The Definition of Madness

So hands up if anyone here thought England were going to chase that 4th innings target down? Anyone at the back? Anyone at all? Nope didn’t think so. Jonathan Liew tweeted that England have been set over 350 to win 15 times in the past (now 16) and haven’t got within 100 of these targets on every occasion, so with a flimsy batting order against the 2nd new ball, this was always going to be make-believe.

Danny & Chris have done a fantastic job of reviewing the last few days of the Test and once again, I am going to try and come in with a different angle around our performances at Adelaide and Brisbane. For me, it seemed a little strange in seeing all the hope and fervor in England’s performance on the evening of Day 3 and throughout Day 4, when we had been comprehensively outplayed at Brisbane and for the first two days at Adelaide. Indeed throughout Twitter and all over my timeline, there were people commenting how this performance would give England confidence in the series moving forward and how we had the Australians rattled and as I read all this, my main emotion was ‘well that’s a load of complete horse crap’. Sure England did play well for a day and a half, but they lost because they played poorly for the first 2 days and you simply can’t afford to do this if you hope to win Test Matches, especially away from home. If we go on to lose 5-0 or even 4-1, no-one at will remember that great bowling display in Australia’s 2nd innings nor will they remember some gritty batting by some of the top order in the face of a good Australian bowling attack (and whilst this isn’t the attack of 2013, it is still a highly effective attack, especially with Pat Cummins bowling as well as he has done over the first 2 games). They’ll simply look at the final score and reflect on another embarrassment and from lessons not being learnt from past tours.

I wrote a piece last week, slating the selectors for the bowling attack that has been selected for this tour and for the neglect that they hold the County Championship in, which has lead to England producing the same sort of bowler 100 times over or for the bods at Loughborough to destroy the confidence of any up and coming quick bowler. As a result, I don’t think that this needs to be reflected on again. My issue instead, is the lack of planning and accountability that has been allowed to fester within the English camp during Bayliss’ and Chuckles the clown’s (Farbrace) reign. It’s almost if unwittingly we have lurched from the complete right, where players had to ask permission to have a piss under Andy Flower (the Lions are lucky enough to have that now) to the complete left, where there is no accountability for the players on and off the field. I made a point about praising England’s 2nd innings performance and I have no doubt that the powers that be and certain parts of the media will be peddling that line until we get to Perth; however why aren’t the coaches and players coming out and telling the truth, that by the time this happened the game was already lost due to our massively below average performance in the first innings. A lack of accountability perhaps?

Instead of patting each other on the back for a decent innings performance, why aren’t the coaches bringing the bowling heat maps to Messer’s Woakes, Anderson & Broad and asking them why they decided not to bowl full in the first innings and that even though they have over 900 Test wickets between them, why does it need a kick up the arse from their coach’s to do something that everyone at home was screaming at them to do. Why aren’t the batting coach’s bawling out the likes of James Vince for playing a wafty, piss-poor shot in the first and second innings that gifted his wicket away. Surely these players might actually learn something if Bayliss was to say that if you bowl/play that shot, you will be dropped from the next game until you learn what the game of Test Cricket is. Then again, why England are picking players that have shown they don’t have the technique (and haven’t changed anything) in the first place, but that’s a different matter entirely. I very doubt however that there were many critical words said in the dressing room this time as there probably hasn’t been for the last 2 years. ‘Oh well bad luck mate, go and play your natural game next time’ even if your natural game is entirely unsuited to the Test arena. On paper there aren’t many too many differences in the make up of each side, though it can be easily argued that Australia has the better bowling attack; however the difference in these 2 Tests is that the Australian bowlers have got their lengths right from the start and that one of their batsmen (Smith in the first Test and bloody Shaun Marsh in the 2nd Test) have assessed the pitch and conditions and changed their technique accordingly to make match winning 100’s. The excuse that I have to play my own game only washes with me if a batsman averages of over 50; otherwise I’m very much of the opinion that ‘your game’ isn’t working in the Test arena. This doesn’t even cover the laughable events that have taken place off the pitch that has confirmed the lack of accountability within the current squad. I certainly don’t mind the players having a drink and unwinding, but when that results in players head-butting each other or breaking other people’s skulls, then surely alarm bells should be ringing? Just imagine if that had been a certain South African born batsman who used to play for England, then I’m sure Director Comma wouldn’t have been so accommodating and willing to sweep things under the carpet.

Australia are without doubt the better side at the moment, but England have shot themselves in the foot once again. As someone far wiser than me said ‘the definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and hoping for a different result’ and that is without doubt what England have continued as their modus operandi. For the poor few souls who believed the rhetoric that 2014 was a new start for the England cricket team, then more fool them.