What Will You Do When Your Systems Fail? – Day 3 at Perth


There comes a time in a person’s life when you really have to make the decision about a series like this. Is it actually worth sacrificing anything to invest your heart in it? I had a Christmas do yesterday, and came home well oiled, without having hit anyone or poured a drink over someone (although I did have a beer with an MP, so maybe that’s as bad a sin). I wasn’t feeling very festive during the middle of the night, so sleep was always going to win the day, but there were days when I might have stayed up to watch.

As I also sleep quite lightly I wake up and look at the phone. For most of the day the figure on the right was 4. The number 4. All night long.

All morning long.

Until the end of play long.

I made the correct choice.

On our WhatsApp group this morning there was a strong desire for me to do a “Dmitri” on it. What’s the bloody point? What’s the point of investing any more of my heart and soul into a team that looks to be absolutely cooked? We’ve been rubbish in the past, beaten by an all-time great team on many occasions at Perth, but there’s been a spark of a fight in the field. This was the test match you could watch with your breakfast and listen to on the way to work. I’ve not switched on the TV or bothered to listen on the way in. Malan may have given us some enthusiasm, the joy of the first hundred, but since then we’ve had very little to cheer.

The day ended with Australia 549 for 4. The suspicion now is if England make 400, it is a 650 wicket. The suspicion is if England don’t have any movement off the pitch or in the air, they are absolutely stuffed. The suspicion is that they are told this so much they believe it. While Steve Smith is always capable of a double hundred, and so we should expect this on flat wickets where it is brutally hard to get top players out, but Mitchell Marsh is sitting there with 181 not out. 181.

I thought Chennai was bad. I thought letting a jobbing pro like Karun Nair make a test triple hundred was embarrassing. But that series was dead. It was 3-0 and we were about to fly home. Anderson missed the match. The captain was in the dying embers of his career. You could almost understand why the team was bereft. Today the series was still, in theory, alive. We could still win this test with a really good session or two, and although not likely, we might stay in the series going in to Melbourne. But no, Mitchell Marsh is sitting on the brink of a double, Smith could well make a triple here, and Chuckles comes out with the rubbish he does at the end? Mark Waugh played 128 test matches and never made more than 153. Steve Waugh played 168 tests, 89 of them at home, and his highest score in his home country was 170. The standard of play is dropping, you can see it before your eyes. We don’t live in a vintage time for test cricket and jobbing pros are making historic scores against England. It’s all the more frustrating that we’ve kept Warner in check just to let a couple of Marshes take us to the cleaners.

I’m obsessed by that Karun Nair triple century. It’s chastening watching your team cough up 700 plus, and they might be looking at that again. It’s even more chastening watching average players do it to you. It gives off distress signals. It intimates that you are intimidated. You have sub-consciously given up. That the end is nigh. I’ve heard the words “body language” too much today. Body language doesn’t take wickets. Ability and a bit of luck does.

As I type this I have Smith getting to 200 on the highlights. He’s an assassin. He will not only put his foot on your throat, he’ll stamp on you. He’s ruthless. We get a player like that and we apologise for it? Alastair Cook, sadly, is the poster child. You ever see him give it like Smith did when he got to 200? You know how we apologise for the 3-0 win in 2013 as if benefiting from the weather in a couple of games, and winning the close ones was something we should be ashamed of?

We’re forced to listen to commentators who hyped up the series, even tongue in cheek saying will Aussie be able to give us a game when they had a wobble against South Africa last year, now telling me this is inevitable. How Mark Wood might have been the answer here so why didn’t we give him a go? How the fielders weren’t into it. Jesus. What have you been doing to help the situation Shiny Toy? Bottling an application to put your money where your mouth is? You might get a chance if Andrew Strauss is held accountable (and given the news about his wife, which I’d wish on absolutely no-one, it’s not time to go into that aspect) and a vacancy arises. Will you stand up or is it too cosy being the annoying voice of venality on BT Sport and every other media outlet that gives you the oxygen of publicity?

We suspected Cook is past it. Nothing to change our minds. No-one was saying that pre-series. We were worried about the middle order fragility, and that’s not exactly been assuaged just because Malan made a good pitch hundred. We all gasped at Vince, but were told he had the game for Australia. One nice 80 and the rest is the same old same old. We pointed out that Anderson and Broad might not have the legs for this series, and one purple spell when the game was more or less dead in favourable conditions doesn’t change that. We worried about Ali taking wickets. We worried that this fragile team doesn’t make enough runs. And all I hear is “we don’t have extreme pace or mystery spin”. It’s like Southeastern trains blaming broken down trains for the delays – it’s your problem, fix it.

There will be a lot more, a lot more to come on this. But let’s see this test match out. England will have to bat for 4 and a bit sessions if Australia score another couple of hundred runs to try to not have to bat again. Then we’ll be in the realms of batting out time which we’ve shown plenty of aptitude for in recent times. On roads we collapse under pressure. We are the most mentally fragile team I have seen wear England colours for many years. We are up against a decent foe, but not all time great by any manner of means. There is no excuse for not putting up a decent fist of the second innings.

Which brings me back to the start of the piece. We need something to make us invest our heart and soul in this team. Maxie may well not be able to forgive and forget, but part of me wants to. It’s not bandwagon hopping for a winning team. It’s for someone to do something that makes me think this is worth it. That blogging about this lot is something I should invest my time in at a point in my life when time is something I am short of. I might have got past anger, which at least meant I cared, to resignation that we pay a lot of money to watch this absolute shambles and no-one seems to want to do anything about it. I love Ramps, but how can you justify extending his contract when the test batting is laughable? Those sort of decisions put my back up, but it’s typical ECB so why be angry?

Day 4 is an important day for England. Do they have it in them to put up a fight or is our bowling attack now really like the Zimbabwe and Bangladesh of yore, there for average players to make distinctly un-average scores? And do they have the fight in them to bat time on a flat deck? If you have faith, I’d take you back to last Christmas. And Karun Nair.

I’ll leave you with Danny’s take on the day…

​If I wrote it, it would be a very short post:
Woke up at 4am. Saw Smith was still in. Decided to go back to sleep.
Woke up at 5am. Saw Smith was still in. Decided to go back to sleep.
Woke up at 7.30am. Saw Smith was still in. Decided to go back to sleep.
Woke up at 9am. Saw Smith was still in. Decided to catch up with my Twitter feed.
Got out of bed after 10am. Saw last 2 overs. Felt pretty good about getting a full night’s sleep rather than watching this crap.

Maybe this would have been a better post.

Someone might be back to preview this. I will mostly be listening to the 4th day’s play on my way to Heathrow to pick up the Missus. She’s missed all this. Lucky her.


106 thoughts on “What Will You Do When Your Systems Fail? – Day 3 at Perth

  1. SimonH Dec 16, 2017 / 1:43 pm

    Tucked away in Ali Martin’s report:

    “Overton meanwhile spent the third day stoically bowling through the pain of a cracked rib, again underlining the attitude he possesses. But with the blow originally inflicted by Pat Cummins in Adelaide and only scanned after he fell awkwardly on the second day here”.

    So they didn’t send him for a scan between Tests? Unbelievable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus Dec 16, 2017 / 2:08 pm

      Radical change is for batting line-ups only, obvs.

      It’s quite endearing seeing our own modern day Sir Walter Raleigh lay down his Twitter cloak when anyone dare criticise the bowling unit and the coaching boys.


    • LordCanisLupus Dec 16, 2017 / 2:11 pm


      Stop being sarcastic. They are really short staffed out there.


    • Pontiac Dec 16, 2017 / 4:19 pm

      Carrying injuries certainly rhymes with four years ago.

      Again, if one was 18 years old and had cricket talent why would one want to play in this setup?


  2. Deep Purple Fred Dec 16, 2017 / 1:59 pm

    It wasn’t all bad. Anderson had an economy rate of 2.93, that’s pretty decent.


    • LordCanisLupus Dec 16, 2017 / 2:18 pm

      James Vince made 83 in the first test innings at Brisbane.

      Alastair Cook has made 69 runs in five innings.

      James Vince didn’t go to Bedford School. And made 127 runs (nothing to write home about, but….)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sean B Dec 16, 2017 / 5:44 pm

        You can always rely on the ‘modern day Oracle’ to start beating the Cook drum. You can literally set your watch by it.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Mark Dec 16, 2017 / 6:10 pm

          Yes, but Gooch was quite good! And didn’t go to Bedford school.

          Funny coming from the cheerleader of those who said KP was past it at 34. I don’t remember Selvey telling them different.

          Liked by 3 people

        • nonoxcol Dec 17, 2017 / 7:46 am

          Averages 14.4 in ten innings since the double hundred v WI.

          Averages 35.18 in his last eleven innings even *with* that double…

          So I can’t imagine his 2017 calendar year average is looking that great right now.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Dec 16, 2017 / 6:03 pm

        Someone please tell me he is being sarcastic when he says its “unfair ” to pick someone who knows how to bat at the WACA?

        I think he is capable of writing such drivel that I never know if he is being serious.


    • oreston Dec 16, 2017 / 3:20 pm

      I can’t tell for certain if you’re being ironic, Fred. I hope you are, because as someone following England you know things are at a point of historic, era-defining crapness when an Australian starts trying to find you crumbs of comfort…


      • Deep Purple Fred Dec 16, 2017 / 5:50 pm

        Aw look mate, we’re not all that bad. But don’t worry, I haven’t really started feeling sorry for you yet. That usually only kicks in by the time we get to Sydney.

        It just amuses me about Anderson especially, because he’s the worlds best bowler, except when he’s not. It only took one decent spell in Adelaide under favourable conditions for the superlatives to start rolling again. Dobell compared him to a violin player today, for gods sake. I guess today he was playing Chostakovich.

        Liked by 1 person

        • man in a barrel Dec 16, 2017 / 6:14 pm

          The Nigel Kennedy of swing bowlers! I just loved the way that Mitch Marsh straight drove him for four with the new ball. Violinists are supposed to be able to play anywhere with any instrument. Yet another sign that “Prick” Dobell is entering self-parody territory


          • Deep Purple Fred Dec 16, 2017 / 6:37 pm

            I haven’t seen alot of Marsh bat but I saw a bit today (I guess everyone got the chance to see him today). What a lovely drive he has!

            Why “Prick”, is that a value judgment or is there more to it?
            I do appreciate that he questions the productivity of Loughborough, but it would be good if he could move beyond name calling and start to dig into why it’s not producing what England needs. Isn’t that what journalists do, dig? Explore, analyse, uncover, explain?


          • man in a barrel Dec 16, 2017 / 6:59 pm

            Fred, on twitter, someone called out Dobell’s article blaming Malan for England’s batting collapse and he reacted by calling the guy a prick. For me he is now George “Prick” Dobell


          • Deep Purple Fred Dec 16, 2017 / 7:08 pm

            Oh. That doesn’t sound like Dobell. But twitter is that kind of place.


        • oreston Dec 16, 2017 / 6:45 pm

          A medley of Send In The Clowns and The Funeral March would’ve been quite fitting today.

          Reassuring to find you still in well-observed piss taking mode 🙂


          • Deep Purple Fred Dec 16, 2017 / 7:15 pm

            Piss taking it may be, but I’ve seen Australia look like bambi on ice skates at Trent Bridge and also in India. I enjoy it while it lasts but pêrspective is needed.

            I especially enjoy it when it involves Anderson, Broad and ol’ Captain Steel. Alas it’s probably the last time we’ll see them under the Australian sun.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Sherwick Dec 16, 2017 / 2:01 pm

    “It’s chastening watching your team cough up 700 plus, and they might be looking at that again.”

    Might be looking at that again?!?

    I can’t see anything, short of an act of God, preventing the Aussies scoring 700 plus, most probably before Lunch.


    • LordCanisLupus Dec 16, 2017 / 2:09 pm

      Was I not angry enough for you?

      Australia may go the aggressive line and declare 250 ahead and give themselves more time to bowl us out and chase the scraps at the end. After all, they’ve got to be prepared to draw to win.


      • Sherwick Dec 16, 2017 / 2:33 pm

        Our only hope is that both March and Smith bat very, very slowly tomorrow morning, chasing various milestones!


        • man in a barrel Dec 16, 2017 / 3:42 pm

          Looking at the forecast, they need to get England in just after lunch tomorrow


      • MM Dec 16, 2017 / 11:55 pm

        LCL, I can’t see England going even close to 250 in their next innings. Can’t see them batting out the test to draw it. Nothing to do with the pitch deteriorating… just their minds.

        Nice body language though, probably.


  4. SimonH Dec 16, 2017 / 2:40 pm

    First sighting of a “it’s nearly as bad as the 1990s”. So FTR England never conceded 549 in Australia in the 1990s, let alone the 600 or 700 we’re looking at here.

    1990/91 – Australia made 518 and no other score over 400. England weren’t that far off winning the 518 game in the end.
    1994/95 – Australia made three scores between 400 and 426 but nothing higher.
    1998/99 – highest home score of 485 and didn’t otherwise get over 400.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherwick Dec 16, 2017 / 6:51 pm

      Very interesting, especially considering Australia had superior batting in the 90s and we had a supposedly inferior bowling attack..


  5. oreston Dec 16, 2017 / 3:11 pm

    I don’t know what to write. I’ve started several comments today – varying in tone from anger to attempts at humour – and ended up deleting every one before posting as none of them felt right. I think I’ll settle instead for a mixture of frustration (the minor component) and ennui (the biggest part by far). There just isn’t any point to following cricket when it’s like this.

    Liked by 2 people

    • oreston Dec 16, 2017 / 3:23 pm

      Now I’ve just accidently “liked” my own comment (bloody phone…)

      Liked by 1 person

      • OscarDaBosca Dec 16, 2017 / 3:52 pm

        Narcissist 😂😉

        Liked by 1 person

    • Sean B Dec 16, 2017 / 5:33 pm

      Me too O. There was a time in the past where I’d have had a massive rant and been in a mood all day. The sad truth is I just don’t care enough anymore and this performance was SO DAMN PREDICTABLE

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Mark Dec 16, 2017 / 4:18 pm

    The house of ECB cards has come crashing down on this tour. The curtain has been pulled back to reveal the so called wizards are nothing but fools desperately pulling leavers to keep the illusion going.

    Anyone who has been paying attention has known this for the last 4 years. What success this England team has achieved has been created by a combination of two things. 1st, they pick a team of all rounders who work well in home conditions. 2nd they make sure those home conditions are very favourable to their super star bowler Jimmy Anderson. Anderson is protected by the wizard of ECB. They carry him round on a golden sedan. Why? Because on helpful pitches he can bowl sides out for 150-250 runs. Even England’s flakey batting line up can stay competitive against these scores. Flashy 30s and 40s from a batting line up that bats down to 9-10 can be very hard to beat on green seamers.

    England have also benefited from this era as there is no outstanding team. Aus are always competitive at home. India are the same. Not so when they travel. England are the same. Pretty much all other test teams have faded away. Thanks ICC.

    4 years ago they tried to claim that they lost because of KP, and Johnson who they claimed was a one off. A freak. Not true. This generation have not been exposed to real pace bowling. When they were confronted with the real deal they crumbled. 4 years on and the Aussies have a fast bowling attack as good as any in the world right now. Their problem was could they get them on the park, and keep them there? They did.

    England’s policy of all rounders at all cost has malfunctioned on this tour. First with the loss of Stokes that has derailed the balance of the side. Second their determination to have one of their top batsman as their wicketkeeper. And then the issue of a spinner., Englands spinner is also a batsman. Or is he a batsman that is also a spinner? Whatever, when one of your major bowlers can’t bowl properly because he has a damaged finger, you slide him out of the team and slide in a bowler who is match fit. England can’t do this because he is wanted as a batsman, first and foremost. So much so they didn’t bring any back up except for a rookie.

    England don’t produce real fast bowlers, and spin bowlers. Well actually they do, but they are either injured or there face does not fit. I believe Rashid would have been very dangerous at Brisbane where it spun from day one. But England didn’t bring him because they can’t fit a player like that in the side.

    This is not going to get any better. The future has been mapped out, and it’s 20/20 as far as the eye can see. Who is going to want to be a fast bowler? A spin bowler where you bowl 4 overs per match with short boundaries? Or a test match style batsman? No one with any sense. The standard will just wither away on the vine for test cricket. No wonder Murdoch is getting the hell out of British sports rights. I think it might have peaked. And we have seen the best of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zephirine Dec 16, 2017 / 11:09 pm

      I long for the day when I shall actually find out what’s supposed to be wrong with Rashid.
      Except that it will probably be so stupid that I’ll wish I’d never known.


  7. Silk Dec 16, 2017 / 5:41 pm

    Can I point out that we are the 4th best ODI side in the world at present?

    So thus far it’s hardly worth the effort.


    • quebecer Dec 17, 2017 / 1:19 am

      We are? Huzzah!!! In your face New Zealand, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, West Indies, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, and Ireland!

      Just a thought, but if you total up what those countries have collectively spent on developing their ODI teams over the past year, do you think it would match what the ECB has spent on lunches?


  8. amit Dec 16, 2017 / 6:19 pm

    Just caught the highlights of the day, which given that I have been on a holiday with family is a massive change in daily schedule. Seemed a bad day in office for all bowlers. However, as others have pointed out, the broader issues with both batting and bowling (that are often hidden or conveniently ignored when playing and winning on seaming tracks at home), have resurfaced in the series. Australia have a trio of genuinely fast bowlers who can succeed on different pitches under different conditions. And, they’ve been fit to play all games. That has made a difference. and Smith. and the Marshes.
    Yes, it’s Karun Nair all over again.


  9. Deep Purple Fred Dec 16, 2017 / 6:22 pm

    So why can’t England produce fast bowlers? I get it that medium pace swing is effective in English conditions, but that doesn’t explain it. Face pace swing would be even more effective. The fact that England is swing friendly doesn’t preclude pace.

    Even India is starting to produce some decent pace bowlers now. England has had fast bowlers in the past, it’s not like it’s constitutionally impossible for an Englishman to do it. If you depend on swing friendly conditions, you’ll always be crap overseas.


    • Mark Dec 16, 2017 / 6:49 pm

      Good question. We still do have some pace bowlers, but they are all crocked at the moment. Mark Wood an example. However, I have a theory as to why this will get worse.

      In the past a lot of English batsman have come out of the private school system, and a lot of fast bowlers have come out of the state school system. Working class kids, some of whom who either got into grammar schools or who played in places like Nottinghamshire or Yorkshire working class leagues. That is increasingly a problem because cricket is no longer played in the state sytem to any level.

      I can’t be bothered to look them up and if any are wrong I appologise. But I believe that all of these were state school educated.

      Harold Larwood
      Fred Trueman
      John Snow (not sure)
      Bob Willis Grammar school (guildford I believe)
      Ian Botham
      Darren Gough
      Devon Malcolm
      Steve Harmison (not sure)
      Freddie Flintoff.

      Add in 20/20 and its dominance, and you have a problem for the future.


      • Sean B Dec 16, 2017 / 7:01 pm

        I’d add that the ridiculous county schedule (which is about to get longer) cripples genuinely fast bowlers, who soon end up in the physio’s room. Oh and the slow, green & damp pitches that many of the county’s provide hardly helps either…


      • man in a barrel Dec 16, 2017 / 7:04 pm

        John Snow went to Christ’s Hospital. The only non working class quicks I can think of other than Snow and Willis are Gubby Allen and Kenneth Farnes from the 30s, Walter Brearley and Jessop from the 1900s,Kortwright from the 1890s, Bill Edrich and…. Agnew


        • man in a barrel Dec 16, 2017 / 7:13 pm

          I forgot Arthur Gilligan, the skipper in 1924-5. But still not a massive haul


    • man in a barrel Dec 16, 2017 / 7:12 pm

      In days gone by English fast medium bowlers did well in Australia – Barnes, Tate, Bedser. McGrath was not speedy. These guys just don’t do enough with the ball. Swing is the only weapon they have.


    • quebecer Dec 17, 2017 / 12:21 am

      Fred: along with everything the others on this thread have said, I’d like to add something.

      We simply don’t value pace.

      An interesting place to start with that is going back to the late 90s and Duncan Fletcher. Fletcher was a batting guru, but his primary focus for bowling was finding pace. He knew that was how you won tests and searched high and low and before long there was Harmison, Flintoff, and Jones, along with others who obviously didn’t make it (poor old Saj Mahmood) but all were quicker than anything we have today. In fact, working through the 2000s (and remembering that both Jimmy and Broad were 90mph when they were younger) we also had Tremlett, Bresnan and Onions, all of whom were quicker than Woakes, Overton, Ball, Curran, and every bowler with the Lions

      But post Fletcher, the emphasis seemed to shift. We destroyed pace at Loughborough. Stuart Meaker arrived bowling 93-94pmh and left not being able to hit the cut strip at 85mph. It seems that nowhere in the coaching method was, right, this boy’s quick: where does he get his pace from, and whatever we do, we can not mess with that.

      The attitude of speed not being cherished spread: I remember Tymal Mills hitting well over 90mph but being lambasted for lack of control – as a 21 year old! I mean for goodness sake! If that doesn’t tell you the mindset of the times…

      So, in the dynasty of bowling dry, it’s not speed that counts. Honestly, I can barely think of one bowler in England today who actually has pace. Maybe Olly Stone (Simon Jones speed, not Harrison speed), but he only has some because a torn ACL meant just at the time Loughborough would have got hold of him he was injured.

      Seriously, is there anyone else here who can name a bowler in england with any real natural pace?

      It is staggering to me that what made the England teams of the 2000s win has been so systematically and deliberately changed.


      • quebecer Dec 17, 2017 / 12:37 am

        P.S. Steve Finn, of course, being someone with real pace who we immediately thought, right, let’s mess about with it.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Quebecer Dec 16, 2017 / 6:51 pm

    Well, I for one am optimistic.

    I should possibly qualify that. Before this test, I was optimistic about the chances that Stoneman, Malan, and Bairstow would score runs based on the type of wicket, their natural games, and that they’d shown up to now that none of them were struggling as badly as Cook, Vince, Root, Ali, and Woakes. I had already checked with my optimism coach that it was acceptable to be optimistic for a draw, thus making me optimistic that our obvious inability to take 20 wickets in Perth could be put aside. This was confirmed by checking out the rain stats for Perth at this time of year and knowing if the month’s rainfall all came on day 4 and 5, the draw was very much on. Low and behold, optimism was again rewarded by the weather forecast that miraculously, this might be the case.

    The thing is, the draw IS still very much on for us. Some help from the weather and another good batting display (who knows – maybe even Cook and Root might get some) and we’re still alive. Unfortunately what I hadn’t considered was the effect all the bullshit surrounding the tour might have on our mind set and confidence. We look so fragile… And we don’t need to be.

    Where does this leave my optimism? Oddly, in out strategy. I think Baylis knew full well we didn’t have the bowling to win this game, but thought by batting well, we could draw. This meant that we had to win in Adelaide, also with the knowledge this was the BEST place for us to knock them over twice. So, we went for it. Put them in. This indicates (to me) that firstly, we did actually have a strategy, and secondly, that it was in fact our best bet.

    A good second innings and we can draw this test. It will be a good indicator of the teams’ collective mind set how this plays out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Deep Purple Fred Dec 16, 2017 / 7:56 pm

      Pretty clear what’s going on here. You’re so chuffed that your boys Stoneman and Malan have done well, that your judgement is screwed. On a day Australia went from 3/203 to 4/549 (ie. 1/346), there really isn’t reason for optimism. You should fire your optimism coach.

      But, your boys Stoneman and Malan look good! That’s reason to look forward with optimism.

      Also, England shouldn’t feel too bad, they’ve just run into Smith. He’s turning out to be a beast. Sometimes there’s not much you can do about it. Cook ground out centuries in 2010, there wasn’t mugh Australia could do about it (not that I’m suggesting for one moment that Cook is in Smith’s class).

      If your best hope is rain in Perth in December, good luck.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Quebecer Dec 16, 2017 / 10:03 pm

        I’d like t think you know I don’t just put this stuff you there. I did my homework and found the average rainfall in Perth for the month of December is 7.1mm. That’s not hope, that’s science. I then calculated if it all fell on day 4 and 5 – but not al, at once, more in a constant keep the players off the field, and causing maximum drying time – then this too wasn’t hope, but rather serendipity.

        Much like for Australia, us having left Rashid at home.

        PS I fully accept the chances of us not making selection errors is about the same as my optimistic weather prediction playing out.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Deep Purple Fred Dec 16, 2017 / 10:30 pm

        Peter Moores wuould be proud of you for that analysis.


        • quebecer Dec 16, 2017 / 11:47 pm

          He is my hero, as you know.


      • oreston Dec 17, 2017 / 1:21 am

        So messed up has England’s pin the tail on the donkey selection policy been that Malan and Stoneman are both already 30. They don’t have very long international careers ahead of them, even if they do continue to impress.
        Chris Rogers and Mr Cricket each had to wait until a similar age to get their respective chances. That was because they were kept out of the Aussie team earlier on in their careers by a generation of incumbent legends. I hardly think the same applies to Stoneman and Malan if you look at the composition of the England squad in recent years. Strauss’s old opener slot has been a revolving door (albeit with some of those players sacrificed to feed the Cookie Cult) and the “no vacancies” middle order hasn’t been much more stable.
        I think my own negativity about Malan before this series (to which I freely confess) came from having given up hoping that the selectors would actually get something right, except by luck rather than judgement, and thus assuming he would be yet another here today, gone tomorrow failure. Admittedly his First Class career record didn’t announce him as the Messiah. You see how cynical the ECB has made us? All the Zafir Ansaris and Liam Dawson’s can really drain your faith away.

        But am I going to stay up now and follow the match later? Don’t I want to experience the sheer masochism of seeing 700 come up? With the greatest respect, fuck that!


        • quebecer Dec 17, 2017 / 1:47 am

          One thing you’d realize if you’d done your optimism training like i have, O, is that given the weather forecast, there’s a fair chance they’ll make an attacking declaration before they get to 700.


          • oreston Dec 17, 2017 / 2:12 am

            That they may do, Q, although the Aussies don’t really need 700 anyway (just because you can, doesn’t mean you should). I’m sure a mere 625-650 would probably suffice. Have you considered the merits of Realism, even if only as a comparative methodology? In my experience, life furnishes more occasional pleasant surprises for the realist than for the eternal optimist ;)Let’s see if the promised storms materialise over Perth. I look forward to reading all about it in the morning.


    • Sri. Grins Dec 16, 2017 / 11:31 pm

      I am very proud of you Q. Interestingly the mindset issue seems to be affecting the older lot than the younger ones. The way the ‘greats’, cook broad and Anderson have performed reminds me of the team under msd’s with a lot of greats that got destroyed in England and Oz in 2011-12.

      The good news was that the oldies retired or were pushed to retire and now we have a slightly better team compared to 2011-12.

      Hoping the same for England too.


      • quebecer Dec 16, 2017 / 11:58 pm

        That’s a good point, Sri. It says a lot about where things weren’t right in the past that those three you name are still exhibiting that mindset now.

        The problem we have, Sri, that your Indian team had players to come in. Years of mismanagement in essentially every sense have left our cupboards absolutely bare. Don’t forget: they only picked Stoneman and Malan because they’d picked everyone else already.

        The two players we’re missing right now apart from Stokes? Toby Roland Jones (almost 30), Adil Rashid (almost 30). Alex Hales (almost 29) is done and out of contention, Sam Northeast is the best player they have’t looked at and clearly don’y rate and he’s already 28. Liam Livingston? A test player? Far further away that Hales or Northeast in my opinion. Aside from Haseem Hameed, there isn’t a single young player who is anything more than a wild hope only suggested because we have no real actual prospects.

        And the situation with the bowling is wayyyyyyyy worse.


        • amit Dec 17, 2017 / 3:19 am

          Not sure why 28 or 29 should mean careers are over for Hales or Rashid or anyone else. the fitness levels these days are much better. One only has to look at Misbah – his entire career was built after 30 and he didn’t do shabbily.

          Has Ian Bell retired? He should’ve been a contender to solidify this middle order instead of blooding rookies and he can’t be much older than Cook.
          I am fairly confident that county (or age group) cricket in England still has young players that could be developed – just have to hope that there is a period of consolidation while these senior pros are pushed out.

          However, seeing as the cheerleaders have behaved in the last few years, they might call it a greater selfless service to nation from these pros in the absence of people to pass on the baton.


          • oreston Dec 17, 2017 / 5:38 pm

            A year ago I was saying the same about Bell, but sadly his County Championship form has been far from spectacular. I think that ship has now well and truly sailed.
            You make a good point about Misbah (although he’s a very exceptional example of a late blossoming Test player). I suppose though that a 30 yr. old who’s new to the England team and hasn’t already endured the ravages of seven or eight winter tours might be able to play on later than someone who has, all else being equal.


  11. Sherwick Dec 16, 2017 / 6:57 pm

    There have only been 22 scores in excess of 700 in the history of Test cricket, with just 3 in an Ashes series – the last being in 1938.

    I think that Australia will get there in a canter tomorrow, which says something.


  12. Rooto Dec 16, 2017 / 9:59 pm

    I didn’t know that Andrew Strauss’s wife was sick. I apologize for making a snide comment a few days ago, about him being 8,000 miles from the problems. This is obviously much more important.

    That aside, I’m terribly torn. I’d desperately like England to avoid a whitewash. 4-0 would be absolutely fine. It would vindicate my pessimism, but what’s the point in being pessimistic if you’re then proved absolutely right? I didn’t predict 5-0 in order to look good and clever. I did it to not be too disappointed when they lost quite badly. But being disappointed and then knowing that you’d seen it coming all along is the most dispiriting of all.
    So, why am I torn? If England draw (with the help of rain), the worst-case scenario is avoided. If there’s a draw, though, we’ll see the same group of ‘experienced campaigners’ wheeled out again after Xmas at the MCG in one more effort to save the series. Cook, Anderson, Broad and the rest, once again talking it up before the match, only for their collective heads to drop faster than if someone burst into the team huddle shouting “Your flies are undone!”
    No change, no hope, in my view. Bring on defeat. Bring on change.


    • metatone Dec 16, 2017 / 10:50 pm

      What does my head in is you know that even with the series gone only minor changes would be made. (In part because the squad seemingly has few viable options, beyond a young spinner for Smith to give a tonking to.)


      • Zephirine Dec 16, 2017 / 11:39 pm

        That was what we learned in 2014 – other people view a total defeat as a reason to make serious changes, but England’s cricket management see it as a reason to change as little as possible and if a change must be made, make the wrong one.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Benny Dec 16, 2017 / 11:13 pm

    Most of all, I enjoy watching good cricketers doing their thing. Very tempted to stay up and watch Smith get 300 (400?). I did enjoy watching the Aussie quicks bowling some fine stuff on what everyone says is a flat wicket. Oh and I’m still fingers crossed for Stoneman, Malan and Bairstow.

    Cook, Anderson and Broad should be thrown out. When they were really needed, they went missing.

    I don’t believe England can’t produce Test cricketers. There are 60+ million people in this country and we need only 11. However, we also need a management who can find, attract, develop and create the right conditions for them. This is where my hope falters.

    Next year, sod the results and get some new players in to learn the trade.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Nicholas Dec 16, 2017 / 11:41 pm

    I’m still sticking by a 4-1 scoreline. An England-in-the-90s-or-early-00s style match in which it all comes together at either Melbourne or Sydney. I don’t think the wheels have totally fallen off in the way in which they did last time (when by all accounts the atmosphere was poisonous and the players all fell out with each other). This time they’ve just discovered that they can’t play cricket in Australia – somehow it doesn’t feel quite as bad to me. Perhaps it’s because I’m not surprised in the slightest – the only pleasant surprise coming when one of the English batsmen actually scores some runs. I’m pleasantly surprised that we now have two English centurions this series – not something I was expecting.


  15. Sri. Grins Dec 17, 2017 / 12:34 am

    One thing where Indian fans still differ from English fans is that even when we are down 3-0 or 4-0, we still hope someone will out their hands up and make us happy. No idea if this is a trait of us oldies who are used to India losing everywhere over decades and not by younger Indians.

    The second thing is the respect you guys seem to feel for cricket journalists which in turn bites back when you feel they have pursued a wrong agenda. We really don’t bother what journalists say or do. We scream at them if we don’t agree or just ignore the article and move away and it never ever impacts the pleasure of watching cricket. The same with bcci too. But, I seem to get a feeling that it is different where the opinions expressed by journalists matter a lot more.

    The way we see it is that the journalists are not our close family for us to worry about what they write or let them damage our pleasure in cricket. Why is it different in England?


    • nonoxcol Dec 17, 2017 / 7:36 am

      Short answer: because they were so, so obviously partial on several key systemic and interpersonal issues that they deserve a large share of the blame for the growing cynicism and nihilism among former England fans.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. quebecer Dec 17, 2017 / 2:41 am

    I played a little game with myself earlier. I decided that if we ignored everything, what was the best possible XI to field in the series. I made Stokes, Rashid, and Roland-Jones available, came up with a few variations, (one with Johnny keeping, one not), all needed Root at 3, and then I looked at them. And said, “Nope. Still not good enough”.


    • quebecer Dec 17, 2017 / 3:08 am

      Enough Realism for you there, Oreston? 🙂

      But there’s an interesting point here. I remember years ago seeing a post match interview with Dave Bassett when he was at Sheffield United that had a profound effect on me. I can’t remember the asinine question that was asked, but there was a flash in his eyes and a brutally honest answer: “Look, you don’t know what it’s like when every week you get the opposition team sheet and see every player on it is better than every one of yours. What are you supposed to do then?” It was such an incredible rhetorical question and one that has stuck with me for years.

      Goodness knows, I have played and then coached on enough teams to have felt what he felt then, and that really is the question: what do you do? It’s here that this experiment with optimism has been very interesting for me. I know I’ve been joking about it, but actually what’s happened is that its made me think about things from a different perspective and look for and find things that I otherwise would have missed.

      Yes, I felt Adelaide was our best bet to bowl the Aussies out twice and was therefore optimistic we would. I knew the WACA (capitals, please) had some pace, but was not lightning, and was very flat. Given the conditions, the lightning outfield and huge spaces, their natural games and that their fight, Stoneman, Malan, and Bairstow had a good chance to score well. I was therefore optimistic about that. Honestly, I also feel Cook and Root might hang about a bit longer in the second dig (not expecting records to be broken, just a better effort) and again, am basing that on the players they are, the conditions they’ll face, and that Stoneman, Malan, and Bairstow showed what they did first up. Optimism.

      What I realize is that I’m looking for exactly what Harry Bassett was back then: OK, so what CAN we do?

      Now, to actually succeed we’d need a far better team environment than the one we’ve contributed so stunningly in creating around the team, but for me, this has been an interesting exercise, and one that I’m thinking of researching and writing about. I like the title, “What do you do when you’re supposed to lose?”

      It’s also made it all a bit more enjoyable. I’ve avoided the oh so English delight in despair. It’s given a bit of scope for humour, and also made Sri Grins happy, which is enough in itself, lovely fellow that he is.

      Liked by 3 people

      • quebecer Dec 17, 2017 / 3:19 am

        And sometimes, you just can’y argue with the Universe. Three wickets fell while i was writing that.


        • amit Dec 17, 2017 / 3:22 am

          Wicket has started to act funny – Jimmy’s been bowling decent line but his 2 wickets were all down to the cracks on wicket.
          I would love to see how Hazelwood does in his next gig given cracks are on his natural length and line.


          • quebecer Dec 17, 2017 / 3:24 am

            You see, that’s exactly the kind of talk we can do without.


          • quebecer Dec 17, 2017 / 3:30 am

            You’re right, of course. More evidence each over from that end.


  17. Sri.Grins Dec 17, 2017 / 3:14 am

    563/7. Hmmmm. Optimists strike for England 😀


    • Sri.Grins Dec 17, 2017 / 3:16 am

      The only fly in the ointment is that Jimmy took 2 wickets and vince was involved in the run out. We optimiosts would have preferred mooen / overton picking up the wickets and malan effecting the run out. :-). Sigh. You can’t have everything you hope for.


  18. dlpthomas Dec 17, 2017 / 4:34 am

    Batting still looks pretty easy despite the odd ball hitting a crack (and then it tends to do too much). On the other hand, facing up to Starc et al when you can see a 20 cm wide crack running down the line of off stump might just put you off your game a bit. 240 ahead a lunch – throw the bat and declare an hour after lunch?


  19. quebecer Dec 17, 2017 / 4:55 am

    You know, Pat Cummins is just about the most impressive cricketer in the world to me right now. He’s really just beginning, too. Heaven help us, but let him be injury free and become great from here on.


  20. Sri.Grins Dec 17, 2017 / 5:31 am

    Anderson got 2 more. 662/9 declared. Give the devil his due. Good work by Jimmy when all the other bowlers did not manage a single one.


    • dlpthomas Dec 17, 2017 / 5:41 am

      He’s also smart and by all accounts a really nice guy. So, easy to hate him then.


      • dlpthomas Dec 17, 2017 / 5:45 am

        sorry, that was about Cummins not Jimmy. Though to be fair Jimmy is easy to dislike, Not sure what to make of his 4 wickets – good effort but the horse had well and truly bolted. Still, must have been hard to come back after yesterday so well bowled.


  21. dlpthomas Dec 17, 2017 / 5:46 am

    Fuck. Stoneman gone. Just….fuck.


    • Rooto Dec 17, 2017 / 6:07 am

      Literally the first ball I tuned into. Shiny Toy made it sound as if Stoneman’s shot mentally, done by the 1st innings short stuff. Any confirmation, or is Shiny looking for a non management-affiliated selection sacrifice?


      • Rooto Dec 17, 2017 / 6:22 am

        If Shiny Toy is right about Stoneman, then England are looking for two new openers.


      • Scrim Dec 17, 2017 / 7:56 am

        He was certainly shaken up by a few in the first innings, and his footwork there was certainly very tentative.

        But it’s one data point. I don’t think Vaughan or the other commentators making the same point we’re extrapolating as far as you have, either.


    • Sri.Grins Dec 17, 2017 / 6:23 am

      England is determined to make my and other optimists’ lives hard . But, I still go with optimism. hopefully t he rain dance is working


    • Sri.Grins Dec 17, 2017 / 6:27 am

      They are predicting 97% heavy rains on Sunday. Here is hoping England survive today with enough wickets in hand


        • Sri.Grins Dec 17, 2017 / 7:17 am

          oops. Monday I should have said


        • Sri. Grins Dec 17, 2017 / 7:51 am

          As per cricinfo, 10 km South of Perth it is raining. Small bloom of hope perhaps?


  22. Rooto Dec 17, 2017 / 7:04 am

    Just catching up on what I missed by reading the Guardian OBO, for a change. Rob Smyth’s response to the following quote has annoyed me:
    ” “Since England didn’t have the courage to drop Cook when the Ashes were in play, despite the fact it was clear he was gone, can they at least do it now the Ashes are gone?” says Andrew Hurley. “Why not bring in the type of player the coach wants opening, someone like Hales…”

    How do you know he’s gone and not just badly out of form, which he has been at various points throughout his career? What are the actual signs? He was gone in 2014, wasn’t he, as a captain and a batsman? ”

    End of quote.
    Come on Smyth. Answer the question he asked, not the pearl-clutching, don’t frighten the horses question you have in your head. He wants Cook dropped, not shot after signing a confession.
    Oh, and finally admitting he was gone in 2014, when it’s now nearly 2018, is far too late. When will the government papers confirming a cover-up finally be released? 2064?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sri.Grins Dec 17, 2017 / 7:16 am

      I agree that cook is doing badly. It looks like he won’t even reach my prediction of 200 runs for 5 tests. But, the trouble with players who have longevity on their side is that it is difficult to confirm when they are gone and when they may recover.

      Sachin, Dravid etc are examples. they went through lean patches and came back and did extraordinarily well. Sachin in SA in 2010-11 but again he did poorly thereafter and Dravid in England before he again had a poor spell in Oz.

      Thais is the real problem. Knowing when a player who has had fluctuating form and has been in the team for years is finally done. Some are honest and admit it like Dravid, some need to be pushed by injury like Kumble, Some need to be pushed by selectors like Sehwag and some get indulged because of their reputation like Sachin.


  23. Pontiac Dec 17, 2017 / 7:27 am

    That was a seriously dumb shot from Root.

    Question: what is George Dobell going to say about that? A whole column? How will it look next to what he had to say about Lyon’s first innings victim?


    • BoredInAustria Dec 17, 2017 / 7:47 am

      Surely this is to be blamed on Malan with his attitude to “have a go at Lyon”.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sri. Grins Dec 17, 2017 / 7:55 am

      Yes, first ball Lyons is bowling and he drives instead of waiting for a few deliveries. Weird. The way the matches have gone seem to have affected his consistency. Earlier he used to make fifties pretty consistently


  24. whiterose76 Dec 17, 2017 / 8:15 am

    I actually feel a bit sorry for Vince. How do you play that? And why do I get up early on a Sunday morning?


  25. Sri.Grins Dec 17, 2017 / 8:59 am

    Survive the 22 overs left and where there are wickets left, there is hope.


  26. Sri.Grins Dec 17, 2017 / 9:11 am

    Great . Rain dances working for a while. 🙂


    • BoredInAustria Dec 17, 2017 / 9:15 am

      We need a combined monsoon and tundra snow storm…


      • Sri.Grins Dec 17, 2017 / 9:42 am

        England alive for tomorrow. Who knows . more rain dances should work 🙂


  27. Mark Dec 17, 2017 / 9:41 am

    No wonder the ECB are so in favour of 4 day Test matches.


  28. Mark Dec 17, 2017 / 9:54 am

    Looks like the Sunday supplement is a wake this morning. Their beloved Man U don’t look like winning the league, and they have to pretend they admire City. When in fact you can see they hate them.

    And they have a Stella panel of PR Man U apologists on this morning. The fat Custis is back on crying into his corn flakes., Last time he wanted to tell us how a point at Anfield would go a long way in winning the title. And parking the bus is fine when Man u do it. And Steve Bates. A proffesional Man U cheerleader. They should be wearing black ties.

    No doubt they will be dreaming up ways to excuse them from the tunnel bust up and claiming that poor Jose was in no way to blame. The fat Custis has already given the game away by saying the premiership title is boring now, apparently its only any good as long as the team from Manchester who play in red can win.

    Fat Custis spinning like a top on behalf of his dear beloved Man U now. You are a fraud sir. You belong on MUTV. Independent journalist you most definitely are not. I remember when Man U were classy with people like Bobby Charlton. Now they have a bunch of chavs in the media supporting them. You should be made to come on wearing the full Man U kit. So we can see in the open your bias. Stop pretending you are a journalist. You are a fan boy.


  29. Silk Dec 17, 2017 / 10:13 am

    Cook finding all sorts of ways to get out. Which in itself is worrying. There’s no solidity in his basic game right now, which was always his core strength.

    As for Root, awful shot selection. Captaincy doesn’t seem to be helping him.


  30. Mark Dec 17, 2017 / 10:22 am

    Oh ffs, Shinny toy is on Polite enquires now! Is there no corner of the media that is exempt from this man?


    • SimonH Dec 17, 2017 / 12:52 pm

      The clip of Swann on Cricinfo is just unbearable. How many agendas can fit into 90 seconds?

      Cook is out of form, Cook was unlucky, Root is “weak”. Didn’t the England ex-players’ guild get in an almighty strop when someone Australian (can’t remember who – Lyon?) said something similar about certain England players on the last tour? This must be one of those bizarre textual differences that only former players can understand.

      Swann’s main concern seems to be to prove himself right that Root should never have been made captain. Swann is already convinced of his own rightness, and he’s not convincing anyone else much, so I’m not quite sure what the point is. His disingenuousness about not wanting Root sacked now is laughable. Swann still seems to think Root is the same snotty-nosed schoolboy who made his debut and was still playing when Swann quit. Might Root now have grown a little since you left, Lovejoy? One can see how newcomers had their cards marked on their first arrival in the dressing room and nothing they ever did subsequently could change it.

      I’m not of course saying Root is a great captain or it isn’t effecting his batting. We can have a dispassionate discussion about that at the end of the tour.


      • SimonH Dec 17, 2017 / 12:53 pm

        Oh, and I forgot to add that if #rootmaths has outlived its utility #cookandrootmaths is now most definitely a thing.

        Liked by 2 people

          • thelegglance Dec 17, 2017 / 4:04 pm

            Boycott has been one of the few to be outspoken about Cook’s dips in form and to demand he’s treated like any other player. He’s generally supportive of him as a batsman, and fair enough too, but he’s been no cheerleader.


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