4th Test – Preview

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A Fine Vista

In 2014, when England came from 1-0 down after two matches to win the series 3-1, there was much rejoicing in the media and from those who had taken one side of the vicious schism that had afflicted English cricket. In that series the visitors had won a surprising victory at Lord’s and gone on to absolutely collapse as their bowling fell apart and their batting became more feeble. Virat Kohli, the now venerated titan of Indian cricket had a Weston (Super Mare). So on one side there was proclaimed a great victory, on the other a more prominent calling out of the failings of the opposition. The schism remained.

In 2015, when England recovered from a hefty beating at Lord’s that had seemed to snatch away all the momentum gained at Cardiff, there was a reshuffling of the pack (well, Ballance was dropped). Australia came a cropper on two helpful wickets at Birmingham and Nottingham, where England outplayed them. England had beaten what we were given to believe were mighty foes, with the two Mitchells throwing down meteorites of left arm viciousness, and the batting bolstered by a captain who rarely failed, and an opener of Sehwagian feats. When the series was won, as evidenced on this blog, the heat rose to crucible levels. Scores were being settled. The wrong side of the schism were being shown the error of their ways. They were to be mocked, ostracised, humiliated. There would be “no peace”. If anything, the schism had grown wider.

In 2016, when England recovered from a surprise loss at Lord’s, to take a 2-1 lead in a series most of us expect to be closed out with relevant comfort at the original home of English test cricket (accept no posh, snobby North London alternatives), what will the reaction be? For if this should come to pass, England will, I think (because I’m not following it closely) be world ranked number 1. There will be much patting of backs at a job well done. There will be hosannas thrown in the direction of our much loved and much respected captain. There will be a tangible warmth of smug self-satisfaction from the hierarchy at the ECB as the proof that what they did 2 ½ years ago was spot on (if you ignore the Downton thing, the Moores thing, the Al staying as ODI captain thing, the World Cup thing). The cricket media will prostrate themselves at the feet of the leaders of the revolution and the world will anoint the new top team in test cricket. Those that look on this site as a think to revile will be joyous. Personally, I’ll feel like just the other two summers. Less angry, more resigned. Schismed out.

So where are we now? What joy and hope can I find in this? I’m a blogger on the wrong side of the celebrations. Unable to conjure up any warmth for it. Unable to let go of a betrayal. Unable to understand why many don’t see it the way I do. I look at this team and wonder how it might look with a certain player, fit and healthy, at number 4 who had a bogey number of 158, not 42. Yet to do so is to invite the celebrants to invoke their tedious comments. “Fanboy” “Boring” “Idiot”. What joy can I conjure up as Pakistan, initially so vibrant, seem to be collapsing in self-doubt? How a captain, on Day 4, while being celebrated by a former England captain at the time, didn’t so much as let England off the hook after those two early wickets, as turn his fishing vessel back to port and wait for the little blighters to jump out of the sea.

Last time Pakistan visited these shores, six years ago, they won the 3rd Test (of 4) at The Oval. For those of you slightly short of memory, that was a London test that also started on Wednesday, so no, we aren’t always given Thursday starts, and it also finished just after Saturday lunchtime, if I recall correctly (I might not). Azhar Ali played the key role with the bat, and Wahab Riaz with the ball (in the first innings). England got a relatively low score, and then didn’t perform in the second innings. Pakistan didn’t win by a lot, but by enough. Alastair Cook made a hundred that “saved his career”.

Both the first innings Pakistani stars from six years ago have had, to term it politely “mixed” tours. Hafeez has been an abomination at the top of the order, while Shafiq shone well at Lord’s but with less lustre since. As for Younus Khan, heaven knows what is going on there.You can’t help but feel slightly short changed.

We needed a competitive series, and to a degree we have got one, with two really closely fought games, but it was the manner of the capitulation on Days 4 and 5 at Edgbaston that left me melancholy. That had the smack of a team scared to win. Frightened of the moment. One ripe to the slaughter against a motivated England team.

We can be revisionist on here, saying that we were seeing it coming while revelling in the formidable challenge the visitors put up in the first test, but then we aren’t here celebrating a potential 7-0 whitewash of the summer that others were thinking possible. That we are not is due to our climate and our frailties. But if, according to Ali Martin, we win this test (or is it just the series) and India don’t win both remaining games against the West Indies, we become the number 1 ranked nation in test match cricket. In many ways, ascent to that lofty perch was really well summed up by Alex Hales:

It would be an incredible feeling, particularly for a team who are still developing. If we perform as well as we did in the last two Tests hopefully we can win this series and if we can get the No1 spot that’s exciting for us.

Developing teams should not be number 1 in a major international sport. The team shouldn’t have glaring holes at opener, number 4, possibly number 5, and the spin bowling department. Because if that team is number 1, the overall quality of the competition has to be questioned. There is an overall weakness in test cricket that is genuinely scary. There are no giants. There are no super teams. There are just a bunch of worthy teams, who on their day can nick a test or two away from home, but are quite resilient on their own patch. Any comparison of this team to even its 2011 counterparts, or 2005, is, in my opinion utterly laughable. But they’ll match the 2011 one, and surpass the 2005 if three results go their way.

So with Cook in the form of his life (again), Root capable of great things, Moeen as outrageously lauded for his Day 5 bowling as he was castigated for lack of wickets before, the bowling overcoming a strangely quiet Stuart Broad we just have a couple of questions to answer. Will Hales finally nail down the openers slot with a hundred, and will Vince finally get his score which will allow the totally impartial Michael Vaughan to tweet that he told us so?

Please comment on Day 1 below. This will be the fourth year in a row I’ve not gone to The Oval test, despite it being a staple of my summers for 15 years before. It’s not the same any more, whether it’s me or the cricket. I will be going to the Oval for the Lancashire game in the week of the 22nd August though – anyone interested in popping along, e-mail me on dmitriold@hotmail.co.uk

On site matters, I have a couple of posts lined up. There’s Simon’s part 2 of the Old Trafford test from 1976; I have the conclusion of “Nightmare at Nottingham” to stick up as well. There is also a post due from one of our commenters on over rates, and I’ve done a personal one on club cricket linked to the number 42, which I might stick up on “The Extra Bits”. I thought we’d get the test series out of the way before finishing those off, and I also have another, longer series up my sleeve, which is sure to annoy a number, but hopefully engage more. Anything else you would like to see, or if you would like to write it, please let me or TLG know.

************************************

(After I completed the initial draft of this, I came across this little section of our favourite Mail journalist’s piece.

Anderson, a leading member of both teams, believes this outfit even outstrips the team of Strauss, Kevin Pietersen, Graeme Swann, Matt Prior and Jonathan Trott, who won the Ashes in Australia.

 

‘I think our team at the moment is better equipped to get to No 1 and stay there,’ insisted Anderson, 34. ‘We are a more talented side, we are mentally tougher and we showed the character we have in the side at Edgbaston.

‘If I’m being brutally honest it would be a bit soon for this team to go to No 1 now because we are still developing, there is still inconsistency, and we have plenty of improving to do. It would be nice if we do it but we have plenty of time.”

 

I am all for buffing up your team, but dear of dear. This is guff.

Still, it’s Newman. The Cheerleader. So there isn’t disagreement. And also, if you read this, has he repeated himself in the same article? Don’t they have editors? )

But let me repeat myself…. Comments on Day 1 below.

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48 thoughts on “4th Test – Preview

  1. LordCanisLupus August 10, 2016 / 7:23 pm

    This amused me. Do you think he thought I wrote it, and not The Leg Glance?

    Notice – worst thing he ever read. I love hyperbole. I also like guess the missing word competitions.

    Like

    • alan August 10, 2016 / 8:59 pm

      I doubt that either you or TLG will take it too much to heart Dmitri, coming as it does from someone who can’t even write a short sentence properly!

      Liked by 1 person

      • LordCanisLupus August 10, 2016 / 9:03 pm

        It amused, alan. I know of the character. He cropped up about this time last year.

        Also remember Oval Thursday last year too. I won’t be drinking this year….and having an overnight discussion with a prominent member of the media.

        Liked by 1 person

    • alan August 11, 2016 / 6:31 am

      Yes I had a good laugh too Dmitri. The unintended irony of that tweet is priceless. I dare say you won’t want a repeat of last year. It stirred up a right hornet’s nest if I remember correctly. Entertaining for those of us not directly involved though!

      Like

      • Sean B August 11, 2016 / 9:02 am

        I might get hammered tonight and do a mass tweet to the MSM community calling them all crooks and frauds to celebrate that anniversary 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. nonoxcol August 11, 2016 / 7:09 am

    FICJAM latest – the URL speaks for itself…

    http://thecricketcouch.com/blog/2016/08/08/follow-up-3-on-ed-smith-pulls-a-melania-trump-espncricinfos-double-standard/

    The ‘stress’ article has now been taken down, apparently.

    The response to the original ‘pulls a Melania Trump’ piece would suggest that our instinctive trust in “authority” is undiminished by bitter experience. See also the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments for a sixty-eight year-old man leaving an extraordinarily privileged job he’s held for nigh on thirty years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus August 11, 2016 / 7:56 am

      This is going to be some week. The last test of the summer usually exposes all the cracks. Definitely not having a night out tonight!

      Like

      • nonoxcol August 11, 2016 / 8:07 am

        Something I’ve only just noticed. Your followers used to fluctuate around the 280-300 mark and are now above 500. What happened there?

        Like

        • LordCanisLupus August 11, 2016 / 10:26 am

          I think it added the followers of the @OutsideCricket twitter feed once we directly linked the site to it.

          Like

      • thebogfather August 11, 2016 / 8:36 am

        NonOx – perhaps ‘never read it’ Selfry is lining up with his btluvvies for coup of BOC?

        Like

    • Mark August 11, 2016 / 9:45 am

      Sambit Bal ……….”The commentator missed a ball and has owned up. He will never work for us again.”

      Well f*** you Mr Bal, and the Ivory tower you rode in on. One tiny mistake and your employee is gone. Not quite the line the Disney corporation likes to push in its children’s movies about fairness and justice? Not so for the privileged and protected Ed Smiths of this world. They get chance after chance after chance.

      This is why people like Mr Smith should keep their pompous traps shut when they try to lecture us about the merits of stress. And all their other crack pot theories. They have no f****** idea what they are talking about. A man recovering from cancer makes a tiny slip up and he is out the door. If Mr Smith has even an ounce of integrity he will resign from ESPNcricinfo immediately. Other wise he is not fit to write about anything. No more syrupy, surgery clap trap about how hard Mr Cook has had it. No wonder Mr Smith is employed by so many establishment publications spouting about things that don’t apply to the elites. He is one of those same protected people who glide through life while preaching to everybody else. I truly despise this man.

      Liked by 1 person

      • nonoxcol August 11, 2016 / 9:53 am

        It’s disturbingly easy to imagine Mr Smith telling Mr Sharma how stress is good for him…

        Like

      • Mark August 11, 2016 / 10:59 am

        Smith sounds more and more like a character out of a Dickens novel bemoaning how good the lower orders have it. Dressed up in a west coast, hippie self help book.

        Like

  3. Mark August 11, 2016 / 9:00 am

    ‘I think our team at the moment is better equipped to get to No 1 and stay there,’ insisted Anderson, 34.”

    Yes Jimmy, because everybody else is hopeless.

    And Jimmy admits it himself when he says …..

    “it would be a bit soon for this team to go to No 1 now because we are still developing,”

    Still, as Mark Nicholas told us, our captain thinks test cricket now is as good as it has ever been. As Mandy Rice Davies once said……”He would say that wouldn’t he?”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Adrian S August 11, 2016 / 10:13 am

      Mark do you derive more pleasure from making spiteful comments about Alastair Cook and the England team and journalists and other commenters here or from watching cricket?

      Like

      • thebogfather August 11, 2016 / 11:47 am

        AdrianS – I’m sure Mark’s remarks hark more in anger than pleasure, for, all that have their eyes open wide, know that be it ECB/ICC/MSM or corporate driven fawning felicity only treasure, the pound, the rupee, the dollar indescriminately,they’d rather 15 minutes of back-slapping fame, than the good of the once was beautiful game…

        Like

  4. nonoxcol August 11, 2016 / 9:28 am

    History continues to be written by the winners. SimonH will like the reply….

    usini johnbarleycorn 1h ago

    I am really sad about this.
    Mike has always come BTL to add information and join in the discussion.
    This was especially true in the early days of this BTL stuff, when we had the silliness of Uphill into the Wind, with Lord Selvey, Squire Marks and Parson Hopps (departed to cricinfo some years ago).
    Sad to say even here some nastiness has crept in with some people doing their best to create controversy and mis-interpret the most innocent and transaparent comments.

    HBomb1980 usini 1h ago

    Yep me too. A big shame. My favourite sports writer in any newspaper (except the peerless Andy Bull).

    Liked by 1 person

    • nonoxcol August 11, 2016 / 9:34 am

      Dearly wanted to reply to usini there, but I’ll leave it here instead:

      “some people doing their best to create controversy and mis-interpret the most innocent and transaparent comments.”

      On behalf of all those who “misinterpreted” things like “the fruit-fly, the pest that will not go away”, I sincerely apologise.

      Hopefully someone will one day identify what it was that made a swathe of perfectly reasonable long-standing posters all come down with personality transplants at precisely the same time.

      Now do carry on with your rending of garments.

      Like

    • SimonH August 11, 2016 / 10:51 am

      “My favourite sports writer in any newspaper”.

      I always wonder how else people who write things like that read. Atherton? Hoult? Anyone else at all?

      “mis-interpret the most innocent and transaparent comments”.

      Well, making Strauss calling Pietersen a c*** one of his highlights of 2014 was transparent all right.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Mark August 11, 2016 / 11:12 am

        They had all the the hallmarks of the bully. Not only able to dish it out, but also to dish it out from a position of power. (Knowing anyone who fought back would have their comments removed by the Stalin like censors.) They all gleefully followed behind their school bully in chief, demanding…. “give us your sweets?” ………….And grinning like Cheshire cats.

        When they got called out on it they bleat platitudes about innocent intentions. ” it’s so unfair.” An army of Kevin the teenager.

        Like

  5. Mark August 11, 2016 / 11:23 am

    Ed Smith Twitter……”I’m looking forward to talking to Eddie Jones at 1pm about leadership, surprise and ideas that cut across sports.”

    Oh Jeez, Eddie Jones is the new shinny toy all sport theorists and crack pots want to sit at the feet of. I’m sure Ed (English as tuppence) Smith will ignore why The English can’t produce world class coaches? Perhaps because too many of them read Ed Smith.

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus August 11, 2016 / 11:37 am

      Not checked. See Cook is out bowled. Did he chop on? Now goes to look.

      Like

    • Mark August 11, 2016 / 11:58 am

      I have a horrible feeling The BBC have decided to groom Ed Smith as the new Aggers.

      Like

      • LordCanisLupus August 11, 2016 / 12:00 pm

        He’s our latest “hate figure” so we cannot be deemed to be reasonable.

        Like

  6. SimonH August 11, 2016 / 11:32 am

    Odd shot-a-ball innings from Cook including being dropped at slip and then bottom-edging a pull into his stumps. Just the series, holding all the trophies (TM) and No.1 in the rankings riding on this match.

    I’m struggling to think of any batsmen who might have been crucified if they’d played like that…..

    #itsthewayheplays

    Liked by 1 person

    • d'Arthez August 11, 2016 / 12:25 pm

      Yet, they are still looking for an opening batsman (Hales only made hay against the lollipops from Sri Lanka, and failed dismally against Pakistan and South Africa), a #3/4/5 (only one of which will be occupied by Root; Vince has been an abject failure, and Ballance is just a few Tests back in the side). As for a spin-bowling attack,I wonder what Moeen must average in India if they serve up another couple of Nagpur (2015)-style pitches.

      If the strength of a #1 side is measured by how many passengers it can carry (and basically these questions have been asked since the last Ashes in Australia), it says a lot about the health of Test cricket in 2016.

      Like

  7. nonoxcol August 11, 2016 / 11:41 am

    Michael Vaughan said anything yet….?

    Like

  8. LordCanisLupus August 11, 2016 / 11:43 am

    Defending his bat first comment 15 minutes in when things were going peachy.

    Like

  9. thebogfather August 11, 2016 / 11:59 am

    The Oval
    Over evaluating in the know, in their ‘trust me but don’t ask’, and all that
    Coved in green, off centre pitch – dear ECB – why that?
    Cook won, self centred, thus stumbled ‘We’ll Bat’ to a mutual debenture
    Eaten (not yet beaten) soon lunch, rumbled and humbled
    Off stump, nick, played splayed, so thick… 😉

    Like

      • thebogfather August 11, 2016 / 12:14 pm

        LCL is
        Poetically wasted
        Yet bliss exists
        In every blogpost here I’ve tasted
        For my true love of the game remains
        Despite that we have to ‘kid-glove’ the inane
        of the MSM, BTL, e’en TMS (I know not Sky nor any paywall)
        Sugared press, as our world game falls, they, ignorant (most),unfurl and appal

        Like

  10. Mark August 11, 2016 / 12:06 pm

    The last over before lunch. Over number 24!!!

    FFS….They’re already 6 overs behind on the day. Never mind, looks like this won’t go past Sunday anyway. So who cares? Certainly not the authorities or most of the flock. Hope no one has a train to catch before 6.30pm

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus August 11, 2016 / 12:07 pm

      We have an excellent post on over rates coming up at the end of the match. Stay tuned.

      Like

      • Mark August 11, 2016 / 12:16 pm

        Look forward to it. Don’t think anyone really cares though. Not your piece, but the issue. Too many matches finish inside 4 days so what’s the problem is what I hear?

        20/20 test matches? Two innings per side, 80 overs all done and dusted in one day. You can have 25 test matches a summer. Ka-Ching!

        Like

  11. nonoxcol August 11, 2016 / 1:04 pm

    5 down, should be 6, and the key partnership coming up.

    Like

      • nonoxcol August 11, 2016 / 1:10 pm

        Is he as “special” as his brother Hilary?

        Like

      • thebogfather August 11, 2016 / 3:00 pm

        ‘sends Dmitri to the pub’
        for some depressing press zing and hubbub,
        anything that would come near to his msm ‘anniversary’
        I’d relish reading everything whispered contraversially
        hosting and toasting any papering over the cracks hack, whose investigation lacks
        anything approaching truth, the favourite Strauss word until his ‘series points’ forgotten spoof
        perhaps just a punt?
        with added faux beer,
        I’d surely raise a glass, of something with more class, and cheer! 😉

        Like

    • nonoxcol August 11, 2016 / 1:24 pm

      Should now be 7.

      Like

  12. Andy August 11, 2016 / 2:07 pm

    is this going to be another example of a game where Englands lower order bail out the team?

    I like Hales but he needs to impress in the 2nd innings. Vince looks like he should be good, but does not capitalise and seems to often get out before getting in (if you know what I mean).

    Ballance – has anything changed since last time he was dropped?

    That said – would england look to drop 3 top order batsmen for the next series? Seems doubtful to me.

    Like

  13. Mark August 11, 2016 / 3:01 pm

    Every Test match England play these days is exactly the same. Top order loses 4/5 wickets for 100- 150 odd runs, and then recovers through lousy catching, and bowling to make 350-400. Just as well Pakistan have no history of match fixing otherwise some people might question what they are watching.

    What did Napoleon say about give me a lucky general over a good one?

    I don’t know why people even bother debating Ali’s role in the side as the spinner. He is picked purely as a top order number 7 batsman. The spinning part is irrelevant. He is picked for runs not wickets. And in this era of poor teams it works.

    Like

  14. SteveT August 11, 2016 / 3:58 pm

    5 pm and only 64 overs bowled.

    Like

    • d'Arthez August 11, 2016 / 4:07 pm

      Misbah is taking a leaf from Cook’s book. Bowl 11 overs / hour in an inferior position, bowl 16 overs / hour in a better or even winning position. Lesson learned from the previous Test.

      Who cares about the spectators anyway?

      Like

      • Mark August 11, 2016 / 4:22 pm

        The overs are now irrelevant in modern cricket. England have already scored 280. They will get 300 plus no matter how many overs are bowled. (Unless they get bowled out )

        This is one day test cricket. Pakistans bowling and their catching is so hot and cold that there is no consistency.

        Like

  15. d'Arthez August 11, 2016 / 5:35 pm

    So 328 all out plays 3/1 at stumps. Could have been so much better for Pakistan if they had fielded a bit better.

    79 overs bowled in the day – 2 lost due to the changeover. That is merely 10% too little. In other words, if you want 4 day Tests, you would have the players on the field for about 8.5 hours just to get the overs in.

    Like

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