Bangladesh vs England: 1st Test, Day Four

What a pity this match couldn’t have been played to a conclusion today. There’s no criticism of why not, for night was falling and it was the natural end of play anyway, but for the ever growing crowd, thrilled at the prospect of a first victory against a major nation (the ones over the West Indies just don’t really count) it was an anticlimactic end to a thrilling day. 

33 runs or 2 wickets, and with a new ball just around the corner. So few runs means that the new ball is a double edged sword, for even a single expensive over can be the difference between winning and losing, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if it weren’t taken immediately. It’s hard therefore to define a favourite at this stage, particularly when Sabbir Rahman is still in. On debut he has been nerveless, playing positively and selectively attacking. Home hopes would be greater if the tail were more competent than they are, Taijul Islam has not looked secure, although his policy of trying to hit is surely the right one in the circumstances. 

It is England’s seamers who are clearly the most trusted to win the game. Cook has betrayed a lack of belief in his spinners on many an occasion, and while his captaincy has undoubtedly improved over the last couple of years, his field placings for Moeen and especially Adil Rashid suggest his thinking is in terms of ensuring they don’t go for too many runs rather than backing them to take wickets. Having half the team on the boundary neither gives confidence to the bowlers nor maximises their chances to getting anyone out when they bowl a good ball. 

The very best matches see saw between the sides, and make no mistake this has been a thrilling game, with the run chase mirroring the Test in microcosm. After a bright start, England surely had the game almost won when Moeen snared Shakib, but a fine partnership of 87 between Mushfiqur and Sabbir put Bangladesh in charge. 59 needed, five wickets in hand. 

Stuart Broad has had a quiet match, providing control but not too much threat, but he’s not world class bowler these days, and two quick wickets swung it back towards England. 

Bangladesh are close, but it’s going to need a little luck to get over the line. England supporters may want their team to win, but even the most loyal must have a sneaking hope that Bangladesh can do it. What a day that would be. 

Comments on a short day five below


71 thoughts on “Bangladesh vs England: 1st Test, Day Four

  1. Mark Oct 23, 2016 / 1:10 pm

    59 needed with 5 left was much better than 33 needed with 2 left for the batting side. I make England big favourites. Especially with a new ball just round the corner. That’s not to say Bangladesh wont scrape home, but I doubt it. Huge pressure on the last 3 men to get the job done. The pressure will mount the nearer they get. If the total is below 10 with a single wicket left expect a run out.

    Once again captain Cook showed how little faith he has in spin bowlers to win matches in tight conditions if the match is either not very one sided or he cant only use “dry up the runs” as his only tactic. I don’t except he has improved as a captain. The media drone on and on about how many matches he has played, and how many matches as captain he has played. I see little to no improvement when the pressure comes on.

    And when that pressure does come on usually someone else bails captain wonderful out. Quite often it’s been Anderson or Broad. Lately it’s been Wokes or Stokes. If England do win this match Stokes will have played a huge part with both his runs and his wickets in the Bangladesh fist innings. Particularly finishing off the tail. Just as well they didn’t get another 40 or 50 in the first dig.


  2. SimonH Oct 23, 2016 / 2:05 pm

    The Voice of Waitrose in ‘Waitrose Weekend’:

    “This week the England cricket team faces its toughest challenge since the first Test match 140 years ago”.

    Some slight hyperbole there? I’ll give him credit that he does go on to say England can’t complain about the pitches they’re presented with after what England have given visitors recently “You reap what you sow” he says in OT prophet mode.


    • LordCanisLupus Oct 23, 2016 / 4:14 pm

      Well, toddling off to Australia not so long ago was a walk in the park. Not as if we’d humped that team 4-0 and 3-1 at home in recent memory.


  3. Mark Oct 23, 2016 / 2:31 pm

    “Toughest challenge since the first match 140 years ago.”

    That sentence alone should be a firing offence. Bradman’s, invincibles? Lillie and Thompson? Clive Lloyds new look 4 man pace attack? Steve Waughs Australia?

    Does he paid for this drivel? The shoppers of Waitrose are being short changed by this nonsense.

    Liked by 1 person

    • d'Arthez Oct 23, 2016 / 2:53 pm

      Well, maybe the Waitrose clientele is fond of thinking: “In the good old days”, but I doubt many of them were around in 1876. Somehow.

      Tours in the past would be much harder, as conveniences were far more limited, never mind the risk of contracting illnesses that could prove fatal (tuberculosis, malaria, even pneumonia). Quite a few cricketers were struck down by these afflictions (like Fred Grace brother, two weeks after making his Test debut). Some players flat out refused to tour the subcontinent for fear of contracting a dangerous disease. And that still happened until fairly recently.

      I can also imagine that restarting Test cricket after WW1 and WW2 might have been extremely rough on the players as well, especially for those who had lost cricket-playing friends in the conflicts.


      • d'Arthez Oct 23, 2016 / 2:57 pm

        That is a stray “brother” in my comment (of course referring to W.G. Grace’s brother).


  4. SimonH Oct 23, 2016 / 4:01 pm

    Yes, they should have voted for the non-existent other candidate:

    Perhaps they should have defied the Graves/Clarke stitch-up and put up another candidate when some of them are massively in debt and the governing body have shown extreme vindictiveness is their default operating mode?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mark Oct 23, 2016 / 8:30 pm

      There is some truth in what Etheridge is saying. The counties voted for Clarke, and then voted in Graves unapossed . They only have themselves to blame. Maybe they should find out what these people stand for before electing them.


      • LordCanisLupus Oct 23, 2016 / 8:52 pm

        A lot of truth in this, Mark. This is a self-selecting, self-serving old boys club and Graves was seen, it seems, as an ABC (Anyone But Clarke) candidate. Hard to feel sympathy for them.


      • SimonH Oct 24, 2016 / 9:26 am

        I’ve no love for county chairmen (my own county least of all).

        But there was some wider context which Etheridge is ignoring – and it’s not exactly a first offence for him.


  5. SimonH Oct 23, 2016 / 4:03 pm

    Scapegoats manoeuvred into position:


    • SimonH Oct 23, 2016 / 4:05 pm

      Just in case we didn’t the message first time:

      Newman’s not going to finger the top four or the captain then? I’m astonished.

      Liked by 1 person

      • LordCanisLupus Oct 23, 2016 / 4:12 pm

        Well he’d certainly point the finger at Ballance. No problem at all. But unlike others he’s not had a pop as egregiously.

        From what I saw, I thought Batty bowled OK. Rashid a bit ragged. I didn’t get the chance to see Moeen bowl, as Cook did not bowl him after tea.


      • SimonH Oct 23, 2016 / 5:30 pm

        “You know who”?

        KP? Piers Morgan? The fielding coach? Twitter?

        I don’t think it’ll be 5-0 either – but should it be, I hope the others learnt from last time and when the “clear-the-air no-holds-barred” team meeting is called they realise that what’s required is “yes, chef, another 10k run would improve our batting” and nothing else. Plus no staring out of the window of course.


      • Mark Oct 23, 2016 / 8:32 pm

        Not that I think the finger will be pointing at anyone tomorrow because I’m very confident we will get the two wickets required. However, if we don’t win Dear Leader will never be blamed. It’s against the law.


    • LordCanisLupus Oct 23, 2016 / 4:12 pm

      Got to lay the prep in case a 5-0 whitewash in India (not that I think that will happen) takes place and so the finger isn’t pointed at you know who.


      • Rooto Oct 23, 2016 / 4:47 pm

        If there’s any man for whom whitewashes are like water off a duck’s back…
        We should have a scapegoat sweepstake! Place your bets before the fun starts!


  6. Rooto Oct 23, 2016 / 4:49 pm

    One extra piece of info which nay be relevant to this test in particular :
    In two overs’ time, Bangladesh get their reviews renewed.


  7. AB Oct 23, 2016 / 7:36 pm

    Cook really is an atrociously incompetent captain. If he had just stuck with spin bowlers with a vaguely sensible field, this game would have been wrapped up by 100 runs.

    If we lose, he will be completely 100% responsible. No doubt the poor spinners who have so far taken almost all the wickets will get blamed.

    Who’d be an English spinner today? If you do suffer the misfortune to get picked, your captain will do all he can to sabotage and undermine you, even apparently being willing to lose the game just to try and humiliate his own players.


    • LordCanisLupus Oct 23, 2016 / 8:08 pm

      I know I’m not starting the Al Cook Captaincy Foundation but the last bit is a bit harsh. He’s got a couple of alphas to deal with in Broad and Stokes and he does look to bowl seamers first. But sabotage?


      • Mark Oct 23, 2016 / 8:27 pm

        I believe the bowlers will do the job for Cook tomorrow. Probably the likes of Stokes and Broad. But it is difficult as a spinner to get wickets when your captain has all his fielders on the boundary. The idea of giving something to get something is completely alien to Cook. It was the same with Strauss. Steamroller captaincy is fine. But the notion of tempting that batsman to score and in doing so giving his wicket away is lost on most modern captains. Perhaps the bats are too big or something.


      • pktroll (@pktroll) Oct 23, 2016 / 8:51 pm

        I actually thought that the spinners really didn’t bowl that will in the earlier parts of today’s game. Ali bowled pretty well to start off with but just doesn’t have the stamina to bowl long spells that effectively. He is better as a ‘shock’ spinner because he tends to bowl deliveries with big revs and dip earlier in his spell. Batty conversely really didn’t bowl well earlier in the day as he just didn’t get his length quite full enough, when his first innings wicket was actually a good indicator of where he needed to go. Rashid started off quite well but became more consistent as time went on. I’m afraid I do buy the idea that with moderately better spinners this game would have been won with a fair bit to spare. I do take the point that he could have been more flexible with his field but to be honest some of that is also down to bowlers preferences and quite frankly it bloody well should be too.

        I am certainly not Cook’s biggest fan either. Your point earlier on about 4 tons in 42 matches is bang on. I’ve mentioned even to Cook fans his record over the last 3 years or so and they at least usually take my point, even if they will refer to his overall average etc.


        • LordCanisLupus Oct 23, 2016 / 8:57 pm

          I didn’t get up for the start, and I want to keep up with sleep as work is tough at the moment, so I saw just the final session today. Rashid was a little ropey but still you thought there was a wicket in there with his Bertie Bassett Bowling (allsorts). I thought Batty bowled very well in the evening. He’s not Murali, he’s not Herath, he’s not even Lovejoy or Peak Panesar. But he did a decent job after Cook bowled two seamers post tea and reduced the breathing room by 25 or 30 runs before he bought a spinner on.

          I doubt I’ll make the end of the game tomorrow, but who knows?

          Cheers for the comment, though, Always good to hear thoughts on the game.


      • SimonH Oct 23, 2016 / 9:17 pm

        There seem two main possibilities about Rashid:
        1) He’s a much better white-ball bowler.
        2) He’s better handled by the white-ball set-up who give him more confidence, have more idea how to use him and set him better fields.

        It may well be the first – but I’d like to feel that some MSM writer will just consider a little that it might be the second.


  8. Mark Oct 23, 2016 / 10:00 pm

    Why is Phil Neville a pundit on TV? He is a Man U robot. Now I fully understand he is an ex Manu player, and a supporter, but his anaylis is dogs vomit. Isn’t it funny how when Man U were playing attacking football under Ferguson it was hailed as brilliant, and Joses Chelsea as negative anti football.

    Now he has gone to the medias darling Man U, and suddenly negative football is all the rage according to the likes of Neville. Would he have written a column eulogising Manus performance at Anfield on Monday if it had been Stoke, or WBA? Of course not. But because it’s his beloved Man U we get this clap trap about tactical genius.

    Phill Neville is an idiot. His brother who has all the same biases talks more sense. And hasn’t always got his blinkers on. But the media so like their Man U bias. Did you watch the lunch time show on BBC 2. Mark Chapman (Man U fan) but a good presenter and quite fair. Olie Holt (staunch Man U fan stood at the Stretford end as a kid) but was talking more sense that the morons around him, Some idiot player who looked like Ryan gigs brother eulogising Man U and another player goalkeeper who sounded like a speak your weight Man U fan. 4 Manu fans on one show? Is this an example of BBC impartiality? Pathetic.


      • Mark Oct 23, 2016 / 10:24 pm

        Sorry boss, I just was watching match of the day 2 and couldn’t believe the nonsense that was being spouted by Neville. I’m getting really pissed off with sports reporting these days. it has become comical. In particular it’s all ex players, ex managers, media darlings. Non of these people pay to get into football. Fans do, and get treated with contempt when they dare to say things the inside the belt way pundits don’t agree with.


        • LordCanisLupus Oct 24, 2016 / 8:27 am

          I remember when Danny Baker (not to all tastes I know) was allowed on a world cup match. He appeared in the studio and the two “pros” (Seedorf was one) looked at him like he had two heads.


      • Mark Oct 24, 2016 / 9:00 am

        I remember that interview. It was pricesles. The cosy and arrogant world of football punditry was interrupted for a few minutes and the ex players looked horrified. Danny Baker is old school, he says it like many fans say it. This irritates the new corporate masters. No bigger metaphor for modern football was Baker getting thrown off 606 to be replaced by David Mellor. A once Fulham fan who had become a glory hunter down at Chelsea.

        I remember Baker pointing out an often overlooked truth that fans of English clubs do not support their rivals in Europe. The media would be all……..”we must all get behind the English clubs” and Baker pointed out this was claptrap. Manu fans and Liverpool fans don’t cheer on each other in Europe. Neither do Arsenal and Chelsea fans. Especially today when most clubs are foreign owned and managed and most of the players are from overseas. The media looked shocked, SHOCKED at this revelation.

        Yesterday, on the lunch time show they spent 25 minutes lauding Jose for his so called tactical genius at Anfield. (Really funny in light of what happened at Chelsea later on that day.) But the killer was after saying what a genius these negative tactics were ……the Stoke player( Bardsley, I think his name ) was asked if Liverpool were title challengers? and he said no, their defensive is poor. So why was it tactical genius for Manu to go and defend against a team with a poor defence? Surely a club that has spent £300 million should have players good enough to exploit a poor defensive team?


        • thelegglance Oct 24, 2016 / 9:37 am

          Baker wasn’t thrown off 606 at all, he left because his TV career was taking off. Careful not to see reds under every bed.


          • LordCanisLupus Oct 24, 2016 / 9:52 am

            He was thrown off the Tuesday night equivalent that the BBC ran.


      • Mark Oct 24, 2016 / 9:50 am

        Sorry but He was thrown off the air. After he encouraged fans to boo referees after a game at LEICESTER, and he encouraged fans at Spurs to throw their programs onto the pitch in protest at the owners. The BBC management got a lot of stick for allowing his views on air and he was sacked.

        His tv career was already in full flow.


  9. Simon K Oct 23, 2016 / 10:14 pm

    I’d say Cook has got better at some elements of captaincy, but he’s still no good at one of the key skills, namely instilling confidence in players who need it – especially spinners. It was the same back in 2014 with Panesar. When he doesn’t rate someone they get frozen out. You might speculate that this explains why he has churned through just so many opening partners, too.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jennyah46 Oct 24, 2016 / 7:24 am

      As far as the plethora of Cook’s opening partners is concerned, they simply didn’t cut the mustard. As for the spinners, the run chase was always tight. The game could have been lost in a few overs. Not an easy decision.


    • d'Arthez Oct 24, 2016 / 12:14 pm

      Half of them averaged more in the few games they were given than Cook did in those same games. Root (better), Carberry (better), Robson (roughly equal, though Cook was helped by the brilliant fielding of India more than Robson was), and Duckett have not done worse than Cook has. Several others fell of a cliff, but often only after the media got on their case, or they were forced to play through injury. Or both (as in the case of Compton).

      Obviously, if you can be dropped for outperforming the captain, with what state of mind is the next lucky contestant going to bat? It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. And it is not like the English media give Cook much grief, to the same extent as Hales, Trott (yes, Vaughan, I am looking at you), Robson, and Compton. I certainly would not want to be partnering with Cook under such circumstances.

      If you want to look at a real life example, look at what the Aussies went through after Warne’s retirement. Nearly a dozen spinners had been tried, before they gave the gig to a former groundsman. Lyon proved to be pretty decent, but it seems doubtful that this was the best imaginable resource-management CA could have conducted. Same with openers other than Cook from the ECB.


  10. Rooto Oct 24, 2016 / 4:26 am

    Wow. Technology appears to screw the little guy again.


    • LordCanisLupus Oct 24, 2016 / 8:04 am

      Let’s watch as performances get over hyped, captaincy gets over praised and spinners get over slagged off.


      • nonoxcol Oct 24, 2016 / 8:30 am

        Only two wins to tie, three to take the record….


      • Mark Oct 24, 2016 / 8:35 am

        When we win its always how great the captain is , and when we lose it is never about the captain. One reason I dont have much affinity for team ECB these days.


    • RufusSG Oct 24, 2016 / 11:07 am

      How so? Both of those decisions were perfectly fair – although the first one wouldn’t have been given out a few months ago before the change in the umpire’s call rule, looking at the amount the ball was hitting the stumps I’m glad that’s now seen as out. Plus there’s no way Shafiul was playing a shot there.


      • Rooto Oct 24, 2016 / 3:44 pm

        That was my first reaction, without pictures, working on the principle that if TMS found it debatable, then it was probably worse than that. Assuming you’ve seen it, then I’ll take your word for it.


  11. SimonH Oct 24, 2016 / 9:33 am

    The anti-Stokes cohort who pop up on certain threads are a wonder to behold.

    Who doesn’t want to respond immediately to a MOTM performance by posting endless comments that the performer should be demoted two places in the batting order?


    • Mark Oct 24, 2016 / 9:43 am

      I have learned this morning that

      1 Bagladesh are one of the all time great test teams. Up there with WI, and Australia in their pomp. As difficult to play as India in India. Who knew?…… Makes you wonder why we don’t play them more often if they are that good?

      2 Stokes match winning performance is irrelevant, and only dear leader should be praised. Hardly new I know, but fascinating to watch.

      Liked by 1 person

    • d'Arthez Oct 24, 2016 / 9:58 am

      Well, it is a sure-fire way to keep Cook batting at 1 ….


      • SimonH Oct 24, 2016 / 10:09 am

        FTR I don’t think Stokes is the reincarnation of Sobers or Kallis. I do also understand the frustration of Bairstow batting as low as No.7 in the order.

        However my points are that Stokes has just played a technical innings against spin on a turning track which was just what he was supposed not to be able to do. The Bangladesh spinners are clearly good bowlers if not quite in the Ashwin-Yasir class. Even more, Stokes has been tried batting lower in the order and it was a disaster. Farbrace’s decision to promote Stokes to No.6 against NZ was one of the genuinely inspired decisions from the England management in the last two years.


      • d'Arthez Oct 24, 2016 / 10:16 am

        In MOMs Cook is 2 – 1 ahead of Pietersen. Rejoice! Rejoice!

        Until …

        Someone points out that Cook has captained 53 matches, Pietersen just 3…

        That it is 1 – 1 in MOM awards in won matches (why Cook got the MOM in Abu Dhabi is a bit puzzling since Shoaib Malik also managed a double ton, and he was not exactly known as a great red ball cricketer; probably should have gone to Rashid for breaking a game that seemed to be destined for a dull draw open).

        Overall, since 2000 Pietersen has won the most MOM awards for England (10), followed by Broad (9), Anderson (8), Cook (6).

        If you look at the all time list, Botham (12) is the undisputed leader. Gooch got 9, and even the much maligned Atherton managed 7, as did Stewart and Thorpe.

        If it were otherwise, it would have been mentioned ad infinitum in the media …


      • d'Arthez Oct 24, 2016 / 10:28 am

        Stokes is a good cricketer, and he seems to be still improving quite substantially on the job. Anyone who watched that innings, must have noticed it was not “luck” that got him to his 80 (though for about 30-odd innings Cook could not get a lucky break either according to the media, even as he was granted half a dozen lives for the best Test innings ever by a captain (the infamous 95). Stokes can be said to have been lucky getting a chance to bowl at the tail today, but I don’t hear many in the English media saying that Jimmy Anderson and co. were lucky to bowl to Sri Lanka in May either.

        He fully deserved that MOM award, and he may well prove to be the best allrounder of the coming decade (though increasingly that becomes a pointless title, due to the mismanagement of Test cricket, but that is another story).

        I’d personally be inclined to go 5. Stokes 6. Bairstow 7. Ali 8. Woakes. Ali now has the experience batting with the tail, and seems to be doing pretty well there. Sure, he would do better if he batted higher, but the performance decrease for Stokes and Bairstow makes such a switch around not worthwhile.


  12. AB Oct 24, 2016 / 10:01 am

    Stokes is a very hot and cold cricketer. He’s obviously got a lot of talent, but frequently overhyped, and his occasional brainlessness can be incredibly frustrating. See his abysmal, thoughtless bowling in the world cup final for example.

    A lot of the England team are just really, really hard to like. Stokes comes across as a right dick, frankly. Not in the “guy you’d rather play with than against” way, but in the “guy you wish was playing some other game 200 miles away” kind of way.


    • "IronBalls" McGinty Oct 24, 2016 / 10:53 am

      Ah! The “right kind of family” gambit rears it’s ugly head again


      • AB Oct 24, 2016 / 1:21 pm

        Either you didn’t understand my post, or you didn’t understand that Downton quote.


  13. nonoxcol Oct 24, 2016 / 11:07 am

    The context is Elizabeth Ammon saying that she is being called “unpatriotic” for wanting Bangladesh to win.

    Nothing new to most of us, eh?


    • LordCanisLupus Oct 24, 2016 / 11:55 am

      For some nuance is when your dad discovered he had long list sisters.


  14. SimonH Oct 24, 2016 / 12:32 pm

    ITV4’s coverage has a fan:

    I’ve found Ed Smith extremely bland so far – but I can live with bland compared to what I was fearing and what gets served up elsewhere. Hoggard was good and I liked Trott more than Tyers.The dumping of all the extraneous stuff so we get more actual cricket is the big plus as everyone’s been saying.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Oct 24, 2016 / 3:40 pm

        It’s George Orwell 1984 English cricket style.

        Up is down
        Left is Right
        War is peace
        Black is white
        Cook is protecting Rashid


      • Rooto Oct 24, 2016 / 3:50 pm

        That’s a very dangerous article. I’d lay a lot of money that it’s not the last time we’ll see the phrase “fragile character”used this winter, by journalists who are just spouting so much dog shit.


      • Mark Oct 24, 2016 / 4:19 pm

        Trouble is I don’t think they are spouting THEIR own “dog shit”

        We have seen this before. You just know players are being leaked against. “Fragile character” Sounds like another example………..did He pull that out of his arse or was it leaked to him by someone in the camp? We have had all that stuff about Compton being “odd” and other such rubbish.

        As soon as Selvey took against Rashid my alarm went off. Who’s opinion where we reading! Selveys? Cooks? Flowers? Strauss?


      • Alec Oct 24, 2016 / 4:51 pm

        The annoying thing is that for all his faults as a cricketer, Rashid is clearly not a fragile character. He pushed his case for the test team while playing for a county that has no great reputation as a friendly place for spinners.

        He has scrapped publicly with his captain and county board and still merited inclusion. And he’s a leg spinner who very nearly won England a game in the only place they’ve played this decade where they have not won a test. If the ECB and the media manage to screw with his mind then there is little point in asking counties to make more spin friendly pitches as no spinner will ever trust them again.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Blancrabello Oct 24, 2016 / 5:43 pm

        Always read your work guys. I must say I love it and thank you. But this article has made my blood boil so have decided to comment. This line against the spinners, like Mark says, is turning the game on its head. With the fields that Cook sets is impossible for the spinners to get wickets unless it is that wonder ball. Everyone at my level of club cricket knows that the spinner is there to be milked. The better batters are attempting to take 3-4 singles an over. It’s easy if the field is back. The spinner can’t build pressure and the chances of him taking wickets drop significantly. For me (and dare I say most of cricket community) you attack and create pressure. If the batter tries to go over the top so be it. If he starts picking the spinner and he can take 6-12 runs from the over you take the spinner off. That’s it. You can’t expect spinners to bowl dry with a defensive field, as the batters have plenty of time to manoeuvre the ball into gaps.

        Cook’s captaincy in tight games is atrocious. He needs the players to bail him out. It depresses me to hear and see the summersaults the press perform to keep Cook from looking like the dog house captain he is. Puts me right off supporting England.

        My opinion on why is, like the England football team, the England cricket side is now picked on who has most endorsements from sponsors.

        Liked by 1 person

        • thelegglance Oct 24, 2016 / 5:46 pm

          First comment I think – so I had to approve it, you shouldn’t have that issue in future. Welcome aboard!


  15. SimonH Oct 24, 2016 / 6:55 pm

    New FICJAM:

    It’s all about character (but not in the old public school sense, oh no). I can’t comment on the baseball example he gives – perhaps others might pick up on that?

    It all sounds at best utterly vacuous and at worst a little sinister to me. I enjoyed his modest description as “the PPE of Sport” of his own Sports Studies course though.


    • Mark Oct 24, 2016 / 7:44 pm

      I don’t know why he keeps writing these articles. Iam not even going to bother reading them anymore. He seems to have an obsession with this topic. Man magagement, coaching it’s all theory.

      Iam so glad I don’t have to sit in one of his classes. Maybe he hopes to drum up business for his courses. That is not really the role of TNS to provide a platform for his constant adverts for his other jobs.


      • LordCanisLupus Oct 24, 2016 / 7:55 pm

        As I said, he should lay off baseball. It’s obvious he doesn’t follow the sport avidly and he’s picking up on the feel-good story that is the Chicago Cubs.


    • LordCanisLupus Oct 24, 2016 / 7:45 pm


      I just wish he’d lay off the baseball. He betrays how little he knows in every article he writes on it.

      No-one can write a story on Theo Epstein without mentioning his number 1 achievement in baseball so far. He was the GM who came in and took the Boston Red Sox to their first title since 1918 when they won the World Series in 2004. In that team, and subsequent World Series winners in 2007, some people who weren’t unblemished characters to say the least. He put together a team on analytics first. He wasn’t faultless, and to the end of his time there the team fell apart – the Chicken and Beer season in 2011 – and two years later his deputy, Ben Cherington, bought in a load of “high character” guys and the Sox won the title. (in the original of this I erased the Bobby Valentine season from my mind. We all try to do that in Red Sox Nation).

      Epstein has had the fortune of inheriting, and then developing, a farm system that is the envy of baseball. They have a number of young superstars. They have an insufferable coach, too clever by half (sorry manager), but they work well as a team. They have a magnificent pitching staff. They have the 5th largest payroll in baseball (having started with the 14th – they’ve spent big this season – the reigning champs, the Royals, started last season 15th and this season 16th), with a couple of their superstars on very team-friendly contracts because of their youth. He’s traded well for pitchers, stealing Arrieta from the Orioles, securing Jon Lester from the Sox – but also paying for the likes of Aroldis Chapman.

      The Cubs payroll is here – – Bryant, Russell, Hendricks, Baez and Contreras have been key contributors. None of them earn over $1m. This is freaky. This doesn’t happen often. The draft and the farm system indeed. Arrieta is laughably cheap. He’s a good talent spotter. But don’t talk to him about Wily Mo Pena….

      He’s a damn fine GM, I love the guy to pieces for what he did for the Red Sox, and he left with the top brass not sad to see him go.

      But really, this article is a load of old shite, this article. FICJAM betrays his lack of knowledge throughout and tries to link it to his bloody course. Laughable.


      • Topshelf Oct 24, 2016 / 9:27 pm

        A cursory search suggests that Epstein is far from the highest paid manager in sport – several better paid in the EPL for a start – but I don’t suppose we expect FICJAM to do any proper research.

        As to “PPE of sport”, PPE is a course for the clever (or those who think they are) but who aren’t actually that good at one particular subject. It suits the generalist who wants the cachet it brings them in the look-at-me careers they think they deserve.*

        Graduates include David Cameron, Ed Balls, the Milibands, Edwina Currie, Danny Alexander, Rupert Murdoch, etc etc ad nauseam. Oh goody, sign me up, that’s exactly the sort of person I want to be!

        * Gross generalisation, not all are like that. Ed Smith did History. But I bet he wishes he’d done PPE.


        • LordCanisLupus Oct 24, 2016 / 9:38 pm

          I get the hump when he pretends he knows a load about the sport just because he got to spend time with baseball players for a book. I love the sport, right down to its minor league roots, going to watch those teams over the major league clubs when I am in the States. Smith has not shown he understands how the sport works at all in any of the pieces I see he writes on it. It’s a wonderful game, it’s totally over-analysed, and it has got over the point where super-teams dominate (like the Yankees did in the late 90s).

          I’ve read a ton of books on Boston 2004 – but they probably weren’t high brow enough for FICJAM. He should probably start with Seth Mnookin’s “Feeding The Monster” for a real introduction to all of this. That sort of reminds me…. where are all my old Red Sox books?


    • Topshelf Oct 24, 2016 / 10:14 pm

      I’m afraid my baseball knowledge extends to having read Moneyball and Ball Four, so I know about the stats and am fascinated by the knuckleball!

      But apart from obsessively watching Ichiro videos on Youtube I haven’t seen a match since the C5 days. I suppose if I cave in to BT for next year’s Ashes a bonus would be regaining access to baseball.

      I’m absolutely sure you know more about baseball than FICJAM. Despite his book, I’m not convinced that I don’t as well.


      • LordCanisLupus Oct 24, 2016 / 10:29 pm

        I miss C5 baseball a lot.

        I’m not blowing my own trumpet on this one but the way Smith refers to baseball as if he’s done pseudo-intellectual talking down to the great unwashed drives me spare. He does it in this piece. It’s so not like that in the US. We have access to the sport. The MLB package on the Internet should be an inspiration to cricket (been saying this for years Harrison) and while it’s not for all, it is for me. I will never forget 2004. A sport event that had me in tears.

        That’s why this nonsense grates at me.


  16. Topshelf Oct 24, 2016 / 9:59 pm

    FICJAM sidetracked me. Must try harder to ignore him, but was already peeved that he spent ITV4 highlights talking about Shafi-Ful Islam (research again).

    Pleased to see Cook is on the selection panel again.

    I agree that his handling of the spinners was again woeful, as it always has been, hardly news. But it amazes me that there can have been any question of whether to open with the seamers today. Reverse swing to tailenders is kryptonite, and was surely the only option. The fact Cook claims to have had to think about it just shows how poor he really is, or more likely how much he needs to make it appear he is the thinking captain he clearly is not.

    It was a fabulous test match, and I wouldn’t have minded either team winning. Simplistically, the difference between the teams was Ben Stokes, and I’m not ashamed to be something of a Stokes cheerleader. Both his ability against spin and mastery of reverse swing are pretty new, and the result of proper hard work. He’s getting better and better, and I reckon soon even the nay-sayers will have to recognise just how good he will probably be. At 25, in the last 12 months he averages 44 with bat and 24 with ball. He’s younger than Botham was at the start of the 1981 Ashes, and ITB averaged 14.23 with bat and 34.79 with ball the year prior… Oh, and Beefy is a bit of a dick as well.


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