What’s Cooking?

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I thought I’d break off from the Adelaide story to put a short (ha) piece up on some of the noise coming out of the media after the defeat in the 3rd Test in Mohali. It seems that now, and only now, some of Cook’s staunchest supporters in the press, and increasingly on Twitter and BTL, are worrying about his limitations as a captain. It seems that he is “too conservative”, that he is “muddled in his thinking” and that he too often reverts to “defensive captaincy”. So, now in media land, this means an open questioning of his role as captain. The almost silent question of “is he up to it”? When Newman starts posing the questions, there is something in the air. I’m not at all sure what that is, to be honest. Is it getting at Cook? Is it a vicarious attack on Bayliss, who is presiding over a one day revolution that he has to claim the credit for because Eoin Morgan is completely persona non grata with the press and TV media, but is not exactly pulling up the trees as time goes by with the test team? Why, and this probably speaks more about me than anything, do I fear the dead hand of the Venus Fly Trap, a flower of much aggression, in all this.

What we are getting in India is what we were programmed to receive by the pundits, especially after Bangladesh. It was going to be 5-0. It was because England’s spinners wouldn’t be able to bowl India out, whereas India’s spinners could bowl us out. We were going to be provided turning wickets, which we know is our weakness. We were going to be given result wickets, as the previous series against New Zealand, and those from before against Australia and South Africa had been. We were going to be bedding in new players like Hameed, like Duckett. We had fragile Adil, Woakes who had never bowled in India, and would be without Anderson for at least a couple of tests. Hell, even a draw or two would be an achievement.

So where is this volte face, and believe me, as a watcher of our press, this is a volte face coming from? The first line of sight is hanging on an article by #39 in the Cricketer, where Cook looks forward to the day when he is just an opening batsman in the ranks, and not a captain. Cook has been in the job for four years, and all his previous captains got worn down by it. With the absolutely nonsensical schedules imposed on him by his masters at the ECB, it’s no surprise he’s knackered. Add to that he’s just become a father again to a child he has barely seen, and that wistful thought could solidify rapidly. The thing is, Cook is an experienced media performer (Pringle’s assertion in The Cricket Paper that he isn’t is, like most things he writes, complete crap), and even putting out the suggestion that you are thinking beyond captaincy means you are already opening the door. So despite denials that he meant he wanted to quit, no-one believes him. But you’ve opened the door, and there’s a gale blowing.

Because Cook, deep down, must know this team wouldn’t win in India. There’s too many flaws in the team, too many weak spots to win in the ultimate test for England these days. If everything went right, they might be able to prey on the Indian resolve, but it didn’t, and now he’s 2-0 down with a week’s media space to fill to keep cricket relevant. A somewhat defensive declaration at Rajkot is now held against him – every armchair captain is gung-ho, and would declare half an hour earlier than the one who gets paid to do it – and because that was an impressive performance, England had made a rod for Cook’s back. A second test defeat in Vizag was put down to a favourable toss to win by England, by a ropey batting performance in the first innings, but marked by a decent fightback in the third innings of the match when previous England teams would have chucked in the towel. A poorer game in Mohali, where his reticence to change tack after a tactic had worked, when it stopped with Ashwin, Jadeja and Yadav in that first innings, is now used against him. Coupled with four ordinary innings since his second innings ton at Rajkot, and we have ourselves a story.

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Now, people, you haven’t come to All Out Cricket, and a staunch Cook supporter piece is here for your delectation. No, as usual, it is the media with me, and the modus operandi of English cricket. Journalists have now started speculating about handing over the reins, and citing poor captaincy? Now? Cook hasn’t been awful for about 18 months now, and although I’m not confusing him for Richie Benaud at this time, his captaincy has hardly changed dramatically. If these people cared about the role of captaincy itself, they’d have been outside the Headingley gates in 2014 with pitchforks, asking what the hell was that they had just witnessed when trying to deal with Angelo Mathews and Rangana Herath. Cook then was treated like a protected species, for to give in to common sense then would be to invoke something altogether more disgraceful. But denying that doesn’t get you the epithet “Cook Fanboy” while pointing it out gets you the “KP fanboy” and judging by the usual cretin in the Guardian BTL, that latter one still very much counts.

At that time we were being told that a series winning captain in India, and an Ashes winner as well was “still learning”. Now we are being told that his captaincy may not be seen as taking the team forward. At that time, Cook’s captaincy was like an anchor on a dinghy, while now, while not great, isn’t the horror-strewn calamity that Swann, Broad, Anderson and KP couldn’t bale out. The funniest thing about that time was that it is referred to as a time where Cook faced “intolerable media pressure”. Did he bollocks. They lined up to save him, praise his every positive move over and above its real significance, and participate in Operation Protect Cook(y). People in the press openly admitted that if he’d got to a hundred at Southampton, they’d have stood up and cheered. This was an ECB line, it was a pro-Cook, anti-KP line, it was railing against the louder voices of social media, and it was one of the key tenets of the schism that enveloped English cricket.

So why now, people? What aren’t you telling us? Someone is clearly muttering something, because even though we have no idea how good journalism works, we know how this thing works, because we’ve seen it happen. Is Strauss talking? It appears the most likely as Bayliss is a Strauss appointment, and Cook a Hugh Morris/Paul Downton one (Morris originally, Downton post Ashes 2103-14). Is it the Venus Fly Trap, through Newman, who is laying his poisonous seeds for sins of the past? Something is afoot, and I think we all want to know what it might be. Going to tell us good ladies and gentlemen of the press? Why have Pringle and Newman turned? Now?

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My thanks to those of you who have appreciated the Adelaide pieces. I really enjoy writing them and vamping up the photographs. I also know they are pretty long reads, so instead of trailing the Adelaide test religiously, I am going to space them out, although I will put something up for the anniversary of Day 5. I was thinking of trying to be Being Outside Cricket on that fateful Tuesday morning when most people awoke to the news. It might, or might not, work. I’d have torn into KP, that’s for bloody sure! I will produce Day 3 and Day 4 over the weekend, and then put them up at appropriate times. They don’t garner the hits and comments that other posts do, but blogging is, by its very nature, self indulgent.

December is also time for other traditions. I award my Dmitris… yes, my ego is still big enough. The rules are that individuals can’t be nominated for a second time, but if they were part of a collective (eg, the four horsemen journos in my first iteration) they can be put in on their own. There’s no rule of thumb per se for them, except I usually give one to a “good” journo, and that one is written already, and the winner of the poll, and I can reveal we have a new winner this year, so I have to write that. I give one to an international performer, and one to an England one. The rest are random. The first year I did 10. Last year 7. It will probably be around 7 again.

I also have the poll results to announce, as we produce the annual “Top Journalist” list, as voted by all of us. As I’ve said, Mike Selvey has lost that honour, but who has taken it out of Ed Smith, Paul Newman, Oliver Holt or Simon Hughes? All will be revealed soon.

There’s also the annual media review, that I didn’t bother with last year. I know how much that is loved, and I would be letting you down if I didn’t do it this year. But as always, time is limited in supply.

And, of course, we have two test matches as well. Visitor numbers are up. Hits are up. November was our busiest month for a long time. Comments are going up too. There’s still appetite for the blog, and that’s great. Maintaining this interest through the year has been incredible. Thanks to all.

Now, let’s get writing.

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111 thoughts on “What’s Cooking?

  1. BobW December 2, 2016 / 8:03 pm

    Any chance you could change how days four and five turned out? You know, just how exactly the Test should have ended…

    Like

    • Rooto December 2, 2016 / 8:36 pm

      It’s an interesting sliding doors idea. Some things may have changed (series result, Giles, Fletcher).
      Of course, the biggest alternative history moment in recent times was perhaps McGrath and the rugby ball at Edgbaston, 2005. Losing that match at the end is another. How unbearable it would have been.
      On the other hand,
      Jadeja dropping Cook at the Rose Bowl.
      Rashid picking out cover in Abu Dhabi.

      My memory is awful, and I’m sure there are better moments to pick apart, but I like imagining how things could have gone right, if only…

      Like

  2. jomesy December 2, 2016 / 8:30 pm

    “I also have the poll results to announce, as we produce the annual “Top Journalist” list, as voted by all of us. As I’ve said, Mike Selvey has lost that honour, but who has taken it out of Ed Smith, Paul Newman, Oliver Holt or Simon Hughes? All will be revealed soon.”

    Did I miss the poll?!

    Like

  3. jomesy December 2, 2016 / 9:01 pm

    Re: what’s cooking

    It’s very, very strange and I can add no more to what you have written.

    What I will say is that I am currently reading a truly awful book. Not because it’s badly written but because of the fact that many, many people knew Jimmy Saville was a truly evil man…. from very early on and then obviously for a very long time. We are seeing the same in football now. But the abusers had power. Bear with me….

    I’m reading the book because I used to have faith (generally but not totally) in the papers to investigate such serious matters. Oddly my, perhaps, naivety was utterly shattered by the KP bollocks and the crap we’ve had since about Cook…. oh, and I have three young daughters.

    Anyway, I don’t want to sully BOC, but suffice to say I don’t trust a word from MMS where they have a vested interest. What’s happening now with Cook? Who knows – but it’s not right (I’m no Cook fan but you’re correct to describe as a volte face).

    If you were to read the same saville book (for me worth it, I think, but truly awful) it’s utterly transparent that one of the supposedly independent pillars of our society is rotten the core, always has been and probably always will be.

    So, back to cricket, and your question about what’s Cooking? I can live (just about) with that fact that the press is utterly bent when it’s cricket on the basis that it’s a game. I’ll never forgive the ECB – nor Cook – for their respective roles in denying me – and my girls! – the joy of watching KP too soon.

    But the question in my slightly tipsy post (xmas lunch!) is, where is the power in this rship? Find that, and you’ll find the answer to the question.

    Feel free to call me a mug / delete this post if inappropriate. Different issues but same theme and truly depressing.

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    • LordCanisLupus December 2, 2016 / 9:18 pm

      If you want me to delete it, that’s up to you.

      I can see you aren’t comparing Cook with the Savile business, rather that it’s a grander scale example of MSM seeing what they want to see, and when they want to see it. But we know some little snowflakes like stirring shit in that direction.

      I still want to have faith in what the MSM write, and with some I still do. Let’s say these individuals highlighted in the piece have “form”. Graham Johnson’s book as well as “Flat Earth News” are worth a read on how “news” is generated these days.

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      • jomesy December 2, 2016 / 9:51 pm

        I guess my point, on cricket matters, is that whilst I’ve never been a Cook fan I actually feel for him given the volte face. They’re going to shaft him same as KP.

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        • LordCanisLupus December 2, 2016 / 11:02 pm

          Let us be charitable here, for it is the season and all that. Let us just presume, for one moment, that the press calls for Cook’s position to be, at least, under consideration is that of an honest broker, a caring community, hey even that most precious of commodities – the mate that gives it to you straight. That would be the right thing to do. To seek the truth, to look to the future, to plan for times ahead. You could almost, almost, give them a break.

          But I can’t.

          I like LB, and there’s something he said in his piece today that really, really itched at me.

          “Cook looked exhausted after Tuesday’s eight-wicket defeat in Mohali and will review his position at the end of the tour, as he does after every trip.”

          Really? He has had four winters as England cricket captain prior to this. The first, India (2-1) and New Zealand (0-0) was passable, you aren’t going to jack it in after one winter, and he had, what, four tons in seven tests. Not really reviewable.

          2013-14 – My sides are splitting. “Did you ever consider Alastair Cook’s position as captain?” Jonathan Agnew asked Paul Downton. “Not really…..” I think that speaks volumes about that review on both sides.

          2014-15 – No test tours to review – unless you mean West Indies, where we had a redemptive ton and an Ashes series on the horizon. Then Strauss took over, and well, not quite sure that review lasted a long time on either side.

          2015-16 – We in in South Africa after an expected defeat in the UAE (where Cook made a monster double). It’s all “vibrant young team” this and “win the summer 7-0 and become world number one that” from the adoring sycophants. Cook’s review must have been really tortuous.

          Cook is not some captaincy behemoth. The world will not collapse when he is no longer captain. Why, if the likes of Newman and Hussain are starting to truly, openly criticise his captaincy, is this happening when he’s had wretched games in the past, arguably much worse than Mohali? I’m not, to be clear, including LB in this, but some of his colleagues are singing from very similar hymn sheets at very similar times. It could be described as “odd”.

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      • jomesy December 3, 2016 / 9:19 am

        Replying to your “Let us be charitable here…” post below as I can’t there. I agree – it’s very odd. But as you said, and I latched onto, it’s the volte face that’s really odd. If there had been a gradual shift from his elevated status I’d understand it. But to go from that to what we’ve seen this week is like swapping the hymn sheet from god save the queen as national anthem to the sex pistols’ version. It’s clearly orchestrated!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Deep Purple Fred December 2, 2016 / 11:47 pm

      Nothing wrong with this post.

      Obviously Saville is an order of magnitude more important than the performance of a national sports team, but it all comes back to the same question: can we trust those in positions of power, and who is asking the questions.

      Where’s the power in the relationship? It depends, as in any business, it can vary. Cook was very useful to most people in the ECB, so he had alot of power, and was feted. He was given a steel backbone and a bucolic backstory. His choir boy qualifications were highlighted (ffs!). If for some reasons he no longer suits the agenda then he will quickly be painted as burnt out, having other priorities, and perhaps not all that he used to be battingwise. Perhaps not in tune with the new aggressive English style.

      Bell and KP were quickly disposed of although their performance at the time wasn’t terrible. It can happen to Cook.

      So where’s the power? My guess is a small committee room of people who consider not only cricketing performance, but also paychecks, PR value, cultural fit, old boy networks, and just old fashioned desire to pull the strings for its own sake.

      Like

    • dlpthomas December 3, 2016 / 1:58 am

      what’s the name of the book?

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      • jomesy December 3, 2016 / 9:01 am

        In Plain Sight: The Life and Lies of Jimmy Savile

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  4. LordCanisLupus December 2, 2016 / 9:04 pm

    FYI, the cretin’s comment on BTL:

    ‘Captain Cook’s conservatism continues to invite talk of radical succession
    Joe Root says he is in no mood for promotion yet but after six Test loss’

    So who’s talking because the article doesn’t tell us; The headline writer? Ali Martin? A few we can never forget Kevin Pietersen fans ? Piers Morgan? Rent an opinion for 6 minutes Shane Warne? It is news headline worthy of the Sun. Write an article based on your opinion by all means and argue why you think that rather than hide behind the nameless.

    I think I’ll start my own running dog headline: ‘Guardian admits to drastic decline in cricket journalism and is to bring back Mike Selvey’

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zephirine December 2, 2016 / 9:16 pm

      quebecer belted that one into the stands in a positively Gaylesque manner. But Ali Martin was polite, always a mistake with that particular self-appointed expert.

      Liked by 2 people

      • LordCanisLupus December 2, 2016 / 9:21 pm

        Yes. Clear that the expert wants Selvey back and treats Ali Martin as nothing more than a “Sun journo”. The irony of this, and then popping off at anyone who invokes, even tangentially, Pietersen is rich indeed.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Mark December 2, 2016 / 9:15 pm

    There aren’t many journos left now. So many of them have sacrificed themselves to protect steel jaw. The fact Olie Holt even gets a mention just shows how their ranks have been thined down. I don’t even know who I would bother voting for today? They have either comitted career suicide or they are now writing what we said 4 years ago. Namely, Cook is hopless as a captain. Well done chaps, only took you 4 years to catch up.

    As to Cook, and the latest kerfuffle…….the idea he is thinking about batting without the burdens of captaincy? well, he will be about 52 by then. Root says he wants to go on and on and on. There is certainly no need to protect him anymore. KP has long since gone, and the idiotic facarde isn’t now necessary. Quite why all this is happening now, I don’t really understand. I still think the Cook redemption tour next winter is a slam dunk as long as Cook wants it. After that,who knows? Maybe they feel they can’t sack yet another coach and keep the captain in situ.

    The dreaded F word has been mentioned as a possible come back. I always felt he sacrificed himself to protect Cook 4 years ago. Who knows if he had been tipped the wink that it wasn’t a real sacrifice, because he would be coming back into a nice cushy well paid job. Perhaps Cook can make the sacrifice now to allow him back? It all smacks of jobs for the boys, and moving the furniture around the titanic. Newman and Pringle are sounding like those Republican presidential candidates who said Trump was unelectable and stupid, and are now having dinner with him hoping for a job in his cabinet. Gentleman, have you no self respect?

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  6. Sean B December 2, 2016 / 9:46 pm

    I can’t see Flower wanting to take the post if I’m honest. He always hated the travel and with this role he has all of the power and none of the risk. Whilst there have been a few murmurs of discontent re: Bayliss and Cook finally getting some criticism for being the cardboard captain he is, I’m sure both will still have their roles even if we get hammered in the next 2 Tests.

    I would imagine that Whittaker (deservedly), Fraser and Newell (not so suite about) have been the ones lined up to take the hit when the fallout comes. Anyway Flower is basically picking the team these days!

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    • LordCanisLupus December 2, 2016 / 11:05 pm

      I couldn’t imagine we’d ever re-appoint Peter Moores as coach, but we did.

      I didn’t buy that “Flower hates the travel” then and I don’t now. There’s plenty of travel with this new job – not the scale of the test team – but enough. It may be the role he is truly angling for is Whitaker’s. Who knows? It’s like the court of Stalin in the ECB, trying to work out who is in the ascendant and who isn’t.

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      • Sean B December 2, 2016 / 11:31 pm

        Not sure, heading out for a few weeks in Dubai is hardly a demanding schedule and add to the fact that fact he is so under the radar now, I think Flower is pretty content. As for Whittaker’s job, he pretty much has it now anyway. I’d be massively surprised if Whittaker survived the chop this year, he has been set up as Strauss’ sacrificial goat (even if he is useless!).

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      • Mark December 3, 2016 / 12:14 am

        Wasn’t Flowers biggest gripe not the travel, but that he was away from his family and Young kids a lot? Perhaps his kids have grown up a bit now, and he would not mind the tours quite so much.

        As Sean says, he is the defacto selector now. Ever young player seems to have to be vetted by Lions tours. The ECB would give him the job for no other reason than a big f you to those outside cricket.

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  7. man in a barrel December 2, 2016 / 11:25 pm

    I was in a high profile job during That Test. I woke up and England had actually lost from an impregnable position. I was stunned.

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  8. Zephirine December 2, 2016 / 11:32 pm

    It’s quite possible that Cook has discreetly let it be known that he sees his future as easing out of the captaincy (though continuing to hold the opener position as of right for as long as he’d like it).

    Those who’ve been defending him with such touching loyalty are therefore no longer obliged to do so, and are looking for an angle and finding variations between ‘oh, the poor lamb, he’s really tired’ and ‘he was never that great a captain anyway.’

    He’ll probably get what he wants, when he wants it.

    As for who would succeed him as captain, if Root wanted it he’d have found a way to say so. But he’s sent a clear message that he’s fine with being VC and staying focused on his batting. I think they’d have to go with Anderson as long as he’s fit to play, for the simple reason that he wouldn’t accept anyone else’s authority. He’s made no secret of the fact that he wanted the job when Cook got it.

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    • Deep Purple Fred December 3, 2016 / 12:03 am

      “Those who’ve been defending him with such touching loyalty are therefore no longer obliged to do so, and are looking for an angle and finding variations between ‘oh, the poor lamb, he’s really tired’ and ‘he was never that great a captain anyway.’
      He’ll probably get what he wants, when he wants it.”

      Maybe if England had had a revolution like France did and chopped off the heads of the toffs, the landed gentry wouldn’t get such an easy ride today.
      Francois Hollande resigned in a dignified manner yesterday, and he’s been mocked mercilessly ever since (“best speech he’s ever made”).
      Ian Healy got dumped, and Chanderpaul. Hussey tricked them by playing the last game he intended to, then announcing his retirement.
      KP’s departure was a bit rough, but that doesn’t count because he was South African born.
      After the Hobart debacle, Rod Marsh retired to the drawing room with a bottle of whisky and a pistol.
      Not in England though, the path will be smoothed for Alistair.

      Like

      • Mark December 3, 2016 / 12:24 am

        Actually, we did chop off a kings head, 150 years before the French. And we had a bitter civil war that lead up to that event. Far more bloody than the reign of terror. But the old adage…. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss took hold.

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      • Deep Purple Fred December 3, 2016 / 5:14 pm

        Foolish of me to under estimate the English capacity for ruthlessness. Just ask the Tasmanian Aboriginals, except you can’t.
        Nonetheless, the class system lives on. I watched an ODI from a corporate box at Lords once. I felt like I was in some period film, a Merchant and Ivory production. It’s when I realised the parodies of upper class English were not parodies at all, just documentaries. Making small talk was veeeery difficult.
        But the wine was sensational.

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    • northernlight71 December 3, 2016 / 9:14 pm

      My reading of the situation is much the same. Cook has let slip that he’s had enough and so the press want to give the impression that when he goes, they were all already on that page.
      They desperately want to maintain the illusion that they are relevant, ahead of the game and we’ll embedded with the England set up. Telling us that Cook is going to plan his swansong for the next Ashes would just make them look foolish if he walked at the end of this tour.

      Like

  9. Mark December 2, 2016 / 11:56 pm

    Perhaps the media insiders have got wind that Cooks going to call it a day, and want to be seen as being one step ahead of the game……..and make it look as if they knew the time was right to go. Their followers are not the brightest after all.

    Of course, we all know that if he chooses to stay, they will be fine with that too. And by the way, why does Cook get to decide his own contract? Shouldn’t Strauss be making that call? Smacks of Wenger?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Rooto December 3, 2016 / 6:03 am

    We’re getting these stories, as LCL says, because of the week-long gap between tests. I can’t help feel we’re being set up for a sucker punch before Mumbai. A set piece interview to knock back the rumours perhaps, or – who knows? – to confirm them.
    I’m sure of one thing, though. Sachin Cook will carry on batting till the big record falls his way. A captaincy decision will be made with this in mind.

    Like

  11. pktroll (@pktroll) December 3, 2016 / 8:50 am

    It is weird that as someone who desparately wanted Cook’s blood after THAT tour, I’m far more sanguine as I’ve said about his position in the team. His faults have been there far longer than these journos have now belatedly pointed out but it goes deeper than that for me. I said in a post last week that the person that I started to feel more directly hostile about (not that I like him anyway) is Strauss. He’s had the opportunity to ensure that the Lions players, the leading prospects, have been adequately prepared to make the step up and all they have over 2 winters is a few weeks playing white ball cricket in the Emirates. Well that’s no good, it simply means that he’s taken his eye off the ball in terms of preparing the most talented up and comers for test cricket.

    Then there is his kindred spirit in Flower. He gets to spend a lot of time at Loughborough, the highly criticised robotic destroyer of young cricketers without the presence of someone whose record as a senior coach indicated that he was hardly a sound candidate for bringing young players through. It is fairly ridiculous that such a short while after their regime unraveled in charge of the senior team at the coal face, these two are now stifling development of players in back-room roles. Of course very little will be said by the journos about these two, because they will look at the good times and don’t focus on how things turned bad. The worst elements of their custodianship seemed to have carried over to their more background roles for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • nonoxcol December 3, 2016 / 11:40 am

      That failure to focus on when it turned bad.

      We should call it the Newman Sidebar Effect. Can’t do the link here and now, but I’m sure someone will oblige.

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      • pktroll (@pktroll) December 4, 2016 / 9:10 am

        Sorry I didn’t get back sooner Non. I remember venting my fury at the time and that Dmitri did a scathing piece by piece deconstruction of it that was suitably visceral. My thoughts on Flower and his influence weren’t benign then and they are even less so now. Things may just have to get worse before they get better.

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      • Tregaskis December 4, 2016 / 2:13 pm

        Good pick.

        I recall that this was the first interview agreed by Flower since the 2013-13 Ashes whitewash and the fall out that followed. He had kept silent and stayed out of public view for more than two years. The interview was the very first opportunity to discuss the biggest crisis to hit English cricket in recent memory with the man at the centre of the storm. Yet Newman failed to ask a single question about the “difficult winter”. It was like going to the zoo and failing to look at the animals. Especially the elephants.

        I would have understood Newman’s position had Flower stipulated that the interview was only granted on the understanding that the subject was off limits. But there was no printed caveat within the article. Nor any suggestion that questions were asked but Flower had declined to answer. Without these, it is a fair presumption that the glaring omission was Newman’s choice.

        As you say, it was given the full Hello, soft-focus treatment. For anyone professing to be a serious journalist, as I think Newman does, it was a dreadful dereliction of duty to sport, to sport’s readers, and to journalism. When I questioned the loss of opportunity as well as the tone and style of the piece on Twitter, he blocked me. Before doing so, he first gave me the benefit of, what Dmitri calls, “let me explain journalism to you, claptrap”. Imagine. Taking that moral tone. After writing that article!

        It is comical in a sad sort of way when journalists of a certain vintage block out non-abusive, salient questions. It’s like old men shouting at strangers, then running off with their fingers in their ears. And if proof were needed that old people act like babies, then look not further than the juvenile practice of throwing blocks about when no interaction has ever taken place. I guess these anticipatory strikes help preserve the right of the poor dears to spout utter bollocks from time to time with total impunity.

        Looking back now, I am struck by the similarities between Newman (and Selvey) and Donald Trump in terms of their gossamer-thin skins and their nuclear responses on Twitter to even innocuous criticisms. They don’t just respond. They respond bigly.

        It’s a shame really, because I am sure that after a lifetime in journalism his oeuvre is better than this, and I understand from folk who know or who have met him that he is a smashing bloke. Happy to believe it, and promise not to block anyone who says it’s so.

        Liked by 1 person

      • nonoxcol December 4, 2016 / 5:13 pm

        I seem to recall Clive having equally brief interaction with PN at the time. Something to do with sycophancy and the Russian press….

        Liked by 1 person

  12. "IronBalls" McGinty December 3, 2016 / 8:54 am

    Something’s going on tbough, isn’t there? Tiny little nibbles at the edifice that we couldn’t have imagined a year ago? Sniping at Cook, even from his sycophants. The apparent re-emergence of Flower’s malevolent hand. The city based franchise oppostion now starting to get organised. MP’s questioning the behaviour and transparency of the ECB being asked in parliament??
    The pot’s quietly coming to the boil quite nicely I reckon!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. SimonH December 3, 2016 / 9:48 am

    It was always likely that if the tour went pear-shaped, someone would have to be thrown under the bus. My surprise is who seems to be lining up on which side of the argument.

    On the one hand, the Essex boys seem to be the first to abandon ship. Hussain has been desperately (even embarrassingly) defending Cook during play but he seemed livid about bowling Moeen Ali at Umesh Yadav (odd, out of all Cook’s terrible decisions, if that should be the one that broke the camel’s back) and lead one of his post-match pieces with a catalogue of Cook’s errors (which when joined up and highlighted sounded abysmal – lord, where has that been for the last two years?). Pringle’s written that piece for the ECB-TCP. Newman seemed to be turning and we know how ugly that can get. Stocks is in danger of finding himself alone in a cult of one.

    On the other hand, George Dobell who I thought would be the first to abandon Cook has the S.S. Bayliss going down with all hands instead. The Essex mob don’t seem to have turned their guns on Bayliss yet.

    Strange times. It’s all in a state of flux and the next couple of weeks are going to be interesting. I wouldn’t at all rule out Strauss stamping his little foot and the boys falling into line. How they love the smack of firm leadership! I’m suspicious (without much firm evidence it must be said) of the role of Farbrace in all this. He stands to be a major beneficiary in any shake-up (he’s the more likely next coach than Flower, though I’m not ruling Flower out by any means) and seems to attract no negative comment. Perhaps that’s the happy position of the deputy? Perhaps it’s a bit more….

    The presence of the Great Satan (plus enough success) was a powerful glue holding them together. Take that away and the rats-in-sack scenario begins. As always, the concern is that it doesn’t go too high up into the echelons of management. Can they hold the line at captain-coach-selector level? ,

    Liked by 1 person

  14. LordCanisLupus December 3, 2016 / 10:16 am

    Not just the players, though, getting their thoughts ghosted?

    Hurry up setting up the blog. I’ll show him if he needs help.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. BoredInAustria December 3, 2016 / 10:28 am

    You walk into the room
    With your pencil in your hand
    You see somebody naked
    And you say, “Who is that man?”
    You try so hard
    But you don’t understand
    Just what you’ll say
    When you get home

    Because something is happening here
    But you don’t know what it is
    Do you, Mister Jones?

    Liked by 1 person

    • pktroll (@pktroll) December 4, 2016 / 9:19 am

      I actually think George is a bit harsh on Bayliss here. To me, Bayliss is merely suggesting that the likes of Root, Ali, Bairstow, Stokes and Buttler are not the type of players to be sitting in trying to defend for long periods as that just isn’t really the type of game that suits them and he has a point. Sure the attempted blockathon by Cook and Hameed in Vizag was a decent effort, but they had the capacity to play that type of innings, whereas the other named don’t. In other situations Bayliss is suggesting that the others don’t try and get bogged down too much but play with applicable judgement. Too much is being read there by George I think.

      I’m not here trying to be particularly critical of Bayliss, but I wonder what is going in with both the selectorial decisions, the choice of Batty last test, the tactical uses as well, the silly bowling dry strategy, inexplicable use and non use etc. Surely Bayliss has to sit down with Cook and here and at least say where he needs to perhaps be more adaptable, because the last game was rather typical of a latterday Strauss and Flower debacle in Asia early 2012.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. SimonH December 3, 2016 / 12:24 pm

    For those of us who don’t listen to it, what’s been said on TMS? Last I heard was Swann rubbishing Root’s captaincy credentials in the 2nd Test.

    Like

    • Alec December 3, 2016 / 1:00 pm

      Whatever one thinks of Swann, he’s almost certainly right. Root captained Yorkshire as Chris Rogers led a 4th innings chase of over 400. (Yes the boundaries were ludicrously short on one side of the pitch but even so…)

      Like

    • Mark December 3, 2016 / 3:10 pm

      But why can’t someone like Root learn on the job? Cook has been given 4 years and I see no improvement. The media have been spinning for the last 18 months that he has Improved and “grown into the role.” ……..I see no evidence for it’ but why does only Cook get 4 years to learn his trade on the job?

      Whoever replaces him will never be given the free ride he has enjoyed. 12 months at best.

      Like

      • Alec December 3, 2016 / 4:36 pm

        The best solution is to do what has often been done and get him to captain the short format sides as Morgan’s stand-in (the Bangladesh tour was the obvious missed opportunity). He should have captained against Bangladesh in the tests as well while Cook spent some time at home to get to know his daughter.

        Like

  17. Clivejw December 3, 2016 / 7:20 pm

    The media live in an eternal present, where what they said a week ago or even a day ago is mere oblivion. They start each day with a blank page.

    What has happened is that, thanks to electronic media, their words can be easily revisited, parsed, and thrown back at them to challenge what they are saying now. I guess that is one of the services performed by this blog.

    Scyld Berry is the latest to call for Cook to resign. He makes some very good points about the limitations of Cook’s style of captaincy, but yes, as Dmitri says, they could all have been made one winter or two winters or three winters ago.

    I also find myself choking when reading guff like this about Cook:

    his decency and sense of duty, his kindness and consideration

    From where I’m sitting, Cook looks like a rather selflish,petulant, disloyal, over-indulged child of privilege who has at times disgraced, and rarely graced, the office of England captain. But middle-class people just love to stroke each other in this fulsome way.

    And of course there’s this:

    his own batting was the key to the recovery last time

    Of course, there was no one else, was there. Why, then, is it that England seem desperate to find a batsman not in the mould of Cook (though, ironically, they have succeeded in doing exactly that in young Hameed), but in the mould of Pietersen, who successfully did everything that Bayliss is calling on Buttler (there’s a forlorn hope if ever there was one), Stokes, SOMEBODY, to do now?

    Liked by 2 people

    • LordCanisLupus December 3, 2016 / 7:44 pm

      Scyld Berry’s article is unmitigated pap. Absolute drivel. Just because he is “eccentric” does not mean he should not be called out for half arsed jollop.

      There’s something afoot. These are not coincidental articles.

      Like

      • Grenille December 3, 2016 / 8:21 pm

        I have two theories as to what’s cooking (though as always I am late to the game). Neither theory is very flattering to the press.

        The first theory is simply that the English cricket media is a bit of a cosy club. They, like any other cosy club, tend to agree with each other and slap each other on the back. However, the Indian cricket media will take a rather different view of the current state of the England team and its captain from the very small English press corps. The gentleman of the English press, who need have no respect for knowledgeable outsiders, have some kind of respect for the opinions of their Indian counterparts. I find it hard to imagine that the senior cricket correspondent on the Indian equivalent of the Daily Mail shares Paul Newman’s view on Alistair Cook. I suspect that Newman himself has some respect for his colleague. I can imagine that over dinner and in the press box the English ‘boys’ shallow defence of Cook has been laughed out of town. At this point it is easier to change your mind (and probably not acknowledge that you have done so), then continue to defend the indefensible. I think this must play some part in what is happening. My memory, which is faulty, is that something similar happened when the last World Cup was on. You saw much more criticism of England’s one-day cricket from our fearless seekers after truth once the professional English cricket commentariat had met up with their Australian buddies.

        The second theory is more sinister. I also think that it is the right one. The ECB are very much in hock to Sky. The Murdoch media modus operandi is to sell a product. Last I looked, which was a long time ago, the Murdoch papers always ran features on the football game which Sky was headlining, irrespective of whether or not it was the big game. You also see a concerted attempt by Sky Sports and the Sun and The Times to sell the Premier League as the greatest competition in football. I suspect that the ECB and Sky have come up with a marketing strategy for the England cricket team. Their coverage is not really journalism in the traditional sense. It is a conscious marketing of the England cricket team. They are trying to sell it as exciting, young and English. The England marketing strategy has also been based around a few key figures, Cook, the choirboy, Ali, the elegant Asian, Root, the great white hope, and Stokes, the new Botham. I appreciate that, with the exception of Cook, those players are criticised by the media. However, it is pretty soft soap and they garner most column inches. Players who are not central, like Rashid or Bairstow, receive a lot more criticism and a lot less space. Bairstow has had the most extraordinary year but he’s hardly discussed in the match reports. I also think that if, for example, Root suffered a real loss of form, you would see the same ludicrous defence that Cook benefited from. I appreciate that not every newspaper is owned by Murdoch, but, I think that they are commercial enterprises. If England cricket is popular, they sell more papers/advertising space. It is in everybody’s commercial interest to go along with the ECB’s marketing strategy. You also risk looking stupid if you are singing from a different hymn sheet from the commentators in the Sky press box.

        If that’s right though, it is not just a problem for readers and watchers, it is also a problem for the team itself. If you have decided that you are going to make your money by selling, for example, Captain Cook as a boys own hero, you can’t drop him or take the captaincy away from him, even if he turns out to be rubbish. My conspiracy theory is that, finally, the worm has turned because Strauss and his colleagues have decided that they need a new strategy. Cook’s England team is not very exciting. Cook isn’t a very good captain and nobody knows who he is anyway. The shame is that it is not purely a cricketing decision. The deeper shame is that all of their choices are going to be, in part, marketing choices. More often than not the moneymaking choice will also be the cricketing choice, but they won’t always dovetail nicely.

        Anyway, that’s my theory, make of it what you will.

        Like

      • SimonH December 3, 2016 / 8:26 pm

        Bloody hell, he gives Rashid as an example of Cook’s “kindness and consideration”? The same Rashid who was dragged round the Caribbean and left out of the team for…. James Tredwell. The same Rashid lumbered with hopelessly defensive field settings for Test after Test that meant he could leak five an over without bowling a bad ball. The same Rashid briefed and sniped against by the media in a way that wouldn’t happen without leadership connivance. And the same Rashid hauled off with a four-for and Umesh Yadav who he’d dismissed twice before at the crease in the last Test.

        The main problem with Cook is that he’s too gentlemanly? Too gentlemanly with opposition batsmen (ask Angelo Mathews!) and too gentlemanly with his own bowlers. Picking his mate for the last Test and then under-bowling him to save his stats and fitness is something – but it isn’t gentlemanly.

        “England’s situation now is the same as when another left-handed batsman with the same limitless determination as Cook, Allan Border, stopped Australia losing: his successor, Mark Taylor, then turned Australia into the world champions in the mid-1990s”.

        Comparing Cook to Border makes me puce-faced with rage. I mean, Border did literally make Australia world champions – and in Asia, with the worst team ever to win the WC. In Tests, between 1989 and Border’s retirement, they won 7 Test series, drew 2 and lost only 2 (both to WI by 2-1). In terms of individual Tests, their record was W25 D20 L9. Australia and WI were alternating at the top of the rankings in the early 1990s. He handed on a great legacy to his successors. Just to state the bleedin’ obvious in comparison – Cook has not won the WC, hasn’t topped the rankings, has lost 20 Test matches in charge and the legacy isn’t looking in great shape.

        Liked by 2 people

        • LordCanisLupus December 3, 2016 / 8:30 pm

          I have a migraine today so limiting viewing time but when I mentioned “pap” I had the Border comparison in mind. I mean, seriously.

          Like

      • Mark December 3, 2016 / 9:49 pm

        “Scyld Berry is the latest to call for Cook to resign.”

        Too funny! They really are just pod people aren’t they? Non of them have got an original thought in their heads. It’s group think on an industrial scale. It never made any sense that they all independently came to the same conclusion that Cook was a genius captain, and should stay for ever. Yet that is what they all did.

        And now, as if by magic, they have all independently (cough cough) decided he is a crap captain and has to go. It’s hilarious. Straight out of of George Orwell. The lid has been blown off the English cricket media. They are as one. They think as one. The blob. You might as well have just one, who writes the copy, and then sends it to all the major outlets. Would anyone notice?

        The interesting thing is what Cook does now. Suppose he doesn’t want to go? Are we going to have the media and the captain at loggerheads? Will he appear wearing his…”I AM STILL IN CHARGE” shirt?

        Like

      • Clivejw December 3, 2016 / 9:57 pm

        Bloody hell, he gives Rashid as an example of Cook’s “kindness and consideration”?

        I did a double-take on that too. If Cook has finally shown a bit of confidence in Rashid, it’s taken a bloody long time, and he’s likely to forget him as soon as this tour is over (if still in charge, which he will be — this is 2016, the worst always happens).

        Liked by 1 person

      • Zephirine December 4, 2016 / 1:45 pm

        Completely agree with the second theory advanced by Grenille (Grenville?). I’ve commented before about Cook being used as the face of the brand, to be identified with England cricket in the same way as the face of Colonel Sanders is attached to KFC.

        Whatever else we feel about Cook, I think he has always understood this and been prepared to play that role even if it made him look silly, which it often has.

        It looks as if Root doesn’t want to do all that stuff and just wants to play cricket. The other one who seems prepared to play along is Moeen, perhaps because he’s conscious of representing his community in a positive way.

        I think this marketing-driven approach must have come in with the Sky deal, or at about the same time. It led to previous unease about Flintoff and then of course the rejection of KP because the perception was that they were too preoccupied with building up their own brands.

        If you’re looking for an explanation of the combined volte-face over Cook, I think it’s here:

        WWE wrestlers are more recognisable than England Test captain Alastair Cook, according to new research.

        Derbyshire chairman Chris Grant said the findings came from market research conducted by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) into the game’s popularity.

        “More kids these days can recognise a WWE wrestler than the England captain,” Grant told BBC Radio Derby.

        “Only a third could recognise Alastair and I think we’ve got to improve that.”

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/37384828

        Time for a re-branding, it would seem.

        Like

      • Grenville December 4, 2016 / 9:30 pm

        It was me and I am flattered that you agree.

        Like

      • Zephirine December 5, 2016 / 12:37 am

        No need to be flattered Monsieur Grenille, especially as I’ve realised I’ve now confidently given two contradictory explanations of the Cookery in the same thread. Still that’s the fun of Kremlinology, or perhaps we should say Lordsology.

        Like

    • "IronBalls" McGinty December 3, 2016 / 9:11 pm

      Unfuckingbelievable! Is that a word??

      Like

      • "IronBalls" McGinty December 3, 2016 / 9:11 pm

        It is now!!

        Like

    • Sean B December 3, 2016 / 9:30 pm

      Utter pap as normal. Love it how he has to refer to Flower as ‘illustrious’. I just wonder when Newman will finally give up the word journalist and admit he’s the ECB’s press secretary. England’s answer to Malcolm Conn…

      Like

      • Mark December 3, 2016 / 9:50 pm

        It’s like The Tudors.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. BoredInAustria December 4, 2016 / 6:52 am

    Great post and comments. A few observations:

    Flower is popping up all over the media after years of being invissible.
    I cannot believe that Strauss is suddenly the Alpha male in the Strauss-Flower relationship.
    Interesting that Broad trusts the Lions medical staff more…??
    I see Woakes sustained “a small fracture” to his thumb but is “fit for selection”.
    Stokes must become more like Jimmy and “get away with it a bit better”

    Final thought – Maybe the chief selector and new mom, Alice, has called it a day on the captaincy….

    Liked by 1 person

  19. SimonH December 4, 2016 / 9:30 am

    A couple of the press boys (Lawrence Booth is one) have been clinging to the life buoy that England are still second in the rankings.

    That is indeed the case – but it’s a lot less than the whole truth. England will in all probability be fourth by mid-January and possibly fifth.

    Curiously, a comeback in India and winning one or even both of the remaining Tests doesn’t make a great deal of difference. Australia still merely need to beat Pakistan in their forthcoming home series and SA would need to whitewash SL in their forthcoming home series to push England into fourth. If England lose 4-0 or 3-0 in India, a drawn series in Australia would push both Pakistan and Australia above England while SA would merely need to beat SL by any margin. 3-1 in India would mean Pakistan have to beat Australia (which they’ve never done of course) and if they did, Australia would be below England in the rankings so England couldn’t be lower than fourth.

    The Australia series finishes on January 7th and the SA series on the 17th – I wonder if they’ll try to rush through this oh-so-rigorous end of tour review before one or both of these? (“Dateline January 6th: England’s Director of Cricket Andrew Strauss moved quickly to review England’s tour of India. Strauss, not a man to let grass grow under his feet and showing the decisive leadership that has characterised his time in charge, announced that Alastair Cook is to remain Test captain forever. Strauss said, ‘Alastair has retained his dignity during a difficult winter and it is important to remember England are still second in the world under his leadership. So, do one you KP fanboys’. Strauss also announced that James Whitaker and Mark Ramprakash will be spending more time with their gardens. ‘I thank them for their service’, said Strauss, ‘and I would like to re-introduce you to a familiar face…..'”).

    (P.S. I’m well aware that in one sense, all this is a bit of a nonsense – there will only be a handful of points between the sides from second to fifth which lies well withing the margin of error for how the rankings are calculated. I think most people would reckon there’s very little to choose between Australia, England, SA and Pakistan at the moment – all are flawed teams with some strengths but without much consistency. I’m thinking purely in terms of how this might be used in the media to build a campaign either for the status quo or for change).

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Deep Purple Fred December 4, 2016 / 12:26 pm

    I know it’s only an ODI, but, holy moley:

    Like

    • Deep Purple Fred December 4, 2016 / 8:16 pm

      I feel really sad and dejected that no one wants to celebrate this catch with me.
      I know Aus NZ ODI’s are not the raison d’etre for this blog, but still, it was a bright spot in the day.

      Like

      • Quebecer December 4, 2016 / 8:26 pm

        I can celebrate him landing on his face if you like.

        Like

      • jomesy December 4, 2016 / 9:23 pm

        Your link doesn’t work in the uk – speak to Murdoch / CA.

        Looked it up. Great catch, even better because he didn’t quite have it all, but didn’t drop it especially when his head landed.

        Top notch!

        Like

      • Deep Purple Fred December 4, 2016 / 9:43 pm

        You get extra points for landing on your face. He has a face made to la…no I won’t go there.

        Notice the way he curled his hand and wrist underneath himself as he landed to protect the ball.

        Like

      • BobW December 5, 2016 / 11:08 am

        Randall was my hero growing up too. That hundred in the centenary test in Australia stays in my mind. Also a bit later the days of Gower on one side of the wicket and Randall the other. Two brilliant fielders.

        Like

    • BoredInAustria December 4, 2016 / 8:22 pm

      All right then – I will! Brilliant!
      🙂

      Like

    • Quebecer December 4, 2016 / 8:29 pm

      In the top 5 I’ve ever seen, I’d say. And it was a bloody good ton too. As the commentator said, “Steve Smith’s had a good day out.”

      But that’s as far as I can go, obviously.

      Like

    • Deep Purple Fred December 4, 2016 / 9:24 pm

      Thanks guys, I feel better now.

      Like

      • Deep Purple Fred December 4, 2016 / 11:53 pm

        Collingwood was very good, elite performance.

        Rhodes was ridiculous. I noticed his split step as the batsman played the shot, like tennis players do as their opponent serves, poised to go anywhere. Nonetheless, he’s stretching the laws of physics to get there, the transfer of weight is fantastic.

        But the Randall one was obviously a doctored image, fake. Couldn’t possibly have happened. Get outta here.

        Like

      • quebecer December 4, 2016 / 11:53 pm

        huh. autocorrect doesn’t like the name Jonty, it seems.

        Like

      • quebecer December 5, 2016 / 12:00 am

        I’m not sure they could doctor footage back then. It would have had to be done with scale models and trap doors and things.

        Randall looked no different after that catch than he did when pinging Thommo or Lillee off his nose, running himself out, or being told to fuck off by Rod Marsh. He was my first cricketing hero.

        Like

      • Deep Purple Fred December 5, 2016 / 12:37 am

        Randall was an anti-hero when I was growing up. I still remember the cartoon in the local newspaper with Randalls name flashing in lights on the WACA scoreboard, referring to his egoism and showmanship.
        He did seem to have a hard head though;

        It’s rather short, says the commentator, it’s quite short. English understatement, it was in the first half of the pitch!

        Like

      • quebecer December 5, 2016 / 1:10 am

        I’m not sure the Aussies quite knew what to make of Derek Randall. He was a bit crackers. Shambolic looking, yet fearless against the short ball even when getting plonked. Here he is giving some to Rodney Hogg: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-Lb5tApEns And it’s not as if they didn’t have a little previous: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8aKlhx7ZOE't Of course, there was that Centenary Test 100: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZYF9SptxNc I think it was there that he got told in no uncertain terms by Rod Marsh that this wasn’t a tea party when Randall jovially said hello and asked him how he was when coming in to bat.

        The thing was, Randall was a beautifully fluent offside stroke maker: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANOaOJypaZo
        Yet also truly bonkers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwwSWQeP360

        Like

      • oreston December 5, 2016 / 2:12 am

        Things like that weren’t done as often back then, but I seem to recall that Arkle did have quite a reputation for his athleticism in the field. I wish he’d played more tests.

        Like

      • BobW December 5, 2016 / 11:19 am

        Mike Brearley in one of his books Return of the Ashes writes a whole chapter on Randall and his 150 to save the Sydney Test in 1979. A lovely read on a top bloke. Last year I think he was at Bromley CC as their after dinner speaker. I heard he was pretty good.

        Like

      • Rooto December 5, 2016 / 11:24 am

        Nice list, q. The only problem with Randall’s catch is that Hayden wasn’t the victim – that’s what I particularly enjoyed about numbers 3 and 2…

        Like

    • jomesy December 4, 2016 / 5:32 pm

      Indeed.

      An enjoyable knock to watch though – including two sixes out of the ground.

      Still grates with me…

      Like

    • Grenville December 4, 2016 / 9:25 pm

      It isn’t exactly ‘a las barricadas’…

      Like

  21. SimonH December 5, 2016 / 6:21 pm

    Hmm, this is getting interesting…..

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/cricket/article-4002456/England-urged-rediscover-form-Test-Trevor-Bayliss-steps-bid-rescue-series-against-India.html

    Lawrence Booth stressing mixed messages from coach and captain – and he claims to have what the coach is going to say to the players before he’s actually said it. It doesn’t quite say “Cook’s set the strategy – and it’s been a disaster” but it’s not far off.

    Curiouser and curiouser.

    Like

      • BoredInAustria December 5, 2016 / 7:31 pm

        ” a more active role as head coach in charge of a young side “

        Like

      • SimonH December 5, 2016 / 8:18 pm

        Nobody else reporting this part of what Bayliss had to say:

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/38209067

        “He’s talking about the next Ashes series and being out in Australia.” Not too worried about that end of tour review then?

        Like

      • nonoxcol December 5, 2016 / 9:27 pm

        As someone greeted me at work on a non-specific morning this year….

        Like

      • SimonH December 6, 2016 / 9:53 am

        ” a more active role as head coach in charge of a young side “

        “This young and inexperienced side” really is a branding exercise isn’t it? It was to be taken with the same degree of seriousness as “soft and strong and very long”. The trouble is, they’ve created a monster that’s on the verge of consuming Cook’s captaincy and Jimmy and…. ? Some of the press thought it was real. In the vanguard of that is, of course, Shiny Toy:

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/cricket/2016/12/05/england-fail-often-talent-have-old-guard-blame/

        “Perhaps the senior players have to take a backward step and accept it is the time for the new generation to lead. Let’s see what they have got”.

        Never mind that three paragraphs later he’s calling for more conservative batting – expecting consistency from him is like expecting it from a five year old’s Christmas list. It wouldn’t matter if it was only him but it’s what’s behind the mutiny from Newman and Hussain as well. They’ve bought into the re-branding so completely there’s no “hang on, we didn’t really mean it” now. Bayliss’s comments yesterday make sense in that regard – that was the sentiment he was trying to tap into. I think there’s some underestimating how extraordinary it was from Bayliss yesterday. A coach admitting he’s been doing next to nothing….. and then blaming his captain like that…. it’s not something you see every day.

        By the way, has anyone noticed wctt seems to have a second account on Guardian BTL (let’s call it acss)? It sounds so like him, I’d say it might be a spoof except it’s so humourless it appears to be deadly serious (unless that’s part of the spoof).

        Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH December 6, 2016 / 10:38 am

        “While it would be stretching a point to suggest that minor change of approach indicates a rift” (Dobell).

        “while it would be wrong to talk of a rift” (Booth).

        Another thing that’s definitely not a rift:

        Like

      • Zephirine December 6, 2016 / 1:12 pm

        Simonh – not sure. Acss has been on the politics blogs for some time but I’ve only recently noticed them commenting on cricket. Certainly a very similar ‘mission to correct’.

        Like

      • man in a barrel December 6, 2016 / 2:55 pm

        “young and inexperienced side” is a meme that needs debunking. Of the team in the last Test, Cook, Anderson and Broad have played over 100 Tests each, which is I think unique in English cricket. Root on 51 matches has played more than Dennis Amiss, MJK Smith, Angus Fraser, Tony Lock, Jim Laker, John Snow, Derek Randall. Jonny Bairstow is 3 matches away from Brearley’s total of 39. Moeen Ali has played the same number of matches as AC MacLaren, Lilley and Tom Hayward, and more than Geoff Miller, Geoff Arnold, Chris Lewis and Chris Tavare. Ben Stokes has played the same number as Paul Downton, Pringle, Mike Hendrick and Craig White. More matches than Mike Denness,Tim Robinson, Peter Willey, Pat Pocock, or Chris Broad. Buttler and Woakes on 16 Tests have played more than Rob Key, who is a TV pundit! Adil Rashid has played as many matches as David Steele, Clive Radley, Chris Smith or Mickey Stewart. One more match than BJT Bosanquet.

        Inexperienced? Some of them might be in the first half of their 20s but their aggregate number of caps must make them the most experienced team England has ever fielded.

        Liked by 1 person

  22. man in a barrel December 5, 2016 / 11:33 pm

    Pelham Warner and the Hon FS Jackson didn’t get a look in! Warner won the Ashes in Australia twice. Jackson in 1905 headed the batting and bowling averages and won all the tosses. Cook would not have got into any of those teams

    Like

    • SimonH December 5, 2016 / 11:38 pm

      The underrating of Illingworth is bizarre. He has the best W/L record of any England captain, won the Ashes in Australia and then retained them, topped the rankings and held all the trophies for a time in 1971.

      I can only think too many people voted on his time as supremo and ignored his record as captain.

      Liked by 1 person

      • pktroll (@pktroll) December 6, 2016 / 8:24 am

        There are many votes that you might find on cricinfo that will go on about the best Indian wicket-keeper of all time. A surprising number voted for Dhoni as the best test wicket-keeper come number 7. I think it more reflects the age of the people who have access to laptops/ipads/phones than the actual knowledge that they possess.

        Like

        • LordCanisLupus December 6, 2016 / 8:26 am

          To a degree I agree. But there are people out there who think Cook is a better captain than Strauss, when he isn’t. And Strauss was no Jardine!

          Liked by 1 person

    • pktroll (@pktroll) December 6, 2016 / 10:56 am

      I know what you mean, it’s just that I can’t take a poll like that as a barometer of serious opinion of the wider cricketing fandom world and can’t get too worked up about it, especially at a time when Cook has come under more increasing scrutiny about his usefulness as a captain than any time before, including times where he was bog awful.

      Like

      • Mark December 6, 2016 / 4:58 pm

        No,Cook doesn’t not have the right to choose the time of his leaving. Especially as his fans claim he could go on for another 5 years, and he is also currently losing 2-0 in a series. After having failed to beat both Bangladesh away, and Pakistan at home. Quite how he is not responsible for any of this I don’t understand.

        Andy Bull sounds like he has been taking Selvey lessons. He also trots out the big lie that Cook was under huge pressure in 2014. NO HE F******* WASNT. No major cricket writers asked for his resignation. Newman, Selvey, Pringle, Brenkley, Hughes, matey at the Sun. Non of these people called for him to go. Stop making shit up Mr Bull. Or is it Mr Bullshit?

        This site did call for his head, but we are irrelevent outsiders, remember? So are views don’t count.

        Like

      • SimonH December 7, 2016 / 9:57 am

        The idea that Cook “deserves” the next Ashes, or “deserves” to depart when he chooses, would be bad enough at any time – but when it comes from people who’ve been preaching certain things about team culture – and applied those things ruthlessly to others but not themselves – it becomes nauseating.

        Take this from Strauss (and I’m sure there are other, and better, examples):

        http://www.globalsportsjobs.com/article/andrew-strauss-a-good-leader-knows-they-re-not-always-right/

        “Actually strong leadership is admitting you don’t have all the answers sometimes, and encouraging other people to think a bit as well”.

        So how is it that only Cook gets to decide when he goes as captain?

        “Teams that have no conflict are often the worst teams because they’re teams that don’t trust each other enough to be able to voice their opinions”.

        And yet how swimmingly the current team all get along with each other has suddenly become one of the foundation-stones of Cook-must-stay?

        “people who are willing to buy into the team thing and put themselves second. I’ve always genuinely admired those sorts of people”.

        And yet Cook is allowed to put himself – beating Vaughan’s record and gaining Ashes’ redemption – first?

        “you feel like if you treat everyone the same, then at least everyone thinks it’s fair, but actually we’re all unique and you need to be treated differently”.

        And boy, didn’t he treat people differently….

        (By the way, just to be clear, I’m not against giving Cook – or anyone – the chance to resign rather than sacking them. It’s if Cook won’t resign that things start to get interesting – and of course it’s that scenario that Bull wouldn’t consider)

        Liked by 1 person

  23. LordCanisLupus December 6, 2016 / 8:12 pm

    The BTL to the Spin is just priceless reading. We’ve lost just 1 series out of 9, don’t you know? This, of course, cuts off the consecutive clusterf*cks against Sri Lanka and Australia. Even then, we’ve won just 4 of those 9, which doesn’t look anywhere near as impressive, does it?

    What is it now – 5 test tons in his last 46 tests? Yet one of the defenders said this… And the original question referred to centuries…

    Not sure why it’s laughable , he is more or less on schedule. Cook has about 11,000 test runs to Sachins 16,000 record. Cook scores 1000 test runs a year on average so in 5 years he could overtake Sachins run total , Cook will still be in his mid 30s then and who’s to say that like Gooch he won’t play past his 40th birthday , especially if he is no longer captain. If he does play for another decade, or the best part of it, he will almost certainly be all time top test run scorer and will be close to the 100s record as well.

    For Cook to match Sachin at this rate, he will need to play another 170 test matches. As Paul Newman said yesterday about Eoin Morgan, who is younger than Cook, that once you reach 30 you are past your peak. I mean, you can’t really argue with that given Cook’s stats in the last three years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark December 6, 2016 / 8:38 pm

      Cook will stil be playing until he is 52 at this rate. And have you noticed that it’s all about Cook? None of these cretins BTL ever consider that maybe there will come a time when there might be better , hungrier players than a middle 30s Cook.

      England has been for the last 4 years nothing more than a vehicle for the advancement of Cooks
      career.

      Like

    • amit garg December 7, 2016 / 11:38 am

      Therein lies the rub. This is about longevity, not necessarily about being a batting great. Cook plays as an opener and has almost consistently, all through his career, played more than 10 games each calendar year (9 times in 11 years) – sometimes 14-15 games a year.
      It gives him ample opportunities to bat, bat long and to score.
      SRT in comparison, played 10 or more in a calendar year 7 times over his long career.
      This is as much about test match scheduling for England, as anything else.
      Without taking anything away from Cook’s skill as an opener, he has been extremely lucky to have had that sort of a backing from ECB. In any other country, an opener would’ve been under serious pressure for not scoring centuries or for not setting the world on fire, despite getting as many chances as he has. His average as a captain is 4 points lower than under Strauss, he’s been scoring runs consistently, but only once has he averaged over 60 in a calendar year. Sehwag, despite being labeled a maverick, did that 4 times in his career. Sachin got there 10 times.
      It’s probably fair to say that the standards set for Cook have been terribly low because his English predecessors haven’t set the world on fire either. in terms of calendar year averages, Strauss’s first was his best and cook certainly has better numbers than him.

      People will point out that he bats in England where the ball moves around. That is true. His overall record however, would suggest that he has batted better, and scored at a better average when fielding first.

      Cook may still go on to score runs and may even go on to surpass Sachin as the highest scorer in test matches, but he needs to rediscover his mojo.

      As has been pointed out that does get difficult when you are past 30 😉

      Liked by 3 people

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