England vs South Africa: 2nd Test, Day four – Shambles

England were always going to lose this match, the question was whether it would be today or tomorrow, and how they lost it.  The difference between the teams after the first innings was substantial, and probably meant defeat anyway, but with South Africa batting well on the third day, England’s target was always going to be far beyond them.  But how you lose is often as important as how you win, for it demonstrates the qualities of the team in adversity, and the character therein.  England’s abysmal collapse today was entirely predictable (indeed yesterday’s post did predict it) but it’s still disappointing to see the worst fears confirmed.

Amidst the storm of criticism England received after the denouement, it was interesting to note how many of the same people who castigated South Africa for not pressing on and playing shots yesterday now complained that England were reckless today.  The circumstances aren’t the same of course, but the selectivity with which one side can be criticised for playing decent Test cricket (and winning) and the other attacked for failing to do so is indicative of the confused approach so many have got into in this T20 era.

In the first innings England’s wickets didn’t fall because of too many reckless shots, but the attitude was one of a side that didn’t have too much confidence in their ability to defend.  It’s been a regular feature of the England side in recent times, but not exclusively so, they have on occasion batted defensively, even in defeat in India, but the reality is that the middle order are stroke players, and it goes against the grain for them to block.  That middle order is outstanding at counter attacking and ramming home an advantage and is more than capable of changing the direction of a match in a session.  But what looks terrific as a calculated gamble looks dire when a backs to the wall performance is required.  Yet it may well be that those who blame them are looking in the wrong place, for those players have particular strengths, and ones which have been evident as recently as the last Test match, when Stokes, Bairstow and Moeen all plundered runs with their attacking approach.  Criticising Stuart Broad for being caught on the boundary this afternoon seems a peculiar line to take for example given the match was long dead by then.  The problems arise when they are exposed much too early, and the loss of early wickets in a paper thin top order is always going to generate disaster in such circumstances.

It’s not to say the middle order aren’t capable.  Moeen batted extraordinarily well in carrying his bat during another dire defeat – to Sri Lanka at Leeds – but having created a role for him in the lower middle order where he is to play freely, it is a bit rich to complain when he does the same thing with the game already lost.  That’s not to excuse him, for it wasn’t a great shot to say the least, but in the criticism of that middle order, there are some short memories about that working superbly only one Test ago.

It is true however that the innings as a whole was spectacularly spineless.  Cook did show how to do it early on, but with wickets falling about him it had the air of being in vain from half an hour into play.  It was a good ball that got him, and an even better one that got Root, but both of them could have survived on another day.  Good bowling yes, totally unplayable no.  In neither case does that make them responsible for what happened (to emphasise the point, they were definitely good balls), but it was still part of the pattern where no batsman (apart from possibly Dawson) came out with much credit, it is merely a matter of degree.  Cook at his very best exudes a sense of certainty missing here, and while others were infinitely more culpable, he will be as disappointed  as anyone not to have gone on.  Mentioning Cook today is in one sense harsh, but it is only from the perspective of him being about the only player in the side who has the concentration levels to bat for a couple of days.  That he doesn’t do it in the fourth innings to save a match that often (not many do) is rather beside the point.  He could, which is why the celebrations for his wicket are always the loudest.  But Cook has always been vulnerable to pace, and outstanding against spin, and South Africa have a terrific pace attack – his record against both them and Australia is markedly lower than against others.  That’s fair enough, for only the very best have no real flaws.  Cook is just below that level, but he is very good and the same applies to him as to others – to look at what he can do rather than what he can’t.

England have gone through opening batsmen not called Cook at a rate of knots in the past few years, and Jennings will be aghast at the gaping hole between bat and pad that led to him being bowled, while Ballance was once again stuck on the crease and lbw on review.  In the first case, England really do have to decide what they are doing with the opening position and show some faith that whoever they pick will learn the role.  In the second, whatever Ballance’s shortcomings at this level, England’s decision to put him in at three, a position he doesn’t hold for his county, and where he struggled last time he was selected, is throwing him to the wolves, irrespective of him apparently being injured this match.  Facing the new ball and being in the middle order are entirely different roles, albeit in this England side the middle order is getting used to it quite quickly.  England are hoping the square peg can be pushed in to the round hole.

If those two appear to be vulnerable to being dropped, the question is who could come in to replace them.  The new schedule for county cricket precludes county championship cricket during the meat of the season, meaning any replacements will not have played anything other than T20 recently.  This was of course pointed out at the time the schedule was agreed, but ignored.  Change will smack of shuffling the chairs on the Titanic, for it’s a big ask of anyone to come in and get used to different format from the off.

The other player who may give way is Liam Dawson.  He is victim of the extraordinarily muddled thinking that passes for selection – he hasn’t proved a success so far, but he’s done about as well as might have been expected given his record.  The dropping of Adil Rashid looked reckless at the time, to now give his replacement the boot so soon would make a nonsense of his initial selection.  It would also – along with the potential less likely removal of Mark Wood, be following the time honoured England tradition of blaming the bowlers for the failure of the batsmen.

Where to go from here?  It should always be said that a team is never so good in victory or as bad in defeat as they seem, and the euphoria of the first Test win was completely misplaced as some kind of barometer for following games.  England’s recent record is so poor that this effort today shouldn’t have come as a shock to anyone, yet apparently it has.  Putting the boot in when they’ve played as badly as today is nothing but rampant hypocrisy given the excuse making for the last tour, the home defeats last summer, and the pretence that all was well, fully exonerating everyone from the captain to the Chairman.  It’s already been the case that some of our media friends have decided to criticise Root as captain, a mere two Tests into the job, having made endless excuses to this point when it was Cook in charge.  That’s not to pick on Cook either, it is to say that these problems with the England side have been apparent for quite some time, yet some were too busy pronouncing all was well when it clearly wasn’t.  Equally, those problems don’t mean that it’s fine to rip into the whole side just because of today.  Failing to be aware that this happens to the current England – or more specifically, to pretend it hasn’t done because of some misguided cheerleading of those in charge – does a disservice to everyone both then and now, including the players.  This is how England have been for a while, with all the concomitant strengths and flaws.  It is this apparent new found freedom in the fourth estate to say what has been obvious for a long time that grates so much.

For South Africa, this match couldn’t have gone better – and in the absence of Kagiso Rabada as well.  The seam attack had England under pressure from ball one in both innings, and Keshav Maharaj was excellent in support.  Yet as in the first Test, the margin of victory disguised the fact that both teams had opportunities.  There is absolutely nothing to suggest certainty about the outcome of the next two games, although doubtless there will be much discussion around how England change the “momentum” of the series.

After a day like today, it’s hard to know what is more irritating – the performance, or the apparent amazement that it happened at all.  There has been far too much absolving of the past, and so far, far too much criticism today from those who previously stayed silent and pretended the flaws in the team didn’t exist.  This is where England are, and yes they can certainly do better in these circumstances than they have today.  But it’s not new, and it’s not unusual.  A degree of honesty all round about where England have been for the last couple of years wouldn’t go amiss rather than responding day to day.

 

 

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107 thoughts on “England vs South Africa: 2nd Test, Day four – Shambles

  1. LordCanisLupus July 17, 2017 / 6:25 pm

    Hello? Neil Fairbrother? Is that you?

    Like

    • Sean B July 17, 2017 / 7:15 pm

      Damn I was just about to Tweet something similar…

      Like

  2. Mark July 17, 2017 / 7:35 pm

    With Cook gone the shit is hitting the fan. The coverage of 4 years of his captaincy was a mirage. It wasn’t normal. A bit like the Christmas in World War One when the soldiers came out onto no mans land to play football and sing carols to each other. Back then it was only a few hours before they got back to blowing each other up. Under Cook it’s taken 4 years.

    The medias transformation into Trappist monks over the last 4 years is at an end. Suddenly they have given up their vow of silence, and rediscovered their voices. And the grudges, and grievances are aplenty. Pass the popcorn!

    Like

  3. oreston July 17, 2017 / 7:58 pm

    It was a good ball that got Cook, but I still say he made a mess of it. He should’ve kept his arms down and swayed out of the way, then he wouldn’t have nicked it. Much easier said than done of course (with a hard projectile rearing towards your head at express speed) but when you’re a World class opening batsman and England’s highest run scorer in Tests…
    Still, at least he understood the needs of the situation better than most and was trying to do what was needed. He’s just not anywhere near as consistent as he used to be.
    Root got a good one too, but at least he was playing a defensive stroke.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. man in a barrel July 17, 2017 / 8:04 pm

    I just got the feeling that South Africa had designed plans for the English batsmen but that England were leaving it to Broad and Anderson, neither of them particularly noted for tactical insight.

    Morkel on interview talked about how he has worked on pitching it up on English pitches. Both Broad and Anderson reverted to bowling that comfortable “Mike Hendrick” length where you are economical and often beat the bat spectacularly but tend to miss the edge, while leaving bowled and lbw out of the equation. Philander’s pitch map was astonishing. An amazing number of deliveries would have hit the stumps. Anderson got a Michelle but Philander got the wickets that destroyed the top order. Maybe it’s time for Anderson to become the 3rd seamer in the attack rather than the leader. Maybe Root needs to learn that Anderson and Broad are not the fount of all tactical wisdom. In the final analysis, South Africa got a par score in the first innings and improved on that in the second. That highlights problems with England’s bowling. England’s batting went from sub-par to very sub-par. To be radical, maybe Liam Dawson should play as an obdurate number 5 and drop Stokes and Co a notch. Or play Ballance at 5? The thought of Cook at 3 seems worth a try too. I know the media made much of how unusual it is for him to get out to a bouncer but Chris Morris is not exactly Mitchell Johnson and the tangle Cook got himself into was not encouraging. I know that Elgar also flapped wildly at a bouncer but at least he got bat on it.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Mark July 17, 2017 / 8:28 pm

      Bumble used to talk about needing express pace or real spin at top level cricket. On this surface where the ball was doing a bit you could normally rely on English type bowlers. But I agree we don’t bowl wicket to wicket. And we bowl short too often.

      As to the batting, the technical problems of the top order when playing defensive are hard to fix. They are just not used to dealing with that kind of examination at county level. I’m not sure Root batting at three will sove the problem. But it will break up the left handers.

      I don’t think this batting line up would have survived the 1990s bowling attacks. It’s very trendy to slag off English cricket in the 90s but those guys would do a hell of lot better than this brand of batsman. (They may not have been able to play 20/20, but the likes of Atherton, Thorpe, Stewart, even Nasser would have put a score on the board.)

      Like

    • dlpthomas July 18, 2017 / 2:29 am

      I’m glad some-one else was reminded of Mike Hendrick. Botham mentions in one of “his” books that in the nets Hendrick would pitch it up and could be a nightmare to face whilst in a game he’d bowl short of a length, presumably because he hated being driven. There was also the claim that he fire the last ball of an over down the leg side so he could rack up the maidens.

      Like

  5. Mark July 17, 2017 / 8:17 pm

    By the way…. if SA had taken their catches in the first innings at Lords England would have lost that test match too. Also, this test match is not a good advertisment for quotas in top level sport. SA looked a lot stronger. And they still have a very good black bowler to come back in.

    This test match wasn’t lost today, it was lost in the first innings, as SA lost the first test in the first innings (both bowling and batting)

    I have no idea how Rashid would have bowled at both grounds, but a player goes on tour and takes a lot of wickets, and they drop him because of some pusedo theory about his mind, or something. He took wickets, who gives a shit if he doesn’t fit in? ( or whatever) England under Strauss are guilty of throwing away a lot of players who don’t fit in. Some of them were/are quite good.

    Cricket skills I would suggest are more important than who comes top at an SAS training excercise at Sandhurst

    Liked by 1 person

    • Grenville July 17, 2017 / 10:46 pm

      How is this not a good advert for quotas? The team that was forced to prioritise players who were black all the way through the system just thrashed the team who dropped their leading spinner, who happens to be black, for a face fitting chappy, who happens to be white.

      Like

      • Grenville July 17, 2017 / 11:11 pm

        Just reread that. It sounds sarcastic. It was not. I am intrigued. I don’t think that one match proves anything (I don’t think that you, Mark, do either, but, although I am not sold on quotas, I want them to succeed. I want there to be some way of overcoming the deep structural racism that pervades both our societies. I guess I also want the ANZ to be a success. I want there to be a successful transition from colonialism to liberation. All of which is a long winded way of saying that I am not an impartial judge on this one, so I did want to see how it looks to someone not committed to quotas succeeding.

        Like

      • dannycricket July 18, 2017 / 1:43 am

        Personally, I sometimes wonder what would happen if England had quotas to restrict the number of privately educated people involved in cricket. In administration, coaching, and professional players they seem to dominate despite only making up 7% of the population.

        Like

        • d'Arthez July 18, 2017 / 4:21 am

          Well, if you have access to the schooling records of all professional players, and you were only allowed to pick 2 (or 3 if you’re generous) players who had attended public schools, what would the Test team look like? What would your XI be?

          Would someone like Cook even make such a team now?

          Like

          • dannycricket July 18, 2017 / 7:11 am

            Well in the current England team, Cook, Jennings, Ballance, Root (for two years, I think), Bairstow and Broad all went to public schools. I think if I were picking three from that list, it would be Cook, Root and Bairstow. Broad can be a good bowler, with great purple patches, but he and Anderson annoy the hell out of me when they waste the new ball with short and wide deliveries. It is a common pattern that batsmen (which primarily requires technique and practice) tend to be public school boys whilst fast bowlers tend to be more representative because even public schools can’t make someone 6’6″ tall and fast.

            Liked by 1 person

        • Keeper99 (@PaulKeeper99) July 18, 2017 / 8:20 am

          And of course private schools are a route into professional and international cricket and better salaries for talented young Africans…

          It is a problem for the game, albeit it is not driven from the top by selection policy. Outside Grammar Schools only a very few Comprehensives play cricket to any meaningful degree, so Private Schools pick up the slack. A kid from these schools will have access to facilities and coaching that even the top clubs can only dream of. For someone going through state education the best bet is to be spotted very early via club cricket and get in a county system with regular coaching. Even then they won’t be exposed to the range of practice and quality match situations as their privately educated counterparts.

          An increasing problem in club cricket is kids becoming increasingly less interested in playing 50/55 over cricket on a Saturday, which in turn undermine stye club game even further.

          The base of the pyramid is withering while the ECB cash in on T20.

          Like

          • thelegglance July 18, 2017 / 8:28 am

            You’ve hit the nail on the head there about the reason why the prevalence of private school players is a problem. It’s not about them, it’s about the waste of talent amongst the 93% who don’t go to private school. Any sport that draws so much of its talent from such a small pool should be moving heaven and earth to identify those lost to the game. But they don’t.

            There is another side to it, which is that the hierarchy come from the same kind of background. Giles Clarke’s comments about Cook being the right sort of chap with the right sort of family would have made perfect sense to him and those around him, it wasn’t meant to be controversial. People choose similar people.

            Liked by 1 person

          • man in a barrel July 18, 2017 / 11:14 am

            Doesn’t the same educational profile apply in Rugby Union? But they seem to make it work

            Like

  6. Cricketjon July 17, 2017 / 9:17 pm

    I thought England were poor in this Test.

    Like

  7. man in a barrel July 17, 2017 / 10:54 pm

    Race is a no argument here. Bavuma needs to develop his technique…. To learn there is more than either blocking or scoring a boundary. Amla is remembering how to play Test cricket. The spinner is good too. But please don’t recall Duminy

    Like

    • Grenville July 17, 2017 / 11:21 pm

      I think that this is a fault common to many novices in tests. I like the cut of his jib and reckon that he will make it. The race issue rears it’s ugly (white) head over when you cut your losses and say, enough or too much.

      Like

    • d'Arthez July 18, 2017 / 4:28 am

      One thing that I did notice is that Bavuma got out in the 80th over twice on this tour already. With the new ball around the corner, and as the last / next-to-last specialist batsman in the lineup (de Kock was already at the crease in the first Test, and Bavuma was the last specialist batsman in the second Test), that is something you should definitely not make a habit of.

      Luckily Philander batted extremely well on both occasions, but on another day that could well have led to a massive collapse.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. alecpaton July 18, 2017 / 6:20 am

    One can hardly disguise the fact that England were poor here but that has been their way since the arrival of Trevor Bayliss- swinging from the sublime to the ridiculous, sometimes within the same innings (Ben Stokes’ 258 anyone?).

    Ultimately, the question that the middle order and the bowlers need to ask of the top 3 is “if we’re going to permanently be 50 or so for 3, do you serve any practical purpose? England may as well pick 7 stroke making middle order players and hope that they come off often enough that they steal more series than they lose.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Cricketjon July 18, 2017 / 6:46 am

    What did Hales do wrong?

    Like

    • alecpaton July 18, 2017 / 6:51 am

      Failed to score a century in 7 tests, then not go to Bangladesh. Problem is that he has really been no worse than most of the other openers selected. Only Nick Compton has contributed more than 1 century as opener and only Root and Ali have had played more than 10 matches after failing in the position.

      Like

      • dannycricket July 18, 2017 / 6:57 am

        Carberry was always the one I thought was most harshly treated. Averaged 3.50 higher than Cook in the 2013/14 Ashes, but was never picked again in easier conditions or against weaker attacks.

        Like

        • LordCanisLupus July 18, 2017 / 7:01 am

          He spoke out. There was a call for Sam Robson at the time that was deafening.

          Like

        • Keeper99 (@PaulKeeper99) July 18, 2017 / 8:22 am

          Also got his better scores in the 1st innings of Tests while the series was still alive (if it was ever that!). The potential weak link when the tour started, in a better team and happier times his would have been a gritty and valuable contribution worthy of further recognition.

          Like

          • Alec July 18, 2017 / 8:35 am

            Oh, Flintoff it.

            You guys are right, I entirely forgot about Mike Carberry in that list. (In my defence, it’s hard to keep up with the merry-go-round of England openers)

            Like

          • thelegglance July 18, 2017 / 8:41 am

            The treatment of Carberry is the lesser known disgrace of the fall out from the Pietersen affair, but no less despicable for that.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Mark July 18, 2017 / 9:05 am

            The treatment of Carberry was a disgrace, and showed that a Spanish Inquisition had taken over English cricket. Heretics would not be tolerated. And as you rightly say legglance this was done in a silent way. He was just “disappeared.”

            I also find it amusing that the media are now saying we need someone in the middle order who can bat for a long time. Remember when Compton was battling away, but was just too slow? “He scored too slowly, not at the 4 and over that is required in the new age of exciting cricket”

            Everything was about his scoring rate. Unfortunately I doubt Compton was ever going to match the feats of his namesake relative. But he also was driven out by the Spanish iquistion on trumped up charges. The list of heretics has grown long.

            Like

  10. LordCanisLupus July 18, 2017 / 6:55 am

    I just had to post this. He wasn’t upset after Headingley 2014? Really? And how much bile were we accused of having then?

    Like

    • Mark July 18, 2017 / 8:52 am

      As I said above, they are learning to be critics again. The Cook era was an aberration in terms of honest reporting. That is now at an end. The new captain will not be protected, like the old one.

      What’s worse, is the the media have some scores to settle.

      Like

      • SimonH July 18, 2017 / 9:22 am

        Headingley 2014 was a great success because it was where the final crumbs of media criticism of Cook was crushed (“something must be done”, meetings on the outfield and all that). The actual play was secondary. I doubt whether Stocks can even remember it.

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    • d'Arthez July 18, 2017 / 3:54 pm

      And I am sure everyone was in a joyous mood, after being bounced out by Ishant Sharma of all people at Lord’s? Really?

      Goldfish have memories of about 5 seconds. Some of these journalists seem to have even less memory.

      Like

  11. d'Arthez July 18, 2017 / 9:28 am

    For those of use who loathe umpire Ravi. Here is the highlight of the umpire who might take over from him:

    In Sri Lanka, third umpire Shamshuddin has effectively awarded a Test to Sri Lanka, because it is beyond his ability as a third umpire, to actually give a batsman out stumped, when the batsman misses the ball, and the bails get removed by the wicketkeeper, and the batsman has nothing behind the line. Well done Shamshuddin.

    Sure Zimbabwe dropped a few chances since then, but if you can see a clear out not being given by a third umpire, then yeah, that must sap the confidence massively. That effectively robbed them of a massive cushion to get the Sri Lankan tail out.

    Then when another batsman gloves a catch through, Sham is too incompetent to spot the glove (although in his defence, no hot spot for this series, but still).

    Sri Lanka win the one-off Test, but with MOM Shamshuddin. That atrocious decision was the difference between victory and defeat.

    Like

    • Prime.Evil July 18, 2017 / 11:45 am

      You are right. I was watching the game. Shocking! I pity the side getting him as standing umpire. If he can’t see something as clear as daylight on a monitor in front of him how is he going to see 20 odd metres down the pitch?

      He was the tv umpire during the Ind vs Eng game when Joe Root was given LBW in the last over wasn’t he? The one who withdrew from the remaining games?

      A few years back in a rugby union game in Australia, a referee forgot his contact lenses in the change room. So, not being able to see properly, their were very few scrums and penalties. Afterwards he was complimented on letting the game flow, playing so much advantage and overlooking small infringements. He replied that he couldn’t really see what was going on, left the contacts in the dressing room, so instead of getting it completely wrong he just let the players carry on. The press reckoned it might be a good idea to invest in blind referees – they might very well do a better job.

      Liked by 1 person

      • d'Arthez July 18, 2017 / 3:53 pm

        Yeah, the same umpire.

        Really ruined the game for Zim. They deserved better umpiring.

        Like

  12. SimonH July 18, 2017 / 9:37 am

    Dobell is at least willing to ask a few questions about Bayliss:

    http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/story/1111719.html

    The rest of the press corps seem unwilling to go there – or in Newman’s case keep arguing that the only problem is Bayliss doesn’t have enough power.

    Why could this be? Imagine the flak that would be flying towards the national football coach after a performance like this!

    “he was an extraordinary choice as head coach by Andrew Strauss”.

    Ah….

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus July 18, 2017 / 9:57 am

      Newman’s column is a treat. He’d bring back Hameed. Can’t see how that might shatter him for years. And Buttler. Always Jos.

      Like

      • Edoardo Albert July 18, 2017 / 11:07 am

        Great line by Dobell: If he [Bayliss] is just creating a relaxed environment, he could be replaced by a couple of scented candles, a yucca plant and a CD of ambient whale noises.

        Like

        • LordCanisLupus July 18, 2017 / 11:31 am

          welcome Edoardo!

          Ok for Dobell to write this. But question a Shiny Toy….

          Disagreement is “hater” territory. Welcome to the haters!

          Like

          • nonoxcol July 18, 2017 / 11:39 am

            Remind me, this particular county scapegoater is also in favour of tearing the heart out of the first-class domestic season in order to re-create the Big Bash, isn’t he?

            Like

  13. Mark July 18, 2017 / 10:08 am

    What does Paul Farbrace actually do? Officially he scouts players for Bayliss. Why? Isn’t that the job of the selectors? And if the coach is going to pick someone on a hunch….. aka like shinny toy or Marcus Trescothick were picked out by Duncan Fletcher shouldn’t Bayliss be the one who has the hunch?

    England mangement seems very top heavy and contradictory. Bayliss doesn’t watch much county cricket, and by all accounts doesn’t do much coaching. As George Dobbell hilariously points out in his latest……..

    “Bayliss isn’t much of a technical coach, either. The players refer to him as “a man of few words” who leaves the technical work to others and is more interested in creating a positive, settled environment in which the players are able to perform to their optimum…………If he’s just creating a relaxed environment, he could be replaced by a couple of scented candles, a yucca plant and a CD of ambient whale noises.”

    Ha ha ha

    Are any of these people allowed to make any real decisions? Strauss retains selection veto on the right sort of chap. Any awkward ones don’t get in. The rumour was that the new coach had to accept that he didn’t get to pick KP.

    Then there are the selectors themselves. A band of 3. And lurking behind these is the presence of Andy Flower. No official role we are told, and yet his name comes up again and again. Lions indoctrination, we are told is why a particular player was picked. “he performed well with the lions.” Whatever that means? If second division runs are not worthy, why are Lions games played in front of 5 men and a giraffe now taken as the gold standard? It’s been rumoured that the Lancashire opener Hameed (sadly out of form) who did well in the winter is thought to have a technical problem against pace bowling. Who thinks this? According to CWOTV it was Flower. Ah yes, that name comes up again and again.

    But it doesn’t end here. Then there are the various discipline coaches. Bowling coach, both pace and spin, and batting coach. Mark Ramprakash. Remember him?

    It’s a cast of thousands! No green screen here. It’s like the old days of a Hollywood epic where every person in shot was real. And according to Nasser, pitches that do stuff are the way to go in modern test cricket….. ” my boys are bored if it’s 585 plays 550.” …….Yes, I’m sure they are Nasser, but if we are going to start playing on test pitches that turn on day one, and are keeping low by day 2 perhaps players better stop playing on the feather beds they are learning on?

    Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus July 18, 2017 / 11:00 am

      550 played 520 in a test match I went to. A bit dull that game. So dull I named a blog after it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus July 18, 2017 / 11:18 am

      Oi. Don’t steal my lines.

      2200 words into a post (Up tonight) and you have most of my talking points.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark July 18, 2017 / 12:17 pm

        Great minds and all that.

        Sorry, but I’m sure yours will be a sharper scalpel!

        Like

        • LordCanisLupus July 18, 2017 / 1:00 pm

          Another line stolen (sort of)…

          And look who chips in.

          Liked by 1 person

          • SimonH July 18, 2017 / 1:38 pm

            Or did you mean Clivejw?….

            Like

          • nonoxcol July 18, 2017 / 1:43 pm

            *boiling rage*

            Such a predictable, lazy line of argument from the current and former staff as well. Exactly the one we used to savage day in day out in 2014.

            To re-iterate, in Test matches:

            Flower Feb 2009 – Aug 2011 = Fletcher Jul 2003 – Sep 2005 (to within one drawn Test).
            Flower Jan 2012 – Jan 2014 = Moores Mark I (same match record, but the former won one more series)

            And I’ve done the stats to prove it. Three years ago. Everything is disguised/obscured by the obsession with Australia and India.

            Like

          • nonoxcol July 18, 2017 / 1:48 pm

            The Cricket Paper‏
            Verified account
            @TheCricketPaper 47m
            47 minutes ago

            Would you like to see Andy Flower return as England Test coach, allowing Trevor Bayliss to focus on ODIs/T20s? #ENGvSA

            Like

          • LordCanisLupus July 18, 2017 / 2:13 pm

            I am the raindrop out at sea, I cause the ripples that become the crashing waves.

            Liked by 1 person

          • SimonH July 18, 2017 / 2:29 pm

            #39’s podcast makes Ronay/Selvey look like CLR James and John Arlott.

            “There are lots of bowlers like Philander in county cricket…. Darren Stevens…. “.

            What’s Philander’s record like against David Warner? “I don’t know…. “.

            His only change for the Oval is Stoneman for Dawson – but it’s obvious he wants Malan selected. “I don’t know how well he plays the short ball”…. but he hit his second ball in a T20I for six so get him in there!

            Like

          • SimonH July 18, 2017 / 2:34 pm

            And ‘The Spin’ disappears even further up its own fundament….

            Like

          • thelegglance July 18, 2017 / 2:49 pm

            Christ I just read that. Smug and entitled much?

            Like

          • Mark July 18, 2017 / 2:35 pm

            Never let a crises go to waste!

            Some might say he never went away.

            Like

          • nonoxcol July 18, 2017 / 2:57 pm

            Re The Spin, it would be grossly unfair to provide biographical details of the author’s family, and even more unfair to mention that the author gave FICJAM his first recurring column on subjects other than cricket.

            Like

          • Mark July 18, 2017 / 3:33 pm

            the same case Selvey is making….. could have been used with exactly the same evidence for KP to be recalled,a,couple,of years ago.

            Too be honest, I think KP played a bigger role in winning those series than Flower ever did.

            Like

      • thebogfather July 18, 2017 / 2:56 pm

        About bloody time you came in off your long run again LCL…!

        Like

    • man in a barrel July 18, 2017 / 11:32 am

      Remember when they dropped James Taylor because of a “technical flaw” no neutral observer ever identified?

      Like

  14. Cricketjon July 18, 2017 / 10:52 am

    Compton virtually won us a series defining test in Durban on the back of obdurate skilful batting. I’m so confused.

    Like

    • thelegglance July 18, 2017 / 10:53 am

      What would we give for Paul Collingwood now? A Test average of barely even 40, but…..

      Like

    • SimonH July 18, 2017 / 11:25 am

      Looking back on that win in Durban is interesting. Compton was indeed crucial – and I wouldn’t overlook his grinding down of the bowling in the next Test either in laying the foundation for Stokes/Bairstow. All he got was a ton of flak (Lovejoy was a particular culprit) about his scoring rate. By the end of the series, he was dancing down the pitch on nought and holing out. And he had the delight of being called “weird” by an ex-England captain in a national newspaper…..

      It’s the clearest example that if your face doesn’t fit their profile of what they want, there aren’t many lengths they won’t go to to hound you out of the team. But it isn’t the only one.

      Steve Finn was another crucial figure in Durban. What on earth has happened to him? He got a number of injuries and has never been the same since the last one.

      A few thoughts on YJB as well. He’s “unpopular”, #39 told us (before deleting it). He doesn’t seem trusted in DRS decisions. He hasn’t been hounded out (yet) as his returns were too good – indeed, it was his performances that have been papering over many of the cracks for the last eighteen months. His batting seems to be going downhill to me, while his keeping has improved. This is also what happened to Buttler. I’d like to see him return to being a specialist batsman (where, unlike Buttler, he has a proven record) but we’re told this would waste all the work that’s gone into his keeping. Is wasting coach’s time how the team is being decided now? I’d rather have a No.5 scoring centuries – and in all the talk about conversion rates, nobody seems to have noticed Bairstow’s.

      Liked by 3 people

      • nonoxcol July 18, 2017 / 11:34 am

        Lovejoy should have been sacked for that, among his many other crimes against broadcasting. Proved that all he remains is the bantering dickhead of the dressing room.

        He hasn’t changed one iota in three full (and long) years on TMS. I copped about 5 minutes last Friday afternoon before turning back to 6 Music, and that was still more than enough time for “Cooky can’t grow a beard” and “Joe Root’s mum doesn’t know he’s out.” Clearly this is What The People Want.

        Liked by 1 person

        • thebogfather July 18, 2017 / 3:23 pm

          Sadly TMS (both for Tests and ODI/T20) is filling with self-loving parodies or sycophantic corporate speak non-entities, it’s decline mirrors that of Test cricket as a whole.
          For the first time in about 7 years I have Sky (it was a comp win freebie) and apart from Atherton, also Ward as a presenter, the quality of commentary and insight is abysmal, even Nasser’s ‘outrage’ yesterday made you think ‘But why now? Have you only just noticed?…. and TheCreakytarred recently rann a poll for best TMS people over the years and managed to miss out some names too – even Selfry, and he used to be better than most of the recent ex-players providing analysis alongside the commentator.
          I’ve promised the odd full length post here over the years, and perhaps this is the one I will finally produce later this summer – a view on radio (and TV) from the listeners point of view – hey, my introduction to radio commentary was the Centenary Test in ’77, my love of cricket (on TV) dawned from the JPL on BBC2 around 74/75, then the Windies here in the heatwave of ’76…
          -I will not be dumbed down by the dumber..

          Liked by 1 person

          • oreston July 18, 2017 / 5:14 pm

            Sounds like we had similar formative experiences. You should go for it and write that article. Can already sense you’ll be coming in like Michael Holding.

            Liked by 1 person

          • SimonH July 18, 2017 / 5:20 pm

            “my love of cricket (on TV) dawned from the JPL on BBC2 around 74/75”.

            John Arlott used to commentate on the JPL matches (while of course not commentating on the Tests on TV because he was on TMS). How many Test wickets did he take, though?

            Liked by 1 person

          • man in a barrel July 18, 2017 / 5:28 pm

            Ah but Beefy does acknowledge that Arlott taught him how to appreciate good wine and he was an invitee to Arlott’s retirement home on Alderney

            Liked by 1 person

      • Sophie July 18, 2017 / 10:54 pm

        About Bairstow, before the first test he’d played 4 white-ball innings since mid-May, that’s almost 2 months. He faced about 20 balls in first class cricket in April. Other than playing the occasional one-day game, he spent most of the last half year carrying drinks or being rested from carrying drinks so he’s fit for carrying more drinks. I’d cut him some slack. Not sure what his employers are thinking, but I’m not so sure they’re even aware of how little he’s been playing.

        Liked by 1 person

    • man in a barrel July 18, 2017 / 11:25 am

      I wonder what contribution the mood of the dress room and the wonderful supportive captaincy of Cook made to Compton. He always looked tense and intense. He so often hit the ball straight at the field. He seemed unable to work singles and because he always hit the field he rarely seemed to score boundaries. He never looked at ease. However it wasn’t the grim-faced determination of Faf du Plessis. It was more like worry.

      Like

  15. nonoxcol July 18, 2017 / 11:09 am

    Trawling through the lower reaches of the Guardian BTL unearths this gem from a regular:

    “If you go through the great all rounders, Stokes and Ali are better batsmen than the likes of Pollock, Hadlee, Botham (potentially), Khan etc and better bowlers than Kallis or Sobers.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • LordCanisLupus July 18, 2017 / 11:17 am

      There are no words.

      Not sure Pollock was ever an All rounder as such. In the same way Stuart Broad isn’t.

      Not sure Stokes will better Kallis with the ball. Won’t be in the same universe with the bat.

      Like

      • nonoxcol July 18, 2017 / 11:28 am

        I know where you’re coming from, but he does have a Test batting average of 32.31 and a net positive bat/ball average of +9.20!

        Stuart, Ben and Mo, er, don’t. And of the others, neither Botham nor Hadlee have that large a net positive.

        Like

      • SimonH July 18, 2017 / 11:29 am

        Khan? Do they mean Zaheer? Nobody who is allowed to walk the streets could possibly mean Imran….

        I also had a rare read BTL at the Guardian and promptly gave up within five comments when I read that Buttler should be opening with Cook.

        Like

        • oreston July 18, 2017 / 5:00 pm

          It’s the Russians, I tell you. Fake news and cyber warfare to spread despair and destabilise the UK. Kremlin bots on the Grauniad BTL. With advanced psyops techniques Putin’s lads can make the entire England team bat like mucking fuppets at will. It’s the only possible explanation. The last few years would just have been too strange otherwise…

          Like

  16. SimonH July 18, 2017 / 11:50 am

    All the talk about putting up a fight when in a hopeless position reminded me of my favourite example:

    http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/current/match/63293.html

    Some guy held out for 356 deliveries with a broken finger and against a class opening bowling attack. Some modern players aren’t fit to lick his boots.

    Like

    • Mark July 18, 2017 / 12:26 pm

      Would it be inappropriate at this junction to remind everyone that last year Mark Nicholas disclosed that one Mr A Cook told him that he thinks this age is the grestest standard test cricket has ever been?

      These people don’t so much live in a bubble, more a giant Ivory bat.

      Liked by 1 person

      • LordCanisLupus July 18, 2017 / 12:32 pm

        I think the problem with test cricket is it does not have a big beast team to measure yourself against. Not Aussie 1993-2007 and not the Windies before then. There has to be a gold standard to beat.

        That and Karun Nair made a test triple century by which logic we can say he’s a better player than many all time greats.

        Like

        • SimonH July 18, 2017 / 2:21 pm

          SA were the nearest to a big beast team 2005-15.

          The ECB’s reaction was to avoid playing them.

          Liked by 1 person

    • BobW July 18, 2017 / 1:32 pm

      Looking at the scorecard, what about Tavare? (78 runs off 428 balls?) Slowest run rate going at Test level but at county level he was a different player altogether.

      Liked by 1 person

      • lawnmowingmaniac July 18, 2017 / 1:33 pm

        Sorry 289 balls The 428 was minutes.

        Like

      • nonoxcol July 18, 2017 / 2:04 pm

        I have my theories as to why. They’re not hard to work out.

        Like

        • LordCanisLupus July 18, 2017 / 2:06 pm

          Did I read it was players he played with or against. When did Gooch retire?

          Like

          • nonoxcol July 18, 2017 / 2:12 pm

            There’s a few of them going around. Most seem to have been chosen on that basis. Except Ben Stokes chooses Sobers. And then there’s this:

            Like

          • LordCanisLupus July 18, 2017 / 2:15 pm

            You know. I missed the obvious as the first name i saw was Prior.

            Like

          • nonoxcol July 18, 2017 / 2:20 pm

            Here’s a second chance:

            Like

          • Grenville July 18, 2017 / 3:12 pm

            You would have thought that one of them would have heard of Bradman.

            Like

          • Mark July 18, 2017 / 3:52 pm

            None of the great WI fast bowlers. No Vivian Richards, or Barry Richards……or Clive Lloyd. No Lille and Thompson. Non of the Pakistan quicks of the 1990s. You would have thought they might have heard of them.

            But Jimmy gets in…….and Prior. No Bradman, of course it was all black and white tv then.

            I’m getting so old. Surprised Pepper pig wasn’t included.

            Joe Root even picks Cook as captain!! Ffs

            Like

          • Benny July 18, 2017 / 3:56 pm

            Is this the blog equivalent to mixing in a few cartoons to lighten up the serious stuff?

            Like

          • d'Arthez July 18, 2017 / 3:58 pm

            Well, know I know why it is @BrokenCricket.

            Odd picks to say the least, even if you don’t pick players before the 1980s …

            Like

          • SimonH July 18, 2017 / 4:11 pm

            Root hasn’t selected Jimmy! The horror, the horror….

            Their relationship is one to keep an eye on.

            Like

          • SimonH July 18, 2017 / 5:33 pm

            Not one of them voted for Steyn.

            Did Saker have his three-line whip out?

            Liked by 2 people

    • man in a barrel July 18, 2017 / 3:40 pm

      My first few thoughts on their opposition:

      Richards B
      Sutcliffe H
      Pollock G
      Jardine (c)
      Bradman
      Compton DCS
      Miller K (not Miller G!)
      Sobers
      Marshall
      Alderman / Verity depending on conditions
      Marsh (wkt)

      Like

      • man in a barrel July 18, 2017 / 8:52 pm

        SF Barnes and Walter Hammond as reserves. If Gooch plays, then Alderman is a must, otherwise Verity. If the opposition batting looks long, replace DCS with Barnes. If Miller’s back is sore, Hammond

        Like

        • lawnmowingmaniac July 19, 2017 / 8:07 am

          Sorry Hadlee for Alderman. A much better bowler and a better batsman as an extra.. If he had been bowling on that first morning South Africa would have been five down by lunch. There was enough in that wicket for the bowlers. But as usual they pitched it too short.

          Like

    • Benny July 18, 2017 / 9:37 pm

      OK then

      Hutton
      Edrich
      May
      Compton
      Graveney
      Bailey
      Evans
      Laker
      Lock
      Trueman
      Bedser

      Like

  17. Cricketjon July 18, 2017 / 4:05 pm

    Their definition off “all time” has its origins in Planet Sky as, to use a common example, football does not appear to have been invented until 1992.

    Like

      • Mark July 18, 2017 / 4:53 pm

        Non of the Sky commentary team except for Warne. Sir Ian not a mention. M Holding nope. To be honest I’m surprised they didn’t pick Ian Ward. (One for the teenagers)

        We should be greatful that Broad didn’t select his dad. They seem to like Hayden which is odd.

        Like

        • man in a barrel July 18, 2017 / 8:48 pm

          Hayden has a massive average but we well remember how Gooch he was against the swinging ball

          Like

    • thelegglance July 18, 2017 / 4:42 pm

      As we saw with the repeated Sky references to Huddersfield Town being a small club. The same Huddersfield who have won more titles than Spurs.

      Like

      • Mark July 18, 2017 / 5:17 pm

        The radio times a couple of weeks ago had a poll on who was the better presenter… Rory Reid or David Attenborough. Never heard of Reid. Apparently he presents Top Gear.

        The result

        Rory Reid 72.05%

        David Attenborough 27.95%

        We don’t deserve to progress as a species.

        Like

        • thelegglance July 18, 2017 / 5:20 pm

          To be fair Mark, that’s such a preposterous choice I’d have voted Rory Reid as well, to try to create precisely that result.

          Like

        • man in a barrel July 18, 2017 / 5:27 pm

          David Attenborough used to be good but now he just lends his voice to all sorts of eco-lunacy. So I would have had to vote for Rory

          Like

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