And The Painting You Stole From Picasso

October has passed, the traditional down month on Being Outside Cricket, and we haven’t exactly bucked a trend on here with our output last month – some traditions may be worht keeping. In truth even our WhatsApp group has been really quiet as I think we get over the hard work of a cricketing summer, try to replenish the enthusiasm to carry on writing while trying not to drop the standard, and to try to focus on something different, or approach something from a different way. We are always keen that the site, and the posts are prevented from being a load of old samey nonsense, being too vanilla and that they to get you to care. We are certainly not here just to conform with social media norms of bantz, lolz and all that jazz.

November will see the start of the Ashes in the early hours of Thursday 23rd November. I love the Ashes, and will still be hooked on watching as much as I can. Hopefully this turns into decent pieces for you to read and elicits the insight, caustic and pointed as it is, from you lot. I think a few of you needed the time off too to prepare for the overnight slog of an Ashes series. I think we’ll be buried below so much meaningless pre-Ashes claptrap from the media, we’ll just hibernate until the action starts for real. Or maybe not.

So, this is a blatant holding post for now. Work has taken over a lot of my time, more than it used to, and when I do get home, I don’t want to stare at screens, or look for inspiration, to write. I know Chris has similar issues with his work at this time of the year, and Sean is also in a relatively new job. There’s also not really a lot to write about, if truth be told. I do still owe you the Readers Awards poll, and the second nominee for our conceptual Mount Rushmore, after Giles Clarke pretty much swept the board last year.

I did want to raise one point, and it may not be one the vast majority of the readership agrees with. It may even be odd, coming from me.

I believe that Ben Stokes should be in our Ashes party.

But here’s the thing. I can certainly understand it if people think he shouldn’t.

This may appear to be a really woolly position, but it is symptomatic of where we are now. If you don’t agree with me, then fine. I’m cool with that. It doesn’t do for us to all agree. I like to think, even if I might not have shown it, that throughout the KP business, I understood if people didn’t like KP. Hell, after some of his latest stuff, I’m not sure if I do. But just because he disagrees isn’t a reason to hate, to shut out the contrary view. What grinds my gears is when there are no shades of grey in any issue. If you believe Stokes should go you are condoning blatant thuggery, you are setting a bad example to kids, you are basically scum. I’ve seen that. Give over. I had a fight outside a pub once – innocent party and all that. Hell, I nearly got arrested in Barcelona for a row with my brother! Less a fight, more an aggressive embrace. We are as close as brothers can be. Shit happens.

Whereas I say, he’s not been charged, yet, and therefore he is either available for selection or the ECB suspend him. There is a form of moral code now that our sportsman have to adhere to. I’m not necessarily falling for the gay bloke story, but this jump to judgement is symptomatic of conclusions drawn from limited evidence. A vacuum needs to be filled. Opinion fills it. I know how this works.

It’s not about Stokes per se – but about attitudes to debate. I found my arguments carried more weight, more influence, when I got angry. Anger brings steamroller tactics, no compromise, I’m right, you are wrong. The world is not full of absolutes. There’s a guy I follow on Twitter who is adamant Stokes is a thug, who could have killed someone, and should not play for England ever again. Presumably Wayne Rooney, among countless others over the years, getting into a car sopping drunk and driving, who legitimately could kill someone too, is fine because, well, he never meant to hurt someone. I had a mate die because of drink driving. Maybe I should get all mad about Wayne Rooney still picking up hundreds of thousands a week (and this isn’t picking on Rooney). But don’t. Shades of grey.

The Stokes debate has absolutely got me depressed with the state of cricket on social media and in the press. Maybe it’s a bit casual to say that fights happen all the time, good people get embroiled in them, and there for the grace of God etc. It’s easy to be morally pious, and yes, no doubt I’ve done it. It’s not an absolute. Sorry, it just isn’t. We chuckle at Botham claiming to chase Ian Chappell for a fight, but then get up in arms because the one man who appeared most likely to get involved in something like this, did. I don’t know what to say.

If Twitter wasn’t necessary for this gig, I wouldn’t be on it. Or at least I’d unfollow a lot of the cricketing firmament who deal in absolutes, and that their opinion is right to the exclusion of all others. Maybe I’m mellowing (I doubt it).

So, not the long run the Bogfather was looking for, but there’s time for that. The BT Sport panel for starters. Shiny Toy and Lovejoy. It hardly seems fair.

Also, I see there was good news so far for Jonathan Agnew’s wife. I am sure we can all be pleased about that. He may divide opinion, but he’s sometimes been an ally to this blogger, and having lost close relatives, like many, to that disease, it is nice when people get good news. So good luck.

Don’t worry. I’ll be back to my curmudgeonly ways, no doubt.

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129 thoughts on “And The Painting You Stole From Picasso

  1. Mark November 1, 2017 / 7:00 pm

    “Where did you go to my lovely, when your alone in your bed?”

    Good news about Jonathon Agnews wife. Not that he or she would care what we thought, but somethings are bigger than issues of cricket opinion. And no one deserves to have to be put through that, I wish her well, and their family.

    As to Stokes I must confess that I’m very conflicted on this topic. If he is not charged then by all accounts he will go, and many will say absolutely right. My problem with Ben Stokes is not just this particular incident. It’s more the fact that he doesn’t seem to be learning. He’s not 19/20 anymore and being sent home from Lions tours. And the charge sheet is mounting up.

    We now know he was out in the early hours in the middle of the Manchester test match. The ECB pulled some strings to quash that story. Some journos will have been happy to ablige, but even so It takes some effort and orgainsation. And how does he repay them? By going to to a seedy student bar in Bristol in the middle of the night while on England duty. Then there is the the issue of his numerous speeding offences. By all accounts the last time, the judge in the case warned him if he did it again within the next 12 months he would recieve a custodial sentence. Never mind if he may go down for thumping someone. He could go to prison for stepping on the accelerator a little too hard.

    I get it, he’s hot headed. A firery red head. And people will say that is what makes him tick. What makes him so good on the field. I understand this. Phil Tuffnel said he belives in giving people second chances. I agree. But if you don’t learn, and you start to get advantages that the average man in the street wouldn’t get because you are too important to the team then we have to be careful.

    Some will say the Aussies will target him at Brisbane. Well the truth is they will target him anyway, even if the Bristol afair hadn’t taken place because he has racked up enough points on the field to be close to a ban. One more bit of backchat and he will be out for the next test match.

    I know where I stand on sportsman as ambassadors. They aren’t ones. Or moral role models. Why should they be? If you want Ben Stokes to bring up your kids then that says something about you. However, if sportsman don’t learn from their mistakes and get preferential treatment in the law then why shouldn’t we all be allowed to do whatever we want?

    Perhaps if the ECB had come down harder in the past some of this might have been avoided. Time to grow up Ben. You are at the top of your sport with money rolling in, and a young family and the world at your feet. Why piss it all away?

    Liked by 3 people

  2. BobW November 1, 2017 / 7:25 pm

    Brilliantly put Mark. I second that.

    Like

    • Mark November 1, 2017 / 9:33 pm

      Cheers Bob!

      Like

  3. Narelle November 1, 2017 / 8:10 pm

    I agree with Mark. The law is for everyone, not selected individuals,

    One other consideration is that we have ‘one punch’ laws here so he would need to be careful if he is out drinking and gets sucked into a fight. Didn’t he break his finger or hand in the altercation?
    A criminal charge may also him from entering the country.

    Look forward to your Ashes commentary Dimitri.

    I was watching the womens Ashes on Sunday and my advice for ch 9 is to record Mark Taylor’s ramblings and repetitions, put him into a small room and play them continuously until he learns how boring he is.

    Like

  4. man in a barrel November 1, 2017 / 8:48 pm

    I too am really pissed off with the polarisation of social media on every issue, be it global warming, Trump, Brexit, Catalonia,the Queen, Philip Pullman, whatever. When you read a tweet from someone who has expressed virulent hatred of bankers in the past now forecasting a collapse of the banking industry because of Brexit, based on a non-committal interview with one CEO, then the discourse is no longer rational nor possible. How is it possible to support the viewpoint that there are too many useless parasitic bankers and, at the same time, claim that Britain faces disaster if they leave?

    Let’s just keep on keeping on, ignoring the butterflies of social media. Meanwhile, is there anything we can do for you? I could do a comparison of the 2006/7 Ashes teams now I am back from my holiday. Will you run my Ashes preview? That sort of thing

    Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus November 1, 2017 / 9:04 pm

      Your Ashes numbers post is still very much in mind. I think it works nearer the time rather than some boring old drivel on the two teams that they all do.

      Which reminds me, I still have some Adelaide 2006 stuff to do. Lord create some time for me! Happy to take any pieces, MiaB.

      Plus, I’m sure I’ll run the Ashes panel again!

      Like

  5. northernlight71 November 1, 2017 / 8:49 pm

    I don’t feel particularly moralistic about whatever Stokes might or might not have done, but I think a whole Winter off at the very least might make him sit down and have a think about his life and how he might have a longer career as a cricketer if he acts with a little more good sense.
    Having said that, I do find it rather sad that modern elite sportsmen think it’s ok to regularly stay out late and drink far too much. Nothing to do with being “role models” but a simple calculation about their long term health and short term fitness to play sport ought to come into it.
    Still, being born with a talent for sport isn’t always accompanied by being born with more than half a brain of good sense…..

    Like

    • Mark November 1, 2017 / 9:33 pm

      This is very good point. What I found ludicrous about the Rooney affair was not the morality of him being found in the hotel lobby at 5 am in the morning, but that he thought this was ok at the same time that he was not able to get in the Man U team because of injury, and form and was too crocked to play for England.

      Does professionalism just mean taking the money? Or is there a responsibility to be in the best shape you can be? Judging by the amount of people who defended him and Ben Stokes by saying he was “just having a few drinks” it seems people are fine with it.

      Like

  6. Geoff Boycotts Grandmother November 1, 2017 / 9:36 pm

    He was out on a Sunday night after a game. His next match was not until Wednesday afternoon. There is unlikely to be a training session the day after a match. If he can’t go out three days before a match, when can he go out between February and October? The ECB can’t own the players for a decade in their prime years. They have to be allowed to have a life in between. Stokes is obviously responsible for his actions but the ECB owe a duty of care to their employers who are performing under intense pressure and for a relentless schedule and need downtime.

    I get that drinking alcohol isn’t performance enhancing and he probably has over done it but this isn’t a performance issue. Performance wise he’s still the first on the team sheet.

    We should be selecting on cricket, not morals or whistling. He hasn’t been charged with any offence much less been convicted. Strauss showed his inexperience by bowing to tabloid fake fury when he should have held his ground and waited for the facts to emerge. No surprises that the Sun, having got him banned from the tour shown exclusively by their owner’s rivals, sat on the revelation that he was supposedly defending victims of homophobia until after the squad had left without him.

    Like

    • Mark November 1, 2017 / 10:16 pm

      Its not that he is out after a match, it’s what he is doing while he is out that is the issue. If he wants a few drinks, fine, but why as a multi millionaire player does he have to go to a grotty student bar?

      And why do this after the ECB has managed to pull stories of a previous escapade in Manchester during the test match? Should he be out in the middle of a test match in the early hours?

      Like

      • Geoff Boycotts Grandmother November 1, 2017 / 11:45 pm

        I really don’t think a bad taste in venues is a droppable offence.

        Even the ECB/Andy Flower would draw the line at that and they authored and then leaked the KP dodgy dossier.

        Like

        • lawnmowingmaniac November 2, 2017 / 9:57 am

          I think Mark is making the point that if Ben Stokes has wanted a drink he and the others could have gone somewhere more discreet and a lot nicer. Drinking in a bar where students and ex squaddies hang out can invariably lead to trouble.
          I liked Geoff Boycott’s comment after the incident about why doesn’t Stokes drink from seven to eleven pm. Surely you can consume enough alcohol in that time and still go to bed.
          Different generation these days.

          Like

          • Zephirine November 2, 2017 / 11:25 am

            And the police kept Stokes, but not Hales, in a cell for the rest of the night, which suggests he was extremely drunk and/or they thought the offence was more than just a few blows exchanged after a few drinks.

            It seems Stokes’s problem is he doesn’t know when to stop. Perhaps he should sit down and have a chat with Paul Gascoigne rather than Rooney?

            Whether he’s available for the Ashes is a matter of timing, if it all gets cleared up and he seems to be reasonably exonerated, why not – but that doesn’t look likely.

            I just think there’s too much alcohol in English cricket, full stop. At every level. I may sound like a prim female here, but I have personal experience of the damage alcoholism does to families. The recent Spin pointed out that the bar takings are the chief preoccupation for grounds now, and indeed matches are increasingly like pubs with some sport vaguely attached. I’ve been to T20s where men sitting near me haven’t watched a single ball being bowled, they were too busy drinking. What’s the point? Combined with the infantilisation of promising players and the amount of money they have to throw around, I’m afraid we’ll see more Stokeses.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Mark November 2, 2017 / 12:18 pm

            LAWNMOWINGMANIAC…..Thanks, Exactly!

            GBG……”I really don’t think a bad taste in venues is a droppable offence.”

            Yes, but if that venue is much more likely to get you into serious trouble then it could become a droppable offence.

            Stokes is now dropped from the Ashes. If he had gone to a better venue or stayed in and around the team hotel he would now be in Australia.

            It’s a bit like the Premiership footballer that Ollie Holt was trying to defend a few months ago. He was complaining that if he walks through the late night bar areas in Manchester with his wife at 2 am in the morning they gets abuse. Well Durrrr! Who would have thought it?

            I understand there are no guarantees, but you make choices, and in doing so lessen the risk of trouble. I am not a well know sportsman and I make choices about where I go. Nobody would know me from Adam, but I would still avoid dumps that are likely to get you into problems. And with everyone having a camera phone the risk increases.

            I just don’t think players can think they can do whatever the fuck they like, and think that is being professional.

            Like

  7. man in a barrel November 1, 2017 / 9:56 pm

    Wow, granny what great big agendas you have!

    First on the team sheet.
    Defending people.
    The media pick the team.

    Like

  8. SimonH November 1, 2017 / 11:03 pm

    Bayliss –

    ” I have [written Stokes off]. If he turns up it’s an absolute bonus”.

    Regardless of what any of us think should happen, this seems pretty clear on what is likely to happen. Presumably Bayliss has received some sort of briefing that either the police investigation is not going to be completed in a suitable timeframe or that if it is, there’s going to be some sort of ECB disciplinary process that would exclude Stokes. I’ve also been keeping a keen eye out for any journo hinting they think Stokes will feature (not saying they think he should, that’s a different thing) and I haven’t seen anything along those lines.

    I don’t know what I think about it because I’ve plenty of unanswered questions (like how did the police know to go to the houses of these witnesses? I’d also like some pictorial evidence that these witnesses are the two men at the nightclub – although I’m not holding my breath that it’ll ever appear). However I don’t think this should become a “he should be out there now” versus “he should be banned for life” nonsense debate. There are a myriad of positions between those two extremes which is where most people I’ve seen commenting are.

    Finally, has anyone else noticed how the Hales kicking someone on the ground allegation just disappeared? Odd.

    Like

  9. Scrim November 2, 2017 / 6:03 am

    Australian preparations have started with a D/N pink ball round of Sheffield Shield last weekend.

    The were runs for Khawaja and Warner, and not many others likely to feature in the top 7. Still no closer to knowing who will be 6 & 7 in the first test.

    Mitchell Starc ran through SA and took 10 for the match. I watched a bit of that one and he was back to full pace and unplayable at times. Video of his 8 second innings wickets: http://www.cricket.com.au/video/starc-wickets-south-australia-nsw-sheffield-shield-day-three-highlights/2017-10-29

    Steve Smith was all at sea vs Chadd Sayers – top wicket taker last season and best swing bowler in Australia who really flourishes with the pink ball and during the part of the Shield season played with the Duke ball. I’d really love to see him get a go for Australia in a D/N test or over in England next Ashes. He’d also be a great overseas player for any county

    Like

    • SimonH November 2, 2017 / 8:30 am

      Nevill dropped a straightforward chance so a recall looks unlikely. Any thoughts on the best uncapped keeper option?

      It seems to be assumed that Hazlewood is going to be fit for the Gabba (although without much recent match practice presumably). How he and Starc go against England’s LHB openers is going to be an important feature of the series – both bowlers have been noticably better against RHBs in the past.

      A “side strain” for Moeen Ali sounds concerning. Memories of Ashley Giles in 2002/03 and all that.

      Like

      • Scrim November 2, 2017 / 10:42 am

        Alex Carey from SA is the uncapped option. 5 years ago he was playing AFL, before giving that up and returning to cricket. He got his break for SA late in 15/16 and was excellent last season with over 500 runs and over 50 dismissals (the latter thanks largely to Chadd Sayers outswingers). Still pretty raw for a 26 year old considering he stopped playing cricket for a few years, but he’s an excellent, athletic keeper.

        Desperation option would be Handscomb as keeper, but that isn’t a long term option.

        The rest currently playing for their state are rookies. Paine stuck behind Wade for Tasmania. Whiteman was very poor last season and got dropped.

        Nevill would still be my pick. He scored a lot of runs after getting dropped last season, was ok with 20 in difficult conditions in his 1 innings last weekend, and despite a drop is still miles better than Wade with the gloves. However, as stupid as it sounds, Australians see being mouthy and annoying as a virtue for a keeper, and while Wade is an all time great in this category, Nevill has nothing. As a viewer, I’ll miss “nice Gary” if/when it’s gone.

        Hazlewood played grade cricket last weekend, and will play for NSW this weekend and next weekend. Should be good enough before the first test.

        Like

  10. SimonH November 2, 2017 / 11:26 am

    Newman….

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/cricket/article-5040447/England-against-24-million-Australians-Bayliss.html

    “England’s cricketers have written their own code of conduct for the three-month stay in Australia in an attempt to avoid a repeat of the Ben Stokes incident that has cast a dark cloud over the start of this Ashes tour. Only team director Andrew Strauss joined the players in a room at Lord’s last Friday to thrash out the details…”

    Only?

    “Coach Trevor Bayliss is determined to maintain his policy of treating players like adults even though he was badly let down by Stokes and Alex Hales”.

    Letting down poor Trevor is still the bit that really upsets Newman. And from what’s in the public domain up till now, I’m struggling to see what Hales did wrong.

    “England are clearly resigned to being without their talisman throughout this trip as they await the verdict of Avon and Somerset police on whether Stokes will face criminal charges and then for the ECB disciplinary commission’s decision on the punishment. Chances are Stokes will not play this whole winter”

    A pity if this is true – I was quite hoping Stokes would go on the NZ leg of the tour after the shithoise way the ECB have treated NZ this decade. Also, how does all this fit in with next year’s IPL and whether Stokes can go?

    “Bairstow and Moeen Ali will both move up a place to six and seven with Chris Woakes batting at eight and a vacancy at nine ahead of Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson. Newcomer Craig Overton, Jake Ball and Steven Finn are the contenders”.

    Finn really isn’t any sort of contender if the requirement is to bat at No.9.

    Like

    • Mark November 2, 2017 / 11:58 am

      Keeping in mind that the ECB doesn’t leak. Why on earth do they leak this out to the media?

      Why let the “24 million Aussies” know that England players have written their own code of conduct? It’s an invitation for the Aussies to try to break it, and in so doing cause another shit storm.

      You keep that to yourself in house, and then when you win the Ashes you reveal that the players wrote their own code. In addition I am increasingly not sure what the point of an England coach is. It’s quite clear that all the major decisions are made by Strauss. When does Flower jet in with the Lions?

      Still, they all have their excuse ready made now if they lose. They were missing Ben Stokes.

      Like

      • oreston November 2, 2017 / 1:40 pm

        “…and then when you win the Ashes…”

        I admire your optimism! But yes, flagging up this “code of conduct” in the media before a ball has been bowled does rather make them hostages to fortune.
        Perhaps Baylis’s primary role is to manage the rest of the coaching staff? (I’m clutching at straws here…) There’s certainly not much outward sign of his having bestowed a personal vision upon the team. Tempting to say that, in view of one or two of his recent predecessors, perhaps that’s not such a bad thing – but the question nonetheless remains: What DOES he actually do?

        Like

      • Sophie November 2, 2017 / 1:50 pm

        That makes them sound like they are 12-year-olds.

        Meanwhile, Bairstow has been practising the most important thing.

        Although, to be fair, he might not need it much for the time being.

        Like

    • thebogfather November 2, 2017 / 2:14 pm

      Finn must have been getting extra nets in hope of being no.9, as he’s managed to injure himself whilst batting…

      Like

      • thebogfather November 2, 2017 / 2:53 pm

        and Mo’s side strain is obviously caused by a poppy imbalance (Wot? Haven’t The Daily Heil already thought of this?)

        Liked by 1 person

      • northernlight71 November 3, 2017 / 9:06 am

        The rumour is he hit his own knee with the bat while attempting a cover drive. What with destroying stumps on his follow through, one wonders if he has a fundamental co-ordination issue?!

        Like

  11. thebogfather November 2, 2017 / 2:20 pm

    I wonder who has the joy of being Cooky’s roommate? It seems Alastair has managed to save the ECB some dosh by putting forward his erm, ah, erm cunning plan for team bonding… (whoever it is – beware, Cooky will have his shotgun under his pillow in-case any stray deer appear, so don’t wear antlers after the Xmas party!)

    Like

  12. AB November 2, 2017 / 2:39 pm

    I have no problem with players having a few drinks. By and large, the majority of players are able to have an enjoyable night out without getting into any kind of mischief.

    The problem is that it is becoming increasingly apparent that one of our most talented players is a complete fucking psychopath with serious anger management and self-control issues. If he was a dog he would be put down. You can see it from the way he acts on the pitch, and its becoming clear that he is just as much of a mentalist off the pitch. I wouldn’t want a guy like that in my team. Imagine being stuck in a hotel with him on tour for 3 months. The rest of the players must be on permanent tenterhooks. What if you beat him at fifa, would he lose his shit and punch your lights out?

    I’m all for 2nd chances, but received his second chance about 8 chances ago.

    Liked by 2 people

    • AB November 2, 2017 / 2:43 pm

      England’s record with Ben Stokes in the touring party: won 4, lost 12

      Makes you think

      Like

    • LordCanisLupus November 3, 2017 / 9:14 am

      Sport with no/little demand from pay TV get a free to air platform. Given sport on BBC has contracted for 25 years you don’t have to expand much to be the biggest expansion this century.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark November 3, 2017 / 11:00 am

        I grew up in the era of Grandstand and the BBCs golden age of coverage. It was good, and I am glad I lived througn it. They didn’t have the technology they have today, and they were not perfect by any means. But as a way into to a sport, as an educator it was very good. I doubt I would have discovered cricket in the modern age,

        The truth is they had a monopoly. Many of the events were protected even from ITV (their only rival) Normaly monopolies are bad news. However, it did give the BBC a confidence in covering sport. They knew they would not lose the contract so they could cover the sport with a detachmemt that is now sadly lacking in most modern coverage.

        There was no attempt to pretemd that everything was always great. They also hired people from outside sport who where more reporter than pundit. Sure, you brought in experts….. ex players, but you kept some journalistic distance. Now the BBC, and other networks stacks it’s coverage with almost all ex players. They also have to kow tow to the governing bodies. These sports bodies don’t just want the highest bidder….. they also want the broadcaster to “promote” the sport.

        You can’t be both promoter and critic of the same thing. Hence why so much modern coverage will have you belive this is the “best ever.”

        The BBCs ratings for sport on their channels just shows that many people like watching sport……..if it’s free to air. Otherwise they will spend their money elsewhere.

        Liked by 1 person

    • dannycricket November 3, 2017 / 5:53 pm

      In fairness to the ECB (something I rarely say), if he helped Alastair Cook as an opener then that is a pretty strong reference on a coach’s CV. Especially considering England’s issues at that position.

      Like

      • SimonH November 3, 2017 / 7:05 pm

        Nothing against Gary Palmer (who I can remember watching as a player) and it’s not the appointment in itself that I was getting at.

        It’s more about the army of coaches the ECB throw money at – and keeping an eye on how much influence Cook seems to have

        Like

        • dannycricket November 3, 2017 / 7:15 pm

          Just read the 2015 article, it mentions that he also “helped” Nick Compton and another unnamed England player. Maybe I was hasty in suggesting he might be good at his job. Rather than Palmer’s coaching, maybe Cook’s losing the ODI captaincy and focussing on the longer form of the game had the most impact?

          Like

  13. SimonH November 3, 2017 / 9:30 am

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/cricket/article-5045751/England-captain-Joe-Root-fires-Steve-Smith.html

    “a messy aftermath for England, with the axing of Kevin Pietersen and the end of Andy Flower’s era as coach.

    Messy is the new difficult.

    “England’s mantra from the outset is to stick together and play for one another. ‘I think it’s really important the lads have that attitude going into these fixtures,’ the captain added. ‘One of the most important things (is that) within that dressing room… it is going to be a squad effort, we’re going to have to show a lot of character as a group and there can’t be any selfish mentality out in the middle.It’s going to have to be about doing your job within the team, and not worrying about individual performances'”.

    Root truly seems to believe that’s what went wrong last time. Root’s an intelligent guy but they’ve kept him wrapped in the ECB bubble so I doubt he’s ever heard that analysis seriously challenged.

    Like

  14. Mark November 3, 2017 / 10:38 am

    “there can’t be any selfish mentality out in the middle.It’s going to have to be about doing your job within the team, and not worrying about individual performances”

    Ffs

    I am willing to bet that if the majority of the batsman selfishly bat for themselves and their own individual performances England will score a shed load of runs that will go along way to win or secure a draw to retain the Ashes.

    This is the ping pong man disease that infests all modern sports thinking. Everything is about feelings, and bonding, and group think. I remember David Gower saying back in his day he would set a target for himself in an Ashes tour of trying to score about 500 test runs. If he did that his personal series would be a success, and if others followed suit it’s likely the team would have been succesful.

    I guess that’s just regarded as selfish in the new era. Remember when KP set a target of 10,000 runs for himslef, and how the muppets howled how selfish he was? Funny, they didn’t have the same problem with Cook.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. oreston November 3, 2017 / 11:16 am

    I don’t much care whether their motivation is to do it for the team or for their own self respect/ego (delete as appropriate) but we could do with certain members of England’s Swiss cheese-like batting order setting themselves the simplest target of holding up an end and not getting out for an hour or so. Just drop anchor, see off the new ball and break the cycle of ending up at 50/3 every other game. If they haven’t got the temperament and/or technique to do that they shouldn’t be there… assuming there are better options available.

    Like

    • Mark November 3, 2017 / 12:09 pm

      Dropping anchor is not in vogue these days. They hounded Compton out of the team for his slow scoring rate.

      Amusingly One of the best innings this summer was Cooks in the second test against SA when he hung around and grafted his way, and his team to a good score. They praised that, because it was Cook. Everyone else has to play like its 20/20.

      It’s going to get worse with 4 day cricket.

      Like

      • dannycricket November 3, 2017 / 5:46 pm

        I feel like there’s an argument for having a bowler open with Cook, just to block a few overs out. A morning watchman, if you will. They won’t survive any less time than England’s most recent openers and it might just help their shaky top/middle order if they’re facing even slightly fatigued bowlers.

        Like

        • Mark November 3, 2017 / 6:09 pm

          I used to know someone that had a theory that they should reverse the batting line up. The reasoning was that numbers 11 10 9 8 could go and smash the new ball around for an hour or so, and then the batsman could take over.

          Like

    • AB November 3, 2017 / 12:20 pm

      That’s what we did last time, That exact tactic is the reason we lost all 5 tests.

      Look at the stats. We lost 5-0, were completely outscored, yet actually batted for almost as many overs as Australia over the series.

      In every single game, the difference was the same: England never really got any momentum going with the bat at any point. Even if we went for an hour or so without losing a wicket, we never lifted our scoring rate above 3 an over. It was like we were just killing time waiting for Johnson to come back on and knock us over.

      Australia, on the other hand, frequently lost wickets in clumps and only very irregularly put together big partnerships – but even when the bowlers were on top, they always managed to keep the scoreboard ticking over. They often got bowled out just as quickly as England, but had somehow sliced and nudged their way to an extra 80-100 runs, which was often enough of an advantage that a mentally-weak England team with a poor leadership team were effectively already beaten.

      Liked by 1 person

      • oreston November 3, 2017 / 6:07 pm

        You’re right AB, that is what happened last time, but with the level of ability we had in the top order four years ago perhaps it shouldn’t, or at least needn’t, have. KP top scored but was pilloried for taking risks, which says so much about the negative mentality that then prevailed, but I don’t think you can’t really directly compare the team of 2013 with that of 2017 either in terms of personnel or mindset.

        My point was rather that in 2017 we only have two players of proven international class in the top five (it could be three in the unlikely event that they see the sense of promoting Bairstow and giving the gloves to Foakes, and might even have been four if Ballance hadn’t “proven” and then even more convincingly “unproven” himself…) So the likes of Vince, Ballance MK. 2 and Mallan should first and foremost concentrate on survival, allowing Root, hopefully Cook and the lower middle order to play around them, put runs on the board and not have to counter punch desperately in the wake of a collapse. If any of those players can manage to contribute an innings of some duration, let alone substance, it’ll be a step in the right direction for them in developing into the reliable, free flowing Test run machines we all wish they could be.

        Like

        • quebecer November 3, 2017 / 11:48 pm

          In all fairness to Malan this summer, that’s exactly what he did (or rather, did his best to do). Vince is the one I question in this regard, even more than Westley and certainly Ballance.

          I think Stoneman is a different case though. Short left handed opening bats who are strong square of the wicket on the off side can get very good value for there shots in Australia, and while not advocating he go mental, his natural game will suit the conditions.

          Vince not so much.

          Like

          • oreston November 4, 2017 / 12:50 am

            I deliberately didn’t lump Stoneman in with the others. Fingers crossed he’ll do OK this winter. “Dawid” Malan? (Not that it has any bearing on anything except my cantankerousness. but that spelling annoys the living crap out of me.) Well I’m sure he was trying and in fairness he did make a few runs against the (ahem) “mighty” West Indies seam attack, for whatever that counts. Whole different shooting match coming up though.

            Like

          • man in a barrel November 4, 2017 / 10:15 am

            I agree about Dawit. It seems to be an Ethiopian or Eritrean name. Was he adopted by Ethiopians? Do his parents not know about the letter V?

            Like

  16. Zephirine November 3, 2017 / 12:17 pm

    Root is parroting Strauss there. He knows how to make the right noises.

    I don’t like team sports. What I like about cricket is that it isn’t a team sport. it’s a series of individual displays of very different skills and various kinds of one-against-one contests.

    If those individual players are nice guys and relate well to the rest of the gteam, it’s a bonus and makes life inside the team easier – but some great cricket has been played in the past by team members who hated each other.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Benny November 3, 2017 / 9:33 pm

      I like that. I very much enjoy special talents doing special things on a cricket field. Many grounds have boards up recording centuries and 5 fers – individual excellence. Don’t believe any have one for partnerships or being Team Man of the Match.

      Like

  17. thebogfather November 3, 2017 / 3:18 pm

    I can’t wait for the BOC Ashes panel
    Would love to be invited to add my poetic flannel
    To sit amidst such true cricket loving peers
    With or without any ‘Stokesing’ of midnight beers
    I’d be adding blind, no BT just TMS
    Tho’ that’ll include a ShinyToyLoveJoy address
    And no doubt there’ll be MSM idiocy and tweets
    From bitter Selfey to the self-loving indiscreet
    Perhaps twitter will disable ShinyToy like Trump was last night
    For 11 weeks not minutes, it’d be the silent GOAT, a true delight.!..

    Liked by 1 person

  18. SimonH November 3, 2017 / 7:18 pm

    Good point from Atherton that England’s all-format players (Root, Ali, Woakes, Stokes if he goes, YJB probably, Ball possibly) won’t return home until the second week in April.

    Like

    • dannycricket November 3, 2017 / 7:23 pm

      I’ve always like the idea of England players only playing Test or limited overs, and not both. Apart from anything else, I want them to be able to spend around half of their time at home rather than travelling around the country/world. I also advocate playing many more “horses for courses” selections and rotating players, rather than rigidly sticking to the “best” XI.

      Like

  19. SimonH November 3, 2017 / 10:02 pm

    “The top eight players are as good an eight that England have ever taken to Australia. Cook, Root, Ali, Bairstow, Woakes, Anderson, Broad and Stokes”.

    Crikey, it isn’t even better than the last top eight, let alone ever.

    If we’re talking best top eight how about 1958/59: May, Dexter, Cowdrey, Graveney, Evans, Trueman, Statham, Laker. Bailey, Lock and Tyson can’t even get in.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Mark November 3, 2017 / 11:02 pm

        Well he’s going to look a bit of tit then if they lose……

        Because this is certainly nowhere near the best ever Australian team.

        Like

        • man in a barrel November 4, 2017 / 2:47 pm

          There are so many echoes of 58/59. That famous photo of England’s big 5: Tyson, Trueman, Statham, Loader, Bailey. May, Cowdrey and Graveney.

          Who did Australia have? Benaud, Harvey, Davidson and a bunch of youngsters.

          Like

    • dannycricket November 4, 2017 / 12:17 am

      I’d say Root, Bairstow, Broad and maybe Cook are the world class players in the squad, with Anderson being great at home but less so on tour. Woakes is good, but perhaps underused by not getting the new ball and Moeen isn’t really what you’d call a Test-quality spinner. This basically leaves five or six weak areas in the team. Certainly if enough players have an outstanding series then England can win, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

      Like

      • oreston November 4, 2017 / 8:09 am

        Moeen may not be a World class spinner, but in asserting that he isn’t even a Test quality one surely you’d have to say that likewise neither were quite a few other tweakers England have used over the past 40 years? (Swann and to a lesser extent Monty obviously being very much the exceptions). Inconsistent he might be, but if you look at the way his career stats are starting to develop Mo could very easily end up with a better record than (say) a Tuffnell or an Emburey – and I don’t remember them getting the negativity that he does. Seriously, compare his average and wicket haul to date with someone like Ashley Giles and you’ll see he’s not doing so badly. Especially when you consider that prior to 2017 he was bowling for a captain who at times exhibited all the tactical awareness of a fence post.

        Like

        • dannycricket November 4, 2017 / 8:33 am

          I absolutely agree that Moeen is roughly equivalent to Giles, Emburey or Tufnell, and perhaps even better than them as I suspect current pitches might be less conducive to spin. On the world stage though, most teams have better spinners including Australia. That’s what I mean by Test quality. Someone who would be good enough to be possibly selected into any Test team.

          Obviously as an allrounder Moeen justifies his selection (especially with England’s poor batting), but purely as a spinner he wouldn’t get in most Test teams.

          Like

          • oreston November 4, 2017 / 12:21 pm

            Yes, but in their day you could’ve probably said the same thing (that they wouldn’t get into any other Test side on the strength of their bowling) about Emburey, Tuffnell, Giles et al, but nobody did feel the need to say it. Less critical times? That may be part if it, but I also think Moeen has yet to escape the “part time” tag and the perception of being a batsman shoehorned into the role of a makeshift spinner – even though (ironically) he’s as good as many a “specialist” England spinner during our lifetimes while his runs mean he adds immensely more value to the team than the Tuffnells of this World. Or to put it another way, he can’t do right for doing wrong.

            Like

          • dannycricket November 4, 2017 / 2:03 pm

            When I said that without his batting he wouldn’t get in many Test teams, that quite possibly includes England. If he was a number 11 then I don’t think he would be in the current team, even though in the past fairly similar players like Tufnell were.

            I think of the 12 current Test teams around the world, Moeen Ali without his batting ability would get selected by New Zealand, West Indies and Ireland. Of course this is all hypothetical, he is a useful batsman and is rightfully in the team. He’s probably better at batting than at least 2 of England’s top 5. If in the future England discovered a better spinner and 6 batsmen who could reliably average above 40 then Moeen’s position might be in question, but as it is I’d definitely pick him.

            Like

          • oreston November 4, 2017 / 3:37 pm

            We don’t know how different his batting average might be now if he’d been selected as a specialist middle order batsman (it’s not as though there haven’t been, ahem, “vacancies”)over the last two or three years, instead of being shunted up and down the order like a yoyo and having had to concentrate on his bowling so much… Which is all even more hypothetical. He’s had to work pretty hard, and in quite different ways than most, to carve out and sustain an England career thus far. For that I think he deserves a fair amount of credit.

            Liked by 1 person

    • oreston November 4, 2017 / 2:09 pm

      Practice matches aren’t for having some time in the middle, getting used to the conditions, finding rhythm and scoring a few runs to build confidence and prepare for upcoming challenges. They’re for not peaking too early in. Surely everybody knows that.

      Oh, and I love the way the Sainted Alastair was out “for a duck” second ball but the caption for the lead photo is of Root “…batting in his brief innings of just nine.” I dunno… maybe I read too much into these things nowadays.

      Like

      • man in a barrel November 4, 2017 / 7:08 pm

        A couple of double centuries on flat pitches always bolsters your long-term average. Take out those and I imagine the 47 he averages over the last 3 years would reduce somewhat

        Like

        • pktroll (@pktroll) November 5, 2017 / 9:52 am

          In fairness he did have a spurt of form in 2015 when after that somewhat laboured first ton for two years v the Windies he then backed it up with one of his best ever tons v New Zealand at Lord’s and a decent Ashes series and then a fine series v Pakistan. However you can also argue that this period represented a 10 game outlier and that since the start of the South Africa series in late 2015 he averages 41. This is similar to the his average from the start of July 2013 to date and also the first “stage” of his career from debut up until the end of the Pakistan series of 2010. His peak career form started with the Ashes 2010/11 up until the end of the NZ home series in 2013 where he averaged nearly 62.

          So therefore unless he has a real sustained golden spell don’t be surprised if what he actually does over a couple or so years from here in is around the 40-42 mark. Nothing wrong overall of course, but not GOAT by any means.

          Like

      • LordCanisLupus November 4, 2017 / 10:15 pm

        Peak Selfey.

        Pakistan. Check.
        Flower picking. Check.
        Watches county cricket a bit. Check.
        Pet theory. Check.

        Old father Selfs just rolling along.

        Liked by 1 person

        • quebecer November 4, 2017 / 10:24 pm

          I couldn’t help smiling on finding out the guardian had flown out Will MacPherson to Aus.

          Like

        • Mark November 4, 2017 / 11:18 pm

          Jesus Crisp what a piece of self indulgent bullshit. The sense of superior entitlememt just oozes out of evey sentence. It is completely irelevent that you were in the bar of the Pearl Continental hotel in Lahore drinking Murree beer. I couldn’t care less if you were sitting on the bog taking a dump.

          Having informed us of how superior he is by his surroundings…. he then name drops his companions. One of which happens to be Andy Flower. A man Selvey pretented to cover as a journalist when he was England coach in an honest way. He failed miserably then as now.

          He had a theory, and just in case you didn’t get that this article’s only purpose was to be all about Selvey ……he banged it home with a sledge hammer. “Those that know me well will appreciate it’s a rare day when I don’t have one.”

          Those that know you well must be out of their frigging minds. Imagine having to put up with this self satisfied, pompous bore.

          It pleases me greatly that you will not be frequenting any Australian bars, regurgitating you idiotic theories, and boring everybody rigid this winter on some one else’s money.

          Liked by 1 person

        • nonoxcol November 6, 2017 / 8:31 am

          Should I be worried that I identified this writer from the first five words alone…?

          Like

        • Deep Purple Fred November 6, 2017 / 12:56 pm

          That truncated last sentence does leave us hanging a bit.
          “Sometime after, in a random…moment of self awareness, I put it back in my pants?”

          Liked by 2 people

  20. SimonH November 5, 2017 / 10:46 am

    From Newman’s match report –

    “Of the supporting cast by far the most intriguing was the performance of Craig Overton who, almost out of nowhere, has become the favourite to fill the huge hole left in the England side by the absence of Ben Stokes. England will have been impressed by the pace and hostility of Overton, who could bat at No9 at the Gabba”.

    I thought this was what Newman was hinting at a few days ago when he wrote about Broad and Anderson batting at Nos. 10 and 11. Of the three candidates, only Overton is a credibly better batsman than Broad. Every reporter reckons Ball out-bowled Overton but, hey, let’s base the decision on which bowler to pick on their batting…. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Mark Wood play at the Gabba unless he’s on the physio’s couch. Wouldn’t the best solution be for the selfless senior pro to bat at No.9?

    “One bowler more for the future than the first Test is Mason Crane, even if Moeen fails to recover from injury in time for Brisbane”.

    So they’re seriously thinking of playing no spinner in the First Test? What happened to all that brave talk about “yes, we’d pick him in the team…. “? It couldn’t have been bs that crumbles the first time it’s put to the test, could it?

    Like

    • dannycricket November 5, 2017 / 1:11 pm

      If Craig Overton is a better batsman than Broad (ave. 21.04), surely he’s also probably a better batsman than Malan (23.62), Westley (24.12), Jennings (24.50), Duckett (15.71) and Vince (19.27). Why hide him at 9 when he can strengthen England’s batting lineup at 3?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Mark November 5, 2017 / 1:15 pm

      Warne tended to bowl well at Brisbane. Particularly in the second innings. Leg spinners like a bit of bounce, and you get that at Brisbane.

      Now let me think…. do we have a wicket taking leg spinner in English cricket? What’s his name? Oh yes, the one who’s card has been marked. Oh right, we left him behind.

      Like

  21. SimonH November 5, 2017 / 12:54 pm

    “First time ever on a yacht”…

    Like

    • Mark November 5, 2017 / 1:10 pm

      Shinny toy will be telling us it’s really extra shinny any minute now.

      Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH November 5, 2017 / 2:15 pm

        Like

    • oreston November 5, 2017 / 6:28 pm

      You’d think the draft is more important than the cricket itself (and in a way, it actually is).

      Like

      • dannycricket November 5, 2017 / 7:01 pm

        It absolutely is. The entire purpose of T20 leagues like this is to make money, and when it comes to this I don’t think results on the field really make much difference. The whole business model is to stack your team with “stars” (who are often old and past their best) to increase audience numbers both at the ground and on TV.

        Of course the short nature of both the individual games and the competitions and the playoff finals mean that even if there is a superior team in these leagues, they’re by no means guaranteed to win. That, along with the fairly low financial incentives for winning mean it remains a secondary concern.

        Like

        • oreston November 5, 2017 / 8:47 pm

          Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any sign that it’s all a bubble that will over expand and burst sometime soon. The boards, the money men and their complicit cheerleaders in the media have all decided that this is not simply an alternative format but the long term future of the professional game.

          Like

    • thebogfather November 5, 2017 / 7:09 pm

      ‘nail biting p icks’…. I think whoever did the Tory party conference back-board has found fresh employment….

      Liked by 1 person

  22. SimonH November 5, 2017 / 6:58 pm

    Something extremely pretentious by Ed Smith on Pep Guardiola expected within the next 48 hours….

    Like

    • SimonH November 6, 2017 / 9:34 am

      Smith’s latest was written just before yesterday’s game so sadly wel” have to wait a little longer for his Pep-talk:

      https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/sport/2017/11/gain-edge-learning-and-sport-make-revision-harder-exam

      This one contains:

      “professional sport suffers from its own “revision notes” syndrome. There is an over-reliance on repetition, reductiveness and the elimination of risk” and “systems, in other words, should be designed to avoid boredom, not to create control”.

      Any ex-England coach coming to mind as an obvious example? For the zillionth time, Smith – fearless thinker-outside-the-box and teller of inconvenient truths – is not going to go there. Again, it’s not as if there aren’t some good points in what Smith’s saying but the self-regard and selectivity are teeth-grindingly awful. The central idea is at least as old as Bradman hitting a golf-ball with a cricket stump but Smith must present it as if it’s been beamed directly to him from some future-thinker located on the dark side of Uranus.

      Why is Smith avoiding Guardiola? It couldn’t be that Smith wrote last season that Guardiola was too ideological ever to be successful in English football, could it?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark November 6, 2017 / 10:19 am

        “systems, in other words, should be designed to avoid boredom, not to create control”.

        And without clicking the link……does our hero come up with any solutions to these issues? Dose he solve the puzzle he has set for himself?

        Oh for someone who suffered under Smith’s captaincy to write a book about their time in the “Smith gulag.”

        A detailed look at Smiths out of the box theories, and man managerial competence . Now that’s a book I would put on my Christmas list.

        Here’s an excerpt from my imaginary book…….

        “We used to spend a lot of time sitting around in circles asking endless questions. Is the moon made of blue cheese? Is the world flat? Could we decipher how an in coming batsman might play against us by the style of his haircut? It all seemed to be pointless and endless……….When I asked Smith about my own batting technique he said it depended on which village in Ancient Greece I had visited on my holiday.”

        Like

  23. man in a barrel November 5, 2017 / 10:34 pm

    If you take the long view, it is as if cricket is reverting to the era of the Regency bucks, where betting was the point of the sport, and single wicket matches abounded. When all that foundered in bankruptcies, duels etc cricket reaffirmed itself with touring teams of the top pros taking on local sides, which led to the county championship etc

    Like

  24. SimonH November 6, 2017 / 11:22 am

    Starc following career-best figures in his previous game with a hat-trick:

    Like

    • Deep Purple Fred November 6, 2017 / 12:50 pm

      Starc strikes me as a bit one-dimensional. Every ball was fast, in-swinging, and on the base of the stumps. Entirely predictable…

      Liked by 1 person

      • oreston November 6, 2017 / 2:45 pm

        Was that Aussie humour? From where I’m sitting his “predictability” looks like a pretty good problem to have just at the moment.

        Like

          • oreston November 7, 2017 / 7:05 pm

            Maybe he’s peaking too early (or maybe I’m just clutching at straws…)

            Like

          • Deep Purple Fred November 8, 2017 / 8:22 am

            Well, anyone who says they know what’s going to happen is clutching at straws, such is test cricket.
            Steyn was supposed to destroy Australia in their last tour, he bowled badly and quickly got injured (so Philander and Rabada destroyed them instead).

            Liked by 1 person

  25. SimonH November 7, 2017 / 9:35 am

    The ritual England medical bulletin:

    “Finn, who sustained the injury while batting in the nets in Perth last week, was given an injection a couple of days ago but has not made the progress the England management hoped”.

    Tell us more….

    “He had an injection a couple of days ago which they thought would help. So, it’s just a matter of time to let that take effect [and] then make a decision in the next couple of days.”

    Well, that’s illuminating. An injection of what? Puppy love? Are we in the realms of pump them full of cortisone so they can’t feel whatever-it-is, again?

    ” It is understood Mark Wood is still not considered fully fit”.

    In a sense that’s a relief that they don’t sound like they’re going to throw him in. On the other hand, if he’s still not fully fit after about two months off, there must be something still profoundly wrong in his underlying medical condition.

    http://www.espncricinfo.com/story/_/id/21321179/injured-steven-finn-tour-balance

    Meanwhile, cricinfo are also reporting the longest streak of Tests without a draw has just been broken. The previous record was in the 1880s with uncovered pitches and timeless Tests (and they’re cheating a little to take that as the record as a game was rained off in that period). The longest streak before that was also very recently, in 2016-17. The game has been changed under our noses.

    Like

    • pktroll (@pktroll) November 7, 2017 / 9:44 am

      it has now been reported that Finn’s been pulled out of the tour. I wonder if they are going to bring in a replacement such as Plunkett?

      Like

    • northernlight71 November 7, 2017 / 9:54 am

      Is it mean of me to think that England’s chances of doing well in Australia might now improve, with the departure of a bowler who probably wasn’t going to set the world alight anyway? Is it also bad of me to be slightly disappointed that those who made the generic “nice lad whose face fits” selection in the first place won’t now receive as much opprobrium as they might when it inevitably proved as foolish as it truly was?
      That last sentence was an effort at Selvey-ism, by the way. I lost track of the sub-clauses but ploughed on anyway…..

      Liked by 2 people

      • SimonH November 7, 2017 / 10:29 am

        Plunkett bowled a grand total of 43 red-ball overs last season. How can he possibly be selected now?

        Somebody made the decision Plunkett, along with others, is a white-ball specialist. Join the dots and this goes back to the decision to make white-ball cricket our “priority” and the ECB’s obsession with winning the 2019 WC and longer-term plans of pumping up white-ball cricket and downgrading and eventually detroying Test cricket. It was an absolutely crucial moment in cricket’s development that our MSM chums missed because they were spanking themselvs silly that the great St George Andrew had slain once again the evil dragon Kevin.

        Liked by 1 person

        • pktroll (@pktroll) November 7, 2017 / 3:28 pm

          In any case it is Tom Curran who is taking up the spot. I’ve seen a certain amount of him in the last year and would say that he’s definitely a fair bit ahead of where he was just over a year ago. However it strikes me as a “look, listen and learn” pick rather than one who might be ready to come in and play a test or two. Given the general level of optimism it may well be that he plays a test towards the very end of the series…………………..

          Like

        • dannycricket November 7, 2017 / 8:12 pm

          It’s a good point, I think you might be right. Personally, although I much prefer Test cricket to ODI/T20, I would rather England win a World Cup at home than an Ashes series. If asking players like Plunkett to concentrate on limited overs achieves that, I’m all for it. Of course it might screw us over now, and might not pay off in 2 years’ time, but it’s not a ridiculous plan.

          Like

    • Mark November 7, 2017 / 11:36 am

      Don’t worry, you won’t be able to throw a stick without hitting a drawn test match once four day test matches kick off.

      Like

  26. Mark November 7, 2017 / 11:46 am

    Players getting injured, tall fast bowlers breaking down. Players going home, Aussie fast bowler on fire. This is all starting to sound remarkably familiar.

    And what are England doing? Faffing about trying to decide who the vice captain is. As if that was in anyway important. As long as Root stays fit who gives a rats who the vice captain is? As usual England obsessed with rank and the officer class while the poor bloody infantry are falling apart.

    Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH November 7, 2017 / 12:58 pm

        Panesar comes across as by far the most insightful of those they’ve interviewed. He couldn’t get a media or caoching gig anywhere in the UK and is generally regarded as an engaging eccentric.

        Swann comes across as utterly self-serving and is all over the media.

        They don’t give Pietersen any chance to defend himself – although I guess we must be thankful for small mercies that a little criticism of Flower is allowed.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Zephirine November 7, 2017 / 8:15 pm

          “To get the best of Kevin, he has to feel part of the team. He needs to be given responsibilities, some leadership. He doesn’t just want to be a super-talented cricketer who’s left alone. He wants people coming to talk to him about the game.

          “He really enjoys that, and I felt that part was probably taken away from him. He was just there as Kevin Pietersen the cricketer, rather than Kevin Pietersen the human being.”

          Yes, Panesar’s comments are by far the most insightful. That last sentence is extremely interesting.

          It’s so odd how everyone always talks as if Pietersen was never the England captain. He was, and it was taken away from him, and he was put back in the ranks. And then they complain that senior players, presumably including him, didn’t ‘show leadership’. The team had a captain. If Pietersen had tried to take the lead, wouldn’t that have been seen as undermining Cook?

          Pomnishambles indeed, and another on the way if we’re not careful.

          Like

      • Mark November 7, 2017 / 1:06 pm

        Comedy gold……..

        Boyd Rankin, England seamer: “We were doing some surveillance of terrorists. Or they were set up as terrorists.

        “We were split up into groups. Each group had to follow a particular guy round Stafford. It was a bit strange. We seemed to spend a lot of time in cars. We were told to blend in with our environments, so it probably didn’t help that I was 6ft 8in.”

        Graeme Swann, England spinner: “We had to go into pubs and keep tabs on a suspect. I’ll never forget Matt Prior, wearing an England cap with three lions on it and an England jumper, trying to surreptitiously order a pint of water while watching a bloke at the other end of the bar.

        “People were coming up to him – ‘here mate, are you Matt Prior? Can I have your autograph?’

        “It was a shambles. We sat in a Morrisons car park for 15 hours a day in a hire car. I hated every minute of it.”

        Funny people like Selvey never mention this sort of nonsense when he is name dropping about sitting in the lounge bar in Lahore drinking with his mate. Shocking contempt for his readers.

        Like

    • northernlight71 November 7, 2017 / 12:56 pm

      I get the impression Trevor Bayliss isn’t best friends with Joe Root. They disagree on where Root should bat, and I saw an interview today where Bayliss was asked something like “does it really matter if England have a Vice-captain, they managed in the past without one” and he replied along the lines of “well, I couldn’t care less but Joe seems to want one so we’ll pick one in the next day or two…”

      Like

      • SimonH November 7, 2017 / 1:01 pm

        Like

        • Mark November 7, 2017 / 1:08 pm

          So we didn’t need to keep the gormless Cook on as captain for 4 wasted years then?

          Funny you never mentioned that at the time.

          Like

          • man in a barrel November 7, 2017 / 3:22 pm

            Finn was described as having hit his knee with his bat. I’ve done that while practicing and, while it’s painful, it shouldn’t incapacitate you. Now the reports are of a torn cartilage. I can’t envisage doing that with a bat. It lo to me like the age-old standby of the English cricket selector : when in doubt take an injured bowler on tour and hope he gets back in shape. A plan that has never ever worked. Not for Swann, not for Flintoff, nor the countless others back in the 90s.

            Like

    • Mark November 7, 2017 / 5:32 pm

      Which translated into English means if you are the number one player on the team sheet after the captain we will do everything in our power to get you back in the team as soon as possible.

      I’m sure Stokes will learn the important lesson……..Which is…..that he can do whatever he wants and the phycopants at the ECB won’t give a dam.

      However, look out of the window in the wrong way, and they will destroy your career.

      Like

  27. Mark November 7, 2017 / 8:04 pm

    Listening to the 5 live pommieshambles of 2014 on 5 live.

    No wonder the senior management wanted a scape goat afterwards. From the end of the previous series it was a giant clusterfuck of pretty much everything they did.

    Just confirms how right we were at the time on here about the whole shabby business.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark November 8, 2017 / 12:52 pm

      I blame Root for this. He is the captain, and his Yorkshire team mate. It’s not as if he doesn’t know him. If he really wanted him in the team….he would get it. So either Root does not rate him at the moment or he is just doing what he is told.

      Once again we never get an answer as to why a player is discarded. Is it or is not cricket issues? They have bet the farm on this other leggie that Warne recommends. I have never seem him bowl, So I couldn’t comment.

      Like

  28. SimonH November 8, 2017 / 12:12 pm

    Stoneman and Root….

    #pretty60s

    Cook….

    #notpeakingtoosoon

    Like

    • man in a barrel November 8, 2017 / 12:34 pm

      So Selvey has the knife out for Stoneman, who batted longer than Malan, scored more slowly and ended up with 2 fewer runs. Obviously I lack the special insight of the ex pro and the people who know

      Like

      • Mark November 8, 2017 / 12:44 pm

        Malan seems to be his new bestie mate since he went on that Pakistan reinvention tour.

        Perhaps they drank beer together in the lounge bar of the hotel in Lahore? Perhaps Malan patiently listened in silence to all his crack pot theories?

        Like

        • oreston November 8, 2017 / 4:21 pm

          The worrying thing is that this Cricket Australia XI they’re struggling to post a first innings total of 300 against is no more than a bunch of promising youngsters, some of whom are basically limited overs players with little or no prior first class experience. If I were Steve Smith or Boof, and had Starc waiting in the wings (apparently in the form if his life) I wouldn’t be at all worried at this stage.

          Like

      • quebecer November 9, 2017 / 4:16 pm

        Let’s not blame Malan for that though. I quite like Malan. He’s one of those players who’s been through a really bad spell (that lasted ages) and through hard work and determination come out the other side. I’ve a lot of time for that. Selvey isn’t his fault.

        Selvey doesn’t like Stoneman, however. He’s made that very clear. Selvey made his pronouncement on him a while back, saying he’d never succeed at test level because he drives square, defends to mid off, and isn’t Brian Lara. Being his Lordship, he’s not going to let evidence change his mind now, is he? He’ll keep writing in ways to make himself still right.

        Like

    • Mark November 8, 2017 / 12:38 pm

      The jokes write themselves.

      In other news George Dobell seems shocked, shocked!!! ….that the Aussies have prepared a feather bed with puff pastry bowlers for the warm game under lights.

      Ambush is a word that comes to mind. Although this one was telegraphed from 4 years ago.

      Like

    • Sophie November 8, 2017 / 1:01 pm

      Cook’s more aiming at a step function than a bell curve.

      Like

  29. dannycricket November 9, 2017 / 6:47 am

    Another one bites the dust.

    Jake Ball left the field after an apparent strained ankle injury, which would probably rule him out for the first Test at the least. Knowing England’s luck, much longer.

    Like

  30. Scrim November 9, 2017 / 8:46 am

    Good stream with commentary of the CA XI vs England game available here. http://live.cricket.com.au/#/2009/41718/overview

    Tim Paine can’t get a game for Tasmania since Matthew Wade moved back. He really should be one of the challengers for the test wicketkeeper position. Batting nicely on 49*.

    Like

  31. SimonH November 9, 2017 / 12:39 pm

    From Newman’s match report:

    “England had earmarked Ball for a place on this tour last summer when Trevor Bayliss decided he would be well suited to Australian conditions and the early signs in Perth were that his hunch had been spot on”.

    Newman’s bizarre man-crush on Bayliss continues.

    “If the worst happens and another replacement is needed then the same suspects as when Finn ruptured his knee – Wood, Tom Helm and George Garton – will be considered but probably not, surprisingly, Liam Plunkett. Bayliss is believed to want to keep Plunkett as a white-ball specialist”.

    The most Newman can give this beserk decision is a “surprisingly”?

    Like

    • Mark November 9, 2017 / 1:24 pm

      Whatever happened to the notion of having a first team of players that pretty much picked themselves?…….. If England are as good as they keep telling us they are. “Crickets is as good a standard as ever before” ……then you would think they would have a decent settled bowling attack.

      Why do we now have all these crack pot theories about players picked out a year ahead of time for a certain job? Surely if Ball is the best we have then he should have been playing? How much cricket has Crane played? Has anybody on here seen him play? He just seems to have been selected on what Warne said. He may turn out to be a genius selection, but it seems very hit and miss when you have a wicket taking legggie all ready on the shelf. Oh and perhaps there is something wrong with the modern way of just jetting in for a few Micky mouse warm up games and no acclimatisation of the conditions. You know like harder pitches! If players are not used to it perhaps they are going to be more prone to break down.

      And maybe the ECB should ask themselves if they aren’t a wee bit responsible for the dearth of fast bowlers. Seeing as they have destroyed cricket in working class areas of the country. The very places that have produced so many fast bowlers in the past. Oh and the emphasis on bowling dry as a tactic, and not bothering with genuine pace. One of the reasons England got caught out 4 years ago was so few of the modern players. (As good as they have ever been) hadn’t seen any genuine fast bowling before.

      Will history repeat it self?

      Like

      • AB November 9, 2017 / 2:45 pm

        I’ve seen him on the telly bowling in the blast, as I suspect many of us have.
        He was… ok…. action looked a little weak.

        There was a completely mental article on him on TFT where he was hailed as a 100% cert to be better than Warne.

        Like

      • stephenfh November 9, 2017 / 6:16 pm

        Saw him in the Championship at the Oval where he did not make much impression on a draw wicket. In times past there would have been matches in July and August where he might have been expected to get 4 or 5 wickets and win some matches if he was that promising. Looks a prospect in white ball games, as for whether he is ready for the Ashes, who knows, the Australians seem to respect him at least.

        Like

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