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.


74 thoughts on “The Definition of Madness

  1. Benny Dec 7, 2017 / 12:55 pm

    Absolutely. I don’t believe our coaches have any management skills. Can you imagine Alex Ferguson or Mourinho sitting quietly through the first half of a match thinking “this is crap but I’ll let them do it their way and have a polite chat at half-time”?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. OscarDaBosca Dec 7, 2017 / 1:01 pm

    Can I put my hand up at half mast?
    Logically I never believed they would, but Sri Grins and I drink from the same cup of ridiculous optimism and I always think they can win from any position (if x does this and y does that)

    However that optimism didn’t extend to me waking up early because some part of me knew they would take a wicket in the first over and that would be that.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sri.Grins Dec 7, 2017 / 3:55 pm

    I thought I had already put both my hands up 🙂


  4. Quebecer Dec 7, 2017 / 4:04 pm

    I only put my hand up because Sri out his up.


    • Sri.Grins Dec 7, 2017 / 4:19 pm

      et tu brute?


      • northernlight71 Dec 7, 2017 / 7:00 pm

        It takes a rugged soul to scrape a living on the Tundra, but I wouldn’t call Quebecer a brute. More a sort of…. grizzly bear?


  5. Sri.Grins Dec 7, 2017 / 4:44 pm

    Frankly, this entire bit about coaches indicates that even English fans think that coaches can achieve miraculous results with grown players who are fairly set in their thought processes and approach.

    Fault the selectors if you wish stating that they should look for people who can suss out conditions and adjust their play accordingly but expecting that the coaches would be able to influence test players significantly is a big ask.

    Also, there is often no need for the coach to publicize any dressing down that is given. For example, Sehwag was caught by his collar and shaken thoroughly by John Wright for throwing away his wicket once. None of the Indian fans even knew about this until a couple of years later when if I remember right Rahul Dravid mentioned this later. Would you have thought Wright would be capable of doing that?

    Why do we need official confirmation from the coaches saying that “yes I called broad or anderson or vince up and cursed like blazes and criticized the way he played”

    Does it not sound very immature?


    • dannycricket Dec 7, 2017 / 5:04 pm

      Cursing and violence isn’t necessary, but accountability and control is. Ultimately the captain is in control on the field, and the coach off it. Both of them should step in when (for example) your main strike bowlers don’t bowl anywhere near the stumps in their first spell.


    • Scrim Dec 7, 2017 / 5:05 pm

      That kind of story would also be more ammo for the Australian press to try and spin something about a “rift” or a “dysfunctional dressing room” or something along those lines.


      • dannycricket Dec 7, 2017 / 5:31 pm

        The truth is that this only works if the dressing room is dysfunctional. Those kind of attacks from the media only hit home if people in the dressing room or management think there’s something in it. So for example, take the Jonny Bairstow stuff that happened in Brisbane. If England’s management was any good they’d have laughed it off, called the Aussie journalists pricks and not investigated a thing. As it is, Strauss came out of the shadows to give a bewildering interview which barely seemed to be in English it was so odd, Bayliss implied that Bairstow was an idiot and instigated a midnight curfew, which in turn genuinely hurts the team. The attack worked, but only because the ECB facilitated it.


        • Pontiac Dec 8, 2017 / 12:34 am

          Exactly. The problems in the England team are not just the players but the rest of it. It wasn’t even a thing until it came over the stump mikes, then journalists did their jobs and it should have just been, well, having a quick word with those who are there and then making a statement that ‘Jonny was just being silly, wicketkeeper you know, and there didn’t seem to be any problems or hard feelings at the time; happy to talk it over if on second thought two weeks later Bancroft felt put upon.’

          If I was Steve Smith I’d be laughing too, at how such a non-event got escalated so much.

          And what are all these things that Matt Prior was hinting darkly about being in the sledges, that they hadn’t come out yet, but that the Aussies were being so so awful. It’s not high school, there are umpires out there, and this kind of thing isn’t helping.


  6. Sean B Dec 7, 2017 / 5:00 pm

    Sri, I get your point and i’m not advocating they should be dressing the players down in public, but when players are doing the same thing over again that is costing the team victories, then i think it’s quite right that there needs to be some harsh words said behind closed doors.

    There just seems to be a nonchalance and acceptance by this England team and management group.


    • Scrim Dec 7, 2017 / 5:13 pm

      Do you assume this nonchalance and acceptance because all those journos with “access” would be hinting at it constantly otherwise?

      It’s equally likely that there has been some recriminations, but they are keeping things calm on the exterior. They also have the ability to shut the journos up temporarily at least, as we learnt from Stokes being out late drinking during the South Africa series.

      I’d also recommend listen of the TMS podcast from end of play. Agnew makes it quite clear that Root was far less diplomatic about Anderson and Broad’s first innings lengths off mic, than he was in the actual interview.


      • Sean B Dec 7, 2017 / 5:28 pm

        I don’t really read any of the journo’s unless it’s for comedy value these days. I don’t have inside access to the dressing room, but equally I have been dropped the odd nugget of information relating to this.

        It might well be that Root has been firm in the dressing room, but equally i don’t see it coming from any of the coaches.


        • Benny Dec 7, 2017 / 7:10 pm

          I’d be interested to know what happens in the dressing room (I’m nosy) but it ain’t gonna happen and I’ll survive. However, I do believe that, if Bayliss was eager to win, he’d have sent someone out to the middle after the first 10 minutes with a banana or handkerchief and the message “get those idiots to pitch it up”

          Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH Dec 7, 2017 / 5:33 pm

        Doesn’t the team for the Cricket Australia XI match fit in with what Sean is saying about “nonchalence and acceptance”? Why is nobody from the Test team except Moeen Ali playing? I can see the bowlers need a rest but shouldn’t all the batsmen except Root be playing?

        I suspect part of what’s going on is an overreaction to the mood hoovering of 2013/14. Typically of England, they’re sticking to a pre-conceived strategy (take the pressure off) and not responding to what’s in front of them (some players need a boot up the backside).

        The case of Farbrace is a curious one. Is he actually out there? I haven’t seen one picture of him or one interview. One might almost think he’s being kept at a distance from the calamity so he can carry on (or even step in) with no questions asked.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Sean B Dec 7, 2017 / 8:31 pm

          Interesting point re: Chuckles. Normally he is all over media duties.

          Can’t but help thinking you’re completely right about this Simon.


  7. Mark Dec 7, 2017 / 5:30 pm

    Broad and Anderson are untouchable. They have over 900 wickets between them.They do what the frig they want. Look at the back up bowlers to see why. There is no competition for places. Same with Cook. We have been looking for a partner for him since Strauss retired. If we can’t find him another opener he is no danger of getting dropped.

    Too many of our batsman got out to poor shots. Even when they get in they can only bat for about an hour or so and then they just give it away. Playing Across the line, wafting outside off stump. It’s what you expect in an age of endless 20/20, and poor quality 4 day cricket.

    But in two,years time they will serve up some green seamers and we will win the Ashes back. “REDEMPTION FOR ROOT” Nasser will scream!

    As to the Bairstow incident put your self in the seat of England managment back at ECB twin towers. They remind the players of their responsibilities after Bristol, and the players hold their own code of conduct meeting, they then fly off to Aus coming in through Perth not Sydney or Melbourme. On the first night they go out for a drink and this happens.

    Imagine taking the phone call back in London…….”Hello, ECB Towers…..Oh hello how’s it going? The players went out for a drink on the first night? Good! There’s a problem? What problem? Johnnyand gone and head butted someone? Who? An Aussie batsman!!”

    Remember the scene in Faulty towers when Basil says “Maybe it’s all a dream?”…..And then bangs his head on the desk and says……” no, we’re stuck with it!”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Mark Dec 7, 2017 / 5:40 pm

    Mason Sidney Crane. Cracking selection what?

    Is an Ashes tour a place to see if he fits in? Have they picked him just for Sydney? Or to put balls into the bowling machine?


    • SimonH Dec 7, 2017 / 6:04 pm

      Ah, the myth of Sydney. Lyon averages over 50 there, spin averages 54.5 a wicket there this decade versus 41.6 for seamers and last time England played there it seamed all over the place.

      The English press still seem to think it’s going to be somewhere between Mumbai and Dhaka. In fact, the only grounds that have been worse for spinners this decade are the MCG, TB and Centurion (min 3 matches).

      Liked by 1 person

    • oreston Dec 7, 2017 / 7:23 pm

      Rumour is he only got on the tour ‘cos he’s a Mason…


        • oreston Dec 7, 2017 / 7:46 pm

          Yeah, I know. I appalled even myself with that one.


          • OscarDaBosca Dec 7, 2017 / 8:21 pm

            Nope that was brilliant and something else I shall steal to keep up my (in my head only) offline reputation as a raconteur and wit.

            I will use it on my niece at Christmas and she will laugh, because she loves a good pun!

            Liked by 1 person

  9. Neil Dec 7, 2017 / 8:28 pm

    Has anyone watched the ashes verdict on Sky (rather than pretend it’s not happening they are putting out the odd show) Nasser is back, he was raging today ( think it was a repeat of a repeat made shortly after the finish) incisive comment and picking on England’s faults. Not the fan boy he has become in the commentary box. Good to see.


    • Sean B Dec 7, 2017 / 8:34 pm

      Nasser is without doubt an extremely talented commentator and has a real feel for the game which makes me even more sad when he utters such pointless platitudes on Sky and writes such poor articles for the Daily Fail.


  10. metatone Dec 7, 2017 / 8:33 pm

    Sometimes I’m too much of a JG fan, but this is a decent piece. You can feel the raised eyebrow from a former Test bowler about where Broad and Anderson were pitching.

    Really I’d say you don’t coach players of that stature, you provide them the environment to do the right thing. But when they so consistently don’t, questions need to be asked. As for the batting, well… 2 things…

    1) One thing Flower did right first time around was demand a proper lead in to the tour. Gave the batsmen plenty of opportunity to get a feel for Aussie pitches. Every time since then, we haven’t and the results speak for themselves.

    2) Showing my age and harking to 2005, Fletcher did 2 very important things. One, he some how got a ball rolled under McGrath’s ankle… 😉 Two, he said “no batsman is going out there, from 1-11 without some plan of how to bat against Warne.” I’m just appalled at how good we’re making Lyon look. Don’t get me wrong, he’s become a very good bowler – and DRS can make the offspinner more than ever before (as Swann showed)… and yet… and yet… Lyon isn’t Warne… you can make a plan for him and the failure to do so is just infuriating…

    Liked by 2 people

    • OscarDaBosca Dec 7, 2017 / 9:57 pm

      Duncan Fletcher was the epitome of a perfect coach. Said nothing to the media (because he didn’t trust them), actually improved players by coaching them (I know right – as the kids say), and had the best record ever of an England coach.
      One bad tour (partly due to an odd decision over captaincy and unfortunate and untimely injuries) and the hacks had their knives out (because he never talked to them and gave them no ‘exclusives’)
      If he would return I would have Fletcher back in a heartbeat, he wouldn’t put up with Anderson and Broads nonsense, and he would definitely have a plan for Lyon (forward press)

      Bring back Fletcher!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • nonoxcol Dec 8, 2017 / 2:34 am

        But Flower is indisputably England’s best ever coach. Andy Bull said so.

        I love my stat about their virtually identical W-L-D records like Father Jack loved his brick.


        • Amit Dec 8, 2017 / 6:21 am

          As a batsman, he was truly world class, albeit in a struggling team. As a coach, he may have been rigorous and with more discipline focus but he was never a true tactician. Failure to develop bench strength and presiding over such a fractured dressing room will remain a blot.

          My hypothesis is that that the English media has loved Flower since he put on the black armband and gave up playing international cricket. I won’t say it was not brave – it was. However, at 35 years, he was closer to the end of his international career. I continue to think Henry Olonga risked and lost a lot more.

          That act seems to have colored people’s views as they can’t seem to decide how to criticize him. While a lot of us have felt strongly for his role in the KP saga, and felt that his integrity should’ve been questioned as much as his failures as a coach, the mainstream media just couldn’t bring themselves to do it.

          Liked by 2 people

    • Pontiac Dec 8, 2017 / 12:48 am

      The closing thing about never having too many Marshes in an Australian XI was stiletto sharp.


      • SimonH Dec 8, 2017 / 9:22 am

        In all the ridicule about Mitch Marsh’s selection, I haven’t seen many mentions that he did just score 140-odd in a Shield match (and 95 in the match before that). Australia could use a fifth bowling option and although I’d prefer Maxwell I can that Marsh makes some sense.

        Nice too to see that Renshaw has made a fifty after nine consecutive innings below twenty. Nobody likes to see a good young player have such a horrendous trot.


  11. quebecer Dec 7, 2017 / 9:25 pm

    I had been putting together a very well thought out ‘it’s systemic’ post with many relevant point that we all know already. But over at The Full Toss, that’s been done. So, in the interests of trying to add to the conversation, I’ve decided instead to stick to purely selectoral issues, as much as anything because this is something that is in our immediate control.
    Before that, a few lessons from history seem appropriate. Firstly, if you look at our successful teams since 200, it’s clear that they were made up of individuals who had different paths to the team, for different places, and had come there in different ways. I would suggest this is the strength of England; when at our best, this is what we do. Whether you look at the 2004 or 2010 vintage, these were teams of individuals for different places who had arrived in different ways. You could be plucked from any county, very young, not so young, or emigrated at 19. Today this doesn’t happen. Instead, there is the England Pathway (The Vincian Way) where you get in the system, remain in it, and are the next in line when the time comes. These are the results of that (remembering that Stoneman was the last possible choice after all other options had failed choice).

    The second thing to remember was something Imran said about Pakistan’s success against the mighty West Indian teams: pick four openers.

    So, firstly, Robson should have been in the squad, possibly playing at #3.
    Secondly, Sam Northeast should be in, as the better player out him, Vince, Malan, and Westley.
    Thirdly, Hales should have been identified as the #5 at he beginning of last summer and allowed to bed in. He’s so much further along in learning to be a test player than Malan (which shows in Malan being unable to score well even if occupying the crease). This is a huge deal, as it always takes English batsmen time to learn test cricket, and to have three real novices as we do is a terrible weakness.
    The fourth one requires hindsight. After the series in South Africa, Bairstow should have had the gloves taken away and told he was a test match batsman and that every effort needed to be put in to that. Foakes was good enough then too.
    Next up, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Jack Leach is the best spinner in England by a long way and should be playing. Now. Adil Rashid should also have been included, as he is actually selectable, good with the tail, and can bat.
    Lastly (and Dmitri put this out there a while back), Stokes should be playing. If he’s playing in NZ, and keeping in mind innocent until prove etc., and if the law allows it and can’t give a timeline on resolution, then he should be selected.

    Interested to know what people think about any of this.


    • Sean B Dec 7, 2017 / 9:34 pm

      There’s not a lot to disagree with there Quebecer. I’m very much in agreement with Robson & Northeast. Slightly torn by the YJB point, but I can very much see both views on this one.

      I also got round to reading the TFT article, which was good, but will be nothing compared to us if we do lose 5-0. I would imagine all 4 of us will be off our long run. We’re just biding our time 🙂


      • Quebecer Dec 7, 2017 / 10:11 pm

        TFT was’t tell g us anything new, of course, but what interested me was that it was exactly what paid journos should have been writing.

        But as for you lot, yes hold on, hold on. It’s like up on the tundra you don’t put your winter coat on in October, no matter how cold it is.

        P.S. re YJB. I could see both sides when the division was originally made, but the hindsight thing is telling us that his batting is dropping off too much. It’s not just that he’s batting with the tail; rather, it’s that he’s really not batting as well s he was.

        Liked by 2 people

        • LordCanisLupus Dec 7, 2017 / 10:20 pm

          Personally I wouldn’t, and didn’t, fire that shot now. Where do you have to go afterwards? Also, I have no plans for anything. Yet.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Sri. Grins Dec 8, 2017 / 1:04 am

          Glad to see you still hope and waiting for the next test. 😀


        • Sri. Grins Dec 8, 2017 / 1:40 am

          As your coach on optimism, I take the blame both for a) scenario where you become pessimistic about English chances and/or b) scenario where you are optimistic but England does not do well.
          Now I look forward to more optimism about Perth.

          As far as the cricket Australia match is concerned, I would not bother too much about practice. Oz is unlikely to give you a side that will help England but it will be probably more like the pitches and teams they served up initially.
          If the aussies have named a truly competitive side, I am pleasantly surprised.


          • quebecer Dec 8, 2017 / 2:41 am

            Coach, is it OK to concentrate my optimism on a weather effected draw instead of an actual win?

            By the way, I think maybe the WACA might be OK for the techniques of Stoneman and Malan (although Malan needs to let the dogs out a little in terms of his stroke play).


          • Sri. Grins Dec 8, 2017 / 3:01 am

            Perfect Q. Any thinking that dies not assume England lose the ashes at Perth is good optimistic thinking as long as you believe in it.
            Does it matter whether it rains or the pitch is dug up by the anti-marshes fan Brigade 😀


          • quebecer Dec 8, 2017 / 3:41 am

            Well, I just looked up the rain fall stats for Perth, WA and found that in the past 2 years they’ve got a whopping average of 111.6 in the month of December. It’s not clear what the unit of measurement is, but i think we can presume inches, what with the Queen being the Head of State and everything. So very promising indeed.


          • quebecer Dec 8, 2017 / 3:44 am

            No, wait, it’s millimetres, not inches. That’s disappointing. Still, if it comes all at once, eh? 111.6 is still enough.


          • quebecer Dec 8, 2017 / 3:49 am

            Oh. No. I got it wrong. Those are the stats are for May. In May it’s 111.6. In December it’s 7.6.

            It’s a bloody desert, Coach.


          • Sherwick Dec 8, 2017 / 8:02 am

            Q, given that you got both the unit or measurement and the month wrong, are you sure you’re talking about rain here and not, for example, the average radius of a Christmas pudding?


    • OscarDaBosca Dec 7, 2017 / 10:10 pm

      Having missed a lot of cricket for 2 years due to a complete lack of interest (thanks ECB, Andy, Alistair, and Andrew) I can’t really comment on some of the individuals.

      However Adil and Hales should definitely be in the squad if not the side, particularly as Adil is a frontline spinner with a good record in Australia (admittedly big bash, but experience is always a good thing). Stokes has not been charged and so should be playing.

      Not sure about Bairstow, Jason Gillespie thinks his confidence would suffer if he lost the gloves, he should however definitely be up the order.

      However your main point about the route to the England team is correct, moving to a new country at 19 is a tough thing to do, making that your home country and qualifying shows gumption and spirit.
      Tres was picked by England’s greatest coach because he knew he had what it took, same with Shiny Toy.
      Whereas now the all seem to be products of the same conveyor belt, and none of them seem to be able to construct an innings.

      As an aside my dislike of Alistair aside, one of his key skills was coping comfortably with spin, he seems to have no idea with Lyon who is an orthodox off-spinner, I wonder if someone more skilled than I in analysing technique (I am asking you TLG) could pinpoint what is up?

      Liked by 1 person

      • LordCanisLupus Dec 7, 2017 / 10:22 pm

        A pleasure to have you (and all others) back. Love most of the comments and glad we seem to be providing the basis for talking points. We are enjoying it!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sean B Dec 7, 2017 / 10:40 pm

        Hi Oscar, I’ve just asked a fellow Twitter Cricket fan, who also happens to be a coach in his spare time and he replied:

        Do give @pgpchappers a follow


        • Sri. Grins Dec 8, 2017 / 3:03 am

          My take on cook’s dismissal caught is that he appears to be stretching too far out. Playing forward is fine but the picture seems to show too big a stride which would hardly help in balance or controlling the bat.


        • OscarDaBosca Dec 8, 2017 / 7:20 am

          Ooh, thanks Sean, I will follow him.

          LCL – I have kept reading, I just stopped commenting because I stopped watching and listening, and so I didn’t feel I had much to say (and your increased writing base speaks so eloquently on this blog)


          • LordCanisLupus Dec 8, 2017 / 8:02 am

            Comments are the fresh cream cakes of my world. They may be bad for me but they are usually bloody good. No. I haven’t started drinking…. Yet.

            Plus. First 2017 Dmitri up soon.


        • SimonH Dec 8, 2017 / 9:55 am

          Lyon has caused Cook trouble before – I seem to remember the two times in 2013/14 Cook looked like he might be back to his best (as opposed to “back to his best”) it was Lyon who dismissed him. Lyon has got Cook 7 times in Tests which makes him Lyon’s equal top victim with…. Pujara (a bit surprised by that as he’s a RHB and fine player of spin).

          Lyon came into the series full of confidence after a great tour of Bangladesh and has just played at his two favourite grounds. His record at the grounds coming up is not so good (he averages over 50 at Perth and the SCG). Let’s see what happens.

          I can’t say I’m too impressed by Chapman’s explanations. They seem to me another example of the English media taking standard Test match cricket and making it sound like Mission Impossible when applying it to Cook. Doesn’t every opener have to adjust from pace to spin? Don’t they all want to do well? This is a very good Australian attack, but it wouldn’t have stood out in the 1990s as anything exceptional. Cook’s only facing what Atherton and Stewart had to face virtually every series.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Amit Dec 8, 2017 / 6:03 am

        Can we just ask Bairstow to up his fitness levels and bat in the top order even if he wants to keep wickets? Sangakara did that for a reasonable length of time even if his batting went up tremendously after he gave up keeping.


    • Sri. Grins Dec 8, 2017 / 1:02 am

      Q, nice post ☺. Don’t agree with you reading stokes. A guy who is not able to control his inclinations should be given some punishment.


      • quebecer Dec 8, 2017 / 1:46 am

        In all honesty Sri, I can see about four different sides to the Stokes issue, and find myself both agreeing and disagreeing with all of them.


    • Amit Dec 8, 2017 / 6:05 am

      Get some white ball specialists in this middle order. The ball doesn’t do much and if nothing else, we will be entertained by some runs. Right now they are neither staying long nor scoring fast.


  12. LordCanisLupus Dec 7, 2017 / 11:27 pm

    Who was it asking about Ollie’s Hollies earlier?

    He’s in Perth.

    I will do my Perth memories nearer the time, but it might be a lovely walk to the ground, but it is the least decent “customer experience” in Australian Ashes test venues. Not that Ollie would give a stuff.


  13. Deep Purple Fred Dec 7, 2017 / 11:54 pm

    I haven’t said anything since day 4 of the last test. Respecting private grief and all that. Maybe it’s safe to venture back now.

    While it’s true there has been an element of underperformance, it’s also true England turned up with a bunch of rookies, a part time spinner, and with Cook in a run of bad form/a busted flush. They’re not so much underperforming, as performing as many do when thrown in the deep end. But for all the selection angst, what else could they do? Plenty would argue that they chose the best 11, or close to it. Only Stokes was beyond selectorial control (assuming you accept he shouldn’t be considered when under a cloud. But in fact why is he now named in the one day squad, since nothing else has changed? ODI squads have different standards? Players who don’t come from the right type of family are acceptable in coloured kit?)

    So you have to go back further, why is this the best England can do, for what is probably its marquee test series (without wanting to devalue other teams)? Because the system feeding your team is underperforming. So the finger points to county cricket, and your academy. And so then to the ECB.

    None of this is news to anyone here, but it does mean you should go easy on the newbies. Everyone was saying Vince nicks off when driving recklessly, no surprise he did in fact do that. Lots of players get found out once they’ve played a few tests, he was found out before the plane landed. I know Quebecer will say he’s dim if he doesn’t learn, and that’s true, but it takes time.

    No excuse for underperformance and stupid mistakes like bowling short, other than they’re perhaps not the bowlers people think they are. I remember someone calling Anderson the “smartest bowler in the world” when he was looking for a superlative to get away with (might have been Saker or Flower). Well, on this evidence, he doesn’t seem very smart to me. He’s got all the tools, and the experience, but still can’t work it out.

    Anyway, empathetic commiserations to everyone here for day 5 in Adelaide. But now I’ll stick on my corked Akubra and go look up replays of Woakes and Root falling before the frost had evaporated off the grass, the moments when the ashes changed hands.


    • quebecer Dec 8, 2017 / 1:53 am

      “No excuse for underperformance and stupid mistakes”

      Exactly – and no room for them either. If you look at how the South Africans performed last year, that’s exactly why they won. They lucked in to good conditions for themselves in the first two tests, but by performing as well as they could and avoiding mistakes, they won well. They didn’t really do to much that was special, either. Just solid team performances with a couple of good knocks from their better batsmen.

      And, of course, it’s precisely that we arm’y doing this and instead go the underperform/stupid mistakes route that grinds my gears so much.

      Congrats to you though, Fred, and you know I mean it.

      P.S. And I’m actually very happy for Shaun Marsh. Good for him.


      • Deep Purple Fred Dec 8, 2017 / 2:20 am

        Yeah, I’ve been saying for ages Marsh has what it takes, glad the selectors finally listened to me.

        Do you think this lot would beat Australia if the third test was at Trent Bridge?


        • quebecer Dec 8, 2017 / 2:27 am

          Quite possibly. It would be a real slugfest to see who scored the least amount of runs.


          • Deep Purple Fred Dec 8, 2017 / 2:42 am

            A race to the bottom:)
            So you don’t think they are just struggling under unaccustomed conditions, you think they’d perform almost as badly at home. Even in their own backyard. Against an Australian team that is basically just competent, batting-wise at least. Pretty damning.


  14. Quebecer Dec 8, 2017 / 12:10 am

    He’s dim if he doesn’t learn.


  15. veturisarma Dec 8, 2017 / 2:38 am

    I thought Root would do it. Bairstow, Ali and Woakes. I backed them to get 178.


  16. Sri.Grins Dec 8, 2017 / 4:03 am

    Thus far, we have 4.5 hands (2 SG, 0.5 Oscar, 1 VS and 1 Q albeit under undue influence :-D)


    • quebecer Dec 8, 2017 / 4:28 am

      On the subject of units of measurement, we only need 2.5 more hands for a standard Shetland Pony.


  17. Amit Dec 8, 2017 / 6:00 am

    Let me start by saying that I haven’t been on the forum for a while now but it has been always been close to heart for cricket conversations. The passion of all participants here sustains my own. The discussions remain as engaging as ever.

    I managed to watch a few days of both the games (being in Singapore helps) and one thing clearly stands out – True pace can scare batsmen and England don’t have enough to dish out chin music. That will remain an issue simply because Aussie tail has managed to get runs in difficult situations while England have struggled.

    The batting has been spineless to put it mildly. No gumption for a collective fight. Why the team chose an important series to bed new players will remain a curious decision from selectors, no matter their domestic form or skill in England. However, this is not new. In last few years, the lower order trio of Bairstow, Mo and Stokes have done well when called upon. That hasn’t happened here.

    While Mo has chosen a bad time to hit a rough patch, the team composition has obviously suffered because of the absence of a key player in Stokes. But, he wouldn’t be adding to the pace department massively even if he was going to potentially shore up the lower order with batting. England’s bowling woes run deeper as people have pointed out.

    I can understand the X factor associated with him and the fact that his presence might have done the team some good. However, under the circumstances, i think he deserves a longer break from the game. Not being a part of the ashes has got to hurt him and it needs to make him want to come back. It should not be easy however ridiculously talented he might be. That will do him a lot of good on the long term basis.

    If he were in Australia and playing in the ashes (as suggested by a few – not guilty till proven etc..), the situation would’ve been ripe for combustion with everyone on field targeting him. So far, he hasn’t proven he can keep his emotions in check. Any misbehavior on the field would’ve cost him even more. ECB should not have allowed him to go to NZ till he sorts himself out.


    • OscarDaBosca Dec 8, 2017 / 7:36 am

      Hi Amit,

      I think you’re right regarding Stokes being targeted if he had played, but as Fred points out above he appears to be in the ODI squad.
      It is classic Director,Cricket hypocrisy.

      If they had said we won’t be picking up for a while because his behaviour (regardless of whether he is charged) is unacceptable, and banned him for a fixed period, I don’t think anyone would have demurred. The problem is they originally hid behind the ‘waiting for the police to finish their enquiries’ as if an ECB disciplinary action will have any affect on this decision or in a trial, and now with a decision still pending they have picked him for the ODI squad.

      Still the actions of someone who thinks it’s acceptable to call someone the ‘c’ word on tv (I don’t care if he thought he was off-mic he was near enough for it to be a dangerous move), and yet almost in the same breathe run off to his friends in the mail and complain about losing his place in the side because someone had texted the Afrikaans equivalent about him (allegedly m’lord), is not someone to be trusted and shouldn’t be in charge of the ECB


      • Amit Dec 8, 2017 / 8:31 am

        None of us here feel any different about the hypocrisy we’ve seen. KP got it right a few days ago that making the right decision on Stokes will be important for Strauss. However, this should not just be a Strauss decision.
        I would love to know what Root thinks of all this. He should have a decisive vote and not just because he is secure in his role and position in the team as its best batsman, skipper and strong public appeal. Cook had none of it going for him at the time (except as a “potential” English great) and certainly played an instrumental role in the KP issue.

        But, if we’ve learnt anything in the last few years, it is that different folks are treated differently. I could consider this a learning from the sordid drama played out in open over last 4 years or just my cynicism for those in power without adequate accountability.


  18. SimonH Dec 8, 2017 / 10:32 am

    Wigmore on the latest in match-fixing:


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