India vs England: Fourth Test, Day Five

With defeat can come a time for reflection, for honesty and the opportunity to examine where a side is going wrong, why games are being lost, and what can be done about it.  It can even be a period where one accepts that the team is being outplayed and there’s little that can be done to change that in the short term, beyond redoubling efforts.  Either way, it requires a degree of self-awareness and the willingness to see that decisions may be wrong, that approaches need to change and that personnel might not be doing all they are capable of doing.

And then there’s the second element, in that the honesty required is internal, and talking to the media doesn’t mean sharing all that with everyone else.  The kind of deep discussion required should not, and usually does not, make it beyond the confines of the dressing room, and that is exactly as it should be.  That makes the fronting up to the media rather difficult, as those who have paid to watch the team play deserve answers, but for the sake of the team there are limits to how detailed and how extensive those answers should be.

Those competing imperatives can cause some frustration amongst supporters.  When a side has been woeful, hearing a manager come out and defend them and claim they actually played well drives many to distraction, as any fan of the England football team for the last forty years or so will tell you.  Yet it’s to some extent a necessary fiction, and in private the manager could well be climbing the walls at the inability of his charges to do what they were meant to do.

As a result, the post match interviews should always be seen through the prism of limited information, both for team dynamics and because the opposition are listening in.  Reading too much into them is a dangerous game, though what people do want to hear is a degree of honesty, and a restriction on the volume of platitudes offered up.  Of course, in many sports, football in particular, that’s because the media themselves are waiting to pounce on any expression of weakness, whereby the plea for honesty is nothing but hypocrisy given how such honesty is then treated.  As a result, wagons are circled and a siege mentality is often the best one to adopt.  All sports teams live in a bubble anyway, and despite occasional protestations to the contrary, the supporters, even though they ultimately pay all the salaries, are removed from consideration.  It’s understandable to an extent, though you can get the situation where an England player assumes the ticket prices to be a quarter of what they actually are – that much ignorance is unacceptable.

The trouble is that there’s a contradiction here.  By no measure could England be said to have a hostile press, indeed supine is nearer the mark given their inability to offer up any kind of examination of their flaws in structure or execution – whataboutery, especially if Kevin Pietersen can be brought into it, is the more likely response.  Defensiveness is understandable in itself after a defeat, the problem is that when it occurs even when the criticism is highly limited in the first place that suggests that the mindset is one of being closed off to the reality of the situation.

The match was completed this morning in short order, England collapsing from their already desperate position to give India the expected series win and revenge for the defeat four years ago.  The response to it was therefore one of interest, to see whether England were fully appreciative of what had gone wrong and why.  Again, an instant response from all involved needs to take into account that words can be poorly chosen, or that with a game still to go baring one’s soul may not be the best, most appropriate response.  Yet the captain’s words are interesting in themselves for demonstrating a particular mindset:

“I thought 400 was a pretty good score on that wicket. Keaton played really well, at 230 for 2 maybe should have got 450. Historically, 400 is a good score on this ground.

“In the second innings we had our chances. We aren’t taking those chances at the moment. Virat played an extraordinary innings but we had a chance on 60-odd to get him. Those are things that the game changes on. We are in it for three days but not good enough to stay in it. We haven’t been good enough to match India.

“We wanted to see what four seamers would look like because on the tour they have given us control and our two best spinners have been Mo and Rash. When you batted first you didn’t need that extra seamer, so that was a mistake. We had a chance to restrict the lead. We would have been in the game. But that isn’t really good enough. To me, we batted better in this game than the previous two.

I go back to the chances we missed, we could have bowled India out for 400. Virat is in incredible form, having one of the series you dream of. Clearly one of the great batsmen of our generation.”

Cook is quite right to laud Kohli’s performance.  He has proved to be the difference between the sides throughout the series, and his extraordinary innings here turned India’s position from middling to utterly dominant.  Yet his comments about the game turning on a missed chance is both unfair and could be said about pretty much every Test match ever played.  Catches will always be dropped, but the bigger and more pertinent question is why it was that this was the only chance created, for that aside, England didn’t remotely look like taking a wicket.  It wasn’t exactly a dolly, and nor was Kohli the only centurion to be dropped in that innings.  Using that as a crutch to explain why the game was lost is throwing a team mate under the bus and effectively blaming him for defeat.  Now, everyone can say things they shouldn’t, and reflect later that it might not have been appropriate, but it’s still not a good thing to do to a member of the side, and nor is it the first time Cook has done it.  Even great teams drop catches, but those great teams create another chance.  If you make only one in an innings of that length, that is the far greater problem.  India have dropped plenty of catches both in this match and across the series – it hasn’t just been England, and while Kohli may have been magnificent, Jayant Yadav also scored a century, and it wasn’t luck that allowed him to do it.   He can bat, and showed it, but England couldn’t get him out.  That isn’t down to Rashid dropping a chance.

Likewise, the section concerning the seam attack is simply rather peculiar.  If taken in isolation, any team can get it wrong and pick the wrong side, but this is the second match in succession that they’re saying this – indeed the implication is that they have got the right teams but the wrong way around: too many spinners last time, too many seamers this.  The reference to the toss is simply odd, since when has the team depended on whether you win it or lose it?  How can it be a mistake if England won the toss, but not if they didn’t?

In any case, India’s seam bowlers have outperformed England’s.  James Anderson went wicketless in this Test, as in the last one, and while he might indeed be offering control, he isn’t taking wickets, or even looking like taking wickets given his insistence on bowling outside the stumps allowing the Indian batsman to watch it harmlessly pass by.  Furthermore, the seam attack isn’t going to be important if you don’t take the second new ball for 40 overs after it’s become due.  It suggests that there’s no faith in them getting any wickets at all.

Ruthlessly analysing every spoken word for an error is not fair on anyone, but Cook’s answer is still jarring, and invites concern that England are too frazzled to understand what they are trying to achieve, whether in selection or execution.  When a side is struggling, errors are magnified by the opposition.  As said yesterday, there’s no disgrace in losing this series to a team who are very good at home, but what is harder to grasp is what England are attempting to achieve here.

Cook did also go on to talk about the captaincy, which in itself suggests that he’s thinking about the end of his reign and there has to be a degree of human sympathy for him here, because leading a team who is getting badly beaten – and England now are being badly beaten – is emotionally difficult.  He is highly fortunate in the coverage he is getting, for it is impossible to imagine any previous England captain ever getting such a comfortable ride – even if there are some words of gentle criticism now being offered.  Still the idea that he can choose his own departure date on the back of more Test defeats in a calendar year than any previous incumbent plus a second proper hammering in an away series under his leadership beggars belief.  To say so would mean that he is more important than the team.

Nobody wants to see a captain (or anyone else please note) made the scapegoat for the failings of a team, but it remains utterly extraordinary how favourable the coverage of Cook as captain is.  Nobody is under the impression that he’s a superb captain, not even the biggest cheerleaders for him would ever make that claim.  Thus the idea that him not doing it would represent some kind of disaster is impossible to believe or justify.  Equally, he’s not had a record as captain that’s good enough to justify the adoration, being no better than that of Nasser Hussain who had far weaker personnel to work with.  He did lead England to two Ashes victories at home, but also in the away disaster in 2013/14.  The away win in India is an undoubted highlight, but balancing that is the home defeat to Sri Lanka and the drawn series in Bangladesh.

His tenure certainly hasn’t been a disaster, but nor has it been especially good, and the suspicion that England aren’t getting as much out of the team as they could does come down to leadership, whether of the captain or the coaching and administration.  His on field captaincy has been – to put it kindly – limited, the administration of the ECB inept.  Quite how he gets such approval, such reverence, is impossible to understand, for the likes of Paul Newman write as though he was a clone of Mike Brearley.  It is notable that far greater criticism of Kohli’s captaincy has been present in the English media than that of Cook’s, and while Kohli may not be a great captain, he’s the recipient of the kind of comment that has been notably absent about Cook for much of his reign.  The problem here is that it is counterproductive.  It is treating the public as idiots – so obviously biased in Cook’s favour that it merely enrages those who would otherwise accept a limited captain doing the best he can.  Pretending that black is white merely destroys the credibility of the cricket media.

The game ended with an on field spat between Ravi Ashwin and James Anderson, which is not altogether surprising given Anderson’s comments about Virat Kohli the night before.  Perhaps the frustration at England’s performances seeped through, but the comments were not especially wise and lacked grace.  It would be equally easy for them to talk about Anderson in the same vein, and Anderson surely knows that.

India are a good team, one who thoroughly deserve to have won the series, yet they are not a great one, at least not yet; suggesting they are is curiously making excuses for England – that they simply could not and never would be able to beat India no matter how well they played.  There is being realistic about things, and there is burying a head under the duvet and hoping it will all end soon and there’s nothing that could have been done.  India are very likely to almost always have better spinners than England, but this series they’ve had better seamers too.  Indian batsmen are always going to be better players of spin than English ones, but it doesn’t explain the lack of patience or irresponsible dismissals of England batsmen when set.  Perhaps it is indeed the case that Kohli isn’t a great captain, but when you have a superior side, that can be disguised – as England have demonstrated under Cook before – and when losing the weakness in that discipline is highlighted more.

Perhaps behind the scenes England are well aware of all these things and are discussing and debating them.  But the media have long abrogated their responsibility to hold England to account, and the signs are that the ECB structure doesn’t see it.  Andrew Strauss, highly visible when England do well, has been entirely absent this winter.

There is one match remaining.  It is a struggle to see anything other than a comprehensive India win, for the margins of victory are getting wider.  Cook’s line that he will sit down with the Director, Cricket at the end of the year is not an unreasonable one, for the conclusion of the series is the time to make decisions not during it. That discussion will decide what the England team are ultimately about and where they go, for there is talent there and there are good players coming though.

For now, India should celebrate their thoroughly deserved win.  England have a lot of thinking to do.




96 thoughts on “India vs England: Fourth Test, Day Five

  1. "IronBalls" McGinty Dec 12, 2016 / 3:08 pm

    “We will build our team around the Captain, Alistair Cook!”
    The Establishment’s only go to get out card after the KP “cleansing” The panacea, the rod of iron, his massiveness in the dressing room, his family, his “one of us” and clearly the representative of the ECB on and off the field, with the wholehearted support, come what may, of, as you say, a supine and embedded press!!
    It was a clusterfuck in the making!
    There are, of course, many questions, answered by nobody, but may, or may not, come to light?
    Will he jump, or will he be pushed?
    Will he continue to bat?
    Will he be “looked after” or will he be shit on?
    Will he come clean, finally, over KP, in some future autobiography?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Dec 12, 2016 / 4:48 pm

      He will get Strauss’s job one day. They look after their own do the ECB.

      Cook will be about 52 when he finally stands down. A bit of grey hair to make the steely look a bit more distinguished. A sort of Cecil Parkinson of cricket. (One for the teenagers)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Simon K Dec 12, 2016 / 3:39 pm

    Reasonable imo for Cook to sit down with the Director, Cricket at the end of the series; not reasonable (and in fact weird) for him to call him ‘Straussy’. Bit more professional distance needed maybe?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mark Dec 12, 2016 / 4:58 pm

      Yes, I agree they should review it at the end of the series. Going now with one test match left would smack of desertion. Not at all steely.

      My bigger worry is the incompetent ECB seem to think it’s up to Cook to decide. How about Field Marshal Strauss make a decision? If they do keep him for next summer, he then has to take the team to Australia. Otherwise we will have a new captain for an Ashes tour. Not a great place to start. As for the media’s opinion on Cooks future, who cares? They have show on this tour they are completely hopeless. The town drunk makes more sense.

      If Strauss decides to keep Cook for SA, and Australia, and England lose, Strauss should be sacked as well.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Rooto Dec 12, 2016 / 3:51 pm

    Very good piece, again, TLG. We fans want to hear that clear-sighted, honest analysis will take place, even though we can’t know the details. I think I would even have welcomed the comment that “we will look at the data”, because at least they’d be looking. Saying Cookie can have the job as long as he wants is defensive, head-in-the-sand stuff that tells me Sydney ’13-’14 revisited is around the corner.

    Liked by 2 people

    • quebecer Dec 13, 2016 / 4:37 am

      Yep. When one writer is consistently producing the best articles being written anywhere, they need to be applauded.

      ~quebecer applauds as best he can, but quebecer is a bit depressed for all the reasons pointed to in the article~


      • Sri Grins Dec 13, 2016 / 4:57 am

        Hi 🙂 Thanks Q for the tip.

        Liked by 1 person

      • quebecer Dec 14, 2016 / 3:31 am

        Ha! Hey Sri! Welcome 🙂 I wasn’t kidding when I said I thought you’d like it 🙂

        Oi, Dmitri! Look what I did! Got one of the Indian boys for your blog!!

        Can I have a new avatar now please?


  4. lionel joseph Dec 12, 2016 / 3:56 pm

    Two very good pieces over the last two days.

    In particular, with regard to captains historically getting a much rougher ride, I’ve been mulling it over, and reached the conclusion that the third specialist seamer over Dawson/(Rayner/Leach) was a worse decision than Hussain at Brisbane and Ponting at Edgbaston.

    I can make excuses for both of those two, in particular there was a lot of criticism leveled at the decision after the matches finished: a negative post-hoc rationalisation. They weren’t the best, you could argue they didn’t have a positive expectation, but nor were they egregiously bad.

    I couldn’t find a single excuse for Cook and Bayliss’ decision the moment they announced it. It belongs in a whole other league of piss-poor decision making.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. pktroll (@pktroll) Dec 12, 2016 / 4:10 pm

    It is all very well having a go at the choice of seamer over spinner, but ffs, better spinners than England have ever had, such as Murali and Warne have found relatively receptive Indian tracks utterly not to their liking when they had the most wonderous collective of batsmen in their entire history. This set of batsmen is far from bad, is clearly improving, and has got over a year or two’s hiatus of playing some ordinary spinners, such as Mo in 2014 and the Saffer triumvirate of last year rather poorly indeed. If you think Dawson would have torn India a new one you are living in la-la land.


    • Sean B Dec 12, 2016 / 4:45 pm

      yeah but of course it’s the spinners fault naturally for not being as good as Ashwin. Never mind the completely wrong selection and a lame dog captain *puts head in hands*

      Liked by 2 people

      • pktroll (@pktroll) Dec 12, 2016 / 5:07 pm

        Dear or dear. I wonder when they are going to moan about Cookie not being as good as Bradman……………………………

        Liked by 2 people

      • Mark Dec 12, 2016 / 5:08 pm

        I’m not interested in hearing any more about Rashids fragile mind. Unless the media have the guts to tell us where they got this talking point from, they might as well as be pulling it out of their arse. They pull most of their so called analyst opinions from the same place.

        And as some one once said about opinions. They are like arseholes. Everyone’s got one, and most of them stink. The remarkable thing about the English cricket media is their arseholes (sorry opinions) all look, and smell exactly the same.


      • SimonH Dec 12, 2016 / 5:56 pm

        When pushed, they come out with his declaring himself injured when he was about to be picked for his debut – backed up sometimes by what happened with Yorkshire at the end of the CC season.

        It’s the Moores-Flower-Saker paradigm – playing when half-injured is some brilliant piece of heroism rather than letting your teammates down. They’ll leak such-and-such was playing through an injury to tame media chumps to get a free pass when the team lose (the classic of the genre was Anderson’s “broken rib” in the ‘Difficult Winter’). I’m sick of it.

        If Rashid had the guts to say he wasn’t fully fit, that (rather like bowling leg-spin in a country that doesn’t understand it) says something about his mental toughness in the opposite direction.

        The only other thing I’ve heard (from Shiny Pisspot) is that Rashid hates being hit for boundaries early in a spell. This proves his brain – and backbone – are made of jelly, apparently. Strange how the same doesn’t apply to Anderson and Broad because they just love leaking runs, don’t they? Perhaps Rashid was worried that if he got whacked for a couple of early boundaries the captain might take him off and he wouldn’t bowl again for two sessions?

        Liked by 4 people

      • thelegglance Dec 12, 2016 / 6:01 pm

        The broken rib claim was total bollocks, as anyone who has ever broken a rib will tell you. The idea anyone could bowl with one was the most preposterous claim in a series of idiotic ones. Very few queried it in the media.

        Liked by 5 people

      • Rooto Dec 12, 2016 / 8:04 pm

        SimonH gets an extra like just for ‘Shiny PissPot’. Says more about me, but, hey…

        Liked by 2 people

      • amit Dec 12, 2016 / 11:33 pm

        Their only fault is that they are not pacers! This idiot is blaming the 2 highest wicket takers in the team for not doing their job. How about the other 4 bowlers?

        Liked by 1 person

      • amit garg Dec 13, 2016 / 3:42 am

        It is at such moments that I think of renaming him @theAnalCyst.
        Such a pain.

        Don’t these “analysts / specialists” ever get tired of spouting the same crap about Rashid? Do they even do their research properly? He is just into his 3rd series and clearly learning to apply his craft against top players of spin. Bowling against Asian teams at the start of his career, even if on helpful pitches, was never going to be a cakewalk, given their skill/experience against quality spin.

        Moeen on the other hand is a known commodity after being around for a while. That he takes his wickets at 40 a piece was known at the time of his selection. Was his selection as a lead spinner for a subcontinent tour, criticized at any moment? He got wickets against India in 2014, but that was mostly down to Indian batsmen treating him as a release bowler. His limitations have exposed well and truly in this series.

        What I would like to see, is how Rash copes up with the Aussies, having had a crack at most people he will likely encounter, in Big Bash. He knows the pitches, the grounds and there is likely to be much more familiarity with most things than the pressure induced by screaming crowds in India. If he gets the boot after this series in India, despite being the top wicket taker, it would be extreme stupidity. Though this is probably right up ECB’s alley.

        Liked by 4 people

      • "IronBalls" McGinty Dec 13, 2016 / 9:55 am

        Remember what Selvey said “his card is marked”…thereto the rest of the hacks have jumped on the bandwagon. His refusal to play in the CC final, for, no doubt, legitimate reasons, branded him, forever, as “fragile”

        Liked by 1 person

  6. SimonH Dec 12, 2016 / 5:01 pm

    Oh lord, Mark Butcher has been replaced by a pod-person. It seems to happen to them all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Dec 12, 2016 / 5:10 pm

      Invasion of the body snatchers. It happens to them all eventually. They all become pod people.


    • man in a barrel Dec 12, 2016 / 5:28 pm

      TBH I thought Bob Willis spent the entire hour talking crap. Aren’t you supposed to do some kind of homework before you parade as a pundit? Can he really not recall, say, that he himself led an England team that contained a previous captain, or that Brearley first led a team that contained the hated Greig, as well as one that contained Botham, who had just resigned the captaincy, let alone the swapping around of Gooch, Gower and Gatting in the 80s, or Nasser playing under Vaughan? At least Butch reminded him about Nasser captaining Stewart and Atherton. Plus Willie’s dissing of Kohli’s record was truly pathetic. At least Butch mentioned that Jimmy the genius’s record in India is rather lacking in lustre. But I accept that Butch is buying the “unbeatable” India kool-aid. I think the pre series consensus was for 3-1 against India. And after the first Test wasn’t Bob “hopeless” Willis looking rather confident about England’s chances, especially if they picked the genius who has taken all of 4 wickets at about 80?


      • thelegglance Dec 12, 2016 / 5:38 pm

        Bob Willis always does. He’s there for entertainment purposes rather than anything else. He’s fun, but I wouldn’t get too cross about what he does and doesn’t say – his role is to be the Waldorf or Stadler of the Verdict.


      • SimonH Dec 12, 2016 / 5:45 pm

        I’d add as well that Ian Chappell played on for a while under his brother’s captaincy. Australia had a long period when captain’s didn’t “return to the ranks” because they were winning all the time so captains could carry on until they retired. Other sides commonly have captains in the ranks (like Mahela and Sanga for SL, Dravid/Kumble/Tendulkar for India and at times half the Pakistan side!)

        English cricket is full of horseshit myths propagated by people who know no history before 1999 (or even 2009). There’s no “natural” four-year cycle for England captains. There’s no reason why a captain can’t carry on as a player. It’s all just an invention made up by ECB managers to make it look like there’s some overall narrative-strategy that they control.

        Liked by 1 person

      • thelegglance Dec 12, 2016 / 5:52 pm

        There never has been any kind of issue in England teams with captains carrying on playing after resigning. In fact it’s hard to remember too many skippers who DIDN’T carry on after quitting the captaincy. It is a total and utter non-subject – to the point that when Ricky Ponting resigned the English model where no one had ever had a problem with it was constantly referenced in the Australian press.

        No one with an ounce of common sense would even bring it up.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Mark Dec 12, 2016 / 7:00 pm

        They have obviously forgotten Gowers famous ” I’m still in charge” T shirt. Those were the days when the captain had to send cryptic messages to the fans to let them know who was captain.

        Expect Cook to be wearing his “I’m still here” T shirt any day now.

        Liked by 1 person

      • man in a barrel Dec 12, 2016 / 8:59 pm

        No one in may refer to Bob’s 5 wickets at 51 in the West Indies


  7. Silk Dec 12, 2016 / 6:05 pm

    The logic that Cook shouldn’t be sacked because he’s been captain for a very long time is no logic at all.


    • Mark Dec 12, 2016 / 6:55 pm

      It’s magic ECB media logic.


  8. northernlight71 Dec 12, 2016 / 8:00 pm

    All of you horrible people just want Alice to cry don’t you?
    She’s only just had a baby, you know. Do you think she needs this stress on top of everything else? Leave her poor husband alone.

    (c) The Kind Media

    Liked by 1 person

    • thelegglance Dec 12, 2016 / 8:02 pm

      There’s the one area I have real sympathy with him. The family aspect, leaving a young child behind and the pressure of separation on tours is grim.


      • Zephirine Dec 13, 2016 / 12:18 am

        It must be tough, but many other players have young children. And once this tour’s finished, Cook won’t have to travel again till July.


        • thelegglance Dec 13, 2016 / 12:20 am

          Oh it applies to them just as much, I wasn’t differentiating.


    • thelegglance Dec 12, 2016 / 8:10 pm

      Depends on your definition of ‘have to’. He’s the captain, it’s expected and it’s his job.


      • man in a barrel Dec 12, 2016 / 9:05 pm

        He has earned a shed load of money. If he wanted, he could retire now and spend life on the farm. He chose to remain in the spotlight. Someone who earns 750 K per annum could could retire after a few years, unless they wanted to spend every winter in marbella. Maybe he should ask me for financial advice. He has financial security already if he is being properly advised


    • northernlight71 Dec 12, 2016 / 8:18 pm

      Even here, he’s a willing victim of the groupspeak of the ECB/Press. He might have been able to skip the Bangladesh part of the tour, but because they all wanted to stick the knife into Hales and Morgan it probably seemed impossible.
      I feel a small amount of sympathy but it is hard not to think that he’s made his own bed and sometimes it’s a bit uncomfortable.
      It’s like somebody asking me to feel sorry for a member of the royal family because they can’t just do what they want and are under constant scrutiny – if the bad outweighs the good then give up the sinecures, the subsidies and the succession and join the normal world. It’s not as if you haven’t already earned more money than I’ll see in my entire life.

      Liked by 2 people

      • thelegglance Dec 12, 2016 / 8:25 pm

        True of anyone who is lucky enough to do something like that. I travel a lot, and I get well rewarded for it, so me griping about it would get very little sympathy. But I do get the downside, and however much you’re paid, it doesn’t make the family part any less trying. It’s his choice, just as I make mine, and as far as I’m aware he’s never complained about it. It’s still there though.

        Liked by 1 person

      • man in a barrel Dec 12, 2016 / 9:29 pm

        If Chef had not gone to India, is he still an automatic selection next July?


      • man in a barrel Dec 12, 2016 / 9:35 pm

        After the 1972 Ashes, Illy took a break. Tony Lewis took on a truly epic tour if India and Pakistan. In a wet early June, Lewis ruptured a tendon and retired and Illy carried on, thanks to high performances by Greig and Amiss, who had flourished under Lewis. Amiss had debuted for England in 1968 but never settled. Greig was a pushy African. Would they have broken through without the caretaker captaincy of Lewis?


  9. LordCanisLupus Dec 12, 2016 / 8:43 pm

    A quick point.

    Who started the Cook is going to leave at the end of this series saga? It was the media. It was an interview #39 had with Cook where conclusions were drawn.

    There’s no public surge, kneejerk reaction, or whatever it is. We, on here, and hardly Alastair’s constituency and it hasn’t got us screaming “he must go”. We’ve shaken our heads.

    Then there was a week between the 3rd and 4th tests and the press did it again. More and more on Cook’s future. Again, this public furore, which Dobell in India must be seeing more than me, isn’t there.

    Now the print and TV media speculate now on whether he should go as if there is some massive public clamour. It’s bizarre. It’s like building up the great leader for a fall, and then praising him when some of the minions might squeak a question or two.

    It gets more and more odd.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Topshelf Dec 12, 2016 / 9:13 pm

    I find it helpful with Cook to see it in terms of an overall narrative, driven by himself and his chums in the media and at the ECB.

    I’m pretty sure that even Cooky doesn’t believe he’s as good a captain as Straussy or Nas, or in fact better than anyone except Beefy and Freddy in my lifetime.

    But… he has a legacy to protect, as he is, after all, “the greatest English cricketer of all time.”

    So what does he need? He’s already got the most runs, most catches, and captained most matches. But he needs 3 more wins to overtake Vaughan, which should be just about achievable in 2017. So he needs to cling on till then; after that he can ditch the captaincy and continue the quest for the 62 more matches, 4924 runs and 22 centuries he needs to become the greatest of all time. At current rates, and assuming an improvement for concentrating on batting only, he shouldn’t have to go as long as Goochy to manage that.

    So he needs a narrative… How about this then?

    “In the face of increasingly strident criticism from even his friends in the media, after much soul-searching Chef bravely soldiered on as captain through the English summer. Despite the growing realisation that the burdens of captaincy were an ever-greater detriment to his exceptional batting prowess, Chef’s selfless actions protected his successor Joe Root and allowed the younger man to help bring victories over SA and W.Indies, Cook’s final victory as captain, (based on his own beautifully constructed run-every-other ball double century) leaving him alone as England’s winning-most Test skipper.

    In an averagely emotional press conference, Cook said “(Arm), I’m obviously (arm) proud of my record, but (arm) it’s never been (arm) about me, it always been about the team. Now (arm) I feel it’s the right time for me to (arm) hand over the reins to Rooty and concentrate on my (arm) batting and being a senior man in the (arm) team. I hope that (arm) I can help retain the Ashes in Australia. If (arm) selected of course.”””

    Liked by 3 people

    • amit Dec 12, 2016 / 11:47 pm

      Congratulations. You’ve successfully cleared the test to be on chef’s PR team. 😉


  11. Sean B Dec 12, 2016 / 9:17 pm

    £100 for a Lords’ ticket vs. SA anyone? Nah, I’ll leave it thanks….


  12. Sean B Dec 12, 2016 / 9:39 pm

    Well if we don’t break our players this winter, I’m sure we will next winter. Think we’ve also got 3 Tests vs NZ to tack onto the end of this too….


      • Sean B Dec 12, 2016 / 9:41 pm

        It might well be, it’s still bonkers mind…


        • thelegglance Dec 12, 2016 / 9:42 pm

          It’s insane. Those who play all formats could be away from early/mid November till the end (near enough) of February.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Sean B Dec 12, 2016 / 9:45 pm

            Yeah you’re right it is 2, Auckland & Christchurch, but still. Oh and an additional 5 ODI’s and a T20 just to add to the workload. Totally. Utterly. Bonkers.


  13. Mark Dec 12, 2016 / 10:00 pm

    Just listening to 5 live. Mark Butcher and Tuffers. Mark sounds like the 1940s corporal Jones, “don’t panic,” and he looks forward to jam tomorrow. No jam today, but lots of jam tomorrow. The 5-0 was mentioned so that’s all right.

    Tuffers is very excited about this young England team, and we all need to calm down. Well F** off. No, seriously f** right off. The Michael Barrymore of English cricket. “All rite,” all rite.”

    Oh, they have finally found a problem……its the 4 seamers. How convienient because that lets Cook off the hook because they can blame it on the selectors. Funny that because they are now onto selectors. Repeating Nassers point about the selectors being too old. Mark thinks Angus Fraser is a good judge of a player. Nassers point about the selectors seems to be exactly what Strauss thinks. There’s a surprise.

    Hello Earth to Pluto, Earth to Pluto…….”Alastair gets what he wants” remember that! So Cook decides on final selection.

    Neither thinks it’s time for Cook to go. Unless he feels like going next May. Tuffers is a Cook groupie. He thinks he can stay in the side when he is no longer the captain. So it’s all good if you are Cooks manager. Ffs

    Half an hour of shite! It’s worse than the verdict.


    • Mark Dec 12, 2016 / 10:16 pm

      Jesus, it’s like listening to Lord Haw haw. Shinny Toy thinks the Indian captain has a lot to learn about captaincy. Ha ha ha

      He’s winning 3 FUCKING 0 you cretins. These are the same numpties who won’t say Jack shit about Cook.

      Germany calling….Germany calling


    • man in a barrel Dec 12, 2016 / 11:30 pm

      Young England team… Moeen is 30. Stokes is 26. Young as an aged port


    • quebecer Dec 13, 2016 / 4:51 am

      I got 29/30 on the WWII quiz underneath, which isn’t bad.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. SimonH Dec 12, 2016 / 10:22 pm

    Piedt’s looking to come to England on a Kolpak and so is a member of the tour to Australia who didn’t play a Test (which would be one of Morkel, Rossouw, Pretorius or Vilas) according to the Guardian.


    • d'Arthez Dec 13, 2016 / 5:03 am

      Could be Morkel. Last year he dropped out of CPL, because he was supposedly in the selector’s plans for the international side.

      But hey, no one in the ECB sees a problem with the best players playing county cricket, rather than representing their national sides when their national side tours. I guess that makes it all the more meaningful when England finally win …


    • amit Dec 12, 2016 / 11:45 pm

      Does he ever say that team selection boils down to Cook because he gets the team he wants? Selectors need to be questioned for squad selection but the final team is still on Cook. Both are questionable in my view.


    • Mark Dec 12, 2016 / 11:52 pm

      Did Stocks just copy it from Nassers piece?

      All the blame on the selectors fits the Strauss agenda. So no surprise the media is running with it.


  15. SimonH Dec 13, 2016 / 8:49 am

    Bayliss starts to sound petulant and whinging:

    The tamest press corps outside Pyongyang have widdled on his parade? He should be bloody thankful the press are concentrating on other matters and not his performance. Those ‘successes’ he wants to trumpet are pitifully few, highly unproven and it’s hard to see what they owe to Bayliss.

    It is amusing that what he’s moaning about has its roots in a story by the tamest of the tame chumps, #39 himself. My best guess is that #39 didn’t realise how that section looked, he thought it was just routine (which it was); his headline writer, trying to make yet another utterly tedious puff-piece interview look remotely interesting seized on it and made something out of it that wasn’t intended; #39 was too useless as editor to spot it before it went to press (either he just didn’t bother to notice at all or he didn’t realise how it would morph). Whatever the case, #39 becoming the accidental journalist may well be the highlight of the winter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • nonoxcol Dec 13, 2016 / 8:58 am

      Is “#39” in the glossary yet? It never fails to make me smile.


      • LordCanisLupus Dec 13, 2016 / 9:17 am

        Looking for volunteers to help. We’ve a long spell of no England tests to fill.


      • SimonH Dec 13, 2016 / 9:28 am

        I’ll be submitting some pieces for that long break (I’ve got two in the bag and am working on a third). Opening a thread for ‘The Glossary’ once the Tests are done would be good.

        Tregaskis has made comment of the year on the latest TFT thread. Well worth checking if you’ve not seen it!

        Press Tweets are reporting the cyclone has passed through Chennai and it was dry when they arrived – so we may have a prompt start on Friday after all.


    • LordCanisLupus Dec 13, 2016 / 9:14 am

      But it’s a social media barrage, full of those who have never forgiven Cook for surviving and KP being sacked driving this. The Cook as captain debate has been a media construct. #39 before the tour, the group think last week and now the pieces this week. I’m not having that there is any sort of social media clamour for him to go. The press are doing it perfectly well themselves.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Dec 13, 2016 / 9:26 am

      Excellent point. Not surprised that 39 didn’t realise he had a story. But As much as I would like to blame 39 the fault lies with Cook. Why say the words……”I don’t know how much longer I can carry on?…..2 months or a year.”

      For me this was a cry for sympathy. The old ….I might leave if you don’t start being nice to me routine. You don’t appreciate me, so I will walk. What was it Nixon said? ” you won’t have me to kick around any longer”

      Cook tried to play the syphathy card and it blew up in his face.


    • Sri Grins Dec 13, 2016 / 11:50 am

      Yes, the glossary needs changes :-). nice work.


  16. SimonH Dec 13, 2016 / 12:59 pm

    D’Arthez – if you see this in time, could you post a comment on ‘The Spin’ where Bull takes the issue of SA players on Kolpaks and as usual fails to find any fault with the ECB?

    I’m going to make a post but I’m sure you know more about this than I do.


    • nonoxcol Dec 13, 2016 / 1:05 pm

      Such self-righteousness…



      • SimonH Dec 13, 2016 / 1:50 pm

        I’ve forsworn mentioning his role in supporting the Big-Three power-grab this time. He’s just got his toys back in the pram so it would be a shame to have them all thrown out again.

        I only saw his, and other, replies some time later. His “I don’t comment any more because people like you are so mean” made Selvey look rhino-skinned. It brought all the usual “please engage with us Andy” types out. What’s wrong with these people?

        I could rant on a heck of a lot more – but I think I’ll go for a walk in the pouring rain to calm down!

        Liked by 1 person

      • nonoxcol Dec 13, 2016 / 3:56 pm

        I haven’t seen all this fun yet.

        Has Thepoetseye popped in, to say how much she misses the times when Andy Bull would come below stairs and tell the plebs they were talking misty-eyed cobblers?


      • nonoxcol Dec 13, 2016 / 4:03 pm


        Oh, you mean the previous thread. OK.


    • d'Arthez Dec 14, 2016 / 6:02 am

      Sorry, I had a massive power-failure to content with yesterday (which happens regularly in part of this world), so I did not even get a chance to use the internet. I hope someone else stepped in to make the point.


      • SimonH Dec 14, 2016 / 9:07 am

        The thread usually stays open for a few days if you feel like it (and the power holds out!).

        It’s probably banging your head against a brick wall with 95% of the people who still think Andy Bull is worth reading but at least it means that their cosy world, where nobody who runs English cricket is to blame for anything, gets a bit of heckling…..


  17. metatone Dec 13, 2016 / 1:46 pm

    Feels like there’s a disease in English sport.
    The cry goes up “Can he do it on a Wet Wednesday Night in Stoke?”
    Or “Can he do it on a damp green morning at Trent Bridge?”

    And it’s not a totally meaningless question – but we never seem to ask: What does it mean that (e.g. Anderson) he can’t do it on a hot day in Mumbai?


    • Mark Dec 13, 2016 / 4:50 pm

      While I agree with Dmitri that I would prefer to hear players honest opinions. We can’t complain when they speak in platitudes if we are going to criticise them when they say what they really believe.

      I think Anderson really believes what he said about the Indian captain. I also think it is the English dressing rooms view that if you can’t do it in England with the moving ball, then your record is suspect. It is ingrained in English players with their mothers milk. It is the height of arrogance, but all the ECB, and media buy into this line. Home test matches are all that matters to these people. Foreign Tours are a sort of novelty. Not to be taken too seriously.

      We invented the bloody game for gawds sake. On green seamers.


    • Sri Grins Dec 13, 2016 / 3:21 pm

      :-). Interesting reasons given. Ed Kemp should check it out with Smith & Virat. They may give him evidence to strengthen his claim 🙂


    • Zephirine Dec 13, 2016 / 5:22 pm

      That anguished photo is a fine example of the sub-genre ‘Cook as a modern-day St Sebastian’.


      • metatone Dec 13, 2016 / 6:49 pm

        Find it bizarre to see Cook described as a “specialist captain”


  18. Zephirine Dec 13, 2016 / 3:32 pm

    Vic Marks, Voice of Reason (TM), reckons Cook will be gone in January and Root captain in July.

    If he’s right, then my guess would be that the Comma, not a sentimental man, dropped a hint somewhere once he saw how this series was going. Hence the chorus of journalistic excitement.

    VM has some sensible things to say about Bayliss and selectors, too.


    • Mark Dec 13, 2016 / 4:43 pm

      That surprise me. If I was betting man I would bet Cook stays on for the Ashes tour. Trouble is, if Englqnd get badly beaten by SA, Strauss has no where to go but appoint a new captain on the eve of an Ashes series. Not good preparation.


      • LordCanisLupus Dec 13, 2016 / 4:46 pm

        Got 1600 plus words on this to go up tonight. It’s a confused picture.


      • Mark Dec 13, 2016 / 4:54 pm

        Dimitri, as a matter of interest has my post above been put in moderation. It says …..

        “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” But then the comemt is readable underneath. Just interested. I don’t care if you want to take down.


  19. MM Dec 13, 2016 / 7:20 pm

    I’m gonna take it for granted that Cook goes (resignation or sacked off) in the next fortnight.

    Is anyone else concerned about Root being The Anoited One? He doesn’t strike me as an arsekicker or a heroic figure, just an exceptional batter. His batting’s gonna go south with the responsibility, surely. And there we are, back at square #1.


    • thelegglance Dec 13, 2016 / 7:34 pm

      I’m not sure where this certainty that the batting would fall apart comes from. Other countries don’t worry about this. Kohli is doing alright. So is Smith. Misbah has been pretty decent, McCullum improved markedly. Hell, Alastair Cook’s average is virtually the same with or without the captaincy. Why this certainty?


      • MM Dec 13, 2016 / 8:15 pm

        Yeah, point taken. Fair enough. It’s purely my perception. Whilst captaincy is not guaranteed to be a death knell of anyone’s batting we are talking about England and the ECB here. Personally I would just prefer Root concentrated on batting. It seems I might alone in that. I also think Bayliss is a charlatan and Strauss(y) is trousering stupid money for the biggest non-job in cricketing history. I’ll get me coat.


      • SimonH Dec 13, 2016 / 9:09 pm

        TLG, it’s an argument that makes me fume – but I think where it comes from is that the last England captain to average more as captain than player is…. Gooch. (I’m sure I’ve posted the stats here before – I don’t have time to look them up again now).

        There has been a distinct pattern from Hussain onwards that new captains experience a surge in form before things start to head south. However I’d argue that in Vaughan’s case and probably Hussain’s that had as much to do with injury as the captaincy. The one that strikes me as particularly curious is Strauss – both how much his batting deteriorated and how little it was noticed (or even today is realised). I can’t remember exactly what he said about it (although he definitely said it was nothing to do with KP).

        There’s absolutely no reason why the pattern should repeat itself because, as you say, it hasn’t in other teams. This sometimes leads to some exceptionalist BS about the England job is “different”. Well, they all are – but not so much. England have a more demanding schedule? It’s quite similar to Australia’s and India’s. The England job has unique pressures? Foxtrot right Oscar with that sort of claim – the fans are more demanding than India? the media are more vicious if things are going wrong than Australia? the board politics are worse than SL or Pakistan? Please…..


        • thelegglance Dec 13, 2016 / 9:11 pm

          If I was being mischievous, I could argue it’s because the English press are nastier than anyone else’s. Which is why Cook has done fine as captain…

          Liked by 1 person

          • LordCanisLupus Dec 13, 2016 / 9:39 pm

            Exhibit A


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