India vs England: Fifth Test, Day Five

Predictable.  That has to be the overriding reaction to England’s epic collapse in the evening session.  Defeat in the final Test and a 4-0 series hammering was expected by more than just the most pessimistic, irrespective of the pitch remaining a good one.  England have looked mentally shot for a while now, and perhaps that’s to be expected.  Indeed, the slightly bigger surprise was that for much of the day they appeared to be on track for a draw, before losing 6 wickets for 16 runs post tea and gaining an outstanding if unwanted record for scoring the largest first innings total when suffering an innings defeat in Test history.

In truth, although Cook and Jennings had reached lunch unscathed, it wasn’t a comfortable stand, Cook being dropped early on, and various other near misses for them both.  That they survived to give England a sniff of what some were waiting to write up as a valedictory draw is actually rather to their credit. Immediately post lunch was where it started to go wrong, 103-0 becoming 129-4 in less than an hour.   Alastair Cook is a curious player in that when he starts to struggle, the technical glitches become ever more apparent, in a way that is less obvious with – say – Joe Root.  Over a five match Test series players getting out in the same way try ever more visibly obvious means of countering the problem.  Cook is getting too far over to the offside, which is leaving him both prone to lbw and to the legside catches off the spinners as in the case here.  No one will be more aware of it than him, and it is not offered up as a criticism of his batting, more an acute illustration of the difficulties of a good batsman under severe pressure, both mental and from the bowlers.

Even then, a decent partnership between Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes had taken England to a healthy position, and on reaching tea four wickets down, must have fancied their chances of saving the game.  What happened thereafter will mark a new entry into the charts of England’s most glorious collapses, and had the merit of style points by being largely self-inflicted.

Moeen’s dismissal in particular will be one that gets replayed, for there is little more embarrassing than getting out coming down the track attempting to go over the top when trying to save the game.  And rightly so too, for it looked awful.  There are caveats to this – it is easy to see some praising the approach for throwing the bowling off line and length if it succeeds; likewise, playing a natural game to try to save a match is thoroughly approved of when it succeeds – Matt Prior’s entirely correct – for him – counterattacking rearguard in Auckland in 2013 was downright lucky at times, not least the moment he went through to his century with a miscued hook.  Yet he was praised for that innings for one reason alone – it worked.   Outcome tends to be the determining factor in these things, and the old adage of “hit sixes but don’t take any risks” often seems to apply.

Nevertheless, there’s no getting away from the fact it’s a pretty dire way to get out less than two hours away from safety, and the rest of the batting order were little better.   As much as anything, it’s indicative of thoroughly frazzled minds, leading to poor decision making.  There is often a temptation to blame the first victim of what becomes a collapse for all the subsequent ones, yet this remains as ludicrous as it always has done.  Players are responsible for their own actions, not those of others, and the dismissals of Stokes, Dawson and Rashid were all poor in their own ways; singling out the player who scored nearly 200 runs in the match on his own as the one to blame for how others got out is bizarre.

Once again Jos Buttler was left high and dry as the tail collapsed around him, making the point rather beautifully that it matters little how many batsmen you have if none of them stay in.  For such an attacking player, there is irony in it being him and pretty much only him who appeared mentally up to the challenge of blocking the match out.

India’s celebrations on taking the tenth wicket were joyous, for they have comprehensively outplayed England, and by ever increasing degrees as the series has gone on.  The grinding into the dirt that occurred in this match was ruthless, but deeply impressive, and for all the rationalising of different elements and players, the reality is that England would most likely have lost the series irrespective of calls for changes.  That said, England could and should have played far better than they did; the chasm between the sides need not have been anything like so vast.  There will be attempts at revisionism from some quarters to indicate this was always likely.  It wasn’t.

For Alastair Cook, the questions about his future came immediately after the game.  His response that he shouldn’t be asked about it was clumsy, as is often the case with Cook, but probably right in the sense that it wasn’t the time.  Much as the media would love to get instant decisions, it is far better to wait for the dust to settle and come to a considered view rather then offer up an emotional one in the aftermath of a battering.  That being said, there’s really only one decision to make here, and not in itself because of the series result.  Cook has been prevaricating about his captaincy for quite some time now, announcing to anyone who asked that he is unsure of whether to carry on or not.  By being so unsure, he has made it abundantly clear that he shouldn’t carry on, for while people will have doubts in private, and may discuss them with family or close friends, to openly discuss publicly the possibility of giving up the captaincy says in itself it’s time to go.  Cook cannot possibly be fully committed to the role any longer having effectively admitted he isn’t, and even if he decided to carry on and was allowed to do so, the same feelings would return wholesale upon the next defeat.

Naturally enough, the rest of the management and team were then asked the same question, and equally naturally, they defaulted to supporting the captain and saying he’s the right man for the job.  There is nothing else they can say, even if they don’t believe it – although there’s no evidence they don’t.  This then becomes a feeding frenzy, and that is not at all good for England cricket, and not even good for Cook himself.  Cook’s tenure may have been a period of dissension and division, but the reality now is more prosaic – it’s simply time to go as captain for his own good and for the team’s.

Cook’s agreement that England have stagnated over the last year is probably right.  2016 has been a pretty miserable year for the Test side, the only series win coming against a Sri Lanka team vastly weakened by retirements.  This winter England have lost five of their seven matches, with only a single victory over Bangladesh.  In normal circumstances, no captain would be felt able to survive that kind of record.  Yet with Cook there are enough queueing up to make every kind of excuse for that record, blaming everyone except the captain himself, that it remains in some question.  It shouldn’t.  It’s not because everything can be laid at Cook’s door for that would be scapegoating to the same extent Adil Rashid has suffered, but he’s never been a sufficiently good captain for it to be a justification in itself.  If he was, then a case could be made for retention as an asset in the role, for even a losing captain of a weak side can be a good one, Stephen Fleming is a decent example.  At times he’s been competent, at others, truly abysmal.

The constant refrain has been that Cook is both popular and a good leader in the dressing room.  That may well be true, but a leader is not necessarily a captain, nor vice versa; Cook in the ranks would still be a leader for the younger players in the side who would look up to him by virtue of his record.  The simple question is whether England would be stronger or weaker with him in charge.  That argument has been made many times over the years, but it is particularly acute given the outcome of this series.  It is very hard to make a case for saying that Cook as captain actually makes England a stronger side, even if some would baulk at the idea that he actively weakens them.  There’s a further point, and that is the question of Cook the batsman.  He’s managed the dual roles better than most recent incumbents, his batting has held up fairly well throughout his tenure, with no obvious indication that it has lessened his batting contribution.  But for all the talk about whether taking on the captaincy would negatively affect Joe Root, few ask the question as to whether relinquishing it would positively benefit Cook – for that is the unspoken corollary of that particular argument.  Cook the batsman is simply more valuable than Cook the captain, and he always was, except as an ECB marketing tool.

When England were whitewashed in Australia 2 years ago, the response was to close ranks around Alastair Cook, single out one individual to blame for the farrago and pretend that none of the cracks that appeared needed to be addressed.  There are already attempts to portray this outcome as being within normal parameters, and beyond the Cook captaincy question, there’s little indication that real attention will be paid to why what has transpired recently has happened.  There have to be fears that Adil Rashid will be quietly removed from future consideration given the heavy criticism he has received from sources who have a habit of being unusually close to ECB thinking.   The timing of the leaks (The ECB don’t leak, remember) concerning the action of Jack Leach will raise suspicions about what exactly the ECB hierarchy are up to, not least given the rather over the top praise for Liam Dawson from those same types friendly towards the ECB.  Perhaps such suspicions are entirely wide of the mark, but when an organisation has been so duplicitous in the recent past, they lose their right to be given trust in what they do.

For this is their abiding problem; it isn’t that there are simple solutions to England’s difficulties, it’s that the pattern of deceit over time, throughout the upper levels of the organisation, leads observers to assume they are up to their old tricks even when they aren’t.  In this case they may be, or they may not.  But why would anyone believe them when they say it isn’t so?

England have problems from top to bottom, but there are areas of hope, and young players coming through who look promising.  The experienced ones cannot be written off just yet, but there is a hint of a changing of the guard in this team.  They have six months off from Test cricket, before one of the most insane schedules England have ever put together kicks in.  Next year’s winter tours, including the Ashes, involve England going away from October until April 2018.  If England struggled with five Tests in six weeks this series, they are going to be on their knees by the end of the New Zealand tour following the Ashes.

With the one day tour to the West Indies and Champions Trophy at home, Cook has six months off to recharge his batteries.  He will undoubtedly need it, and it’s to be hoped he is able to relax, free his mind of the clutter that will be swirling at the moment, and come back with a bang as the batsman who at his best can drive opposition bowlers to despair.  If the price of getting that player back was to give up the captaincy, surely even his greatest supporters would think that worth paying?

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160 thoughts on “India vs England: Fifth Test, Day Five

  1. RufusSG December 20, 2016 / 4:32 pm

    I haven’t commented a lot recently (believe it or not, students occasionally have to pretend to work!) but I really liked this piece, very sober and considered when the temptation may well have been for otherwise.

    I agree Cook should probably resign: maybe without the same level of (I accept defendable) contempt that others may feel towards him, but if you’ve been thinking about it for as long as he has, then you’re already halfway out the door.

    Rightly or wrongly, stubbornness or selfishness, I got the impression Cook clung on so long in 2014 (admittedly with no one keen to sack him) because he was desperate to prove his captaincy critics wrong: I don’t see that spark in him now with what he’s been saying.

    Like

    • thelegglance December 20, 2016 / 4:42 pm

      That’s a really good point, and I wish I’d thought to put it in. You’re right, he did have that stubborn determination to prove people wrong, and this time it’s more resigned.

      Like

  2. thelegglance December 20, 2016 / 5:20 pm

    Pouring oil on troubled waters…

    Liked by 1 person

    • jomesy December 20, 2016 / 10:59 pm

      And you by re-posting, no?

      Like

      • thelegglance December 20, 2016 / 11:03 pm

        I’m more amused than critical – and fundamentally no one cares what I think. You don’t need to check the tweet to imagine the comments below.

        Like

    • amit garg December 21, 2016 / 1:52 am

      Besides Boycott, he is probably the only former captain of the English team with balls to call it as he sees it without mincing words. He has a sharp mind for cricket and an instinct for spotting the moments in the game to make a difference.
      And yes, he does himself no favors at times.
      But of course, he is enemy # 1 besides spouting a philosophy opposite to Chef, so why bother listening to him. ECB could still use his experience but this whole episode will always be the source of their biggest cock up.

      Liked by 1 person

    • THA December 21, 2016 / 9:54 am

      Whoah!

      A little flick through KP’s feed reminds me why I don’t use twitter. Some A grade nuts on there. One guy – ‘NJH’ ‘ seems to have a twitter account entirely dedicated to abusing KP/defending Cook.

      Now that’s love.

      Like

        • LordCanisLupus December 21, 2016 / 12:50 pm

          Pretty sure that one isn’t. God knows we’ve had our differences but he’s not a troll and he’s not daft. That twitter feed reads very much like someone else we know.

          Like

    • BobW December 21, 2016 / 10:27 am

      I’m assuming this is a parody account isn’t it? KP has another twitter account which seems quite normal. But this one is on a mission to wind everyone up.

      Like

    • amit garg December 21, 2016 / 2:09 am

      I like that he is starting to assign the blame on the batsmen. Question is, why did he not do that all series? And, why is no one still pointing towards the fast bowlers who were totally ineffective?

      Like

  3. AB December 20, 2016 / 6:00 pm

    The test team have played at a level considerably below the sum of their parts for some years now, and that can only be the fault of leadership. Man for man, we are not that much worse than India, even in subcontinental conditions. But there is a huge gap between the way the two teams play at present. Cook should have gone years ago. He is a woeful captain and appears to offer no tactical or emotional leadership whatsoever.

    Like

  4. SimonH December 20, 2016 / 6:19 pm

    Lawrence Booth appears to be the source for the Jack Leach story.

    He’s denying it was an ECB leak.

    Like

  5. man in a barrel December 20, 2016 / 6:25 pm

    Cook’s captaincy decisions are very perplexing. So in Mumbai, Rashid was used as the stock bowler – was it 28 overs off the reel? A week later in Chennai, Cook is reluctant to bowl him at all unless the batsman is well set and looking to accelerate. He gives Dawson a long spell right at the start of the day, when the batsmen are cautious and looking to settle back in while the guy who has taken 20 wickets patrols the outfield. I admit that I cannot make sense of it. Can anyone? Is he trying to break Rashid’s confidence?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Silk December 20, 2016 / 6:48 pm

    I’ve said it before. I don’t think he will go. He will re-charge, and announce that in the interests of English cricket he is soldiering on bravely. Steel.

    Whether Strauss decides to sack him is another question. Obviously if Strauss does, Cook will be offered the chance to fall on his sword. The question then is whether or not he’s willing to swallow his steel, I mean, pride, and return to the ranks.

    Like

    • oreston December 20, 2016 / 7:00 pm

      If he jumps he might just possibly agree to serve under Root. If he’s pushed I think he’ll flounce off in a fit of entitled petulance.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. oreston December 20, 2016 / 6:56 pm

    I composed a comment on the Day Four thread last night, but didn’t post it in case it sounded unduly negative. In it I predicted that on the final day England would exhibit some resistance in the morning session, reaching lunch more-or-less intact, but that a collapse would ensue during the afternoon with several players falling quickly and cheaply due to unwise shot selection (or “playing positively” and with their “natural game” as I believe its called) leaving the lower order in a desperate and ultimately hopeless situation before the inevitable end game and an abject innings defeat.

    “Predictable” is certainly the word I should learn to listen to my instincts more.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. SimonH December 20, 2016 / 7:01 pm

    Agnew:

    “Was it Alastair Cook’s fault that England lost in that way? Absolutely not. He actually batted very nicely to get England through the morning session, only to be let down by the majority of team”.

    How come when Joe Root doesn’t turn a start into a century he should be hung, drawn and quartered – but when Cook gets into the 40s and falls to an obvious trap, one that he’s fallen to before in this series, one that he’s fallen to before in other series (Yasir Shah in UAE), he bats a “batted very nicely… let down by the majority of the team”?

    “Before this final-Test defeat, it was quite likely Cook’s future was almost entirely in his own hands. I still suspect part of the England hierarchy will want him to stay on for next winter’s Ashes series, but it might also be that the likes of Strauss and the rest of the management team feel they have to draw the line now. As for Cook, if he was feeling bullish about his future as skipper, he may not be any longer. He is probably coming to the realisation the decision on the captaincy may not be as much in his hands as he thought. Indeed, everyone involved could reach the conclusion it is the right time to make a change, so that new energy, focus and direction is brought to the job. There is sense in that”.

    Hmm…. has he heard something?….

    “We also knew England would probably lose, mainly because their spinners are not of the same quality as India’s. But that does not excuse the familiar batting collapses or the regular missed chances in the field. Again, the blame for those cannot all be laid at Cook’s door”.

    Which specialist batsman had the lowest average and isn’t called Ben Duckett? Who dropped Nair? Who was operating a bouncer policy at Kohli and didn’t put one of his best catchers at fine leg?

    No he isn’t “all” to blame – but does there have to be quite so much avoidance of what can fairly be “laid at his door”?

    Liked by 3 people

    • Mark December 20, 2016 / 7:55 pm

      The England national team is run like a middle class garden party game of croquet. It’s all about the right sort of people. And the right sort of people get chance after chance. There is never any consequences for their mistakes, and bad decisions. On the other hand those who don’t fit get few chances, and removed if they screw up. This model runs right through modern Britian. Cook is the man the ECB have wanted to be the face of English cricket because they are running a corporate entity not a sports team. It’s all about image, and public relations with the sponsors. Sure, they say they want to win, but winning has to be defined. This is an English establishmemt organisation and they want someone who makes them feel good about themselves. Frankly, they couldn’t give a toss what the peasants in the peanut gallery think. As long as Lords is sold out with the usual summer season nrigade and the Sky money rolls in everyone else can piss off.

      There was a time when the sports media would step in and act as the forth estate. But they have been gutted and filleted by a bunch of people who owe their cosy existence in proping up the system. And what a nice cosy sytem it is. They get to strut arround calling themselves pundits and journalists travelling the world, but in fact are public relations actors pretending to be journalists. They get to stay in nice hotels have golf days with the players, even have dinner with England captain to make them feel important. All they have to do is read the lines that have been given to them.

      This is not a professional sports team, it’s a posh private club where membership of the commitee is very exclusive, and most are not invited unless your face fits.

      Liked by 1 person

    • jomesy December 20, 2016 / 8:54 pm

      Has he heard something?

      As I posted on the last thread I think it’s a done deal:

      “He might not have as much choice as he believes. Sky have already replaced him with Root for sky+ soft images and at the wrap just now showing highlights of the tour, far more of Root than Cook. Tells me all I need to know (I think!).”

      Like

  9. man in a barrel December 20, 2016 / 7:11 pm

    And Cook adds another unconvincing final innings to the list

    Like

  10. Deep Purple Fred December 20, 2016 / 9:25 pm

    I was intrigued to discover this series was for the Anthony de Mello trophy. Anthony de Mello was an Indian Jesuit priest which seems odd, but in fact there was also an Indian cricket administrator by the same name, so I guess it must be him. Naming your trophy after an administrator somehow seems very Indian.

    However the New Indian Express says it’s no longer called the Anthony de Mello trophy since Englands last visit (cricinfo apparently hasn’t realised yet). No one proposed a new name, so India have now won the Patym Trophy. Patym is an Indian ecommerce website. I can see a Patym ODI Trophy, recently contested with NZ, and a Patym T20 Trophy contested against SL, but no other reference to a Patym Test Trophy.

    Even more intriguingly, when they play in England, it’s called the Patudi Trophy. Patudi was the Captain of the Indian cricket team. He also represented England at other times, so these recent South Africans are just derivative. Patudi represented England in the 1932 Ashes series, in which he declined to field because he objected to the bodyline tactics. Good man.

    Seems a bit of a mess, I think it needs a new name. Gavaskar/Border is already taken, so I suggest they update it to the Tendulkar/Someone Trophy. Struggling with the English half of that though. Tendulkar/Cook? Srinivasan/Clarke?

    Sound to come over all Andy Bull, but it was the Jesuit priest that got me started.

    Like

    • veturisarma December 20, 2016 / 10:17 pm

      May be we could call it a Srinath-Gough trophy….remembering the underachievers..I’m sorry if someone is offended when I call Gough an underachiever…but I haven’t seen much of him

      Like

      • LordCanisLupus December 20, 2016 / 10:54 pm

        Welcome back after a hiatus on the comments for 18 months – and from your previous comment you’ve solved the mystery of our regular hits from your home city!

        I think you are tough on Srinath? Maybe Yuvraj – Harmison trophy would be better?

        Like

      • nkumar December 21, 2016 / 5:24 am

        Well, I am a newbie here (got to know about this site from the Guardian’s BTL during this series), and from Hyderabad. So, that could also explain some of the regular hits, I suppose. My choice would be Kapil-Botham trophy to recognize the all rounders.

        Like

        • LordCanisLupus December 21, 2016 / 8:50 am

          Good to hear from you and welcome. Wasn’t aware we were linked from the Guardian recently. We’re a little bit different to a number of their more vocal personnel.

          Any trophy named after an Indian player has to be Dravid. He was a giant over here.

          Like

      • Quebecer December 21, 2016 / 7:45 pm

        Dmitri, I did a big ol’ sales pitch to the Indian boys. I got Sri Grins for you too.

        Can I have a new avatar now please?

        Like

    • man in a barrel December 20, 2016 / 11:43 pm

      Nawab of Pataudi played for England in the Bodyline series but then played for India once they set up a team. His son played and captained India in the 60s and 70s. Also known as Mansur Ali Khan.

      Like

      • Sri Grins December 25, 2016 / 12:53 pm

        Yup. Tiger. Pataudi. 🙂 . Lost an eye in England in an accident. Continued playing tests for India despite that handicap. Lost his captaincy to his deputy Ajit for the famous (In Indian cricket history ie ) victories in WI & Eng i in 1971. I watched Pat make 73 in Chepauk (I think) against Eng (captained by lewis with Old, Arnold,Pocock, Greig, Denness etc) on his return to he team. Was made captain again after Ajit’s disastrous tour to eng in 74. WI pace bowlers ensured that Tiger did not continue as he came a cropper against them. i can imagine the issues when batsmen with 2 eyes struggled against Roberts etc.

        His son is a famous film actor (Saif Ali Khan) married to a famous actress from a powerful film family.

        Films & Cricket have been a potent mix in India as Tiger was married to a famous actress Sharmila Tagore.

        Like

    • Sri Grins December 25, 2016 / 12:38 pm

      Quebecer :-). Good marketing as it seems to have caught the attention of a few posters from Guardian BTL. Thanks once again for the recommend

      Like

  11. LordCanisLupus December 20, 2016 / 9:26 pm

    Maybe we should call him Thunderclap Newman… There was something in the air

    Day 3 report…

    England insist there is a very good reason why they will not at this stage turn to Somerset’s Jack Leach, the leading English spinner in domestic cricket last summer with more than 60 first-class wickets.

    Day 2 report….

    And they are adamant that they could not bring Somerset’s Leach here even though he was the outstanding young spin bowler in county cricket last season and took three times as many First Division wickets as Dawson.

    I’m sure there was at least one more, but don’t inflict more pain on me than I’ve already suffered today.

    Smells like good journalism to me.

    Like

    • SimonH December 20, 2016 / 9:37 pm

      Booth’s Tweeted a fair bit about the origins of the story.

      He claims it’s not an ECB leak and that he’d been aware of it for a couple of weeks but didn’t have enough proof until yesterday. As DM stablemates, Newman would have known through him.

      Like

      • LordCanisLupus December 20, 2016 / 9:43 pm

        I’ve not been online all day. The first thing I thought of when the news broke was that it was evident Newman knew, and he was dropping hints all over the place.

        Then it dropped today.

        As Chris said, the ECB have lost the right to the benefit of the doubt.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Julie December 20, 2016 / 9:45 pm

    England lost their “backbone” when they disposed of KP.It’s there for all to see that the “right sort of people”just don’t have the strength to stand up and fight.Don’t think Root is “captain material”.Just because you’re a good batsman doesn’t make you a good leader of men. If they drop Cook and replace him with Root it will be ” frying pan into the fire”. They must look deeper but while Flower is still pulling the strings Eng will continue to go out backwards.

    Like

  13. jomesy December 20, 2016 / 9:47 pm

    Sorry, I appreciate that most (if not all) of you have moved on (copyright P Downton/ECB) but I’ve been waiting for this moment for some time. Namely, Cook’s demise.

    Sorry, too, if it sullies your site, but I’d invite you to take a step back.

    Cook is a fucking useless captain.

    He’s been propped up, relentlessly, for years.

    I don’t give a shit about Cook’s runs, most of this team will (I suspect but cannot prove) have watched Pietersen and thought…I’d like that. Plays all forms because he’s good enough, stands up to the ecb pricks in suits, earns amazing money on T20 platforms, has the respect of his fellow elite cricketers (even if they think he can be a dick).

    That or Cook?

    Well the ecb chose Cook, of course.

    Wrong choice – at every level. I agree about the damage of the paywall for cricket but it’s hard to say to my kids, hey, you want to watch this (Cook) innings because…. you really don’t until … cricket has already got you. You want to watch someone exciting.

    So fuck off with this shit about “let’s hope Cook can come back”.

    I want him out.

    He’s wrecked the place for his own end, aided and abetted by a corrupt ecb and ecb-aligned press, and forced lie after lie after lie down fans throats to the extent that we have to put up with:

    – he can say, apparently quite comfortably, who may be dropped/who is fighting for their place/who was to blame for a loss
    – I now hold two of my former heroes in contempt (Vaughan and Hussein – odds on that if you asked me 10yrs ago, pls?) trying to support him (because ecb say so so sky must follow, although that’s clearly changing)
    – I can only visit the guardian cricket pages – which I used to treasure- when I feel strong enough and turns me into an angry person
    – apparently he can choose when he won’t be captain and we will miss him when he isn’t!

    Fuck off

    I don’t blame Cook totally – I think he’s pretty thick. But enough. We’ve all had shit bosses. We know the harm they can do, yet those of us who are bosses know who in our teams need different encouragement, what they like/what they’re good at, what they don’t like (and so won’t be good at, when to cut them some slack, when to push them that bit harder, when to look after them, when to give them plenty of space.

    This – the last three yrs of english cricket – WILL (but I dont know how soon) become a course in psychology/media in years to come. I studied neither but I’ll take the credit when it does.

    Enough – walk Cook, with your cronies, and never come back to test cricket.

    Right, rant over. Forgive me, I care.

    Ps – if it were me, I’d make YJB captain

    Liked by 2 people

    • BobW December 20, 2016 / 10:10 pm

      Well said Jomesy and I totally share your frustration. There are so many things wrong with English cricket that when speaking to people about it, it is almost impossible to know where to start?

      Like

      • jomesy December 20, 2016 / 10:28 pm

        I’m normally pretty tame

        Liked by 1 person

      • pktroll (@pktroll) December 26, 2016 / 8:20 am

        I have been a bit ‘meh’ on Cook the last few weeks because I know that he can’t captain and think he actually is a guy of rather limited faculties, seriously. But if his old buddy, Comma, doesn’t do the decent thing in a couple of weeks time, it will rather prove that Comma needs removal from post.

        I also think that Cook might be nearer the edge as a batsman of value than some might think. Two of the next 3 series are v South Africa and if his trend of failing against good pace attacks continues then might he be all washed up past his 33rd birthday? Filling his boots v Windies shouldn’t save his career.

        Liked by 1 person

      • pktroll (@pktroll) December 26, 2016 / 8:41 am

        I should have mentioned the series v Australia too and not just South Africa!

        Like

    • nonoxcol December 20, 2016 / 10:38 pm

      Can’t blame you. Look at that Smyth article and straight away it’s “vicious abuse” and Cook’s effing farm AGAIN. Scarcely a word on things he demonstrably got *wrong*. None of them learned a blind thing from 2014. The same bloody tropes still keep popping up everywhere. Beyond tedious. Beyond absurd. My heart sinks when I see him, hear him and (especially) read about him.

      And then there’s stuff like this:

      OK then, so when will people stop referring to HIS win in SA, and stop ignoring the absence of Steyn and Philander/idiotic SA selections/his own bog-awful batting performance then, ffs.

      I have to admire people who keep blogging through this seemingly endless farce. I feel more like Maxie: not surprised he just got fed up and said shove it. I was happier under Dexter, in all honesty, because we had people like Martin Johnson mocking the set-up in print every day. I was certainly far more engaged.

      Liked by 2 people

      • LordCanisLupus December 20, 2016 / 11:06 pm

        I’ve come to a form of inner peace with it. I have seen England annihilated 4-0 in a series and the press corps are suddenly all very reasonable about matters, and so understanding. But still with those telltale signs – like the reaction to Moeen Ali in this test. He got out to a stupid dismissal. So did Cook (Ballance was destroyed for getting out like that).

        Been more concerned with other matters today. I still love the sport. I don’t know why, because I never feel that it loves me back.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mark December 20, 2016 / 11:20 pm

        20 reasons hey Peter? So you have just admitted his importance as a captain is completely irrelevant! We might as well try someone else then.

        Liked by 1 person

      • amit garg December 21, 2016 / 5:18 am

        Some really interesting stats from the series to make up the list of 20.

        1. Jadeja took as many wickets in the series as Moeen + Stokes + Woakes + Ansari + Dawson

        2. Ball, Woakes, Dawson, Jimmy, Moeen bowled a combined total of 65 maidens in the series. Jadeja got 67 on his own.

        3. Alternatively, it could have been Stokes, Jimmy, Woakes, Ansari, Dawson, Root and Ball. Jadeja got 67 on his own.

        4. Alternatively, It could be that Jadeja bowled more maidens than the top 3 english bowlers combined.

        5. England took 64 wickets at average of almost 49 runs per wicket through the series while Indian bowlers did it at little over 32. That’s 17 runs less per wicket. Through the series.

        6. Despite bowling 110 overs more, Indian bowlers took their wickets about every 70 balls. England took about 88 balls per wicket.

        7. Rashid’s strike rate of 60.6 is much better than the entire team by 27 balls per wicket. He is also the best of the entire list of regular bowlers on both sides. Yet, he gets the blame. Moeen who is likely to hold the spot ahead of Rashid in the next game England will play, took his wickets every 113 balls. Jimmy is at 154 balls – that’s over 25 overs per wicket.

        8. The usually maligned fast bowling unit for India took 22 wickets every 80.4 balls, while their more reputed English counterpart took 24 wickets at over 99.

        9. India used Karun Nair for a solitary over – the other 1048 overs were bowled by specialist bowlers.

        10. Only 19 times in test history has a player scored over 200 runs and taken 25 wickets in a series. 2 players (Ashwin, Jadeja) did it in this series. England lost the battle of the allrounders as much as the battle of the spinners.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Silk December 21, 2016 / 1:01 pm

        The notion of “Cook’s captaincy” is ephemeral.

        What, exactly, is it that he does? It must be /more/ than his placement of his fielders (which is piss poor) or his selection of who to bowl, when and for how long (which is also piss poor). No one will defend him on that. They say “He’s improved as a captain”, I say “Look at his field placings when he’s got a new ball and 477 runs on the board”. They say …. nothing. They say “It’s not his fault his spinners bowl poorly”, I say “He bowled Rashid for a 28 over spell. A club captain wouldn’t be that stupid.”….

        The problem is, if it’s got anything to do with selection, then he’s in deep do-do, as selection of teams was deeply flawed.

        And if it’s anything to do with ‘building a team’ he should be sacked, as the team is clearly less than the sum of its parts.

        So, so long as our journalistic friends and fellow travellers don’t actually define what “captaincy” means, they can claim that Cook is good at it, whatever it is.

        If they ever defined what it was they were talking about they would, of course, have to admit that whatever it is (as they define it) he’s shit at it. Because we keep losing, and we keep playing shit cricket.

        Liked by 3 people

        • thelegglance December 21, 2016 / 1:05 pm

          On selection, as I understand it the coach and captain select the side when on tour, possibly in conjunction with a selector if he’s in situ. It’s only the home tests where you have a full selection committee.

          Like

    • Rohan December 20, 2016 / 11:26 pm

      Nailed it! Completely agree, Nailed It!

      Like

    • thelegglance December 21, 2016 / 12:41 pm

      Love it. I wish I could summon up the rage – these days I tend to be unable to be so furious about it all.

      Like

    • London Wasp December 22, 2016 / 9:06 am

      Hear hear! Agree completely.

      Like

  14. David December 20, 2016 / 10:10 pm

    Agnew said on the journalist panel podcast that he knew about the Leach rumours three weeks ago, and told Jonathan Trott about them.

    So it seems like this has been doing the rounds for a while…

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus December 20, 2016 / 11:02 pm

      I have little doubt that it did. So that makes it even more odd that it should come out today, don’t you think?

      Like

      • Mark December 20, 2016 / 11:23 pm

        So all the usual media suspects were tipped off, and none of them chose to tell their readers/listeners until the ECB decided when.

        They are just stengraphers for the ECB. They play at being journalists. I know, I know….access!

        Like

    • amit garg December 21, 2016 / 3:18 am

      So why have all these journalists been clamoring for his inclusion all series?

      Like

    • thelegglance December 21, 2016 / 12:42 pm

      Some of the timelines don’t quite make sense. England rejected his inclusion in September, with other comments about him not being ready, but it wasn’t until November that he was tested.

      Like

  15. "IronBalls" McGinty December 20, 2016 / 10:12 pm

    “We will build our team around the Captain Alistair Cook” …Paul Rupert Downton
    I’ll keep repeating this quote ad nauseum because it was cast in stone by the suits in the ECB and they will stick with that until the very bitter end, and use every dirty trick to absolve themselves …. see Leach Jack
    I raise a glass also to the venerable Giles Clarke whose fixture legacy finally broke the England team…well done Sir!!
    I am though, looking forward to the ODI’s and T20 and expect to see a renewed vibrancy and inspired leadership, and the nurturing and development of talent and skill…as opposed to…conservative conformity? The MSM would undoubtedly put that down to the benefits of the Christmas break ?

    Like

  16. Scrim December 20, 2016 / 10:30 pm

    “I think everyone can see we are suited to playing in seaming conditions,” Cook said. “There’s no point hiding behind that fact. These conditions have tested us to our limits and I really don’t want to be disrespectful to Mo and Adil but they are not as good as Ashwin and Jadeja yet. They haven’t quite got the control and consistency, certainly in the first innings when there’s not much happening.

    I note that while he was happy to compare spinners, Cook didn’t compare his efforts with the bat to Kohli. Or compare his efforts to Ashwin and Jadeja for that matter, who both averaged more with the bat than him as well.

    Liked by 2 people

    • LordCanisLupus December 20, 2016 / 10:58 pm

      Think this is your first comment since July 2015 too! Welcome back.

      Anderson with Umesh Yadav? Of course not.

      Reminder – we beat Tendulkar, Laxman, Dravid, Dhoni, Harby at Mumbai with Shaun Udal and Monty Panesar (who took one wicket in the match) at Mumbai in 2006. Just saying.

      Like

      • Scrim December 21, 2016 / 5:12 am

        July 2015, eh? Not so coincidentally, that’s when my son was born. Or did I just stick my head in the sand because of the way the Ashes went? I will never forget that the first session of Australian test cricket that he was present on this earth to witness involved a certain blond haired English bowler taking 8 wickets. I don’t think I could bring myself to read anything about cricket for a month or two after that

        Good work with the site, it’s still a great place to get some alternative views on English cricket. There isn’t much English test cricket for a while now, but I’ll be paying more attention and hopefully contributing a bit more before next year’s Ashes. After no doubt getting thumped in India next southern winter, the Australians could probably use a feeble England team to raise their spirits, so hopefully Cook sticks around!

        Like

      • thelegglance December 21, 2016 / 12:44 pm

        The Ashes could well be a series of both sides trying desperately to outdo each other for ineptitude. Add in a pink ball Test – are we absolutely sure that’ll go a whole day? 😉

        Like

      • man in a barrel December 21, 2016 / 1:08 pm

        To be fair, LG, wasn’t that the case with the last Ashes? The winner of each match was obvious after the first day’s play.

        Like

        • thelegglance December 21, 2016 / 1:21 pm

          Apparently it was a great series, up there with 2005. Only curmudgeons like us thought it was actually really crap.

          Liked by 2 people

      • SimonH December 21, 2016 / 1:27 pm

        The last three D/N Tests have not been low-scoring games!

        Like

      • Scrim December 22, 2016 / 6:42 am

        That Ashes series just summed up Australia in the past few years.

        During the rain breaks in the Brisbane test, there were some flashbacks to Adam Gilchrist’s second test, where he and Langer produced an amazing partnership to win on the 5th day vs Pakistan. That win really set in motion the 16 test win streak (which itself was only broken by a fightback of even greater proportions, Laxman & Dravid). For me, it really highlighted the lack of fightbacks from Australia in recent times, particularly with the bat. They are capable of 5 days of good cricket, but if they have a bad day early on, there’s no coming back, even to salvage a draw, at the moment.

        I guess the same thing could be said about England as well?

        Like

    • d'Arthez December 21, 2016 / 8:38 am

      Hell, Cook was not even among the best two openers this series. He was not even among the best two captains this series (Root seems to have done a better job of it, whenever Cook was off the field).

      Like

    • man in a barrel December 22, 2016 / 12:00 am

      When the seamers include the West Indies, we will see whether he means it. I would love to see Shami and Umesh giving England a work out on a green seamer, with Ishant as no. 3. England’s attack is a bit pop gun at the moment

      Like

  17. man in a barrel December 20, 2016 / 11:53 pm

    Does Peter Miller? A question without an answer as befits a pundit without a brain.

    Like

  18. oreston December 21, 2016 / 2:51 am

    The more I think about the Jack Leach issue the less satisfactory it seems.
    Until the stuff about his bowling action dropped out of nowhere we were told that he wasn’t considered “mature” enough to play for England. That’s a good one in itself when the team already includes players like Anderson and Stokes, who have a habit of getting into contretemps with players on the opposing team, and last summer Hales who was disciplined for menacing an official. Yet now the “concerns over his action” meme has replaced the “immature” one as though a switch has been flicked. If that’s a change of tactics by the ECB’s Excuses To Cover For Past Mistakes Department then it’s a clumsy one.
    Since Leach’s action has never been questioned during a match, let alone reported, it seems a curious thing that routine end of season testing (as cricinfo reports it) at Loughborough revealed a hitherto unsuspected defect that we’re variously told was both minor and yet serious enough to render him unselectable even as a late replacement for Ansari. Having tested him, surely the Loughborough staff would’ve discussed the outcome directly with the player and made him aware of any significant findings? In which case why has he professed to being shocked at the news that his action supposedly cost him a call-up to India? And if Leach wasn’t a viable option for Test cricket this month why has he already been confirmed for the Lions party to play four day cricket in Sri Lanka in February when he will presumably play no competitive cricket in the meantime to demonstrate that any modifications to his action have been successful? It simply doesn’t make sense.
    I’m sure some independently minded sports journalist will pose these questions and get to the bottom of it…

    Like

    • quebecer December 21, 2016 / 3:12 am

      Yep, there’s lots about this I’m not clear on. Let’s forget the timing and the change of reasons: what exactly is it that can be illegal, but corrected with minor adjustment in body position? And it’s legal for a Lions game but not a test match? How exactly can that be true?

      Lastly, given (I’m sure like many others) I immediately went and looked at as much tape on Leach as I could find and saw nothing – just as every player and official has also never seen anything wrong – whatever machine used to assess his action at Loughbrough, wouldn’t it have done the England cause more good to use said machine on Ashwin, Jadeja, and Yadav before the series than Leach? To the naked eye, if Leach chucks then one of them probably does too.

      Like

      • quebecer December 21, 2016 / 4:20 am

        Another point to make is that Leach was testes AFTER the squad for India had been announced.

        Like

      • Rohan December 21, 2016 / 7:40 am

        Flower prefers Dawson to Leach, ‘card marked’…..

        Like

    • LordCanisLupus December 21, 2016 / 9:10 am

      I think the whole thing honks, but that has me labelled as some conspiracy freak if I do. The ideal time to make it known that a potential spin option couldn’t be selected perhaps?

      I don’t buy it’s not a leak from the ECB. They own that information and someone let it out. Even if this was Leach himself. It was like when Moores was sacked. That wasn’t the ECB either. But it was their information and they are responsible for it.

      Like

  19. Topshelf December 21, 2016 / 9:17 am

    While the timing and method of release certainly stinks, dodgy bowling actions are one of my geeky obsessions. I suggest you play the clip at 1:19 and especially 1:46 in slow motion and pause just before release – there is a definite straightening, and it looks over the limit to me. It seems to be caused as he falls to his right side and ends up with his bowling arm almost past the perpendicular, where between 11 and 12 o’clock would be better and allow him to keep the arm straight (enough) throughout.

    One of the things I really liked about seeing Mehedi Hasan and Jayant Yadav for the first time this winter is that both had much purer actions than we have grown accustomed to seeing recently. Looks to me like Leach has a glitch that is pretty easy to fix by staying a bit more upright in his action. My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that had he bowled like this in international cricket someone would have picked up on it pretty quickly now that running up and hurling it like Ajmal is no longer allowed!

    Like

    • SimonH December 21, 2016 / 10:43 am

      “Looks to me like Leach has a glitch that is pretty easy to fix by staying a bit more upright in his action”.

      You’d think so – but they seem unable to get Stokes to stay upright in his action (not that it leads to him chucking – but it can’t do his chances of getting any away-swing any good the way he leans to the off-side). The case of Stokes’ disappearing bowling is one of the mysteries of the tour – the heir to Botham and Flintoff ended up with 8 wickets in a 5 Test series. They both lost series in India, and I don’t think they’d have won this one – but I don’t think they’d have been so invisible in the field. Some of the press have said he was tired by the schedule – but don’t criticise the refusal to ever rest him.

      There are new articles by Newman and Ali Martin up. Newman confirms that the meeting with Strauss is Jan 9th. Ali Martin makes the excellent point that, if Cook stays, they are just one defeat away (the First Test against SA) from repeating the situation before the 2015 WC and he also has some grumblings from (unnamed) players about Bayliss.

      Like

    • thelegglance December 21, 2016 / 12:48 pm

      I doubt that anyone can seriously refuse to accept that if they’ve picked up a flaw in his action it’s a genuine one – it’s more around the timing and the way the ECB have handled it.

      For what it’s worth, I suspect the ECB have done everything properly with regard to sorting Leach out, but have been the usual shambles with regards to the PR and explanation of it. It’s a good scoop for Lawrence Booth, no doubt.

      Liked by 1 person

      • oreston December 21, 2016 / 8:09 pm

        It’s also about how big a deal the flaw is when it’s never been picked up in real time by the naked eye (though everyone will now of course be looking for it, which creates its own dynamic) and the way it’s been made into a public issue – which can only do Leach more harm than good and was a totally needless in terms of his development. The only people who potentially benefit are the selectors in the wake of what’s just happened in India and anybody at the ECB (mentioning) no names who is thought to favour other bowlers over Leach. The selectors can probably even be excused for not picking him as they will surely have received advice from Loughborough about the flaw in his action. Perhaps the significance of the problem was even sexed-up a little for their benefit in a dodgy dossier, but I’ll need to put on a tin foil hat if I’m going to start thinking that way…

        Liked by 1 person

    • Andy December 21, 2016 / 3:44 pm

      What I don’t get about the Leach leak (if it was a leak) is that it does the player absolutely no good as he will now be under immense scrutiny from umpires at all levels when he bowls.

      if he has a problem, then fix it and let him learn and develop. Now next time he bowls all eyes will be on him.

      Like

  20. SimonH December 21, 2016 / 12:55 pm

    The Spin picks its Test team of the year:

    Cook and Root to open….

    Like

    • BobW December 21, 2016 / 1:01 pm

      Note how Mike Selvey was not on the panel. Root shoehorned in as an opener as they couldn’t fit him in the team otherwise. Ridiculous.

      Like

      • SimonH December 21, 2016 / 1:36 pm

        There are three openers who played more than 2 games in 2016 and average more than Cook – Rahul, Azhar Ali and Brathwaite.

        I don’t mind so much the inclusion of Cook – it’s more the feeling that they wouldn’t have even thought seriously about not including him and that cloying bit about the country squire in the pen portrait.

        The selection of Root as opener (because Tim De Lisle says so) is just a nonsense – even within their own team Pujara would make more sense.

        I doubt they even thought of QDK instead of Bairstow. I also like the apologetic bit they’ve included for picking Rabada ahead of Jimmy.

        It’s being pretty thoroughly eviscerated BTL.

        Like

    • amit garg December 21, 2016 / 3:31 pm

      Not an easy year to select players.
      England, having played the maximum games in the year seem to have the numbers for individual players even if their win/loss record is third from the bottom this year. India haven’t lost a test all year, so a few players were indeed expected. Can’t argue much against Cook’s numbers, even if i can question impact of those runs but then I can’t fit Root in the team as an opener. Azhar Ali has better numbers as the other specialist opener including a triple, even if all scored in Dubai.

      Like

  21. BobW December 21, 2016 / 1:27 pm

    Apologies if this has been covered earlier but Rob Smyth n the Guardian talking about England. ‘They did a lot of good things during the series against India and deserve enormous admiration for not allowing their spirit to break in the face of a sadistic itinerary and an unavoidable hammering. Despite a 4-0 defeat, they need only minor surgery’
    And he gets paid to write this?

    Like

    • thelegglance December 21, 2016 / 1:30 pm

      Honestly, I struggle to understand why so many here get so exercised by the Guardian’s cricket pages. They’ve always been pretty average, and no better than anyone else. Vic Marks is ok, Ali Martin has been a good acquisition, but there are other broadsheets who have always been of the same level – some good, some bad. Maybe it’s because I find the Guardian so hilariously pompous at the best of times, but I don’t share this feeling of being let down by them at all.

      Like

      • amit garg December 21, 2016 / 3:09 pm

        I suppose this is the Selvey effect. In a lot of ways, he is probably responsible for eliciting such strong reactions from fans on the Guardian. Even after he’s gone, the legacy of the acrimonious exchanges and disdain for the fans remains.

        Like

      • Zephirine December 21, 2016 / 4:03 pm

        I think it used to be better, when David Hopps was there as well as Marks and Selvey and they’d have guest articles from Brearley and people. The quality of comments BTL was certainly much better.

        Now, what the G does best is the light-hearted in-crowd stuff, the OBOs and the CC blogs.

        Like

      • BobW December 21, 2016 / 4:11 pm

        For me the choice is getting less and less these days. The Times is behind a paywall. The Telegraph is heading down the same route. As for The Mail, I try to avoid that out of (my own) principle. Same for The Sun. Not a lot of choice really. I know the decline of sporting journalism has been covered earlier.

        Like

      • man in a barrel December 21, 2016 / 9:04 pm

        Once upon a time, people like Neville Cardus and John Arlott wrote for the Guardian, Alan Gibson wrote for the Times, and EW Swanton wrote for the Telegraph. Do things always get better? Gibson’s columns were at their best when he did not write about the cricket, but about the atmosphere around the ground and the people there. Cricket as a social event rather than a means for Cook to achieve personal milestones

        Like

        • thelegglance December 21, 2016 / 9:07 pm

          This allows me to mention the time as a kid getting a nice 50 and being told ‘well batted young man’ by the elderly chap watching the game at Sandwich. And then being told who he was by an older team mate.

          Liked by 1 person

        • thelegglance December 21, 2016 / 11:56 pm

          Yep. I’d heard of him even then. Saw him a couple of times again in the following years when I visited that club. He went most weeks apparently.

          Liked by 1 person

        • LordCanisLupus December 22, 2016 / 9:26 am

          His pieces in old Wisden Cricket Monthly magazines were priceless. A bygone age. Maybe.

          Like

      • man in a barrel December 22, 2016 / 12:16 am

        What I find when I re read Swanton is that I cannot predict him. He was not the fuddy duddy old military man. If you read his columns on the 1958 tour of Australia, you would be surprised. He lays into Trevor Bailey, for example. And I think he kept that objectivity until his final broadcasts.

        Like

      • alan December 22, 2016 / 6:33 am

        MIAB
        Yes, Swanton always retained his integrity as a cricket journalist. He was very much an establishment figure who liked to hob nob with the Lords hierarchy but he remained honest as a writer. At the time of the D’Oliviera affair he wrote critically of the authorities even at the risk of it damaging his much treasured relationship with them. A sad contrast with some of his successors these days

        Liked by 1 person

  22. SimonH December 21, 2016 / 2:55 pm

    “To have any hope of competing with India, England needed to know their best XI by the time they arrived in Rajkot”.

    This is from an otherwise decent review from Andrew Miller – and he’s not the only one spouting it. Do they ever listen to themselves? It’s nonsense, Flower-era, command-and-control, fetishising continuity nonsense.

    The last three series England won in India, they were all unsure of their best team and changed it as the series developed. In 2011/12 the batting was settled but the bowling changed; in 1984/85 again the batting was settled but the combination of seamers changed; in 1976/77 the bowling was settled but the middle-order batting changed virtually every game.

    India went into this series unsure of their best team. I think they’re still unsure of their best team.

    The key points are always getting the best out of your best players and reacting correctly to the conditions as you find them (plus undoubtedly getting a bit lucky). England didn’t do these things – they may well have lost even if they had got everything right, but at least it would have been closer and we could feel they’d done everything they reasonably could.

    Like

    • man in a barrel December 21, 2016 / 3:11 pm

      Just to add, in 1976-77, England had a batsman – Greig – who was a fantastic player of spin and a bowler in Underwood who had India a little scared. It meant they could not just scrub all the grass off the pitch because he was as lethal as Chandra in those conditions.

      Like

      • BobW December 21, 2016 / 4:05 pm

        I remember the contentious pick being Roger Tolchard. Ordinarily a wicket keeper but a very good player of spin who ended up being picked for the test matches. Can you imagine that today, not dropping your best keeper for someone who i’s a better batsman but not so good keeper. Times have changed.
        By the way, I thought Bairstow’s keeping was pretty poor in India. It cost the team at times with his missed stumpings etc. Maybe for future tours to the sub continent, a specialist keeper is a must.

        Like

      • man in a barrel December 21, 2016 / 5:14 pm

        Bob – plus Knotty was also a good player of spin as well as having an understanding of Underwood’s bowling that verged on the telepathic.

        Like

      • SimonH December 21, 2016 / 5:42 pm

        Bob Taylor was reserve keeper on most 70s’ tours so Tolchard was picked instead of him. Tolchard had been picked as someone who took the attack to the spinners – but his one crucial innings was a five-and-a-half hour 67 when he hung in there while an unwell Greig scored a century. I think if I remember rightly that the pitch was so bad, Greig wouldn’t play any attacking shots off the front foot and waited for anything short to score.

        Those who go on about “attacking intent” and “mental toughness” might learn a thing or two from the way they used their game-intelligence to adjust to the conditions – but we all know cricket started in 1999 and everything about England before then was just rubbish to be laughed at.

        England went on that tour with Bob Woolmer and Keith Fletcher as the experienced players of spin and Derek Randall and Graham Barlow as the young bucks (based on runs they’d scored in ODIs against the West Indies – nothing changes!). They made one fifty between them in the entire series. Most of the runs came from the Amiss/Brearley opening partnership and Greig/Knott at Nos. 6-7. England didn’t need too many because the bowlers were so effective (that was the tour where Bob Willis really broke through as a Test class bowler).

        Liked by 1 person

      • man in a barrel December 22, 2016 / 12:18 am

        I think Bob Taylor was there in reserve. Tolchard was a possible batter plus keeper if things went wrong

        Like

  23. Mark December 21, 2016 / 3:46 pm

    I know I am cynical, but even I didn’t expect Cook to inform us he was staying on as captain before they had even put the covers back on the pitch. I thought he would at least have the decency to do the de-brief with Strauss.

    But no, he didn’t even wait till he touched back down in Blighty before grabbing the microphone and making it clear this job is his for as long as he feels like it. Can you blame him when large parts the media are spineless mates of Cooks or clueless?

    Still, the good news is it has revealed once and for all that he is a selfish, self important, self entitled spoiled brat. I never believed the stories about how close he came to resigning, and how Alice had to talk him round. (The conversation probably went like this…..Alice….”Why don’t you stay on a s captain?” …….Cook….”Alright then.”)

    We also have to ponder the sinister forces behind the throne that have a gormless puppet to operate through. Why do they want to keep such a crap captain? Well, perhaps he is pursuing their tactics and ideas? Can you think of anyone else in the England set up that so loves “bowling dry?” Can you think of anyone who is so fussy about players being obedient to the management and not questioning anything? Who thinks fitness is more important than ability? Who also would like redemption in Australia for the fiasco of a 5-0? Oh it’s on the tip of my tongue. Who is it now?

    Is Cook a fake captain. A robot who others operate through? Because if he is the real captain why would you keep someone so hopeless? Unless others like it like that?

    Liked by 1 person

      • MM December 21, 2016 / 5:42 pm

        If there isn’t it’s damn fine sexy speculation. And I would tend to agree with it. For what that’s worth, of course.

        Like

      • Mark December 21, 2016 / 6:36 pm

        No sources Dmitri, I’m just posing a few questions really. His captaincy does seem remarkably similar to certain traits of other people at the ECB. Is Cook the real captain or just a puppet?

        Like

  24. BoredInAustria December 21, 2016 / 4:10 pm

    “We’ve planned, and have been planning, for Cooky (sic) to be captain going to the Ashes in Australia next winter,” said Farbrace. “Personally, I hope that continues. We know he still has the support of the team, and he’s a very popular bloke and very popular captain.

    “He’s got that decision to make – and as he said before the series started, he and Straussy will sit down in the new year and have a conversation about the way forward. The most important thing is that Cooky will make the decision based on what’s right for England cricket, not what’s right for Alastair Cook.”

    It does seem that all the Flowerpot visits in Sandhurst has rubbed of on the ECB management in adopting a Earl of Cardigan approach to critical situations. I can see the Cook leading the cricket team to visit war memorials in the Crimea, Gallipoli etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Zephirine December 21, 2016 / 5:01 pm

    “The most important thing is that Andrew Strauss will make the decision based on what’s right for England cricket, not what’s right for Alastair Cook.”

    Would have been the right answer.

    Liked by 2 people

    • "IronBalls" McGinty December 21, 2016 / 6:53 pm

      Et tu Brute….well said zeph!!

      Like

  26. SimonH December 21, 2016 / 8:01 pm

    Vic Marks names Strauss as responsible for the schedule and is clearly hopping mad about Leach:

    https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/dec/21/vic-marks-england-cricket-tour-to-india-and-bangladesh-review

    But we also have:

    “No England captain has had to endure so much abuse (mind you, his predecessors did not have to operate under the severe and often anonymous scrutiny of today’s social media)”

    and

    ” Cook has never been the most intuitive of captains but he has been an honest one”

    and

    “He has done his time. He would go with the universal respect of his peers, which counts for rather more than the opinions of those who have pursued him relentlessly since the ostracism of Kevin Pietersen”.

    Like

    • nonoxcol December 21, 2016 / 8:37 pm

      Hurrah for jonnywishbone I say.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Mark December 22, 2016 / 12:42 am

      Glad to see Vic Marks reads this site. How do I know this? Because outside of here no one gives Cook a hard time. (or as I would say, an impartial honest opinion. Something sadly lacking in the MSM.)

      Like

      • SimonH December 22, 2016 / 8:45 am

        Pretty safe to say he doesn’t read this site. He seldom reads the threads to his own articles (which I don’t mind too much – I certainly prefer it to Selvey’s interventions).

        I think what goes on BTL and on Twitter is like “the book” – most of them haven’t read it but they repeat horror stories about it to each other in the press box until they become an unquestioned verity.

        Liked by 1 person

        • thelegglance December 22, 2016 / 9:55 am

          It’s also partly a generational thing. The new breed regard social media as part of reality, not something horrific. Everyone on whichever side of a debate knows there are those who honestly disagree, and then there are abusive trolls to be ignored.

          One small thing which may have an impact. I find it very hard to reply to someone disagreeing with me on my own piece, as it looks like lecturing someone with a different point of view, especially if it’s time and again. I love a debate, but I just find it much easier to wade in on Dmitri or Sean’s articles. It’s not something I’d ever considered before.

          Like

      • Mark December 22, 2016 / 10:56 am

        Well if they don’t read this site, no other part of the media criticises Cook like we do. So someone is reading this site and passing it back. The media lie all the time. They keep telling us Cook was being given huge stick in 2014. Not True! The media were running defence for him all through the summer, and when England won at Southampton they wanted to build a column to him and put it up in Trafalgar Square. Agnew was particularly nauseating with his …….we must all come together now and support Alsadair for the good of England…….He can piss right off!

        No captain has been protected like this one so Vic Marks is talking utter bollocks.

        Like

      • Zephirine December 22, 2016 / 7:10 pm

        Somewhere out there in a parallel universe is a whole race of frothing-mouthed, knuckle-dragging, pitchfork-wielding fanatical worshippers of the god Pietersen. There are thousands of them I tell you! Ravening hordes! Swarming! Snarling in the darkness beyond the comforting red-and-yellow light! United in their blind hatred of Alastair Cook! Undermining, begrudging, treasonous subhumans beyond any hope of redemption!! Hurling abuse at the blameless Cook every time he draws breath!!!

        There are posters on the Guardian who seem to genuinely believe these creatures exist. They have hallucinations of them running wild through the comment threads. Perhaps the journalists do too.

        An alternative explanation is that because Cook so often responds to – and objects to – even kindly meant criticism, the impression given is that he gets more of it than other captains. Whereas other captains mostly just took it on the chin and carried on.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sri Grins December 25, 2016 / 1:22 pm

        @Zeph. nice description of pitchfork wielding worshippers. :-). Reminds me of the images of some of the followers of few warrior gods in the Hindu pantheon.

        Like

  27. SimonH December 21, 2016 / 10:12 pm

    Nick Hoult on why Hameed didn’t play in Bangladesh:

    “His technique and temperament impressed Trevor Bayliss from day one of the Bangladesh tour and if the management had been bolder in selection he would have opened with Cook in Chittagong in the first Test of the winter. Cook, who had returned home for the birth of his second child, opted to open with Ben Duckett, having watched his performances in the one-day series on television when he scored two fifties in three matches…. Bayliss deferred to the captain, who had not seen Hameed bat”.

    Like

    • Mark December 22, 2016 / 12:43 am

      Selection by the captain on the basis of a few ODI matches, it’s like the early 1990s.

      Liked by 1 person

  28. man in a barrel December 21, 2016 / 11:50 pm

    Just what is the role of Bayliss? It was clear that Fletcher decided who was worth a punt. Would he have been overruled by someone with the cricket knowledge of a blind goldfish?

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus December 22, 2016 / 9:28 am

      This “he’s not seen him play” is wearing thin. Has Comma employed him as a part time coach? It’s pretty woeful.

      Like

      • hatmallet December 22, 2016 / 10:18 am

        I agree it’s wearing thin. Worker blaming his tools etc.

        Though to borrow a couple of points I made BTL on the Guardian…

        1) I think the issue is not that he sees little county cricket (the schedule allows little opportunity, predecessors didn’t see much if any either) but that he has come into the role with no prior knowledge. For example, Fletcher’s famous picking of Trescothick was based on an innings he watched (as Glamorgan coach) prior to taking the job.

        2) It would be less of an issue if people had confidence in the selectors. There’s almost an expectation from some that Bayliss should know more than the selectors or be in a position to veto their picks. It’s the job of the selectors to pick the squads (with the input of a variety of people) and it’s Bayliss’ job to coach the team (of which he’s doing a mixed job – lots of progress in ODIs/T20s, a right mixture of good and awful in Tests). I think the one full-time + two part-time selection structure is fine, but none of the three are the right people (and none should be county employees).

        Like

      • amit garg December 22, 2016 / 3:27 pm

        I would that’s extremely smart of Bayliss because I don’t think he has been given enough autonomy to run things as he might actually want to.
        There’s no way, Bayliss will ever be able to counter anyone’s selection into the squad even if he decides not to select someone given to him in the eleven.
        I can understand why he got the ODI team going because he is likely to be on the same page as Morgan in team selection, strategy, approach. None of his ideas are ever going to cut with Comma or Flower.
        Flower’s imprints on the selection are for all to see. He looks after the lion’s squad that is the feeder system to the senior team besides being in charge of the talent at the grooming stages.
        Bayliss just seems to have understood the real players in the backroom boiler and is sharp enough to know who he should not be criticizing. So, when the team fails, he can point to the squad selection and shrug…

        Like

  29. man in a barrel December 22, 2016 / 12:02 am

    Frankly, if there is an issue with Leach then there should be an issue with Ashwin. It is ridiculous.

    Like

    • Mark December 22, 2016 / 12:47 am

      How many games did he play for his county while the ECB knew there was a problem? Did this have an effect on results? Have the ECB compromised the County Championship?

      After all they just relegated a team for finacial problems.

      Like

      • hatmallet December 22, 2016 / 10:04 am

        The tests happened at the end of the season, and were a standard thing – i.e. not done as a result of any suspicion.

        Like

  30. d'Arthez December 22, 2016 / 4:45 am

    Faf loses his appeal. So ball tampering is only a crime when:

    a) a South African or someone else from small teams does it (by the admission of the clownfish of the ICC, South Africa are not among the big boys after all).
    b) when said overpaid clownfish in the ICC notices it (apparently when Kohli did the same thing it was not ball tampering; and it is almost guaranteed that other ball shiners do the same things). c) when rules are vague. Probably deliberately so. So saliva containing bits from sweets are “artificial” but saliva containing bits of tea with sugar are “not artificial”. Never mind, that it seems extremely doubtful that players brush their teeth after lunch and tea, and / or use half a liter of a (natural?) mouthwash after these breaks.

    I do apologize to clownfish. It was improper to compare them to Dave Richardson.

    Oh, and Cook seems to have gotten away yet again with not bothering about the overrates.

    Liked by 3 people

    • rpoultz December 22, 2016 / 9:16 am

      It’s really quite simple when you look at things now isn’t it? Judging by the MSM and prominent online journalists/writers results do not matter anymore. When you think about that for a little while it leaves you a little stunned. Cooky/Cookie has the job as long as he wants it and results do not matter. This team is not a representation of the best 11 cricketers in the country and led by the best person for the job. Farby/Farbie’s comments are an absolute joke to be honest. Did he not stop and think what he was saying. Did he not think Cooky/Cookie has lead England 50 odd times but he isn’t anywhere near good enough as a captain?? But it was fine to doubt Root’s credentials. Lost for words sometimes

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark December 22, 2016 / 11:05 am

        That’s an excellent Epitath for Cooks career as captain……

        “Results don’t matter.”

        Like

      • amit garg December 22, 2016 / 3:32 pm

        I thought Narine spent majority of the year sorting out his dodgy action?

        Like

    • nonoxcol December 22, 2016 / 9:42 am

      14 Sep 2015 to 20 Sep 2016 per the small print.

      That win in SA where he averaged 23 still doing *way* too much heavy lifting though. I haven’t looked into it, but I do find it difficult to believe that Kohli and Smith did poorly enough from Sept-Dec 2015 to be left out…

      Like

      • hatmallet December 22, 2016 / 10:01 am

        During the qualification period, Kohli averaged 45 with just 1 century from 8 Tests. Smith averaged 67 with 4 centuries from 11 Tests.

        Smith should be there ahead of Root (averaged 55 but just 2 centuries), based on stats. Voges averaged 90 with 4 centuries from 11 Tests, though (to throw some RootMaths in there) this is skewed by 400 unbeaten runs against the Windies.

        Cook averaged 50 during the qualification period, though he’d have liked more than 2 centuries from 14 Tests. Warner had a better year, but can’t see any other options so I would say Cook deserves his place.

        Like

      • SimonH December 22, 2016 / 10:07 am

        Kohli didn’t captain in one ODI in the period supposedly taken into account!

        Like

      • hatmallet December 22, 2016 / 10:27 am

        Yeah I saw someone point that out on Twitter. A bit like when Sangakkara was named as a keeper despite not having kept!

        Like

      • hatmallet December 22, 2016 / 10:33 am

        Surprisingly, Hales is a little hard done by in the ODI team. Very marginal stuff, but better average and strike rate than Warner/QdK, as many centuries and more 50+ scores.

        Rabada unlucky not to be in the Test team, though Steyn was typically ridiculously good on the few occasions he did play.

        Like

    • Mark December 22, 2016 / 11:03 am

      Wow, I mean wow! Cook as ICC Test captain of the year? No wonder he never gets disaplined for his shit over rate or his teams surly manner. He is the blue eyed boy of world cricket. It’s like kids………. “And Alasdair must be captain all the time because it’s his bat and his ball, and he will take them home otherwise.”

      This is too funny. Nobody in world cricket authority has a brain cell to rub together.

      Like

  31. Cricketjon December 22, 2016 / 4:12 pm

    Mr Farby in the drip drip drip Guardian article:

    “Whether he will be the right bloke to lead England, until he starts doing it, you never quite know”

    Well they’d be mad to take a risk with things going so well wouldn’t we?

    Basically he and the regime he represents is betting against change. We’re betting for change. When they make a mistake it’s because something changes that they didn’t expect. When we make a mistake it’s because something doesn’t change that we thought would.

    Time to go for a walk round the building

    Like

  32. thebogfather December 23, 2016 / 4:59 am

    Hobart Hurricanes v Melbourne Stars
    Monday 7:45am – 11:20am Channel 5

    Well, looks like my Boxing day morning entertainment is sorted!

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus December 23, 2016 / 10:49 am

      I put that on twitter. Rahul and Karun back down to earth.

      Like

      • amit garg December 24, 2016 / 4:40 am

        Only fair to prove that they are mortals who made use of the opportunity when it mattered. Though I loved the fact that Tamilnadu managed to do this despite Ashwin and Vijay being “injured” 😉

        Like

    • d'Arthez December 24, 2016 / 9:00 am

      Rahul trying to save the day. 70* out of 117/7 at tea, as we’re approaching tea on day 2.

      Wonder how long a Test would have lasted if England played on this pitch …

      Like

      • d'Arthez December 24, 2016 / 9:22 am

        Curse you WordPress – an edit function would have been useful.

        128/8 now, with Rahul gone for 77. The lead is just 64, and the highest completed innings thus far is 152 (Tamil Nadu’s effort).

        Like

  33. SimonH December 23, 2016 / 6:48 pm

    The Analyst’s view of the year:

    http://theanalyst.net/2016/12/22/explosive-start-whimpering-end-the-year-in-review/

    Hang on in there if it appears disappointingly quite reasonable – when he gets to domestic reform, it takes off (or plunges the depths).

    ” The ECB’s preferred solution, an eight team city-based T20 tournament, is the hot potato being irascibly tossed around the counties, as each selfishly assesses their own situation rather than looking at the bigger picture”.

    Love that “selfishly”.

    “Surrey, one of the main dissenters, even commissioned their own research to prove the viability of the status quo”.

    Gather evidence! How dare they!! Especially when the ECB;s evidence was so disinterested and impartial….

    “Live terrestrial coverage of the game has been mislaid and cricket no longer has national significance”.

    Mislaid? Like loose change down the back of the sofa?

    Liked by 3 people

  34. SimonH December 24, 2016 / 10:17 am

    Well, the headline sounds bold (at least it’s not “Above Expectations! or something similar) and Pringle seems to have a new favourite alpha male.

    And thanks heavens for small mercies that Peter Hayter’s article has a plural in the title!

    Like

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