Jimmy Anderson: England’s spinners must learn fast or face the axe”.

    Sounds a bit like: “Kevin Pietersen: James Taylor is not good enough for Test cricket”.

    Except one was said in private to his bosses, and the other was said in a national newspaper.

    FFS I must be living in some parallel universe.

    Liked by 2 people

    • LordCanisLupus November 4, 2015 / 11:29 pm

      Ali Martin says it wasn’t quite as brutal as that… but it was in essence what he was saying.

      Like

  4. man in a barrel November 4, 2015 / 11:54 pm

    I think KP needs to be loved. Did you see how Leie ran up to applaud him at the end?

    Like

  5. man in a barrel November 5, 2015 / 12:03 am

    Those reviews off Zulfikar. I think most people would have given them out

    Like

  6. BoredInAustria November 5, 2015 / 5:41 am

    Guess who is still around?

    Flower said: “One of the primary objectives of the England performance programme and the England Lions touring schedule is to provide the players with experiences and opportunities that go above what they would get in domestic cricket.

    “Being able to call on the likes of Gary Kirsten and Daniel Vettori to support the delivery of the programme and work with the players represents a big part of this objective, and I am delighted that they have agreed to be involved in a consultancy capacity this winter.”

    Did somebody not think of that before:”experiences and opportunities that go above what they would get in domestic cricket”. Just as long as you do that OUR way…

    http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2015/nov/04/gary-kirsten-england-lions-advisory-role

    Like

  7. mdpayne87 November 5, 2015 / 6:27 am

    England subsiding pretty quickly here, 58-5 as I type.

    Like

  8. d'Arthez November 5, 2015 / 6:40 am

    Courtesy of KPLC I missed the first 40 minutes. That was enough for 4 wickets. Shocker.

    Like

  9. SimonH November 5, 2015 / 6:55 am

    Root LBW back when he needed to be forward (anyone watching last night saw that one coming), Taylor caught at slip off a good one, Bairstow plumb LBW hit on the back leg sweeping and Patel LBW first ball (umpire’s call on leg stump but no reviews left anyway). The umpire’s have switched to ‘umpire-Ravi-last-day-plane to-catch’ mode. There’s footage of Misbah talking to them at close of play last night. It would be pretty desperate to try to make anything of it – but then it’s pretty desperate to keep harping on about the Hafeez DRS reversal and that hasn’t stopped them.

    Cook could carry his bat in which case Newman will probably explode. Rashid again looking better than most of the specialist batsmen (so far).

    Like

  10. SimonH November 5, 2015 / 7:22 am

    In India, Rabada (playing because Morkel’s injured as is Duminy) has got Kohli on his debut (caught at shortish cover of a leading edge).

    Ishant Sharma missing for India because of his ban. SA tail looks very long with Philander batting at No.7.

    Like

    • ArushaTZ November 5, 2015 / 7:38 am

      India are a batsman short as well. Leaving Rohit Sharma out for Ravi Jadeja.

      Dean Elgar running through India’s middle order currently. Looks like a spinning pitch that will only become more so as the game progresses.

      Like

    • d'Arthez November 5, 2015 / 7:46 am

      Philander is technically an allrounder (higher batting average than bowling average), and the same is true of Jadeja, who is also batting at 7. The tail looks long, especially if it is Vilas batting with the tail. Since Vilas did not get a chance to bat in his previous Test, it will be the first time for him.

      Interestingly enough, Elgar has taken 3 wickets, and Tahir has not even gotten a bowl yet.

      Like

  11. mdpayne87 November 5, 2015 / 7:23 am

    In other news, Usman Khawaja has just made his maiden Test century. Have caught some of it after work, he looks very accomplished. Bowling, Southee apart, has been poor, particularly Mark Craig. Far too short too often.

    Like

  12. Sherwick November 5, 2015 / 7:36 am

    Now we’ve reached 100-6, TMS are worrying that there aren’t enough overs left for England to win….

    Like

    • d'Arthez November 5, 2015 / 7:55 am

      As if on cue, Rashid perishes to Rahat. Wahab has not even had a bowl yet today.

      Like

    • thebogfather November 5, 2015 / 7:56 am

      Wait…just wait….. our leader is going on the rampage any minute now……

      Like

  13. SimonH November 5, 2015 / 7:58 am

    Rashid bowled by a good one from Rahat. Ball after ball angled across then nipped one back through the gate.

    Broad in. Cook fifty up.

    Like

  14. mdpayne87 November 5, 2015 / 8:04 am

    First time Cook and Broad have ever batted together in 87 Tests. A wonderfully pointless stat, courtesy of Andrew Samson.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. d'Arthez November 5, 2015 / 8:10 am

    I posted a link up in the thread, pointing out that it was the joint equal worst ever performance by England’s middle order. The record (8 runs for 5 wickets), was set in the Ashes of 1886/1887.

    Now, I know it is a fourth day pitch and all that, that Samit Patel was slightly unlucky being out on umpire’s call, but still.

    I don’t think England lost it against spin. England lost it mentally, before they came out to bat. The approach was simply too defensive.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. SimonH November 5, 2015 / 8:38 am

    Lunchtime discussion on England’s batting with Ward, Key, Prior, Hussain and Atherton.

    No mention of Kevin Un-Person. Good to hear Atherton lambast the treatment of Carberry (although no placing it in a wider context of why certain players have been dropped prematurely).

    They’ve convinced themselves it’s just having the odd bad hour at the start of the day. Really, it isn’t. The collapses have been a result of sustained pressure. There’s a lack of wider context again.

    Three annoying cliches have been shown up for the cobblers they are –
    1) The expectation of bowling a side out in the fourth innings is tough for spinners to manage (Babar and Shah have been obviously loving every minute)
    2) A player announcing his retirement before the end of the series is a big mistake (Pakistan have somehow coped with Shoaib Malik going)
    3) Body language is incredibly important (Ramiz Raja was piling into Rahat Ali’s body language just before he bowled Rashid).

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus November 5, 2015 / 9:05 am

      In affectionate remembrance of Derek Pringle’s prediction for English success. The piece has been pulped and muppet’s career lies in Ashes.

      Liked by 2 people

      • d'Arthez November 5, 2015 / 10:56 am

        Sadly, with some of these muppets, their careers seem to get enhanced by being spectacularly wrong.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Arron Wright November 5, 2015 / 9:07 am

    Yes Alastair, that’s it, take a single off the first ball of Wahab’s over with an injured player at the other end.

    #selfless

    Liked by 2 people

    • MM November 5, 2015 / 7:34 pm

      He’s a proper heroic leader of men, ain’t he?

      #ohchrist

      Liked by 1 person

  18. d'Arthez November 5, 2015 / 9:18 am

    Selfless Cook makes certain that Shoaib Malik will have the best bowling figures for the match. Not bad for a “parttimer” (as I pointed out earlier he takes his wickets at 29 in FC cricket).

    Liked by 1 person

  19. d'Arthez November 5, 2015 / 9:23 am

    Stokes gets himself stumped as well. Don’t blame the batsman, there was no point in sticking around with that injury.

    Yasir 7-143 for the match.
    Shoaib Malik 7-59.

    Pakistan win the series, and are ranked #2 now. England have slid to #6.

    Like

  20. Arron Wright November 5, 2015 / 9:24 am

    kpateldf24 “2-0 is incredibly harsh given the runs per wicket average” post in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…

    Like

    • d'Arthez November 5, 2015 / 9:31 am

      Since only 2 batsmen bothered to make more than 1 50 in the entire series, you can say 2-0 is harsh on Pakistan too.

      At least, unlike 2012, there were a few second innings 50s this time around – 3 of them in fact, with the highest score being Root’s 71. That is simply not good enough.

      Like

    • Arron Wright November 5, 2015 / 9:34 am

      My response is unprintable. The polite version is “most overrated person in the last ten years of English cricket”.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark November 5, 2015 / 9:53 am

        Sergeant Major Flower and his chocolate soldier boys square bashing.

        I’m sure they will have any talent, flair , or individualism knocked out of them. They will attend meja causes on how to speak well about our sponsors. How not to criticise anyone at the ECB and all important stuff like that. They can study the importance of compiling dossiers and how important body language is when looking at your watch or looking out the window.

        Liked by 2 people

  21. Mark November 5, 2015 / 9:33 am

    Anybody who pays any attention knows England are not as good as they think they are or their media chums like to claim. You would think someone who has played 3 test matches would be able to spot this, particularly as he claims everyone else knows nothing.

    England are one trick ponies that need swing and seam conditions to be able to bowl sides out cheaply. ( which in turn takes the pressure off their batsman to score big totals.) This Summers Ashes was a perfect example of both their strengths and weaknesses. On green tops they have the bowlers with the skill in those conditions. Yet on flat tracks like Lords and The Oval when sides can score 500 England can’t match them.

    The notion that England are anywhere near the number 1 spot has been a joke for some time. Quite embarrasing that the former Cricket correspondent of The Daily Telegraph thought this. Where are we now 8 wins needed in 2 matches or something?

    We don’t have lots of great players sitting in county cricket, and we have been very careless in throwing away talented players because of non cricket issues. This tour has proved trust will only get you so far.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. pktroll (@pktroll) November 5, 2015 / 9:44 am

    2-0 was suggested as being harsh even on Sky, but the problem is with a hugely dodgy middle-order, woefully inadequate spin, England were well short of what was needed.

    Like

    • Arron Wright November 5, 2015 / 9:47 am

      It might be harsh. I don’t think it’s as harsh on England as 1-1 would have been on Pakistan. For me, the benchmark for harsh away results is still the tour of the West Indies in 1989-90.

      Like

  23. SimonH November 5, 2015 / 9:54 am

    The post-match re-writing of history going on is painful (Ian Ward a prime culprit I’m afraid):

    1) Should’ve, could’ve won in Abu Dhabi? Any knowledge of the conditions and the laws of the game and England were never going to win that match. Pakistan collapsed when the match was safe. The umpires played on longer than they should have done making it look closer than it was. As for blaming Pakistan time-wasting, let’s hand back the 2009 Ashes after our time-wasting in Cardiff.
    2) One bad session in Dubai? England were outplayed throughout the game (as Cook said after the match). That session was a result of sustained pressure.
    3) Missed opportunities here? Yes but…. who’s selecting a non-regular keeper? Did Pakistan drop no catches? (At least five that I can recall). Did Pakistan have no injuries? (They never fielded their strongest team).

    More generally, blame the pitches? If these matches had been played on bunsens, Pakistan would have won more comfortably. Blame the toss? SA and NZ have beaten Pakistan in the UAE (by an innings both times) after losing the toss. The toss here made zero difference – batting was tough in the 1st and 4th innings and easier in the 2nd and 3rd innings.

    Sir Ian has just said, “South Africa are an aging side….. it’s looking bright further down the road”. Strewth.

    Like

    • Mark November 5, 2015 / 10:14 am

      Broad gave the impression that England should have bowled them out for 50 less on the first day because there was moisture in the pitch. So the toss played little role here.

      England lost because they didn’t hammer home their advantage in their first innings. Great and good sides seize the moment. Cook, Bell, Taylor, Bairstow and Patel all got to 40. No one went on and scored a big hundred. England should have been looking at a 150 to 200 lead. They then wasted their chances through poor field placings (a continuing fault of our longstanding captain) and dropped catches. England should have been chasing down a score of 150 max

      Sir Ian is right in one respect…….it is looking bright down the road because we will be back on green tops at home soon……….I expect the media will go into “operation write this tour off” mode. Convientely forgetting we couldn’t win in the WI either in a 3 match shoot out.

      If we lose in South Africa can Cook stay as captain? Silly question really. He can stay as long as he likes. TINA

      Like

    • MM November 5, 2015 / 7:41 pm

      Dale Steyn’s zimmer frame is just about holding him up near the 150 klick mark!

      Like

  24. ArushaTZ November 5, 2015 / 10:03 am

    Meanwhile, Imran Tahir wraps up the Indian tail with two superb googlies. 201 all out.

    Very impressive bowling effort from S.A.

    Like

    • d'Arthez November 5, 2015 / 11:17 am

      You have to really wonder what it would take for the ICC to censure the BCCI / ground for this pitch. Sri Lanka got in a bit of trouble for the Galle pitch against Australia in 2011 (Australia won that Test). I’d be surprised if such a thing happened here.

      It is a day 1 pitch, and out of the first 18 overs, 12 have been bowled by the Indian spinners. Now, I know they picked three spinners. But it is a day 1 pitch, not a day 4/5 pitch, where you can reasonably expect spinners to come into their own.

      Like

  25. Arron Wright November 5, 2015 / 10:15 am

    I do think a 3:3 seam:spin ratio was foolish, but I’m stunned that people are rushing to lick his feet for advocating 5:1.

    Like

    • fred November 5, 2015 / 10:31 am

      In my view the results don’t make it wrong to have selected Rashid. Does a player have to have a great game and series to make his debut justified? He has to start somewhere, and UAE was as good as anywhere, if not better. He had a decent impact on the series for a rookie. How is he going to become a consistent performer if he doesn’t get a decent run? He will win games for England in the future due to the experience he gained in this series, that’s the way it works.

      I’m in two minds about the “best ever” performance from Broad and Anderson. I’ve not doubt they bowled well, I saw some of it. However Pakistan had a clear and very sensible policy to see them off and go after the weaker options, the spinners. Of course they are going to have great economy rates, Pakistan ceded that to them, because they knew they could four rpo on the spinners. It wasn’t just great bowling, it was also a natural outcome of Pakistan’s (successful) batting strategy. Which Pakistan by the way quite openly declared at press conferences.

      You could say they bowled well, you could also say they failed to run through the team, and they left their batsmen with too much to do.

      Liked by 1 person

      • metatone November 5, 2015 / 12:27 pm

        Fully agree with this.
        Rashid has shown some promise – not every good player has a great debut series.

        As for the seamers, you’re dead on that at least part of their flattering figures are a result of the Pakistan strategy. I’d add on that we don’t have fit and firing seamers of Broad/Anderson quality/experience to come in. So if we’d had support seamers instead of support spinners, the support seamers may well have been picked on instead.

        Like

  26. SimonH November 5, 2015 / 10:50 am

    I’ve picked up the odd hint on Twitter that something like this has been going on, but have been incredibly frustrated by the lack of MSM coverage. As always it seems, Tim Wigmore is the first British journo to notice potentially massive change is afoot at the ICC:

    http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/936231.html

    The consequences of this are enormous. Personally, I’m in favour of two divisions (actually I’m in favour of scrapping Test status altogether but assume that’s a non-starter) but this six-and-six idea is a disaster. The key point (and Tim Wigmore doesn’t stress it enough in his otherwise excellent piece) is that the second division wouldn’t play Test cricket (or “multi-day formats” as Richardson likes to call it). Essentially, this is a covert plan to strip SL, WI and Bangladesh of Test status under the guise of helping the likes of Ireland (which I’m all for as a general principle of course).

    It may well be defeated – but for the wrong reasons. The Big Three may block any sort of reasonable revenue-pooling and/or the possibility of relegation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • d'Arthez November 5, 2015 / 11:07 am

      Well, since England slid to sixth, a couple of bad results will undoubtedly mean that such a proposal will include the caveat that India, Australia, and England qualify by default for the first division. That is another Giles Clarke approved meritocracy.

      Next will be a few poaching rules to allow India to field 3 South Africans / Australians / New Zealanders to be competitive away from home. This might ensure increased value of TV rights, since 3-day Tests generally have less ad space than 5-day Tests.

      Then a public vote, in which TV viewers can send in their view on a potential dismissal. Let the people vote whether a batsman is out or not. If you charge 50p / SMS, then you can make a bit of money too. England have the slight disadvantage of the Sky paywall to contend with though.

      Liked by 1 person

  27. Sherwick November 5, 2015 / 11:53 am

    6 from 4.
    Fortunately though, an easy peasy series coming up next for our boys to plunder runs and take 5 fors for fun.

    Like

  28. Sherwick November 5, 2015 / 12:02 pm

    Sorry, did I say ‘our boys’?
    I of course meant ‘Waitrosy, ECBy, Straussy, Cookie, Flowery, Clarkey, Mediainpockety boys’.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Arron Wright November 5, 2015 / 12:11 pm

      As is:

      Like

      • LordCanisLupus November 5, 2015 / 12:14 pm

        Forgetting, conveniently, that a couple of months later he sorted it out and saved us from being whitewashed that winter.

        Like

      • Arron Wright November 5, 2015 / 12:17 pm

        But “you know the point he’s making”.

        And he knows a lot more than you, and all of us put together.

        Like

      • Mark November 5, 2015 / 1:03 pm

        I know. He played 3 test matches 40 years ago. Makes him a frigging genius.

        Question he should be asking, (but won’t ) ….Are England getting the best out of their resources?

        Answer is no. That’s why he won’t ask the question. Because then he has to admit he has been wrong about pretty much everything.

        Like

      • northernlight71 November 5, 2015 / 5:32 pm

        Mike Selvey on Ben Stokes : “England management know the nature of his injury better than we do. They would not allow anything that hindered recovery.”

        Alistair Cook on Ben Stokes : “We told him he shouldn’t bat because he could do some more damage but there were a few expletives, he put his pads on, had his shoulder strapped and he went out there and batted”

        Both showing themselves to be weak and foolish, in different ways. Condemned out of their own mouths . . .

        Liked by 2 people

      • Sherwick November 5, 2015 / 11:13 pm

        Well Northernlights, that tells you all you need to know about this cabal!

        Like

  29. alan November 5, 2015 / 1:09 pm

    I used to like Mike Selvey when he was on TMS and so I have to conclude that he’s clearly right. I MUST be a know nothing idiot.

    Like

  30. Sherwick November 5, 2015 / 1:16 pm

    Fiery Fred Trueman
    Trevor The Boil Bailey
    Tom Graveney
    All TMS greats who I loved listening too and England Test greats too.

    Mike Knowitall Selvey
    Do not ever recall him being on TMS and he hardly played any Test matches.

    I hope that clarifies where my love lies.

    Like

    • Alan November 5, 2015 / 1:54 pm

      Sherwick
      Yes Trevor Bailey and Fred Trueman shared the job for years. Really enjoyed listening to them both. I only remember Tom Graveney on tv but as I’ve mentioned elsewhere I was always a great fan of his. Selvey joined TMS
      at the same time as Vic Marks. My excuse is that I was unaware then of how unpleasant he can be. He didn’t seem that way then. Maybe he has become bitter and twisted with the years. That’s how he comes over now and I’m afraid I have nothing but contempt for him anymore

      Like

      • Sherwick November 5, 2015 / 4:36 pm

        *listening to not too!!!

        Like

      • man in a barrel November 5, 2015 / 5:26 pm

        I remember Selvey on TMS opining that LBWs should not be disallowed for inside edges onto the pads. He got very irate when Christopher Martin-Jenkins dared to question him on this. It was just before he was dropped from the commentary team, which he was also rather bitter about.

        Like

      • d'Arthez November 5, 2015 / 6:12 pm

        Selvey probably opined that, because it would have been the only way for him to pick wickets after his debut Test.

        Like

  31. SimonH November 5, 2015 / 1:25 pm

    I think the really important thing we’re overlooking is how tight the dressing room is right now. When Cook tells them that what they need to do to master spin bowling is go on another 10km run nobody is answering back or staring out the window or looking at their watch (although Stokes is probably struggling to stay awake and blaming it on the pain-killers).

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Arron Wright November 5, 2015 / 1:47 pm

    Oh Lord…

    “For all-round skills there is no more complete pace bowler in the world.”

    Anderson, obviously.

    Like

    • SimonH November 5, 2015 / 2:06 pm

      That aside (and okay it’s quite an aside), it isn’t quite as bad as I was expecting. No blaming bad luck, no claiming it was really quite close (indeed, quoting the two margins of victory makes plain how deluded that idea is), no six inches of carry, no blaming Australian third umpires, no insinuating the opposition were cheating…..

      It’s taken a while to appear so he was probably checking that Giles was okay with this angle.

      I get the feeling that, providing Cook and Anderson are bomb-proof, he’s not quite so much Mike Cyclops any more.

      Like

      • Arron Wright November 5, 2015 / 2:11 pm

        Has anyone got their respective averages in Asia and the UAE…?

        Like

      • fred November 5, 2015 / 2:42 pm

        Arron, here you go (and it’s not good news for Anderson): http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/926079.html

        Anderson bowled really well this series, but that doesn’t mean he’s a good bowler in such conditions, he generally isn’t, he just had a good series.

        It’s amazing the constructions they will come up to elevate Anderson. Before it was the most skillful”, now it’s “the most complete”

        Wahab Riaz virtually won a game for his team by provoking the collapse in the second match. Neither JA nor SB were able to do that.

        Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH November 5, 2015 / 2:42 pm

        Steyn:
        90 wickets at 22.7. SR 40.4.

        Anderson:
        55 wickets at 28.3. SR 63.5

        !

        Like

      • d'Arthez November 5, 2015 / 3:04 pm

        And if you’re looking for the best English batsman in Asia, against quality opposition (excluding Bangladesh), then a certain maverick is ahead of him. Gower, that is.

        A certain South African born ex-captain also did quite well. Greig that is.

        http://goo.gl/YwYoYG

        Probably fair to say that tours of Asia in the past were more challenging than they are nowadays.

        Like

      • SimonH November 5, 2015 / 3:29 pm

        Most wickets by non-Asian pace bowlers in Asia:

        http://goo.gl/o6zU9X

        Best averages by non-Asian pace bowlers in Asia (min 30 wickets):

        http://goo.gl/Y1F1YS

        Four English bowlers have better averages than Anderson (Willis, Lever, Botham and Hoggard). Gough had a lower average but hadn’t quite taken 30 wickets. Broad is the second worst ever.

        Like

    • nonoxcol May 24, 2016 / 1:11 pm

      I went back to this oft-repeated and utterly indefensible claim over lunch, just to see how Selvey defended it when asked for evidence BTL.

      Ladies and gentlemen, the case consisted of:

      MikeSelvey Paceandbounce 5 Nov 2015 13:10
      Staff

      All round skills.

      MikeSelvey 5 Nov 2015 14:06
      Staff

      As ever, there are those who choose not to understand what ” all round skills”, and ” complete” actually means.

      MikeSelvey SGKinsman 5 Nov 2015 14:57
      Staff

      Ok caveat should be Test match bowler

      I’m sold.

      Like

    • Arron Wright November 5, 2015 / 5:46 pm

      Stopped reading when I realised Moeen had one more point than Rashid. What. A. Joke.

      Like

    • d'Arthez November 5, 2015 / 6:07 pm

      So, a strike bowler with a SR of about 90 gets a ten? I suppose Nuwan Pradeep would be getting about a 17 for taking 5 wickets in his only Test there (in 2013/14) at 22.4, with a SR of 44.

      Same story with Graeme Smith. 234 on a really tough pitch (one 300-run partnership in the innings, the other 9 wickets contributed about 170 between them), excellent captaincy, and a share of the spoils in the series.

      Seriously, Cook would be about an 8 at best. Scoring runs on a featherbed (both teams basically reached 500/5 in the first innings, and England had help from Ravi to get there in the Pakistan innings), does not make a great batsman – sure he had a few middling scores after that, but his captaincy was not that great. Basically the backup of Plan A, is to bowl Anderson even more. Might work on a green top, but less so on these pitches, as Anderson’s SR suggests.

      Same with Anderson. Great economy, lousy SR.

      Like

      • SimonH November 5, 2015 / 6:46 pm

        I think he wanted to give Cook 12/10.

        Like

  33. SimonH November 5, 2015 / 6:44 pm

    How’s the Downton ‘new era’ looking 18 months on?

    Team results:
    Test series W2 D2 L2
    Tests W8 D4 L8
    ODIs W10 L20 (against Test nations)

    Individuals:
    Robson – dropped after scoring more centuries than his captain and would have had a higher average but for some selfless red ink at Southampton. Briefed against for alleged ‘anonymity’. Mediocre form since. Disappeared off radar.
    Ballance – strong start in Tests but then collapse as better bowlers worked out dubious technique. Briefed against for allegedly not working on technique. ODI disaster. May come again or may not.
    Moeen Ali – Test batting average of 27 and bowling average of 38. Mostly possessing a Teflon quality for criticism not to stick. Signs that is changing outside of Scyld Berry player ratings.
    Jordan – mediocre bowling returns bolstered by some cheap wickets against awful Indian batting. Broke down with injury. Returned to fringes of selection. May have an ODI future.
    Plunkett – bowled valiantly on some dead wickets before breaking down injured. On fringes of Test selection.
    Buttler – flying start but dramatic decline. Jury out whether it is mental burn-out from trying to improve his keeping or faulty bottom-handed technique. Batting average of 30 still better than some regarded as automatic selections.
    Stokes – career stats of 28 batting average and 40 bowling average. Much invested in him – jury still out if it’s justified. Needs a big series in SA (if fit).
    Woakes – broke down with injury during WC disaster and when recalled broke down injured again after three wicketless matches. Favourite to replace Stokes in SA if needed – his endless BTL supporters claim conditions there will suit his bowling.

    So all that impressiveness and aplomb and the rest of it – and where are England? Going down the Test rankings and only a semblance of respectability preserved by ruthless exploitation of home conditions. Shocking at ODIs when it mattered. No alloyed success among the new players with, at best, the jury still out in some cases.

    What a success story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • MM November 5, 2015 / 7:53 pm

      That 2-0 is worth a 2-2, at least.

      Like

    • d'Arthez November 5, 2015 / 8:31 pm

      You forgot to mention Lyth, Trott and Moores 2.0. Each of those such a success story, that none of them are likely to be ever seen near an England setup. Unless either of the first two become excellent coaches after their playing careers.

      And I suppose Downton is a success story too. It only took the powers that be 12 months to acknowledge that this man was completely out of his depth. Which is in stark contrast with the flawed skills appreciation (in terms of governance) of the Colliers, Giles Clarkes, Graves, and Harrisons.

      Like

    • metatone November 5, 2015 / 9:24 pm

      I’ve started to think of the press as a set of “Comical Ali” a la Saddam’s minister.
      So “Comical Mike” has been heavy in the briefing against Ballance, which instinctively makes me think it’s a setup.

      It’s clear that Ballance has had serious weaknesses exposed, but if he and Jason Gillespie think he’s better off tweaking, rather than rebuilding from the ground up, I think it’s fair enough for him to try that. And he doesn’t deserve to be portrayed as an egotistical ignoramus for it.

      Especially as England don’t have a great record rebuilding player (bowlers or batsmen) technique…

      Liked by 3 people

  34. SimonH November 5, 2015 / 10:11 pm

    Good stat I’ve not heard mentioned anywhere:

    Like

  35. Rohan November 5, 2015 / 11:17 pm

    One of the things that struck me was the lack of intensity from England at key points, compared to Pakistan. Now, maybe my judgement is skewed unfairly as I have not played 3 tests for England, so do not understand cricket. Or maybe I am unfairly biased because I am an obsessed KP fanboy, but in particular England’s lacklustre approach was clear, at least I thought, in all of the crucial phases of the last 2 tests.

    I appreciate it is easy to say this in hindsight and perhaps I am seeing something that was not apparent when watching live, but afterwards is easier to read into body language etc. I would, however, argue that it was not so much the way England played that made me realise this, but more so the way Pakistan grasped those key moments that highlighted all the more clearly England’s failings.

    When Pakistan sensed/sniffed a chance they seemed to crackle and fizz with excitement. They were up on their toes and oohing and aaahing at each delivery. They seemed to trust their gameplan and believe that each ball would bring a wicket when bowling or that they would get the necessary runs when batting. I hasten to add that they were not like this all of the time, but at those vital junctures, such as the morning of day 4 and 5 of the 3rd test, they raised their intensity to a level England could not match.

    Why is this? Is it better experience of the conditions. Is it a greater desire to win. Is it down to better senior players. Is it due to more ‘match winners’. Is it coaching. Is it a ingrained from an early age. Is it due to English conservatism. Is it due to the English/ECB propensity for automatons over flair. Is it a lack of ‘killer instinct’. Was it a loss of confidence after failing to win the first test. Or is it as simple as this team is just inconsistent……..whatever it is, I think it played a significant part in the two tests we lost…….

    Liked by 2 people

    • SimonH November 6, 2015 / 9:48 am

      100% agreed Rohan.

      The last day of the 2nd Test was a good example. During the Rashid-Wood partnership (well as those two played) Pakistan clearly dropped in intensity thinking they had the game won if they just stayed patient. When the umpire signaled the last hour, and that hadn’t been working, they massively ramped it up again. From that moment, they always looked like they were going to win. That’s why I’ve never accepted the narrative that the Test was particularly close.

      Where does it come from? Bowler, keeper (Sarfraz is a real livewire) and fielders act in unison. It feels natural, whereas when England do it it feels orchestrated and that they’re doing it because the coach has told them to. Also, the bowlers have to look genuinely threatening or it just looks sad and desperate which is sometimes the case with England as well.

      Misbah’s role in all this seems to be to keep a calm head and not let it go too far. Along with cleaning out the stables, it’s his greatest contribution to the team. I criticised Cook for overly defensive field placings and it’s only fair to say Misbah was guilty of the same at times yesterday. I wouldn’t say he is a great on-field strategist – but, for those other contributions, I would say (unlike Cook) he is a great captain.

      Like

    • Benny November 6, 2015 / 1:25 pm

      One of the reasons I enjoy this blog is the intelligent analysis I find here. I’d just throw in a suspicion about the confidence of the players. Several are playing for their places and Cook himself must be batting with a fear that the others could well crumble around him. The two who went out every game without nerves, Anderson and Broad, were the best performers.

      Like

  36. Sherwick November 5, 2015 / 11:19 pm

    Yes, looking at those Andrew Samson stats, England were huge favourites to win the match after the 1st innings. Not sure Stokes’ injury really made that much of a difference either.

    Like

  37. man in a barrel November 5, 2015 / 11:44 pm

    One thing that struck me was the relative effectiveness of Moeen Ali and Shoaib Malik as off-spinners, Both bowling at the same sort of pace. Malik seemed to have a much greater range of flight than Ali. His deliveries skidded through low and he always had the batsman uncertain. Ali once got through Misbah’s swing but otherwise was innocuous.

    Like

    • metatone November 6, 2015 / 8:35 am

      One of the unsaid things about Moeen is that just like Rashid, his natural action suits certain pitches better than others. Now that isn’t a knock on him, it was true of the young Anil Kumble too. The reality is that both Ali and Rashid probably need to spend an entire season in domestic cricket in Sri Lanka or somewhere to develop. They need the opportunity to bowl a lot more than they’ll get with England or even in CC.

      Like

    • SimonH November 6, 2015 / 10:10 am

      Some points about Moeen Ali:

      1) It’s easy to over-complicate things but that the first key difference with Malik is that the latter was regularly turning it.
      2) Malik was mainly used against the LHBs. Pakistan have only had one LHB in their top seven all series – and Shan Masood had usually gone early to Anderson anyway. Some of us did point this out before the series started. SA’s engine room is also all RHBs (although Elgar and, if selected, Duminy will give two RHBs in the top seven). Of course it’s up to bowlers to develop skills and strategies against all types of batsmen. Leg-spinners are usually less effective against LHBs but Yasir Shah has a great record against them. I don’t think having a side of RHBs is a tactic by Pakistan – just they happen to be their best batsmen currently. Strange when they produce so many left-arm seamers!
      3) Moeen Ali has been noticeably less effective since he was rushed back for the WI series after an intercostal injury at the WC. It could be lack of confidence, of course. However I wonder if there are physical issues with him. He said when he was successful against India that the key was driving through his action – remember that thing about grabbing the pocket he said Dharmasena had told him? There seems to be less ‘snap’ in his action and I wonder if he’s found he can’t physically sustain bowling like he did in the first season. Alternatively, it could just be that sides have now had a good look at him and are batting better than India did (which wouldn’t be too difficult).

      Like

      • SimonH November 6, 2015 / 10:22 am

        Oops – point about Elgar and Duminy should say LHBs of course.

        Like

      • Mark November 6, 2015 / 10:38 am

        Yes Simon, they rushed him back in the WI because it seemed at the time Cook had no faith in any other spin bowler. They could have tried Rashid, but that would have meant taking a risk as they claimed he was not bowling well in the nets. (And we know how risk averse Cook and Moores were.)

        I also don’t think he has been helped by the failed plan to make him open the batting in this series, (someone should write a book on the number of opening batsman or non opening batsman who have been discarded, sacrificed and broken all in the name of fitting in with Cook.) Yet another poor sucker will have to be found for South Africa.

        The most disappointing thing for me about all the English spin bowlers on this tour has been their inability to bowl a good stock delivery to give control. The number of full tosses and rank long hops has been excessive. I don’t want to be too hard on them because they just don’t get the amount of bowling that is required in county cricket. Perhaps Loughborough could look into it instead of the PR spin that comes out of there.

        Like

      • SimonH November 6, 2015 / 3:33 pm

        The other part of rushing him back was that the whole WI tour was shaped by ‘Operation Save Moores’. Short tern fixes overrode long-term investment.

        I don’t particularly blame Moores for that. Most people with their job on the line would do the same. I do blame the ECB who didn’t think the WC debacle (combined with his previous record) was enough proof of Moores’ unsuitability for the job.

        Like

      • man in a barrel November 6, 2015 / 4:54 pm

        It would be good if someone could do a comparison of his action pre the intercostal injury and his current action, my suspicion is that he is getting more front-on now, thereby getting less body into the delivery action and simply pushing the ball with his arm.

        Like

      • BoredInAustria November 6, 2015 / 6:49 pm

        “The most disappointing thing for me about all the English spin bowlers on this tour has been their inability to bowl a good stock delivery to give control…..Perhaps Loughborough could look into it ..”

        God forbid

        Like

  38. ArushaTZ November 6, 2015 / 8:06 am

    Quick morning update.

    In Brisbane, Aus declared at 556/4.

    NZ’s opening partnership was making a good start, looking comfortable, then Guptill nicked off to Hazlewood. Little bit of a partnership between Latham and Williamson, then Starc got Latham to push hard at one which took the edge and looped up to Lyon at point. This precipitated a middle order collapse. NZ losing 4/16 in 4.1 overs. Two excellent spells by Starc and Johnson, fast and hostile. Watling has helped settle it down with the ever impressive Williamson.

    The Channel 9 commentators being predictably ignorant and patronising about the NZ batsmen.(eg, James Brayshaw has clearly never seen Watling bat).

    A massive Australian victory is inevitable now.

    In Mohali, South Africa are fighting hard to get level with India’s first innings.

    It’s a very dry, big spinning pitch, even today, day 2. Ashwin bowled a carrom ball that turned two feet (with very few revolutions on the ball). Mishra is spinning it square both ways.

    AB De Villiers has held the S.A. innings together with Philander and Harmer offering some support.

    South Africa will not want to chase more than 120 so they’ve got a big job to bowl India out cheaply in the third innings.

    As I type, the tenth wicket goes down, S.A. all out for 184, India lead by 17. Ashwin takes his 150th wicket.

    Like

    • Mark November 6, 2015 / 9:35 am

      That pitch for the India vs South African match is a disgrace. But if world cricket is happy to let the home side doctor their pitches for home advantage, this is the result. So we can look forward to more seaming green tops in England and South Africa and dust bowls in Asia.

      Pretty pointless bothering to watch. (South Africa will probably win now to prove me wrong.)

      Like

      • amit November 6, 2015 / 11:45 am

        No, it’s not a disgrace. Its just different set of conditions. Home conditions or not, both teams played poor cricket. India losing 4 wickets to a part timer does not make it a bad pitch. And I don’t see anyone complain about the green or bouncy pitches that we see in SA, Australia or England so the same argument (poor wicket) does grate a bit.

        Like

      • Mark November 6, 2015 / 1:15 pm

        Try reading what I say before you reply…….I point out that England and South Africa doctor their pitches for home advantage as well. So your claim that no one complains about green and bouncy pitches is not true.

        I will admit that I am in a minority on here because most people have absolutely no problem with home teams preparing pitches for home advantage. I just think it has got increasingly more one sided which is born out by the results of the last 10-15 years as more and more series are won by the home team.

        I want to watch a cricket contest, not a horticultural pitch preperation contest.

        Like

      • amit November 7, 2015 / 12:25 am

        I Dont think its the pitches that are to blame. Last 15 years have seen more test matches ending in results other than draws. Its the inability to buckle down and play a boring game that often results in losing wickets too quickly. In any case, a pitch that produces results, even if it doesnt last 5 days can’t be criticised as batsmen need to learn to cope. People are quick to complain if the pitch atarts turning on day 1 but that’s as much a test of skill isnt it? Who said the pitch should only start to turn on day 3 and 4?

        Like

    • d'Arthez November 6, 2015 / 10:26 am

      It looks like Amla is the likely culprit of South Africa losing the match. It happened at about 9:00 AM (IST) on November 5th.

      Seriously, whoever loses the toss needs a third innings on pitches like this to stand a reasonable chance, provided the teams are equally matched.

      Like

  39. Mark November 6, 2015 / 10:50 am

    Those of a strong stomach can read this piece on why Cook is brilliant in Asia. Another 50 average for the tour. The greatest run scorer, The greatest this, the greatest that ……Blah blah blah.

    Or alternatively maybe it is not his batting skills, but that he is a freak of nature with his lack of sweat and freakish ability to behave like a fridge in these conditions.

    http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/937409.html

    Like

    • SimonH November 6, 2015 / 11:47 am

      Although I’ve used it occasionally, I think the “in Asia” stat is pretty dubious. There are some similarities but there are also serious differences between the four countries being lumped together. Nobody lumps Australia and NZ together for “in Oceania” stats or SA and Zimbabwe for “in Africa”.

      Cook in this series rather confirmed James Morgan’s thesis about him from the TFT. Given a road in Abu Dhabi and a weak attack, he ground out lots of (non-match winning) runs. Given two pitches with a bit more in them and with the opposition best bowler back, he made two 60s, a 40 and a 10. A good performance but hardly justifying the nonsense from Selvey (who called Cook’s crease “his fiefdom” on Twitter yesterday) or Newman. The pitches were hardly raging bunsens and the Pakistan attack, while a good one, has no bowler with a 100 Test wickets and only Yasir Shah averages under 30 (and let’s see what happens there after he’s toured England, Australia and SA).

      Clearly, though, pointing any of this out means that I’m a hater.

      Like

      • SimonH November 6, 2015 / 11:50 am

        Just a reminder of what facing a class Pakistan bowler (and I wouldn’t rate him above Imran, Wasim or Waqar) in true home conditions was like:

        Like

      • mdpayne87 November 6, 2015 / 11:57 am

        Let’s face it though Simon, you don’t have much good to say about Cook, do you? I get he’s not the greatest captain in the world but the criticism he gets on here is pretty relentless.

        Like

      • d'Arthez November 6, 2015 / 1:10 pm

        Well, it would help if Cook showed a bit of humility himself, and a bit of self-awareness.

        “I won in India”, conveniently ignoring the contributions Panesar, Swann and Pietersen made is just one example.

        His rant after World Cup humiliation that England would have done better if he had been there, that the World Cup was taken away from him, unjustly, completely oblivious to his “major contributions” for the past two years in the ODI side, is another.

        “Something needs to be done about him”, when Warne pointed out what was pretty obvious to see. Downton, with much aplomb, got onto it.

        “So called-friend”, referring to Graeme Swann.

        The Lancastrian friendliness he displayed towards Angelo Mathews while shaking hands, during Mankad-gate. Basically just calling short of calling Sri Lanka cheaters because they had the audacity to play by the rules, unlike Buttler. The fact that the same Lancastrian friendliness was completely defensible when Anderson uttered things like “fat pr*ck” to several Indian players.

        Plenty of utterances that seemed to suggest that Team England is nothing but a glorified pub-team, in terms of selectorial processes (“Matty can play as long as he wants” – despite having a massive tear in his achilles tendon) – it was painfully obvious that Prior was not in any shape or form fit to play as a wicketkeeper.

        Now, all the above is absolutely factual, and out there in the public domain.

        And that is not even bringing up the dressing room politics, to which he must have contributed, whether influenced by Flower or not. Some of which has come out in the public domain, and partly been denied by the same people at later times (Swann’s statements in particular, but Broad has been contradicting himself on many a different occasion too).
        The most generous assessment of the ever changing facts regarding some decisions, is that the “facts” morph into whatever is most convenient for PR-purposes, rather than you know, actually being facts. However way you spin it with ever-changing facts, it is not much proof in terms of decisive leadership.

        If you’re being bombarded with all the stats that make Cook look good, and none of the stats that, you know, try to balance things, people will get fed up with that, and logically, they will point out all the not-so-nice achievements that Cook has achieved. Like a worse W/L record overseas than Nasser Hussain – who not only generally faced tougher opposition on the road, and had a poorer team to play with.

        That his captaincy is not exactly great for instance, or that he struggled to average 30 for more than a year; that he still has not scored a home Ashes ton, and that only Atherton has played more innings as a top-7 batsman in England in Tests against Australia without ever getting one; that if you do include bowlers and such, that the only other one who sneaks ahead of Cook in terms of innings played is Wilfred Rhodes, who played 12 Ashes innings batting at #10 or #11, so not exactly having much scope to significantly score runs; that his Ashes batting average is more or less Flintoff-esque as a captain).

        All this painting of Cook as being inexperienced is nonsense too. He had played more Tests before becoming captain than any other captain England have ever had. But that it somehow would be okay if Cook spent the next 30+ Tests learning on the job to get the basics right. Yes, this is the English cricketing media who are spouting such nonsense.

        Further inanities thrown up by the likes of Selvey, Pringle, Newman, etc., won’t help Cook’s cause either. The very selective reporting on passages of play, the frequent refusal of media to actually mention luck with the (lack of) DRS, in terms of surviving lbw shouts, or catches that were not given (like the one in the West Indies) start to grate.

        Selfless Cooky? “Yeah, Benny, good look seeing of Wahab for 5 balls this over, I am taking the single first ball. That is Chanderpaul-esque, and Shiv has gotten plenty of stick for his way of batting with the tail. But for Cook, we’re somehow to believe that it is evidence of selflessness and the highest virtue?

        All this talk about Iron rods, steely cores, selflessness etc., are frustrating to deal with as well. Painting him as the second coming of Christ, albeit with a cricket bat. The man is a man, and has his virtues, and his flaws. His strengths, and his weaknesses. The moment the English press start to acknowledge that, the criticism of Cook will actually decrease.

        Like

      • fred November 6, 2015 / 1:55 pm

        I was actually thinking MDPAYNE87 had a point, after all, Cook more or less did his job this tour, the lack of success wasn’t due to him. But this extraordinary summary of recent history brings it all back, and reminds me why many people, especially those who don’t see sport as a series of cliches and slogans, have trouble stomaching him.
        Even without the double century, he still had a decent average on this tour. If one other batsman or one other bowler had had a good tour, England may have ended with better than 0-2. But, the heroic hyperbole that followed his double ton left a sour taste. As many have said, alot of the problem is not with Cook, but n the way he is promoted by the ECB and press. (Although some of his self-obsessed media comments don’t help either).

        Like

      • SimonH November 6, 2015 / 2:31 pm

        As relentless as the hagiography ATL I’m afraid!

        I agree with much of what D’Arthez and Zephirine have said, but let me add a couple of things. Like many of the regulars here, I’m a Guardian refugee often writing in response to what Selvey and others have said rather than giving a ‘balanced’ account. Take the stats I posted on Cook’s captaincy – that was because I know they’ll never be mentioned by Selvey (who couldn’t wait to tell us about Michael Clarke losing most away Tests for Australia). I know they don’t say everything about the quality of a captain. People can make of them what they will.

        My view on Cook is that he’s a very good Test batsman. I’ve compared him recently to Langer, Lawry or Gary Kirsten. That isn’t meant as an insult. I’ve never called for him to be dropped and don’t think any of my points about him are personal. Compare what you read here, say, to a recent Guardian thread where someone mentioned Pietersen and within five posts he was being called “an insufferable p***k”.

        On his captaincy, I think he was an extremely poor captain initially and although he has improved somewhat I still wouldn’t rate him anywhere near the best England captains I’ve seen (Hussain and Vaughan). I think he should have stood down as captain after the 5-0 Ashes and still think so. I believe he was right to stay on after this summer’s Ashes because this winter would be a very tough baptism for a new captain and said so here. He should probably stand down after SA – although I have some reservations about Root as captain. More broadly, my main concern is why the England team set-up isn’t producing potential leaders.

        To show I can open the other eye sometimes, and as it’s a point I’ve not seen made anywhere, let me say that I thought Cook spoke well after the match yesterday. He didn’t clutch at straws, he praised the opposition and thanked the spectators – all good to hear.

        Fortunately, we all have a break now with the ODI series. This will be a good test of the advances made in the summer. Pakistan aren’t a particularly good ODI side (ranked 8th, only just squeezed into the CT) so an England series win is not an unreasonable expectation.

        Like

  40. jomesy November 6, 2015 / 12:51 pm

    If fact is criticism why not just call it fact.

    Like

  41. Jamie November 6, 2015 / 1:13 pm

    I must echo that the Cook bashing gets a bit tiring here, and ironically the lack of objectivity in a lot of the snippets quoted from the Guardian etc. on Cook are similar here, but just at the other extreme.

    I get that a lot of people feel alienated from most cricketing websites and as a result that naturally have a congregation of fairly similar views on the Cook / KP / ECB etc. theme (no doubt with some exceptions) but all the same I wish that people could let it go a bit, even if this is the vocal few. For me this detracts from otherwise interesting cricketing debate.

    Like

    • Zephirine November 6, 2015 / 1:35 pm

      I wish that people could let it go a bit,
      My problem is that Cook is no longer a cricket player, he’s become a brand that’s perpetually being pushed at me.

      In the same way as an apparently endless succession of models and celebs are always on TV telling me that I must buy L’Oréal products ‘Because you’re worth it’, someone in the sports media is always telling me that I must admire Cook because he’s Cook. And none of them ever seem to point out, as impartial media are supposed to, that ‘other brands are available’.

      Given that, as d’Arthez points out above, there’s quite a lot of evidence that Cook is, as it were, merely a pretty good shampoo rather than a miraculous beautifier, I find it really irritating.

      This is one of the few places where I can express that. I’m sorry if you find it repetitive.

      Like

      • Jamie November 6, 2015 / 1:54 pm

        I disagree (about the brand metaphor) but I don’t begrudge you that, it’s just an observation that when many do the same the noise you tend to get is pretty homogeneous, pretty similar to what you get at the Guardian.

        I disagree also with a number of comments on him and also people’s seeming inability to separate the man from the actions of others relating to him, and the constant sarcasm is quite trying. Often when I read the actual articles some here are complaining about, I am surprised at how innocuous some of the references actually are.

        But hey-ho, that’s my take.

        Like

      • Zephirine November 6, 2015 / 2:01 pm

        Fair enough, but I think it’s partly just the nature of blogs and comment threads, everyone chips in with their point and sometimes we all happen to say the same thing.

        Like

      • Jamie November 6, 2015 / 2:12 pm

        Agreed.

        What generally happens is that people are attracted to places where they fit in and as a result it can be hard to attract and maintain people with dissenting opinions which are I think are important for friendly debate. I think the spirit and manner of posts can go a long way to influencing how welcome different perspectives actually are in the first place.

        This obviously is not unique to this particular blog, it happens everywhere.

        Like

        • LordCanisLupus November 6, 2015 / 2:17 pm

          I think there is some defensiveness Jamie, certainly from me, when people (and this is certainly not you) snipe at this blog and misrepresent me. Obviously this blog “caught on” because it was seen as a “pro-KP” site, and thus “anti-Cook”. You may have noticed in the written pieces that the blog has somewhat softened its stance on Cook. One of my chief beefs with him was the fact he maintained his place as captain and player despite some appalling days (Headingley Day 4 should have been it for me) and barren form. Now, clearly, to argue that case would be to ignore events. No-one was proved right or wrong.

          I want debate, it can get a bit spicy, granted, but we should all stay civil if possible. Sadly, it can go too far. It’s not “can’t we all get along”, but it’s more “let’s have it out!”

          Keep the noise down… it was a good party last night.

          Like

      • Jamie November 6, 2015 / 2:56 pm

        Which is fair enough, it is your blog and I commend your attitude.

        I have very little concept of the stick you cop on Twitter and the like apart from that which you highlight, so I understand why this may cause you to feel defensive. Outright misrepresentation and rudeness is simply not on.

        interesting what you say about the origins of this blog. My take is that Cook is an excellent batsman and an okay captain and probably a decent chap but for whom some of the criticism re attitude is probably justified. KP I also thought was an excellent (if different sort of) batsman and likewise probably a decent chap but also for whom criticism of his attitude is probably justified.

        I am always bemused that a discussion of one seems to lead to a discussion of the other and that liking one seems to imply disliking the other but there we are – I’m probably less sensitive of the history than others.

        Like

      • SteveT November 6, 2015 / 3:23 pm

        Like him or loath him (or even somewhere in between). We won’t half miss him when he goes.

        Like

    • Mark November 6, 2015 / 1:57 pm

      Jamie,

      you have every right to believe and support whoever you like. If you support Cook I have no problem with that . However please don’t tell me that I should lessen by criticsm of him so as to fit in with a wishy washy………”why can’t we all get along ” narrative. I don’t like him as a man, and I think he is useless as a captain. The very fact he was given the job shows the ECB pick captains on image rather than substance.

      I see no such balance from the cricket media who in the last few years have lied, distorted and acted as the ECB and Cooks private propaganda channels. If you want to write saying how fantastic Cook is I doubt your opinions will be censored by this site. Unlike the Guardian which removes almost any critiscm of Cook or the England management.

      I find it bizare when people come from the most biased media, and demand that this small out post of alternative opinion and freedom is made to act in a more balanced way. Perhaps we might act more balanced when the profesional cricket media do their dam jobs. As I say I have no problem with you having your say. But I resent being told I must change my viewss to fit in. It sounds suspiciously like concern trolling.

      Like

      • Jamie November 6, 2015 / 2:03 pm

        Mark – your answer bears no relation to what I actually said and comes across as overtly defensive.

        I never told you to lessen your criticism, and likewise I never told you to change your views to fit in.

        Like

      • Sherwick November 6, 2015 / 2:12 pm

        Let it go a bit? Let it go?!?
        Who ran running like a weasel to Flower to tell him what was said in a players-only team meeting?
        Let it go my a*se.

        Like

      • Jamie November 6, 2015 / 2:14 pm

        I thought you were going to launch into “Frozen” for a minute there…

        Like

      • Mark November 6, 2015 / 3:49 pm

        Jamie…..”I never told you to lessen your criticism,”

        Jamie in original post……….” I wish that people could let it go a bit, even if this is the vocal few.”

        Asking people to “let it go a bit” translates into lessening or toning down our criticism in my opinion. Now that may not have been what you meant. But that is how it came across to me. I probably am overly suspicious because there has been an orchestrated ECB campaign from almost all media to tone down critiscm of Cook. Including Giles Clarke storming the Sky commentary box to demand Shane Warne tone down criticism of The England captain. So excuse me if I am a bit suspicious of people who suddenly want a nice happy clappy bland ECB world. Who bennifits from that? Also I notice you refer to us as a “vocal few.” That could be interrupted as quite patronising.

        Jamie……..”For me this detracts from otherwise interesting cricketing debate.”

        In other words you would like this site to become bland like many others where the critiscm of Cook is let go? This is not really a debate if you are setting the perimeters of said debate.

        Look…..Jamie, I have no interest in getting into an argument with you. Apart from anything else this is not my site. But Dmitri is a very fair guy and if you want to write posts on why you think Cook is a great captain you will find your posts won’t be removed. Unlike The Guardian site which is policed by a bunch of Selveys goons who won’t tolerate an alternative voice. As Simon points out many of us came here to get away from that nonsense.

        If you had writen about how you think Cook is a very good captain I would have just ignored it. You can write what ever you like. But it was the implication that others should “let it go” and that it would be a great site if we stopped the Cook bashing that I found problematic.

        Like

  42. Zephirine November 6, 2015 / 1:21 pm

    Mr Selvey ties himself in a little knot here:

    A key to this, though, will be the fitness of Ben Stokes to bowl. That he was able to bat with some gusto at the end was encouraging, even if the tale of him putting two fingers up to medical opinion and storming out to bat has an element of endearing hyperbole: had he been a real risk, they would not have let him through the door.

    You will recall that Mr Selvey said the medics wouldn’t let Stokes play if he wasn’t fit, while Cook said Stokes insisted on batting regardless. Therefore, of two people who can’t be admitted as ever being wrong, one has been wrong.

    ‘Endearing hyperbole’ is the answer, it seems.

    Like

    • Mark November 6, 2015 / 2:03 pm

      I can think of a certain player who Selvey loves to write hyperbole about.

      Can you imagine if Ccok had come out on one leg or with one arm? Selvey would have re written King Arthur and Shakespeare.

      Like

    • fred November 6, 2015 / 2:05 pm

      I wonder if Stokes smashed the locker on the way out as he ignored medical advice and swore at his team mates?
      Apparently the Pakistani close fielders were teasing his as “Angry Man” when he was batting (hard as it is to believe that someone other than Australia might have something to say).
      Lots of kinetic energy about this guy, looking forward to watching more of him:)

      You’re right about Selvey, quite a hard line to pick, where the injury has to be bad enough to make Stokes look endearing derring-do, but not bad enough to suggest any irresponsibility on anyone’s part. It’s hard work when you have an agenda to write to.

      Like

      • Zephirine November 6, 2015 / 3:25 pm

        Must say for Selvey, he has been persistent and generous in his support for Monty Panesar.

        Like

      • Zephirine November 6, 2015 / 3:29 pm

        “Lots of kinetic energy” , yes, Stokes is a sort of one-man haka, the aggression’s almost pantomimic but it does the trick.

        Like

      • fred November 6, 2015 / 6:35 pm

        That’s a funny thought, I’m sure Stokes would love to start a Test Match with a Haka. Can’t see Cook buying into the idea though.

        Like

  43. man in a barrel November 6, 2015 / 2:31 pm

    To be fair to Stokes, in the first innings, he could barely lift his arm above his waist – thus having to wear a chest-high bumper from Wahab. In the second, his arm was moving much more freely. I hope this indicates that there is minimal tendon damage or trouble with the actual joint.

    Like

    • SteveT November 6, 2015 / 3:20 pm

      Let’s hope so. We need two players to replace him!

      Like

  44. metatone November 6, 2015 / 4:33 pm

    Lovely article about Pakistan from Barney Ronay.
    A bit hyperbolic, but written in a great spirit.

    Like

  45. man in a barrel November 6, 2015 / 4:41 pm

    I agree he has potential, Steve, but 19 matches for 972 runs at 28, and basically 2 wickets per match at an average of 40 implies that he is going to need to step up at some point. It is hard to justify batting him at 6 wih an average of less than 30, unless he is Mike Brearley.

    Like

    • SteveT November 6, 2015 / 5:10 pm

      He’s had his moments, but yes we need a few more of them. Players like this are worth their weight in gold. He does bowl a lot of ‘graveyard’ overs when the ball is a bit soft, takes some of the weight off the front line fast bowlers, which is important given the inhumane scheduling these days. We may have to be patient with him.

      Like

  46. BoredInAustria November 7, 2015 / 8:05 am

    “The review after the 2011 World Cup was a shambles. Players and coaches let down by media leaks, good men exposed as scapegoats and lesser men hiding and shirking responsibility. Nothing has changed.”

    Sounds familiar?

    “The RFU has spent the last four years congratulating itself on the direction in which we’re heading but the truth is we have marched confidently into a total mess.”

    “We are the laughing stock of not only world rugby but also sport and business. The rest of the world says those involved in English rugby are arrogant. I hate this reputation but that is exactly what the RFU have been.”

    2015 – Clive Woodward
    http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2015/nov/06/clive-woodward-sam-burgess-laughing-stock-england-rugby-union-bath-south-sydney-rabbitohs

    Looked so different back in 2014:

    Skipper Alastair Cook knows the task that lies ahead to rebuild the England team on and off the field after their 5-0 Ashes walloping is massive. Not only did his side lose all five Tests, they then crashed 4-1 in the one-day series and 3-0 in the Twenty20 series. England’s humiliation was completed with a 45-run loss to Holland in the World T20 in Bangladesh.

    And Cook has cited the vast improvements made by the England rugby team in the last two years as an example of how things can be turned around.

    “Lessons should definitely be learnt from the way the rugby side have gone about it. Huge credit to their coach Stuart Lancaster and the rest of the guys for the way they managed to change things around. I would imagine it has taken a hell of a lot of effort and work for the rugby boys to change it – it is just the way they have gone about their business. “

    Lancaster made some big calls on big players at certain stages in their careers and went for people who were in form and playing well.”

    May 2014 – Alistair Cook
    http://www.dailystar.co.uk/sport/other-sports/377240/Alastair-Cook-England-s-rugby-stars-will-show-us-how-to-get-over-our-tour-of-Australia

    Oops….Wonder whose idea this was?

    July 2014

    “The meeting between Flower and Lancaster was part of a coaching pow-wow that also included Liz Nicholl, the head of UK Sport, and the former England fly-half Rob Andrew, who runs professional rugby for the Rugby Football Union.”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/cricket/international/england/10975076/England-v-India-With-Stuart-Lancaster-at-Lords-on-Thursday-cricket-and-rugby-can-learn-from-each-other.html

    Any “good men exposed as scapegoats and lesser men hiding and shirking responsibility” at the ECB? Surely not…

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus November 7, 2015 / 8:36 am

      As far as I am aware, Rob Andrew is still in gainful employment at the RFU. I’m no rugby fan, as you know, but the parralels with the ECB are there. It’s evident.

      Like

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