Score Settling – A Test Series Intro

Dmitri here. For once.

On Thursday 6th of July England and South Africa will kick off the first test match of the summer. As was stated somewhere or other, this will be the latest start to a test series since 1983, which followed a World Cup and the “test summer” was just four matches long (against New Zealand). The world has certainly changed since then.

To get us all in the mood, we have seven, count them seven, test matches to play before mid-September. You may have missed out early on, but by JP Duminy, we’ll make up for it. Then, if you have forgotten what white ball cricket is like, and frankly, who could blame you, we have a T20 and five ODIs to squeeze in after that. Enough? Be off with you. Added to the international calendar, piling up like the fogbound M4 in rush hour, the lamented and not altogether loved (by the ECB) NatWest Blast will be, well, blasting away in the interim, struggling for attention – not too on purpose. It’s as if the cries of “too much cricket” are received by the ECB, in much the same way as Doug Stanhope thinks the Grand National authorities treat race horses.

“How many horses can this track hold? Well add five more. F*** ‘em.”

Test cricket is a wounded beast, to carry on the Grand National metaphor, and what it needs is a few really good, exciting series, to get the pulses racing. But then, thinking about it, is that enough? Last year’s excellent match-up between ourselves and Pakistan got bogged down in misty-eyed recollections of days of yore with the visitors, and while the matches themselves were keenly fought, no-one really gave a stuff. Losing to the Pakistanis at the Oval may have got them test number 1 status, but no-one really lingered on it. I guess that’s the “context” thing we keep hearing about.

Context and history is important. I joke about, yes, really I do, with a number of my work colleagues about the relevance of the British and Irish Lions, saying they don’t have a trophy to play for, and that it is all just a cynical money-making machine, yet there’s no doubt that the fans, and really importantly, the players still “get it”. Ten years ago, I would have said the same about test cricket on these shores, but I am really not too sure at the moment. Abdicating any real editorial or judgmental logic towards a lame duck captain probably didn’t help. We’ve been saying, and seeing, on here the effects of that treatment. Diehard fans walking away. Cricket’s important advocates rendered impotent by a wretched international governing body, a despicable home outfit, and a media so far over the hill they ought to be in Tibet.

But we persevere. Sometimes, given the other things competing for my time, I wonder why.

South Africa has always been a series that I’ve looked forward to. They aren’t the most exciting team, but they are a formidable one, especially away from home. But this tour will be without Jacques Kallis, Graeme Smith and AB de Villiers from the team that came in 2012, and with Steyn and Morkel in serious workload decline, it isn’t as formidable on paper as past teams. Rabada is a new superstar, but a batting line-up of Elgar, Kuhn, Amla, De Bruyn, Duminy (D’Arthez’s fave!) and Bavuma doesn’t really strike fear, does it? However, you underestimate the visitors at your peril. After all, a highly paid scribe did before the opening test in 2012, and that went well (I’ve not been back to the Oval for a test since).

So while Faf’s away with his new kid, and replacement skipper Dean Elgar hopes for glory in his stead, it is the England team to which I really want to focus. This is the beginning of a new era, as we have a brand spanking new captain, and a selection panel that given the chance to blood new batsmen, played it “safe” and picked someone they knew. One could almost say they eschewed excitement – or as one sage on our comments page quoted, told Tom Harrison to eff off.

So I turn to my old favourite Paul Newman. There have been a litany of baffling decisions made during the Cook era, and yet greenhorn Cook never seemed to cop for them. It was always the selectors that were the issue, or even the players themselves (see Rashid, Adil), but never a leader who seemed to struggle to get the best out of them. Cook, if you recall, because I do, was backed so much he could lose an Ashes series 5-0 and have his position ENHANCED. The decisions to dump you know who were distanced from Cook, and the selection panel were said to have independence from the players. There seemed few occasions when all powerful Ali put out any messages about players he wanted.

But now, according to Newman’s latest diatribe, Root is responsible for Ballance and Dawson being in the squad. I had a brief chat with a prominent tweeter who said “Cook, years of failure given a free role. Root, first squad and Newman is calling him out.” It is very hard to disagree with this assessment, isn’t it? In a week when Root is making his test captaincy bow, we had Barney Ronay writing another puff piece about our now ex-captain. I do really wonder if Cook feels embarrassed by this, because I hope he would. Cook knows that one bad run of form and he’s finished – unless England decide to buck further trends with him (and sorry deers, for using buck and Cook in the same sentence) and say that he isn’t losing his eyesight / motivation / belief / energy / ability now he has passed 32 years of age (Pietersen and Bell were both 33 when dumped. Collingwood was 34 – all were “on the decline” when they were fired/jumped before pushed). There is many a mention of Cook doing a “Gooch” and actually improving as his age goes on. That’s lovely, may happen, but I do prefer the evidence of recent history and his five hundreds in 90-odd innings aren’t a great portent. But our media, and a number of the fans, do misty-eyed hope, and no-one elicits it more than Alastair Cook. Same as it ever was.

What we will see this summer – perhaps we should set up a watch list for it – is for every time Joe Root talks to Cook a commentator mentions how he is “tapping in to the former captain’s experience”. You know, the way Cook never had to (despite Anderson setting all his own fields if rumours are to be believed). We will also be on the lookout for Cook being a better batsman now he’s been relieved of the pressure. Anything good will be because he’s not captain any more. Anything bad won’t be down to the team stagnating under him. I expect Cook to do as he has done the past couple of years. Some solid knocks, a century, maybe two or three if the West Indies are as bad as advertised, and then a tortuous tour of Australia if it goes ahead.

Opening with Cook will be Keaton Jennings. Other openers are in better form, most notably Mark Stoneman, but Jennings has a test ton under his belt, and is the man in possession. I’m not screaming out loud about it, but I’m also not convinced he’s the best bet. That’s me having my cake and eating it. Much has been written and said about Ballance at number three, but he’s caning Division One bowling and averaging over 100. That’s lovely. I seem to recall Mark Ramprakash did that year after year, but we did stop recalling him when we thought he was shot. This is supposedly on Root’s shoulders, which you can read very cynically. The selectors may have indulged in “good journalism” and made it known in a very subtle way that it “wasn’t them, guv”. If it succeeds, they bask in glory; if it fails, well, lessons learned for Joe Root. That’s them having their cake and eating it.

Before turning to the captain, I thought I’d remind you of what I said about Hameed during the India series:

“Hameed is a talent, for sure, but I do like to see my talents make massive scores before anointing them as the heir apparent to Kumar Sangakkara, even if that means I’m bloody unreasonable in so doing. English sport is littered with kids built up before they are due, and cast aside when they don’t live up to the hype. Let’s hope HH is an exception to the rule.”

I don’t know. Remember when people had a pop at me over this? Hameed showed some great aptitude for a kid in India. I really, sincerely, desperately hope he goes on to a great career. But at this point in time, I’m a bit closer to reality than the dreamers. That makes me a miserable curmudgeon. I felt really uncomfortable at the hype, the unreasonable, ludicrous platitudes at the time, and still do. Hameed has had a tortuous summer. He’s young. I hope he learns and comes through. And I hope the next time this happens, people who should know better wind their necks in.

Right. Onwards…

Joe Root hasn’t quite reached “Armchair #5” but I don’t give it long. As it is, he’s batting at four now, which is probably right. A lot is made of Joe Root’s conversion rate from 50 to 100, which is adorable (if you ignore the Bedford Water Deer in the room), but there is a point. Joe is crucial to our ability to post big scores, and we know he is capable of them. The England captaincy has weighed heavily on most skippers since Gooch. Production has gone down, pressure has increased. Joe Root is 26, quite young to have the full time captaincy thrust upon you, and also has a team “in transition” (downgraded from future World #1). There has been no practice run, no ability to discern whether he is up to it (that Middlesex run chase is still thrown at him) on a tactical basis, and in doing so we wonder if it will diminish what we need him for most. This isn’t new. No-one has the first idea how this is going to turn out. As always, I side with pessimism, not optimism. Think John Cleese, Clockwise.

Fan favourite Jonny Bairstow is locked in at five, as he should be. Ben Stokes will be at six, as he should be. The interest with Stokes is whether any dip in form, and it can happen, will be associated with desire now he’s the IPL’s MVP. I’ve been watching international sport for too long to be anything other than cynical. Moeen Ali will be the enigma at 7, scoring enough runs to keep the wolves from the door, taking not enough wickets to have the spinning cognoscenti clucking away. No Woakes means an opportunity for someone. Could it be Liam Dawson, the keen favourite of England’s most important flora, as a second spinning option at HQ? What about home favourite Toby Roland-Jones? Will Mark Wood last the pace? Anderson and Broad are locked in, so perm any two from those three.

This summer is the prelude to the key series – the Ashes. At this time, if all is to be believed, we’ll be playing a Grade Select XI rather than the usual foes. We have seven tests to get a team gelled, ready and firing, and to get a captain embedded. The seven matches will, no doubt, throw up some key issues, talking points and media nonsense. We’ll try to keep the blog running throughout. The tests are always our bread and butter – you lot just don’t seem to get fired up about much else – and I think the South African series is a really good examination of where we are as a team. It is a team that won in Australia, after all. It has its flaws, as does everyone else in the game at the moment, but on form the bowling attack can be fearsome – Rabada is a gift test cricket can ill afford to lose – and if the batting is up to par, it could be one we struggle to win. Look for some lopsided contests, but a key really hard-fought game somewhere that will turn/decide the series. What a shame AB de Villiers considers this beneath him, even at this stage of his career. AB, I note, doesn’t get the selfish arsehole abuse others get. Maybe I’m missing something.

This summer is a big one too for the mystery man Bayliss and the laughing gnome Farbrace. This has been a long honeymoon, but a Champions Trophy failure has taken down their firewall. Or at least it should have, because I’m really not sure any more. Also, it’s big for Comma. His focus on white ball cricket has yielded progress but not silverware, and now the test team have to take over not on a tide of optimism, but on a cautious, perplexed, almost tentative note. Newman is always one to go that extra mile, and his conclusion is probably right, but for the wrong reasons:

“The most worrying thing is this is the second successive year Bayliss has publicly advocated bolder options — last year Jos Buttler, this time Dawid Malan — only for the squad to be greeted by a groan rather than a gasp.

If it is true that England’s Test side has stagnated, then they have to adopt the same methods Bayliss has so successfully employed in one-day cricket.

The clock is ticking towards the Ashes and England cannot afford to waste any time in the seven Tests that Root will have against South Africa and West Indies to settle into the role.

And that makes this selection such a crying shame, whatever happens at Lord’s, where pragmatism will rule over a potential brave new world.”

 

Trevor Bayliss needs to assert his authority. Joe Root needs to assert his authority. England need to assert their authority. Welcome to an interesting summer of test cricket. Hopefully, we’ll enjoy / suffer it together.

Comments on Day 1 below. A day early I know but I’m off to Munich! The wanderer, though, has returned!

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88 thoughts on “Score Settling – A Test Series Intro

  1. jennyah46 July 4, 2017 / 8:17 pm

    Enjoyed your post but you are still so rude about poor dear Cookie. He’ll show you. Just you wait and see. 🙄

    Like

  2. man in a barrel July 4, 2017 / 8:57 pm

    I wonder what the self appointed cricket geek thinks about Hameed’s non-selection. On second thoughts, I don’t care what that arrogant thicko thinks about any subject under the sun. He is invariably wrong

    Like

  3. Sean B July 4, 2017 / 8:57 pm

    Dobbell reckons they’re going to go with 2 spinners as we all know Lords has a reputation for being spin friendly – http://www.espncricinfo.com/england-v-south-africa-2017/content/story/1108434.html

    This seems like the most confused selection since the England selectors got Steve Watkin and Mike Watkinson confused back in the 90’s. I’d also even take Watkinson ahead of Dawson. Still he’s a safe pair of hands and unlikely to rock the boat, the pre-requisite in Andy Flower selection…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mark July 4, 2017 / 9:09 pm

    Our long national nightmare is at an end. Or at least it should have been. Reality has been suspended for the last few years as the job of England captain became akin to a Tudor king. Criticism could get you into serious trouble. Actually, when I say England captain that is not quite accurate. Criticism of the “other” England captain. That Irish chap was still standard fare. It was like the good old days of the 1980s and 1990s when England captains were subjected to real scrutiny. But only in the one day format.

    It’s 5 years since South Africa were last here. Remember that series? The text messages? The allegations of treason? The simmering anger even boiled over into the commentary box a few years later when the captain of that team used the F world on live TV, and The Guardians ECB PR consultant nominated it as one of his top moments of the year. Who knew what was to come? Vicious infighting? dodgy dossiers? the criminalisation of whistling, and looking out of the window? Nobody could have foreseen what was coming.

    And the game generally looked very different then. 5 years on, and the difference between then and now is the same as the difference between then and W G Grace. The landscape is transformed. Test cricket is now on life support. The SA teams best player can’t even be arsed to play Test cricket anymore. And the captain is with his baby. So when I say the nightmare has ended it really hasn’t. Because in all the hullabaloo of the last 5 years the powers that be have so completely screwed over the test game that it is like a completely different sport.

    I had hoped the new era would put an end to the search for the first Cuckoo of summer. Namely the standard Cook puff piece. But no. The madness continues. I think he is under little or no pressure for this series because he is inked in for the Ashes. They won’t go without him. But if he fails here, and then down under his career could end in an Australian hotel whistling Waltzing Matilda. How ironic if it should end in the same place as his great nemesis . Oh the irony!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Mark July 4, 2017 / 9:19 pm

        Even worse!

        Like

      • Sean B July 4, 2017 / 10:20 pm

        Yeah but the D word is supposedly worse according to the England camp!

        Like

    • SimonH July 5, 2017 / 9:08 am

      “It’s 5 years since South Africa were last here”.

      And (assuming that draft post-2019 schedule that Cricinfo had is correct) it’ll be 5 years until they’re next here when they’ll share the 2022 summer with NZ which suggests they might not even get a 4 Test series. England will play 10 home Tests against India (in 2018 and in 2021, assuming the latter is a 5-match series) before playing SA again.

      Of course what SA are being offered are untold riches compared to the treatment of NZ and Bangladesh, let alone the new FMs.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark July 5, 2017 / 9:30 am

        Yes, but Simon they just don’t sell I’m afraid? We can get a much better deal from that company in India. They bring their product with a billion people.

        We can’t have the number one Test team being SA. They don’t move merchandise!

        Another two, 5 test series against India? Prepare a green top, and enjoy a 3 day finish. YAWN.

        Like

  5. Benny July 4, 2017 / 10:15 pm

    Maybe I’m blinkered but I’m still waiting for the New Era we were promised in 2014. I still see selectors bumbling about, hoping that “same as last time” will save them making any effort and then, when that doesn’t work, chucking in more all-rounders or Flower novices.

    Yes, I feel rather pessimistic and, yes, I’ll sit in front of the telly as soon as, watching what paases for top cricket, now the great Aussies, WI, and Imran’s Pakistanis are no more

    Like

  6. man in a barrel July 4, 2017 / 11:04 pm

    I look at the England squad and see fragility. Would you bet on 2 from Wood, Broad, Anderson and Stokes lasting the full 5 days, if required? Rain is required

    Like

    • oreston July 6, 2017 / 12:24 am

      Nah, we’ll be fine. They’ve picked a couple of mediocre spin bowling all rounders too…

      Like

  7. Keeper99 (@PaulKeeper99) July 5, 2017 / 6:55 am

    Mark Wood will indeed need careful management. if he can come through this splurge of Test matches both unscathed and successful I’ll look forward to seeing extra pace in the Ashes I suspect squad rotation will be required for this to happen.

    Agree about Ballance and Dawson. It harks back to former, less happy, times and appears born out of compromise and muddled thinking. The worst outcome may be Ballance showing he has not addressed his technical flaws but still grinding out a couple of tons on flat wickets. Mitchell Starc will hope this happens.

    The selection of Ali and Dawson together is just bizarre, don’t know where to even start with this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andy July 5, 2017 / 8:54 am

      Damn it – I just saw this and came here to post!

      Like

      • nonoxcol July 5, 2017 / 9:38 am

        You can certainly get a decent game of Selvey bingo out of it, can’t you?

        Like

    • Mark July 5, 2017 / 9:10 am

      He has been sucking up to Sky for a while now. And showing little sympathy to those who can’t aford a Sky subscribtion. And all because he was trying get a job. Integrity? Absolutely none.

      Shows a lazy, unimaginable thought process from Sky in finding a cricket writer. Why not go for someone new or orginal? Or both. The England cricket media is like a set of old wheels on a car. They just move them around a bit to hide the scratches and dents, and deep rust on the rims.

      Root will be judged by how much he capitulates to the media whores. If he is obedient and endulges them with off the record chats, and candlelit dinners where he shows an interest in real ale and prog rock he will be elevated to the new Deity. Endless special features and selfies will be required to get a good press. If not, they will be all over him.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Mark July 6, 2017 / 12:38 am

          Yes, nothing happened on that front did it?

          Chez Selvey, the all singing, all dancing cricket website never materialised! Who could have predicted?

          Like

    • LordCanisLupus July 5, 2017 / 9:54 pm

      You have to be kidding me. I want to go back to Munich.

      New blood.

      Like

  8. nonoxcol July 5, 2017 / 9:07 am

    I see that Dale Steyn is out of the Tests.

    So, just as I feared when the schedule was trashed back in 2012, the best fast bowler of his generation will end his career having played just 5 Tests in England, and total idiots will forever be able to point to his average of over 30 in this country.

    But at least we saw Shane Watson here for Tests or ODIs every year bar two between 2009 and 2015, and everyone had the chance to see him play 11 Tests, with at least one at every Test venue apart from Southampton. Steyn played his five Tests at just three venues, none of them outside London and Leeds.

    FU Giles Clarke.

    Liked by 1 person

    • d'Arthez July 5, 2017 / 9:34 am

      Yeah, Steyn is out of the Tests, but that was already known two months ago. Real loss. Morkel, Rabada and Philander have to do it, all 4 Tests. With support from Keshav Maharaj.

      Hampshire bought Abbott (with Sky money, so effectively Sky is paying for Test cricket to be less interesting), and it will be a massive drop in experience or quality if anyone else has to provide the fast bowling. Not ideal to say the least. On the “bright side”, Marchant de Lange can represent South Africa, only by virtue of not having represented them enough in the last few years (otherwise he would have been a Kolpak, now he is just a South African playing as a domestic player, courtesy of his British wife). But Duanne Olivier should be way ahead of him; just inexperienced.

      I really fear for South Africa’s batting this series. But I am sure the selectors will declare the series a success for Duminy (can’t resist to make a comment), when he makes one fifty, and averages 20, again. Sigh. There are many better batsmen of colour in South Africa available, so even the quota-rationale has worn out.

      Like

    • Keeper99 (@PaulKeeper99) July 5, 2017 / 8:59 pm

      What happened with the schedule in 2012? I remember being so frustrated at the lack of a proper SA tour for years but don’t remember how 2012 came about. Were their machinations?

      Like

      • nonoxcol July 5, 2017 / 9:51 pm

        The SA tour was reduced to three Tests, ostensibly due to “The Olympics”, but actually so England and Australia could play a context-free ODI series, completely decoupled from a Test tour in unprecedented fashion. The next bit of smoke and mirrors was the argument that it was a quid pro quo for the tri-series immediately prior to the World Cup in Australia in early 2015, and as such a one-off. Complementary to that was the implicit guilt trip: this was all to help England perform better in the next ODI World Cup, you see. That worked out ever so well.

        Like

        • Keeper99 (@PaulKeeper99) July 6, 2017 / 5:53 am

          Thanks matey. The Saffers being reduced to 3rd class status for home series really was a portend of things to come wasn’t it?

          Like

    • SimonH July 7, 2017 / 9:15 am

      “total idiots will forever be able to point to his average of over 30 in this country”.

      Said idiots could have pointed out to them that SA’s record in those five games was W3 D2 L0 and that Steyn was instrumental in all three of those wins. Or that in those games, St Jimmy averaged over 40 and Sir Broady over 50 which might suggest England served up the roadiest of roads when Steyn was in town.

      I still think Steyn’s five-for against a very strong England batting line-up and on an Oval pitch where SA scored a million-for-two-declared was one of the great feats of modern times.

      Like

  9. SimonH July 5, 2017 / 10:59 am

    Hoult:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/cricket/2017/07/04/england-ponder-rare-sixth-bowler-choice-liam-dawson-has-toughness/

    “England have played two specialist spinners in a Lord’s Test only once in 30 years when Phil Tufnell and Peter Such took a combined total of two wickets for 219 runs in an innings defeat by Australia in 1993”.

    The selection of Dawson isn’t getting any less bizarre (especially when you factor in the injury clouds looming over most of the seamers). Please don’t tell me they think SA can’t play spin (look at which non-Asian side has the best record in Asia in recent years).

    “Dawson is the pick of coach Trevor Bayliss, who likes his cricketers tough and competitive”.

    Hang on – I thought it was all Root’s doing and Bayliss can’t put a foot wrong. That’s the Newman version anyway.

    “Dawson performed admirably enough on his Test debut in India making a fifty in the first innings and giving Alastair Cook a little bit of control from one end”.

    A “little bit of control” looked a lot like playing the Indian batsmen in to me.

    “Dawson, like Woakes, is capable of repairing a mid-innings collapse”.

    But I thought England had so much talent? Why is the team being based on assumed middle order collapses?

    Like

    • Mark July 5, 2017 / 1:44 pm

      Perhaps Newman should ask his mate if he’s the one picking the team.

      New captain, same old dark forces behind the curtain.

      Like

    • man in a barrel July 5, 2017 / 3:49 pm

      How many would India have scored if it had not been for the “control” exerted by Dawson? We were so fortunate to have him in the “attack” for that match

      Like

  10. rpoultz July 5, 2017 / 1:26 pm

    Adil Rashid has better First Class batting and bowling records but isn’t selected. This Liam Dawson experiment or Andy Flower obsession with these type of cricketers has to end. As much as England change the more they stay the same.

    Like

  11. thebogfather July 5, 2017 / 2:29 pm

    Hey…at last it’s cricket in whites, with a red ball, over a period of days… #purityjoyforawhile

    Like

  12. Miami Dad's Six July 5, 2017 / 7:17 pm

    I actually think Cook might have one final purple patch in him. His brain was never meant for much thought or analysis, and he was clearly uncomfortable as a leader. Uncluttered, it has previously been successful.

    I also think Ballance will do ok. He was an awful pick last time around, out of form before he’d even arrived with England. I’m no great believer in this stuff about his technique being a problem. I won’t mention Steve Smith, but out of form players miss straight balls, form players clip them ungainly through midwicket for two. He looks clumsy on dismissal, but averages nearly 40 in spite of being regularly picked mingingly out of form, and has as many Test tons as Ben Stokes?

    Cook, Root, Bairstow vs Morkel, Rabada, Philander. Hopefully some good cricket to come.

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus July 5, 2017 / 10:01 pm

      Optimism. Dangerous round here!!!

      I think Cook will trundle on as he has. The highs greeted hysterically. The lows explained away. It will take a reversal of fortune against two opponents he has had more bad series than good out of the next three.

      Like

    • oreston July 6, 2017 / 1:10 am

      Not sure a comparison between a number three batter and a seam bowling number six all rounder is altogether fair. Does Gary Ballance have a highest Test score of 258? Has he also taken 79 wickets? No? There you are – you can prove anything with figures 🙂
      I really do hope that GB proves his doubters wrong – but on the off-chance that your optimism about the fundamental soundness of his technique does prove to be misplaced, let’s hope Rabada & co. put him out of his misery this summer. Then whoever the selectors parachute into the middle order in a fit of sudden panic will have a (ahem) “highly competitive” series against the Windies in which to cement their place in the side ahead of the Ashes. And so we go on…

      Like

      • Miami Dad's Six July 6, 2017 / 8:12 am

        You’re both right.

        The reaction to any Cook success will be vulgar and nauseating.

        Stokes vs Ballance, there isnt a comparison between them overall, sure. As numbers for players batting in the top 6, both records arent great. Without Woakes, Stokes in the top 6 looks dodgy to me. This is of course further confused by the issue of where to bat Ali, Bairstow, Buttler et al. All are tremendous number 7 or 8s. Bairstow looks like he could bat higher, but with the gloves as well is that worthwhile? Hence the weird selection of Dawson.

        I’d have gone:

        Cook
        Stoneman
        Root
        Ballance
        Bairstow
        Stokes
        Ali
        Rashid
        Wood
        Anderson
        Broad

        Probably. Then changed my mind a minute later.

        Like

    • Sean B July 5, 2017 / 9:14 pm

      Yep agreed, best thing the spin has done in ages. What a coincidence that it wasn’t written by Bull!

      Like

  13. Tom July 6, 2017 / 9:38 am

    Well, after a bit of a hiatus, I’m back and will no doubt be asking annoying questions because I can’t see the game live. However, I think I’ve found a way to at least watch the daily highlights on UK TV, when I know where they’ll be.

    Anyway, nice to get back to test cricket in England although have to admit I’m enjoying watching the women’s world cup via sling. I’m so glad Root is captain, I can’t think of anyone better but think it’s a shame SA are a little depleted, but even without Steyn they seem to have an impressive pace attack. As for England and selection, I’m a little baffled about Ballance and Dawson, but they do seem to be in good form. Dawson I sort of understand, five seamers seems a bit of overkill, but Ballance at no. 3 against the SA attack concerns me. For his sake, I hope he does well.

    Like

  14. SimonH July 6, 2017 / 9:49 am

    Time for some low-priority cricket!

    Liked by 1 person

    • rpoultz July 6, 2017 / 10:19 am

      no doubt we will be told he was looking good

      Like

      • nonoxcol July 6, 2017 / 10:20 am

        He was probably tired.

        Like

        • rpoultz July 6, 2017 / 10:21 am

          Most likely will be Root’s fault for electing to bat first and not affording Cook time to settle into his new role

          Liked by 1 person

          • nonoxcol July 6, 2017 / 10:25 am

            Apparently he was pushing away from his body, so the turd-polishers have their work cut out.

            Hasn’t stopped them before, mind.

            Like

          • "IronBalls" McGinty July 6, 2017 / 2:27 pm

            Obviously the loss of the captaincy has affected his batting :-/

            Liked by 1 person

        • jomesy July 6, 2017 / 2:15 pm

          Guardian OBO 42nd over

          “Loved Ian Copestake’s meta analysis (over 32) of Cook’s dismissal as being due to the loss of captaincy pressure,” yelps Brian Withington. “Whilst Nasser suggested that it was because the man is in too good form this season (producing an uncharacteristic surfeit of confidence). At a more humble level I thought he just nicked one.”

          Oh Nasser, how far you have fallen.

          Liked by 2 people

          • nonoxcol July 6, 2017 / 2:38 pm

            And that’s Blockbusters.

            Or QED.

            Like

    • nonoxcol July 6, 2017 / 10:31 am

      Look who the umpire is!

      Quelle surprise!

      Should be an automatic review. Literally the worst elite umpire I have ever seen.

      Liked by 1 person

      • man in a barrel July 6, 2017 / 10:34 am

        Pitched outside leg and not hitting the stumps. Apart from those 2 minor issues, it was an elite decision. Surely Jennings should have reviewed. Lbw from over the wicket without much swing is surely always worth a review

        Like

        • nonoxcol July 6, 2017 / 10:46 am

          Statistically: six and a half reviews per match, more than a quarter overturned (scroll down to near the bottom). And that doesn’t even include the above.

          Caveat: very small deviation between umpires for % overturned.

          Like

  15. Keeper99 (@PaulKeeper99) July 6, 2017 / 10:30 am

    And indeed he should have Lloyd has several times mentioned “two inexperienced” batsmen. Ballance is 27 with 127 FC games and 21 Tests to his name. Pitching in line of tens works more in the batsman’s favour than whether the ball is hitting.

    Like

  16. Mark July 6, 2017 / 10:44 am

    The number of LBWs given out when the ball pitches outside leg stump is far too high. There used to be some bloke who was an umpire who would come on here and attack the use of technology, and would never accept the bad calls by umpires outside leg stump. I know some have an issue with ball tracking of Hawkeye, but there is no argument on where the ball pitches.

    But the batsman don’t seem to be able to judge that either. So I guess they deserve what they get. We spend ages playing back footage to confirm if a ball has gone for four. Has the fielders toe touched the rope as his finger crazed the ball? Is it 3 runs or 4? Yet Cricket still screws up on this basic issue of balls pitching outside leg stump.

    Perhaps they should paint a couple of tram lines down the pitch on leg stump? One for the traditionalists there?

    Liked by 1 person

    • d'Arthez July 6, 2017 / 11:07 am

      The problem is that a painted line has a certain thickness. And how often do we not see an lbw (not) being given, on an umpire’s call on whether or not it pitched in line?

      Like

      • Mark July 6, 2017 / 11:25 am

        I am half joking when I say they should paint a couple of lines down the pitch. As you say, they would have to be no thicker than the width of a stump.

        Although they have now painted in a couple of lines to help the umpires determine what a wide is.

        Like

    • Keeper99 (@PaulKeeper99) July 6, 2017 / 11:08 am

      It’s not treated as a line decision (i.e. one that would come under the purview of the umpire and not a player review) because the line is not physically drawn on the pitch. Strange eh? Yet why can an umpire refer for whether a catch carries?

      Still, two batsmen should I think have enough judgement to know that the odds favour them way more than an LBW in a close call like that.

      Like

      • d'Arthez July 6, 2017 / 11:20 am

        Even more, why can there be an umpire’s call on catches? (Soft signals of out and not-out, which will be the decision, unless there is clear evidence that the umpires got it wrong. And how often happens that with low catches?)

        Sure if it happens in front of you, then I can imagine umpire’s call makes sense. Not when it happens at a considerable distance.

        Like

        • Keeper99 (@PaulKeeper99) July 6, 2017 / 1:00 pm

          It’s just a guess but maybe when they started doing it they thought it would more conclusive and akin to a line decision? No excuses now of course, and it was well over a decade ago that CH4 demonstrated the technical shortfalls of the technology in this situation.

          If ball pitching was to be reviewed by the umpire it would of course leave the rest of the review up to the batsman. We could have twin reviews for an LBW decision.

          Like

    • Nicholas July 6, 2017 / 12:17 pm

      I distinctly remember a phone-in during a lunch interval on Channel 4 during the 2001 Ashes (they were the days!) when a caller asked why the relevant bit of grass between the stumps couldn’t be painted red, like it was on the telly, to assist with such decisions. The very early days of technology then, of course, the first summer of Hawk Eye and DRS was just a glint in Paul Hawkins’ eye.

      I seem to remember Mark Nicholas and Ian Smith going down a comedic route with their answer and pretending that their graphics guru grew red grass on the roof of his house to test the red zone…!

      Like

    • AB July 6, 2017 / 12:41 pm

      It was a pretty shocking call. I immediately said “not out, get lost”, and was amazed when he put the finger up.

      As a left hand bat myself, far too few umpires seem to be aware of the “can’t pitch outside leg” rule.

      More controversial opinion: get rid of it. Make the lbw rule symmetric between off side and leg side, so it doesn’t matter where the ball pitches, all that matters is whether it hit the pad inline and whether it would have hit the stumps.

      Like

      • Mark July 6, 2017 / 1:37 pm

        The problem with that idea is someone like Shane Warne would have taken about 5000 wickets.

        But sometimes it really does look like the umpires don’t know the rules regards pitching outside leg stump, particularly to left hand batsman from right hand over bowlers. Also right hand batsman facing left hand over the wicket bowlers.

        Like

      • Benny July 6, 2017 / 2:47 pm

        Have to be controversial too. If the ball would have hit the wicket, it’s out wherever it pitches, whether it hits pad in line or not. The game is bat and ball not bat, bit of clothing and ball. And yes, I am/was a bowler.

        Like

        • AB July 6, 2017 / 4:20 pm

          Ban pads! That’ll stop the buggers.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Mark July 6, 2017 / 11:21 am

      Not a very “balanced” review by Balance. Perhaps he was off balance ?

      Like

  17. d'Arthez July 6, 2017 / 11:30 am

    So, if Duminy can hardly bat, can hardly bowl, and can hardly catch, why is he in the team? Dropping Root is just asking for England to post at least 350 here.

    Like

    • d'Arthez July 6, 2017 / 2:23 pm

      It is already 63 runs and counting (Root was dropped on 8). Probably more than Duminy will make with the bat this match anyway.

      Well done JP. Another excellent contribution, that South Africa supporters through the years have become highly used to (with just about 3 innings as an exception in a decade of mostly minimal contributions).

      Like

      • d'Arthez July 6, 2017 / 4:57 pm

        And the 150 for Duminy is up! Will he even contribute that many for the series when he is batting? He’ll only have 8 innings at best, so it is a real challenge for him. My guess is on an average of about 22, and in 7 innings that amounts to about 154 runs. The selectors will declare that yet another success.

        Also, can someone please explain why he is picked as a bowling option (there are better batsmen, but his offspin is supposedly useful…) when there have been two parttimers who have already bowled a few (de Bruyn, and Bavuma)?

        The best thing to happen for South Africa is if he does a repeat of his performance in Australia in 2012. It may sound awful, but seriously, how awful does he have to be before he gets dropped?

        Like

      • d'Arthez July 6, 2017 / 5:40 pm

        Sorry, Root was on 16 not 8 at the time. Will save JP Duminy another innings to make up for those runs.

        Like

  18. man in a barrel July 6, 2017 / 2:40 pm

    Morkel!!!!! If you put in an effort ball, at least make it count!

    Like

  19. SteveT July 6, 2017 / 2:46 pm

    52 overs bowled so far today. Thought Beefy and Gower had been axed by Sky. Have they had a reprieve?

    Like

  20. SteveT July 6, 2017 / 2:52 pm

    Oh f**k. Empty Suit is in the studio.

    Like

    • Mark July 6, 2017 / 3:00 pm

      He keeps using the term “we.”

      You don’t own the game Mr even if you are deluded enough to think you do. You are the governing body not the owners of the game.

      Why do these people always pretend that the tv deal is about growing the game? And families, and dads, and all the other buzzwords he keeps using.

      I can’t listen to this anymore. I switched over.

      Liked by 1 person

    • "IronBalls" McGinty July 6, 2017 / 3:17 pm

      Enjoyed Aggers putting him to the sword…my God, it was brutal!

      Like

  21. Mark July 6, 2017 / 3:57 pm

    Almost 5pm and only another 25 overs to bowl. But no administrators give a shit. Too busy appearing on TV shows pontificating about partnerships, and dads, and candy floss.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. SteveT July 6, 2017 / 3:58 pm

    Flying through their overs here. 5 pm and only 66 bowled so far. Looks like the punters are going to be cheated again

    Like

  23. man in a barrel July 6, 2017 / 4:12 pm

    I slipped off down the road to get some groceries and they only fitted in 3 overs, with a spinner at one end. Truly funereal pace of play

    Like

    • thebogfather July 6, 2017 / 5:17 pm

      Hope you bought some Root veg and your Cook-ing is more fruit(fly)ful than that dastardly KP sipping wine and wearing jeans in the stands…. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  24. man in a barrel July 6, 2017 / 4:43 pm

    The luck is with Joe Root today. How did that spinner bowl a no ball ?

    Like

  25. man in a barrel July 6, 2017 / 5:07 pm

    Only 13 overs for Philander with that first ball. Is he fully fit?

    Like

  26. thebogfather July 6, 2017 / 7:07 pm

    Review of the day… well, my first session of cricket on Sky for 7 years (not paying, comp prize via talksport)… also includes views on TMS coverage…

    Nice roaming camera capture of Cookie picking nose, followed by view of KP quaffing a chilled chablis with Ernie Els and other Saffer rich people while wearing jeans!!!

    Sky comms ok, Athers good, Nasser not deviating from wage-payers directive, Warne ok, Holding not allowed to comment even with view of him in box with mic, Bumble pissed…

    TMS – loved Blowers passing over to ‘Ed Smith, Writer’ – previously a Boycs intro, so now await Sir Geoffrey to up his game to ‘Here’s Ed Smith, Plagiarist… = Oh Geoffrey, you know you want to!

    Sky… snore vision with DIG and ITB, more clueless and dinosauric than Blowers…

    Both – interview with ‘Empty Suit’… brown-nosing hagiography of the lowest quality this year… ok, they’ve got the ECB deals from 2020, but FFS, ask the questions!!!!

    Eng batting…apparently Cookies 3 laid the platform for his protegee, young Root…
    Ballance….along with his royal iron-jaw, seems like a CC flat-track bully
    Moeen…. fuck off all you detractors – av’s 90+ at 7, also bowls well when batting there 33 wkts at 23…

    Over-rates, don’t fine the capt/team (maybe fine the Umps?) Don’t add runs per overs lost…Allow the batting team to nominate a dismissed batsman to return to the crease for every 2/3 overs down, and bat on til dismissed again… discuss

    Eng – nice whites, but where’s the cream?

    Liked by 1 person

  27. man in a barrel July 6, 2017 / 8:26 pm

    I prefer the sweater to be the same colour as the other pieces of clothing. I wondered whether England had urinated on their shirts overnight, following the Swann sprinkler routine. But the need for sweaters was baffling in itself

    Liked by 1 person

    • thebogfather July 6, 2017 / 8:59 pm

      Lards at Lord’s preferred egg’n’bacon dress code
      We may prefer whites, but really they’re creams
      I remember playing in M&S white shirt, loose, rolled sleeves flowed
      But trousers were off white (or was it a dream?)
      And jumpers, cabled, baggy, with v-neck allegiance stripes bold
      No need for numbers or names as we all knew
      Each player was free to either live or TV view
      So my playing career, dull, inept left arm swing, no drama
      Never had to be played in polyester pyjamas…

      Like

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