The First Test – Quality Street

England did what England needed to do. They recovered well from a tenuous position, got themselves up to nearly 300 and let two experienced world class bowlers do their thing. We genuinely feared for Sri Lanka coming into this test, and arguably this was worse than we thought. Their bowling looked OK, they didn’t let themselves down, but the batting was woeful. Well, what I saw of it was.

Test matches like these are easy to review. England are a very good side – I’m not convinced they have it in them to be the world beaters that Ian Botham does – and pretty unstoppable in favourable conditions. There’s nothing to be ashamed of in that. I think the great sides win test matches on flat decks in alien conditions (Durban and Joburg weren’t flat but they were top wins) and this team’s batsmen are still too creaky to be considered a truly vintage side. England needed to get enough runs, they did. They needed to bowl sensibly and with skill, they did. Jimmy took 10 wickets, much to the chagrin of Dennis Does Cricket, and England by and large held their catches. It was as routine as routine could be. It reminded me of the effortless steamrolling of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe when Giddins or Johnson picked up wickets.

But this is Dmitri. I’m always down on England. You never give them credit. You want them to lose.

I want to see entertaining cricket, and a fair contest. I get absolutely petrified if this is the way Sri Lanka are going. We’ve seen how West Indies have gone. They’ll concentrate more and more on white ball cricket. Last time over here Sri Lanka were competitive, they fought, they outplayed England at key moments, and held on by the skin of their teeth on other occasions. This year they came in on the back of two lack lustre displays, and without the aura of a Sangakkara in their midsts. It was grim, it was cold. England won. They’ve given me two days off, and on the brink of a break, that’s most welcome!

The heads turn towards a test in Durham next time out. Will England keep the same team, Stokes fitness permitting, or will the media rumble for Compton’s axeing be persuasive? That’s about as interesting and exciting a talking point that has come out from this test. We have two top bowlers, and that was too much. We had a wicket-keeper batsman in super form and feeling secure, and he played superbly. We had Hales show he’s not a one-trick pony. Above that, we learned nothing. Except we have another few days of 10000 mania.

Test cricket is in trouble. But at least we have a 4-0 lead in the Super Series. That should make you all delighted. Puts this one-sided win in the vital “context” I know everyone loves!

Finally, thanks once again for Sean’s piece yesterday. Delighted he’s taking up the role of writing for us on a more regular basis, and he’ll be the eyes for the next two matches as both Chris and I won’t be able to watch them. Hopefully, I won’t even be missed!


107 thoughts on “The First Test – Quality Street

  1. d'Arthez May 21, 2016 / 6:43 pm

    Well played England. You can only beat what is in front of you. They did so ruthlessly.

    Sadly, what is in front of England is a side that would struggle to come out to be really competitive in most domestic competitions of Full Member nations. Whether that is India, England, South Africa, Australia or New Zealand. They simply do not have the batsmen. A few years ago, three SL batsmen averaged 50, with the others being useful batsmen who contributed too. Now most of them don’t even average 36. There are basically 5 passengers in the top 7. And with Prasad out of the series, they do not have the bowlers to compete with England in these conditions either.

    England beat a side, who won only one of the 7 most recent series at home against the other big nations. They lost against Australia (2011), South Africa (2014), India (2015), and Pakistan (2015). They drew England (2012), and New Zealand (2012). For all those series Sangakkara was available for at least one Test (and that due to impending retirement). For most of those series Jayawardene was available too. Jayawardene retired after a series against Pakistan in 2014, so he only missed the 2015 series against India and Pakistan.

    The one series they won was against West Indies in 2015. And even there Sri Lanka had a bit of a narrow escape in the second Test (the Hope-Darren Bravo partnership was looking good. What followed after the Hope dismissal was a fairly typical WI collapse). A series win against a side which won all of 1 Test on the road against big sides since 2001.

    Not that the MSM will mention any of that. They’re too busy pretending that this is a vintage SL side. They’re too busy pretending that all is well in world cricket. But maybe, when the most recent recent scoreline for England – India is 53-1, and India – England is 51-2, they might get the idea that something is amiss. But I am not too optimistic.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. metatone May 21, 2016 / 7:24 pm

    I think Sean mentioned this somewhere, but the fact it’s taken Jimmy and Broady 9 years to try bowling from the other end is a huge indictment of English cricket. Not just the coaches, the players, the ex-players, the commentators. It’s just bizarre.

    Liked by 1 person

    • volkerelle May 24, 2016 / 7:09 pm

      wow, just wow…


  3. Escort May 21, 2016 / 8:04 pm

    England played like any home side would play like when they have the conditions in their favour and at least two of the batsman makes decent score. Let’s not forget that England lost the toss as well. A good performance I thought even if the captain dithered over the follow on decision

    Liked by 2 people

    • LordCanisLupus May 21, 2016 / 8:21 pm

      I agree, Escort, and I hope the piece gives that impression. Anderson and Broad are deadly in these conditions. That it’s taken Jimmy this long to crack his Headingley hoodoo is surprising, though.

      I just believe we should be worrying less about “context” and more about “standard”.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Escort May 21, 2016 / 8:29 pm

        I’m with you on the standards issue.


  4. SimonH May 21, 2016 / 8:28 pm

    I see one of the more delightful presences on the former DT threads has appeared at last on the Guardian. It was only a matter of time I suppose. One of his contributions today is to make a ‘joke’ about cholera.

    That’s me done over there.


    • nonoxcol May 21, 2016 / 8:45 pm

      Aka aquitted, of course. It is pretty easy to spot people who come back to cricket blogs with different names.


      • Escort May 21, 2016 / 8:59 pm

        Do you comment under difficult names?


        • LordCanisLupus May 21, 2016 / 9:11 pm

          Your name is the most difficult Escort. What with it getting caught by my Spam Folder so much!!!!


      • Escort May 21, 2016 / 9:43 pm

        Sorry. I meant different names


      • Escort May 21, 2016 / 10:26 pm

        Sorry. It’s been a long day 😁


    • nonoxcol May 22, 2016 / 8:12 am

      The cholera comment is still there, although the blatant racism about Indians’ toilet habits has gone.

      One classic has appeared overnight: this is the best time to be an England fan “since the mid to late 80s, when Botham, Gower etc were in full flow”. Someone else thinks it’s the best time *ever*.

      Then there’s the one who doesn’t like the “Russia Today style of journalism”, yet happens to be one of the most fervent defenders of everything Selvey writes.


      • LordCanisLupus May 22, 2016 / 8:49 am

        I note palfreyman indicated that everyone out there who is worried about that display by Sri Lanka, and who isn’t 100% sold by this team is reduced to the almost deranged term of “keyboard warrior”.

        Who is the one picking the fight here?


  5. Zephirine May 21, 2016 / 9:25 pm

    I missed a lot of this Test, so can’t tell how poor SL were. But I do seem to remember some previous Test series where England have won the first match and there’s been much discussion about the superb strengths of England and the lamentable weaknesses of the opposition… who have then turned up looking rather more dangerous next time.


  6. Mark May 21, 2016 / 9:56 pm

    The Vulture sits on top of the the big top circus arena
    He’s seen this show before he knows someone’s going to fall
    Just at the part where the beautiful dancing tightrope ballerina
    forgets the safety net isn’t there at all
    Down he swoops with claws drawn to take her
    Oh my God is there no one who can save her
    In steps the fox to thunderouss applause.



  7. man in a barrel May 21, 2016 / 10:46 pm

    Let’s not forget the fragility of England’s top order. The difference between the 2 teams was JB. But on a flat pitch, Sri Lanka will struggle to bowl England out. We have to wait and see. England made Sri Lanka follow on in 2006. And 200 overs later? And only Jayawardene scored a ton, as I recall.


  8. SimonH May 22, 2016 / 8:21 am

    This has got a few going –

    It sounds pretty much like a straight lift from the ECB’s business plan to me – but then, as usual, it’s more about who’s saying it than what he’s saying.


    • thebogfather May 22, 2016 / 8:45 am

      That was so in-depth, you’d struggle to drown a fruitfly….


  9. thebogfather May 22, 2016 / 8:44 am

    If Stokes is unfit for Durham, I hope our selectors or the ‘Strauss super-computer selection system’ think further ahead than Woakes. A positive selection would be Ball, as the newly anointed next cab off the rank in the seam bowling list, moving Bairstow and Ali up one in the order (or just moving Ali to 6?) Or, dare I say it, two spinners (though the conditions may not be ideal for this)


    • hatmallet May 22, 2016 / 12:46 pm

      I’m sure there will be calls for 2 spinners, but we gave just 1 over out of 73 to a spinner at Headingly. Whilst that wouldn’t have happened had we used a 3+2 attack as opposed to a 4+1 attack, I just don’t think the conditions will warrant a second spinner.

      Woakes or Ball are the main options, don’t mind who they go for.


  10. Escort May 22, 2016 / 10:24 am

    This might seem abit irrelevant but as some of us have seen the Sky England in the 90s program this week it is worth remembering that if England had won as that did yesterday (inside 3 days)and their were county fixtures starting the next day the majority if not all the England players would have been ordered back to play for their counties.
    It seems like madness now but that’s how it was then.


  11. SimonH May 22, 2016 / 11:02 am

    GD’s post-match report is a bit of a moan that the applause isn’t loud enough. Yes, there were some positives (Hales, Bairstow, Anderson) and yes, England are currently a good (probably very good) team. But this felt like the most one-sided match since India in 2014 (can’t blame the IPL for this one!) – or even like those old matches against Zimbabwe when Ed Giddins and Mark Butcher could take a stack of wickets. It’s like Premiership clubs duffing up Bolton because there’s no relegation when a team’s quality falls through the floor.

    His analysis of SL’s qualities is willfully one-eyed (although “Sri Lanka prepared for this tour with a training camp in Kandy. Which is a bit like opening the window a crack to prepare for a polar expedition” is a good line). Most of their batting line-up has experience in England? Apart from Mathews, it was experience (for Karunaratne and Thirimanne) of being dreadful. Silva made two fifties at Lord’s on a pitch which I can remember GD slating for its lack of life. They beat England last time? It says everything about how dire England were under Peter Moores. Even with their great players SL had won only one other series outside Asia against a top eight team (against NZ in the 90s). He ignores SL’s defeats last year to Pakistan, India and NZ. He ignores the lack of quality in SL’s batting.

    SL’s performances recently only show even more what a player Sangakkara was. They are disintegrating without him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • SimonH May 22, 2016 / 12:45 pm

      There’s also the continuing issue of Big Three home dominance.

      Their combined home Test records of the last three years:

      P42 W28 D9 L5

      India have only played six of those matches. The five losses are all by England.

      The more general question of home dominance seems to be morphing into a question of B3 home dominance. SL, NZ and SA have all lost home series in the last year. Only Pakistan from outside the B3 match their levels of dominance at (their adopted) home.


      • SimonH May 23, 2016 / 1:04 pm

        Just to add a bit of detail to those 28 Big Three wins:

        I’ve divided them into three groupings: Thrashings ((winnings by an innings or +300 runs), Comfortable (winnings by 6-10 wickets or 100-300 runs) and Close (winnings by 5-1 wicket or under 100 runs).

        Thrashings: 11
        Comfortable: 12
        Close: 5

        In other words, the B3 are not just winning at home but winning big. The five close matches were two in England (the 1st and 4th Ashes Tests in 2013) and three in Australia (including the unique circumstances of the D/N Test).


    • fred May 22, 2016 / 6:57 pm

      “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

      Dobell is right in his analysis of England, but he misses the other side of the equation. Praising Anderson doesn’t preclude recognising the weakness of SL.
      “Five of their top seven have toured England before.” is a pretty trite summary, and since no further qualification is made, it suggests strong experience. Five out of seven is pretty good, right? Wrong.

      Re Sangakkara, yeah, what a loss. Isn’t he in England now playing country cricket? Do you think, maybe…?


    • Simon K May 24, 2016 / 9:43 am

      “GD’s post-match report is a bit of a moan that the applause isn’t loud enough”. No applause will be very loud for this series, because very few people are paying attention. It feels low stakes because it is. A situation of the ECB’s making.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. fred May 22, 2016 / 2:24 pm

    Just had a quick scan through the guardian’s comments following the match to get a feeling. What was striking was the number of people saying “oh, now we’re being criticised because we succeeded in favourable home conditions, but the same view is not taken when other teams beat us on their home turf, some people just hate England”. What is funny though, is that no one has really said that very much. They’re defending themselves against an allegation that hasn’t been made. They really are getting touchy over there.
    As for Selvey’s description of Anderson, it took me half a dozen paper towels to clean myself off after that.

    Liked by 2 people

    • nonoxcol May 22, 2016 / 3:32 pm

      The article he was born to write. And actually rather good, because of the precision and tight focus.

      Bulk buy some industrial-strength paper towels for the article coming very very soon though. That will, er, not be quite so focused on what takes place on the pitch…


      • northernlight71 May 22, 2016 / 9:52 pm

        Perhaps I’m too prejudiced to give a fair assessment anymore, but as I read it I felt it was a trying too hard, look-at-how-lyrical-I-can-be kind of article. Not quite as bad as Ed Smith, but certainly in that vicinity.
        And to be fair, I spent 4 years at university reading some pretty awful prose and poetry.Alongside the good stuff, obviously 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • nonoxcol May 22, 2016 / 3:42 pm

      Re the Anderson piece, gotta live wardperkins’s 13:36 reply to Selvey.


      • fred May 22, 2016 / 4:31 pm

        It’s the Web We Want. No nasty disagreements or alternative views, just sweet, clever articles where everyone can agree how spiffing everything is. Where the journalists can be held up as heros because they write so poetically, ignoring the fact that they don’t apply any intellectual honesty. A self-congratulatory circle jerk that deliberately disenfranchises dissent. Very “civilised”, as he says. Would you mind passing the cucumber sandwiches please?

        Good bowling indeed from Anderson, but has there been a single word written about why SL is in the state that it’s in? Any reflection on what it means that a test lasted less than three days? No chance.

        Interesting comment from Palfrey though, he says Selvey is considering retirement. I hope he’s not just trolling.

        Liked by 3 people

    • northernlight71 May 22, 2016 / 5:17 pm

      Retirement? We can but hope. Not that the next generation seem to be a great improvement, to be honest.
      Holding the powers that be to account? Not my job, guv’nor, and anyway I need my Press pass for the Long Room dontcha know….


      • fred May 22, 2016 / 6:39 pm

        “Holding the powers that be to account? Not my job, guv’nor,”

        The guardian has given up on that.


  13. Mark May 22, 2016 / 3:40 pm

    This test match didn’t even last 2 days in terms of overs. Without the rain the game would just about have made it to tea on day 2. This is exactly what the powers that be have been working towards. It’s no longer cricket as a contest, but cricket as a coliseum event. The result is in no longer in doubt, it is the nature of the way the opponents are dispatched that is all important.

    The concept of a “contest” is no longer very relevant? Keeping the home fans happy through easy wins, and flogging tv deals is what the authorities require. Not only is this a short term policy, it is in my opinion quite deliberate. As It becomes a vicious circle as the big 3 rake in all the money, and play less and less against the others, the standard declines. And yes, the standard has declined. Looking back on the 1990s you realise how poor the quality now is. (Broad and Anderson in these conditions excluded)

    WI have already disappeared off the test match map. You can add SL to that now. Way to go ICC, there won’t be many left to play soon. Never mind not growing the game, you’re actully managing to srink it. Wall to wall Ashes is what the people want, and a bit of India to top up the bank account. Hope you haven’t boright a ticket for the next test matches forth day.


  14. Sean B May 22, 2016 / 4:41 pm

    According to Ali Martin, Woakes is the next cab off the rank for the Durham test…


  15. MM May 22, 2016 / 7:21 pm

    Heard Swann[y] on TMS a few times this Test Match. That man is an even bigger bell-end than last year. Does he get up early to practice?

    And well done England. Kicking a scared kitten around Headingley is sooo a sign of greater things to come. FFS.

    Sorry, I know the ECB expect me to be impressed by a 160-over Test win but there’s a stench of death about Test cricket that’s breaking my heart. I ain’t digging it at all.

    Liked by 3 people

    • RufusSG May 23, 2016 / 9:33 am

      See, here’s where I’m a bit unconvinced. You’ll find no argument from me that test cricket, and the running of international cricket as a whole, isn’t facing many issues, which have been discussed at great length on these pages previously of course and which the ECB have undoubtedly played a part in: equally, whilst unlike others here I still very much enjoy seeing England do well I intensely dislike the “you’re not cheering loud enough” types, since no one’s under any obligation to support any sports team for any number of good reasons, especially if they dislike the way the team is run or whatever. Everyone’s entitled to choose. I also accept that some may not be able to separate the team from the ECB itself and the reflected glory they may take from the team doing well, which I completely understand and have no problem with either.

      But, and this is what I have slight misgivings about what your last paragraph touches upon (correct me if I’ve misunderstood) – displaying an emotion other than utter contempt for the victory we’ve just witnessed, and a recognition that a guy taking 10-45 did bowl a few decent deliveries even taking the weakness of the opposition into account, is hardly succumbing to the ECB’s brainwashing, nor does it account to admitting that all those lovely journalists (who undoubtedly pump the team up to be better than it actually is) were right all along. As someone who’s doing this themselves, being just a bit happy that England won isn’t giving the ECB an inch for all the disagreeable stuff they’ve done, in my eyes anyway. I know this probably isn’t what you’re saying, but I sometimes feel like anyone who hasn’t yet become a nihilist about the on-field action, and still enjoys watching England play, is discussed on these pages like they’re some sort of naive idiot who has a complete blind eye turned to the game’s wider issues. (This may apply to a few on the Guardian and Telegraph BTLs, of course. I won’t deny the obvious…)

      I’m only 19, for crying out loud, which probably makes me the youngest visitor to these pages by some distance – I couldn’t dream of giving up on cricket now, I’ve got way too many years of England disappointing me to come yet before I become too cynical! It’s been such a big part of the formative years of my life that I feel obliged to hold out for change for the better regarding cricket’s governance, and fairer treatment of its less well off nations, whilst enjoying myself along the way at the marvellous talents available to watch across the world stage (I’ve watched Bangladesh/Zimbabwe test matches online and live in the past, so I think I’m the last person to be accused of being parochial).

      But that doesn’t mean I can’t think for myself and recognise the damage various policies implemented by our game’s governing bodies are doing to our game, whilst also being slightly happy, and not resignedly cynical, at the achievements of fine players like Anderson, Root, Buttler, Bairstow, Finn etc. who I don’t find it hard to root (ahem) for. I have total respect for those who are much older and wiser than I who may have lost their passion, and have no expectation of changing anyone’s mind: it doesn’t make you any less of a “real fan”, to use that irritating term, of course – we’re all fans who deserve equal respect for what we’ve given to cricket’s ecosystem to keep it creaking along. I just sometimes feel that I don’t get the same respect back (not from everyone, of course) simply for actively enjoying watching my countrymen play.

      Liked by 3 people

      • MM May 23, 2016 / 3:10 pm

        Dude, great reply – I don’t disagree with anything you typed there.

        All I was trying to say was [1] I really don’t like Swann as a commentator.

        And [2] I’m brokenhearted at the way Test cricket is going, whilst being expected to cheer louder and harder for, as Mark said, a colosseum event. No longer a competition.

        Your views have my respect, 100%. Never fear.

        Liked by 1 person

      • RufusSG May 23, 2016 / 4:10 pm

        Oh don’t worry, those are absolutely fair points – 1) is a matter of personal taste, as with all commentators (I can just about stand him but his laddish persona clearly isn’t for everyone) and 2) there’s no doubt that the complete shellacking we witnessed in the first test was not a great indicator for how Sri Lanka’s future as a competitive test side is looking, and raising concerns about that doesn’t do down the superb skills England displayed throughout the match. It’s just that the “expect me to be impressed” line nudged at something in my brain that’d been bothering me recently with some of the other comments I’ve read from time to time. I hit a stream of consciousness and went on a lot longer than I’d intended to!

        Cheers, anyway.


        • LordCanisLupus May 23, 2016 / 4:27 pm

          Always happy to have passionate views, as long as others who hold opposite views can put their point across.


      • alan May 23, 2016 / 9:22 pm

        I’m definitely from the old and cynical tendency Rufus. The events of the last couple of years have really done it for me and now I find that I really don’t care that much about the England team anymore. But then I’m 67 and I remember that, when I was 19, the D’Oliviera affair occurred and unhappy as I was with those in authority it didn’t prevent me from following England’s fortunes with undiminished enthusiasm. If I was 19 now I would doubtless feel the same as you although I would never have been able to express it as eloquently as you have!


      • Simon K May 24, 2016 / 9:52 am

        This is a good post and I agree with it.

        I have reconciled myself to my feelings of negativity around England by concluding that I just don’t support the England cricket team any more. Wish most individuals well, sure, glad when they do well, absolutely. But do I honestly want them to win games? No I just don’t. It’s not in my heart any more, and that affects my perspective. And they certainly aren’t getting any of my money. I could argue about the reasons why this is the case but they don’t matter really, and I totally respect people who have a different view. Do I feel like I’m missing much? Not really no, the standard of test cricket is getting less competitive by the year so it’s not as if the stakes are high or the sport is particularly thrilling.

        Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus May 23, 2016 / 4:29 pm

      Having listened to the Strauss and Graves interviews on TMS today, my heart weeps. Graves in particular sounds like he’s out of Central Casting for a Yorkshireman in authority.


      • nonoxcol May 23, 2016 / 5:29 pm

        On a scale of 1 to George Whitebread…?


      • "IronBalls" McGinty May 23, 2016 / 5:50 pm

        Speaking as a true Lancastrian….the “Yorker” is a derivation of the term to “put Yorkshire” on someone…in other words, they wouldn’t give you the steam off their bloody gravy!!


      • MM May 23, 2016 / 6:11 pm

        Graves? He’s still with us?


  16. "IronBalls" McGinty May 23, 2016 / 5:45 pm

    I felt cheated! No Day 4!! 😦


    • d'Arthez May 24, 2016 / 4:00 pm

      The highest paid on that list gets 4000 GBP per month. That compares not so favourable to Alastair Cook, who gets about 58 000 GBP per month. That is before match fees are even taken into consideration. Which obviously are far more generous to the England players than players from Sri Lanka.

      For winning the T20 World Cup in 2014, the squad got 1 million US$. They made the same for reaching the quarter finals in the 2015 World Cup. That is for the whole team, so you can divide that by at least 15 (I am not sure whether or not coaching staff is covered under these conditions. I seem to recall that they were but that was related to another pay dispute between the players and SLC.

      Both those numbers come from a website that seems to be run by the SL Cricket board.

      Oh, and for those wondering why Brendan Taylor is in England now? Apparently he made all of $250 for being one of the best batsmen in the 2015 World Cup.


      • SimonH May 24, 2016 / 4:22 pm

        Thanks D, I was relying on you! So Alastair Cook earns more in a month than Angelo Mathews does in a year? And the Lankan players have less chance of topping their earnings up in franchise cricket than other countries.

        On the issues raised by Brendan Taylor, I thought the most significant news during the Test wasn’t anything to do with the play but was the news about Steyn going to Glamorgan. A non-B3 superstar would rather play in a B3 franchise (and Glamorgan are not a rich team) than rest up for his nation. I’m not blaming Steyn and CSA have plenty to answer for – but this is the world the B3 have created.

        All that, and Chameera has a stress fracture of the back and is out of the tour and cricket for four months.


      • Mark May 24, 2016 / 4:34 pm

        It’s a feature not a bug.

        The financial crushing of the non big 3 has worked brilliantly. This is exactly how the model was supposed to work. Never mind Jimmy, and Cookie, and Broady……Nasser should be celebrating The Big 3 stitch up. It achieved what it was designed to do. The best batsman and bowlers in England are not in the team, it’s Giles Clark and his finacial mates.

        Oh, if you want a sport which has a contest, go and watch something like golf. Cricket doesn’t bother with that now.


      • SimonH May 24, 2016 / 4:52 pm

        Topley has a stress fracture as well and is out for three months. He must have sustained it in training as he’s been out with an arm injury.

        On the brighter side, GD reports that Willey’s injury is less serious than first thought and Mark Wood is “progressing well” (hopefully that’s right although, after the last medical update on him proved hopelessly wrong, we’ll have to wait and see).


  17. Tuffers86 May 23, 2016 / 6:38 pm

    Looks like Stokes is the latest England player to be playing through an issue. He’s been carrying that knee niggle for 2/3 years. Straight from the horses mouth via Twitter.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. man in a barrel May 23, 2016 / 10:41 pm

    The Englnd medical team strikes again? were they recruityed from Henry VIII’s torturers?


    • Mark May 23, 2016 / 10:56 pm

      Is this a new injury? If not why didn’t they operate on him after the 20/20 World Cup? It’s not as if he would be needed for this series.

      Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH May 24, 2016 / 7:47 am

        I said at the time I thought it was crazy that it was cleared to play so much and so early in the CC. He bowled 25.1 overs against Middlesex (only rain prevented more) and 33.4 and 21 against Surrey. In two out of the three innings he bowled more overs than any Durham bowler (the 33.4 was 10 more than anyone else).

        If he needed ‘game time’, couldn’t he have been freed with conditions on how much he bowled? It seems as if Durham trying to sneak a couple of early season wins to guard against relegation, while they hoped pitches would favour their bowling, was able to trump protecting one of England’s main assets.

        For those who missed it – this is what the era before central contracts was like…..


  19. man in a barrel May 23, 2016 / 11:05 pm

    Back in the 1900’s, Tests in England were 2-3 days in length (on uncovered pitches), whilst those in Australia were timeless. Is it time to revert to that model? The people who talk about how records get eroded by changing formats tend to forget this sort of stuff – eg the definition of a 6 back then was to hit the ball out of the ground, not just over an arbitrary white line, and there are pictures of players walking through clouds of netting to get to pitchside. Some of the Ashes Tests in Australia in the 1920s used to last 7 or 8 days. The infamous Adelaide Test of 1933 lasted 6 days, with a top score over 4 innings being 412! The pace of play was probably comparable to today. The scoring rates in the Bodyline series were truly funereal – 230-300 runs per day at about 2.3 runs per over. Can anyone truly say that Cook is a stronger personality than Jardine?


  20. SimonH May 24, 2016 / 8:37 am

    Another outbreak of greatest-everitis from Nasser Hussain:

    “I don’t like comparing different England eras” – but, for the second time in a fortnight, here he is doing just that.

    He (and his graphics’ writers) manage to go the entire length of the article without one mention of bowling averages.

    “Ever” turns out to mean since the 1980s. They’re better than Gough and Caddick? Agreed. They’re better than Willis and Botham? Not agreed – although it would be fair to say their peak together didn’t last that long. Were Truman and Statham a firm of solicitors?….

    Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus May 24, 2016 / 8:45 am

      I have to leave you all to it. Off to the Shore. See you on the other side.


      • Mark May 24, 2016 / 9:08 am

        Have a Good holiday!


    • nonoxcol May 24, 2016 / 8:47 am

      Didn’t have to read very far to find the old “most skilful” comment. Averaged 43 in South Africa last winter, was out-performed by the West Indies bowlers in Barbados, had three wicketless innings out of four at the start of the Ashes.

      All he ever has to do is have one good match in three, and greatest-everitis is suddenly endemic. I prefer him (and his press) to Cook, and he will leave a gigantic hole, but (as with Cook) the emphasis on longevity without any relevant context is relentless and tedious.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Simon K May 24, 2016 / 9:55 am

        He has been outstanding in the round for the last 3/4 years though, I don’t think there’s much of a rational argument against that. Sure he has had the odd poor test or series – almost no bowlers are immune from that. But those occurrences are increasingly rare.


      • nonoxcol May 24, 2016 / 11:49 am

        Fair enough. If only professional writers could make such relatively sober claims instead of getting ludicrously carried away, well, some of us would have to find a new hobby (horse)!


    • Mark May 24, 2016 / 9:32 am

      Ask Nasser how they got on at Lords and The Oval last year?

      This “greatest ever” stuff is such a crock of shit. What with that, and the constant trying to portray Cook as the greatest English cricketer of all time has turned the whole of English cricket into a big fat joke. It’s comical the whole thing.

      I just laugh at it all now, fools gold for idiots. Nasser should be ashamed of himself, and the players he played with and against.

      Oh, and it’s priceless watching them tie themselves in knotts having to big up Sri Lanka as a good side with batsmam with expeirence in English cricket. Having dismissed us for years when we warned about why the big 3 take over of cricket would lead exactly to this dog’s breakfast they are running around trying to sell fake to the masses.

      Skys 1990 show last week far from made you think today’s ENGLAND are the best ever. Instead it just makes you realise what has been lost in international test cricket. It may be the sport at test level is past saving. A decline that can’t be stopped. Different times, different world that has speeded up, and has no time for 5 day cricket. But spare us this horse shit that what we are watching is fantastic. It’s aint, it really ain’t.

      I actully pity the likes of Cook and Broad and Anderson with the idiot media they have today. There is no sensible reflection or comparison. Journalism as nothing more than crass marketing. The 3 of them are all very good players, and deserve some praise, but in this idiot modern world of instant gratification, and constant sugar rush punditry everything has to be hyped to moron levels.

      Liked by 2 people

      • SimonH May 24, 2016 / 11:28 am

        I’m not saying they were better, but you’d think maybe – when weighing up England opening bowling partnerships – Harmison and Hoggard would get at least a mention in dispatches. 450+ wickets and five years of solid service including some great highs and all that.

        Of course, only the most lunatic, paranoid conspiracy theorist could think that their omission is anything other than just an unfortunate oversight and not part of a noticeable tendency in certain quarters repeatedly to downplay and ignore the achievements of the Vaughan era.


    • Benny May 24, 2016 / 11:28 am

      Yes, Nasser’s memory is sadly rather short. If he can read stats, he should check Trueman & Bedser, especially the average and strike rate columns. I miss the old pundits who could recall Lillee & Thomson, Lindwall & Miller etc etc etc


  21. man in a barrel May 24, 2016 / 11:17 pm

    Look up what SF. Barnes and Frank Foster achieved in Australia in 1911 – 12. Then look at Broad and Anderson ‘s combined records in Australia. Hubris hits hard. It hit Anderson hard on the last tour to Australia. It hit Broad hard in 2010 – 11. They bowl well when circumstances favour them. A great bowler commands respect in unfavourable conditions. Even when Underwood was bowling to IVA Richards at the Oval in 1976, there was no surrender, unlike Jimmy versus George Bailey


    • sidesplittin May 25, 2016 / 5:54 am

      Churlish – Broad and Stokes were the only players to enhance their reputations during the ‘difficult winter’ – circumstances certainly didn’t favour Broad then. Likewise, in 2010/11 he tore an abdominal muscle in Adelaide; couldn’t exactly bowl through that.

      Anderson struggled in ’06/07, although his run out of Ponting at the SCG was a rare bright spot, was immense in ’10/11 on decks that were generally flat and had a tough tour in ’13/14 like most of the team. Being slogged with the declaration due by a bloke who’s test career consists of one series doesn’t overshadow his other achievements. His performances in the ODIs at the end of the ’02/03 tour were the catalyst for the beginning of his test career.

      FWIW, I don’t count either as greats but they’re both certainly very good and will be missed when they’re gone.

      Liked by 1 person

      • GeneralZod May 25, 2016 / 8:56 am

        One thing to remember about the 13/14 ashes tour is that Anderson played through most of it with a broken rib. He probably should have been dropped but it does help explain his poor form on that tour.


        • sidesplittin May 25, 2016 / 9:29 am

          Quite. In terms of truly great bowlers, Lillee toured Pakistan with Australia in 1979/80, in what were presumably unfavourable conditions, played all three tests and took three wickets @ 101. Doesn’t make him any less of a great though.


      • Mark May 25, 2016 / 9:39 am

        The Andedson broken Rib issue was just another example of the double standards that operated in the Flower/Cook era, where right becomes wrong, and wrong becomes right, depending on who you are.

        Here was Cook loyalist and stenographer in chief covering for Anderson…….as usual.

        Pringle……”By doing what he did Anderson compromised the team, which would normally make him a chump. But with Graeme Swann retiring after the third Test he probably felt, as another trusted senior player, that he could not abandon Alastair Cook, the captain, as well so played through the pain. That makes him thoroughly unprofessional but a champ nonetheless.”

        Only in the ludicrous Flower/Cook era could being “thoroughly unprofessional” magically be re written to become a “champ.” Notice also how Pringlle tries to excuse him on the grounds of Swanns retirement after the third test match. However, Swann had not retired at the start of the third test, so that excuse is invalid. The last two test matches were meangingless as far as the result of the series went, so Anderson was thoroughly unprofessional.

        As usual with modern ENGLAND the facts are re written by the in house ECB media to fit the crime. Just as well Anderson didn’t look out of the window in the wrong way.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Zephirine May 25, 2016 / 10:03 am

        So Anderson played with a broken rib because “he couldn’t abandon Cook”….. It might be true, but somehow even loyalty is used to big up the captain. Ah well.

        Note for surviving Guardian loyalists: the threads over there are infested with trolls at the moment, at least one seems to be using several names. Advisable not to reply to anyone you don’t know.


        • LordCanisLupus May 25, 2016 / 10:15 am

          OK. I see Ben Stokes is out for a good while because of an injury that has not just happened, but seems to be a condition that has been “managed”.

          I know MiaB’s infamous comment about Mark Wood has been used as a stick to beat me with in the past, but sometimes you just have to wonder when “managing conditions” becomes “putting a player’s career in jeopardy”. Wood is now going to miss all the summer. Stokes should, if they were sensible, miss it too. It’s too much cricket, it’s too little rest, and until careers are excessively truncated, no-one is going to give a shit.

          Stokes is a crown jewel in this team. We treat them like Elizabeth Duke.


      • GeneralZod May 25, 2016 / 10:13 am

        Ok, I didn’t mean to start off another row about the media and Cook/Anderson to be honest. It’s just a fact that he was bowling with a broken rib and worth remembering when looking at his performance on that tour.

        For what it’s worth, I definitely agree he should have been dropped. I don’t really care what Pringle thinks.


      • Mark May 25, 2016 / 10:14 am

        Absolutely, Funny how Anderson playing on with a broken arm is good, but playing all 5 tests as a batsman is bad because he whistled on the boundary in the last test. Honestly, the English cricket media through the Cook era has resembled the darkest days of Pravda.

        I find it funny that someone would try to use this to some how make their case. When it was revealed that Anderson played with a broken arm (just as they were sacking KP) it smacked of excuses for the right sort of player.

        Double standards are rife in Cooks ENGLAND. But at least there’s lots of trust. Even if you can’t trust your bowler to tell you he has a serious injury.


        • LordCanisLupus May 25, 2016 / 10:18 am

          I don’t want to switch this to KP, but remember the start of the 2009 Ashes, when he was playing on a busted Achilles? You never hear that as a badge of honour for the selfish one. I watched his second innings at Lord’s and saw a bloke who couldn’t move his feet properly because he was f*cked.

          Of course, that injury and the repercussions from it nearly finished his career. But hey ho. Anderson is a hero. Prior is a hero. But Compton is weak-spirited. KP is selfish. Narrative fitting narrative.

          Liked by 1 person

      • GeneralZod May 25, 2016 / 10:28 am

        Don’t worry- it’s already switched.


        • LordCanisLupus May 25, 2016 / 12:58 pm

          Well it hasn’t, has it? It was a point. Like Compton being asked to play through a rib injury, like the dog days of Flintoff’s career, when he went off to the IPL on a duff leg, and barely got through a test match summer because he was falling apart, but the media message being that he was being a warrior by doing so.

          The way injuries are managed, have been managed by this England team has been pretty damn poor. They seem to take more care about the message than the rehabilitation. I was having hopes when Strauss made it known he wanted to know more about the Mark Wood situation (about him going through rehabilitation only to succumb to his injury which it appeared could have been operated on earlier). For instance, interesting how two bowlers who went away and played not that much this winter (Topley and Footit) are both early season casualties. Playing for England can seriously damage your health.

          But hey. Let’s have a discussion about the man and not the topic! It’s what some want, after all.

          Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH May 25, 2016 / 11:43 am

        On the Anderson broken rib story, the original ‘exclusive’ is worth a revisit:

        It came out in the DM over a month after the tour ended. On the one hand, a player played on when unfit and, by their own version, the injury wasn’t properly checked until two Tests later. On the other hand, anyone who’s had a broken rib would doubt that you could play Test cricket with one. In that case, a story has been fed to a tame source to protect a senior player. I suspect the truth is somewhere in-between – that there was some sort of an injury but not a “broken” rib as most would normally understand it.

        It’s also worth pointing out the injury was sustained in the second innings of the Second Test. Anderson had taken 2/67, 0/73, 1/85 and 2/19 when free of injury. That’s an average in the 40s which was his final tour average. He wasn’t performing brilliantly and then his figures fell off a cliff. The series was also, of course, 2-0 when he got injured so it’s hugely improbable that it made any difference to the final result (unless England were planning a reprise of 1936/37 which might be too much for even Newman to claim).


      • Mark May 25, 2016 / 12:39 pm

        Yes Simon, did Anderson really have a broken rib? We will never know.

        As usual the selected leaking through the in house team of chummy journos. All part of the plan to rid the team of one person, and eulogise others by finding convienint excuses for their poor performances.


      • Zephirine May 25, 2016 / 1:21 pm

        You can have a cracked rib, which doesn’t stop you doing normal things but is pretty damn painful. Though I’d have thought it would be pretty hard to bowl to Test standard with one.


      • jomesy May 25, 2016 / 8:34 pm


        Good grief …


  22. Mark May 25, 2016 / 10:04 am

    Anderson has 20 five wicket performances. 16 at home and 4 away. He has 3 ten wicket performances, all 3 at home.

    Botham has 27 five wicket perfomances. 17 at home, and 10 away. He has 4 ten wicket perfomances. 2 home and 2 away.

    Willis has 16 five wicket perfomances 10 at home, and 6 away. He has no 10 wicket perfomances.

    Gough had 9 five wicket perfomances with 5 at home and 4 away. No ten wicket perfomances.

    Just as a different comparison John Snow had only 3 five wicket perfomances and all were at home. He had though have 1 ten wicket perfomance Which was away. Interestingly he had a home average of 29.21 but an away average of just 20.92

    It seems to me that all these bowlers did a great job for England in different eras. But to elevate Anderson as the greatest when his record is so lopsided towards home series is again part of the idiot media coverage we get today. Sad to see.


    • Ian May 25, 2016 / 2:59 pm

      Sorry how can Snow have had a 10 wkt away performance without having an away five for?


      • Mark May 25, 2016 / 4:21 pm

        Good question Ian. Simple answer…..operator error I’m afraid.

        Having just re checked the numbers…….I wrote the number down wrong. It turns out he got 5 overseas five wicket hauls to add to the 3 home efforts.

        I must admit I was more interested in Snows two different averages.His away average being so good. Better get to spec savers.


    • sidesplittin May 25, 2016 / 3:26 pm

      Snow took 7/40 in the 2nd innings of the 4th Test at Sydney in 1971 to bowl Eng to victory. Bill Lawry carried his bat for 60*.


  23. LordCanisLupus May 25, 2016 / 10:07 am

    As something that is tangentially linked to this blog I posted this tweet this morning.

    Now, remember back last August when John Etheridge, Chris and I had a reasonably heated row about a particular comment and how I had a responsibility as an effective “editor” to ensure that views put across by you were effectively censored, or if not that, condemned (I love all that). Well, press boys (and girls), have a look at that article on that link. The Mail basically calls out the future wife of that paragon of virtue, Jamie Vardy, for being, let’s make no bones about it, in their eyes, a slag. None of that for Jamie – an England Football Hero – who has probably been rather loose with his morals from time to time, but no bother.

    How could you work for a newspaper like that? One so blatantly misogynistic as to be untrue. A paper that berated Andy Gray and Richard Keays for sexism, while an article next it had Cheryl Cole’s new tattoo, calling it a “tramp stamp”. I know why you work for them, and it’s money. Of course it is. I don’t blame you. But get off your bleedin’ high horse about a blog, with passionate supporters of the game, going off and one every now and then.

    I loved how the Mail sniffed at another paper for being “downmarket” and in the article reprinted four of the pictures they so sniffily dismissed. What a country we live in where that rag is seen as the most important.

    I take Newman’s work through this prism…..

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Mark May 25, 2016 / 10:46 am

    Which is why tabloid jounos should never lecture anyone on the subject of morality and honesty. They have not a leg to stand on.


      • Mark May 25, 2016 / 12:42 pm

        What a pompous man Selvey is. The big brother overtones of “I know the true story, and you don’t need to worry your pretty little head about it.”

        Summarises his journalism of the last 5 years.


      • LordCanisLupus May 25, 2016 / 1:01 pm

        My bad – original comment jumped in on a previous relationship, so deleted it.

        The overall point about the way Selvey reports England matters remains pertinent.


        • LordCanisLupus May 25, 2016 / 1:28 pm

          This is an American story about how a club is seeking to deny access to full reporting for its media. See, when it is a story about how it impacts on THEIR jobs, the hooting and a hollering is deafening! “Think of the fans who won’t be able to read what we say…..”

          However, if those fans dare to moan about them, or the way team hierarchies treat them, then you are a load of bilious inadequates, social media zealots or vile ignoramuses. In fact, if you ask why two people meeting at a public place, one a key figure in the difficult winter, the other the new selector, it is actually downright “impertinent” of you to ask.

          When the teams fetter journalistic access, oh wow. Those same trojans of freedom of information soon clam up when the fans want to look under the bonnet. It’s hilarious!

          Liked by 1 person

      • Mark May 25, 2016 / 2:09 pm

        The problem is that the sports industry has become less about sport, and more about industry. Many teams or governing bodies behave like corporations rather than sports organisations. The bottom line is money, and power.

        The fan can pay up or go away. But they must be never be allowed to run things or have an opinion that is listened too.


        • LordCanisLupus May 25, 2016 / 2:20 pm

          The journo is caught between two stools – yes they need the access, because, especially here, info sells. Journos are incredibly precious about who breaks stories, and that when re-reported they should be credited as the one who broke the story. So to get kudos and further opportunities, you need to be seen to be ITK.

          But when that access is denied, curtailed or even shut down completely, it’s “won’t you think the fans” instead of “won’t you think of my future earnings?” In the tweets they are actually partially correct. We don’t need to know how practice is going. Who cares, really? But if you don’t report it, then what purpose do you serve? The big beasts of the NFL journo corps – like Peter King – can swan around, drop in, and if you don’t drop everything, he’ll strafe you in his MMQB slot. Those beat reporters, trying to make a living, who do the mundane stuff, are in the position to be shot at. I’d be using every angle, including the fan card, to wail at this sort of thing.

          But then, I don’t know how journalism works.

          Awful Announcing is a great site, by the way. We miss a trick by not having that sort of journalist/commentating review culture over in the UK.

          Apologies if some of my stuff has a US theme in the next three weeks, but it is a totally different culture to reporting here – some better, some worse – but it does make us look like some arcane, feudal system in comparison.


  25. man in a barrel May 25, 2016 / 5:34 pm

    Quick bowlers are going down like flies at the moment – that’s Stokes, Chameera and Reece Topley in the space of a few days. With all the sport scientists around, you would hope that coaches and bowlers had in-depth knowledge of the risks associated with their actions and would monitor appropriately. I think they do it in the States for baseball pitchers…


    • Mark May 25, 2016 / 5:37 pm

      I can just hear Fred Trueman spinning in his grave.

      Deep yorkshire accent…….” I bowled hundreds of overs every year, never went near a gym.”

      Liked by 2 people

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