5th Ashes Test, Day Two

Australia in a strong position – check

Steve Smith in and looking ominous – check

England’s bowling looking toothless – check

Here we go again.  Despite Tom Harrison’s proclamation that all is well and the only reason England are marginally losing this series is because they haven’t taken their opportunities, two days of cricket at the SCG have once again emphasised the gulf between the teams.  And this after England did fairly well with the bat in the morning too.  In a better balanced series, Australia finishing on 193-2 would mean that with a deficit of 150 still to be made up, the game was in the balance, and if England bowled well in the morning then they would be in a decent position.  The problem is that repeating this in the face of all previous evidence is the kind of thing only the empty suits at the ECB do, to try and ensure that wherever the blame goes, it doesn’t go to them.

Sure, it’s possible that by the time the third day is complete, this post will look ridiculous, as England skittle Australia and start building on their sizeable lead, but the exceptionalist nature of such an outcome, and the way that you, dear reader, have almost certainly scoffed at that possibility is exactly the point.  England have now reached the point where the feeling of inevitability about the outcome has taken hold, a pattern in every Test, apart from the one where the pitch was officially rated as “poor” and allowed England to escape with a triumphant draw – one that sealed the Ashes into eternity according to the response to it in the media.

There can be surprises, certainly.  The weak looking England tail did rather well, aided by some extraordinarily brainless bowling at Stuart Broad, and some impressively inept catching.  Maybe the Australians weren’t quite feeling the intensity with the series well and truly won, not that anyone is allowed to mention that of course.  Still, Tom Curran and Broad rode their luck and made decent contributions, as did the out of sorts Moeen Ali.  Yet while 346 represented a much better total than it could have been, it still looks lightweight in context.

England gained a quick success in dismissing Bancroft, a fairly routine delivery from Broad breaching his defences, which merely goes to highlight that the idea that England are up against a great team remains as absurd as ever – the controversy over their lack of batting depth seems a long time ago.  Perhaps it is the case that Australia do indeed have a very fine bowling attack, but given England’s inability to cope with many others around the world, it’s hard to tell for sure.  Even allowing that, it doesn’t provide an excuse: either England are totally outclassed, in which case why is that; or they are, just unable to grab the moment (Harrison), in which case why are they being battered repeatedly?

After the early success, there were few alarms; Warner compiled a well made fifty, Khawaja closed in on a century, and Steve Smith seems to have been at the crease for the entire series.  And there’s the problem, James Anderson has done fairly well this tour, but while he has received some criticism for being defensive and containing, the question needs to be asked as to what else should be expected of him?  He’s 35 years old, is unquestionably one of the cleverest bowlers around, but surely at this stage of his career he ought to be a support bowler of extreme skill rather than the one carrying the entire attack.  Broad at the other end has had a mixed tour by his own admission, and that’s fine, because it happens.  Last time around he was exceptional even as the side disintegrated around him.

George Dobell is one of the few journalists pointing out the reality of England’s position, the abysmal failure of the ECB to produce fast bowlers, and the seemingly counterproductive fast bowling programme allied to the sidelining of first class cricket.  England’s current pace bowling attack has the feel of the West Indies in the late careers of Courtney Walsh and Curtley Ambrose.  Those who respond to criticism of Anderson and Broad by saying England will miss them when they are gone are exactly right – for when they do go there is so little behind them except a collection of medium pacers without their level of exceptional ability, or crocks.  Cyclical problems can afflict any country, but the utterly blasé response of Harrison’s insistence that all is well highlights Dobell’s point about the complete lack of accountability.  When it is said that this is a golden era having Anderson and Broad, the sad truth is that they are almost certainly right.  A 35 year old and a 31 year old should not be leading the attack with no rivals for their position in a healthy structure.  Don’t blame them, blame the administrators who have created the position where they are not only the best we’ve had in the last 20 years, they are also the best we will have for the next few years as well.  Ambrose and Walsh indeed.

The same can be said to apply to the spinning role.  Moeen Ali has had a miserable tour of it, and once again failed to impress here.  Yet earlier in the series he was apparently being played as a batsman only (only to then bowl) because his finger was so badly damaged, and was also suffering from a side strain.  In the rush to beat him up for this series, this no longer seems to be mentioned at all, in which case it either wasn’t a problem in the first place, or he’s being slated for playing badly when he’s not fit – it has to be one or the other.

Like clockwork, now there are calls for him to be replaced.  Fine.  No player should have a sinecure when they are out of form, or if they ultimately aren’t good enough to stay in the team, but here it still smacks of thrashing around in the death throes.  Drop Moeen Ali by all means, but be sure that the replacement is going to be better.  This doesn’t mean you don’t try things of course, otherwise no one would ever be selected, but in the last 15 months England have used Moeen, Rashid, Ansari, Dawson, Batty and now Crane.  Six spinners in just over a year, discarded one by one as not being good enough, with the last a left-field punt that doesn’t offer huge confidence for a long term selection, which is absolutely not his fault.

As Dobell points out, Adam Riley, meant to be the answer to England’s spinning woes, didn’t play a county championship match last season, and even Crane only appeared in some of them.  They can give Ollie Rayner a go, presumably based on his average of just under 40 last season that just screams “pick me”, but it isn’t going to magically change things.  Moeen might well have been very poor away from home (again, let’s emphasise he was meant to be injured for this one, because this seems to be constantly ignored) but he has been good at home, both with bat and ball.  Is that remotely ideal or acceptable?  Absolutely not.  Is it probably as good as is likely whoever they pick?  Yes.  It might even be better.  This is not a defence of Moeen Ali or a call for him to be retained, but it is pointing out that the idea that things will magically change for the better when a player is dumped is wishful thinking.  England do not have ready made replacements to slot in and improve the team, nor do they have a production line of young talent.

The same applies to Cook.  In his poor spells, it can’t possibly be said that he came under true pressure for his place, not in this case because of the media, although that is true, but because with a lack of a successful opening partner, how could he possibly have his own place questioned?  Cook horribly out of form was still England’s best opener.

Irrespective of how this match unfolds, the true horror of England’s position is that this really is their best team, and most of their best players are in the later stages of their career.  Perhaps some will magically seize their opportunities, but it’s not something you’d put the house on.

This is where the ECB have led the English game to.  Invisible, unimportant, hidden away, wealthy (for now), not very good, and likely to get worse in future.  Well done chaps, drinks all round.

Day Three Comments Below



114 thoughts on “5th Ashes Test, Day Two

  1. Tom Jan 5, 2018 / 2:12 pm

    I’m going to make a quick prediction. Malan will be opening the batting in the next 18 months. Not that I want him to, just think it’ll happen.


  2. OscarDaBosca Jan 5, 2018 / 2:16 pm

    Einstein’s definition of madness is repeating the same thing and expecting a different outcome.

    Not even angry anymore, cancelling BT and Sky Sports in the spring and for the 2nd year in succession I will not be going to a home test match (I usually go for 3-4 days of a match).

    It is small beer, but I am not going to fund the ECB anymore as even if we lose this series 4-0 it is unlikely that any review will take place, and my guess is that the media will blame Root.

    Even in the 90s we competed, even if the team we were playing were clearly superior to us. With this current Australia team I have yet to be convinced (apart from Smith) that they are that much better than us (home conditions not withstanding)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Silk Jan 5, 2018 / 2:54 pm

    Anderson has, after 3 innings of filth, bowled extremely well on this tour. Far better than I expected him to. If he hadn’t bowled so poorly first dig at Adelaide it might be 2-1 right now. He’s carrying England pretty much single handed, which, as you say, can’t work.

    Broad really needs to blow Australia away tomorrow for this to be a remotely acceptable tour for him.

    Woakes disappointed me, but it wasn’t a surprise. I was shouted down before the start of the tour, on TFT, about him being a bit like Bob Massie but that doesn’t seem a bad comparison now. We’ll doubtless stick with him and he’ll take stacks with the Duke ball (if his side allows him to bowl) but I can see him being a real impediment to overseas success.

    We need a spinner. A real spinner.


    • metatone Jan 5, 2018 / 4:01 pm

      I’ve been ranting about this for a year or more. If you’ve got Anderson and Broad it’s hard to see what Woakes adds. If it’s hooping around those two can do the business, if it’s not, he adds no extra threat.

      Woakes can be a vital bowler of a future side where e.g. Anderson has retired, but in giving him games now we’ve prioritised his development over developing a bowler who could maybe address some of our current problems.

      As for the spinner, I feel like (as much as I love Moeen as a character) we actually went right back to the same old error of picking a spinner on their batting prowess/potential. Which was all the more odd in a period where Stokes was there and being an allrounder. Until we can find the courage for a strategy where the spinner is there to be a bowler first I fear we’re always going to be handing an advantage to the opposition, right from the start. 20 wickets has to be a priority.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Silk Jan 5, 2018 / 4:11 pm

        Selvey insisted that Moeen was more than a part timer and his selection as frontline spinner was actually right. And /he’s/ played a Test match. What have /you/ done, you mouth-breather, you?


        • LordCanisLupus Jan 5, 2018 / 4:40 pm

          Not only that but his first three wickets were Roy Fredericks, Viv Richards and Alvin Kallicharran. I am afraid, as a result, we must be silent.

          PS – Got Greenindge and Lloyd in the second innings to dismiss the whole of that top 5 in one test. Brian Moore’s kinda guy.


          • Silk Jan 5, 2018 / 4:49 pm

            Moeen Ali got Fredricks, Richards and Kali? Bloody hell! He must have been an early starter! He’s really gone down hill lately, mind…


          • OscarDaBosca Jan 5, 2018 / 4:49 pm

            But only played two more tests, seven less than Adil Rashid, so I would rather his opinion.


          • Silk Jan 5, 2018 / 4:52 pm

            A real nail-biter, that one. England almost snuck it.


  4. Sri.Grins Jan 5, 2018 / 3:03 pm

    286 SA. Not bad but could have been better probably if Ishant had been preferred to Bumrah. Still raw to test cricket but I guess he will learn.


    • Scrim Jan 5, 2018 / 4:46 pm

      What’s the deal with KL Rahul missing out? He was outstanding when Australia toured India.


      • Quebecer Jan 5, 2018 / 8:36 pm

        Along with Sir Lord Ravindra’s illness and absence, it does look a bit of an odd line up for India. And neither Yadav? I don’t know anything about Pandya, but is he really a test #7? Because to be honest, Saha feels a place high at #6. Any light to shed, Sri?


        • Sri. Grins Jan 6, 2018 / 1:10 am

          Yadav is pacy but of late has not been able to deliver in domestic cricket. He does not adjust but bowls what we call the India line on flatter pitches. On the stumps and hence can be worked away to the leg on pitches away helping pace.


        • Sri. Grins Jan 6, 2018 / 1:13 am

          Pandya is not a test 6 or a test all rounder currently. But, He is being groomed for the spot overseas assuming that we need 3 pacers and a fast bowling all rounder ☺. Sounds familiar?

          Jokes apart, Pandya is a good learner and I expect him to be an asset over time when we travel away.


        • Sri. Grins Jan 6, 2018 / 1:14 am

          Pandya is the test no 6 BTW. He is a better bat than Saha


      • Sri. Grins Jan 6, 2018 / 1:07 am

        Kohli has his quirks. One of them is that dhawan scores faster and with Vijay being slower, we need someone to score quickly. Kl scores slower in tests. Second is right left combo is good.

        I expected the gamble to fail and so it did. Shikhar currently is not great on pitches not similar to the sub continent


        • quebecer Jan 6, 2018 / 1:56 am

          I hadn’t mentioned Dhawan, but I just can’t believe he’s the best opener available (in tests). And given #6 down isn’t the strongest, surely there is huge pressure on Sharma. Hmmmmmm… optimism? Time for Rohit to become the test player he could be.


          • Sri. Grins Jan 6, 2018 / 2:02 am

            Shikhar is in the position cook is at the moment. 😀. Great in sub continent fails away.

            We actually don’t have openers who have been great for more than 7 years. Has been always an issue in the past after sunny. Sewage delivered but not reliably away. Sunny was our last great away opener. So, you can see the issue. At least you had cook till a few years ago to look up to. ☺. For us, it has been almost 40 years


          • Sri. Grins Jan 6, 2018 / 2:04 am

            Double hundreds from rohit and che


          • Sri. Grins Jan 6, 2018 / 2:05 am

            Sehwag. Sorry for the typo. Loved his batting so can’t call him sewage. 😀


          • quebecer Jan 6, 2018 / 2:08 am

            whatever happened to Mukund?


          • Sri. Grins Jan 6, 2018 / 2:47 am

            He is still in contention but after shikhar. Has not really been able to step up like his Chennai mate murali Vijay


          • quebecer Jan 6, 2018 / 2:58 am

            Vijay is totally my favourite Indian batsman. Nothing more than a personal aesthetic taste, but I’d rather watch a test century from him than I think anyone else in the game right now.

            If Vijay was a film director he’d be Jim Jarmusch. The trick to enjoying them is to simply sit back and let them take you on their journey at their pace, letting them delight you as they see fit along the way.


  5. Mark Jan 5, 2018 / 3:59 pm

    Fascinating how the media meme has now changed to say that this tour is a triumph compared to last time. Apparently that was the worst toring team (COOK/FLOWER) ever, according to some of the Bagdad Bobs in the media. Do you remember reading that line four years ago?

    Isn’t it funny how that tour (which we are now told was the worst ever) yet the captain kept his job? Amazing. 5-0, the team were hopeless but the captain stayed in situ, and the coach resigned and then promptly was rehired into a cushy Job back at the ECB.

    No surprise to those who have watched this shabby afair for the last four years. Shocking incompetence, lies, and zero accountability from the most dishonest media in sport. At least the football journos take on the FA and FIFA. They criticse the players and the managers. But in cricket it’s all public relations. Each PR man doing his up most to spin for the Governing body.

    Don’t let them fool you. This tour is much worse than last time whatever happens in the rest of this match. The fact that 5-0 has been everted is irrelevent. Last time the wheels came off in the first three tests just like here, but the Aussies wanted to ram it home, they felt they had been shown little respect in England. They were on a mission like 2007. Not so here. Once the Ashes was done they were going through the motions. Did you see the catches they dropped yesterday morning. Sitters! This is not a crack Aussie team. Smith is a freak like player who they have no idea how to get out, but England have looked toothless against most of the other Batsman.

    We still might win this test bizarrely , but it will not cover up the bankrupcy of the situation. England ageing bowlers are four year older than last time. The ECB plan, if hey have a plan is to keep Jimmy and Cook going until they are 39, and Broad 35, and see if something turns up, By then their super duper night of a thousand stars 20/20 will be in full fling, and who gives a frig if test matches are lost. That was sooooo last century!

    Liked by 4 people

    • LordCanisLupus Jan 5, 2018 / 4:52 pm

      Problem with leaving the writing to others, and they are doing a great job, is that I feel the need to vent my anger at the sheer unwillingness of the press to learn the lessons of four years ago and just ignore Harrison. The memes for this tour are:

      1. Steve Smith is the difference between the two teams. If he wasn’t there it would be an even contest. But he is and it hasn’t been. Instead of saying how come they’ve produced yet another top class batsman, we send out professional Michael Vaughan impersonator James Vince, who passed 50 one more time than the behemoth at the top of the order, and in the tests where the series was still being contested. He had his go and he didn’t shape up, and we asked him to bat at 3.

      2. Moeen Ali and the lack of spin. This is like Southeastern cancelling trains and blaming the trains for breaking down. What are you doing about it? What have you done about it? What are you going to do in the future?

      3. The tail has been blown away because they have pace and we don’t – Because the top order have let us down.

      4. There’s no-one out there to take the top order places – Well, they found one from nowhere, in Dawid Malan. He’s impressed everyone. Now they should put their faith in their judgement and look to see any other gems. Temperament over results. The right stuff. Australia took a couple of punts, Bancroft hasn’t worked, the two Marsh brothers have. They have a smaller pool, too.

      5. No-one wins away any more – Defeatist claptrap. Since when was that acceptable.

      6. Joe Root can’t convert 50s into 100s – I’m the first to mention someone else’s lack of hundreds, but really. Joe Root will come good, we all know that. He’s not being dismissed cheaply with his technique being dismantled on a terribly frequent basis. Again, scoring all your runs in one dig on a road isn’t proof you are back, just as Root getting out in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s is proof that there’s a serious mental issue. Root is one of the least parts of the problem here.

      7. No Ben Stokes – well we could be here all day.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Jan 5, 2018 / 5:35 pm

        They have to tell you it’s much better than last time because this is the end of the four year cycle. The very cycle that builder Strauss was constructing. Building, building, building.

        Turns out he employed Paddy and Mick to dig the foundations, and they only went down a few inches. Also, Paddy had an uncle who was a good bricke, so he said. Now the house is lopsided, and there is water pouring through the walls.

        Still, all they have to do is get a few dodgy building inspectors (not hard to find in the media) to look at it, and say it’s fully mortgageable, and they can flog it off to some nieve first time buyer.


        • thelegglance Jan 5, 2018 / 5:39 pm

          Yes, but they’ve focused on white ball cricket, and those T20 World Cups, Champions Trophies and World Cups more than make up for it, right?


      • thebogfather Jan 5, 2018 / 7:48 pm

        Vent, Vent, Vent.. or repent?
        You know you want to and will
        So however long until your next long run is sent
        We shall know there’ll be thrills
        Of reality and honesty in targets true be
        Their finality so dishonest be, the third coming of our Dmitri…

        Liked by 1 person

        • LordCanisLupus Jan 5, 2018 / 10:20 pm

          If I write like this, you have my permission to shoot me.

          “When two wickets fell in the final minutes of day one, abruptly came the coppery tang of adrenaline, the feel of standing in a thunderstorm sucking coins. Capillary blood a membrane away.

          My colleague Adam Collins has cricket dreams. Reported in the morning with an enquiring concern, scouring them for meaning.”

          They call this “trying too hard”. Geoff Lemon is really trying too hard.


          Someone should have told him “no. This is not being published”.


  6. Silk Jan 5, 2018 / 4:07 pm

    Wish I was in Cape Town.

    Also, I may be wrong, but India appear to have picked a team where the tail, outside of Asia, starts at 5. Is this some sort of record?

    Then again, Steyn, Phillander and Morkel are no Woakes, Curran and Overton, so I doubt it counts for much.


    • LordCanisLupus Jan 5, 2018 / 4:38 pm

      I wish I was in CapeTown and it’s got little to do with the cricket!

      India taking the England approach of packing the side with all rounders. Cape Town has been a bit of a road for the New Years test in recent years (if I recall correctly) and now we are seeing it do a bit. Looking forward to watching the highlights to see Ab De Bothered (because it is India) bat and the early collapse. Assuming Sky put the highlights on at the time they said they would, which is never a given.


      • Mark Jan 5, 2018 / 4:59 pm

        The ECB will be rubbing their hands with glee at the thought of Indai collapsing away from home. A home destruction by England on dodgy pitches in the summer will be used to say alls well, and ar’nt we good,

        As long as the big three can keep winning their home games the money will keep pouring in, and the muppets in the peanut gallery will be drooling. I’m not quite sure, however what the point is as a Spectator to one sided home series? It’s not really a contest is it?

        It’s a bit like a well know play or musical. You know how it ends.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sri. Grins Jan 6, 2018 / 1:26 am

        Actually that India packed the team with all rounders is not a fact. They went in for 3 pacers plus 1 medium pace bowling all rounder which makes sense. They had to pick one spinner. Ashwin played because sir jadeja was ill and didn’t bowl too badly. Got two wickets in 7 overs.

        The punt which went wrong was that shami and the surprise selection bumrah, did not bowl well enough to support bhuvi. Happens at times.

        I would blame virat for selecting bumrah ahead of Ishant and dhawan ahead of Rahul but virat has a history of surprising selections.

        If shami and bumrah had bowled to potential, it would have been great especially as shami is supposed to be the spearhead but it is like the Adelaide test first innings. It happens.


        • LordCanisLupus Jan 6, 2018 / 2:57 am

          Ashwin is due to bat at 8 isn’t he? I’d say you have a number of all rounders in the team if that is the case. Whether that’s the intention is another matter.


          • Sri.Grins Jan 6, 2018 / 3:22 am

            Ashwin may bat well but he has not been selected in the team because he adds depth to batting like Moeen. He is a good strike bowler. The same with Sir Jadeja. He is also a strike bowler. That your strike bowler can bat (example Pat Cummins) does not mean that you have packed the side with all rounders a la England.

            England’s strategy is different from India’s except in one respect. That is the seam bowling all rounder for away tours. India are hoping to make Pandya into a mini Stokes. I don’t blame them for trying as in away tours, our pace bowlers do tend to be erratic and having an additional bowler who can spell them and yet be reasonably threatening is useful.

            So, I would still differ from your statement that India are packing the side with all rounders. England are packing the side with all rounders and this is a clear strategy. India does not. In India they play 3 spinners and two pacers mostly with no all rounder and away the usual tactic earlier was 3 pacers and 1 spinner and the extra batsman. However Virat believes that playing 6 batsmen would not give him 20 wickets away given current stock of pace bowlers and so he has preferred the 3+1+1 approach as a kind of a middle course where he hopes that the seam bowling all rounder could get 1/2 wickets and also make some runs instead of punting on an extra batsman which would be a defensive ply knowing that unless the wickets were totally seam paradises, India would struggle to take 20 wickets.

            I don’t fault his thinking only his preference for Dhawan over Rahul and Bumrah over Ishant but then neither Rahul or Ishant have done great deeds away in the past and so it at best a marginal call based on my brain vs virat’s in assessment of the player.


  7. Deep Purple Fred Jan 5, 2018 / 5:24 pm

    “Australia took a couple of punts, Bancroft hasn’t worked…”
    Well, I ‘spose. He hasn’t exactly failed either. Depends what you expect from your young debutants. It’s more common than not that players take time to establish themselves, coming and going a bit. I’m sure we’ll see more of him, and Handscomb too.


    • LordCanisLupus Jan 5, 2018 / 5:47 pm

      I think by most judgments, Bancroft hasn’t worked in this series. I wonder if it’s a one series wonder for him, or if he has what it takes to come back. He looked shocking in Melbourne.


      • Silk Jan 5, 2018 / 8:42 pm

        Didn’t take much special to get rid of him today, either. Renshaw, for me, a far better bet.


  8. Rohan Jan 5, 2018 / 8:22 pm


    Seriously, I mean are they for real? Was he really that good? He didn’t take a wicket! He went at 3.41 an over! If I was Rashid, not only would I feel there is clear bias and prejudice in the treatment of spin bowlers by England and the MSM, but I would be glad I didn’t get picked for this tour. Clear briefing in favour of Crane, compare that to what we saw when Rashid was in the team. Sorry but it’s appalling, disgusting and one had to wonder if in built prejudices in certain well known media/ECB types are the reason…….that’s really wound me up. Feel sorry for Crane also, getting such lavish praise and hyperbole for an average performance. Have I missed something here, was he actually amazing?!

    Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus Jan 5, 2018 / 9:48 pm

      Not sure why your three posts went into Spam. But anyway, I’ve released this one….


    • nonoxcol Jan 5, 2018 / 11:05 pm

      I could not agree more. Clocked it as soon as I got up, when Lovejoy was on TMS unfortunately.

      Not sure anything post-difficult winter has quite as fetid a stench as England/the media’s treatment of Adil Rashid.


      • Zephirine Jan 5, 2018 / 11:16 pm

        There’s a bit of a familiar touch to the coverage of Rashid. “We know things…. we can’t tell you…. but there are good reasons… ”

        Perhaps he looks out of windows. Maybe he whistles


        • quebecer Jan 5, 2018 / 11:35 pm

          i don’t know, zeph, I really don’t. Sometimes I wonder whether it’s that the establishment decide to go a certain way between players – players whose abilities really aren’t that far apart. Then, having done so, performances are unlikely to give clear justifications for the decisions (because of the none of the players involved are real stand out test players), so they have to find something else.

          Of course, actually, they don’t need to and it would be better to admit things and be straight: “Rashid did’t quite have the effect in India we’d hoped for, and we wonder whether his abilities wouldn’t be better concentrated on the short formats. Crane is highly promising, and while we accept it’s a risk, we’ve decided to give the young player a chance now to really start his development as a test bowler.”

          I’d accept that. I’d disagree, thinking this was not the series to do it, but I’d accept that decisions have to be made and it at least has an internal logic.


          • thelegglance Jan 5, 2018 / 11:49 pm

            Adil Rashid is a working class kid who went to state school. Mason Crane went to Lancing College.

            I’ll just leave that there. It happens too often to be coincidence.

            Liked by 2 people

          • metatone Jan 6, 2018 / 7:50 am

            I think the reason they don’t put that logic out is people would ask the obvious question: is Crane really ready enough if Moeen gets injured (say a side strain and a finger blister) before the 1st Test?

            Liked by 1 person

          • metatone Jan 6, 2018 / 7:53 am

            @TLG – I’ll add one more factor from Rashid’s early time with England (before Mo entered the scene) – Adil doesn’t drink, so the “he didn’t fit in” whispering started right away. Now Mo has been loud and proud enough that he doesn’t get flak for that, but I fear the culture hasn’t really changed regarding this.


          • @pktroll Jan 6, 2018 / 10:18 am

            One of the things that was said time and again last summer was that Root didn’t rate/get on with Rashid. Sad that this can happen and possibly way lay an objective selection of the side. Sadly this is nothing new.


      • mdpayne87 Jan 6, 2018 / 9:47 am

        I have no way of substantiating this but my suspicion is Rashid’s cards have been marked since he requested to be rested for the Championship decider with Middlesex last year.


        • nonoxcol Jan 6, 2018 / 11:13 am

          One way of substantiating it is that Selvey used exactly that phrase about Rashid at exactly that time….

          …but then he played seven Tests and took 30 wickets at 35.

          However, that was under a different captain.

          Part of what baffles me is the hint of Emperor’s New Clothes about the reaction to Crane, and the striking contrast with Rashid’s first two games (one nearly won, one nearly saved, then Selvey said drop him and play five seamers in the UAE).

          I’ve even seen praise for him not letting the barracking get to him after he pulls out of a delivery. In isolation fair enough, but do we honestly think Raahid would not have been questioned for pulling out in the first place?


          • nonoxcol Jan 6, 2018 / 11:57 am

            Also, most observers felt Rashid should have made his debut in the West Indies in 2015. There was some controversy after a previously omitted (due to injury) Ali was flown out for the second Test to replace Tredwell. Part of it was that England were carrying six Yorkshire players, the CC was underway and one of the six was clearly not going to be used.

            I went to a charity event in S Yorks, starring Agnew, soon after this. He was very disparaging of Rashid for apparently wanting to go home and play for Yorks instead of carry drinks for England. This seemed reflective of the way most of the media reported it. I think they started marking his card then to be honest; it just got drowned out by Graves/Strauss/355 not out/Moores/Downton, all of which happened very quickly after Barbados.

            No little irony there, given the later CC 2016 episode.


        • LordCanisLupus Jan 6, 2018 / 12:17 pm

          I am so cheesed off because I can’t find it, but “his card has been marked” were the words used by Selvey, I’m sure, when Rashid cried off through injury from a Lord’s test – either 2015 or 2014 – because of a finger problem. But unless I can find it, it’s just a nagging itch at the back of my brain.


          So I have the test match now….and I think it is this part I am misremembering.

          Currently, the way in which Rashid has been selected in squads suggests not just that they wish to keep monitoring him at first hand but that at the moment there is no other credible option.

          There is a view, though, one held within the England set-up, that Rashid bowls too slowly for Test cricket where the demands of batsmen are not to try to score at seven an over with fielders round the boundary. The easy manner in which Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor played him during the ODI series this summer shows such is his pace – 47-49 mph – that, even if his variations cannot be read from the hand, he can be played from the pitch or from down it. If he tries to bowl quicker, he loses control and the ability to spin the ball.

          There are also doubts about how comfortable he would be in a Test environment. The thing is, England would surely not want to discover these things in the first Test in Abu Dhabi when Younis Khan, say, gets to the crease. So now is the opportunity.


          • Rohan Jan 6, 2018 / 12:30 pm

            Sure I remember you quoting this, it definitely happened, because there was all the rubbish about him bowling to slow as well! Could it have been Newman though?


          • nonoxcol Jan 6, 2018 / 1:37 pm

            I googled it before my post, and it turned out to be exactly when mdpayne87 said: after the CC withdrawal.

            (I was quite surprised as well, thought it was 2015)


      • Rohan Jan 6, 2018 / 12:19 pm

        Spot on in your 3rd sentence, total agreement.


        • Rohan Jan 6, 2018 / 12:28 pm

          The comment above ^^^^ was in reply to NONOXCOL at the beginning.

          Another thing to add to the mixing pot, who is Adil Rashid’s agent, does he even have one? Whereas Crane is part of the same group, as regularly pointed out by LCL and TLG (thanks for spotting this), as Vaughan, Vince et al. So not only does Crane come from the right school, he’s also in the ‘in crowd’ with regards sports agency.

          If your interested, more lovey dovey about Crane here http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/42576888

          I feel sorry for the guy, I think they (MSM, YOU KNOW THE USUALS etc.) are hyping him up and what happens if he turns out not to ‘cut it’, will they then tear him down……


  9. Sherwick Jan 5, 2018 / 11:26 pm

    Christ almighty! Crane’s superb bowlong is now the main hero headline on the BBC home page!!! (I have a screenprint as proof as I don’t believe it, Victor Meldrew style!)


  10. LordCanisLupus Jan 5, 2018 / 11:55 pm

    As the series winds down to its merciful end, I would like to remark that the standard of Twitter comment from many has deteriorated throughout to reach a real nadir in the last half hour or so. Smith is nigh on impossible to bowl to at the moment. We’ve had players we haven’t been able to get out in series – Lara, Yousuf, Inzy, Kohli, Sanga, Kallis, and now Smith. It’s called form.


    • Deep Purple Fred Jan 6, 2018 / 12:03 am

      And Amla. Didn’t he bat about 3 test innings in a series in England recently before he was dismissed?


      • quebecer Jan 6, 2018 / 12:12 am

        You’re not helping. Though I understand you’re not trying to.

        P.S, Chanderpaul would be another.


        • Deep Purple Fred Jan 6, 2018 / 12:24 am

          I could mention Michael Clarke too, but his form was mostly against India and SA, so not quite as helpful.


    • nonoxcol Jan 6, 2018 / 12:30 am

      On the flip side, here’s the man who brought you the Tweet That Summed Up 2014:


      • metatone Jan 6, 2018 / 7:54 am

        @TLG – shades of my comment further up…


  11. dlpthomas Jan 6, 2018 / 1:15 am

    This looks like being a long day for England. First time I’ve seen Crane bowl – looks tidy and a bit of turn. He could have a future if managed properly.


    • dlpthomas Jan 6, 2018 / 1:24 am

      And Moen gets Smith – maybe I jinxed the Aussies for a change. Let’s try that again. England won’t take another wicket today……..


      • quebecer Jan 6, 2018 / 1:28 am

        Your powers are great – but indisciplined.


        • dlpthomas Jan 6, 2018 / 1:31 am

          Speaking of discipline, Crane goes bowls a fucking no-ball and misses his first test wicket.


          • dlpthomas Jan 6, 2018 / 1:31 am

            That will test his character.


          • dlpthomas Jan 6, 2018 / 1:33 am

            Gutted for the kid.


          • LordCanisLupus Jan 6, 2018 / 2:58 am

            Let’s see Selfey get all pious. Does that well.


          • quebecer Jan 6, 2018 / 1:47 am

            That was… Aw…Welcome to test cricket, Master Crane.


    • dannycricket Jan 6, 2018 / 7:42 am

      So you’re saying that Crane doesn’t have a future then? That’s pretty harsh…

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Sri. Grins Jan 6, 2018 / 2:09 am

    Q, I think they have invested in crane which is good but I would have played him in Melbourne. He would have gone far better in Sydney.


    • quebecer Jan 6, 2018 / 2:19 am

      I’d agree with that. To be clear though, I think the should have been playing Rashid from the get go.


    • metatone Jan 6, 2018 / 7:56 am

      Definitely agree, Melbourne was a dead rubber too, time to experiment. And even though it wasn’t a bowler friendly pitch, if you guaranteed him a game in Sydney so he wasn’t in fear, then Melb would have been good acclimation time.


      • Silk Jan 6, 2018 / 8:47 am

        To be fair, Curran really added something at Melbourne. Cracking pick.


  13. Sri.Grins Jan 6, 2018 / 4:12 am

    Q, looks like the ashes test at Sydney is likely to be a punishment for us optimists unless England manage to eke out a draw when asked to bat again sometime tomorrow.

    Sydney is reasonably flat and Oz managed a draw against India in 2003 despite a daunting target so a draw is not impossible to achieve.


    • quebecer Jan 6, 2018 / 4:25 am

      My only hope (which I know is a step away from optimism) is that Stoneman and Vince feel their places need to be played for and nailed on, Root calms down and just bats, and Malan and Bairstow remember how good they are and make it look like easy again. Of course, at the end of 5 tests where you’ve got a hiding and then the awful grinding in to the dust they are having to go through in the field right now… put it this way, I’m more optimistic Nohit will put that nasty nickname to bed at Newlands.


  14. oreston Jan 6, 2018 / 4:50 am

    Crane’s just brought up his first Test century. Only one maiden in 30 overs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • oreston Jan 6, 2018 / 4:58 am

      …and almost straight afterwards he goes and bags Khawaja, just to make me look mean spirited. Aussies reeling at 375/4.


      • dlpthomas Jan 6, 2018 / 5:30 am

        I think he deliberately pushed it wide so well bowled. Crane will be knackered by the end of the day – he can’t have bowled this many overs for a long time.


        • oreston Jan 6, 2018 / 6:03 am

          Some Farley’s Rusks, a glass of milk and straight up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire, I would think. Perhaps if he’s good Uncle Jimmy will read him a bedtime story.

          Liked by 1 person

      • metatone Jan 6, 2018 / 7:58 am

        I’m actually a bit sad about this, it would have been a pleasant symmetry if he’d matched Adil’s 0/165 before he got a wicket.


  15. BoredInAustria Jan 6, 2018 / 8:39 am

    Well the good news is Smith did not get a ton. And that is about it.
    I would suppose it was a “convincing” 83.

    PS – Regarding Crane’s no ball – I have read that he has had some issues with his run-up.
    Any comments on that?


    • Silk Jan 6, 2018 / 8:49 am

      Roots 83 would have been OK if Vince had scored 171!


    • dannycricket Jan 6, 2018 / 8:51 am

      Yeah. Aside from his two no balls, Crane had several aborted run-ups just in the last hour of play that I caught on TV. On at least a few of them, the side-on replays suggested he would have overstepped again had he actually delivered the ball.


      • dlpthomas Jan 6, 2018 / 9:00 am

        He did a few times on both days.


    • oreston Jan 6, 2018 / 1:26 pm

      He has a habit of pulling out of a delivery at the last second, as though he’s not sure where his feet are. Did it several times (not sure exactly how many) last night. I think on one occasion it was twice in an over? Pissed off the crowd and the batsmen no end.


  16. nonoxcol Jan 6, 2018 / 8:47 am

    Some great overnight Twitter work from Dave Tickner, on the subject of Crane, Rashid and (especially) Lovejoy.


    • dannycricket Jan 6, 2018 / 9:22 am

      Over the last four years, 40 men have played for England in Tests. 5 of them are British Asians: Ali, Ansari, Hameed, Patel and Rashid. Of those 5, only Moeen Ali has been selected for a game outside of the subcontinent and the UAE.

      In contrast, 6 white men literally born in Africa have played for England: Ballance, Compton, Curran, Jennings, Prior and Trott. And Malan was born in England but raised in South Africa. None of these players have only played in Africa.

      It’s almost like ‘Asian’ players get pigeonholed by the ECB for some unknown reason…


      • Scrim Jan 6, 2018 / 12:29 pm

        I think we can be pretty sure Hameed will get another go somewhere down the line

        The rest are spinners, so it isn’t a surprise they were selected in conditions requiring 2-3 spinners. Australia has a bunch of players similar to this too: Maxwell, Agar, White, O’Keefe (though he may have one or two in Australia?). Agar is half Sri Lankan but I don’t think race has anything to do with it.

        I’d question a bit further down the chain. Are junior Asian-background players pigeonholed as spinners and aren’t given a chance in other roles? Compare with black players in American football betting far more likely to be running backs or “mobile” quarterbacks than a Brady or Manning style pocket passing quarterback. Or Jeremy Lin’s struggle to go to a good basketball college or get a break in the NBA.


        • thelegglance Jan 6, 2018 / 12:36 pm

          You do still read a lot of copy about British Asian batsmen being called ‘wristy’ all the time. Moeen gets that too, as though being brought up in Birmingham is the same as Chennai. It’s a default description, and they don’t realise they’re doing it. They don’t mean any harm, so I’m not saying smash them over the head for it, but it’s another example of pigeonholing.


          • Scrim Jan 6, 2018 / 5:16 pm

            Yes, this is exactly the kind of subconscious racial profiling I’m talking about. Maybe it manifests in selection as well, but I’m not familiar enough with county cricket to know if these spinner selections are valid examples, or just a matter of picking the best available available for the job.

            Of the non Asian stats that Danny linked to, it looks like we are talking about 4 tests in 4 years where 2 spinners were played, and there has never been any question that Ali shouldn’t play. I’m sure Malan has never been selected for his bowling.


        • dannycricket Jan 6, 2018 / 1:00 pm

          Sure, 4 of them are spinners. But England have needed other spinners outside of the subcontinent and the UAE in the last 4 years, and have always chosen a white guy. Tredwell, Dawson, Malan and now Crane. Moeen aside, British Asian spinners seem to only be considered for Asian pitches.

          Liked by 1 person

  17. dlpthomas Jan 6, 2018 / 9:04 am

    KP out in the BBL so time to watch the Saffers. Steyn looking pretty good so far and bowling at around 140 km / hr. Purjara looks a bit uncomfortable.


    • Sherwick Jan 6, 2018 / 9:50 am

      KP a nice 40 off 30.


  18. Mark Jan 6, 2018 / 11:23 am

    So last night I stayed up and watched a fair bit, and got to see Lovejoy have a complete meltdown on TV. It was over the Crane no ball. Lovejoy launched into the most over the top rant I can remember from a pundit, Accusing the umpire of all sorts, saying it was one of the worst decisions Blah blah blah.

    It was left to Boycot to put him in his place pointing out that the decision was a marginal one, and therefore to claim it was the worst ever was crazy. Lovejoy was having non of it, and ploughed on about how Crane had been denied his first wicket by this terrible umpiring decsion.

    Boycot then had to up the anti by pointing out in blunt Yorkshire fashion that your (Lovejoys) opinion doesn’t matter. Because the law of the game says it is the umpires call. Not yours Lovejoy. To which Lovejoy replied….”so can’t I have an opinion then?” Boycot replied that “yes you can have an opinion but it’s only the umpire decision that matters.

    Now none of this was helped by the fact that they were all dressed up in bright pink for the cancer aware day. Lovejoys face was so pink it merged into his shirt. It was like the teletubies going at each other.

    I have to say for the record, and I know the majority will disagree, but I thought it was a no ball. But I’m an old fart and by all accounts the law has changed to talk about foot in the air. But whatever? Boycot is right it’s umpires call. I also have zero sympathy for any spin bowler bowling no bowls from a few yards run up. Michael Holding bowled hardly any no balls and he was coming in from the scoreboard.

    The other point about this which I find very suspicious, but also revealing is Lovejoys over reaction dor this particular new player. It was completely off the scale. Something does not smell right about all this. I have a sneaky suspicion that Crane is going to become Englands bowling equivalent to Cook. Just as we have special Cook rules it looks like there will be special rules for Crane now. I was thought his selection was odd at the start of the tour and now iM smelling someone who’s face obviously fits very much. Perhaps I’m reading too much into it? We will see. Our cards have been marked! Don’t criticise the new leg spinner. He onviously went to the right kind of school.

    Liked by 1 person

    • nonoxcol Jan 6, 2018 / 11:33 am

      According to Dave Tickner he was still banging on about it in every commentary stint for hours afterwards.

      Not that I’m surprised. He also said on TMS that he thought England bowled well again (as indeed he did at Perth, of course). He will be blaming the batsmen’s body language again soon no doubt.


      • Mark Jan 6, 2018 / 11:41 am

        It was unbelievale how over the top he was. He was like a crazed drunk. He wouldn’t shut up about it.

        But it makes my anti bullshitter antena go off. Why now? And why for this one player? Sure, Crane is a spinner like Lovejoy so there is an afinity. However, I have never seem him so concerned about other England spinners. This stinks.

        One to keep an eye on I think. We may have the new blue eyed boy. This may be very unfair to Crane, and it certainly not his fault that Lovejoy is behaving like a dipstick on the TV. But we all know how England work. Nudge and winks to the media about the right type of school, or family. Will this nonsense ever end?


    • dlpthomas Jan 6, 2018 / 12:40 pm

      Wasn’t he hit outside the line whilst playing a shot? (I was a bit excited when it happened and haven’t seen a replay)


  19. Deep Purple Fred Jan 6, 2018 / 11:37 am

    Hmm. 4/479. Not really much to say is there?


  20. LordCanisLupus Jan 6, 2018 / 12:10 pm

    What’s to say? Dobell’s attitude on Polite Enquiries matches mine. Resigned to our fate, my only complaint being he’d done a fair bit to tell us these were good lads, with exciting potential.

    We’ve seen this script before. Like watching another episode of Allo Allo. The same jokes, the same themes, the same results with a different character popping up every now and then. It’s not worth losing a moment’s sleep for. And if, in 2019, we lay on a succession of green tops, or get some really damp weather allowing swing and seam, then all will be right in the world. To me the Ashes away, along with India away, are the two series I most want England to win. Seems we turn up now to be the equivalent of the no-name wrestler “fighting” Big Daddy on World of Sport. Less Lovejoy more Kent Walton.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Jan 6, 2018 / 12:29 pm

      The Australian, and India away test series are just cringing embarrassments to the ECB. They are like the odd uncle who turns up to weddings and family gatherings. “Uncle Knob-head” as Peter Kay would say. They just can’t wait for it to end, and send dear old uncle home.

      Never mind, the meat of the sandwich….Big Daddy vs Giant Haystacks is about start. International 20/20. Now we’re talking! Wickets don’t matter, neither does big hundreds. It’s just biff bash. Trebles all round!


  21. Silk Jan 6, 2018 / 12:21 pm

    “it’s the way I play” says Bairstow.


  22. LordCanisLupus Jan 6, 2018 / 12:49 pm

    Super, if a little fortunate, innings this from batsman who bowls Hardik Pandya.


  23. Rohan Jan 6, 2018 / 1:10 pm

    Steyn just hobbled off, hope it’s just a boot issue and nothing too bad!


    • LordCanisLupus Jan 6, 2018 / 1:23 pm

      Didn’t look like a boot issue to me.

      Nice crowd at Cape Town. Really intense cricket. Need to get rid of that and put them in pyjamas.


      • Rohan Jan 6, 2018 / 1:41 pm

        What a great location! I have never seen a test match abroad, but if I did Cape Town would be an amazing starting point, that and I have always fancied Barbados!

        It was just the way he kept pointing to the boot, but you are right and he was clearly limping….


        • LordCanisLupus Jan 6, 2018 / 1:43 pm

          I had the pleasure of going to Cape Town in 2005. The first test match with an ultra-zoom camera. What a venue. Was on a grass bank for the first four days. Great fun, a different sort of Barmy Army to the Aussie tour, and a great city. Loved it.

          Steyn is having a scan on a heel injury.


          • Rohan Jan 6, 2018 / 1:54 pm

            2005 in SA, that was amazing. Joburg test, think it was, I was on training in London. We persuaded the trainer to finish early, I found a pub and watched as Hoggard took 7 for not much, to win the test match………just gutted I didn’t make it to watch the Trescothick innings! Would love to have seen this test live……..


          • Deep Purple Fred Jan 6, 2018 / 4:03 pm

            Damn. Was it too much to hope for to have the four horseman operating for a series? Didn’t even last two days.

            But regards the match, isn’t cricket so much better when batsmen don’t have it all their own way?


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