Many of you have read the first two parts of this journey, so I thought I’d finish the year with the two main months for hits this year. April and especially May. Firstly, April.
We left the review just as England had been laughed out of the World Cup and Australia were being crowned champions again. What was our reaction going to be?
Ho Ho. The media were still incredibly prickly about the likes of us. The “new era” had seen the same World Cup results. Cook had been sacked as captain and was without a hundred. There needed to be distraction.
We got it. If we were to hear this once in April, we’d hear it a thousand times.
Newman greeted the Wisden Editor’s Notes with his usual pro-KP stance.
“a decision on which they had right on their side”
“a decision supported by those who follow the team around professionally”
Ha Ha! Cat out of the bag and all that. Never mind, Paul. It was never really a secret with you lot.
April 8th was a sad day for this blog. I was outside the Shakespeare pub on Kingsway when the tweets started pouring forth. There were messages. I was waiting for my Uni mate, down in London for the day. He sees me, and before we say hello he says “He’s gone, what are you going to do? It was the end of aplomb. You seen any of the pro-Downton camp admit their massive error? Have you?
In tabloid style let me go through some of Downton’s best moments:
Sacking KP. Oh yes. For reasons unclear, but something to do with being disconnected. You make a big decision like that, you need to explain yourself. Constantly avoiding the question makes you look a fool.
Outside cricket. Given he used that phrase in a 1985 Q&A for Cricketer’s Who’s Who, it seemed to be something he would have said. Way to get a meme started.
Difficult Winter – Oh yes. Losing 12 out of 13 to your main foe is just “difficult”
The press conference – Alastair Cook being told that he wasn’t strong enough to captain KP seemed rather amusing. Of course that was our spin. Other saw aplomb.
Who can forget his interview round in Sri Lanka. Backing the captain, then presiding over his sacking a few days later, all the while refusing to answer any questions on KP. Good lord.
Then there was the side to be reckoned with going into the World Cup. That went well.
Then the media blitz post elimination which struck all the wrong notes, had him wondering how T20 cricket had impacted, and played “it weren’t my fault” cards all over the place.
But there were playing matters to attend to, and England were visiting the West Indies for the first time in tests since 2009. That series had seen the forming of the Strauss/Flower nexus. We went into this series with Moores under a cloud, his main pit prop gone, and with a captain bereft of runs and form, no matter how many people tried to spin it. Meanwhile, I was in it up to my neck and worried about how the blog could survive long-term without me being completely f*cked up about it. April was peaceful….
I was in full-on “Get Clarke” for the Downton dismissal.
The sad news came through from Australia that the great Richie Benaud had passed away. It wasn’t a shock, but it still hits you. Richie had been a part of my childhood, a key man in getting me to get into cricket through his commentary. A sad, sad day.
Then, of course, on Wisden launch day, it was confirmed that a minor part of the bible of cricket was dedicated to little old me. A really minor part. That I didn’t want to be there (no, the man doth not protest too much) passed many by. But it happened. I discussed it in Infamy.
That Sunday after KP scored 170 for Surrey against Oxford and the usual suspects lost their shit. Hey, we never realised, that University cricket wasn’t as good as test matches. How were we to know?
The first test against the West Indies in Antigua ended with Jason Holder batting out for a hundred and a draw. Trott hadn’t functioned well as an opener, but Ian Bell made what would be his last test ton in trying circumstances. The verdict on the match is here.
As work was getting tough, in the run up to a long period of leave I was about to take, a cry for help was heeded. The notice now seems incredibly peevish, and how my air of suspicion clouded some of my views. “My blog”. What a tit! But Chris came on board and this was the best thing to happen to the blog. His style is totally different to mine, we do different things with different strengths, and it has been fantastic. House Notice II launched TLG on the world.
He kicked off with a match preview. The Grenada test was an exciting one after some dull cricket with Jimmy Anderson bowling us to victory on the last day. The fact we’d beaten a mediocre side purely on the back of a brilliant bowling spell meant that the fans and media suspended reason and went mad. There were plenty “greatest win of recent times” swaddling. See Godfather. And Notes and Queries.
We’ve beaten the 8th ranked team in the world, without their best quick bowler, and a frail batting line-up having wasted the advantage given us to a large degree on the 1st day. If this was a flawless, ruthless demolition over four days on a good deck, I’d be encouraged. But this was won because of an inspired performance on Day 5. The thing with inspired performances is that by and large, they don’t happen often. You can’t rely on them.
The elephant in the room mentioned in that post would be addressed in May, in Bridgetown. Compare Durban to this nonsense. It really doesn’t compare, does it?
The last post of the month was the last Cook one before he made his hundred. Philadelphia. This took us into May….the most hit month in the history of any of my blogs. I mean, not a lot happened. That will wait until the New Year.
Happy New Year all.