South Africa vs England: 4th Test and series review

It’s quite an achievement for England to finish a series in South Africa as victors, and still leave a trail of furious supporters in their wake, but they’ve managed it well enough.  The spineless capitulation of today reached such impressive levels that they’d managed to lose the game before most of the country had arrived at their desks, sipped a coffee and turned the desktop on to check the score.  Alastair Cook had good reason to look embarrassed as he collected the Basil D’Oliveira Trophy, as even Mike Selvey suggested he should, for even by England’s historically impressive standards of collapses, this was abject.

The succession of batsmen arriving and departing can be covered quickly enough, not much less time than it took them in real time, for few of them were got out.  Bairstow perhaps got a decent enough ball as did Taylor, while Moeen Ali can at least hold his head up from the shambles having batted well in both innings with little support down the order.

In reality, in this Test England were lucky to finish second, having been outplayed throughout, but it shouldn’t alter the truth that they won this series, and won it well.  Yet that England have lost the final Test in seven of their last eight series shouldn’t be ignored either.  Ian Botham tried to pass this off as being human nature when a series is won, only for a rather pointed Michael Holding to comment that it wasn’t in the team he played in.  Nor is it a matter of dead rubbers, for in four of those series the overall outcome has been on the line.  Why England have this issue is hard to pin down, but these final match defeats also have a habit of being extremely heavy.

Part of the problem is that England are being portrayed in some quarters as being an exceptional side in the making, but the recent performances don’t completely support that.  Yes, they have won in South Africa, and that is certainly meritorious.  They also won the Ashes, as curious and bizarre a series as you could wish to see.  But they lost in the UAE too, showing many of the same vulnerabilities as they have done today, and furthermore beat a South Africa shorn of Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander.

That’s not a mean-spirited summary, for any team can only beat what is in front of them, and not many sides at all go to South Africa and win, irrespective of how strong they are at a given time, while England’s defeats when players are missing are never excused by such a thing.  It must also be added that had the two of them been fit, then there would have been no place for Rabada, who looks a serious prospect.  Yet although South Africa may have lost the series, by the end of it they are the team who look to have learned something and discovered players for the future.  This is entirely against the narrative the media are all too often wishing to push, but it is undoubtedly England who have the thinking to do.

Stephen Cook may not necessarily be a long term solution as opener (although with his father’s genes that can’t be entirely assumed), but with Elgar having a decent series, it at least looks like South Africa have one more opener than England do, while Rabada, Bavuma and De Kock all look excellent cricketers to form the core of the side in years to come.  Add in to that two genuinely world class batsmen in Amla, back to his best, and De Villiers – around whom there is more debate, though not about his ability – and there is more than enough to work with.

In contrast, England have some issues to address, and Geoff Boycott was scathing about the way they haven’t moved on this series.  Alex Hales is clearly a big question mark at the top of the order, having had a poor series with a solitary half century.  There do appear to be technical issues with his footwork, for he is consistently failing to get across to the ball, but there’s another element to it, whereby he appears constrained from his natural game.  This was hardly uncommon in the England set up of the past, and there have been and at this point still are hopes that under Bayliss’ tutelage players will be allowed to play their own game.  Yet far from being the dashing opener Bayliss clearly wants, having stated he wishes to see two of the top three being positive, he has been subdued and attempting to play differently than to his strengths.  No one expected him to offer the levels of solidity of Boycott himself, for that is not his game, but nor is it David Warner’s game, and he has been encouraged to attack and play to his strengths.  Whether Hales ever makes it or not is one thing, but it would be a dismal end if he is discarded without ever having the chance to show what he is good at, rather than what we know he isn’t good at.

Compton too had a mixed series; he started superbly and was arguably man of the match in the first Test, for his two innings did more than anyone to set up the platform for victory.  Yet his returns diminished as the series went on, and more worryingly, he too appeared to playing in a manner alien to his own skills.  Compton is a plodder, an accumulator, who possesses excellent concentration, a limited range of shots and a decent defence.  If he is picked on that basis, he should be capable of demonstrating them.  But his dismissals were all too often down to overly aggressive batting, which is simply not his forte.  Again, if that is his own approach, then it is self-inflicted, but one way or the other, he’s attempting to be what he is not.

Joe Root had a good series, with the only proviso that on too many occasions he got himself out when set.  It is to his credit that this can be used as a mild criticism of a player who averaged 55, for Root is looking so very very good, it is a major surprise and disappointment these days when he doesn’t cash in.

James Taylor had his moments, but didn’t consolidate his place.  He did look like he had more to give at least, and showed on occasion a real aptitude for the fight.  And while it has no bearing on his position in the side, his truly astounding catching at short leg cannot pass unmentioned.

Jonny Bairstow topped the averages, though his batting exploits were tempered by his problems keeping wicket.  England can all too easily go round and round in circles over this one, as they did a few years before ultimately settling on Matt Prior second time around.  The problem is one that afflicts all sides who ultimately pick a keeper for his batting, and that is for such a player the batting is what will have taken priority.  Many of Bairstow’s errors were the result of simply not being a regular, consistent wicketkeeper, and thereby keeping like a part-timer.  The missed stumping on the inside of the bat is a perfect case in point, because it isn’t a matter of technique or aptitude at that level, it is a matter of doing it sufficiently often for the eyes not to be dragged off the line of the ball by the bat.  If he is affirmed as the wicketkeeper, then the work he will have to put in will reap rewards and he will improve.  It is extremely simple here, for all Alastair Cook’s comments (of which more later) about the importance of the man behind the stumps taking the chances, some are going to be missed if that man is not a full time, regular wicketkeeper.  Bairstow is not at this time.  If England want him to be, then they will have to show patience.  Exactly the same applies to Joss Buttler, and applied thoroughly to Matt Prior too.  There are some very short memories on display.

Ben Stokes was the star of the show for the England team, mostly because of the astounding double century.  It does inflate his figures of course, but that’s what big scores do, and no one takes the ducks out of statistics to even it up.  So a batting average of 58 and a bowling one of 29 would do rather nicely to say the least over a career.   There can be quibbles with him, as there always can be, but Stokes is the beating heart of this team, a player who can change the course of a game on his own.  Such cricketers are like gold dust, and while Ian Botham’s assertion that Stokes is a better player than he was at the same age is preposterous in its modesty (Botham was a genuinely great bowler until injuries and fitness issues took their toll), he is a fantastic prospect, and one who will make every opponent deeply nervous about what he can do.

Moeen Ali had a slightly curious series.  On surfaces that were rarely truly spinner friendly – or when they were, were still more conducive to pace anyway – neither he nor Piedt had a major impact on matters.  Yet Moeen does have the ability to take wickets, and does so often out of the blue.  It is a knack that is certainly useful, and he probably is the best finger spinner England have.  The raw figures don’t look that pretty for either of the spinners in this series, but Moeen did a job.  Batting wise, his best moments tended to come, as is the nature of someone batting at number eight, at the end of the innings running out of partners.  A more selfish player could have finished with a markedly better average.

Broad had a wonderful series, taking more wickets than anyone bar Rabada, and capped off by the devastating spell of 6-17 to win the series for England.  Broad is England’s best bowler and one of the best they’ve had in a long time.  He has been excellent for four years now, not always receiving the credit he has deserved in that time.  If he’s finally being recognised for the outstanding performer he is, then it’s about time.

Steven Finn too had a good time of it, reminding everyone that he is a wicket taker first and foremost.  His strike rate of 49 is actually slightly above his career average, which quite effectively points out the stupidity of trying to make him into something other than he is over the last few years.  He goes for runs sometimes.  But he takes wickets.  That’s his job.  Deal with it.

Chris Woakes.  Ah, Chris Woakes.  A fine cricketer is in there somewhere, for he was at time unlucky, and appears to have all the attributes to succeed.  But all too often he appears entirely innocuous, and struggled throughout to take wickets.  He isn’t helped by coming in for one game, dropping out again, then being brought back, a pattern that has repeated itself over his short Test career.  It’s hard to realistically assess him when he’s used that way, but he needs to find a way to contribute more than he is.

James Anderson has had a surprising amount of stick for his efforts in this series.  It’s quite plainly a long way from being one of his best, but he was injured for the first match and struggled for the next couple.  The fourth Test he appeared to get something more of his normal zip back, and swung the ball.  At 33, for the first time he has had people prepared to say it is the beginning of the end.  Based on a single series that’s a little harsh, particularly for someone who has generally stayed so fit and who doesn’t rely on pace in the first place.  It is of course entirely possible he’s lost his nip, but it’s premature to say the least to assume so just from this series, unless 30 year old batsmen who also had a poor series are going to be treated the same – and that is most unlikely.

Finally there’s the captain.  As skipper, he did ok.  Not outstandingly well, for he is not an outstanding on field captain.  But he has at last become a competent one, a skipper who you tend not to notice which implies he is not doing anything wrong at least.  The one thing Bayliss has brought as coach has been an insistence that the captain run the side rather than being a cipher for a dictatorial backroom team.  Under that philosophy, Cook has flowered as captain to some extent.  That is in itself a good thing, and begs the question as to whether Cook would have been a better captain throughout his tenure if he hadn’t instead been designated classroom monitor rather than captain.  Perhaps some of the appalling displays of cluelessness in the past were less specifically down to him, and more to do with the structure of the England management.  Perhaps.  But here he was perfectly fine, though the idea that the captain won the series remains a stubbornly held meme in the media.

His batting on the other hand was fairly poor, even if towards the end of the series there were signs of improvement.  Here’s the thing, as has been repeatedly stated about Cook with every low score: good batsmen can have bad series.  AB De Villiers didn’t have a great one (though he did score more runs) either, so there’s no shame in having a poor run.  It happens, and it happens to every player.  Yet Cook’s average of 23 is the lowest he has ever had in his career in series of three Tests or longer, and has gone almost unnoticed.  Furthermore, so many of the cricket journalists have bent over backwards to avoid mentioning it, while at the same time focusing on Hales, Compton and Taylor – two of whom have performed considerably better.  This is now par for the course with Cook, and irritates no end.  It is hard to enjoy a player’s success when so many who follow England professionally (as opposed to paying to do so) are so keen to excuse and ignore the failures.  If there’s sympathy with Cook, it is that the Pravda approach which he presumably hasn’t asked for is actually damaging the perception of him through no fault of his own.

Cook then took the opportunity after the match conclusion to offer up some thoughts on other players in the side, and these were eyebrow raising to say the least.  Firstly there was the comment that

“Trevor Bayliss, myself and the selectors will have to sit down and discuss that [lack of runs by some players] because the output we’ve had in this series hasn’t been good enough if we’re trying to get to No1 in the world – which is the ultimate aim.”

which may well be a throw away line, but if true should set alarm bells ringing.  Cook is not a selector, and the captain has never been a selector.  And for good reason too, if other players feel the captain has major input on their presence in the side it is fundamentally unhealthy, as being favoured by the captain becomes much more important than it should be.  It’s especially the case when the captain himself has had such a poor series.  Few with any sense would advocate dropping Cook of course, but if others are going to be scrutinised, then so should he be, for there is little more guaranteed to cause division in the dressing room than someone who hasn’t performed holding judgement over others who haven’t performed.  He did later on include himself in the list of those who needed more runs, but for a player trying to make his way in the side, hearing the captain publicly criticising them for having done little better or worse than he did will be galling.

Likewise Jonny Bairstow, who was subject to Cook talking at length about how dropped catches by him were costly and that at Test level not acceptable.  Bairstow did have a mixed time as keeper as outlined above, but also had a huge impact on the series overall; he deserved better than having his place openly questioned by his captain at the conclusion when he would have been reflecting on a job largely well done.

For Hales, Cook went further.  Having been asked if four Tests was long enough to judge him, Cook replied

“You can certainly form an opinion. Absolutely. If Halesy has a great run now in the one-day series and back at Nottinghamshire, he’ll be pushing again. He’ll be disappointed with the number of runs he’s scored but it hasn’t been easy.”

which to Hales will read like his time is up.  This is not Cook’s place to say these things.  Yes we do criticise players for giving anodyne answers in interviews, but for the captain to say these things has a direct impact on the players.  It isn’t good enough, and it isn’t the first time he’s done it either.  A captain has a responsibility to his team mates.

Cook is no naive neophyte.  He knows what he is doing when he says these things.  It is certainly the behaviour of someone utterly sure of his position, but it perhaps would have reflected better on him had he recalled the two years he spent making very little contribution to the England batting order.  Cook is a very good player indeed, and he’s captained the side well recently.  It doesn’t (or shouldn’t) make him invulnerable and it certainly doesn’t make him the person to openly judge other players unless he wants to be openly judged himself – something he seems to object to.  That’s not because it’s Alastair Cook, it’s because he’s the captain.  Not the coach, and not a selector.

The two sides now move on to the one day series, and England have a break from Test cricket until the first part of the summer, and those players not involved in the hit and giggles can come home to rest.  And that is deserved, for cricketers spend a long time away from family.  For Cook himself, he needs that break, so yes he will be doing things with sheep.  And may it re-charge his batteries for the summer ahead.


116 thoughts on “South Africa vs England: 4th Test and series review

  1. Arron Wright Jan 26, 2016 / 11:07 pm

    For “longer than three Tests” read “three Tests or longer”. Brings a lot more series into the equation.

    Also, a stat seen on the Guardian (BTL, of course). Until today, Dale Steyn had played in every Test South Africa have won since 2008. Underestimating the impact of his absence is the mark of a deluded parochial cheerleader.


    • Arron Wright Jan 26, 2016 / 11:31 pm

      Cook and England. In that order. Once again. Totally regardless of the man’s personal contribution.

      Sick of it tbqfhwy.

      He just *is* the dauphin, and they *are* his courtiers. Sorry to say this, but they’ve helped make him my least favourite England player since Mike Gatting. And that really is some achievement.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Mark Jan 27, 2016 / 1:08 am

        You have to laugh Arron. They are so on message. They should have their passports taken off them because they sure as hell are not the journalists they claim to be. They should all be made to wear bikinis and Pom poms like the good little cheerleaders they are.

        Liked by 3 people

      • MM Jan 27, 2016 / 4:39 pm

        Selvey in a tutu with a load of pyro going off, everytime Cook[y] gets hit on the pads. I cannot get rid of that now.


  2. man in a barrel Jan 26, 2016 / 11:52 pm

    It is fun to play the word game… From Cook to cock, to bastard. Every time he is interviewed he makes me want to puke


  3. man in a barrel Jan 27, 2016 / 12:00 am

    There was a time when a loss by 280 runs would get letters to the Times, debates in Parliament. Under Cook, we just expect it. This is a mediocre England team. End of. Thankfully they were facing the South African 3rd XI, otherwise it could have been ugly and humiliating.


  4. man in a barrel Jan 27, 2016 / 12:28 am

    It takes a strange sense of entitlement to cast doubt on players who outscored you, but Cook does it without blinking. He appals me.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Mark Jan 27, 2016 / 12:57 am

    ” Part of the problem is that England are being portrayed in some quarters as being an exceptional side in the making, ”

    And we all know which quarters those are. This is an average England team that are made to look better because of the falling standards of so many international cricket teams world wide. They would be eaten alive by the Aussie 2005 side, and the media just make themselves look clueless by pretending otherwise.

    I blame people like Pringle for Comptons problems. If he bats to his strengths he is accused as being too slow, yet he is no Stokes. Call me a cynic but certain sections of the gutter press seem determined to drive him out. Wonder why that is? (Cough cough) he now is conflicted as to how he should play.

    As for the openers spot, England have not handled the two tours well. Why let Ali open in Pakistan when they knew he was not going to open in SA? Hales or someone should have been given both series to try to cement a place. Again it was too easy to push Ali up the order so as to fit in the extra spinner. Now after 2 series we are still in a pickle over the opening slot.

    Iam not surprised by Cooks comments, he does seem to be quite brilliant in self survival. If the need is there to push others under the bus he always seems quite happy to save his own skin. Not that he needs to. (Which only makes his coments even more unacceptable.) it’s pointless talking about him because he is in the team as long as he wants. If he wants to to be captain for the next 4 years he can be. Nobody is going to sack him. He will choose his own exit. Which shows how ludicrous English cricket has become.

    I didn’t expect England to win this series, but then again I didn’t expect SA to be so shit. I thought what happened in India was more down to the Indian pitches. It was not the case. SA are in transition, and England got them at the right time. I suspect Broad, Finn, and Anderson will see off Pakistan in the summer. So by the time they go to India they will have probably won more matches.

    Anyway, I can now enjoy the non Cooks England of the ODI format. The media can judge it on merit, and not have an agenda to fit the facts around.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Pontiac Jan 27, 2016 / 2:16 am

    I’d like to mention that in addition to liking Nathan Lyon, I also like Morne Morkel and think he’s underrated. Unlike in batting, in bowling it’s harder to get big numbers if you’re also bowling with someone who is getting big numbers – there’s that hard limit on how many wickets there are to take, for one. If it turns out that his whole career he’s a foil to Steyn then a foil to Rabada, that by itself would indicate the value of having a player like that.

    Also, I’ve taken to mentally substituting “The opening batsman who averaged 23” for “Cook” in news articles. It makes them much more amusing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pontiac Jan 27, 2016 / 2:18 am

      Also, I don’t know what year Cook is going to retire, but do I know it’s going to be after scoring a 2nd innings century* in a draw against the West Indies or Bangladesh, at home in England, in April.

      Liked by 1 person

    • jennyah46 Jan 27, 2016 / 6:31 am

      “The opening batsman who averaged 23” 🙂 Fair enough. I’m as cross with him as I am with the rest over that final debacle. I’d hang them all upside down by the the ankles for a while. That’ll learn ’em.

      Liked by 1 person

      • thebogfather Jan 27, 2016 / 6:46 am

        Head massages…upside down hangings…..? They have some wonderful customs in SL, Jen! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  7. jennyah46 Jan 27, 2016 / 7:26 am

    What’s not to like?! #SriLanka


  8. thebogfather Jan 27, 2016 / 8:26 am

    By far the most even-handed yet incisive series review I’ve read…puts MSM to shame – well done Leggy

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Arron Wright Jan 27, 2016 / 8:38 am

    A nation yawns:

    westcorkthinktank 1h ago


    I’m surprised no one has spotted the real reason for S.A’s defeat…………. They didn’t have a traitor in the English camp this time round!

    There, you knew you wanted it.


    • Zephirine Jan 27, 2016 / 10:24 am

      Amateur trolling.


  10. SimonH Jan 27, 2016 / 8:42 am

    Combined winter tour averages (by my dodgy totting up):

    Root 56.1
    Cook 48.8
    Bairstow 44.8
    Stokes 38.4
    Bell 31.6
    Compton 30.6
    Taylor 29.3
    Broad 24.3
    Patel 21.0
    Rashid 20.6
    Ali 20.0
    Hales 17.0
    Woakes 13.5
    Wood 11.3
    Buttler 8.5
    Anderson 6.3
    Finn 6.0

    Broad 22.5
    Anderson 25.2
    Finn 26.1
    Wood 28.3
    Stokes 32.2
    Ali 48.6
    Patel 54.7
    Rashid 69.5
    Woakes 98.5
    Root N/A (0/116)
    Hales N/A (0/2)


  11. rpoultz Jan 27, 2016 / 8:48 am

    Watching the verdict last night I enjoyed Ian Botham completely writing off a test match loss. I remember the fanfare back in 2011 when England whitewashed the Indian side. Do not seem to recall Botham then saying the final test didn’t have any meaning. Or try telling the Australian sides of the 06/07 or 13/14 ashes whitewashes that the 5th tests in those series did not matter as it was already over. Test matches matter a great deal, if you have won the series or not. If people like Botham want to bang on about the preservation of test cricket then they have to take each game seriously and not let a side off because ‘they are on the beach’ as it were.

    I think it’s worth noting that again a series loss to Pakistan has been completely swept under the carpet in the hyperbole that has greeted this series victory. This has been forgotten now England’s ascent to world domination has been assured in the MSM. I would say England can probably go away from this winter with a C+/B- to their name which I think is fair considering the results.

    Liked by 1 person

    • MM Jan 27, 2016 / 4:45 pm

      Beefy needs to ask himself some questions, if only once or twice in this incarnation. Does he ever admit he’s wrong when on the mic?


    • BoredInAustria Jan 27, 2016 / 4:53 pm

      Can you call players turning up to play a match for their country, not care a stuff, collect the money and go home “mercenaries”?


  12. SimonH Jan 27, 2016 / 9:29 am

    Bunkers’ player ratings:

    Cook gets one less than Root and Broad because of his captaincy (“unquestioned… authoritative… impressive” – Bunkers has been at the thesaurus). Cook’s captaincy was good in Durban (probably his second best game in that regard after Cardiff) but nothing of note thereafter (it was positively poor in the first innings in Joburg and Broad essentially got him out of jail there). I’d give Cook 6 and Root and Broad 9s.


    • Arron Wright Jan 27, 2016 / 9:42 am

      Dear lord, it will never end.

      I like how Compton’s blurb completely overlooks the “two out of three” intervention of Bayliss.

      I like how Bairstow gets one point less than Pitt the Younger.

      Liked by 1 person

    • rpoultz Jan 27, 2016 / 10:10 am

      This is totally the type of BS that people dislike Cook for even though it isn’t directly his fault

      Liked by 1 person

    • SimonH Jan 27, 2016 / 11:44 am

      It makes me sound like some sort of Compton fan-boy (I’m not – Carberry’s much more my man) but this repeated underrating of his contribution stinks.

      He scored tough, vitally important runs in Durban – and Brenkley rates his contribution the same as Woakes’ two wickets at 97? The kindest interpretation I can put on it is that Durban seems a long time ago. The unkindest interpretation is that something really quite unpleasant is going on.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Arron Wright Jan 27, 2016 / 11:51 am

        The unkindest interpretation is quite obviously the accurate one. See Swann, even during the Durban Test, for instance. A load of vultures just waiting for him to fall below Durban standards.

        Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH Jan 27, 2016 / 11:55 am

        Bloody hell, even Atherton’s given Cook 8/10 and Compton 6/10 in his tour ratings.


      • Arron Wright Jan 27, 2016 / 12:00 pm

        Sorry, but 8 is (pardon me) f***ing preposterous. Even Richie Benaud wouldn’t get 8/10 if he’d averaged, say, 12 with the bat and 54 with the ball (half/twice his career average, i.e. exactly what Cook has just managed) in the 1960/61 series v WI.

        The MSM is just Alastair Cook Pravda, basically.

        Liked by 1 person

      • pktroll (@pktroll) Jan 27, 2016 / 1:12 pm

        I gave Cook 3 out of 10 as I felt his bowling changes (and lack of them) when the new ball was being wasted was a backward step after his marked improvement from last summer. This of course gets overlooked as the likes of Stokes, Finn and Broad would change things around. There was little proactivity in his captaincy at all when he could have recognised earlier that things with the new ball weren’t going well.


      • emasl Jan 27, 2016 / 9:53 pm

        Cook doesn’t like him. That is all you need to know


        • LordCanisLupus Jan 27, 2016 / 10:22 pm

          Not sure about all this goss, but glad to see you on the site, E, and hope all is well.


  13. Zephirine Jan 27, 2016 / 10:57 am

    Cook is remarkably good at undermining other players while seeming not to mean to do it.
    I’m never sure whether it’s deliberate or just a give-away of how his record-breaking-batsman mind works, accentuated of course by years of being Head of School. Listen to how he talks about Stokes – on the surface it’s affectionate, but there’s definitely an element of ‘othering’, Stokes is this kind of lovable savage.


    • jomesy Jan 27, 2016 / 11:16 am

      I don’t think stokes and cook get on – at all. When stokes was out for his 258, the body language between the two back on the dressing room balcony told me plenty. In fact, stokes only broke into a smile when fabrace approached him to offer his congratulations.


      • paulewart Jan 27, 2016 / 5:28 pm

        Well Stokes liked KP didn’t he? I’m sure he thinks Cook is an uptight establishment bell. The problem is, that he’s a bell too. Fabulous cricketer though and, given who he resembles, would we be surprised if Cook didn’t take to him?


  14. PaulE Jan 27, 2016 / 11:29 am

    I’m beginning to wonder whether wctt isn’t Mike posting under a pseudonym. When stating that 2013 wasn’t especially successful my argument was dismissed as ‘bullshit and bile’. Sound familiar? He’s either the ultimate sycophant or a nom de plume. Needless to say, my post querying why he felt the need to parrot Mike quite so literally was swiflty and bloodlessly moderated…..whereas as his peculiarly hostile post remains unblemished. Peculiar, no?


    • Arron Wright Jan 27, 2016 / 12:09 pm

      I don’t buy it, clicking on his posting history he does seem to be a separate person. He’s also one of many “monitors” (spot on, btw) on the county blog.

      That the moderators do not wish people to know how unpleasant the cricket correspondent is to people on Twitter does appear, however, to be indisputable.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Zephirine Jan 27, 2016 / 12:17 pm

      No, I think wctt is a real person. He’s a retired schoolmaster I believe, hence his intolerance of those who don’t fall in with his rules. But he seems to be seeing himself more and more as the BTL cricket correspondent, addresses the journos by their first names etc. So I expect he’s acquired some habits of phraseology from what he now sees as his in-group.

      Though the rapid modding is interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Arron Wright Jan 28, 2016 / 8:19 am

        “He’s a retired schoolmaster I believe, hence his intolerance of those who don’t fall in with his rules.”

        And hence how he’s able to watch more cricket than most working people, and probably always was less busy than most of us in the summer months.

        That horrible hectoring tone about people who don’t watch enough cricket to form an opinion – it all makes sense now.

        Liked by 1 person

        • LordCanisLupus Jan 28, 2016 / 9:32 am

          No matter how many times we mention it that dead rubber meme is still sticking. Agenda anyone☺


  15. Alec Jan 27, 2016 / 11:34 am

    Cook’s batting was definitely shithouse in this series. But he’s had series of shithouse batting before even against India in 2011, where his 294 aside he was barely able to make it into double figures. That said, if he’d finished the series with 294 then he’d probably have been able to ride out the stadium on the shoulders of his team mates and we’d be complaining much less about how shithouse he was in his 1st 7 innings.

    As far as his comments go after the series, saying he should not have made them is not the same as saying that his views are wrong. Whether or not he’s a selector, as a captain his opinions would have a lot of influence on the panel and in any event he answered a question honestly. If we don’t want to hear the same tired clichés trotted out then we’ll also have to accept players saying things that may be uncomfortable to hear. Besides he was right; this was a golden opportunity for newer players to make sure their names were inked onto the team sheet for the 1st test against Sri Lanka and everyone’s failure to do so save Bairstow means that questions remain.

    I’d still retain Hales, Compton and Taylor for the the summer however. Foreign tours are rarely the ideal circumstances in which to make one’s debut and in my view all of these players have done enough either in ODIs or in their earlier test careers to earn themselves a longer run in the team.

    Liked by 1 person

    • northernlight71 Jan 27, 2016 / 12:26 pm

      It sounded to me like he was telling Hales that he was basically out of the team, unless he did something spectacular in the ODIs and the early county season.
      Which may be a point of view. But Cook is not a selector, and it isn’t his decision.


    • Grenville Jan 27, 2016 / 12:47 pm

      I’ve been conflicted about this one myself. I don’t want bland answers. I was pleased that we got his honest appraisal, but laying into some of your team mates like that is not ok. Here is an attempt to disentangle my confusion:
      a. He is wrong. Bairstow had a good series. He took a good few chances, and missed a few. He can improve as a keeper, but he’s shouldn’t be scapegoated for England’s poor fielding. A certain A. Cook missed a few and quite possibly made Bairstow’s life harder by standing to close at 1st slip. Taylor should be backed. He did well for a lad in his first big, away series. Compton has done well too. Cook is not a selector he shouldn’t pretend that he is.

      b. You can be honest about your teammates’ failings and be supportive. You do it by acknowledging your own shortcomings and then discussing the negatives in terms of things we did wrong. So, you say, ‘We achieved something special. The saffers are a great team and this is their back yard. We’ve got of new faces in the team and they’ve all contributed. Indeed they’ve largely carried me. I didn’t bat well, but it didn’t matter because somebody always stepped up. Nick and James in Durban, Jonny and Ben in cape town. That’s really heartening. There is a lot of room for improvement and of the new guys, apart from Ben, nobody has really nailed their place down. Jonny’s keeping is a work in progress, but is lovely to have your number 7 score 150. He’s going to get better behind the stumps, and maybe I’ll learn to catch. Nick showed us what he can do in Durban. You’re allowed to make mistakes, and if the selectors give him time, he’s going to keep giving us platforms….’ you get the picture.

      Basically Cook behaved like a dick, and that’s not ok.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Arron Wright Jan 27, 2016 / 1:04 pm

        Even I couldn’t argue if he’d come out with anything resembling b.

        But that’s not who Alastair Cook is. It wasn’t in 2014, it isn’t now, and it’s unlikely to be different in future.


      • Benny Jan 27, 2016 / 1:36 pm

        Excellent. The England media consultant/coach/manager should sign you up. Makes me wonder whether that was solely Cook’s speech or was it prepared with guidance.


      • Alec Jan 27, 2016 / 1:46 pm

        He did acknowledge the wider failings of the team, especially in its fielding and batting and how they relied too much on the batting of Root, Stokes and Bairstow. He also singled out Bairstow for praise and acknowledged that he would improve, much in the mold of Matt Prior.

        He never mentioned anyone by name (at least in the quotes I’ve seen) but said that there were spots up for grabs. Given that several players in the top and middle order failed in this series, one would expect that to be true.

        Liked by 1 person

      • thelegglance Jan 27, 2016 / 1:48 pm

        He did specifically reference the individuals in the media press conference Alec – where those quotes above came from. It was no general observation.


      • Alec Jan 27, 2016 / 1:52 pm

        Ok. Thanks. I stand completely corrected.


      • SteveT Jan 27, 2016 / 2:57 pm

        I can just hear it now…………………………………….”I won a series in South Africa”

        Liked by 1 person

    • Rooto Jan 27, 2016 / 1:21 pm

      Sorry, that should have read “Wood and Plunkett well on top…”
      Anyway, further investigation from the same table surprised me, as I found Jordan to have a similar average to the top two. This because his economy rate was a fair bit better. The idea that Jordan has potential but sprays it around, seemingly not borne out.


  16. CRICKETJON Jan 27, 2016 / 1:21 pm

    Can anyone smell gas?


    • LordCanisLupus Jan 27, 2016 / 10:32 pm

      I have to say this comment utterly befuddled me. Am I being slow?


  17. Jamie Jan 27, 2016 / 2:08 pm

    It’s always tricky to form an opinion when you get the soundbites without the context / original questions, but generally the answers were in my opinion a pretty fair reflection of the state of affairs – of the ones I’ve read on cricinfo I wouldn’t disagree with any of his assertions. Credit for being honest about expectations.

    Perhaps he could have framed one or two of the comments slightly more sensitively, but ultimately (I assume) it was in response to a direct question from a journalist along the lines of “has Hales / Bairstow done enough to stay in the side”? Given a choice between the two, I reckon it’s better to keep team members on their toes with frank comments rather than risk giving an impression that no-one’s place is in danger before someone is potentially dropped.

    Also context to the Bairstow comments is left out here but he was described as being “outstanding with the bat” (and England being reliant on him in their batting) and likened to Prior – which balances the comments notably. I think it’s a bit unfair to leave this out to be honest, smacks of a bit of an anti-Cook agenda here.

    With Hales, who’s place is probably the most at risk, his comments were fairly measured I thought. I imagine a number of people here might also think he should be dropped; probably more damaging in the long run (if he is) to have said that four tests wasn’t long enough to make a judgment as he would look even worse then…

    Liked by 1 person

    • thelegglance Jan 27, 2016 / 2:14 pm

      I’d suggest you read what else I’ve written about him before claiming an agenda.

      You are, as ever, free to disagree with anything on here, but don’t try and dismiss points you disagree with by alleging things that aren’t true, it is no way to debate.


      • rpoultz Jan 27, 2016 / 2:27 pm

        Is the time to publicly tell the players in the England side, not cook’s side as he isn’t a selector, that they haven’t done enough to convince him right after the series??? No, this should be done privately and this way of doing things has shown no respect to the players involved. Hales, Compton and Taylor know they wont have had the series they would have wanted themselves and do not need that pointing out at the stage where you should be celebrating a series win. Bearing in mind 2 out of those 3 scored and averaged more than Saint Alastair. Once again Cook has shown a distinct lack of self awareness and should concentrate on getting his game back on track.


      • Jamie Jan 27, 2016 / 5:13 pm

        That’s not on. To the extent that you disagree with what I’ve said you’re welcome to expand as to where as I would be interested to hear. Your response shows exactly the same dismissiveness as you have accused me of.

        To further clarify; I read your comments and in isolation they seemed surprising and then sought a fuller report. I was surprised by your lack of reference to his fuller remarks on Bairstow particularly, which in my opinion clearly do him a disservice. If you have a fuller transcript I would be very interested to see this as perhaps this would shed more light and make it fairer to draw conclusions.

        If you’re going to criticise Cook do so by all means; but it would hold more weight when allowing suitably for context here.

        Liked by 1 person

        • thelegglance Jan 27, 2016 / 5:18 pm

          Not remotely dismissive. I didn’t take issue with your comments because it’s your view and stands in its own right.

          You, however, talked about an agenda.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Jamie Jan 27, 2016 / 5:42 pm

        Your response confuses me.

        My loose definition of an agenda would be fitting circumstances to fit a position rather than the reverse, as should be. As far as I can see given a fuller examination of what he’s said, the criticism isn’t warranted and it leads me to the conclusion that your opinion was fully formed before taking supporting elements of what he said as evidence, neglecting the rest. This in my book is not really on.

        I don’t mean to offend, but likewise from what I’ve seen I can’t really rule this out. If you don’t want to expand / explain fair enough – it’s your blog. Have a good evening.

        Liked by 1 person

        • thelegglance Jan 27, 2016 / 5:47 pm

          Yes I can see it has, because your definition of an agenda rather beautifully fits deciding to rather than disagree, to talk about someone having an agenda. So to repeat, provide your evidence for that from my other writing. Otherwise you see, all you’ve done is shout “agenda” without paying any attention to who has written it. Which is interesting as you’ve never before commented on anything I’ve written.

          You see, I don’t mind disagreement, but you will tend to find discussions more fruitful without dismissing it as an agenda first up. You are more than welcome to try again, and then I might engage with you as someone who hasn’t already made up his mind. Ironic really.

          You too have a delightful evening.


      • Sherwick Jan 27, 2016 / 5:54 pm



      • Rpoultz Jan 27, 2016 / 6:12 pm

        Jamie, you seem to have a pro cook agenda….


    • Grenville Jan 27, 2016 / 5:56 pm

      I am going to weigh in here. I have the impression that emotions are running rather high at the moment. I think that it is really important that we try to read each other as charitably as possible. That is to say that we read each other as having a goodwill and trying to constructively debate things. Practically speaking that means putting the best possible light on what someone writes. In Jamie’s case that would be to hear his talk of an “agenda” as a friendly warning that some of us (and not just the leg glance) have fallen victim to something like the problem of confirmation bias. I do not much like armchair psychology, but I think that there is a very real tendency for humans to focus in on the bits of evidence that fit their own preconceptions.

      When it comes to Cook, despite everybody’s nice words, I am still unsure if I am doing him a disservice because I do not like the man. It is important that he did praise Bairstow’s batting. Jamie and Alex are right to point that out. I did not and that is true of some others who have commented about it here. It is possible to read what Cook said more charitably than I did. I still think that he was unfair on Hales, Taylor, Compton and Bairstow and that he should and could be both honest and supportive. I think that it is reasonable to accuse me of having an anti-Cook agenda and judging what he said unfairly. More importantly, think it is how we should read Jamie’s comment until he starts behaving like that obnoxious chap the other day.


      • thelegglance Jan 27, 2016 / 6:01 pm

        I’m not even slightly emotional about it! As said, quite happy to discuss other interpretations perfectly genially.


      • LordCanisLupus Jan 27, 2016 / 6:02 pm

        Despite writing a post about schisms not too long ago I can safely say that I want discussion. TLG recognises that there is disagreement on the Cook comments. But you don’t weigh in on a post mentioning “agenda” and expect a load of niceties.

        My feelings aren’t running high at all, actually. Really calm at the moment. Points are made and that is fine by me.


      • Grenville Jan 27, 2016 / 6:02 pm

        or in fact suggest politely that I might be fitting facts to my preconceptions.


      • Jamie Jan 27, 2016 / 6:09 pm

        Thanks – your comments much appreciated, you sound a very reasonable and thoughtful bloke. With a pint in hand and face to face I’m sure a lot of us would get on better and could have a sensible discussion.

        Unfortunately read off a page this doesn’t translate, and having just read the last few comments this is playground stuff, I don’t really have time for this. Probably better for all if I take this outlet for my cricketing interest elsewhere.


        Liked by 1 person

        • thelegglance Jan 27, 2016 / 6:18 pm

          Robust discussion is more than welcomed Jamie. Let me explain, when I criticise the press for failing to ask questions, I avoid the word “agenda” like the plague, because it’s so loaded. It implies a closed mind already made up. Perhaps you can see why that might then be? So I am quite happy to discuss all matters with you, I merely ask that you do so on the basis of what is written (however much you disagree with it – that is after all the point of the comments) and not on what is a preconception. You see, I have very often praised Cook, and praised his captaincy. Criticism of him does not have to accord to an agenda, it can be just criticism. If you can see that, we have a basis for civilised disagreement.


      • Benny Jan 27, 2016 / 9:42 pm

        I’ve had a long ponder about about this and decided “agendas” don’t come into it. No-one here gains any advantage or profit from having an agenda. The joy of this blog is that none of us have any obligation to anyone but ourselves. For me, it’s always been like popping down to my local and putting the world to rights over a pint. If anyone has a problem with that, I really don’t give a monkey’s.

        Liked by 1 person

        • LordCanisLupus Jan 27, 2016 / 10:21 pm

          Cheers Benny. We need to sort a fixture out this summer. Beloved is away in May/June and Surrey don’t have a bloody home CC match. Muppets.


      • emasl Jan 27, 2016 / 9:57 pm

        I am not weighing in here re Cook as I think he is cowardly two faced toad and, therefore, I know I am totally unable to give a balanced response to a man who I used to admire but now despise.


      • jomesy Jan 27, 2016 / 10:12 pm

        I think this site is now being “bombed”.

        I’ve suspected it for a while (perhaps since October) but it has become gradually more noticeable.

        Might be wrong.

        Let’s see.

        Liked by 1 person

        • LordCanisLupus Jan 27, 2016 / 10:20 pm

          Not sure what you mean by “bombed” Jomesy.

          Sure, we know some of our dear friends visit here to keep up with their latest pet hates (me, quite often), but it’s not been that noticeable that this is on the upswing. We have the odd one or two now or then, but really, they aren’t a problem. It usually coincides with a decent win for the England team. Fair enough.

          Do you know what we don’t get? A lot of people debating with us on issues. It’s usually “you’re negative” or “get behind the team” or “you have an agenda”. And genuinely we want people to say and debate back on Cook etc. without resorting to the old “you’re just a KP fanboy” nonsense that wore thin ages ago.

          Let’s see.


      • LordCanisLupus Jan 27, 2016 / 10:29 pm


        Thanks for the comment. So much easier to give a response on the laptop rather than the phone.

        I really haven’t kept up with a lot of the aftermath of the test as I had another event last night that took over my attention. Then I’ve had work today and still not been keeping pace. I trust TLG’s judgement, and know him to be rigorous, firm and fair. He welcomes debate, but don’t start off on accusatory stuff because he’ll be on you. Jamie came in a little bit too high, and I back my colleague to the hilt. We didn’t debate Cook, we went on about the definition of agenda. We’re also both very protective of the blog, and yes, maybe thin skinned to a degree. It has served us well.

        I don’t believe, for one minute, this is an echo chamber, and I’ve been put in my place by you lot before. The blog comes with a reputation, many of those who link to us aren’t doing it to buff us up (more “look at them over there….again”), and yet we’re still going strong.

        It’s hard running one of these things. We will never believe we’ll always make the correct decisions. But I like to think they are honest ones.

        Cheers for the support, G.



      • Grenville Jan 27, 2016 / 11:17 pm

        I bloody love this place, and really appreciate all the work both you and theleglance put in. I don’t think that this is an echo chamber. I’ve seen a lot of interesting debate. I guess I’m feeling a bit sensitive after being taken for a raving loon the other day. It started me thinking about how you (one) should read and write BTL. Any way, I’m a total neophyte to posting on t’interweb, so my understanding of what’s being written is poor. Keep up the good fight.


      • jomesy Jan 28, 2016 / 7:11 am

        LCL – by bombed I guess I meant: fly in, drop a bomb or two and then fly off again.

        I personally find it quite amusing and if it were my blog I’d take it as a compliment that people feel the need to do it but, at the same time, don’t, as you say, really enter the debate.

        (Ps would that sentence above have enough commas to be considered Selveyesque?)


  18. pktroll (@pktroll) Jan 27, 2016 / 7:35 pm

    I have to say that I’m unsure what to make about Cook’s comments in interviews. Firstly because I get the impression that in the last few years at least most captains won’t be able to stray too far off the reservation in terms of ECB management/press officer agreed lines. I don’t feel that it is necessary that right praise or criticise him for what he says there given that he may well be pre-briefed as to how to approach certain subjects and that he was always likely to be asked about the newer and more vulnerable players. To be honest I always found Strauss utterly banal as an interviewee, and this of course transferred to his stint as a commentator, Vaughan was not much better in that regard and his usual meme was to talk about the pos’i’ves.

    As I said above I thought Cook didn’t particularly excel with his on field captaincy this tour as he had problems taking off his opening bowlers when they often started new ball spells poorly, when Finn and Stokes were clearly good go-to options and that some old habits started to re-emerge in terms of the overly defensive fields when he SA lower order started to fire at both Joburg (1st innings) and Centurion. The former could have hurt England but didn’t because of Broad’s heroics. The latter will be forgotten to an extent as the series was won.


    • Benny Jan 27, 2016 / 9:46 pm

      Excellent observation. I also suspect that whatever Cook says, it’s Bayliss who’s in charge


      • pktroll (@pktroll) Jan 28, 2016 / 8:26 am

        Dunno about whether it is necessarily just Bayliss. Just that they will always have a press officer in tow. A few years ago, just after Cook had come back from captaining England for the first time in Bangladesh when Straus was given a break he was doing a net session coaching kids at Lord’s nets. I know this because my team used to do pre-season indoor nets there (for those of you that don’t know any club pretty much can do this so long as you fork out around £40 for an hour). We were a few lanes down from that session but he was there with a film crew and a couple of kids were going through their paces Anyway there were a couple of ladies who were clearly part of the ECB press department. They are always going to advise players up to a point what to say and I’ve never been of the opinion that Cook’s the most creative of individuals, he’s just going to do as he’s told. I’m not going to accuse him of having too much of an agenda in light of the current situation.

        Just to repeat a popular meme that is partially at least how the press works.


  19. BoredInAustria Jan 28, 2016 / 6:15 am


    “The batting, though, has more problems now than when the sequence began. This is based around Cook, who is within touching distance of being the youngest batsman to score 10,000 Test runs, and Joe Root, who has been the leading run scorer in the world for a year, and is the No1-ranked player.

    But two mainstays of the team over the past six years or so, Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott, have gone, the latter after an ill-advised effort to convert him to an opener, and no one yet has staked a strong claim as permanent replacement.”

    Airbrushed out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus Jan 28, 2016 / 9:25 am

      Laughable. Utterly completely laughable.

      Ooooh, there’s some little intricacy that will exclude KP in his description linking it to the sequence but why do it?


    • paulewart Jan 28, 2016 / 7:43 pm

      I know. The words ‘Stalin’ and ‘photograph’ sprang immediately to mind.


  20. Arron Wright Jan 28, 2016 / 8:00 am

    One of my least favourite new Guardian posters responds to one of my favourite old ones, and takes smug, self-righteous, revisionist, borderline Orwellian bollocks to what might be called sub-newmanesque levels:

    TheHarry Melmouth 12h ago

    And you think it’s OK that Andrew Strauss lets his personal feelings come into this? It’s disgraceful and pretty much amounts to restraint of trade. I’m surprised that any reasonable person would condone it.

    Melmouth TheHarry 11h ago

    Absolutely 100%. He knows better than anyone how self centred and in love with himself KP is, completely uninterested in the team and obsessed with himself only. Dressing room poison. Should never have been allowed anywhere near the England team.


    • Zephirine Jan 28, 2016 / 11:29 am

      That particular poster is on my hc:dr list (hateful crap:don’t read).


  21. alan Jan 28, 2016 / 8:16 am

    I think you were singled out because that avid follower of this blog, our grey blazered friend, remounted his moral high horse, tweeted a link and called on our hosts to put you right. Curiously in the circumstances not using his cricket tag to do it. He then had an exchange of pleasantries about the blog’s commenters with our old friend pamgnashes during which she called the blog a parody. Takes one to know one!


    • LordCanisLupus Jan 28, 2016 / 9:01 am

      There’s a problem with him calling us on his twitter feed to “put him right”. Neither TLG or I follow him. I actively have him on mute. He could come on here to do it if he wanted. We’re not psychics.

      We know his views on us. Fine. Maybe he’ll run off and tell tales while ignoring the debate that ensued.

      Nash is Nash.


      • rpoultz Jan 28, 2016 / 11:30 am

        the problem is people like him and her do not want debate. They want their opinion ratified and agreed with. Nash, for me, has literally no self awareness for her obsessions with and around KP. It’s laughable that she calls this blog a parody considering her act.


      • thelegglance Jan 28, 2016 / 11:43 am

        I need to try and find the Telegraph article where Jonathan Liew reported on an ECB press conference and she slated him below the line about how it was biased and not what the Times had reported. Liew answered her with the outstanding opening line “First of all, the Times weren’t there and I was….”


      • rpoultz Jan 28, 2016 / 11:49 am

        Please find that article TLG. Would love to have a read of that one. Was there any reply to his logic?


      • thelegglance Jan 28, 2016 / 11:57 am

        I’ll try and dig it out. Trouble with doing searches for Telegraph articles is you hit the limit in no time and have to re-set the cookies!

        Oh, sorry to answer your question – of course she didn’t! Liew’s answer got tons of recommends though, it was class.


        • LordCanisLupus Jan 28, 2016 / 9:16 pm

          HDWLIA still exists, and this was relatively easy to find…

          The best bits…

          “The Times has a complete set of quotes – and by not selectively editing them you get the true sense of what Broad said. He praised Cook, praised Moores & said that the environment they’re fostering is what has enabled the young players to come in and do so well, enabled by a calm dressing room atmosphere.”

          The response…

          “With respect, Pam, I’d point out two things. Firstly, The Times weren’t there and I was. Secondly, the “complete set of quotes”, without what you so delicately describe as “selective editing”, runs to about 5000 words, and at a hazy estimate would take you between 20 and 25 minutes to read. I suspect you wouldn’t make it to the end.”

          Response there was none.

          BTW – for info, The Times article went as follows:

          From The Times, attributed to “Sport Staff”:

          Stuart Broad insists that the pressure on Alastair Cook will evaporate if the captain scores a century early in the series against India.
          Cook’s captaincy came in for severe criticism during the 1-0 series defeat by Sri Lanka during which his batting form plummeted, with scores of 17, 28, 17 and 16 in a new opening partnership with Sam Robson. Cook has not scored a century since early 2013, when he made 130 against New Zealand.
          Broad, however, believes that Cook is still the right man for the job. “Once he gets one hundred under his belt I think he’ll get many more – I’m just looking forward to that hundred celebration when he does it,” Broad said.
          “He’s a relaxed guy, there’s a few of us who have played long enough to know we’re in a stats and results-driven business so when you’re not scoring runs or taking wickets you expect a certain amount of flack. That won’t change until he scores a hundred and Cooky knows that.
          “Obviously winning Test matches helps with his captaincy but even if we’re winning and he’s not scoring hundreds he’ll be getting a certain amount of stick. He knows he’s a score away and then the pressure will come off him.”
          Broad also suggested that Cook’s relationship with Peter Moores, the new England coach, is already beginning to bear fruit.
          “One thing I know from being in the four walls of the changing room is actually the environment that Cooky and Peter Moores are developing is strong – you can see that from the performances of the young guys coming in.
          “When the environment is off – and we had people mentioning it in Australia – young players can come in and be overawed by senior players and that makes it difficult to perform.
          “Instead we’ve had Sam Robson come in and scored a hundred, Gary Ballance score a hundred, Liam Plunkett take nine wickets, Moeen Ali score a hundred – so that shows the guys coming into the set-up feel relaxed and like they can play.
          “Cooky will gain a huge amount of confidence from the environment he’s setting for the side and he should feed off that.”
          The first Test of the five-match series against India is at Trent Bridge, starting on July 9.
          4 comments, two derisive, 2 supportive


    • rpoultz Jan 28, 2016 / 11:21 am

      pamgnashes is simply a female version of Selvey. Cannot accept any view which isn’t her own and will not hold a reasoned debate. She maybe an exaggerated parody of selvey in fairness


    • thelegglance Jan 28, 2016 / 11:53 am

      It’s quite funny how they see the relationship on here as being LCL and me talking down to our followers who blindly accept our noble wisdom. Honestly, it tickles me no end – the very idea we could “put anyone right” even if we wanted to.

      As an aside, I tend to limit replies to people disagreeing with a particular post precisely because it looks like hectoring. It’s just different viewpoints, and most of the time the disagreeing post teaches me something I didn’t know. This place would die in no time if it was an echo chamber.


      • rpoultz Jan 28, 2016 / 12:07 pm

        I think that’s the right way to look at something like this. You want engagement, you want different view points and you want to see how people might look at things differently. Of course, everyone does have their own thoughts on matters and will obviously put those forward. The annoying thing is though is when the posters pop in and out to say that posters are wrong and have an agenda. They do not see the irony in what they are saying rather than staying and having a reasoned discussion on the points raised in the posts.


      • paulewart Jan 28, 2016 / 7:50 pm

        Probably Neil again. These people are desperate. You see them everywhere btl. The routine goes as follows: troll inquisitively but politely, troll aggressively, lose control, get modded, change avatar, and begin.


        • LordCanisLupus Jan 28, 2016 / 8:41 pm

          Thus far I believe all three of the recent visitors are not the aforementioned. But it doesn’t matter.


  22. SimonH Jan 28, 2016 / 9:38 am

    Are the ECB pleased about this headline or not? Only Buttler (at a very high reserve price), Jordan and Billings are in the IPL auction of players close to England selection. Strauss said he wanted more players in the IPL but it isn’t happening. I can’t help feeling that whatever Strauss has said publicly, most of the ECB hierarchy’s emotional reaction is “yes! they love us more! take that IPL”. English cricket doesn’t seem to me to be any closer to coming to terms with a world where the IPL exists. In the T20 WC England are, as a result, likely to field a side with (except Morgan) virtually no experience in Indian conditions.

    The DM is also reporting that Rabada is looking for a county contract for the first six weeks of the season.


  23. Arron Wright Jan 28, 2016 / 11:56 am

    Off topic moment – well, sort of, sort of not.

    I have just finished reading “Wisden on Benaud” (ed. Rob Smyth), which reproduces this article by Dileep Premachandran.

    I missed the piece at the time. I particularly like the extract quoted below, and am especially fond of his choice of verb after the word “impressive” in the final paragraph. Of all the verbs he could have selected, he went for that one. I wonder why.

    “Most of all, though, when I think of Benaud, I feel pity, for the young fans of today and the noise pollution that they tend to be subjected to in the name of commentary. Of course, there are exceptions. The Sky team tends to treat the game with gravitas, and go beyond clichés, while the always perceptive Ian Chappell remains as a last link to Nine’s golden years. Shane Warne, once removed from the blokey environs of the current Nine commentary enclosure, is well worth listening to, as is Rahul Dravid, whether on TV or radio.

    Most though have nothing to offer. They long ago forgot the Benaud dictum of not saying anything just for the sake of it. Benaud was never a poet or a wordsmith in the John Arlott class. But he invariably had a pithy phrase for each notable occasion and, most importantly, he came prepared. You’d never have heard him express the kind of ignorance about a touring side that was on view during India’s recent Test series in Australia.

    That preparation came from an awareness of what the journalist’s job entails. Unlike the buffoons of bluster, Benaud knew that the commentator and the columnist are just messengers, privileged to have a ringside view that others don’t have access to. The game is never about them. They’re just the thread that links the players on the field with millions of cricket-lovers around the world.

    Benaud never made the commentary stint about him. He could have if he wanted to. After all, he had been one of the great allrounders of his era. And as long as Test cricket is played, any discussion about its finest leaders will involve his name. But he wore that greatness as lightly as a cream linen suit. It was only years after first listening to him that some of us came to realise just how exceptional a player he had been.

    That sadly is no longer the case. Those with CVs not even half as impressive swan about without even bothering to do basic research. They make no apology for being cheerleaders. The ‘we’, so anathema to Benaud – who had led his country with such distinction – is now the default setting. There’s not even lip service to the idea of impartiality, and calling it as you see it.”

    Liked by 4 people

    • SteveT Jan 28, 2016 / 3:47 pm

      Not just the best cricket commentator, but the best sporting commentator full stop. He and Jim Laker were an absolute joy to listen to in their heyday. Ah I’m getting all nostalgic.


    • Rooto Jan 28, 2016 / 5:43 pm

      Well pointed out, Arron. It’s true that some commentators would snap your arm off (with their neck?) just to grab the mic, if you said they could talk about themselves.


    • paulewart Jan 28, 2016 / 7:57 pm

      Wonderful stuff.

      ‘Benaud knew that the commentator and the columnist are just messengers, privileged to have a ringside view that others don’t have access to. The game is never about them. They’re just the thread that links the players on the field with millions of cricket-lovers around the world.’

      The anti-Selvey.


    • Escort Jan 28, 2016 / 8:28 pm

      Who could not agree with what you say about commentary now as opposed to even in the last decade and certainly before that. I offer you this as the yard stick
      ” And Cook gets his redemption”
      Not exactly the same as
      ” Bowled him, and it is one of the most fantastic victories ever known” or bringing things upto more recent times
      “Jones, Bowden….and Kasprovich the man to go and Harmison has done it.
      Simply no comparison.


  24. Benny Jan 28, 2016 / 1:16 pm

    Superb. Just to mention this is back in the good old days when there was only one commentator on duty at a time. Now we get two or three and they talk to each other, not the long suffering viewer.

    I’d give honourable mentions to Jim Laker, who was also restrained, and currently Robin Jackman, who is by far the finest English commentator, albeit living and working in SA.


    • SimonH Jan 28, 2016 / 3:11 pm

      To be fair, Benny, there were usually two commentators in the old days. They had clearly demarcated roles though – one was the commentator (Laker or Benaud) and one was the ‘expert summariser’ (Tom Graveney, Ray Illingworth, Trevor Bailey for example). Nowadays that idea seems to have been lost and it’s just a wall of sound that would make Phil Spector proud.

      Perhaps it’s just me but part of Rob Smyth’s article is getting close to what it condemns in others. There is a ‘we’ in quality of broadcasters, apparently. We (Sky) are good, they (C9) are bad. I can’t give any recent examples of dreadful commentary on Sky because I have it turned down nearly all the time. During the NZ series, which was the last time I had it on much, the ignorance about NZ was palpable (I remember ranting at the time that they were treating it like it was BMac and ten other blokes who’d just happened to turn up) and Ian Smith kept exposing (in the nicest possible way) what a cosy little cartel it is. Mike Hussey and Brett Lee are better in my view than any of the Skybox regulars. Brayshaw and Slater are the abominations on C9 who drag down the rest

      It would be good to read a comparison of Australian print journalism and what England is producing at the moment. They’ve got Gideon Haigh, Dan Brettig, Russell Jackson, Geoff Lemon and Jarrod Kimber. We’ve got…. err….


      • SimonH Jan 28, 2016 / 3:23 pm

        Apologies, looking again I realise Smyth was the overall editor and didn’t write the words in question.


  25. rpoultz Jan 28, 2016 / 3:55 pm

    Having previously enjoyed his works is Mike Atherton now towing the ECB Pro-Cook line?? First his 8/10 marks for him for the series and now an article marked ‘Alastair Cook’s Entertainers’? Another one fallen?


    • SteveT Jan 28, 2016 / 4:44 pm

      Let’s hope it’s just an aberration!


  26. SimonH Jan 28, 2016 / 6:22 pm

    Great win for Nepal in the U19 WC against NZ. Pity their players have f*** all chance of a career in the game after this tournament but we can’t expect the ICC or Giles Clarke to be bothered about such things when they’re busy trying to find another way of monetising India’s cricket obsession:

    England play WI tonight.


    • mdpayne87 Jan 28, 2016 / 10:20 pm

      Couldn’t agree more. The U19 World Cup is the ideal format for the senior tournament – 4 groups of 4, 2 matches a day so the whole thing is over in a month, plus the obvious exposure and game time for associates. A travesty that the 10-team tournament is still in place for 2019.


  27. SimonH Jan 29, 2016 / 9:10 am

    They’ve overlooked Selvey again! It’s a travesty:

    If Nick Hoult doesn’t win the cricket award, there’s something very wrong with the world. GD described him on Twitter recently as the best in the business which says it all (and was characteristically generous of GD). Newman must be there more for acreage than quality. Great to see Tim Wigmore nominated for Young SJY and Owen Gibson for investigative reporting.

    Elsewhere, the new Geek&Friends with Geoff Lemon and Will Macpherson (who is increasingly impressive) on the BBL is worth a listen. .


    • Arron Wright Jan 29, 2016 / 10:36 am

      Half the nominees are from the Telegraph.

      Justice, all the more satisfying given how relentlessly snotty certain people are about it and its “star” columnist.

      By the way, that always resembles a guy with a bit part in Rocky sarcastically referring to Leonardo diCaprio as a “star”.


      • LordCanisLupus Jan 29, 2016 / 10:47 am

        Ok. Who is the comedian with the modded comment?

        You know who you are. …

        Email me.


  28. SimonH Jan 29, 2016 / 11:08 am

    Comfortable win for the U19s against WI. Good team performance with five scores between 39 and 59 and the wickets shared between five bowlers. No tall poppies – they’ve learnt their lesson young.

    Saqib Mohmood’s action is almost a carbon copy of a young Waqar Younis.


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