Guest Post – Great Bucko.. “The Silent Man’s Silent Man”

A big welcome, and Happy New Year, to The Great Bucko (aka Sean B) for another one of his think-pieces. As usual, food for thought, and interesting to read. Fire away with the comments…

Take it away Sean….

9th May 2015. The date which most of the mainstream media credit as the day when English cricket finally pulled itself out of the doldrums. To be fair it’s an easy narrative for them to create, the “messiah” Andrew Strauss had ridden his chariot into the offices of the ECB to join forces with our “brave young captain” Alastair Cook to pick English cricket up by it’s shoelaces and turn them into the young warriors who would sweep away the invading Australian hordes from the hallowed gates of the Home of Cricket. The disastrous world cup would be a distant memory, the inability to beat the worst West Indian team in living memory now forgotten and oh yes, Paul who?

Of course, I’m being slightly glib here and it would be wrong of me to let me my own personal feelings about Andrew Strauss cloud my judgment of the fact that he has done a pretty decent job since being made Director, English Cricket (see Andrew, it’s actually beneficial not to let one’s personal agenda get in the way of sound decision making – I present Mr. Kevin Pietersen as my first offering to the jury). The decision to sack Peter Moores and appoint Trevor Bayliss was a shrewd move and although the way it was carried out was just horrendous (another fine PR show from the ECB), it was the right decision and one that should have been made 18 months earlier. Dmitri has covered the Peter Moores era in his review of the year, so I don’t want to go over old ground, but it is safe to say that I’m in agreement that Moores, whilst an honourable man and certainly someone who didn’t deserve the shabby treatment he was afforded when being removed of his post, was never cut out for coaching at an international level (my argument was that he should have been made the Lions coach, as he did have a skill for unearthing good young talent). I also applaud Strauss’ thoughts around affording more focus for the one-day and T20 teams, with players like Willey and Rashid encouraged to play in some of the worldwide T20 tournaments to hone their skills and gain experience (perhaps he has read KP’s first book after all). Of course, there was the Ashes victory too, which allows Strauss to justify all his decisions in the lead up to the series and to proclaim England are on the up, even if it was against an average Australian side on doctored green seamers.

However, in my opinion, the 2 biggest reasons why there has been progress from the England side, both on the pitch and just as importantly off the pitch (in the eyes of the paying public), were 2 decisions made before Strauss’ tenure had actually begun. Paul Farbrace, though whisper it, who was appointed under Paul Downton’s reign of calamity, has been a vital cog in the new England set up (though I refuse to give Downton any credit, as I believe it was Moores’ who pushed for his appointment). Bayliss and Farbrace dovetail extremely well, and from all the reports coming out of the dressing room, Farbrace is an extremely well liked and respected individual who has played a major part in uniting the dressing room, allowing players to play their own game and promoting a positive brand of cricket (totally alien to that in which we were playing under Flower and Moores). He has sometimes been referred to as the “silent man” but every cricket fan can understand the skills and expertise he has bought to the England set up. Farbrace has undoubtedly been a big cog in England’s success; however the most important decision that the English Cricket team has made in my opinion, came with relatively little fanfare. The date I will remember as being the most important for English cricket in 2015, was 26th March 2015. The date when a certain Ottis Gibson was bought back into the England fold as bowling coach for a 2nd time, although a lot of credit also has to go to the Melbourne Renegades, who somehow saw fit to hire David Saker as head coach (that’s worked out well hasn’t it??)

This decision, again in the final death throes of Peter Moore’s reign (they had worked together previously in Moores’ first stint as England coach) was arguably the most important decision made by the ECB last year (although some credit has to go to Strauss for extending his contract). Gibson is the exact antithesis of Saker, an individual who isn’t desperate to be in the limelight (I can’t remember seeing an interview with Gibson since his appointment), an individual who is happy to do his work behind the scenes and let the bowlers take the credit when things go well (it always seemed more than a mere coincidence that Saker would appear at the end of a day when England had actually bowled well) and an individual who has more than one tactical plan when Plan A isn’t working. These character traits dovetail excellently with Bayliss’ and Farbrace’s style of management. I must admit that I almost jumped for joy when I heard the news that Saker was leaving England. This was a man who had made a career living off the glories of one great Ashes series in 2009/10 against an Australian side in complete disarray with an English team who were close to their pinnacle. David Saker generally had one plan and one plan only, let the opposition “have it up them” whatever the conditions – bowl short, bowl hard and show them how aggressive you are (no wonder there were divisions in the English dressing room between the batsmen and the bowlers, Saker probably actively encouraged it). For series after series, England bowled too short at opposing teams with the nadir being reached against the Sri Lankans at Headingley in 2014, where England’s bowling tactics were some of the most brainless I’ve ever witnessed on a cricket field; the macho “let’s show these Lankans who’s boss by letting them have it up them” ensured that we lost the game from a position of strength and without doubt showed David Saker’s limitations for the whole world to see. It wasn’t just that Saker was tactically poor, that was his probably his best quality, it was also the fact that he made all of our bowlers consistently worse and nearly destroyed one of them. Jimmy seemed to lose the ability to swing the ball, Broad was told that he had to be the destroyer alongside Plunkett and then we get to the case of a certain Steven Finn. At the end of the 2013/2014 Ashes series, Ashley Giles commented that Finn “was simply unselectable” – not that I attach any blame to Giles, the real perpetrator without doubt was David Saker, who had tinkered and toyed with Finn’s action so much that he simply didn’t know what to do anymore. I remember when Finn burst onto the scene in 2010 against Bangladesh and Pakistan, there was genuine excitement that we had a bowler who could bowl at 90MPH with the height to trouble even the most adept of batsmen, so to then hear that he had been reduced to bowling throw downs at a single stump at the end of the 2013/14 Ashes series should have prompted some thorough soul searching amongst the ECB hierarchy. This was all on David Saker’s watch, how could one of our most promising bowlers been left in such a situation? Why wasn’t Saker’s part in this heavily scrutinized unlike the batting failures that cost Gooch his job? Oh yes they were too busy throwing our best batsmen under a bus to worry about little things like this. The fact that Finn is somewhere back to his best (I thought he was the pick of the bowlers in the first two tests against South Africa) is testament to both Finn and to Richard Johnson (as well as Raph Brandon for helping him with his run up) and highlights what a simply terrible coach David Saker is.

Ottis Gibson, on the other hand, seems to do the all of the basics well and without doubt has the full respect of the English bowlers, many of whom he would have worked with at the start of their career. Aside from the West Indies series where we bowled like drains and to be fair to Gibson, he had only just taken up his post a couple of weeks before, England have consistently bowled better than they had done for the four years previous. Anderson (who many including myself, thought might be coming to the end of his career last summer) is consistently swinging the ball again and bowling better lines both at home and away. Broad has suddenly realised that you’re likely to pick up more wickets by pitching the ball up (gone are the macho “enforcer” passages of play thankfully) and as a result is also bowling far more wicket taking deliveries and also with a far better economy than ever before. Stokes and Finn have been allowed to play their natural games and hunt for wickets and not worry about being dropped for not “bowling dry” as they would have done in the past. Moeen also seems to have improved over the past couple of months and he again was very complimentary about working with Gibson – http://www.espncricinfo.com/south-africa-v-england-2015-16/content/story/956105.html. The bowling of the white ball side (Woakes, Willey, Topley and to some extent Jordan) has also improved dramatically.

And how have we needed our bowling attack to perform as well, most of England’s victories over the past year have revolved around an excellent bowling performance that has allowed our batsmen to play without pressure (and we have seen what our batting performances can be when suddenly the pressure gauge is switched, the 2nd innings at Cape Town was a perfect example). England’s batting line up still has many holes in it, with only one world class batsman (Root), one other proven international class batsman (Cook) with the rest being talented cricketers (Taylor, Compton, Bairstow, Stokes etc.) either trying to find their way in international cricket or are striving to become more consistent (if Stokes can regularly bat anywhere near to the ability he showed at Cape Town, then we will have a superstar). As a result, for England to be successful in the short term, we need to find an opener (still), get the batting unit to fire more often and pray that the English bowling attack can continue to carry our somewhat stuttering batting line up.

This for me is why Gibson’s appointment was the singularly most important news of 2015. We have always had a good bowling attack on paper for the past few years, but 90% of the time we were never sure which version would turn up, the one that bowled out Australia for 60 at Trent Bridge or the one that allowed Sri Lanka to score 457 in the 2nd innings at Headingley? It was a conundrum that neither Moores nor Saker could solve. It is still early days in Gibson’s tenure as bowling coach, and there will be some bad days as well as good, but the omens appear good. We appear to now have a bowling attack where each individual knows the role in which they have to play in it and as a result of this, it has become far more consistent and threatening in a variety of conditions.

Strauss and Cook may well get all of the credit in the mainstream media (wrongly in my opinion) and naturally there must be a hefty dollop of praise to both Bayliss and the “silent man” Paul Farbrace who have been instrumental in England’s improvement, but for me the most credit has to go to the individual that has received the least credit publicly since his appointment, one Ottis Delroy Gibson – the silent man’s silent man.

 

@thegreatbucko

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72 thoughts on “Guest Post – Great Bucko.. “The Silent Man’s Silent Man”

  1. paulewart Jan 10, 2016 / 8:40 pm

    Great work Sean. Keep ’em coming. Saker, one good series apart, was a disaster, but he had ‘friends’ in high places.

    Like

    • escort Jan 10, 2016 / 9:00 pm

      Are you referring to the ECB puppet, Mike “sooty” Selvey?

      Like

      • PaulE Jan 11, 2016 / 7:36 am

        Can’t help feeling he’s more like Sweep.

        Like

  2. OscarDaBosca Jan 10, 2016 / 8:50 pm

    Haven’t commented for a while (still read every blog and comments voraciously) but I have to say this was a great piece.

    Like

  3. Benny Jan 10, 2016 / 9:37 pm

    Superb. The sort of perceptive piece we used to get from knowledgeable cricket correspondents before the press dumbed down.

    Like

  4. Philip Chapman Jan 10, 2016 / 9:55 pm

    Great thoughts totally agree with everything in here.
    Ottis was a success first time round and has been great so far.

    I genuinely believe that Moeen has also become a decent bowler and will be ready when we go to India later in the year.

    Like

  5. amit Jan 11, 2016 / 6:55 am

    It is an interesting perspective. Coaches that remain behind the scenes and not hog the headlines, usually do the work well. We’ve seen that before with the likes of Gary Kirsten.
    That said, it must be great being Strauss right now. He can lay claim (successfully, thanks to MSM) to almost all the good things happening. You can bet your bottom dollar, things will go wrong at some stage (they usually do) and we will have our next scapegoat. His name will not be Strauss!

    I usually don’t want to credit the coaches for the performances on the field. The players need to own up to what they deliver on the field. And so, credit to Broad and Jimmy who have both found a new wind in their sails. If Gibson has facilitated it and contributed to a healthier environment, then he deserves recognition. Being silent here is not good for his own PR because I can’t recall any MSM journalist actively promoting his cause like they did with Saker.

    Like

    • SimonH Jan 11, 2016 / 11:15 am

      David Saker’s bowling epithets have a Shakespearean ring to them:

      “Alas, poor yorker! I knew him well”.

      “Though this be madness, yet there is method in ‘t. So bowl more bouncers at Haddin”.

      “To thine own self be true. Sod that – do what the coach says”.

      “Brevity is the soul of a fast bowler’s run-up, Finny”.

      “That it should come to this! Day four at Headingley”.

      “Do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe? And I said, well yes, frankly, Selve mate”.

      “To bowl dry or not to bowl dry: that is the question. We’ll bowl dry”.

      “Get thee to Loughborough”

      And that’s just ‘Hamlet’….

      Liked by 1 person

      • jennyah46 Jan 11, 2016 / 2:11 pm

        Fabulous!

        Like

  6. Rooto Jan 11, 2016 / 10:34 am

    Great piece.
    For me the nadir was our bowling at the tail during the “difficult winter”. Half way down the pitch, and disappearing through or over the leg side, again and again.
    Of course, Saker’s best mate explained it away by promoting Haddin as his man of the series, rather than Mitch. As if the bowling could have done no better against the new Bradman.

    Like

  7. SimonH Jan 11, 2016 / 11:49 am

    Steyn confirmed out of the Third Test.

    Like

    • Arron Wright Jan 11, 2016 / 12:51 pm

      This is a disaster, basically, and I could honestly not care less about the effect on England’s chances of a series victory. One three-match series in six years, and when we finally get round to playing them, their greatest remaining player is injured. So that record of him having played a lower proportion of Tests against England than every other bowler with 400 wickets looks pretty secure then.

      Fuck you ICC. Fuck you.

      Liked by 2 people

      • SimonH Jan 11, 2016 / 4:17 pm

        What’s the betting that next time NZ tour England Boult and/or Williamson are injured?

        That’s if NZ tour England again – after reading Nick Hoult yesterday, I wouldn’t regard that as any sort of certainty.

        Like

  8. Alec Jan 11, 2016 / 12:25 pm

    Ok, I’m going to say something a little controversial:

    David Saker is part of the reason England won the 2010/11 Ashes and while the wheels came off at the end he was also a major part of the reason the team got to number 1 in the world. I think we’re quick to forget the good things and latch onto the bad (rather like a certain someone directing, cricket does to a certain player who was definitely responsible for every bad thing that happened during the difficult winter).

    While he rightly cops a lot of flack over Steven Finn (among other things mentioned above), it’s unfair on the man to ascribe all the good things that happened with the bowlers to their excellence and/or the opposition’s ineptitude. While the bad days were awful, the good days were brilliant and many of them happened thanks to the bowlers he oversaw. 98 all out at Melbourne, the last day of Cardiff in 2011, Broad and Anderson right throughout the Pataudi trophy that year and pretty much all the way through to durham at the 2013 Ashes.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Arron Wright Jan 11, 2016 / 12:44 pm

      I think, to be fair, people here generally feel that coaches receive too much credit for the success of players and teams, and yet are exonerated by much of the press and broadcast media when their charges fail (see also Flower, Andy). It really doesn’t help when certain journalists describe them on Twitter as “my dear friend”.

      Like

      • Alec Jan 11, 2016 / 1:26 pm

        I don’t dispute that assertion and I agree with it up to a point (certainly the exoneration part with regards to Flower). Yet the core of players who took everything the world had to throw at it and threw pretty much all of it back with interest (excepting South Africa most anywhere and Pakistan in the UAE) were the same players who were pretty much hopeless under Peter Moores. In fact, it was only when those players started to fade away and leave the scene that the limits of Flower’s stewardship really became apparent.

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    • Rooto Jan 11, 2016 / 1:34 pm

      One can look at it as a lesson in staying fresh and continuing to question one’s work. Those bullet points that Aaron linked to above seem to have defined his work and eventually restricted it, as “what worked before” got boiled down and down until it became a super-strong essence of itself with no room for variation. “Enforcer Pour Homme” if you like.
      To put it another way, I’m an EFL teacher, and sometimes get a wake-up call when tried and trusted explanations or lesson plans fall flat, and need a shake-up. Perhaps (because this is all guesswork of course), his methods went stale because he failed to question them enough.
      Of course you’re unlikely to question yourself and your methods as much when the press is busy virtually-fellating you.

      Like

    • sidesplittin Jan 11, 2016 / 2:05 pm

      Couldn’t agree more – bit of revisionism going on here.

      Gibson got the tic-tac from the WI gig after four humdrum years. Troy Cooley was all the rage for his efforts with reverse swing in 2005 yet, concurrently, Jimmy Anderson was unselectable whilst they tried to remodel his action. I remember him spraying it all round the Wanderers on the 2004/05 tour – it was only after Cooley left his post and Moores took over that Jimmy began his successful second coming.

      Like

    • jennyah46 Jan 11, 2016 / 2:13 pm

      Thanks for this. A different view. I’m learning all the time 🙂

      Like

      • Benny Jan 11, 2016 / 4:41 pm

        Me too. It’s one of the things that makes this blog special, especially when people can offer an alternative view and not get Selveyed for it

        Liked by 1 person

      • Alec Jan 11, 2016 / 4:43 pm

        Don’t say that to me. My ego needs little enough stroking as it is.

        Like

  9. Tuffers86 Jan 11, 2016 / 2:22 pm

    Sorry Sean, it was rude not to talk about your piece. Fair comments throughout.

    Like

  10. Tuffers86 Jan 11, 2016 / 2:41 pm

    This might be good. According to Dan Roan responding to Nixon, he will be answering questions RE Giles Clarke.

    Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus Jan 11, 2016 / 10:38 pm

      He had all the time in the world for David What’s His Name and Giles.

      My amusement was the maiden aunt clutching at pearls from some about the interview.

      Like

    • Zephirine Jan 11, 2016 / 8:10 pm

      A short book could be written on the ways that my comparison, the shot and the poem, is inappropriate or even silly.

      Uh-huh.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Benny Jan 11, 2016 / 8:17 pm

        Extremely short. “Pointless” sums it up for me

        Like

    • sidesplittin Jan 11, 2016 / 8:45 pm

      You can imagine him reclining back in his chair after penning that pointless drivel with a satisfied smile on his dial. 😤

      Like

    • MM Jan 11, 2016 / 11:32 pm

      What a fecking pseud. Don’t want to be anti-intellectual or whatevs, but that self-important joker takes the Winter Oat and Spiced Cranberry biscuit.

      God help us, is he back on commentary in the next Test?

      Like

      • SteveT Jan 12, 2016 / 11:25 am

        Thankfully he’s sitting this tour out. On the negative side it gives him more time to write even more mind-numbing drivel like this latest offering

        Liked by 1 person

    • SteveT Jan 12, 2016 / 11:22 am

      Bloody hell fire!! FICJAM could fill Private Eye’s Pseud’s corner every week. He must be upset he’s not got a Dmitri yet, so he’s putting in an early bid,

      Like

  11. LordCanisLupus Jan 11, 2016 / 8:49 pm

    I arise from my sick bed. Riven with man flu. Beloved tending my hot brow. I read the opening sentence.

    I didn’t feel nausea. Until now. Thanks FICJAM.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Arron Wright Jan 12, 2016 / 8:10 am

    Apologies for blasphemy.

    But… Jesus H. Christ:

    Like

  13. SimonH Jan 12, 2016 / 10:15 am

    The meaningless bilateral ODI series arranged by Cricket Australia against India is under way.

    They could have arranged a proper tour of NZ with three Tests and some decent acclimatisation time instead of two Tests and no warm-up matches, but no. Hope NZ stuff them.

    Like

    • d'Arthez Jan 12, 2016 / 10:21 am

      Jadeja living up to his reputation as a home track bowler. It is slightly less extreme (28 at home , 48 away) in ODIs than in Tests (home average 16, away average 46), but still.

      We have had all of 6 wickets in 91.5 overs, for a grand total of 572/6. Yawn

      Like

      • SimonH Jan 12, 2016 / 10:57 am

        Final tally: 619/8.

        Australia’s best bowlers are in hospital. India’s bowlers look as hopeless as ever on anything but a home-track bunsen. Why bother developing anything else when you can keep serving those up in front of your own fans?

        A fitting end when, with two needed and a new batsman in, a wide was followed by a push to long-on for one to win it (I actually quite like Kohli as a captain – but WTF was that?).

        Another shower of shit served up by the Big Three.

        Like

      • Tuffers86 Jan 12, 2016 / 1:20 pm

        @Simon

        Isn’t Dhoni still the skipper of the one-day sides?

        Like

      • SimonH Jan 12, 2016 / 1:20 pm

        Oops, I forgot Dhoni is still India’s ODI captain.

        Like

      • RufusSG Jan 12, 2016 / 1:41 pm

        Come on, let’s not get carried away here. Like me, you may resent everything this series stands for, and the blatantly obvious reasons ($$$) for its existence in the first place. But the match in and of itself was hardly a travesty, even if it was a run-feast – I enjoyed watching it: Rohit Sharma in particular but also Kohli, Smith and Bailey all batted splendidly. Sure, it was no Edgbaston 2005, but I personally would hardly call it “a shower of shit”. It was an enjoyable but fairly unremarkable game.

        Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH Jan 12, 2016 / 3:56 pm

        The bowling was dire and, as a contest, it was dire. The result was in doubt for about thirty minutes. Good batting with little context nor challenge doesn’t float my boat (perhaps I’m in the minority).

        Mind you, I loathe the existence on this series so much it could have been a re-run of the Australia v South Africa WC SF of 1999 and I’d still have hated it.

        Like

      • RufusSG Jan 12, 2016 / 5:47 pm

        Different strokes for different folks, of course, and I wouldn’t ask you to sugar-coat something you’re unsatisfied with – to be honest I’m really not the best example when it comes to standards, since I’ll watch any old shit providing it involves a round leather ball and two teams on some sort of cricket pitch and say the entertainment was worthy of Shakespeare even if it was Nepal A vs my old school team (although ideally via a means of viewing that would annoy Giles Clarke the most, if you know what I mean). But even taking the wider context of why we all know this series is happening (if I’d been in charge I’d have kept the West Indies for a limited-overs series, since they are far more likely to put up an even contest in that than getting trashed in tests repeatedly, but what do I know, eh?), I have watched many, many worse ODIs in terms of quality or entertainment than the Australia/India game yesterday.

        Like

      • d'Arthez Jan 13, 2016 / 12:41 pm

        Rufus, it may have escaped your attention, but West Indies have a losing record at home in the last ten years (W24, L37), against the other 7 big teams in bilateral and tri-lateral series. If you include Zimbabwe and Bangladesh it is 41-41. That tells you enough, does not it?

        Their away record (under the same specifications) is W12, L50 against the same 7 big teams. Which is marginally better than Bangladesh (W5 L26). Yet Bangladesh can hardly get chances to play abroad. If you include Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, you can add W7, L5 for West Indies. Not exactly earth shattering. And including Zimbabwe really boosts Bangladesh away record (W17, L36).

        West Indies’ ODI record is slightly less terrible than their record in away Tests, but that is not saying much. Again, even Bangladesh have a better away record than West Indies in the past 10 years. Yes, I know West Indies fielded a sub-par team for their home series against Bangladesh in 2009, but you can’t blame Bangladesh for that. West Indies get the occasional draw on the road, but they resemble Sydney more than actually getting there on play: most of the draws West Indies achieved on the road were courtesy of massive rain disruptions. That is not good play: that is being lucky with the weather.

        In the last 5 years Bangladesh got to play all of 6 ODIs on the road against the big teams. West Indies got 33, and they still managed to achieve a worse W/L record than Bangladesh. So, why should West Indies be given chance upon chance? Where West Indies have faltered, Bangladesh have improved, this is certainly borne out by the results Bangladesh have achieved in the recent past.

        Of course I’d like cricket to be strong in the West Indies. But the WICB have no interest in that whatsoever. It is all about ego, petty politics, and the results are inconsequential. The ICC funding model pretty much confirms that. Due to petty politics, Dwayne Bravo and Pollard won’t ever be picked for the ODI squad again. These two are probably their best limited overs players, but even then there is not much difference in the record between Dwayne Bravo and Robin Peterson (similar batting and bowling averages), so that is not saying too much either. It just points to the poverty of options in the West Indies.

        And seeing that the West Indies is economically weak, it would make more sense for CA and others to invite Bangladesh, even though there would be little doubt about the results. Mustafizur looks like a really good prospect, so he would probably ask more questions than the 130km/h trundlers West Indies offered up in the Test series.

        Like

      • SimonH Jan 12, 2016 / 12:33 pm

        Within a context of having their budget slashed and having a choice between a third test or an ODI series, not a third test and an ODI series.

        Of course they are going to choose the ODIs.

        Like

      • Mark Jan 12, 2016 / 1:21 pm

        And Hong Kong never wanted their one day game with England to have official ODI status.

        We know this because they told us. (Cough cough)

        Like

  14. Mark Jan 12, 2016 / 12:25 pm

    I just find it odd that professional anythings need a person to tell them the most basic way their job needs to be done. (ALL THE F****** TIME! ) Surely a professional bowler should know the basics of what to bowl. Their skill and form got them into the top flight in the first place. They get large contracts from the ECB (not footballers wages obviously) and corporate sponsorship deals. If the Mail is to be believed they are flown about in sponsors jets with their girlfriends.

    The most alarming thing about the England vs India test match at Lords when they turned up on the first day on a green seamer was that they were clueless about how to bowl. (Or the coach was clueless) I can think of seam bowlers for the late 70s and early 80s.who would not have needed to be told what was required. Never mind the likes of Botham and Hendricks, or Chris Old. Even 1 and 3 test wonders like Agnew and Selvey would have had an idea of where to bowl.

    The rise of the all powerful coach over the last 20 odd years in many sports has seen a decline in players thinking for themselves. Basic individualsm and spontaneity has been sacrificed to the will of the coach. Yet there is little evidence that this method has been particularly succesful for long. The best teams tend to have the best players, and quite often mix flair and individulaism with a team ethic.

    I am suspicious of the so called Svengali coach who micro manages everything. Sport reduced to a chess match between two giant coaches egos. Players as nothing but throw away pieces. It’s alright if you get a good coach who doesn’t over play his hand. Does not load up the player with theories and dossiers, but trusts him to play. But if you get get a bad one, look out? And what about the players themselves? Have they no power to tell the coach to piss off? If so the system Is broken.

    A common complaint I hear from many football managers these day is there are no leaders anymore. Maybe the problem is that the modern coach does not create an enviroment where players are encouraged and trusted to lead.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zephirine Jan 12, 2016 / 12:57 pm

      I know there were sensible reasons for introducing the central contract system for the England squad, but I sometimes think it was a terrible mistake. For various reasons, but the power it gives to the coach is one.

      Like

    • SteveT Jan 12, 2016 / 3:03 pm

      There was a revealing remark by Jimmy Anderson after that Lord’s match v India. They bowled a lot better in the following match and in the interview he said that they had just concentrated on bowling decent deliveries. Maybe they did tell the coach to piss off. I’d still love to know who’s bright idea it was keep banging it in short on a green top though. Bet it was one of the coaching staff as they didn’t change strategy till after the lunch-break.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Rooto Jan 12, 2016 / 5:10 pm

      For pass-and-move team sports lock football or rugby, I think that following a powerful coach’s vision is fair enough. Examples of coaches moulding a unit stronger than the sum of its parts go back to Clough and Taylor, at least.
      For cricket, though, your point is totally valid. There’s a lot more individual performance within the team. We shouldn’t import ideas willy-nilly from outside, expecting them to work just as well. That’s true on a micro match-peeformance level as well as on a macro selling-your-soul-to-Sky level. Bowlers, batsmen, captains, administrators need the ability to think rather than blindly follow

      Like

      • MM Jan 12, 2016 / 10:58 pm

        “selling-your-soul-to-Sky level”

        That’s a yarp from me.

        Like

      • Benny Jan 13, 2016 / 1:43 am

        Forgive me for mentioning the good old days but Bradman, Lindwall, Miller, Hutton, May, Bedser etc seemed to do quite well without coaches, managers or Director comma. Think I know what Fiery Fred would have told a bowling coach to do

        Like

    • paulewart Jan 12, 2016 / 7:14 pm

      Spot on Mark. Extends beyond sport into the pseudo-science of management across the board. What we’re talking about is the infantilising of people (regarded as ‘resources’) across the board and the concomitant inability to solve problems. Said workers/sportsmen are then blamed for failing to solve problems as coach/manager walks away with a golden handshake to be replaced by the next MBA drooling cap in the rank. For an excellent fictional account of the above, see Alex from the third series of Borgen.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Benny Jan 13, 2016 / 1:56 am

        Reckon you’ve nailed it with the mention of MBA Paul. After all, Flower, love him or loathe him had little of a CV to offer for a coaching job. Clearly he went on a course and bought the book. So much I have seen reminds me of my time in business management, when I was a bit of a KP. I treasured staff with talent and loads of experience – “OK boss, I’ve seen that before and I know how to fix it”. Give them a hug and let them run with it.

        Liked by 1 person

    • paulewart Jan 12, 2016 / 7:17 pm

      Spot on Mark. Extends beyond sport into the pseudo-science of management across the board. What we’re talking about is the infantilising of people (regarded as ‘resources’) across the board and the concomitant inability to solve problems. Said workers/sportsmen are then blamed for failing to solve problems as coach/manager walks away with a golden handshake to be replaced by the next MBA drooling cab in the rank. For an excellent fictional account of the above, see Alex from the third series of Borgen.

      Like

      • MM Jan 12, 2016 / 10:55 pm

        Yep, gotta agree with you P.

        Like

      • MM Jan 12, 2016 / 10:56 pm

        And therefore Mark, as well.

        Like

  15. SteveT Jan 13, 2016 / 9:38 am

    Gem from Westcorkstinktank btl about decline in Sri Lanka cricket:

    ‘Mind you there were plenty 18 months ago in England who were waxing lyrical about everything Sri Lankan including Matthews captaincy as part of their campaign to undermine English cricket.’

    Who might he be referring to?

    Liked by 1 person

    • northernlight71 Jan 13, 2016 / 11:17 am

      He just talks to himself these days.
      It’s sad really.**

      ** Actually, it’s not that sad. He could go outside a bit more.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Tuffers86 Jan 13, 2016 / 1:04 pm

      To be fair, it’s not his worst.

      Like

    • SteveT Jan 13, 2016 / 1:27 pm

      Jeez!! I refer to yesterdays post about the danger of him having more time on his hands!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Arron Wright Jan 13, 2016 / 3:04 pm

      When he gets an idea in his head, there’s no stopping him is there? Nuance can go hang. For instance, I am a big music fan. I find streaming inexplicable and fundamentally wrong at a very basic level, yet regard the iPod as the greatest invention of my lifetime. I understand the desire for vinyl but don’t share it and am quite happy to keep my best CDs.

      My attitudes toward music and cricket just don’t fit anywhere into FICJAM’s theory.

      As for this:

      “A sad irony of Test cricket’s decline has been the quality of the recent cricket. The game has never been more positive and daring…”

      No. Not having that one.

      Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH Jan 13, 2016 / 4:23 pm

        There seem two categories of FICJAM articles – 1) Those with a half-decent argument lost in a sea of their own pretension, or 2) Those with a bullshit argument usually based on a ridiculous and utterly spurious comparison. This here is a masterpiece of the latter sort.

        The comparison is laughably inappropriate. The only reason he’s going with it is because it lets him praise “anti-democratic” values and “conservative” venues. He loves those. This is a vision of cricket as niche market for the money- and time-rich, cricket as the equivalent of yachting or polo.

        Here’s, I think, a better comparison – feature films and boxsets. The latter (at their best) are comparable to Tests – they unfold at a gentler pace, develop richer and more varied narratives and are often the more satisfying experience. However require people to leave home and watch ‘The Sopranos’ (or, in Ed’s case, ‘Downton Abbey’) and would they go? It seems perfectly reasonable to prefer to experience the unfolding of a lengthy narrative in the comfort of your own home rather than on a plastic bucket seat open to the elements and paying an arm-and-a-leg for the privilege.

        It’s really quite an achievement to write such an uninteresting piece at this time in cricket’s history. For such a blue sky thinker. FICJAM just repeats tired old cliches without any questioning. Test crowds are disappointing? What might that say about price gouging? Not a dickey bird on that. No one watches Tests except England and Australia? What’s his evidence? The UAE Tests! These are utterly exceptional. What are the viewing figures in, for example, SL and NZ? Does he know? Does he care? There isn’t a single shred of evidence in the whole article. What there are are a string of cliches that serve the interests of those currently in power in the ICC and whose intentions towards to Test cricket are seriously to be doubted (or in fact not doubted – they are entirely malign, outside of the Big Three).

        Finally, one might note that someone who believes himself to have the brain the size of a planet, and who has lectured his readers on the meaning of the word ‘silo’, might know the difference between ‘socialisation’ and ‘sociability’.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. metatone Jan 13, 2016 / 1:03 pm

    Whilst I tend to agree, I think there are some interesting things to think about regarding Saker.
    In the “Ashes Down Under Success TM” a big part of the story was reverse swing. But somewhere along the line they seemed to lose that. If he deserves credit for developing that, he also deserves opprobrium for the failure to maintain it. One can’t help wonder if changes in balls, or even greater scrutiny of England’s “ball management” might be part of the story.

    Of course, the other part is that success came with Swann and while Saker can’t be expected to magic a replacement, he has a major responsibility in the over bowling of Swann which led to his physical breakdown…

    Like

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