The Champions Trophy – Strauss The Builder

If you want a preview of the competition, in the form of a team-by-team analysis, I’m sorry, but you won’t find it here. The Cricketer has a half decent one, if you can stand purchasing something that #39 holds so dear to his heart, and I’m sure other blogs will be keen to take up the reins. But that’s not for us. We don’t have the time, don’t think you are that bothered, and so we’ve taken an editorial decision that we won’t do it.

Here at BOC we are more interested in what this 50 over jamboree represents. We’ve been building towards the Champions Trophy in that inexorable pursuit of a World 50 over event triumph ever since Comma and Empty Suit marched into Lord’s two years ago, with a white ball focus in their hand, and the trusty shield of trust to protect them from a 355 gun. Here’s where Andrew Strauss and the boys assess the ground floor structure. Is it suffering subsidence, and need to be knocked down to start again? Is the building on track, with some finishing touches required? Or should we stop here, have a damn fine bungalow, and start building another in the same mould for two years time?

Because in a couple of weeks’ time we will know whether Comma is a Cowboy or a Construction genius. That this is a competition that garners little or no interest when we are not hosting it is not the point. While all agree the format is pretty good (not perfect in my eyes) the sheer fact that India could brazenly not declare a team until well after the deadline shows the contempt it is sometimes held in. There was a review of the tournament when it was held in South Africa on TV the other day. I’ll bet we hardly remember the semi-final that we lost to Australia.

England have put a lot of eggs in this basket, and the view is that a semi-final place is a bare minimum, another defeat in the Final a setback, and only victory would really do. The England batting reminded everyone in the past week why we have a decent shot, and why we should, as we always should, caution people not to get too far ahead of themselves when it comes to this team. As we go into the competition, with group games against Bangladesh, Australia and New Zealand to come, there are some question marks.

Jason Roy’s alarming lack of form, a case of the IPL apparently hindering not enhancing a player, at the top of the order has some clamouring for Jonny Bairstow. I’m torn – where’s the evidence stacking up here? Roy has been poor, Bairstow not. Where’s the evidence that Jason is going to pull out of this tailspin? Hope? Belief? Confidence. This is where management is damned if they do, damned if they don’t. Keep him and he fails, and the hindsight squad will be in full effect. Change him and YJB fails… well, it was a panic measure showing little consistent thought. So whatever they do had better succeed. Money is on Roy staying. Good luck, Jason. (After I wrote the draft, Morgan has confirmed Jason Roy will remain in place for the duration of the tournament.)

Ben Stokes is now injured – there’s little point in covering this up, and little point in the England squad doing anything that jeopardises his long-term future. We know how this goes. Stokes will want to play, and will. The miniscule damage to his knee will get worse at some point soon, where he might be told to rest for a bit. He’ll come back and the knee won’t improve and he’ll be under the knife and out of the Ashes, maybe. This is potentially the Freddie Flintoff scenario all over again. The difference here is England needed Freddie the bowler more than Freddie the batsman. The opposite is true here.

The bowling is always a question mark, but that goes for all teams. This is a batsman’s game and the reaction to a track and weather conditions that allowed the ball to nibble a little on Sunday shows what happens when it isn’t. England’s bowling can be a bit up and down, can be a little samey, but can also have some inspirational moments. It may not have the pace of the Australian team, but in Woakes, Wood, Plunkett, Stokes and Ball, it has some solid performers. Rashid and Moeen have the potential to be two-way players, spinners that can bat a little.

England have massively improved, but so have Bangladesh, who lest we forget knocked us out of the previous 50 over shin-dig. Australia are the World Champions, and New Zealand are always game opponents. England should get out of the group, but they might not. Failure to do so may result in more hits for this bad news blog, but it will also be a wakeup call to those riding the ODI horse along the way. Comma has a lot riding on these two or so weeks. Vindication or vilification. It’s a fine line. A rain-affected game here, a bad day at the office there…..

For what it’s worth, Australia to beat India in the final. India having beaten England in the semi-final.

And on the other side of the fence, there’s the two comments in The Cricketer debate on the new ECB T20 competition. #39, our hero, believes that the new competition is more important than the feelings of a few disgruntled county members. Yet again I see the loyal supporters of the game denigrated by those who they watched play all those years ago and, to a good degree, paid their wages. I’m getting a little bit sick and tired of this casual approach to people with roots so deep in the game that pulling them out and away would take much effort and pain. But hey, if that’s not enough, John Etheridge reckons that if you are opposed to the new dawn of T20, then you are a dinosaur. That’s right. A dinosaur.

News comes from the other side of the globe that the Big Bash lost A$33m in the past five years. While this is obviously part of the ongoing pay negotiation battle Down Under, and both sides are spinning that number better than Drug Cheat in his pomp, it still is an interesting cautionary tale. We know the two markets are totally different. Cricket is eminently more visible in Australia than it is here. The culture of the sport is markedly different. AFL may be all consuming in Australia, but it doesn’t compare to the all seeing, all knowing, all pervasive Association Football in the UK. I’ve just seen the ECB Accounts. They’ve lost a fortune in 2016. The reserves, at £70m+ the year before, are down to the £35m now. That’s not great. No wonder the T20 desperation.

I’ll comment more on the Accounts, which can be found on Companies House if you look, later. What impressed me is the blanket media coverage of this loss. Did I miss it?

Anyway, enjoy the Champions Trophy. England v Bangladesh tomorrow – comments below.


30 thoughts on “The Champions Trophy – Strauss The Builder

  1. Mark May 31, 2017 / 9:05 pm

    First off, its good to have some cricket to look forward to. Is it me or has this summer dragged on without any meaningful cricket action so far? I know, I know we still haven’t got to June yet. Tomorrow summer comes.

    What I find bizzare about all the hype about this tournament is it seems the powers that be want to kill of 50 over cricket. The brave new dawn demands endless 20/20, and a sprinkling of Test matches for the dinosaurs!

    Speaking as a dinosaur, (T Tex Marc Bolan 1972 vintage) I am yet to see any evidence that city 20/20 will save either county cricket or test cricket. In fact, I maintain it will destroy it, because no one will have the skills needed to play 5 day cricket anymore. Which is why they want to change it to 4 day cricket I suppose. Change, change, change, smacks to me of a game with a massive identity problem. The news of the big bash and money losing is a giant wake up call for the 39s of this world. (And yes I’m sure the figures are being manipulated for the wage dispute) However, if they can’t make a profit playing day night 20/20 in Australia during the Christmas holidays, then good luck at the City of London stadium on a wet evening in June. Perhaps we can all sing blowing bubbles?

    How can the Cricketer magazine revel in this tournament when they want rid of 50 over ODIs? Who knows? Answers on a postcard to Dave Richardson, and his flashing new bats and light Sabres? May the force be with you Luke Skywalker!


    • Benny May 31, 2017 / 11:40 pm

      Saw T Rex concert in Brighton in the 70s. Pretty impressive.

      Ooops, off topic. I’m looking forward to the tournament and hoping our chaps do well.


  2. SimonH May 31, 2017 / 9:21 pm

    “I like the idea of us creating cricketing heroes”

    (Strauss on Stokes, quoted by Barney Ronay).

    Remember when great cricketers (which I prefer to “heroes” with its faux militarism) emerged organically and weren’t “created” by “us”? It was a better world.


    • thelegglance May 31, 2017 / 11:00 pm

      That’s because you didn’t need to ‘create’ heroes because people could for themselves.

      The very fact England could have the number one batsman in the world and not reach the shortlist – the shortlist! – for Sports Personality of the Year explains how far cricket has fallen in the public eye.


    • Mark May 31, 2017 / 11:30 pm

      We could be heros……..just for one day!


    • SimonH Jun 1, 2017 / 9:10 am

      Partly, TLG – but it’s also part of a command-and-control culture resulting from too many managers with too much money, too much hubris and too little exposure to legitimate criticism.

      Top-down “heroes” are from the same school that brought us the top-down “reconciliation” of 2015.


  3. AB Jun 1, 2017 / 8:25 am

    Roy had to stay. There have been periods over the past few years where he has been the form opener whilst Hales has struggled.

    One of the main considerations of the new approach in which batsmen are told to play their shots and not worry if they get out, is that it doesn’t work if players are looking over their shoulders. Hence the reason we rotate our bowlers in and out, but stick with the same top 6/7 batsmen, come what may.


    • SimonH Jun 1, 2017 / 10:31 am

      So poor batsmen can’t be dropped because it might impact on their fragile confidence – but Rashid can get hooked out despite being a fixture for the last two years and it’s hunky-dory?

      By the way, coincidence or not, this is exactly what The Analyst said England should do in his pre-tournament podcast.


      • AB Jun 1, 2017 / 1:16 pm

        I don’t think he is a poor batsman. He’s just currently in a bit of bad form.

        I wouldn’t have dropped Rashid, personally.


        • SimonH Jun 1, 2017 / 3:25 pm

          Sorry, AB, I didn’t express myself very well.

          My point was about the different way batsmen and bowlers are treated – not about what you said specifically or about Roy’s merits.


  4. pktroll (@pktroll) Jun 1, 2017 / 9:35 am

    Going into today’s game it appears Rashid has been dropped in favour of Ball. So it is Woakes, Wood, Ball, Plunkett & Stokes with a bit from Ali and Root.

    I suspect a few in the media will be happy with this but unless it is a real seamers paradise, they could come unstuck.


    • LordCanisLupus Jun 1, 2017 / 10:12 am

      And Woakes has gone off after two overs. England. Oh England.


      • pktroll (@pktroll) Jun 1, 2017 / 10:50 am

        I didn’t think too much of the plan before, I now don’t think too much of the plan after. Some of the thinking seemed to be that Rashid, in all of 3 games had done very little in Oval ODIs. I find that rather flimsy evidence to be honest. If the pitch was that helpful to seamers I’d understand, but it’s the Oval ffs.


          • LordCanisLupus Jun 1, 2017 / 12:20 pm

            Always more impressed when you do this pre-game rather than at 220 for 2.



          • SteveT Jun 1, 2017 / 12:32 pm

            Going well isn’t it


          • pktroll (@pktroll) Jun 1, 2017 / 12:35 pm

            I suppose you have to be a bilious inadequate to show such doubts about the leadership think-tank!


  5. Adam H Jun 1, 2017 / 10:03 am

    Pathetic dropped catch from Moeen. Steady and solid start from Bangla openers. Pitch looks a cracker.


      • SimonH Jun 1, 2017 / 10:33 am

        Maybe there is a plan – keep getting Bairstow on to improve the fielding?


      • d'Arthez Jun 1, 2017 / 3:56 pm

        Root seems to be carrying an injury as well. It probably won’t matter for the end result against Bangladesh (considering England are 179/2 after 31 overs), but it may be crucial for the rest of the summer.

        Which begs the question: why can the ICC ban runners, but can’t ban specialist subfielders? You can claim an unfair advantage as a fielding side when you’re replacing the Monty Panesars in the field with specialist fielders. And just make certain they return in time, so that the batting order does not get messed up / the subpar fielder can bowl his required overs. I have seen it in countless series (especially Tests), and I am getting really fed up with it.

        In this case, it was obvious that the fielder (Woakes) was already suffering from an injury, so why should a fielding side be “rewarded” for taking an undue risk? I mean, the Inzi’s of the cricket world anno 2017 would not get rewarded for their lack of fitness, and get “specialist” runners to make up for their lack of fitness either.

        Simply force the fielding side to field with ten men for a number of overs, before the injured player can get replaced. If said injured player is not going to take part in the match anymore (eg. broken a shoulder while fielding; and thus unable to bat either), that replacement can be immediate.


  6. SimonH Jun 1, 2017 / 10:06 am

    He did insist they bill him above the puppet show though:


    • SteveT Jun 1, 2017 / 12:33 pm

      God they must be desperate


  7. Adam H Jun 1, 2017 / 10:16 am

    36 for no loss after 10 overs. A very good start from Bangladesh. They have a long batting lineup too, and with Woakes out injured, England must be feeling a bit nervous now.


  8. SimonH Jun 1, 2017 / 4:23 pm

    The subsequent explanations from others on the thread as to why the highlights are on when they are are a delight to behold. Obviously, one couldn’t expect Newman or Selvey to know about these reasons – they are only journalists, after all.


    • d'Arthez Jun 1, 2017 / 4:39 pm

      Considering potential rain delays, and sloppy overrates, and time it takes to produce such a programme, 11.20 PM is really not that late. It won’t really help to mainstream cricket, but then again, the lip service was provided by the ECB, not the BBC.

      Or do these people think it is the BBC’s job to cover rain somewhere in the country, or provide highlights of a game that has not even finished. They are opposed to that in unison, but reminding some of these “journalists” of positions they express only results in them getting enraged (by their own stupidity, presumably).


    • d'Arthez Jun 1, 2017 / 4:40 pm

      To add to that Match Of The Day hardly starts at 7 PM either, does it?


      • SimonH Jun 1, 2017 / 7:31 pm

        D, I’m not sure if you’ve been able to read the threads that have flowed from these Tweets but the key point is that the BBC are not allowed by the ECB to show their highlights until Sky have finished their live broadcast and shown their first highlight programme (although absolute proof on that last point is still awaited – but it seems very plausible).

        The Sky highlight programme finishes at 9pm. The BBC are not going to move programmes on their two main channels between 9-11 on one week’s notice when this is peak viewing time and the schedule of full of flagship current affairs’ programmes with a general election just over a week away. The BBC could perhaps have put the highlights on BBC4 but BBC1 and BBC2 have much larger audiences and I can see why the highlights have ended up where they have. A conspiracy theorist like me might almost think the BBC have been set up to fail and open the door for FTA in 2020 to mean Facebook or some miniscule freeview channel. Some useful idiots (or paid trolls) on Twitter are already pushing that line.

        By the way, Stocks and Newman have engaged a little with other Tweeters and acknowledged a little that the picture is more complex than they first thought. Selvey hasn’t. Selvey also thinks that everyone is a teccy these days – yer he apparently doesn’t think anyone is capable of watching the highlights at a more civilised hour on BBC iplayer.


        • d'Arthez Jun 1, 2017 / 8:07 pm

          SimonH, I have maybe missed a few things, but I am not criticising the BBC on this one. Hence I wrote: “It won’t really help to mainstream cricket, but then again, the lip service was provided by the ECB, not the BBC.” If they were serious about it, they would have sat down with Sky and hash out a deal to get the highlights available to the BBC say 1 hour after scheduled end of game time.

          I suspect the “allowance” to cover the Champions Trophy is a bit similar to the Premier League. Games have to be finished, some highlights have to be broadcast on the private channel, before the BBC are allowed to cover the games in Match of the Day, and that usually starts at around 10 PM, if memory serves. Somehow I suspect that the Premier League is bigger than a 2-week tourney that has suffered half a dozen identity crises in the past 2 decades.

          The BBC have been set up to fail, and you can hardly expect them to make a complete mess out of their complete schedule for what is effectively now a fringe sport in England, much like say lacrosse is (to give but one example). And it is not like the ECB have tried to keep cricket on the national public broadcaster(s), unlike several other major cricket boards (sometimes compelled by law).

          CSA at one point basically offered to give away the rights to domestic international cricket for less than 100 000 pounds (2010, if memory serves) to the SABC – this despite Supersport having most of the rights. So, if there is a will, decent contracts can be pushed on commercial parties, to keep cricket in the public eye. But tell that to the ECB …

          I can imagine that a public broadcaster, with a public mandate, somehow does not consider this to be on equal footing with say the World Cup Rugby – a tourney where England normally expect to do quite well, even if they don’t expect to win. Or even a sport like snooker, to which the BBC have held the rights for 30+ years – commitment to a game is a two-way street, and it seems that the ECB have completely forgotten about that.

          The fact that the ECB somehow seemingly recognised that cricket has to be mainstreamed ought to be considered an indictment of the ECB. As you write, it is quite likely that there are ulterior motives (seriously, have they even tried to negotiate with Sky on this one?), such as an attempt to increase the monetary value of the rights, so they can be sold to the highest FTA bidder, even if that bidder all but guarantees that no one will watch.


          • SimonH Jun 1, 2017 / 8:31 pm

            MOTD goes out at 10.30 on BBC1 (usually). The big difference is that there aren’t the flagship current affairs’ programmes on the weekend that there are on weekdays.


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