Bangladesh vs England: Series Review

England’s defeat yesterday was the most disgraceful thing ever to befall the national team.  Losing to a side who had only previously beaten a much weakened West Indies and Zimbabwe is a new nadir in the national fortunes, for which there is no excuse.

Actually, Bangladesh are an improving side and will trouble most teams at home these days.

It was the spinners’ fault – especially that batting collapse.

Gary Ballance was at fault throughout.

It’s fair to say that there’s been no universal response to the result yesterday, and an awful lot of tiptoeing around the wider issues for the England team as they move on to face India in a five match series where they are very definitely the underdogs. Some of it goes beyond legitimate criticism about particular performances and moves on to existing prejudices in some instances, and what can only be seen as blatant attempts at deflection in others.

There are some things that can be safely said – that England do deserve credit for going in the first place, for a second tour after Australia’s aborted one cancelled for security reasons (even if justified) would have crippled Bangladeshi cricket possibly beyond repair.  Amid the joy of victory, it was notable that a significant number of home supporters made a point of thanking England for coming in the first place.  That it passed off without incident doesn’t in itself justify the decision to go, but it does mean we are able to talk about the cricket itself, and able to revel in the pleasure given to a country that doesn’t exactly get its fair share of good news stories.

It can also be safely said that Bangladesh are a much improved side.  Whatever the shortcomings of England, they will give many teams a hard time in their own conditions – particularly the non-Asian sides.  Cook deserves credit for rejecting an invitation to wallow in the excuse that the surfaces were difficult by brusquely saying “Why wouldn’t you?” in response to a question about the wickets suiting the spinners.  As it turned out, rather than being low and boring in an attempt to scrape a draw, the groundsmen produced result pitches.  And well done them, we had two exceptionally entertaining matches.  Rather obviously, Bangladesh’s bowling strength is in their spin attack, and while Mehedi Hasan’s glorious start in Test cricket is no more a guide to his longevity than Bob Massie’s early matches, it showed that they have the attack to put sides under serious pressure when conditions allow.  That means little when they go away from home, for not a single fast bowler took a wicket for them in this short series, and the prospect of the hard tracks of Australia or South Africa, or the green seamers of England or New Zealand would likely mean they were overwhelmed, but all sides have to begin somewhere, and winning at home is that somewhere.

It’s not just the bowling either; Tamim Iqbal may well love batting against England in particular, but he is a very good player full stop, as is Imrul Kayes, while Shakib Al Hasan is a potent all rounder.  The lower order was too often blown away, but there is plenty to work with here.  They are improving, and all they need is the opportunity to improve further.  If there were to be one good thing to come out of this England tour, then it would be that teams play them more often – for this was their first Test series in over a year.  Too long and simply not fair.

Perhaps in advance of the series there was a degree of underestimation about where they were as a side, although given the lack of cricket, and Test cricket in particular, it’s not too surprising that most observers were short of detailed knowledge.  That they had better players than in the past was known, but it didn’t mean that there was any kind of expectation they would draw the series.  It doesn’t alter the truth that having watched them play this time, there is a recognition that they aren’t a bad side at all now, and that they thoroughly, completely deserved what they got, indeed they perhaps should have won 2-0.  Having lost the first game it would have surprised no one if they’d been badly beaten in the second, a narrow defeat is always hard to take.  That they went after England with a vengeance instead was wonderful to watch.

That doesn’t necessarily let England off the hook for the result, and while it is true that England were beaten by the better side in Dhaka, it’s reasonable to ask whether Bangladesh should have been the better team, even with all their improvements.  It therefore comes down to a question of what England did wrong, how much was forced by Bangladesh, how much was their own shortcomings as players, and how much was underperformance.

What can certainly be said is that by agreeing to play 7 Tests in 8 weeks, and skipping a warm up fixture in India to boot, they brought some of their problems on themselves.  This is the ECB’s responsibility rather than the captain or the coach, for they do their masters’ bidding in terms of the itineraries.  But with no match between this second Test and the opener in India, they were certainly forced to treat this one at least to some extent as a warm up match for India.  That meant resting Broad and bringing in Finn for one of his periodical appearances on surfaces for which he couldn’t be more unsuited.  Whether that made all the difference is neither here nor there; Broad didn’t have an exceptional first Test, but he is an exceptional bowler, and dropping him did weaken the side, no matter how necessary that decision might have been, and how wise it might turn out to have been over the next month and a bit.

The other change was dropping Gareth Batty for Zafar Ansari, and it is here we get to the thorny question of the England spin bowling.  England played Moeen Ali, Batty, Ansari and Adil Rashid across the two matches.  Ansari was on debut, and allowances have to be made for that, while the others have been the recipients of exceptionally strong criticism for their performances.  This is grotesquely unfair for a number of reasons.  Their returns were not bad at all overall, Moeen averaged 22 with the ball, while Batty and Rashid were a touch under 30.  They’re not fantastic figures of course, and certainly nothing like the wicket-taking levels of Hasan or Shakib, but it has to be asked what is expected here.  Bangladesh should be expected to have better spinners than England, in the same way that England can expect to have much better fast bowlers than Bangladesh (which they do).  Likewise, when they get to India, they’ll be facing better spin bowlers than they possess themselves – this is normal and to be expected.  Complaining about it is akin to wishing for golden elephants.  The last time England toured India they had the best spinner England have had in 40 years bowling from one end, and another who in another era would have been a fixture in the team for being the best we had by a distance.  Indeed, a fit and healthy Panesar right now would be a major upgrade on all of the alternatives.  England does not often produce quality spin bowling, and while that is a criticism of the coaching and structure that can and should be made, whining about the positioning of the deckchairs on the Titanic is what it always has been – pointless.

Therefore the only option is to work with what is there.  Rashid is a leg spinner; they have always been prone to bowling a bad ball an over, it tends to be in the nature of them with the rare exception of the very best like Shane Warne.  Even one as good as Stuart MacGill was relatively expensive.  That isn’t to defend his performances, but it is to make the point that if a legspinner is going to be selected in the first place, then some understanding of how to manage that legspinner is needed, plus a decent and realistic level of expectation about what they can and can’t do.  You simply don’t pick a leg spinner if the aim is to dry up the runs, it’s not going to happen.  Cook has shown little sign of understanding how to captain Rashid, who should be considered a wicket taking weapon, who will go for some runs (rather like Finn come to that).  Betraying a complete lack of confidence by having as at one stage six players on the boundary hardly helps the bowler or the team and removes the whole point of having a leggie in the side in the first place.

This is a common attitude problem in the English game, one that goes all the way down to Sunday village cricket, where a seam bowler who gets smashed around the park comes back for another spell later – a spinner suffering the same is lucky to get another bowl three weeks afterwards.  It takes an astute and clever captain, sympathetic to his bowlers to manage it and to make the best use of their assets.  Cook, unfortunately, is not the man to do that.

Moeen overall bowled passably well – he is what he is, a batsman and part time off spinner converted into being the senior slow bowler.  He does let the odd bad ball go down, but the truth of the matter is that people need to deal with that, he’s quite probably the best England have, and is someone who is doing relatively well given where he’s come from bowling wise.  Batty’s recall was frowned upon or approved of depending on perspective, and while he didn’t bowl as well as he might have hoped, even at his best he simply isn’t going to run through an Asian side in Asian conditions.  These players are very used to facing spin – something else that hasn’t been taken into account when berating the bowlers for not being better than they are, while imagining that left at home is a miracle worker who would have repeated Laker’s feat.

If that reads like an extended defence of the spinners, it’s only partially meant that way. They could certainly have bowled better, they unquestionably could have been captained better, but they are players limited by their English upbringing and learning.  The truth is that those who don’t play find their reputations enhanced by virtue of missing a defeat; whoever England select would not change things dramatically, and complaining that they aren’t Graeme Swann is as futile as the years Australia spent discarding spinner after spinner for the crime of not being Shane Warne.

More to the point, if the spinners were average but not appalling – in other words pretty much what could be expected of them, then the attempt to blame them for the match loss and the drawn series is downright peculiar.  It certainly wasn’t the cause of collapsing from 100-0 to 164 all out in little more than 20 overs.  The pundits have a real habit of demanding the heads of the bowlers for batting problems, and it’s much more realistic to point to the batting failures as being key to England not winning this series.  Not one of the top 5 averaged even 30 and they managed just four fifties between them in the series from a combined 20 attempts, with a top score of 68 from Moeen Ali as he and Bairstow attempted to rescue the team from the wreckage of the first morning of the first Test.  Only Woakes, Bairstow and Stokes managed to even score 100 runs over the four innings,while just behind those three in the averages was Adil Rashid, who with Woakes performed another recovery act from the shambles of the upper order.

Put simply, blaming the bowling is simply an attempt to project from the reality of where England went badly wrong – the top order batting.  Cook was poor, Duckett was brand new, Ballance was lucky to be in the team and was extremely poor, Root was poor.  Not many sides can handle the core of their batting malfunctioning repeatedly and go on to win.  And here is the problem for India, for it is hardly a shock to anyone to know that they have superior spinners, but for England to have a chance they need in particular for Cook and Root to step up and score runs – and lots and lots of them.  They are more than capable of course, Root is a fine player and Cook is an exceptionally good player of spin, and for an opener a phenomenal one.  But they could and should be feeling particularly uncomfortable with the way the spinners are getting the blame for not winning a series that was fundamentally about the inability of the England batting to reach 300 in any innings – and only once getting close because the middle and lower order got them there.

Furthermore, of the England players Ben Stokes is the one who can really hold his head up, his bowling was outstanding and his batting was good enough to score more runs than anyone else.  Yet the comment about him largely concerns his behaviour in getting into a spat with opponents.  Stokes is a fiery character alright, but it is peculiar to say the least that this gets attention and criticism ahead of the failures of those above him.  This blog has expressed concern on a number of occasions that a few media types are waiting for him to fail so they can properly put the boot in – nothing has happened which changes that worry, for we know all too well that it has happened before.

Bangladesh can bask in the glow of a successful short series, while England go to India with a lot of questions to answer.  It is to be hoped that some spend time on the questions that matter rather than wishing things were different than they are.  That is nothing but carping.  Whinging.  And if it’s unfair on some of the England players, it’s more than just unfair when it comes to the Bangladesh ones – it’s disrespectful.  This was an enjoyable and hard fought series, and one where a deciding Test would be just perfect.  Bangladesh would be quite strongly fancied to win it.


203 thoughts on “Bangladesh vs England: Series Review

  1. Rooto Oct 31, 2016 / 8:09 pm

    Last night these words were ringing around my head, as Cookie saw the light:

    “I’d like to thank the ECB management for all the confidence they’ve placed in me over the years. I know that supporting my position as captain has led good people such as Straussy and Paul to some difficult contorsions over the last few tours as they argued that black was white. I think that after this tour, the wheel has come full circle. My first game as captain was against Bangladesh, and now so is my last. I took over the captaincy for a tour of India, and now someone else will do the same. You may say that it’s a tough tour to start off with, but expectations are not too high at the moment, so I think it’s fair to say that the pressure is well and truly off. Also, I will be here to offer any advice and I’ll happily continue with some of the media duties, to lighten the load on whoever steps forward to take over as captain.
    As I said, the wheel has come full circle, but a lot of people will ask “why now?”. Well, why not? I’ve been captain for a long time. I can no longer pretend to be learning, and I’ve passed most of the captaincy landmarks and broken quite a few records. However, it’s clear that my greatest value to the team is my runs, and I can’t deny that the extra responsibility does wear you down. I can only thank the press for not mentioning it too often, but we all know that captains score fewer runs as they go on. It was pointed out for Athers. It was rammed down Vaughany’s throat, and Straussy wouldn’t deny that it affected his game too. I am a proud man and I feel that I’ve got a lot more runs in me at the highest level, but I need to refocus more exclusively on my batting.
    The England team is quite settled at the moment, and i feel that there are several people who are quite secure in their positions. Stu, Johnny, Ben, Mo, Joe, even Chris. Let’s see who wants it, and who can move the team forward. My time is past. I feel that I was the bulwark for the team during all the trouble and controversy we had with Kevin. That’s in the past now, that battle is over. I can relax and so can the ECB. I give my full support to whomever is chosen, and I feel that the whole country will be able to get behind the new captain…”

    And then I woke up, and was informed by the press that it was all because Rashid drags it down short too often.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. thebogfather Oct 31, 2016 / 8:43 pm

    Ha! Even Flowerpotman couldn’t scare us as much as Cookie with his mascara and steel hewn jaw…


    • Julie Oct 31, 2016 / 9:18 pm

      He scares me more than dear Allie. He’s the invisible man pulling all the wrong strings. Love your pic, Dmitri. Now that could sdare me.😲😲


  3. SimonH Oct 31, 2016 / 8:49 pm


  4. Andrew Robertson Oct 31, 2016 / 9:17 pm

    I’ve spent a couple of years following this blog and can only conclude that many of the contributors actually know what they are talking about. My 2 young sons are now well versed in the coarse vitriol I dispense whenever I see Cook set a field. His inability to inspire confidence in the players most likely to win him the game demonstrates his woeful lack of strategic planning and man management. They invented the unions so that this type of management could never get away with such disastrous decision making and wilful neglect of the business and its employees. I think 3 or 4 of the playing squad could claim constructive dismissal as a consequence of the ineptitude of their so-called captain.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thelegglance Oct 31, 2016 / 9:20 pm

      Hi Andrew,

      I think that’s your first post, so welcome. Only the first post has to be approved, so from now on you’re free to complain with the rest of us!


      • Andrew Oct 31, 2016 / 9:30 pm

        Thank you….I hadn’t realised that the whole of my name would be published so have removed the surname bit. When I become the grumpy, disaffected one I’ll sign in with a new name so as to be admonished by the good and honest readers of this blog.


  5. man in a barrel Oct 31, 2016 / 11:44 pm

    When Pakistan first beat England, it took magical bowling from Fazal Mahmood against Hutton, May, Graveney, etc. I am not sure how many of this team will score 100 centuries or average over 50 or score more than 364 in an innings against the finest bowler of the era.


  6. SimonH Oct 31, 2016 / 11:48 pm

    Nasser Hussain player ratings:

    It’s almost a relief that Cook who had a lower batting average, took 7 fewer wickets and captained like the Investec zebra gets only 1 more mark than Rashid.

    Rashid’s latest crime to be taken into consideration is that he doesn’t dismiss big players. I’m sure Kayes, Mahmudullah, Sabbir and Shakib will be delighted to know they aren’t big players.


    • nonoxcol Nov 1, 2016 / 6:08 am

      Oh good. Smaller scale Mitchell Johnson syndrome. Because dismissing tailenders has NEVER been an issue.


    • d'Arthez Nov 1, 2016 / 10:16 am

      We all know that the ultimate test in the bowling department is to get rid of Ishant Sharma, Simon.

      Oh, and I suppose Broad took care of the best batsmen ever when he dismissed a debutant at #8 and #9 (who should have batted at 11, as Rabbi is a terrible bat) in the first Test.

      And I wonder what to make of Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq, and Ahmed Sarfraz on that damning allegation. The first of those has a career batting average that has not been achieved by an Englishman since Ken Barrington (and even Root averages less than Younis now). You know, when Rashid was the guy to actually give England a shot at winning a Test in the UAE. Never mind that Rashid was the guy who actually gave England a shot at drawing the next Test as well. Where were the specialist batsmen then? Oh yeah, too busy collapsing in a heap.

      And obviously if it were not for Rashid’s batting in the second Test, England would have comfortably declared on 150/9, to set up a thrilling come-from-behind victory, I imagine. Especially on the basis of the brilliant batting in the fourth innings, that must have been a foregone conclusion, Nasser?


    • fred Nov 1, 2016 / 9:12 pm

      “Oh good. Smaller scale Mitchell Johnson syndrome. Because dismissing tailenders has NEVER been an issue.”
      Yeah but you’re shooting at the wrong target nonoxcol. MJ wasn’t a tailender specialist, useful as that may have been. He also routinely took top and middle order wickets. I did the sums across a whole ashes series to prove this point once and it was clear. Cook and KP were noteably vulnerable to him.


      • nonoxcol Nov 1, 2016 / 9:25 pm

        I know.

        But this has become received wisdom because so many English journalists made a point of saying it at the same time. It was one of the most mean-spirited things I’ve seen in cricket writing. Still galls me now, because the sight of MJ at Brisbane and Adelaide especially was, objectively, the most exciting cricket I’d seen live since 2005.


      • fred Nov 1, 2016 / 9:59 pm

        It was pretty visceral wasn’t it?
        Especially interesting since MJ seemed like a busted flush prevously, with his broken foot and damaged ego, and then he came back and did that.
        Then you get all the journo’s writing nonsense.


  7. man in a barrel Oct 31, 2016 / 11:49 pm

    Has anyone talked to the great chef about buying a wicket? How many matches did Zimbabwe win when Flower was around? Morgan seems to know that you leave a gap or draw in the field to tempt the better to go over the top or play against his usual instincts. Chef, after 200 Tests, doesn’t know.


    • oreston Nov 1, 2016 / 12:12 am

      He’d probably think “buying a wicket” had something to do with Indian bookmakers and report you…


  8. SimonH Nov 1, 2016 / 12:00 am

    I’d reverse the order of my worst two pundits if I could vote again. I’m gaining a weird affection for my #1 because he isn’t Mark Nicholas and he signed off his last broadcast by urging me to stay tuned to watch the darts.

    As for #2:


    • simplyshirah Nov 1, 2016 / 11:33 am

      Is Simon Hughes actually saying that England Failed. My Flabber is well and truly ghasted. Does that mean that Cook is failure? No?


    • thelegglance Nov 1, 2016 / 4:48 pm

      I feel much more confident in my own post knowing that it completely disagrees with Hughes.


  9. man in a barrel Nov 1, 2016 / 12:47 am

    Well I thought that Ansari had an action that reminded me of Edmonds before the hips… He looked fine in the 2nd innings but 4 dropped catches can be dispiriting. The slip catch that Root failed to grasp between him and the keeper would have him sacked if Close were still the Yorkshire skipper. Bad placement.


  10. man in a barrel Nov 1, 2016 / 12:48 am

    I would send Cook home and make Rachid or Woakes captain. They alone seem to know how to play over there.


  11. Miami Dad's Six Nov 1, 2016 / 6:54 am

    Bangladesh are an improved side. They had the most accomplished all rounder in the game in Shakib, Tamim fired at the top of the order, and the new offie bowled excellently.

    They are also pretty rubbish. They hadn’t played Tests for over a year, hadn’t made a dent in Tests against any side of note across their entire Test history, and neither the batting nor bowling had even any pretence of strength in depth.

    The reason we lost: Root, Cook, Ballance, Ali, Bairstow, Stokes and Duckett were all rubbish with the bat. Ali, Stokes and Bairstow contributed to making England competitive in the other facets of the game, whilst Root and Duckett dropped chances and Cooks captaincy pushed the game back Bangladeshes way.

    A good England side would have beaten Pakistan in the summer and would have beaten Bangladesh now. Neither Pakistan nor Bangladesh made ‘big’ scores. Why are we still looking at the bowling unit like it is the biggest issue?


    • AB Nov 1, 2016 / 9:53 am

      This exact same side under a competent captain would have won 3-0 this summer and 2-0 this winter, and would be favourites to beat India.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mdpayne87 Nov 1, 2016 / 10:53 am

        India haven’t lost a series at home for 4 years. They would be favourites regardless of who is captain.

        Liked by 1 person

    • d'Arthez Nov 1, 2016 / 10:22 am

      You do realize that Bangladesh had a few injuries in the bowling department? They were not putting the strongest team on the field, due to injuries. Mustafizur in particular looks like the real deal.

      They hardly get fixtures. Pretty hard to beat England for instance, when the ECB is more interested in organizing a dozen Ashes series in a decade …


  12. Mark Nov 1, 2016 / 8:36 am

    There is a simple model that can be used to evaluate how well any side is doing. Doesn’t matter if you are Brazil 1970 vintage or a village cricket team. It is this………Are we getting the best out of what we have got? Whether you be a top flight outfit or park players you can judge if you are making the most out of your resources.

    I would argue ENGLAND are not, and haven’t been for a while. The blame for this lies at the feet of the ECB management and the captain. I would say this particular captain should recieve almost all the blame because if he doesn’t like something or someone he throws his toys out of the pram. Playing for England seems to involve some weird vetting process that amounts to Cooks own version of The Krypton factor. If you fail this test your days are numbered. The yellow media will get the directive that this player doesn’t fit and the mental destruction will begin. ” he’s odd, or fragile, or strange. He bats too slow, too fat.” I have always wondered if England produced a Shane Warne type, but in his fat erra would they drop him for liking too many pies?

    England needs a new captain. I don’t believe he has improved as some more charitable people have said. This series has revealed the old stale one method captain that Cook has always been. He has had a good run, he has had full backing from the ECB and blind obedience from the media. However, he ain’t very good. His supporters will point to winning series usually at home. But I would argue this has mostly been down to amazing individual perfomances rather than his captaincy. Stokes innings against NZ at Lords, a session of game changing bowling by Broad or Anderson. Lower order heroics bailing out the top order yet again. Nothing to do with Captain Cook.

    Unfortunately this won’t happen. Even if England get thumped 5-0 in India Teflon Cook will be exempt from question. He has the job for as long as he wants it. That is no way to run any outfit. It breeds complacency and bad practice. It encourages a crony culture of insiders and outsiders who’s face don’t fit. England need fresh ideas and a new regime that encourages all comers. Not just those that pass the strange Cook test.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. AB Nov 1, 2016 / 9:51 am

    Under Cook’s captaincy, England have become significantly less than the sum of their parts.

    We have better players than Bangladesh, man-for-man, so when we underperform so badly, eyes must look torwards the captain, his U12 level tactical awareness and his woeful man management and leasidership skills.

    Enough is enough. Time to go.


  14. d'Arthez Nov 1, 2016 / 11:41 am

    In cricket news, Pakistan are still trailing by 15 runs in the second innings, with Sami Aslam, Shafiq and Younis back in the hut. West Indies might win their first Test away from home against a side other than Bangladesh and Zimbabwe in nearly a decade.

    Still lots of cricket left in that match though.


    • d'Arthez Nov 1, 2016 / 11:54 am

      Misbah gone as well. Pulling a long hop straight to the fielder at deep square leg. The collapse is on; 11 runs for 4 wickets, and Pakistan still trail by 7. A lot of work to do for Azhar, Sarfraz, and the lower order. Would be nice if West Indies could win it from here.


    • SimonH Nov 1, 2016 / 12:53 pm

      “a museum-quality display of poor batting that should be hidden from the sick, the elderly, the pregnant or those with heart conditions”.

      Punches air!

      “it was as if England were providing a Greatest Hits compilation of their failings through the years. There was the comical fielding, the impotent bowling, the bewildering field placings and, most of all, the dramatic batting collapse. Every facet of their play fell below the required standard”.

      Holy cow, a mention of field placings – will GD be fired from a cannon or exiled to Siberia?

      “Shouldn’t it take a little more than that to unlock a Test team? Wasn’t there a time, a time before Championship cricket was pushed into the margins of the county season, a time before counties prepared slow seamers for the benefit of their medium-pacers, a time before spinners had to prioritise their white ball skills to consider a long-term career in the game, that such skills were relatively commonplace? When English batsmen didn’t play off-spin as if they had never seen it before. When batsmen didn’t have to try to hit themselves out of trouble because they trusted their defences”.

      Punches air again!

      “it speaks volumes about how they are trusting to chance that their batting reinforcements are a teenager (Haseeb Hameed) who has never played Test cricket and a man (Jos Buttler) with 42 first-class runs in the year since he was dropped from the Test team. It is a fearsome mess”.

      And lots more that could be quoted….

      Cricket-writing this good is a beautiful thing.

      Liked by 1 person

    • thelegglance Nov 1, 2016 / 4:54 pm

      One of the things I like about Dobell is that whether you agree with him on a specific subject or not, he doesn’t give a shit if it upsets the ECB. He will obviously rein it in to preserve his own status (he has to) but compared to most it’s positively rebellious.

      Liked by 2 people

    • fred Nov 1, 2016 / 9:38 pm

      I didn’t see too much of the series but was trying to support a thesis on the previous post that England didn’t underperform, they just aren’t that good. Dobell has put paid to that argument!
      “It was a Halloween horror so gruesome that Quentin Tarantino would censor it for being gratuitously grim.” Oh, OK. Since GD says so, then I’ll accept your point lordcanislupis.

      I think the good thing about his writing is that not only is he well informed, both of current events and historical context, but he writes without ego. Unlike many others, it’s not about him. No flourishes to show how clever he is, no mates in the business to butter up or criticise, no allusions to broader themes; just an unforgiving, unrelenting focus on the cricket. He’s great to read if you want to know what’s really going on.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. pktroll (@pktroll) Nov 1, 2016 / 1:33 pm

    In apportioning criticism/blame I am wondering where the msm have been in mentioning a couple of members of the English batting order whose recent efforts in scoring centuries have been rather lamentable. I am not talking about Gary Ballance either. Candidate 1 has 2 centuries in his last 17 games. Candidate 2 has 4 in his last 43.


    • nonoxcol Nov 1, 2016 / 1:53 pm

      Candidate X had three in his last 17 matches and seven in his last 43.

      But he was in decline.


      • pktroll (@pktroll) Nov 1, 2016 / 2:10 pm

        Another of my favourite games is to mention how Lord ‘egoless’ Strauss did in his final 3 years starting with the tour to SA in 09/10…………………….


      • nonoxcol Nov 1, 2016 / 2:21 pm

        Root’s conversion rate is actually really crap, isn’t it? 10 hundreds, 23 fifties.

        30%. I mean, we’re not talking Shane Watson, obviously, but I expect that would be well below the median for all players averaging 50 in Test cricket (minimum 20 Tests).


      • pktroll (@pktroll) Nov 1, 2016 / 2:44 pm

        Yeah. His carelessness in turning good innings into big tons is actually pretty bad, espcially since the UAE tour when he’s got out quite a number of times when he’s score 50+


      • thelegglance Nov 1, 2016 / 4:58 pm

        Probably the only thing in Root’s favour with the way he’s getting out for pretty fifties is how much it clearly bothers him that’s it’s happening. So we shall see if he learns.


      • d'Arthez Nov 1, 2016 / 7:57 pm

        Two other names: Chanderpaul (30 tons, 66 50s), and Border (27 tons, 63 50s) pop up. Laxman though takes it to another level (17 tons, 53 50s).

        Of those innings (with scores of 50 or more) Chanderpaul ended not out on 36 occasions, while Border has 29, and Laxman 20. Obviously that has something to do with the batting position, and the strength of the batsmen they get to bat with, and obviously with the state of the match.

        Atherton (16 tons, 46 50s) is probably taking the cake for England players. But of course Atherton played in an era with much higher bowling standards – and that of course impacts negatively on conversion rates.


  16. SimonH Nov 1, 2016 / 4:24 pm

    Andy Bull heroically defending the cause of England leg-spinners…. a quarter of a century ago.


  17. whiterose76 Nov 1, 2016 / 4:55 pm

    Even as a biased Yorkie, I am finding the rush to blame Rashid for everything from England’s failings to Brexit to David Hasselhoff a bit disconcerting. He’s played FIVE tests! Five!
    He is, to all intents and purposes, a strike spinner, and his main role at Yorkshire is to run through the tail, especially in the first innings.
    He hasn’t bowled great, but he will take wickets, and he’ll get better if some faith is shown in him.
    Leg spin is a tough art – look at the averages of the other current exponents in world cricket – Ish Sodhi averages 46.68, Bishoo averages 37.87 (even after his recent 8-for), Graeme Cremer 55.06 and Imran Tahir 40.24. Amit Mishra is the best at 34.36. Warnes and Kumbles are hard to find. Some criticism is justified but it is ridiculously over-blown. And to mention that the two leading run scorers in the series were the Bangladesh openers, which might suggest a failing to take wickets up front was pretty crucial.
    Being bored I thought I’d check out Rashid’s batting, which I think is massively underrated. In the five tests he has played he averages just under 23. Judged on the same five tests, Moeen averages 17.6 and Stokes 21.6. Jonny Bairstow a massive 26. It’s been a struggle for England’s entire order bar Cook and Root. In the current series Rashid averaged more than Cook, Root, Ballance, Moeen and Duckett. Basically the entire top 5.
    But you can prove anything with stats – send him home!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Zephirine Nov 1, 2016 / 5:36 pm

      In the current series Rashid averaged more than Cook, Root, Ballance, Moeen and Duckett. Basically the entire top 5. Well, there you are. We can’t have that sort of thing. Obviously fragile.

      Liked by 2 people

  18. SimonH Nov 1, 2016 / 5:39 pm

    OC #26 previews the India series with portraits of every England player starting with the house favourite:

    First line:-
    “Alastair Cook is statistically England’s best cricketer ever”.

    It’s downhill from there. All the usual favourites are included (doesn’t sweat, mental toughness etc). There’s a lengthy repetition of the 2010 he-was-about-to-be-dropped myth that is so beloved because it shows our hero isn’t a bit boring but lives on the edge and he isn’t a favoured son but could be dropped like anyone else (only he wasn’t). Pity it isn’t true – and odd that the author, despite his hot-line to the most impressive Mr Director Comma, doesn’t appear to know that said Director wrote it wasn’t true.

    The claim “no one has ever seriously questioning [sic] his position as Test captain” suggests he doesn’t read around these parts.

    If he’d just added a few photos of his kids having a net with the captain, the writer’s transformation into Simon Hughes would be complete.

    Liked by 2 people

    • thelegglance Nov 1, 2016 / 5:41 pm

      It’s always good to open with a statement on statistics that demonstrates the writer doesn’t understand statistics…


    • nonoxcol Nov 1, 2016 / 6:10 pm

      Interesting that Geoffrey Boycott (among others) is basically “no-one” these days.


    • thelegglance Nov 1, 2016 / 6:21 pm

      I think my favourite bit is the “but he is one of the greatest batsmen to ever play the game” line, which is so obviously total bollocks I can only assume he’s put it in for a giggle. Longevity doesn’t offer up any degree of greatness whatsoever in itself, otherwise they’d have built statues to the footballer Tony Ford. Cook is a good player, and for some of his career he’s been a very good player indeed. But one of the greatest ever? Jesus wept.

      Still I mustn’t say anything nasty about Mr Miller, or he’ll cry into his Twitter account again and beseech people to massage his wounded ego.

      Liked by 2 people

    • oreston Nov 1, 2016 / 6:37 pm

      North Korean TV’s coverage of Kim Jong Un contains more scrutiny and displays greater balance than that article.

      I find myself wondering how in the name of Holy Benaud we come to find ourselves in a World where a steaming pile of ordure like that is actually deemed to be responsible, or even competent, journalism.

      Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH Nov 2, 2016 / 9:23 am

        Who’d have predicted the “you hate Chef, don’t you?” defense would make an appearance? (Er, almost everyone….):

        Rather than defending what he actually wrote about Cook (he’s statistically the greatest and a great opener), Miller’s changed it into a host of other things that were never the issue except for a handful of Twitter dunces. It’s a masterpiece from the Selvey playbook.

        Not for the first time, it appears to be an outrage to expect people paid for their use of words to use them precisely. If you write he’s the GOAT then defend that he’s the GOAT – don’t turn it into he’s “very good” (no dispute), you wanted him dropped (when?*) and he’s a nice guy.

        * I can’t recall this blog ever calling for him to be dropped. The most I’ve ever written was think out loud in 2014 that maybe a short-term spell out of the team might help him rediscover his game. Any comments about the lack of calls for him to be dropped are about the lack of that media pressure, not a call that he should be dropped (I thought that was obvious).

        Liked by 1 person

        • LordCanisLupus Nov 2, 2016 / 9:28 am

          By his calculation does that make Matthew Hayden a statistcally greater batsman than Don Bradman. I’m not reading that blatant click bait again to see the explanation.

          I honestly don’t mind Peter most of the time. He was a key encourager in my early days. I thought his podcast was required listening. Tastes change. Views change.


      • SimonH Nov 2, 2016 / 9:47 am

        No, same here – I loved his podcasts as well (the ones on the West Indies and with GD on England) were the best of their sort I’ve heard.

        I plugged ‘Second XIs’ here and would gladly recommend it again.

        Using “great” to mean “very good” is one of my pet peeves. I can live with a bit of stat-mining – we’ve all been there!


      • nonoxcol Nov 2, 2016 / 10:04 am

        There’s a key difference here, isn’t there?

        People really dislike(d) Kevin Pietersen. I didn’t. I understood why others did/do, though.

        By contrast, there is a substantial contingent of influential writers and observers who simply cannot understand why Alastair Cook has provoked strong dislike in some. Nor have they even made the slightest effort to understand it. Instead the response is to cite a lot of stuff that actually gets people’s backs up even more – the one-eyed greatness mythos, Alice, lambing (but never the deer picture), the Holy 95, Bedford, “nice dinner companion”, “I’ve actually met him”, comparisons to footballers or more volatile or superficial cricketers.

        People who dislike Cook have already taken these things into account, just as those who dislike(d) Pietersen have no doubt considered his runs. They still feel the same, and they see no need to apologise for doing so.

        The overall cult has become way more nauseating than the person ever was. The idea that continued reliance on its tropes will change any minds is almost funny and, yes, “proper weird”.

        And those who dislike(d) Pietersen were far, far more vociferous and influential than the “anti-Cook brigade”. Some of them used their newspaper columns as an outlet for years, for a start.

        Liked by 3 people

        • LordCanisLupus Nov 2, 2016 / 10:44 am

          Oh. Don’t get me wrong here. That tweet about people who “hate” Cook makes them “proper weird” was straight out of the muppet playbook. I think they were the words I used last night.


      • pktroll (@pktroll) Nov 2, 2016 / 11:56 am

        There is someone I know quite well on twitter and through posting on another cricket forum (an Indian journo now) who has been really critical of this stuff about Cook. He’s been pretty scathing. It really is the misapplication of what constitutes greatness that hacks him off. Not very similar from many of us really.


  19. SimonH Nov 1, 2016 / 7:02 pm

    When Liew gets it wrong:–their-batting-crisi/

    His central point, that the batting has had problems for some time, is of course fair enough but:
    1) Bagchi is right – losing 10 wickets in 22 overs wasn’t humiliating.
    2) Throw Ramprakash under the bus.
    3) Quoting Vaughan, ” I remember England sides that had the likes of Alan Mullally coming in at No 8″. No you don’t.
    4) Vaughan again: ““Playing in those conditions, you need a collective team unit, and I am not seeing a collective togetherness of the team”. If that’s true, who’s it down to? The batting coach?
    5) India “perhaps the world’s most complete side”. Yes, of course they are – look at their away record, it screams completeness.

    But the end is genius:
    “a genuine humiliation might be a shot in the arm akin to the purgative Ashes tours of 2006-07 and 2013-14. That if England can learn the right lessons and inspire a genuine culture of self-examination, a heavy defeat in India may be the best thing for them in the long-term”.

    5-0 a good thing? A “genuine culture of self-examination… akin to…. 2013/14”?

    I think that last line might be my favourite of 2016.

    Liked by 2 people

    • RufusSG Nov 1, 2016 / 8:58 pm

      To be fair, the logic of his last point isn’t entirely wrong. I don’t think he actually means a whitewash would be super dandy, but good in a “dark-cloud-silver-lining” way. Such comprehensive losses should of course be the perfect event to trigger the necessary self-examination to improve in the future.

      Whether it actually ends up in happening with the ECB, as we saw in 2013/14, is the flaw in his argument, obviously.

      Liked by 1 person

      • quebecer Nov 2, 2016 / 1:31 am

        The other flaw is that if it happens, they’ll sack Root.


    • Sean B Nov 2, 2016 / 8:18 pm

      TBF to Liew (and hands up, I like his writing), whilst some of the conclusions he’s reached are a little baffling, at least he’s bought the subject to air, unlike most of the MSM. I don’t disagree with his diagnosis of Ramprakash either.


      • SimonH Nov 3, 2016 / 9:58 am

        Sean – I wasn’t defending Ramprakash, it was more a point along the lines of what Tregaskis said on Twitter about the culture of “misdirected scapegoating” (not that there’s any other sort!). I also find his claim that Bairstow is a “natutal” batsman who didn’t need coaching very odd (although I suspect most of that was sorted out at Yorkshire).

        The chain of what’s happening, I think, goes something like –
        1) Flower nominates Vince as the next greatest thing in English batting.
        2) Vince tanks.
        3) ECB senior management (including not least Flower himself) can’t conceive that Flower might have been wrong – so it had to be the batting coach.
        4) The batting coach is shuffled nearer to the Exit Door while everyone above is protected.


  20. SimonH Nov 1, 2016 / 9:46 pm

    New Switch Hit missed GD but Mark Butcher called out some of the nonsense on Duckett and his analysis of Ballance’s batting technique was superb.

    The highlight was a thorough evisceration of the Selvey thesis that England should go with seam in India. *****abad didn’t even figure. This one did though (do you know it before clicking – it was a doozy):


    • nonoxcol Nov 2, 2016 / 9:40 am

      And there are still people who think you can’t get better cricket coverage than that in the Guardian.


      • "IronBalls" McGinty Nov 2, 2016 / 10:21 am

        I miss Selvey…he’s left a huge vacuum of spleen splitting rage unfulfilled! Where’s Newman, has he gone AWOL? I was waiting for his magnificent opus on the Dhaka defeat, and yet, we have Lawrence Booth doing all the spadework? It’s a worry!!


  21. SimonH Nov 2, 2016 / 10:20 am

    Rohit, Dhawan and Rahul all out of First Test. The former seems likely to miss the whole series. I hope Rahul gets fit but in the meantime it’s back to Gautam Gambhir.

    There could be a cracking finish in Sharjah with WI needing 153 after a first five-for for Jason Holder.


    • d'Arthez Nov 2, 2016 / 11:22 am

      Gambhir. Surely not? At least that is one batsman less to worry about for England. That guy has done nothing to warrant re-selection.

      Yasir Shah has taken care of Johnson and Bravo, after Misbah and Aslam dropped Johnson twice, both off the bowling of Amir. Still 118 runs to get, but West Indies should be able to do it.


    • d'Arthez Nov 2, 2016 / 12:11 pm

      67/5 now, with Brathwaitte still there. It is not a spinner’s paradise, or an unplayable surface by any stretch of the imagination. Could develop in a real thrilling climax.


  22. SimonH Nov 2, 2016 / 3:06 pm

    Thoughts turning to Test cricket in India?

    Four terrific (because they exist at all) bits of Test cricket from India in the 1970s here:

    Three are from England’s 1972/73 tour and one from the West Indies’ tour in ’74/75.

    There are some other brief snippets knocking about, for example from Australia’s 1969 tour and even from their 1959 tour.


  23. SimonH Nov 2, 2016 / 3:18 pm

    No warm-up game? Be careful what you wish for –

    Mind you, it probably helped the England batsman crack the key bowler a Test match earlier which may well have saved the series.

    The two star batsmen for the opposition enjoyed very different subsequent fates….


    • LordCanisLupus Nov 2, 2016 / 4:12 pm

      Think the victory in the 2nd Test among the best I remember. But then I liked Tim Robinson.


      • SimonH Nov 2, 2016 / 4:30 pm

        Ditto re Tim Robinson and that tour. Gower’s finest moment as captain – he put some belief in an awkward sod (Phil Edmonds) and was rewarded. There might a lesson there somewhere…..

        I can’t find ANY film of that tour on Youtube. Incredible.


  24. LordCanisLupus Nov 2, 2016 / 8:17 pm

    I don’t get Liew. I know that others do. But this is “move on” with an eclectic prose style….

    And before anyone else raises it. Yes. I know.


    • Sean B Nov 2, 2016 / 8:22 pm

      I think I get his argument, but I might be wrong. Personally I think he’s trying to be a bit ironic, judging from the rest of the comments on the thread. It was the comment about Bayliss, which hinted that he isn’t alllowed to have a pop at the untouchables.

      I could, of course, be completely misreading this.


      • LordCanisLupus Nov 2, 2016 / 8:28 pm

        I read the article. It went nowhere. Absolutely nowhere. But then, I’m not coming to it as an impartial observer and I know I’m on my own on that within the editorial board. England’s batting is shite. Wow. You only just noticed?


        • Sean B Nov 2, 2016 / 8:31 pm

          I might be on my own here, but thought it was a fair, but not exactly insightful, article. I’ve mostly been doing 15 hour days this week, so it could just be the tiredness mind…


          • LordCanisLupus Nov 2, 2016 / 8:33 pm

            Other opinions allowed, Sean.

            Was thinking of writing another Cook piece, but decided against it. One, because I’ll be proper weird; two, what’s the point and three, what’s new to say. Let the press do it all, and hope we just fade away, or more likely, not give a shit.

            I just remember the days when players who made 70s and 80s didn’t win you many tests, but big tons did.


          • Sean B Nov 2, 2016 / 8:36 pm

            Peter Miller takes care of all Alastair Cook articles these days. Aside from the snide comment, I feel the same, no place for any sort of objectivity these days. Surprised I didn’t get panned for pointing out some well known captaincy faults and general myths in my last piece.


  25. Mark Nov 2, 2016 / 11:22 pm

    The media’s reaction to the debacle in Bangladesh has been to return to the yellow journalism of 2014 by claiming we have it in for Mr Cook. The truth is the media are circling the wagons around their hero because they can sense danger. Cook contributed nothing with the bat, and his captaincy was shit. He won’t always fail with the bat of course, but his captaincy will always be shit.

    In 2014 cook was the useful idiot who the ECB crowned King of all cricket. And the media were under no illusions that if they wanted access they better get with the programme. This was not a problem for many of them because they genuinely liked him, and they genuinely hated KP. Some of them even fantasised about being him with some very embarrassing profiles of the man from Essex.

    In some ways I pity Cook because he became the lightening rod for the ECB. He became their poster boy, but he was happy to go along with it. Why not? The pay was very, very good, and the perks were that he had a free ride like no other English captain in history. But the downside was that this has detracted from his batting achievements. He will always be the good batsman and the lousy captain for many people. The media’s endless quest to run defence for him has only made things worse. When he has failed for long periods and no critiscm comes from his chums in the media it rather contrasts with their vicious attacks on others in the team. This double standard has stood out like a beacon in the dark. But the blame lies entirely with the media. They have debased their own profession, and for what? KP is long gone, so why the continuing defence of their hero. It just looks plain ludicrous now. Their pathetic attempt to blame everything on the spinners for this latest test match makes them look like morons. If England’s batting does not improve quickly England might lose 4 or 5-0 in India. How many England captains have lost two series 5-0? No doubt this will allow the media to hail a 3-0 loss as akin to winning the Ashes in 2005. The media have really jumped the shark.

    Liked by 2 people

    • SimonH Nov 2, 2016 / 11:30 pm

      ” The pay was very, very good”.

      There’s going to be a flood of ‘feel sorry for Cook’ stories soon. He gets £1m a year and is going to be doing nothing for the first six months of next year (look at the schedule). Half a mill for doing nothing!


      • Mark Nov 3, 2016 / 12:01 am

        Well he doesn’t do anything when he is in the field, so there isn’t much difference. Except undermine almost every spin bowler he has ever captained.

        It never seems to occur to the media that maybe his captaincy might explain the poor performance of the bowlers.


  26. SimonH Nov 2, 2016 / 11:24 pm

    Is this some sort of spoof?

    1) The dressing room that never leaks tells us what “influential voices in the dressing-room” are going to say.
    2) I called it on Shane Warne’s India record being wheeled out to damn Rashid.
    3) Anil Kumble didn’t take wickets with leg-spinners! The wisdom of Keith Fletcher returns!
    4) Quite possibly the most magnificent stat-mining I’ve seen to show Root’s as good a spinner as Rashid.

    Go on then… it’ll make one old/new blogger very happy.


    • Mark Nov 3, 2016 / 12:22 am

      Well the WI in their pomp played the 4 fast bowlers in India. But they were very good, and quick. The ECB are going to burn out Stokes if they aren’t careful.

      The great advantage for Cook is he doesn’t have to captain spinners, and he gets to do his only trick when wickets are not falling. Bowling dry. England are now picking a bowling attack to fit in with the captains limitations.

      Glad to see no one is worried about the batting. It’s as if there was no problem.


      • SimonH Nov 3, 2016 / 9:39 am

        I didn’t even mention in my first post Booth’s claim that Cook is some great spokesman for the cause of spin in the dressing room. There’s only one sort of spin going on here and it isn’t the sort Rashid or Batty purvey.

        I’m starting to suspect there’s a great divide opening between Bayliss and the rest. Bayliss being Australian gets spin and leg-spin specifically; Farbrace and Cook, under pressure, are running back to what they know which is seam and more seam. By the way, I have plenty of time for Finn but he’s obviously massively out of sorts and on what planet is he a reverse-swing bowler? What’s the point – to be the scapegoat when it doesn’t reverse swing (like he’s been before)? If there are strong reasons to believe it will reverse at the venue (Rajkot?) for the First Test then there might be a little to be said for it as an idea – but this is clearly a pre-conceived strategy. If India’s Director Comma has any sense, he’s be emailing for some lush outfields.

        On the batting, implied in what Booth writes is that they’ll play two out of Ballance, Hameed and Buttler.


      • Mark Nov 3, 2016 / 10:56 am

        Interesting point Simon that there might be a divide opening between Bayliss & Cook (which means everyone else) Only one winner there. Bayliss might need to book his flight back to Aus. Watch out for stories emerging about how weird he is or his oddball theories.

        As for Booths claim that Cook is a great spokesman for spin in the dressing room……..Once again…… How does he know this? This is a dressingroom that doesn’t leak. Ho ho ho. Except when operation protect Cooky is in full flow.

        I don’t watch American football, but perhaps Dmitri, who loves American sport can tell us which team is the best for running defence? Whoever they are they have nothing on the England cricket media’s defence of Cooks captaincy.


      • SimonH Nov 3, 2016 / 11:19 am

        I don’t think they can pile into Bayliss too heavily because the trail might lead back to who appointed him. That’s if they fear the media can join the dots….

        The script can be more or less written now:
        “Trevor has progressed the Test team mot admirably in the last two years but unfortunately this difficult winter has shown he has taken them as far as he can. With the demanding international schedule, Trevor will now be concentrating on the one-day team which has always been his main area of expertise.

        We are truly fortunate to have a gifted and experienced replacement for Trevor to take over as Test coach. He is a) the current deputy coach who has gained valuable experience over the last two years and is well regarded by the senior players or b) the former coach who has taken time out to recharge his batteries in charge of the Lions and who presided over England’s greatest-ever era (TM) and is well regarded by the senior players [delete as applicable]”.

        Of course if Bayliss won’t job-share, then the gloves could come off.

        By the way, in terms of the relationship between Cook and Bayliss, anyone remember “I’m not sure what he does” from after the Ashes? Just another one of Cooky’s unfortunate, oops-I-didn’t-mean-it-to-sound-like-that moments?

        Liked by 1 person

    • oreston Nov 3, 2016 / 4:39 am

      The “influential voices” seem less willing (oddly enough) to offer an opinion about the top order batting, so everything must be tickety-boo in that department.


    • nonoxcol Nov 3, 2016 / 7:29 am

      Simon – do you happen to know if any historians reported an ancient battle in which the invading force “played to their strengths” but were soundly defeated, only to try the same strategy in a similar battle four years later?

      If not, there’s a quote attributed to Einstein….


      • SimonH Nov 3, 2016 / 9:24 am

        Sadly not – and they’d have to have tried it a third time nine years before the first one as well (for Broad-Finn-Woakes-Stokes read Malcolm-Jarvis-Lewis-Taylor).

        I think posters of Youtube clips from Blackadder Goes Fourth may be about to notice a sudden spike in their hits though!


  27. d'Arthez Nov 3, 2016 / 6:46 am

    West Indies won the Test by 5 wickets. Kraigg Brathwaitte undefeated in both innings, surely should be the man of the match.

    So, of all the sides who have played in the UAE in the last 5 years, only England and Australia failed to register a win.


    • LordCanisLupus Nov 3, 2016 / 6:57 am

      You can’t win there if you are England. Comma more or less said so last winter.


  28. pktroll (@pktroll) Nov 3, 2016 / 8:34 am

    Well done Windies. They’ve at least played with a bit of guts. Although Windies have exposed a bit of a soft underbelly with the Pakistani batting that we know that they have, is it wrong to suggest that if you tame Yasir a fair bit, then the rest of the Pakistani bowling is hardly top draw?

    If you look at the Oval test, it was the English upper order (yet again) collapsing in the first innings that led to a Pakistani victory and that wasn’t to spin bowling then.

    I hope that the Windies performance leads to a general upturn in their test cricketing fortunes but I’ll believe it when I see it.

    Meanwhile in Perth, South Africa scramble to 242 after a dreadful start when they were 30odd for 4. I wasn’t with many folk who put the Saffers as favourites before the series. However we’ll see how the Aussies bat before commenting too much more.


    • Mark Nov 3, 2016 / 8:58 am

      Well done the WI. There is genuine good will towards them. They also have suffered thanks to the idiots who run WI cricket.

      This result is not a great endorsement of Cook. (Who according to our media is a mixture of Ian Chapplell, Clive Lloyd and Mike Brearley) Having failed to beat the WI, and being well beaten in the UAE against Pakistan, Cooks team then had an unexpected win in SA against an injury torn team, who had just been well beaten in India. Thankfully for Cooks ENGLAND they didn’t have to worry about too many SA spinners. Since then ENGLAND have beaten a poor SL team in the northern venues at the start of the summer, and then drawn a series against Pakistan most people thought they would win on home soil. Now they have failed to beat Bangladesh.

      I honestly don’t think some captains of years ago would survive these results. Would KP not have some questions over his captaincy if he had presided over the same results? The media are a joke.


      • mdpayne87 Nov 3, 2016 / 9:29 am

        You’ll have to let us know which of Cook’s victories as captain we can count, Mark. It’s getting confusing.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Nov 3, 2016 / 10:20 am

        Might be confusing for you, but not me.

        I can’t think of a single test series Cook has won thanks to his captaincy. Bell, Root, Anderson, Broad or even KP could have matched his results. And who knows we might also have beaten SL at home 2014, WI away, Pakistan away and home, Bangladesh.

        The idea that Cook is a great captain is the biggest fallacy in modern sport. It’s like saying the moon is made of blue cheese. You can repeat it constantly but it doesn’t make it true. Newman and Selvey and Pringle should repeat…..” The moon is made of blue cheese” It would be as accurate as their cricket opinions.

        England need new leadership now. Cook is stale and the team is not progressing because it has to fit his shortcomings. Take away doctored green seamers and Cook would be a complete failure. Time for him to just focus on his batting.


      • sidesplittin Nov 3, 2016 / 8:22 pm

        Your rantometer is in great nick at the moment.

        I see Rufus and MDP have gently tried to point out to you that no ones called Cook the greatest England capt of all time, nor less compared him to Chappelli, Hubert etc, but feel free to provide the requisite quotes.

        As for “being well beaten in the UAE against Pakistan”, in the First Test Eng were 25 runs short of victory with six wickets in hand when bad light stopped play, in the Second Test Eng were only 6.3 overs short of holding out for a draw and in the Third Test were humped. Wouldn’t have taken much of a tilt in fortunes for that series to have ended 1-1.

        And, as you’ve got previous – no, I’m not an imposter, no I don’t live in NZ these days and no I’m not an ECB stooge / troll because I have different views to you.


      • jomesy Nov 3, 2016 / 8:35 pm

        If can step in, Mark asked about in which matches Cook’s captaincy had the decisive impact. It’s a fair question. His view is none. You believe otherwise. Answer it.


      • SimonH Nov 3, 2016 / 8:49 pm

        England lost 2-0 in UAE by margins of 178 runs and 127 runs.

        Even Selvey managed to acknowledge that England were well beaten

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Nov 3, 2016 / 9:34 pm

        I repeat, what test series has Cook won with his captaincy that Broad, Anderson or Bell could not have achievetd as alternative captains? Simple question.

        Apparently losing 2-0 in a 3 test series is a close triller according to some. You will be telling me losing 5-0 in Aus was almost a barnstorming draw next. Or our 1-1 draw with the WI was a magnificent victory. How about six inches of carry as a win? Or nearly a win.

        Operation “protect Cooky” in full flow. Priceless!


      • RufusSG Nov 4, 2016 / 12:20 pm

        Mark, I actually agree with you to a point. Although unlike you I think he’s improved in some areas of captaincy, if obviously by no means all (spinners etc.), I can’t pin down many victories where his leadership had an obviously decisive impact towards bringing around a victory, so that’s an entirely fair criticism. He’s never been a great tactician, so only the players truly know how much of an effect his input had, but I do think you’re right on this area.

        Also, to be a complete curmudgeon, I wouldn’t say someone was England’s “statistically greatest batsman” of all time if I’d meant to say simply objectively “greatest”, as I don’t think they’re the same thing.


  29. RufusSG Nov 3, 2016 / 3:54 pm

    Whilst the messenger may not be the most popular figure on these pages, I didn’t think there was a lot to disagree with here. And before anyone asks, yes, Cook’s field placings do get a mention.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. SimonH Nov 3, 2016 / 4:15 pm

    Stocks take aim:

    “For Bayliss, the coming days will be where he really will earn the £450,000-a-year salary he is paid by the ECB”.

    Fair enough – but can anyone find any example of Stocks (or any other MSM journo) mentioning what Strauss, Flower, Farbrace or Cook earn? They’re just doing it for the love, presumably?

    Good to see some thoughtful writing on the merits of Rashid though. Oh wait, there isn’t.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mark Nov 3, 2016 / 4:56 pm

      Not hearing much about “Cooks England ” at the moment are we? The greatest captain, no ,the greatest English cricketer of all time according the media, yet it’s all down to the coach.

      Cook should be running a bank. They get paid big money because they are geniuses, yet when it all went bust the same geniuses claimed they had no idea what their trading staff were doing.

      As I said yesterday , operation protect Cookie is now in full force. Never mind steel core, more like a ring of media steel being erected around him. I wonder how many cosy, candlelit dinners have been convened to push this latest defensive meme? How many curries munched to protect their favourate son? Some one is going to have to be thrown under the bus if England lose in India, and it can never be Cooky. So look out Coach.


      • RufusSG Nov 3, 2016 / 5:36 pm

        “The greatest captain, no, the greatest England cricketer of all time”

        I have seen each of those two claims suggested, in total across all serious articles, a grand total of precisely zero times. I don’t think that anyone who points out Cook’s win tally does so to imply he’s a better leader than Brearley or whatever. Of course, I may just be naïve, but among all the stuff I’ve seen rightly or wrongly defending Cook this claim is yet to be seen.

        Let’s not get confused on what we’re criticising Cook on, and the exact ways he may or may not have been misrepresented in the press, simply by exaggerating.

        Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH Nov 3, 2016 / 5:44 pm

        “Alastair Cook is statistically England’s best cricketer ever”.

        From further up this thread!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Nov 3, 2016 / 6:25 pm

        Rufus I don’t claim that Cook makes these claims. But the media have hyped him up so much they can’t now pretend he has no role in the failure. I can’t remember who it was who called him the greatest ENGLAND cricketer of all time, but they did. The media have tried to pretend that his captaincy has improved hugely over the last couple of years.

        They can’t wait to tell us how many games he has captained in the all time list
        They can’t wait to tell us how many games he has won in the all time list.
        They cannot wait to tell us how many series he has won in the all time list.

        It is a subtle dishonest attempt to claim that he is the greatest captain ever. No mention is made of the standard of opposition or indeed the fact he captains without any pressure. No captain has had this luxury for so many years.

        Liked by 1 person

    • SimonH Nov 4, 2016 / 9:17 am

      Bayliss never seems to remember to mention how magnificent Cook was in the dressing room when England lose.

      For that alone, in the Stocksverse, he has to go.

      Liked by 1 person

  31. d'Arthez Nov 4, 2016 / 6:11 am

    Australia crumbled from 158/0 to 203/7. Steyn is injured again to his right shoulder. Again. So he may not even make it to England next time around. South Africa might even take a first innings lead …


    • d'Arthez Nov 4, 2016 / 6:59 am

      The Aussies got the lead. Fair to say, that they were targeting a lead of more than 2 runs though.


      • SimonH Nov 4, 2016 / 8:36 am

        Some performance from a three-man attack made up of:
        1) A bloke who a large number of supporters can’t wait to tell you how overrated he is (and whose 5/30 at Lord’s in 2012 never got much recognition)
        2) A 21-year old.
        3) A debutant spinner on the second day at a notorious graveyard for spinners.


      • SimonH Nov 4, 2016 / 10:18 am


      • SimonH Nov 4, 2016 / 10:21 am

        Doesn’t quite fit in with the more-T20-must-have-four-days-nobody-wants-to-watch-SA narrative:


      • pktroll (@pktroll) Nov 4, 2016 / 10:49 am

        I suspect that Perth would always get a good crowd because there are actually a lot of SA expats who live there. SA have won the last couple of times they’ve played there too. Think it will be a tough ask for an essentially 3 man bowling attack to knock the Aussies over though unless they get a huge lead. Then again the pitch is apparently far from the easiest.


      • SimonH Nov 4, 2016 / 10:56 am

        Haven’t WACA crowds been quite poor in recent years?

        It really is absurd that crowd figures aren’t routinely published as part of the scorecard so anyone who wanted to could look them up easily.


      • SimonH Nov 4, 2016 / 11:18 pm

        “The Australian bowling coach David Saker…. got his plans horribly wrong”.

        KP near the end of the BT Sport highlights’ show.


    • Andy Nov 4, 2016 / 9:17 am

      cause it worked so well last time!

      How dare the England team build up Andersons bowling time in the nets and with the Lions….

      That article could be significantly improved by just changing the tone to ‘hopefully anderson gets fit’ rather than ‘throw him in and hope he doesn’t do more damage’


      • SimonH Nov 4, 2016 / 9:41 am

        There’s an “is believed” in there that’s a classic of ‘good journalism’.

        I like the alternative universe Newman has created where England beat Pakistan and it only didn’t happen because of “the England hierarchy” (which magically here doesn’t seem to include Strauss, Cook, Farbrace or even probably Bayliss).

        Essentially, the article is “wahhhhh, Chef wants his mate” padded out.


      • SimonH Nov 4, 2016 / 9:47 am

        Not like a stress fracture in a seam bowler’s right shoulder might go wrong mid-match:


    • Mark Nov 4, 2016 / 10:43 am

      Dr Newman…….”curious sub-plot to England’s attempt to upset the odds in the forthcoming five-Test series is a surprising reluctance to trust the word of their record-breaking bowler .”

      Ah, we are back to Newman and Selveys belief in self diagnosed medicine. Jimmy no doubt did a 5 year medical course at Barts. The Daily Mails solution to the NHS. Everyone can self diagnose now saving the country on GP surgeries

      Dr Newman…..”Captain Alastair Cook is believed to want his spearhead and great friend to travel to India as soon as possible and certainly before his scheduled inclusion for the Lions”

      How does Dr Newman know this? More candle lit dinners? How much curry can be consumed whispering to journos your deepest needs?

      Operation protect Cooky, is now in full mode. Even sacrificing your leading bowler to months, maybe years of injury just to get captain fantastic through another series.
      Watch out Ben Stokes. This is the future.

      Then again, if Anderson wants to put his health at risk to bail out Cooky then so be it I guess. Can Cook only captain his mates?

      Liked by 1 person

      • "IronBalls" McGinty Nov 4, 2016 / 12:07 pm

        If the four seamer strategy falls flat on it’s arse you know what’s coming!

        Liked by 1 person

  32. man in a barrel Nov 4, 2016 / 9:57 am

    It sounds similar to Anderson’s injury but it doesn’t clarify which bone is involved. It looks like another case of cortisone overuse. A warning to Jimmy if he tries to come back before the bone has truly recovered, if it ever can.


      • man in a barrel Nov 4, 2016 / 2:08 pm

        Yes Simonh, I did read that, in particular ” the known side effects of prolonged cortisone use include osteoporosis, cataracts, muscle weakness, mood swings and psychosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, ulcers, necrosis of the hip and thinning of the skin “. As a long-term user of corticosteroids for eczema, I am very cautious about how often and how much I apply. However, the joint injections that I suspect Anderson and Steyn have been having will involve greater quantities at higher concentrations than my skin cream. The effects on me are so magical that it is easy to get seduced into using it more than you should. But overuse causes thinning of the skin. Injections can cause damage to the joint. My partner used to be a rheumatology nurse and has seen the effects.


      • Benny Nov 4, 2016 / 3:43 pm

        Mr Barrel, our son suffered from eczema and the GP’s standard treatment of steroid cream was no help. Then we went to an eminent practitioner in Chinese medicine and he cured it.


    • BoredInAustria Nov 4, 2016 / 1:16 pm

      “The four-strong spin contingent were also in action, but England’s pace attack stuck to fitness drills on the sidelines.”

      Obviously bowling in the nets to the top order and it will be THEIR fault if the top order struggles …


    • amit garg Nov 4, 2016 / 4:01 pm

      Well the Indian Supreme Court did limit the use of funds for BCCI (including disbursement to regional boards that host the games) in the middle of the NZ series, so not really surprised. i suppose it will just be some IOUs that will eventually get settled when the BCCI can find a way around the court orders.

      This is a problem that goes to the heart of how the game is structured. A lot of regions have a voting power and there are a lot of suggestions from the committee appointed by the court to reform including reduction of such number of regional cricket boards in the country.
      I cant say i agree with all of the suggestions and I certainly find the activist role taken by the court, an extreme measure. Just given the number of outstanding cases in our courts, this has to be quite a waste of their time in my view.
      And, i can’t quite believe that they understand the economics of the sport as it exists today.

      However, at the moment, BCCI probably finds itself restricted, with hands tied behind the back and being arm twisted by the highest court in country.

      i dont expect it to be a threat of cancellation, unless the supreme court gets involved again.


      • SimonH Nov 4, 2016 / 4:17 pm

        It’s difficult to follow every twist and turn of this story at a distance (I’m in the UK) – but I don’t agree with you here Amit.

        Isn’t the central point about Lodha that it was set up because there was match-fixing in the IPL and the BCCI failed to prevent it? Cricket is a mega-bucks’ business these days so I don’t see it as a waste of the SC’s time and as for having a queue of other cases waiting to be heard, every SC in the world has (unless you can find me some that don’t).

        What you call “arm twisting” is simply respecting the rule of the law. The SC want the BCCI to be open and transparent. Not every one of their ideas as to how to achieve this has been well thought through – but the central goal is surely right?

        My point about threatening to cancel the tour was somewhat flippant – but as the BCCI has threatened in the last six months to pull out the CT and to cancel the NZ tour halfway through it isn’t without some foundation!


      • d'Arthez Nov 5, 2016 / 5:20 am

        “i suppose it will just be some IOUs that will eventually get settled when the BCCI can find a way around the court orders.”

        The problem is that the BCCI has been busy finding ways around court orders for the past couple of years now, and good governance for nearly a decade now. The simple solution would be to implement the court orders, and try to have some good governance …

        But that is probably too much to ask from the office bearers at the BCCI, since implementing either one of those options means reduced powers for the individuals involved. That the game is suffering collateral damage means nothing to the likes of Thakur, and before him Srini.


      • amit garg Nov 5, 2016 / 6:45 am

        There are over 20 million pending cases in Indian courts at all levels so even if the intent to reform is correct, the supreme court in any country, can’t and shouldn’t involve itself in the operational function of a sports body.

        I get the arguments on lack of governance at BCCI or the need for reform.
        However, I don’t think the supreme court has the necessary skill (even if they have judicial powers) to understand the impact of a lot of their suggestions.

        To put it in perspective, they want to reduce advertisements in the sports. Now, as a fan, i don’t like the ads either and most certainly hate losing the replays of a wicket on the last ball of an over but I understand the economic argument in favor of having those ads. The game (and not just players) will be poorer, if the advertisers moved their money to other sports because the spot rates are deemed too high or if the air time is reduced significantly.

        I am sure there are good suggestions too – such as a change in the list of BCCI members. There are member boards that have existed for decades – in may cases – they represent the regions as they existed before independence. e.g. Hyderabad has a separate membership to Andhra Pradesh (Hyderabad is the capital of Andhra state) or Vidarbha, Saurashtra and Baroda have a separate membership to Gujarat. Reducing these to one vote per state might make sense.

        I like some of the suggestions that deal with conflict of interest for BCCI officials as they seem sensible and practical.

        One of the recommendations was that no active politician should be an office bearer at BCCI or affiliate board. Now, I can see why it was suggested as a way to reduce the political interference in the game, but equally, having a leading businessman or a politician lead a sporting body also enables the body to benefit from their contacts and business skill / acumen. Sharad Pawar is both a businessman and a politician besides being a cricket fan himself. Likewise, Srini, for all his faults has been a leading businessman and a patron of cricket in Tamilnadu for most of his life.
        Anurag Thakur (current BCCI chief), is a sitting member of Parliament, comes from political royalty in Himachal (his home state) but is a sports enthusiast. He has worked hard to improve the cricket infrastructure in his state, which now has some of the best stadium in the country.

        The problem seems to be that the court wants every recommendation implemented (or at least that’s how i read it).

        I won’t defend the power hungry nature of cricket associations or its officials but realistically, BCCIs record of developing cricket in India is probably as good as it gets anywhere in world.
        Governance is another matter altogether and most boards struggle. Across different sports and geographies.
        If there was a tournament on that front, the competition would among the boards would be seriously tough.


      • d'Arthez Nov 5, 2016 / 7:36 am

        A lot of the “bad” suggestions by the Supreme Court could simply have been avoided. If the BCCI took governance issues seriously. They had plenty of opportunities and time. Or is a decade too little time? Funny how the BCCI never needed a decade to ram through proposals to worsen governance though.

        That they’re now facing a few impracticalities is on the powers that be within the BCCI (and some of the predecessors), and the lawyers hired by the BCCI, not on the Supreme Court. If the lawyers made better cases, that would have helped too. They were busy defending the interests of the person of the office bearer, rather than the function of the office bearer …

        In principle there is nothing wrong with businessmen or politicians being involved. However, when they use their connections, to avoid accountability, or to effectively legitimise illegal actions (such as betting on matches), against the laws of the land, then yes, there is something wrong.

        I don’t find it strange that the Court considers extreme measures (such as banning politicians from office in cricket) as a result of the persistent refusal of the BCCI to correct the wrongs, year in and year out after these wrongs have become public knowledge. Impunity begets impunity after all.

        Honestly, we could do with some activist courts in Switzerland too, just to get rid of a lot of corruption in international sports (FIFA, athletics, and a boatload of other sports). I’d rather have that than have every sport being ruined by money-hungry geriatrics …


      • amit garg Nov 5, 2016 / 8:06 am

        @ D’ARTHEZ,
        i suppose i share the sentiment at some level. I am not a BCCI apologist and I certainly believe there is plenty of room to clean up the game in India.
        However, a sledgehammer is not the right way to fix the issues.
        You can not solve all problems at one go. Those attempts only create more problems of their own kind because the real world doesn’t function in that fashion.

        The best way to clean up this system cannot to be to start from scratch.
        Going that route will mean putting every part of a functional organization at a risk and every individual involved stands to lose something. That method only creates obstacles.
        A more practical way of operating would be to engage the people in the system and work with them to implement changes, one at a time. Yes it would take time, but it would at least ensure that the process is not disruptive, has support from stakeholders and is gradually accepted.

        As i mentioned earlier, governance is not the strong suite at most sport associations. There are issues in almost all games and BCCI wouldn’t be the only association to fail at good governance.
        Hockey, Football, Cricket, Cycling, you name it. This is not to defend BCCI but just to point out that balancing business and governance can be a tricky job. I would say that all one needs is men of integrity to run the game but then some would argue that one also needs to be sharp, conniving even, to succeed in the high stakes world of sports administration.
        With those attributes, integrity often goes out of the window.


  33. nonoxcol Nov 4, 2016 / 12:33 pm

    Nice little snapshot of the Web We Want. The subject is England’s greatest all-round cricketer:

    RadLadd betweencloudshadows
    19h ago

    I’ve always thought him a gobby chav, but I must give him credit for his charity work.

    RogerApex RadLadd
    12h ago

    They said that about Jimmy Savile.


    • RufusSG Nov 4, 2016 / 12:58 pm

      I’m guessing that this person has never spoken to Graeme Fowler, then. As much as I find Beefy a miserable “back-in-my-day” type in the commentary box, he’s shown commendable personal qualities through the help and guidance he gave to his friends, Fowler among others, to say nothing of the leukemia walks as well.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Benny Nov 4, 2016 / 3:54 pm

        I enjoy the back in my day stuff. Cricket’s past is fascinating and we get to hear behind the scenes stuff, which can’t be said of the present with England’s locked and bolted dressing room door.

        I’ve happily contributed to Children with Cancer charity ever since Beefy’s first walk. Great man.


      • RufusSG Nov 4, 2016 / 6:22 pm

        Oh, I agree there’s absolutely merit in looking at cricket’s fascinating and complex past, for the reasons you give among others. It hasn’t stopped Ian Chappell from being my favourite current commentator in the Channel Nine box. (Although that’s admittedly a low bar, of course!)

        But – and I think this is partly an age thing, and maybe explains my differing attitude to many others here – if you’re constantly comparing modern cricket to older stuff, especially individual feats and the such, and saying that it’s not that impressive because x was better or had it harder, then in my view you’re making it a lot harder for yourself to enjoy what you’re seeing in front of you if it’s never just impressive sport in its own right. Sure, Viv Richards had to face much harder bowling than Virat Kohli, but it doesn’t mean you can’t marvel at the unbelievable limited-overs player that Kohli is. If all people say when James Anderson takes a wicket with a perfect outswinger is “meh, Wasim Akram was better” then why should he bother turning up to training if he can never match his audience’s demands?

        Yes, there are obviously a lot of ways in which modern cricket is worse, but equally there’s so much good and improved about it too. If I didn’t think there was anything good I wouldn’t bother following it. I do think there’s plenty of misplaced, as well as plenty of justified, nostalgia around cricket.


      • Benny Nov 4, 2016 / 7:35 pm

        Rufus I’m with you. I want both. Kohli is magnificent. I fear that modern day pundits like Knight and Nasser are not aware there was cricket before 20 years ago and much of it was exraordinary – without fitness coaches, dieticians and for a long time, managers. What I believe we are missing today are Great players. Kohli yes, Steyn yes ….. erm ……


  34. SimonH Nov 4, 2016 / 2:16 pm

    Good to see ‘The Sun’ discovering an enthusiasm for the cause of workers trapped in a long-hours’ culture:


    • Mark Nov 4, 2016 / 3:18 pm

      Funny how the next tour it’s always the “toughest tour of all time.” Didn’t someone at the BBC claim Bangladesh was the the toughest of all time a few weeks ago after they won the first test match?

      How long were the tours in the 1930s when they went on a boat, and it took 3 weeks to get there and 3 weeks to get home? Travelling across Aus on a train and playing propper warm up games? No ODI cricket in those days of course, but then we do have separate players for that. Root and Stokes are big worries mind. Etheridge is right about that. However his beloved ECB believe in maximising revenue, so the players have to be worked like dogs to bring in the cash.


      • Benny Nov 4, 2016 / 4:07 pm

        Basically, it isn’t but today’s reporters know little about cricket. I’d suggest that going to WI to face a battery of quicks was tougher or maybe going out to face Bradman, Lindwall, Miller etc.

        “Compressed” tour maybe. So send out a bigger squad. A couple of chaps from Somerset …. the bloke from Kent who’s being talked up. Just being imaginative.


        • LordCanisLupus Nov 4, 2016 / 10:03 pm

          I know someone mentioned it earlier, but for heaven’s sake. This isn’t journalism. It’s bollocks.

          Had Anderson been bowling those overs for his country instead of his county, England could have won at Lord’s and the whole complexion of the series would have been different.

          We have lost test matches with Jimmy Anderson in the team. Many of them.


      • Mark Nov 4, 2016 / 10:37 pm

        As I say above. Operation protect Cooky is in full mode now.

        If, if, if, if Anderson had played, we would have won, and then Cooky would have won the series, and all would be well. Please Ignore the results, just imagine what they would have been if other players had be able to play. No fault on Cooky just he had the wrong players.

        It’s like six inches off carry all over again. I haven’t seen the media this twitchy since 2014. Don’t know why because even if he loses 5-0 to India he will still take the team to Aus next winter. It’s redemption time for the tour from hell.


        • LordCanisLupus Nov 4, 2016 / 10:43 pm

          Been out of commission most of the day. Just looked in. Words fail me at times.


  35. SimonH Nov 4, 2016 / 5:49 pm

    Dobell’s take on the probable Test team:

    “Any firm decision on the XI for Rajkot will only be made after an inspection of the pitch. But, for now, it seems likely that England will retain an attack of three seamers and three spinners and that Buttler will replace Gary Ballance in the middle order”.

    Interesting little mention from him that Root and Buttler drove the demand for a second net session (and that it was needed because the first one hadn’t gone very well – because England’s useless spinners kept dismissing the batsmen!).


    • BoredInAustria Nov 5, 2016 / 6:33 am

      2014: “Then the day before the final Test in Sydney, Cook told the players they needed to get fitter and have more commitment. At that point, Pietersen told Cook he disagreed with that approach, arguing it was performance levels and not fitness issues that were the reasons for England’s poor displays.”

      Liked by 1 person

  36. fred Nov 5, 2016 / 12:03 am

    I hope I’m allowed to post what I’m about to. I’m sure someone will tell me if I’m not, but Haig is so good, and The Australian hides him so much, and it’s possibly the WACA’s last test…


  37. fred Nov 5, 2016 / 12:04 am

    The Australian12:00AM November 5, 2016
    Two days in, the first Test can ­already point to a winner of sorts: the venue. The pitch’s bounce and carry has excited the bowlers. The outfield has been fast. The sun has shone and the crowds have been respectable.

    Yet pleasure is seasoned with regret: the WACA Ground may be staging its last Test of significance. By the time the Ashes come to Perth next summer, administrators hope that the Perth Stadium, now rising over Burswood, will be in action, with its vastly greater ­capacity and multiple purposes.

    It may make the deadline; it may not. Whatever the case, a way of watching cricket is passing. It is intended that the West Australian Cricket Association’s traditional home will revert to a mix of training facility and boutique stadium. The move has had critics: in a new autobiography, former WACA pres­ident Dennis Lillee, who fought a losing battle for the ground where a stand bears his name, pushes off the sightscreen in raining bouncerson former colleagues, calling the Perth Stadium a money pit, and worse. In general, though, the ground is slipping quietly into ­twilight, culminating what has ­really been a 30-year fade.

    Through its 1970s and ’80s heyday, the WACA’s microclimate was unique in the world: the world famous speed and bounce offered by its Harvey Waroona soil, the brutality of the heat relieved by the ministrations of the Fremantle Doctor.

    WACA may have been an ­acronym, but it was also cricket’s great onomatopoeia: here was where batsmen were whacked and whacked back. Literary critic Barry Andrews melded into the title of his classic survey of sporting Australianisms: Tugging Four Bits Off the Deck at the WACA. It impressed outsiders too. In Patrick Eagar’s 1982-83 Ashes pictorial Summer of Speed (1983), the section on the Perth Test concludes with a photograph of patrons clustered round the pitch after the drawing of stumps.

    Such intimacy is unthinkable today, of course: you’d be gang tackled by a cadre in dark glasses and fluoro vests if you got anywhere near a square. But on Eagar’s image there is neither disorder nor nuisance. The tone is reverential. Nobody is talking. Every eye is on the surface, mute testament to its reputation; some push furtively at the dark cracks; most wish merely to pay homage.

    Arguably the WACA’s zenith was 1986-7 when, having become Australia’s third floodlit cricket ground, it hosted a Test and a seven-match one-day international quadrangular to coincide with the America’s Cup defence at Fremantle. “The fireworks which illuminated the sky after the final might have been lighting the ­future path of Australian cricket,” reported Wisden.

    Alas, spasms of austerity after the 1987 sharemarket crash meant that the regeneration was never quite completed. Football came, then went when Subiaco Oval was equipped with lights. Other sports were courted unsuccessfully. Debts worsened, deals soured.

    A comprehensive refurbishment was mooted just before the global financial crisis, then delayed, debated, disputed and at last abandoned. In 2014-15, 44 years after the hard-won first, there was no Perth Test. Nobody seemed to care much. Yet through all this the WACA’s folkloric character has endured. Even as the pitch was toned down, the mise-en-scene remained spectacular: the brilliant light beneath the expanse of the azure blue skies, lately complemented by the massed ranks of flaming orange for Big Bash League games, colour coding the crowd’s parochialism.

    The caravan park quality of its amenities, the snaggle-toothed smile of its architecture, the Spartan shortage of shade and homespun improvisation of barbed wired parapets balanced by the old-fashioned hospitality of grassy slopes and a 60-year-old scoreboard — all these have lent the WACA a frontier feel in a game growing short of such sensations.

    Although the press box seemed so cramped and antique that it should almost have had inkwells, for a time there was the splendid innovation of open air press tents, with fridges to cool libations and laptops alike. And there was a ­lively symbolism when Ricky Ponting held his farewell press conference in a gym, exercise equipment pushed up against the walls.

    In due course, this rough-and-readiness became arguments for the WACA’s phasing out. When Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland was asked last year about the loss to cricket’s ­pageant, he tossed off lines you could parse at length: “The big ­picture I think comes back to the fact that cricket’s not played for the cricketers; international ­cricket’s played for the fans.’’

    Yet this is not really a fact, still less is it a big picture. On the contrary, it is a reductive appraisal of the fans, as though they care at bottom only about their comfort and convenience, when if these were all that mattered then spectators would hardly budge from their couches.

    Live sport has traditionally been about totality of experience, the hope of excitement and romance, the risk of disappointment and annoyance. Yet administrators plough on in their determination to limit the variety of potential experiences, to homogenise, pasteurise and bowd­lerise, all the better to monetise. Still, at least the boss remembered to call them fans this time rather than consumers …

    For the fading of the WACA is on one level about practicalities, the heft of Australian rules, the anachronism of the cricket ground, the burdens of infra­structure and the economic advantages of monotonous discs with vertiginous stands. But it also concerns the fate of cricket in a consumption culture and of sport annexed by an entertainment ­industry.

    The WACA has an integrated wicket block; Perth Stadium will have drop-in pitches. The WACA has wind; Perth Stadium will have Wi-Fi. The WACA neighbours a trotting track, Gloucester Park; Perth Stadium will cluster with a casino, Crown Perth. The WACA is a name with a powerful local connection; Perth Stadium will be a brand, cosily rubbing shoulders with the likes of BHP Billiton and Chevron. At risk is another of those transitions in sport leaving us measurably richer, unmeasur­ably poorer.

    This Test is giving us a renewed appreciation of the WACA. But maybe the appreciation won’t be complete until the experience of watching cricket there is only a memory.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. fred Nov 5, 2016 / 12:25 am

    It might not resonate for alot of people here, but I can feel every word he writes. I’ve had that f**cking Harvey Waroona soil up my backside when camping in the forest where it comes from.

    “The big ­picture I think comes back to the fact that cricket’s not played for the cricketers; international ­cricket’s played for the fans.’’
    James Sutherland has flown under the radar a bit, but he’s one to watch. I suspect Australia has been lucky that is hasn’t had calendar conflicts like England which have forced decisions on loyalty.

    Steyn, of all people, fell into the traditional trap of bowling too short, which the locals always warn against (no need on such a deck!), but Philander made no such error.
    Ponting giving his farewell speech in some dingy underground gym at the WACA was perfect, and fitting.

    I think it was Hopps writing in the Guardian some time back who complained he was denied access to the WACA press box because he wasn’t wearing a tie, even though those that did have a tie were in shorts and long socks. Pepp was laughing her tits off at that complaint, and quite rightly: respect local customs.

    Anyway, I’m not one of James Sutherland’s fans, I just like cricket.


    • Quebecer Nov 5, 2016 / 3:30 am

      It’s annoying I didn’t do the WordPress thing so I could anonymously like your post, but instead have to actually admit it. I liked your post. That you felt every word. Liked very much.


    • fred Nov 5, 2016 / 10:01 am

      Thank you. I’ll mourn the WACA, but maybe I should just accept change is a part of life and some time in the future young cricketeters will feel equally excited about the new ground.

      And I wonder if your kind words are not in fact a poor effort to distract from the fact that changing from teal to brown is, frankly, a pretty modest improvement. (In case you hadn’t noticed, mine is Deep Purple. As in:


      • Benny Nov 5, 2016 / 2:20 pm

        What a great read. Love the name Harvey Waroona soil. Beats our Executive’s Delight, Seamers’ Reserve, Batfirst Loam.

        Change is part of life but some things don’t and shouldn’t. They sure won’t replace Lords or the Sydney Harbour Bridge or the Taj Mahal.


      • quebecer Nov 6, 2016 / 12:22 am

        Clearly the glare of the WACA has permanently damaged your eyes, because your avatar is Royal Navy blue, and mine is a distinguished claret. Also, yours is busy and fussy, and mine is clean, sparse, and imposing.

        We can talk about what’s been happening at the WACA in the last couple of days if you like.


      • quebecer Nov 6, 2016 / 12:23 am

        Oh bloody hell. Thats not funny. Dmitri! Are you deliberately fucking with my avatar?? Just because I posted on the guardian a couple of times the other day??


      • fred Nov 6, 2016 / 8:36 am

        You’re right Q, your new colour is much better…oh look!
        Teal isn’t even a real colour you know, it was just invented by interior designers to sell more cushions.

        Given the WACA is a ground that’s supposed to match the Australian cricket style very well, the team doesn’t have much of a record there. I don’t think SA have ever lost at the WACA. Imagine how embarrassed they’ll be when Australia chases down 540!

        Of course this is just Australia’s rebuilding phase, so it’s understandable. It’s only been a decade since the 2006 retirements of Warne, McGrath etc, can’t rush these things.


      • fred Nov 6, 2016 / 8:46 am

        Benny, didn’t they try to mess around with Lords, and get rebuffed?


    • Zephirine Nov 5, 2016 / 7:29 pm

      “The big ­picture I think comes back to the fact that cricket’s not played for the cricketers; international ­cricket’s played for the fans.’’

      International cricket is played for television.

      Realistically, any new grounds that are built should be small. Picturesque, with nice landscape views in the background. Audience capacity just enough, so that catering and security can be economical but seats that are visible on screen will have people in them. A bit like, ooh, quite a lot of grounds that exist already. But with superb media facilities.

      Durham syndrome: the urge to bankrupt oneself by building huge venues for a sport that is mainly experienced on a screen.

      Liked by 1 person

      • fred Nov 6, 2016 / 8:40 am

        You’re right. It’s played for TV, and radio and now live blogs.
        It’s why NZ matches always look so good on TV, beautiful and small grounds.

        Liked by 1 person

  39. Quebecer Nov 5, 2016 / 3:22 am

    So many good posts here. Much appreciated. But can I just say the ‘above the line’ article was easily the best, most reasonable, and most astute piece I’ve read about the Bangladesh series anywhere. Excellent stuff, and I’m posting this after re reading just now. Top job.
    P.S. Killer new avatar. Thanks.


  40. BoredInAustria Nov 5, 2016 / 6:44 am

    Steyn says he learnt his lesson from rushing back from the last injury. “There’s a lot of cricket to be played and people want you to play, so I didn’t have the full time to recover,” Steyn told the Nine Network on Saturday. “I’ve been dealing with this for quite some time now. I probably should have taken a bit longer.”


  41. SimonH Nov 5, 2016 / 8:49 am

    Good analysis of Rashid:

    “The problem with Rashid is a batting problem. Meaning, not his batting, but the fact that a captain needs his batsmen to get runs to have the cushion to bowl someone like Rashid, for whom, like most leggies, a four ball is never too far away.

    He’s a dangerous bowler, from the little I’ve seen of him. What he needs is his captain’s confidence, and what his captain needs is another bowler who can reliably bowl dry, so that he can afford Rashid’s profligacy”

    It’s from gluck BTL, not from those paid to come up with such analysis..

    Liked by 2 people

    • quebecer Nov 6, 2016 / 12:25 am

      In all fairness to BLT, the Indian boys are always worth reading.


    • fred Nov 5, 2016 / 12:22 pm

      It’s going to be a train wreck isn’t it? They couldn’t handle Bangladesh, how are they going to manage India? They didn’t get selection clarity from the Bangladesh tour, and only Stokes really polished his credentials. And now they’re flying out a half-baked Anderson.
      On top of it all, those darstardly Indians won’t even pick up the tab for the hotel and taxi fares.

      Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH Nov 5, 2016 / 12:45 pm

        I don’t know – I’ve watched India come within a whisker of their own batting collapses in their last two series and they’ve wriggled off the hook. A line-up with a place to recall Gambhir isn’t that great – much will hinge on Pujara who’s in great form and Kohli who’ll be desperate for revenge for 2014. India have been playing a lot of cricket and their bowlers may well start to feel the strain. Their attack is only an injury to Ashwin away from not looking so formidable (although there is some serious underrating of Jadeja going on). Of course winning bowlers don’t usually feel so tired!

        I’m more inclined to think the first two Tests could be quite close. A wheels coming off re-run of ’13/14 isn’t impossible though. Bowled out in 34 overs and Boyd Rankin selected for the 5th Test!?!


      • fred Nov 5, 2016 / 4:16 pm

        Well, you’re more optimistic than me but cricket is such an unpredictable game I’m not going to disagree with you. India are not perfect, and Root and Cook are pretty good batsmen.
        It’s pretty much inevitable the wheels will come off at some point, it’s just a question of when.

        (BTW, England was bowled out in Sydney 2014 in 31 overs, not 34. But that statistic was surpassed last week, they batted 45 overs but in fact lost ten wickets in 22.)


  42. SimonH Nov 5, 2016 / 9:12 am

    Sky’s promo for the Test series:

    Is anyone else playing for England?

    By the ECB’s own market research, any casual viewer who watches that is thinking – who’s that bloke? I’ll watch the wrestling instead.


    • BoredInAustria Nov 5, 2016 / 9:59 am

      Root on the last tour: “We had a bit more experience in our batting order, and guys like Cooky played extremely well throughout that whole series.”



  43. SimonH Nov 5, 2016 / 10:24 am

    Some splendid nonsense from the C9 commentators highlighted by the Gaurdian OBO and Peter Miller:

    “There’s something building out there!” (Slater) – Australia take first wickets for two sessions.

    Warne starts talking about SA declaring with 200 overs left in the match.

    “If Australia win this hour convincingly….” (Nicholas) – SA 350/5.

    “Starc is the best ripper of tails in the world” (Healy) – QDK and Philander put on 38* and Starc has 1/99.

    None of it quite tops Healy putting SA’s comeback yesterday to good luck – that’s if Miller is to be trusted (on the subject of which……)


      • Mark Nov 5, 2016 / 11:42 am

        WTF is he talking about? Cook is still in situ. Coach resigns……..but is then rehired a few months later by the same ECB.

        2013 /14 was completely ignored ……..unless you look out of windows.


        • LordCanisLupus Nov 5, 2016 / 12:08 pm

          Now I read that to mean the only time the Aussie public notice there’s a real issue is when they lose at home. And if that interpretation is correct then he’s absolutely right. I think this blog might be evidence.

          But I’m not his defence lawyer so he can explain that away.


      • SimonH Nov 5, 2016 / 7:44 pm

        Your generosity of spirit does you credit LCL – but he was talking about England:

        There’s another one like that as well. I’m not quite sure how Downton being sacked was because of 2013/14 but apparently it was. “Saying nothing changed since is laughable”.

        Liked by 1 person

        • LordCanisLupus Nov 5, 2016 / 9:59 pm

          I note our impersonator, who linked to HDWLIA as “his site”, surrounds that Tweet. So still proving he/she is going strong.


      • nonoxcol Nov 5, 2016 / 8:15 pm

        Downton being sacked? Exactly how fucking clueless does he think people are? Utterly, truly ridiculous comment. The colossal prat had only just taken over!

        As for Flower. I was “moved on” from my previous job. Somehow it didn’t involve working for the same organisation in a cushier job with less scrutiny.

        By the way Simon, in case you’re not aware, he’s responding to Dmitri’s parody account.


      • Mark Nov 5, 2016 / 11:33 pm

        Who the frig is this bloke Mark Lynch who has nicked my quote?


        • LordCanisLupus Nov 6, 2016 / 10:04 pm


          I have an idea who it is. They’ll give themselves away eventually. In the meantime I’ve blocked them on all the Twitter feeds, but can’t do anything about them lifting stuff from here and tweeting it as their own. That the deranged individual actually responded to a tweet of mine, followed me and retweeted me, after they deliberately linked to HDWLIA when I had that open for 24 hours or so, was immense. I mean, do you seriously think that’s the way to treat someone.

          I know. I retweet people. But I don’t impersonate them. I don’t lift content and call it my own. I don’t have other sites as my own. I rarely block. I hate blocking people. But they had to be blocked.


      • Mark Nov 6, 2016 / 11:24 pm

        I guess it’s a form of flattery. Our very own stalkers. They are obsessed by us. Nothing you can do about it but block them.

        I think we can hazard a good idea who it is. Goes under a number of aliases. Best of all when he tries to be two people at the same time under different names. And then congratulates his alter ego for a good post that he wrote himself. Priceless.


          • LordCanisLupus Nov 7, 2016 / 12:35 am

            Sadly not. I would normally keep an eye on someone like that, but I can’t be arsed. Not any more.


      • Mark Nov 7, 2016 / 12:21 am

        Right, oh well, nothing you can do.


  44. SimonH Nov 5, 2016 / 1:38 pm

    The headline promised that Scyld Berry had strayed more off the reservation than he has:

    “It will be a happy series for England if, in spite of being out-spun, they win a couple of Tests, or even one”.

    There we have it – all the Sky millions, all the Director Commas who never put a foot wrong, all the captains with iron rods, all the army of coaches and managers, all the aiming for No.1 ranking…. and be happy with 4-1.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Nov 5, 2016 / 1:45 pm

      “Or even one”

      As I keep saying, operation protect Cookie is in full force. It’s 2014 all over again.


      • LordCanisLupus Nov 5, 2016 / 1:47 pm

        What’s with the little inferences (I saw Lovejoy tweet it today) that Joe Root wouldn’t be a good leader?

        It’s not subtle, is it?


      • Mark Nov 5, 2016 / 3:26 pm

        Joe Root becomes the new Ian Bell.

        History repeating itself or at the very least a pale imitation of the past. What is fascinating is the orchastrated way this is being pushed. Not just the honest opinion of one journalist, but a group think. The curry hoses of India must be doing very well in journalist expense accounts.


    • thebogfather Nov 5, 2016 / 1:53 pm

      2End for Cook2…. oh, as if he’d resign…as if he’d be sacked and told to say he had resigned… ECB already preparing the ‘good journalism’?


      • thebogfather Nov 5, 2016 / 1:55 pm

        excuse the ‘2’, one eyed typing doesn’t always work! lol (tho’ it doesn’t stop some of our MSM…)


    • Mark Nov 5, 2016 / 11:37 pm

      Sorry, but I just can’t bring myself click on the link. Ed Smith and a chance to shine sounds like chalk and cheese.


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