Weekend World

Evening all.

As The Leg Glance battles enthusiasm problems I share with this test match – if England and their apologists, I mean the media, play and say like this doesn’t matter, then why should we care – I thought I’d pick up on a few points that the whirlpool that is Social Media and background research have thrown up.

Due to some circumstances I may delve into a lot later, I might be in the market to go to the Oval test this year. I think Pakistan might be a decent opponent, Younis Khan, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Sarfraz Ahmed and the venerable Misbah-ul-Haq are good players, even great, and different from the stuff we’ve seen recently. So I went on to the Surrey site to see the state of ticket sales.

Day 3, Saturday, is almost sold out. There’s odds and sods about. Same, but with a few more, for the Friday. But Day 1 is not well sold, and Day 4 would be an utter embarrassment if that’s the final tally. The prices aren’t overly attractive for the first three days. The cheap seats in the OCS Block 1-3 are £50. Where I usually sit, which was always priced the same is now £60. This is, we are told, an attractive, attacking England team. A team we should be getting behind, with great, exciting young players. Doesn’t seem that message is getting across.

In something tangential I wanted to look at the last set of accounts put out by the ECB. They are from January 2015, covering the previous 12 months. Apart from seeing that a director was given £190k to sling their hook – two directors left that year, and the clear implication is that this could be Collier – there was also the notable £24m added to the reserve pot.ECB Jan 2015 accounts

The ECB say they budget on a four year cycle and that two out of the four make a loss. I looked at the ticket situation for Day 1 at Durham against Sri Lanka (a Friday) and it looks hopeless.

This was just a spot check. Innocent Bystander tells me that Lord’s tickets for both test matches at Lord’s are going on general sale for most days. We sit back and say test cricket is in rude health in England, but is it outside of the Ashes? Really? The prices at the Oval do not match demand, and there’s a bit of a nod with the lower prices for Day 4, but cricket has to face up and wonder what it can do – stuck between the Sky money vice, and the clear lack of visibility this team with its exciting young talent has.

Which then leads me on to the panacea that is a T20 competition like that which has just finished in Australia. The Big Bash has, for a couple of years now, had envious glances cast from here at the slick running nature, the big crowds, the buzz and excitement and yes, glamour of it. We know the arguments and we’ve been over them countless times. I hear people say the competition lacks quality – it doesn’t; I hear people say it is the free to air TV that makes it – that may have a point; the size of the grounds and the climate lend to the spectacle – they do; but to me the key is that it runs for a month, has a clear Final and a limited number of teams (8). Many more than this and it would go too far and dilute the quality. There is no answer that meets the demands of the English summer. But in a year when we’re not selling test matches out, the very thing we are supposed to be shit scared of protecting, that line of defence doesn’t look strong. Nor does our argument about diversity of opposition because, as we see, it’s Australia for the crowds and India for the TV and the rest are loss-makers.

The Big Bash saw a notable performance in both the semi and the Final by Kevin Pietersen. It doesn’t really prove anything we didn’t know. He’s not done, but he’s also not coming back. That doesn’t make it a closed matter not to talk about how we got here, and it doesn’t make it OK for the ridiculous abuse any tweet on him gets, which Maxie encapsulated superbly in a Tweet today:

There were some on here who didn’t wish Cook the greatest of success…but is it on the same scale as this?

If there’s a post on Twitter on KP, this bloke is usually there.. accusing others of obsession.

There’s this…

A usual suspect.

Then on KP’s feed..

I could go on. I think I made my point. The scale of abuse, the level of vitriol. Still…..

Don’t forget, comments for Day 4 of the test can be placed on TLG’s latest post. My best wishes for the week…..

 

South Africa vs England: 4th Test, day three

One of the common criticisms of England in this match has been that they have looked off the pace, and far less intense now that the series has been won. I’ve alluded to it myself too, and as today’s play proceeded, it occurred to me that I’m just not into this match.

It’s not because South Africa are plainly winning it, but it might be because of the lack of meaning in terms of the series result. Or perhaps it could be that if England aren’t up for it, why should anyone else be either? Whatever the reason, and despite the cricket being more than passable, it’s very much a background interest in the way that the first three Test were not.

Perhaps if there were a fifth Test to be played, as the ECB of the past said they wanted, then the jeopardy of the series would make it more required viewing than it is. Judging by the number of comments in comparison to normal, it could be the sense of it all being underwhelming is shared. Or it could be because these articles are crap.

That’s a pity though, for in Kagiso Rabada, we may be watching the emergence of a rare fast bowling talent. He destroyed the England middle order with some outstanding bowling. He is only 20, and as such there are good days and bad days, but he has pace, and the ability to move the ball. No England player looks entirely comfortable against him.

The difference between the first innings scores was 133, which represented something of a triumph for England after they’d sunk to 211-5 after a decent start. That they got as close as that was mostly down to first Ben Stokes, whose 33 runs had more effect in turning the tide than the runs scored suggests, and particularly Moeen Ali, who marshalled the tail (such as it is) wonderfully. He remains a frustration in that he needs to score more runs than he is, but when he’s in full flow there are few if any players more gorgeous to watch.

With the early loss of Dean Elgar, there was a small chance of putting South Africa under real pressure, but Amla and Cook saw it through to the early finish.

175 ahead with 9 wickets left on a pitch that is noticeably wearing and becoming harder to bat on is a position of complete control.   Even another hundred runs would probably be too much, so unless there’s a miracle session for England tomorrow morning, they’re going to probably lose.

The one concern for the home team will be the fitness of Kyle Abbott, off the field with a hamstring injury. Down to two seam bowlers and without even the club medium pace of Van Zyl to call on, they’ll be twitchy if England keep them out for any length of time. Still, you’d back them to ensure it doesn’t matter.

Day Four discussion below.