I Won’t Forget A Single Day, Believe Me

Whilst England were in the process of finishing the year on a high in Melbourne (#39’s words and not mine), something a lot more important for the fate of Test cricket was happening in South Africa. For the first time since 1973, there was a four-day Test match. Whilst Zimbabwe collapsed in an embarrassing heap and lost within two days, it gives us the clearest idea yet of what the future holds for cricket’s longest and oldest format.

In October, the ICC agreed to allow four-day Tests for a trial period until 2019. The main argument made at the time by ICC chief executive Dave Richardson was that it would help the smaller Test nations like Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and Ireland to find gaps in the schedules to get them much-needed games. In reality, it’s obviously all about money. Many Test series are not particularly profitable, and cutting the length of the games also reduces the costs for the home board.

The game in Port Elizabeth, whilst massively one-sided, did give us a look at the playing conditions for the latest variation of Test cricket. The main highlights of these are that play is extended by half an hour with 8 extra overs, and the follow-on target is reduced from 200 to 150.

In all of the arguments which have been made in favour of shortening Test matches, none of them appear to even come close to suggesting that it will make Test cricket more satisfying for people to watch. Really the only compelling case I have seen is that it might make the difference between teams scheduling one Test match or none.

Win, Lose Or Draw. But Mainly Draw.

The most obvious downside of four-day Tests is that it would appear likely to increase the number of drawn matches. Drawn games, particularly when there seems no prospect of any other result, are arguably the worst thing about the format. You can just look at the reaction from journalists and fans to the lifeless pitch in Melbourne.

Nick Hoult’s article in the Telegraph says that roughly 58.25% of the 794 Test matches from 2000 onwards went into the fifth day, and during that period only 23.30% of games ended in a draw. This means that potentially as much as 34.95% of Test matches over the past 18 years, 277 games where a team won on the fifth day, would have instead been a draw if they had instead only had four days.

Of course things are not necessarily this clear-cut. It doesn’t factor in the 32 extra overs that could be bowled in days one to four, or the teams using more aggressive tactics whilst trying to achieve a result. Conversely, teams who are outmatched could perhaps be more likely to try to hold out for a draw than go for a win or collapse when all hope is lost.

There are things you can do to increase the likelihood of a result within four days, but it’s unclear whether the ICC has the will or ability to enforce them. The most obvious solution would be to play every game on a pitch which helps the bowlers, but for this to happen the various cricket boards around the world would have to cede some control of their home grounds and I just can’t see that happening.

One way of inducing results would be to copy the County Championship which already has four-day games, where the points system is used to motivate teams to play aggressively. A team which wins half of their games and loses the other half would get 42 more points than a team which had 14 draws. A team has to score at 3.64 runs per over in their first innings to collect the maximum number of batting bonus points, which may make batsmen more likely to play risky shots and therefore lose their wicket.

But for all of these measures, 24 out of the 56 games in Division 1 last year ended in a draw. There are some reasons why this would happen which wouldn’t relate to Test cricket. The majority of matches are played at the beginning and end of the season, when they are more likely to be interrupted by rain. They’re also more likely to be on used or sub-par pitches with the better ones being reserved for televised games. But the fact that over 42% of games in a competition with four-day games end in a draw is hardly a compelling reason to roll it out for international cricket.

I also have my doubts about whether the use of points would have much effect on international teams. Fans, players and administrators never seem to care about the current ICC Test rankings system unless their team is in first place. There is a new ICC World Test Championship being introduced in 2019, but in its first two years it will be restricted to five-day Tests only. Even if it did allow shorter games, I have my doubts whether anyone would risk losing to force a result within the allotted time. That simply isn’t how any Test team approaches the game.

All of which is to say that it’s a dumb idea. It makes Test matches cheaper, shorter, and almost undeniably worse. If Test cricket is to be made more popular and therefore more profitable, surely the emphasis has to be on making it better to watch. Otherwise, what’s the point? We might as well consign it to the dustbin of history and get used to a future of T10 cricket.

So on that cheery note, we at BOC wish you all a Happy New Year! Enjoy yourselves tonight, and we’ll hopefully all see you again in 2018.

UPDATE – Just to emphasise, and the last few days have not changed things, I am so grateful for all the support this year, and wish everyone all the best for 2018. I apologise for not doing my usual roll call of commenters, but I think you might understand why. I am looking forward and dreading 2018 in equal measures, but what matters most is the great community we have, the vibrant blog, the excellent writers, the new talent (see above) and the ethos carrying forward. All the very best to you and yours, from Honolulu to New Zealand, South Africa to Quebec, Kyoto to Santa Catarina.

Dmitri.

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73 thoughts on “I Won’t Forget A Single Day, Believe Me

  1. Elaine Simpson-Long December 31, 2017 / 11:16 pm

    my best wishes to you dimitri and everyone who contributes to this blog which has become a part of my sporting life. I love reading all the articles on here and the comments. I do not have a huge knowledge of the technical side of cricket and love the esoteric chats about off stump, leg side and silly mid. It is music to my ears.

    Happy New Year to all of us OUtside Cricket and long may we flourish

    Like

  2. Rooto January 1, 2018 / 12:46 am

    Just got in from a New Year’s do, which is unlike me – most NYEs I’m safely tucked up in bed. Anyway, a very Happy New Year to all contributors and posters. May our hopes be more fulfilled than they were last year. And woe be upon our foes!
    On that note, I can only hope that the general reporting of the SA-Zim match as a total failure reflects badly on four day tests, rather than on Zimbabwe. The Guardian Aussie podcast pointed out yesterday that no CEO would want a pitch like the one in Melbourne, purely because grounds lose money on the 5th day, due to lower income and extra fixed costs. And even TV companies sell their advertising as a whole-match block, so don’t get extra revenue for extending that timeslot into a 5th day (or even a 4th day). Worrying signs. But it was Geoff Lemon saying it, so unsure whether to take it at complete face value, sadly.

    (BTW, 8 extra overs for days 1-4 comes to 32 in total, not 24. 🙂 Still not enough, of course.)

    Like

    • dannycricket January 1, 2018 / 7:16 am

      Well that’s just an embarrassing mistake. Clearly my maths skills are on the decline…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Mark January 1, 2018 / 10:11 am

      The point about the Melbourne test match that the geniuses at the ECB/ACB don’t wamt to address in relation to four day tests is that half the fourth day was washed out.

      It’s all well and good saying they are going to bowl more overs per day so it won’t be much different in terms of overs bowled in totality of the match. But if you loose half a day’s play that’s it, most test mathes will be draws. There would have been no day 5, and while England could not get the. 8 wickets they required often teams are bowled out on the fith day.

      Liked by 1 person

      • dannycricket January 1, 2018 / 10:20 am

        One thing on the playing conditions which I didn’t mention in my post was that, in the event of rain, they could play an extra 30 minutes on the day but it wouldn’t carry over to the following days.

        For example, if it rained for 3 hours on Day 1 in a regular five-day Test then you could have an extra 30 minutes added to all five days and you would only have lost 30 minutes over the full match. In a four-day game, you would only be able to reclaim an extra 30 minutes at the end of Day 1 and you would lose at least two and a half hours.

        Like

    • quebecer January 2, 2018 / 3:27 am

      (Happy merry and everything, Roo 🙂 )

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Mark January 1, 2018 / 10:16 am

    Happy New year to all!

    I see the censors at Cricinfo have been doing their work. Dobells piece entitled…… “Ashes descend into bullshit.” Has been changed to ……”Ashes descend into hogwash.”

    That’s DIsney for you? And they are going to be taking over Sky………Independent media is going to be more important than ever.

    Like

    • dannycricket January 1, 2018 / 10:24 am

      To be honest I was surprised that it got posted with that headline in the first place. It’s almost certainly nothing to do with Disney, and more likely to avoid being censored by content filtering services for kids or advertisers wanting to protect their bland image.

      Like

      • thelegglance January 1, 2018 / 10:50 am

        Yep, I’m surprised he got away with that too. Pity they’ve changed it – that headline was really rather powerful.

        Like

  4. LordCanisLupus January 1, 2018 / 1:56 pm

    So did you run the CBI, Mr Moore? How would you know about economics and politics at the highest level? How dare you question someone you think of as a false prophet when he’s been there, seen it, done it, and you’ve chased an egg shaped ball around a field?

    See how this works, Brian?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maxie Allen cricket (@MaxieCricket) January 2, 2018 / 12:04 pm

      Presumably Brian has the benefit of some very valuable information, which he can’t share with us, which he’s picked up in the beer tents and corporate hospitality boxes of the EU Parliament.

      Like

      • thelegglance January 2, 2018 / 4:31 pm

        I’ve always thought it a very funny thing that despite several journalists talking to us from time to time, not one of them has ever passed on details, on or off the record, of the misdemeanours that were supposedly so bad. And given how critical we’ve been, you’d have thought they might have done if it was that awful wouldn’t you?

        Liked by 1 person

    • Mark January 1, 2018 / 5:14 pm

      See the tread below Sean.

      Like

      • Sean B January 1, 2018 / 5:35 pm

        I try not to if I’m honest. Let me guess, a load of idiots blowing smoke up his arse?

        Like

        • LordCanisLupus January 1, 2018 / 6:19 pm

          Might be referring to our earlier discussion. Or has he blocked you yet!

          Like

          • Sean B January 1, 2018 / 6:23 pm

            Fair enough. Missed that..

            Like

  5. Deep Purple Fred January 1, 2018 / 8:47 pm

    So I made some comments on the previous post about Selvey and the issue has spilled over into this one too.
    I’m always very careful about coming on here to just have a winge, and criticise, which is easy to do. And anyway, what do I care about some English journalist who obviously has emotional maturity issues, why should I waste my time bothering about him?

    Well, the reason I bother is that he’s aligned with the trend of this absolutely terrible degradation of respect for facts. We’ve seen, just to name three examples, Climate Change, Brexit and the Trump presidency debated on false premises. We’re now seeing real concern emerge about where Facebook, Google and Apple are leading us. Our common understanding is evaporating. While I aways have time for shades of grey, there are some things that certainly aren’t grey, and if lose sight of that and replace it with a values-driven debate, we are in trouble.

    What Selvey thinks about cricket is unimportant in the scheme of things, but it’s just another example of distorting facts to fit an agenda. When he says “I am a journalist” it makes me feel sick. Tell that to Glenn Greenwald, or to Daphne Gazilia who was murdered for investigating corruption in Malta (ie. Europe), or to the many journalists Putin has had killed. Wrapping his dignity around himself like a cloak and showing disdain for people who don’t lunch with the right people is undermining the role of the press.

    Selvey was Chief Cricket Correspondent for a major English press organisation during a very turbulent period of English and world cricket, and his writing was characterised by parochial concerns, self interest, wilful blindness to issues and in some cases contempt for a readership that expected more of him.

    I saw Carl Bernstein speak a few years ago in the US. A business event that had nothing in particular to do with his work, but the huge room was packed out, standing room only, and he was ferocious. Now HE is a journalist.

    It’s why I value this blog, because the people who drive it ATL and BTL are nobody’s fools, and I can get clarity.

    Selvey’s not important, but he’s a symptom of a broader malaise.

    Also, haven’t been around much, Christmas and all, not sure if I’ve caught up with Quebecer since the Perth test? You know, now that the results are posted? Just wanted to say hi. But I’ll give England one thing, the wheels still haven’t fallen off. Root’s got a good spanner it seems.

    Liked by 4 people

    • quebecer January 2, 2018 / 12:36 am

      Don’t really remember Perth, Fred. As you’ve been away, you’ll have missed how we have (apparently) finished the year on a high, outplaying Australia in Melbourne until the pitch changed drastically after Cook left the field into a disgraceful no resulter, that was impossible to take wickets on. I’ve read this all, so it must be true.

      Sigh.

      You might also have missed me describe this Australian side as not that special, which I did in the context of describing our inability to be competitive through the series. However, it is a bit churlish, in retrospect. Having the best test batsman in the world certainly helps, and his staggering output and ability in any situation to bat in exactly the right way makes things an awful lot easier for any batsman at the other end. Also, it isn’t just the pace of the Australian attack that makes it better, it’s the balance of the individuals within it. I think it’s the best test attack since England had it for about 20 minutes sometime in 2011.

      All to say, congrats, Fred, well played to your boys, much for you to be proud of in each test, and the better team has certainly shown itself to be so.

      Happy New Year, Fred, and sincerely wishing you and yours happiness and peace in 2018 and beyond.

      P.S. Don’t worry everyone; Fred and I will be back to puling each other’s pigtails as of…. now.
      P.P.S. For Sydney, might we expect an expose in the Aussie media on how the England team walk on the cracks in the pavement, leading to senior players in baggy greens giggling at press conferences?

      Like

    • Deep Purple Fred January 2, 2018 / 9:17 am

      Thanks Quebecer, best wishes to you too for 2018.

      What’s that? England have been walking on cracks in the footpath? (Australia has footpaths, not pavements). Outrageous behaviour, I expect a proactive denial any minute from the ECB denying it happened, that if it happened once it was more a join than a crack, and they weren’t walking anyway, they were strolling. And the team will be banned from any further strolling on footpaths until an internal disciplinary investigation is complete.

      Regarding the test team, I still can’t be sure how to rate them. There is alot of merit in the argument that they’re quite average, propped up by a couple of great performers. But then, if you consider Bancroft and Kaweja, and maybe a middle order position have been the only real soft spots in this series, it’s a pretty good team. Clearly, they have been good enough.

      But it’s worth noting the wheels remain firmly fixed on for England. The team has probably underperformed but it hasn’t turned on itself. And some new talent has been identified.

      I see England apparentlyt outplayed Australia at the MCG. I’m a bit confused as the scorecard doesn’t say that, I must be misreading it. I honestly think if it hadn’t rained, Australia would have won the match. Mostly because they have Smith and he can do anything he wants.

      Looking forward to seeing how England go in NZ. They have a pretty handy bowling lineup too, there will be no respite for England from our kiwi cousins.

      (BTW, I was hoping Santa might give you a decent coloured avatar for Christmas, no such luck it seems, yoiu were obviously too naughty in 2017. Maybe next year, or for your birthday).

      Like

      • quebecer January 2, 2018 / 11:43 pm

        Footpaths, yes, that’s right. I’d forgotten what a literal people you are.

        While it’s a little early to tell about Bancroft, Khawaja really is an odd one. I can’t work him out at all. Everything says he’s test class, especially when actually watching him. But then again… not in this series. Not on the subcontinent. Not in England. And the Marshes continue to befuddle. As for Smith, sometimes averages are misleading. For example, Cook now averages 54, yet one can hardly say every time he’s walked to the wicket you can expect hm to score 54. Smith, on the there hand, averages 151 and you have to say, every time he walks to the wicket, it feels like ehe’s going to score 151.

        As for outplaying Australia at the MCG, for some people this needs to be true, I suppose, just as the pitch could only be called a dog when Cook wasn’t batting on it. But you’re right about the wheels thing – a clearer case of differences in leadership could not be wanted.

        P.S. Watch for Bairstow to score well in NZ.

        Like

        • Deep Purple Fred January 3, 2018 / 8:05 am

          Oh good, I’m glad you’re puzzled about Khaweja too, I don’t feel so stupid. One look at him and he’s obviously the next Damien Martyn, but then he keeps getting out. Maybe the SA tour will be his breakthrough.

          Like

          • LordCanisLupus January 3, 2018 / 1:06 pm

            Funny how the biggest critics of county cricket aren’t overseas superstars…Steve Smith, for one.

            “It was a decision I had to make at the time, and I think I chose the right one. I never had ambitions to play for England as such, I always wanted to play for Australia.

            “But I love how county cricket looked and how it was played. I thought it would be really good to play it. My good mate Sam Robson has taken the route to play county cricket and has done very well. He has played for England, obviously. But I never wanted to go down that path.”

            While Smith’s schedule is busy these days, he retains ambitions to play four-day county cricket at some stage. And with up to half-a-dozen Australian players expected to feature in county cricket in 2018 – a year before several of them will return in a bid to retain the Ashes in 2019 – that could come sooner rather than later.

            “I’d love to play some county cricket at some point in my career,” Smith said. “I never had any opportunity to play four-day cricket there. I had a Twenty20 stint with Worcestershire, which I really enjoyed.

            “But I think just any chance guys get to play first-class cricket against quality oppositions in foreign conditions, it’s only good for the individual to try to improve their game. And I’m sure the counties enjoy having a quality player coming and playing for them as well.”

            Like

          • Deep Purple Fred January 3, 2018 / 2:30 pm

            Well, England is very promiscuous with its domestic competition, just like it is with football. It means you get some great cricketers playing locally (fancy having Sangakarra join your local club, ffs!) but with downsides in developing local talent and giving experience to international competitors.

            I share with Smith his desire for him to play a bit of CC and master those conditions too! Hopefully before the next Ashes.

            But the reason Smith values CC may not be the same reason an English person would value it. He probably doesn’t care how effective it is in producing test-level talent for England, he just wants to add to his own education.

            Like

  6. dannycricket January 1, 2018 / 10:47 pm

    The latest update from the ECB’s new T20 league: The teams won’t have any kind of city or regional branding, so that they can easily move the teams around the country. The point about linking the team to a location is that it is one thing that allows you to build an audience over several years. T20 leagues have annual drafts which mean that fans can’t really grow attached to groups of players like they can in other sports (or indeed the T20 Blast), so the team being from your city is pretty much the only thing that ties potential fans to the team. It’s like they’re trying to fail…

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus January 2, 2018 / 12:20 pm

      I’ve seen absolutely nothing yet from Tom Harrison that convinces me he isn’t a more menacing Paul Downton.

      Like

  7. ianrsa January 2, 2018 / 2:48 am

    All the very best for the new year everyone. Now I’m in New Zealand and getting settled in. It has been great to see the Ashes at a civilized time instead of having to get up at 2am.

    Quick question, is Geoff Lemon the new Mike Selvey (spit)?

    Like

    • quebecer January 2, 2018 / 3:26 am

      Merry merry, happy happy, Ian 🙂 Hope all is well with you and yours. Whereabouts in NZ did you say you are again?

      Like

    • Deep Purple Fred January 2, 2018 / 9:33 am

      Hi Ian.
      I thought Lemon was a bit special after his piece on the Ch9 commentary but his work since then strikes me a fairly routine, mundane. His defence of Cook’s innings was just plain wierd, I don’t know why he bothered fighting that particular battle. It’s not a very important question.
      Are you going to become IANNZ now? Doesn’t have quite the same ring.

      Like

  8. quebecer January 2, 2018 / 3:34 am

    Sorry to use the page to send New Years greetings, but all the best to everyone here, and for those I’ve been doing this cricket posting thing for ages now, much love to my old compadre zeph, fondest affection to Sri, and more of the same to NorthernLight, NOC, and Silk. Goodness, the years are stacking up for this and us, aren’t they? I’m glad that we’re doing it here now.

    Like

    • Deep Purple Fred January 2, 2018 / 9:27 am

      I think my first comment was to Mouth of the Mersey, complaining Hoggard was too defensive for bowling wide to Gilchrist, denying him the chance to score the fastest test century, in Perth 2006, he should have seen it as a wicket taking opportunity. So that makes it about 12 years.
      Just when the Gaurdian was going down the tubes, I think it was Clive, in his “sheep” phase, that kept mentioning this Dmitri Old character, so I popped over to have a look…
      If I remember correctly, SimonH was also a veteran from there under a different but similar name? Haven’t seen him around lately.
      All the best people have come over, and me too : )

      Like

      • LordCanisLupus January 2, 2018 / 12:29 pm

        Simon sometimes has connectivity issues which leaves him absent for long periods. It’s always disconcerting because I think we might have upset him (pretty sure he was holdingahighline on the Guardian).

        I packed all that nonsense in due to around three or four muppets. The omerta that you weren’t allowed to mention international cricket on their beloved county pages was another, and that was more cliquey than here! Then there was the ratio of stupid posts to sensible ones BTL, which got worse over time. Now I hardly read it, think they’ve wasted Ali Martin, and those that pine for Selfey should read his tweets and see just how much contempt he holds anyone who doesn’t bow at his altar.

        Glad people stayed here. Interesting how some of the great intellects on Guardian BTL sniped at us over there, but never came on here to do so. I know what they would have said so I was probably spared.

        Like

    • Sri.Grins January 2, 2018 / 4:24 pm

      Q, Thank you. Remiss of me.

      I should have posted new year greetings to the bloggers and the posters.

      I love reading the comments on this blog and equally love stoking up the dying embers of optimism (having been born a Indian it is a gift or curse we are born with 🙂 )

      I must thank you Q for bringing this blog to my notice. You deserve a wonderful avatar. (The pwers that be will surely listen to me 🙂 )

      Like

      • thelegglance January 2, 2018 / 4:27 pm

        You can do it yourselves I think. The avatar that is. It’s all in the settings for each account. And for obvious reasons, we don’t see your accounts!

        Like

        • Deep Purple Fred January 2, 2018 / 4:51 pm

          Shshshshshsh!

          Like

        • Quebecer January 2, 2018 / 6:23 pm

          What?

          Like

          • thelegglance January 2, 2018 / 6:24 pm

            What what? 😀 What have I said that you’re asking about?

            Like

          • Deep Purple Fred January 2, 2018 / 7:20 pm

            I think he was asking about your analysis of Cook’s rediscovered batting technique. Just tell him again how Cook is keeping his head in line with the ball.

            Like

          • Quebecer January 2, 2018 / 9:25 pm

            No! Avatar thing. I could have replaced my Dmitri punishment avatar??

            Like

    • Silk January 2, 2018 / 9:40 pm

      Oh, hello! Happy new year.

      Glad to see the Curran selection came off, and… Oh, I can’t be bothered any more.

      BTL Jamie Porter is the solution. Now as an Essexer I have major man-love for Jamie Porter. But if Jamie Porter is the answer, then you must have been gazing out the window and not paying /any/ attention in lessons at all.

      Like

      • LordCanisLupus January 2, 2018 / 9:56 pm

        Ok KP?

        What an absolute prick.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Mark January 3, 2018 / 1:35 am

          “It would mean everything to win here”

          “It would mean everything?” Really? So it would mean more than winning the ashes would it? More than winning in 2011?

          Jimmy Anderson isn’t the sharpest knife in the draw is he? And no surprise to see arch ECB boot licker Hughes doing what he does best. Licking ECB boots. Notice how Hughes loyally takes whatever bullshit is served up to him by Anderson? Never once questions anything that comes out of the ECB or their senior players.

          The Aussies decided your team were so shit Anderson that they could afford to rest their best bowler in Melbourne. Wonder if they will bother bringing him back for Sydney? Not much point now. No dead rubbers. Just team rotation (cough cough cough)

          Ok Hughes?

          Like

    • Zephirine January 3, 2018 / 1:37 am

      Happy New Year, Quebecer, and all the best to Mrs Q and the twins. Best wishes for 2018 to all old blogging hands and new talent. I’m trying not to reflect on how many years I’ve been writing irritated comments about cricket, it’s far too many, but good company does make a lot of difference.

      Like

    • Silk January 2, 2018 / 9:41 pm

      Wash your mouth out! Greatest innings by an Englander since Gooch’s 333. Or possibly Cook’s 235.

      Like

  9. man in a barrel January 2, 2018 / 8:55 am

    Struggling to get to grips with the logic in that referee’s report tbh. Does it mean that a good pitch should either favour the batsmen too much or help the bowlers? In my outside cricket mentality, if a pitch favours the batsmen or the bowlers, then it does not allow an even contest. Mark me down as a social media numpty

    Like

  10. man in a barrel January 2, 2018 / 9:07 am

    Scyld Berry seems very confident of this prediction. Could it be “good journalism”™?

    In the red-ball format Bayliss preferred a character who was readier than Rashid to “get into the contest” – and thought Crane sufficiently “feisty” to tick the Test boxes.

    Given his roots in Sydney, Bayliss had contacts who told him all about Crane’s game for NSW last March. England have yet to see the SCG as they flew from Melbourne on Sunday and the only match played on the ground this season has been a Big Bash game, because the outfield was relaid after the Aussie Rules season – yes, the SCG is almost a misnomer now as it is primarily the home of Sydney Swans. But the fact that Crane has already tasted success there is the clincher and will win him his Test debut, either instead of Moeen Ali or alongside him, in the place of Tom Curran.

    Like

    • Mark January 2, 2018 / 10:11 am

      Cranes entire selection seems to be based on that 1 game for NSW. It’s absurd, and shows once agin how flawed the selection process is, and the lack of accountability in English cricket.

      Liked by 1 person

      • man in a barrel January 2, 2018 / 5:46 pm

        More good journalism from Dobell

        Mason Crane looks set to make his Test debut in the final match of the Ashes series in Sydney.

        Crane, the 20-year-old leg-spinner, is set to come into the team in place of either Moeen Ali or Tom Curran as England take the opportunity to blood a new player with the series already decided and the whitewash averted.

        While it remains possible that Moeen could retain his place if it seems conditions will justify the selection of two spin bowlers, it appears Crane will be first choice if England go in with only one slow bowler.

        Like

        • Mark January 2, 2018 / 6:18 pm

          “The whitewash averted”

          Ladies and gentleman… I give you the ambition in all its glory of the ECB, and their media stenographers.

          Hip hip hooray the Whitewash has been averted. This is what passes for a calling to account English cricket. Dobell has long since gone to the dark side. He has become a young Selvey.

          Liked by 2 people

  11. man in a barrel January 2, 2018 / 5:50 pm

    The new meme is that Moeen does not get enough overspin on the ball. The question that never seems to get asked is “why not?” It is not a difficult skill to pick up a top-spinner. I know because I managed to pick it up as a schoolboy. All these central contracts, coaches, Loughborough etc seem to have turned our cricketers into retards

    Like

    • thelegglance January 2, 2018 / 5:53 pm

      Was it not hinted that it was his finger injury that was causing that, or did I dream it? If it is down to that, he’s been well and truly sabotaged by playing when not fit to bowl properly.

      Like

      • man in a barrel January 2, 2018 / 6:03 pm

        That’s a good point but the injuries or “alleged injuries” (who knows with this English team?) are not being mentioned now. I seem to recall that Eddie Hemmings was similarly criticised for not having enough overspin in Australia. And was there also a comparison between Warne and some hapless English leggie – not sure if it was Salisbury or Schofield- that showed the English guy just imparting sidespin while Warne released it with the seam at the 45 – halfway between a leggie and a top-spinner? It makes you wonder what the coaches and backroom staff and analysts do

        Like

        • thelegglance January 2, 2018 / 6:07 pm

          Well, I would say that Moeen seems to have got his best advice from Kumar Dharmasena…

          You’re right though, who knows? The bit that always gets me is that the narrative changes without seemingly any reference to what it was a week ago.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Mark January 2, 2018 / 6:29 pm

      England base their selection of a spinner on the dubious criteria of ……

      Can he bat, and how high up the order can he bat? Is it any wonder they don’t take many wickets? They have a spinner who spins the ball,but they didn’t take him with them. He doesn’t fit the bowling dry ideology of Flower and Strauss that is now ingrained into English cricket.

      Also, I would now argue that central contracts have gone too far the other way. Iam not asking to go back to the 1980s when players were discarded after one test match, however, there is a cosy clique of players who don’t seem to have to worry about performance. It’s not the entire team, just certain select players. They seem not to care if the bowl too short, over and over again. Or they are picked for other skills like their batting. They have become undroppable.

      Many of these players are utility players needed in English conditions, but toothless on good flat pitches away from home.

      Like

    • Rooto January 2, 2018 / 8:38 pm

      At the Guardian, Vic Marks keeps mentioning that Moeen has adjusted his action, and once or twice I’ve seen it said that he is now more side on. Someone more knowledgeable than me may be able to say if this would work against the imparting of overspin.

      Like

      • man in a barrel January 2, 2018 / 8:41 pm

        Just try the geometry of swinging your arm over and spinning the ball towards the batsman. It’s easier from front-on but it depends on the combination of over and side spin that you want, plus spin around the vertical axis

        Like

        • man in a barrel January 2, 2018 / 9:26 pm

          On hard modern pitches, I am surprised that so few English offies emulate Lance Gibbs, open-chest, big spin, tons of over spin and bounce. Bounce makes a huge difference. The successful Asian offies have tended to follow that path rather than the Kaker/Illingworth outswing bowler profile

          Like

          • Silk January 2, 2018 / 9:43 pm

            Lance Gibbs. Greatest off-spinner of all time? Discuss.

            Like

          • Silk January 2, 2018 / 9:43 pm

            Or don’t discuss, obviously, if you’d rather not.

            Like

          • thelegglance January 2, 2018 / 9:45 pm

            You’re just trying to provoke an argument about Murali aren’t you? You devious swine!

            Like

          • quebecer January 2, 2018 / 11:45 pm

            Pity. I liked the sound of this Kaker fellow.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Silk January 3, 2018 / 12:41 pm

            TLG – Sorry, I really wasn’t.

            I guess I mean ‘orthoxdox’ off-spinner. Whatever you think about Murali and his action, his bowling style wasn’t remotely similar to any other bowler who turned the ball from off. Gibbs was a great finger spinner, in the traditional mould. Better than Tayfield or Laker or Kaker? I don’t know.

            Like

          • thelegglance January 3, 2018 / 12:42 pm

            I was only teasing, don’t worry!

            Like

        • Quebecer January 2, 2018 / 9:32 pm

          From a bit of a different ways to skin a cat perspective, from more side on, if you concentrate on getting right up on your front foot toes and reaching up high at delivery, boom, overspin.

          Like

          • man in a barrel January 3, 2018 / 12:24 am

            You obviously have very robust shoulders, Q

            Like

          • quebecer January 3, 2018 / 1:30 am

            Yes, people have said that. Well, my Mum did once.

            Like

  12. man in a barrel January 2, 2018 / 11:21 pm

    Hugh Trumble and CTBTurner have claims as well as Tom Goddard, who took about twice as many wickets as Murali

    Like

  13. man in a barrel January 3, 2018 / 12:28 am

    Just recalling that Lindwall appeared for Australia in the 1958-59 Ashes as a 1st change bowler. He took wickets. Obviously he had a much higher skill level than Anderson. Jimmy should be the first choice off – spinner now

    Like

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