The First 2015 Dmitri – Joe Root

Joe Root – Lord’s 2015 – A Dmitri Pic

It needs to be stressed up front. These “awards” are not to be confused with “Player of the Year” awards because there’s an additional unquantifiable criteria that I want to bring in. That said, you’d need to put a pretty good case against Joe being our player of the year. He’s vital across all formats, he has a joy about him when he’s playing the game, he’s a right royal pain in the arse for the opposition, and no person can deny that he has a rock-like temperament. The main problem, if it is one, is that Joe Root is taken for granted.

The Joe Root story goes back (for me) to his county season before he broke into the team. The ageing World #1 outfit were going to need fresh blood to put pressure on the middle order. But the most urgent need, as Andrew Strauss was struggling for form, was for an opener. Yorkshire appeared to have one. A young kid banging out big scores at the top of the order for his county, playing on the mythically difficult Headingley wicket. It was second division cricket, which wasn’t used against him, but 700+ runs at an average comfortably over 40 indicated a real talent. A 222 not out at Southampton, out of a score of 350 for 9, indicated an appetite for big runs, and especially when the pressure was on him. He was on the radar.

His debut for England came under intense pressure. Brought in for the 4th test, with England 2-1 up, it was not an easy position for him to enter the fray. It might have been a good wicket to start you career – a road that tested the batsman’s patience rather than technique – but it was 119 for 4, and he was to lose KP very soon after. No worries – 130-odd for 5 on a dead deck, trying to keep the series in our hands. The temperament shown was exemplary. He dug in, he put on 103 with Matt Prior, and made a hugely impressive 73 in 289 minutes. In his first game, he’d played a massive part in saving a series. After the match Vic Marks wrote of his selection:

Root knew that he was going to play 24 hours before the match began. The day before that the England think-tank had watched him carefully in the nets, noting that he played an assortment of respectable Indian spinners exclusively with the middle of his bat. That net may have convinced them to take the plunge and to select Root for this vital Test – ahead of Samit Patel, Jonny Bairstow and Eoin Morgan. Having come to their decision against the expectation of all those on the outside, what did they say to him? “They just said I was playing,” explained Root. “They didn’t say why.

He has had travails since then (all players d0), over the 10 tests against Australia he was moved up to open, then dropped to three, before being dropped entirely, and a 180 apart (which is the anchor point for Root Maths because he was let off very early by Haddin) at Lord’s, questions were asked. But a return to the side in 2014 brought a double hundred at Lord’s, more big scores against India (all three of his hundreds that summer were unbeaten) and suddenly the man we were questioning was now the anchor of the middle order, batting at 5. Given another go at Australia overseas, I think most people believe he’ll be a much finer player than the one on the 2013-14 disaster.

This summer his contributions in the middle order were vital. In fact, I’m not sure “vital” does it justice. His 98 and 84 at Lord’s kept England afloat in that tumultuous first test at Lord’s, with the 98 impressive because of the enormous pressure England were under (and why I rate Stokes’s innings in the first better than the second -although I realise that’s a personal choice) in the match. Without that Root and Stokes fightback, the summer may have turned out totally differently. His 134 in the first innings at Cardiff played a part in laying the Johnson bogeyman to rest (allied with the wicket) and allowed England to post an extremely competitive score, and his 60 in the second innings allowed us to post a large target. His 63 in the first innings at Edgbaston was important to allow England to post a sizeable lead when his cheap early dismissal may have put us in strife. His 38 not out to take us home against a small target was also not to be underestimated. As Joe went so did we. His innings of the year candidate at Trent Bridge, on a wicket Australia had been dismissed on for 60, when he made 124 by the close in quick-fire style had pretty much sealed the Ashes. It was fitting that it should be him to do so.

Joe is also a fine part of an attractive ODI team, playing the role of the relentless accumulator with the big shot, in amongst the pyrotechnics of Roy, Hales, Morgan and Buttler. You almost take him for granted now, yet we would not want to be without him. He’s a T20 player of some class too and will be a part of our World Cup line-up. As I’ve said, he’s easily taken for granted. His 182 not out was largely forgotten in Grenada due to Jimmy’s last day heroics, but was immense, class, ruthless and brilliant. 8 test hundreds before he is 25, 6 ODI tons in the same period, a 90 not out in a T20 showing he can take to international attacks in that format. Even his UAE experience wasn’t too shabby. No hundreds but two good matches in Abu Dhabi and Dubai where he wasn’t dismissed below 70, was followed up by a poor one in Sharjah. That his standards are so high meant we were disappointed.

I like to start off with a positive Dmitri and I have nothing but praise for the way Root keeps that England middle order afloat. In the ODI team he is a part of the puzzle, in the test team, he’d be the missing piece if he wasn’t there. We’ve put a lot of weight on his shoulders, look to put more on him by making him test vice-captain and FEC, and ascending to the top post has had bad long-term effects for all who take it on. His off spin is not to be taken lightly, but his back may restrict how many times he is able to turn his arm over. He looks the popular leader on the field, the leader of the foot soldiers rather than pure officer class. He’s had off-field run ins with oppo players. He’s a pest on the field. Without him, certainly in tests, we’re bang in trouble.Look at five of our six losses this calendar year – 33&1 in Bridgetown, 0&1 at Leeds, 1&17 at Lord’s, 6&11 at The Oval, 4&6 at Sharjah (only Dubai, with twin 50s saw him succeed in a losing cause) – where his failure has played a key part in losses. In tests England did not lose this calendar year, the lowest score he was dismissed for was….59!!!!!

But he’s our man. And he is the first of this year’s Dmitris.


92 thoughts on “The First 2015 Dmitri – Joe Root

  1. greyblazer Nov 29, 2015 / 4:49 pm

    Joe Root is a fine young player, up there with Williamson & Kohli for the hope for a new generaton.
    However I doubt he’s unique in contributing to victories and failing in defeats. I would say he needs to put up more of a fight in defeats to get into best batsman in the world polls, has he saved a test match yet?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Nov 29, 2015 / 5:18 pm

      I think what’s more worrying for England, is when he fails England tend to lose. What are the other batsman doing? No player can succed all the time, but when a top player fails you need others to step up.

      Seeing how much praise is heaped on the captain, and the much vaunted middle order (no vacancies) you would hope a Root failure does not mean almost certain defeat.

      A good choice and a positive one Dmitri. He has become a permanent fixture. Without his runs this summer , like Bell in 2013 we would not have won the ashes.


      • LordCanisLupus Nov 29, 2015 / 5:21 pm

        Mark, my point, and it surprised me statistically, that in games we don’t lose, he wasn’t dismissed in any innings for less than 59. It wasn’t a criticism at all, rather quite an interesting feat.


    • greyblazer Nov 29, 2015 / 6:13 pm

      It always used to be said of Bell that he only contributed in wins (and when someone else helped out) I wonder what his stats are in winning games.

      There’s no criticism of Root here, he looks like he has almost everything, a few battling innings in tough causes and maybe you can say he has everything.


      • d'Arthez Nov 29, 2015 / 11:04 pm

        Provides a breakdown of Ian Bell’s stats in wins.

        What is interesting, is that there are hardly any away wins. 1 in South Africa, 1 in the West Indies, 1 in Sri Lanka, 2 in India, 2 in Bangladesh, and 2 in New Zealand, to go with the 3 in Australia. He has played 53 Tests away from home, 6 of which were in the UAE.

        That though seems more an artefact of scheduling nonsense: eg. he has had one tour of South Africa, 1 tour of Pakistan (in Pakistan), 2 tours of Sri Lanka, 1 full tour + one Test (after which he was dropped since England managed to lose by an innings in the first Test of 2009) in the West Indies.


    • Mark Nov 29, 2015 / 6:27 pm

      Dmitri I was more replying to GreyBlazer when he said Root needed to put up more fight in defeats. As your stats demonstrate when he fails we tent to lose. I would suggest it is perhaps others who need to put up more fight when Root fails. I am not criticising Root in any way.

      As your stat shows When he scores runs we do well. That is begining to look dangerously like a one man team. He has been by far our most important player with the bat. For all the praise heaped on Cook he has produced very little in our recent wins. His runs have been in games we either lost or drew. (lords, Oval, first test against Pakistan”


      • LordCanisLupus Nov 29, 2015 / 6:34 pm

        I know you were, Mark.

        I would say that Cook’s 162 was more than a little. I think it is important to be fair about this.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Rohan Nov 29, 2015 / 6:34 pm

    Important distinction between Root and Bell. It was oft said that Bell did not contribute when England were in trouble (not much for 3 or 4 wickets). Not sure if this is true about Bell, but If we work on the premise it is. Then he and Root are very different. As Root, however, has contributed when others have failed and when England have been in trouble. See Cardiff 2015 as a prime example.

    Great choice for the first Dmitri, Dmitri. For me Root is up there with Williamson, BMac, Riaz, Smith etc. as some of my favourite current players…….

    Liked by 1 person

    • SimonH Nov 29, 2015 / 7:22 pm

      Oh heck, I feel like I’m morphing into a certain beloved BTL presence here – but I’ve got to defend Bell against this myth.

      Bell averages 35 in losses and draws which is a little below his career average but still pretty respectable. (Strauss averaged 34 for a comparison).

      Ten (ten!) times in away defeats Bell made a fifty which was either top or second top score. No doubt some would blame him for never turning one of those fifties into a century – but rather than blaming the guy who made some runs I’d rather look at his teammates who didn’t. Several of those scores were in the #worthahundred class (and several more were in the #deservedahundred as well).

      Bell has also made four important scores in away draws:
      115 v P 05/06
      78 v SA 09/10
      75 v NZ 12/13
      143 v WI 14/15

      That 78 in particular strikes me as an interesting innings. It seems to me almost directly comparable to Collingwood’s 74 in Cardiff. If anything, I’d argue Bell was up against a tougher attack. Yet I suspect if you asked England fans to name great rearguards of the last decade, almost all of them would mention Collingwood and very few would mention Bell.

      Bell seems to me to suffer from ‘confirmation bias’ – people made their mind up about him and fit the facts into their image. It might also have helped if he’d had certain journalists constantly reminding people about his achievements rather than going on about what supposedly happened on some team-bonding exercise.

      Rant over – I’ll go and read some poetry…..


      • Arron Wright Nov 29, 2015 / 8:30 pm

        Never mind Cardiff, Collingwood got more credit for his 40 in the *same innings* at Cape Town than Bell did for his 78, due entirely to confirmation bias. Rankled with me for quite a while, that one.

        Also, one of my favourite moments of last summer was discovering that Bell and Pietersen had both top scored four times when batting second after the opponents had made at least 400… while “man for a crisis” Alastair Cook had never done so until his 96 in the Ashes Test at Lord’s 2015.

        (He has of course done it again since, in fairly spectacular fashion)


      • Rohan Nov 29, 2015 / 9:11 pm

        Simon H. Happy for you to defend Bell. As I said, I was not sure whether or not the myth was true, I just decided to work on the premise that it was.

        Happy to see evidence that it is a myth 😀

        Never had a downer on Bell. Perhaps Bell to Root is a poor/unfair comparison and contrast……


      • SimonH Nov 29, 2015 / 9:52 pm

        Yes, of course Rohan, I wasn’t getting at you specifically – more the general sentiment I’d be reading BTL at certain newspapers.

        Just to compare Bell’s 78 with Collingwood’s 74:

        Bell –
        213 balls
        Venue: Cape Town
        Pitch: one previous score in match over 400.
        Attack: Steyn, Morkel, De Wet, Harris, Kallis.

        Collingwood –
        245 balls
        Venue: Cardiff
        Pitch: previous match scores of 400+ AND 600+
        Attack: Bad Mitch, Hilfenhaus, Siddle, Hauritz.


      • Rohan Nov 29, 2015 / 10:47 pm

        Great stats Simon. How has that Bell innings gone under the radar. I remember watching the denouement of that Cape Town test, yet I could not have told you it was Bell saving the day.

        Collingwood, however, is etched into my mind. Not through any choice of mine I should add, but more to do with the hyperbole that his innings was met with on SKY! It makes it stick in the mind more. What was it they kept trotting out, ‘Brigadeare block’ I think.

        No such hyperbole for Bell’s effort against a superior attack. Definitely a better innings from Bell and deserving of more recognition….


      • pktroll (@pktroll) Nov 30, 2015 / 2:25 am

        Good posts guys. That was my best remembered rearguard. I did think that Bell’s innings was on a higher plane that Colly’s, and I like Colly a lot, in terms of batsmanship and the ability to take runs when they were on offer, frustrating the bowlers and rotating the strike. All facets that strike me as important when trying to disrupt bowlers.

        Much was talked about Colly in THAT game in Adelaide (sorry Dmitri!) but I found his second innings performance counter productive. He almost decided that runs were out of the equation, when a moderately more positive look at rotating the strike may have seen England save that game.

        Back onto the original topic about Bell, I am by far from his biggest fan as he never really lived up to the hype regarding his supposed talent level on anything like a consistent enough basis. However I acknowledge that he was a good player who did have some fantastic moments.


      • Grenville Nov 30, 2015 / 1:30 pm

        I’ve said this before, but vis a vis Bell not living up to his talent (and, I think, KP), I blame Flower, Moores et al. There is this trope that England dressing room of the 90s was a horrid place and slightly fragile chaps like Ramperkash were crushed by it. Had they come into the modern English dressing room with it army of backroom staff they’d have lived up to their talent. I say, no. The Fletcher-Vaughan era might have been different, but the Strauss, Cook dressing rooms seem just as bad. Massive pressure from the coach, no space to try and fail and heaven for fend if you disagree with some cricketing decision or the skipper; a general ‘they say, ‘jump’, you say, ‘how high” sort of place. Bell, we know from George Dobell, is talkative and assertive at Warwickshire but timid and silent with England. Why? My guess is that he was shit scared of speaking out and/or failing. That he did as well as he did is testament to the man. Should he have done better? Sure, but then he’d have to have been in a better environment. One that supported him, encouraged him, promoted diversity and, most importantly, took the pressure off.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. BoredInAustria Nov 29, 2015 / 7:13 pm

    Hear hear. Well deseved.
    Sharp photo!


  4. SimonH Nov 30, 2015 / 1:25 pm

    FWIW, Root’s gone back to the top of the batting rankings:

    The low-scoring series in India and the D/N Test have obviously depressed the scores of batsmen involved. Similarly, Ashwin has risen to second in the bowling.

    Also, England are now 5th in the team rankings. Weren’t they sixth? Presumably it’s because NZ have declined even more (although both teams have just lost series 2-0 so how does that work?).


  5. stevetuffers Nov 30, 2015 / 5:04 pm

    I don’t know why this has descended into an Ian Bell-off, with a smattering of Collingwood, but there is something to salvage from these points and the well-earned Dimi for Root.

    Chums of mine always discussed, or thought, that if Bell and Collingwood’s attributes were blended together you’d have a hell of a cricketer. I think Root could well be that player when the dust settles.

    Personally, he had/has a few question marks as a tourist going into this winter. I think his showing against Pakistan is a big tick. If he follows it up with a Bellesque series in SA then I’m sold. I still don’t see the captain in him though that those inside cricket that marked him for. But then again, I rarely see leaders in most. But that’s a discussion for another day.


  6. Mark Nov 30, 2015 / 5:53 pm

    Cains found not guilty of match fixing in court case.

    i have to say I’m surprised seeing the number of witnesses against him. Even if some were not reliable, you do wonder if all were not telling the truth. Essentialy this was what would be called a white collar crime. And they are very difficult to Prosecute because jury’s seem very reluctant to find guilty. Whether it’s because it’s too complicated or they don’t think the crime is that serious. The so called victimless crime.

    I wonder if he would have been found guilty if it was a murder trial with that number of witnesses testifying against him? Just shows how difficult it is to bring match fixing issues to the courts. Even in a libel case.


    • SimonH Nov 30, 2015 / 6:40 pm

      For a change, the Guardian’s coverage is very good – the pieces by Ali Martin and Lizzie Ammon are excellent.


  7. Arron Wright Nov 30, 2015 / 7:56 pm

    No cricketers on SPOTY shortlist, not even Joe Root.

    I should probably zip it before I start, but if you really want to understand SPOTY these days, research the make-up of the “expert panel” since the furore over the no-women shortlist in 2011.


    • LordCanisLupus Nov 30, 2015 / 7:59 pm

      I like my sport. I didn’t recognise four of them on the montage on bbc sport.


      • Arron Wright Nov 30, 2015 / 8:31 pm

        The sports people sitting on the panel:
        2012: Tanni Grey-Thompson (hereafter TGT), Denise Lewis (DL), Steve Redgrave. Because the Olympics needed the help.
        2013: TGT, Kelly Holmes, Michael Vaughan.
        2014: TGT, DL, Rebecca Adlington, Jason Roberts.
        2015: TGT, Mary Peters, Maggie Alphonsi

        I think even Nigel Llong could spot the bias in that lot.


    • Tuffers86 Nov 30, 2015 / 8:37 pm

      Some nominations are baffling
      Some are gender biased
      Some are about right
      I don’t think many care anymore.

      One thing I will mention is you have some obscure gymnast in there and not a kid who did something that hasn’t been done since Barry Sheene in 77. nothing makes any sense.


      • LordCanisLupus Nov 30, 2015 / 8:54 pm

        Ryan Giggs killed it for me. That was when SPOTY became the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party. Some faith was restored in 2011 when Mark Cavendish won, but the damage had been done.

        Now it’s a revenue spinner, a self-important love-fest by a channel packing in sport by the day. I grew up watching sport on the BBC. They stuck by some in pretty crap times, but now most have rolled off to pastures new.

        Root wouldn’t have won it. Got nowhere near. And that’s a reflection on how many Ashes series we played in short succession.

        It’s also blatant that it was a list of 10 before Saturday.


      • Mark Nov 30, 2015 / 9:12 pm

        I have never understood the concept of BBCs Sports personality of the year award. Is it for the best judged sportsman? Or the sportsman with a personality?

        Former winners include Nigel Mansell (twice) Nick Faldo, Steve Davis, Damon Hill (twice) . Michael Owen, David Beckham, Jonny Wilkinson, Ryan Giggs, Lewis Hamilton. Great sportsman they may be , but personality? I rather talk to a goldfish.

        On the other hand the winners do seem to have a remarkable coincidence to those sports covered by the BBC or other free to air coverage. The last 5 years winners are……

        2010 A P McCoy

        2011 Mark Cavendish

        2012 Sir Bradley Wiggins

        2013 Andy Murray

        2014 Lewis Hamilton


      • hatmallet Nov 30, 2015 / 9:58 pm

        Mark, it’s a common misconception. If you lookup “personality” it had two meanings – personal characteristics, and a famous person/celebrity. In the case of SPOTY it if the latter, so it’s completely irrelevant whether the winner is funny, boring, whatever.

        Ryan Giggs winning annoyed me too. Was a bit part performer that year. Though not every year is blessed with good candidate. Wasn’t too many years ago that Button was nominated for winning a single F1 race!


    • hatmallet Nov 30, 2015 / 10:06 pm

      A lot of bias in the old method too. The nominations from the Manchester Evening News in particular were awful. In 2011 they nominated James Anderson, Dimitar Berbatov, Glen Chapple, Darren Clarke, Rory McIlroy, Keri-Anne Payne, Paul Scholes, Andrew Strauss, Yaya Toure and Patrick Vieira. See a theme?!


      • Arron Wright Nov 30, 2015 / 10:24 pm

        Not disputing that. My disillusionment actually predates the reconstitution of the panel, and even predates the Giggs farce. It really started when they denied the public an open vote, and gave themselves free rein to shape viewers’ perceptions on the night.

        Liked by 1 person

      • hatmallet Nov 30, 2015 / 10:53 pm

        The new panel system is inevitably going to come up with a “balanced” shortlist. But then if they didn’t, people would moan about the lack of women, disabled sportspeople, those from “smaller” sports etc. Damned if they do… Ultimately it is a subjective list and we’re never going to be in agreement, we all have our own biases.

        It does frustrated me to see people I’ve never heard of nominated, but really it’s just filler candidates, i.e. 8th to 12th place, so don’t see it affecting the actual top three.


  8. Tuffers86 Nov 30, 2015 / 8:32 pm

    No mention/interest in the T20 whitewash? Ballsy using Jordan in the Super Over.

    I’m pretty excited and delighted for this squad. Seems to be great depth. No idea what the best XI is, and that’s probably a good rhing.


    • LordCanisLupus Nov 30, 2015 / 8:47 pm

      Sorry to all of you. Had a hectic day at work and by the time I had a chance to look up, the game was well underway.

      Sadly, sometimes real life gets in way of my other incarnation. It’s likely to get worse before it gets better, too.


      • Tuffers86 Nov 30, 2015 / 9:02 pm

        No problem with the lack of new post, these things happen. More of the fact that no-one said anything. Just found it odd as it was an entertaining contest.


  9. greyblazer Nov 30, 2015 / 9:12 pm

    WT20 in India. England with good spin options and power hitters. One of the favourites?


    • d'Arthez Dec 1, 2015 / 5:58 am

      Depends on the wickets. If the Test series against South Africa is something to go by, they will need another 3 spin-bowling options. If not, then England seem to be in with a realistic chance.


    • SimonH Dec 1, 2015 / 9:42 am

      Written between February and May 2014 that might have been quite interesting…..

      Liked by 1 person

      • BoredInAustria Dec 1, 2015 / 2:11 pm

        Well done for the brilliant analysis of the Flower era. Pity it is hidden in such an “Essay”…

        “The six phases of a project:
        1. Enthusiasm
        2. Disillusionment
        3. Panic
        4. Search for the guilty
        5. Punishment of the innocent
        6. Rewards for the uninvolved

        and ..

        “Iatrogenic* interventions….such as when the coach tells a batsman (comment: or bowler) to change his lifelong grip ( comment: or run up) before making his Test debut…”

        “You might think that sports teams would be so keen to improve that they would rush to expose their ideas to rational and reflective scrutiny. But that’s not always the case. As a player I often felt that insecure teams shrank from critical thinking, where more confident teams encouraged it.”

        “…. Critical thinkers are not only better bets professionally, they are also more interesting friends. Who wants to listen to the same set of unexamined views and sacrosanct opinions for decades?”

        Pity you are about 24 months late Ed….

        * yes I had to google – “Referring to injuries caused by a doctor”…


      • d'Arthez Dec 1, 2015 / 6:26 pm

        “…. Critical thinkers are not only better bets professionally, they are also more interesting friends. Who wants to listen to the same set of unexamined views and sacrosanct opinions for decades?”

        Giles Clarke, Tom Harrison, Alastair Cook, and I could name a few others …


    • Arron Wright Dec 1, 2015 / 12:17 pm

      Having introduced the plebs to “iatrogenic”, he’s determined to maximise its use….

      That paragraph ending with the Nobel Prize name drop is elite-level FICJAM.


      • Mark Dec 1, 2015 / 1:04 pm

        He lost me after the first 4 words………

        “The subversive in me …..”

        If he thinks for one minute he is a subversive in any shape or form he also probably thinks he comes from the planet Zog.

        This is a classic example of what Simon was talking about the other day. The good old boy network. Here you have one chum bigging up another chums new book, wrapped up in an orgy of self congratulation and chumminess. The idea these people believe that they are “outside the box” thinkers is pricelss. They are the very personification of inside the box people.


        • LordCanisLupus Dec 1, 2015 / 2:04 pm

          Shouting at people might not work. The end.

          Get that man an editor.


      • LordCanisLupus Dec 1, 2015 / 1:58 pm

        If Ed wanted an example of being iatrogenic then he should look no further than his captaincy career.

        Oh. It’s an awful article.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. MM Dec 1, 2015 / 5:31 pm

    What a great word iatrogenic is. Thoroughly endorse any use of it. Unless “Ed” Smith…

    ( ( ( s h u d d e r ) ) )

    …is the user, that total anti-subversive. Has the BBC sacked him off, or was he on a sabbatical to write some more steaming blah?


    • BoredInAustria Dec 1, 2015 / 8:10 pm

      Love your shudder!
      And your post.


      • MM Dec 2, 2015 / 11:17 pm

        Cheers BinA. I’ll put a shudder in wherever possible from now on.


  11. man in a barrel Dec 1, 2015 / 5:53 pm

    If he had written this before the final Test of the Ashes in Australia 2013/14, then it might carry some weight. We heard stories from the journos about Flower looking stern and lecturing the masses while they looked bored – in fact someone might even have been looking out of the window. We heard that Cook wanted to do some PE while someone else wanted to get some batting practice in. It was clearly a culture that had broken… they promoted Flower and sacked somebody insignificant. A really good leader (or even leadership team) would probably have decided that everyone was becoming too introspective and demoralised and just over-thinking everything and suggested they go out for a day and get hammered, or have a barbecue or just do something different. But that is not part of the ERU’s plans (in case someone got into a dwarf-throwing contest), therefore it could not fit into the English cricket team. It seems from the moputside that they were too critical of themselves rather than not critical enough.


  12. Mark Dec 1, 2015 / 7:43 pm

    This is the trouble with so much of Smiths output. He writes all the time about those who think out of the box, who he claims to admire. Individuals that go their own way, rejecting the conventinal wisdom of the top down coach.

    Hello? Does he ever join the dots?

    Smith is sitting in a 12′ Victorian front room with two chairs and a giant elephant that is shitting all over the carpet. Yet he hasn’t noticed the piles of elephant shit stacking up on the floor. When he had and example of the kind of difficult to deal with, talented individual right in front of his eyes he couldn’t see it, and aligned himself with the usual managment establishment.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Tuffers86 Dec 1, 2015 / 8:24 pm

    I think the editors at CricInfo need to reel Ed Smtih in a lot. Do they really think his prose is fit for their readership? For 3/4 of CricInfo users, I bet English is a second or even third language and he is throwing around nonsense like this. Dense.

    I work with a few Indian fellows, and while they love and write whimsical, complex sentences, there’s seldom lexicon that stops you in your tracks. Perhaps Ed needs a refresher in the writing module of “How journalism works” by one of the network.


    • LordCanisLupus Dec 1, 2015 / 8:36 pm

      This is the truth. It is an utterly crap article. Smith wants nothing out of it other than people to think “he’s effing clever”. The end.

      Liked by 1 person

      • SteveT Dec 2, 2015 / 12:06 pm

        Give the man a Dmitri, you know he deserves it!


    • d'Arthez Dec 2, 2015 / 5:55 am

      Of course, he hopes that the audience mistakes wordiness and the use of many big words, for cleverness, rather than being someone who is a clueless obfuscator.

      Don’t think the general audience(s) are that wooed by him.


  14. thebogfather Dec 2, 2015 / 8:07 am

    Oh dear, ICC test team of the year…. just look who’s in charge!


    • SimonH Dec 2, 2015 / 9:38 am

      The Guardian love this so much they’ve got a story up (with no comments or attributed author – it says ‘PA’ so is that our old friend Rory Dullard?).

      Cook is said to have been “sensational” and “an obvious choice”. Averages of Test openers in the relevant time frame:

      Vijay and Hafeez both have higher averages (to name but two). Cook is 10th.

      Records of Test captains in the relevant time frame:

      Cook is 6th. Misbah’s record is so much better I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry.


      • SimonH Dec 2, 2015 / 10:02 am

        Apologies, the date settings for that batting table are incorrect. Here’s the correct version:


      • SimonH Dec 2, 2015 / 10:09 am

        And they’ve just opened a comment thread.


      • pktroll (@pktroll) Dec 2, 2015 / 9:22 pm

        In terms of the time period in question as you have pointed, given the sample size for most of those batsmen, it is far from wrong that Cook is there. You could make an argument that his century versus NZ was one of his finest for England given the match situation and that it was against a good seam bowling side. As for the captaincy record he would have been just ahead on that ledger with a 5-4-1 in terms of win/loss/draw record. With the world cup having eaten in to potential match action early this year, the amount of test cricket that some sides played wouldn’t have been that great too.

        I have pointed out to others who have gone on about the progress of the England team is that in 2015, with the boxing day test yet to come, their record is W5 L6 D2. I do think Cook has improved somewhat as a skipper from the listless soul he undoubtedly was for a long time, but far from the revolutionised master that he has been made out to be.


      • SimonH Dec 2, 2015 / 10:33 pm

        PK, I don’t say that the decision to select Cook was wrong – I’m saying it doesn’t justify the words “sensational” or “an obvious choice”. I think they choice between Cook, Warner, Rogers, Vijay and Hafeez is in reality an extremely tight one and a reasonable case could be made for any of them.


      • MM Dec 2, 2015 / 11:20 pm

        Gotta say, my first thought was ‘Misbah? WTF’s he got to do to get on this list?’

        But I couldn’t be chuffed to check the criteria.


      • SimonH Dec 3, 2015 / 9:41 am

        Only just got around to looking at the stats for the middle order in the ICC team (because I’d foolishly assumed the choices were fair and obvious).

        Runs scored:

        Averages (min. 200 runs):

        Quite why Azhar Ali wasn’t selected eludes me. It could be argued his figures include a double century against Bangladesh – On the other hand, I’d argue Bangladesh are as tough an opposition at home as the West Indies these days – plus Azhar made a stack of runs against Australia and away against SL (in a generally lowish scoring series).

        Then there’s ABDV averaging over 100…..


      • d'Arthez Dec 3, 2015 / 10:47 am

        Simon, basically players from all teams will be picked for either the ODI or Test side. The only teams to traditionally miss out completely are Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. And given the improvement of Bangladesh’s home performances, they won’t be kept out much longer, if they continue to improve.

        Dwayne Bravo got into the ICC ODI side in 2014, despite being a fast-bowling version of Robin Peterson for years (with both bat and ball, there is really not that much difference between the two) statistically speaking. His performances did not stand out, but he was the only West Indian even close enough to be reasonably included. Hence he was included.

        That is why Azhar could not be picked. That is why Misbah could not be picked.


      • pktroll (@pktroll) Dec 3, 2015 / 11:10 am

        Simon H, re the words used about Cook, I’m not disagreeing about that the usual overdone platitudes were made for Cook – far from it – it narks me off as much as anyone and overlooks how horrible he was to watch v West Indies despite scoring runs. However his contribution v NZ was very good and he did have a decent (though not outstanding) Ashes in the time period concerned.


      • Mark Dec 3, 2015 / 11:13 am

        You can debate whether he should be the openeing batsman, but the idea he should be captain is ludicrous. He is one of the worst captains in World cricket.

        The fact the Guardian claims he is an “obvious choice” is laughable, and only confirms that newspapers cricket section is a clown car not to be taken seriously. But then we already knew that.


      • SimonH Dec 3, 2015 / 11:16 am

        No West Indians made either team this year.

        Of course the WI have the No.1 ranked ODI (and T20) bowler who might have warranted selection – except it would be a bit embarrassing to pick him when the ICC are trying to hound him out of the game.


      • d'Arthez Dec 3, 2015 / 12:34 pm

        The “best” performing West Indians (by slot on averages charts – no limits on the number of innings played)

        Battingwise: Samuels best at 40th spot, with an average of 44.15
        Bowlingwise: Bishoo best at 26th spot, with 10/289, from two Tests. Taylor is in 34th spot, with 22/688 from 7 Tests.

        Battingwise: Samuels best at 21st spot. With 2 of his three tons coming in the aborted tour of India. From only 15 ODIs.
        Bowlingwise: Chris Gayle is the only West Indian to make the top 50. 23rd, with 5/106. Jerome Taylor is the first regular bowler at slot 58, with 25/682. Not exactly great.

        Narine had played all of 0 ODIs and 0 Tests in the period under consideration.

        Those stats should make it pretty clear why no West Indian made the cut.


  15. SimonH Dec 2, 2015 / 1:47 pm

    Journalist of the Year award nominees:

    The only Sports’ Journalist nominee I’ve seen write anything about cricket is Ian Herbert of the Indy. Whether cricket journalists’ absence is down to the standard of cricket journalism or cricket’s low profile (or both) who knows?

    A few may have to console themselves with a Dmitri….

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Rooto Dec 2, 2015 / 8:46 pm

    Selvey’s latest piece about Monty is interesting. A little dig at Moeen and Rashid in there, but generally calm and (finally) giving more specific info that Monty has been suffering from mental illness and his difficulties with relationships may be a factor in his dissatisfaction with his cricketing life. (I may be over -reading a little bit).
    I feel his last line about the ECB paying Monty to play so he can get on tour next winter to India is wishful thinking. I think the powers that be probably trust the incumbents more than Selvey does, and anyway we know their attitudes to causes of potential dressing-room turmoil. I agree that it would be a position and proactive move, though.
    Neil Burns though. One of English Cricket’s most important unseen figures.


  17. Mark Dec 2, 2015 / 9:56 pm

    In Ed Smiths book review he brings up Mathew Syed’s first book, Bounce. Smith describes the book as follows …….

    “Bounce, which proposed that talent is a myth – an argument that can be summed up in a single, seductive phrase: genius is a question of practice.”

    I’d never heard of this book but the description got my hackles up. This sounds like a giant red flag to everything I think is wrong with The English view and understanding of talent. I have a bee in my bonnet about how we don’t understand talent, we don’t know how to nurture it or look after it.

    In fact, when on the rare occasions it comes along (usually through non official coaching structures) we delude ourselves that it is because of diet or some piece of management motivation out of a self help book. But worse, the English seem to have a reflex desire to destroy it. We don’t like talent, we are deeply suspicious of it.

    The idea that Genius is not about genes but is about practice is such crap. Does Syed think Mozart was a genius? Does he really believe
    that he was writing good music at 5 years of age because he practiced harder that other 4 and 5 years olds? The kid was a God dam genius. There are such things as genuine geniuses. Does Syad really believe that anyone can bat like Viv Richards if they just practice long enough? Or bowl like Shane Warne with just more practice? I’m not against practice, but the idea you can become a genius through more practice is clap trap. In fact it’s not unusual for real genius to not practice, and can be flakey at times and unconventional.

    I certainly won’t be reading it, because it sounds like a pile of English intellectual dog vomit. No surprise the usual suspects are all on board with this nonsense..

    Liked by 1 person

    • MM Dec 2, 2015 / 11:21 pm



    • Zephirine Dec 3, 2015 / 12:55 am

      Sounds like a re-hash of Gladwell’s Outliers, 10,000 hours of practice and all that.
      What these arguments don’t seem to take into account is that without an intense interest in, and natural aptitude for, an activity, no-one is going to put in those hours of work anyway. Whether or not you call the interest and aptitude ‘talent’ is just a question of vocabulary.


  18. Culex Dec 2, 2015 / 10:07 pm

    Interesting article from George Dobell:

    “It seems the penny has dropped. While nothing is yet resolved, it does seem that some key figures at the ECB have accepted the counties’ argument that free-to-air coverage – either on television or on-line – has a part to play in the next television deal.”


    • pktroll (@pktroll) Dec 3, 2015 / 11:05 am

      While the piffling highlights for international cricket remain as they are, I can’t see that much changing.


    • greyblazer Dec 3, 2015 / 1:26 pm

      It was an excellent game, If it had gone another day, and a couple of batsmen reached 3 figures.
      It wouldn’t be far off perfect


      • SimonH Dec 3, 2015 / 3:01 pm

        The balance between bat and ball was the major issue (and don’t get me wrong – run gluts are even worse). Grass had to be left on the pitch to preserve a ball which is blatantly unfit for purpose and the result was a match with the lowest highest individual score for the winning side (Nevill’s 66) at the ground ever. You have to bear in mind this is Adelaide, the most batsmen friendly pitch in Australia, and if these sorts of scores happened there D/N cricket is not ready to roll out elsewhere.

        I wouldn’t mind so much if it wasn’t part of a run of Big Three Tests where the bat and ball balance has been off-kilter. In the last eleven Tests they’ve hosted, there hasn’t been a first innings score between 250 and 400. It is killing the watchability of cricket for me – and I watch cricket for the cricket, not all the extraneous stuff Nicholas seems more concerned about.

        I also wouldn’t mind so much if Nicholas’s reaction wasn’t so eminently predictable. He didn’t get the gig he has by asking awkward questions when administrators have designated a smugfest the required response.

        Liked by 1 person

      • greyblazer Dec 3, 2015 / 7:16 pm

        The bits I watched, there were a lot of bad shots. If batsmen applied themselves better they could have scored. Twilight was difficult but any more difficult than Leeds on a cloudy morning.
        The pink ball needs more sterner tests before I make my mind up.


      • Grenville Dec 3, 2015 / 11:53 pm

        I’m not sure what I think with respect to the quality of the match. I’ll return to that, but one thing I did learn is that I like a slow outfield. It helps the bowlers keep control and it reduces the percentage of throwing your hands hard at the ball. With respect to the match, it was thrilling. Neither team got away, but that could have been that batting was a lottery. I could have biased by the commentary, but my reading was that both teams have good seam/swing attacks and, apart from 1 or 2 good or great bats, poor players of the moving ball. The stars, Smith and Williamson failed and so did Taylor and Voges. The rest couldn’t cope. However, I’d like to see more games in those sort of conditions. It is good cricket. The Waca was not. Similarly the current pitch in Dehli looks good to me (I only caught Rahane, mind). It’s turning from day 1, but it’s not misbehaving (of course things might deteriorate too fast). It’s hard but not impossible to construct an innings. If it’s over in 3 days it’ll be because 1 or both teams played badly. That wasn’t true of Nagpur or Mohali.

        Probably wrong, mind. I await correction.


  19. Mark Dec 3, 2015 / 1:02 pm

    It isn’t just cricket journalists who are guilty of group think. The nations leading football journos epitomise the same smug, good old boy group think that infects the cricket sections.

    If you want a good example just look at the overnight fawning coverage of Gary Neville being appointed manager of Valencia. Now I have no idea if he will turn out to be a success. But fleets streets finest. The Hold the back page geniuses have rolled over themselves to announce in a classic bit of group think that they know he will be a success.

    How do they know? This has all the hall marks of Simon H piece about the good old boy network. You see Neville had moved into their area as pundit, and had been quite good at it. So naturally they assume he must be a shoe in to be the next Alex Ferguson. None of them questions the fact he has never managed anything since he managed his train set at aged 9. No, he’s a ex Man U player and member of the famed class of 92 so he must be a certain management success. These are the same people who tell us with a straight face that Ryan Giggs should take over as manager of Man Utd despite the fact he has managed nothing either.

    It never crosses their minds that 3 former Man Utd players have been battling in management with little success for a generation. Namely Steve Bruce, Mark Hughes, and Roy Keane. They have been trying to do it the hard way at un fashionable clubs learning their trade. No, in the Hold the back page mentality anybody can do it if they are one of the chosen people. Did Alex Ferguson or Brian Clough or Bill Shankley just start at the top? No. And how many great players have failed at management? Loads.

    Of course they are entitled to their opinions, but watching the little lemmings all in group think mode jump of the Gary Neville cliff face is an eye opener. All eager to congratulate him, congratulate each other on being so in tune with group think mentality, and tell everyone that he is the next great manager. Are none of them capable of offering a more intelligent alternative view? It appears, if it deviates from the good old boy group think, then no.

    Oh, and bad luck if you are a supporter of a team like Leicester or Palace or some other unfashionable club. You will now be subjected to pages of drivel over the next few months about Valencia. They will become the medias next favourite club in Spain. As if anyone could give a shit. No doubt Oliver Holt and Henry Winter will have to make numerous Euro trips out to Valencia to write copious amounts of sugary dross.


    • pktroll (@pktroll) Dec 3, 2015 / 2:06 pm

      It should also be pointed out that the guy who runs Valencia, a Singaporean businessman called Peter Lim is in effect his business partner at Salford City, the amateur club where a lot of focus is on those former players who are part of the ownership consortium

      As well as that his brother Phil joined Valencia’s coaching staff in the summer. It strikes me that this has been in the offing for some while rather than some gung ho out of the box appointment.


      • Mark Dec 3, 2015 / 4:16 pm

        I don’t object to him being given the job, although I find it odd that he has no track record of managing a top team. Managing and playing are two very different skills. Managing and being a number 2 coach are very different jobs. Look at the “Wally with the brolly.”

        What I find quite creepy is the way the media all come down along the same lines. Do the media always congratulate everyone who gets a job in football managment? Or is it only for former pundits? And why is there such a giant love in for the class of 92? Are the media all man u Fans?

        Giggs is another one who has managed nothing and yet these pundits think he should just walk in and take over Man U with no work record anywhere else. as I say he may turn out to be a success, but if it goes pear shaped you can bet non of these folks will write articles saying they got it hoplessy wrong,


      • pktroll (@pktroll) Dec 3, 2015 / 6:46 pm

        I take your point about the media fawning too. I think that he’s been “one of them” in the Sky Studio is a large part of it. Of course it is hard to say whether or not he will make it as a boss without much evidence. I guess the fact that the Man U side of that era had a large number of English players probably has them on a bit of a pedestal given that decent English players are so rare at the bigger clubs, whether or not the press pack are fans of them or not.

        Neville to me comes across as far more intelligent than most of the ex pros from recent times who are in the media, and astute tactically. If you think about the likes of Shearer, Savage, Jamie Redknapp amongst others he is cut from a different cloth. What he does have is a wealth of European knowledge and he doesn’t strike me as he would take much in the way of crap. It may be that the lack of communication may make life difficult for him. Anyway I feel a bit dirty talking about football on here!


      • man in a barrel Dec 3, 2015 / 8:41 pm

        I think Maclaren has something in common with Moores. After the England debacle, he had a decent time in the Netherlands, didn’t he? To be a national coach requires attributes that are not the same as a club coach. Some can bridge the gap; others find it difficult. Likewise great players do not always make great coaches. Boycott did it, but he knew the mechanics of his game. John Edrich and Greg Chappell were useless. They played by instinct. I suspect Viv Richards or Gary Sobers would be rubbish. Tom Cartwright knew every aspect of his game and was such a great coach that even naturals such as Viv and Sir Ian looked up to him. He told them when bad habits were forming. I don’t see Moores as an elite coach, nor Maclaren but they are very effective at the right level of play.


    • SteveT Dec 4, 2015 / 12:32 pm

      Shouldn’t is be ‘ruining’ rather than ‘running’?


      • Sherwick Dec 5, 2015 / 1:52 pm

        A lifetime international ban for my favourite player.
        A lifetime.
        But accepting bribes, taking drugs (i.e. actually breaking the law) etc. all ok.
        Thanks Strauss, Cook, Flower and Clarke.


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