Australia vs. England, 5th Test, Day 3 – Shambles

Pathetic, Embarrassing, Shambolic, Amateur. These are all words that can be used to describe England’s performance in this Test and for most of the Ashes series. This is a decent Australian team in home conditions, but this Australian team is absolutely not a world beater and not even on the same page as previous Australian teams, yet England have time and time again been made to look like a clueless bunch of county pros. I feared the worst when the squad was announced and the performances of England during this series has simply confirmed what we all feared. This has been an absolute hammering, no ifs and no buts and no polishing the so called ‘turd’, this has been a one-sided embarrassment of a series.

There were times in the past when I would have been angry, extremely angry at such a performance, this was when the fire burned brightly from within, but not any more. I simply do not care enough about this team nor about a board who couldn’t give any less of a monkey’s whether the team performs well or not. We have a national performance centre, national bowling and batting coaching leads, enough money to make many other cricket playing countries green with envy, yet we took the field in Sydney with a number 3 who is not cut out for Test Cricket, a spin bowling, batting all-rounder who can do neither task particularly well, a slow and ageing new ball attack, a bog-standard county medium pacer and a 20 year leg spinner with a first class average of over 46. Did anyone really expect anything different from what we have seen in this Test??

The crux of the matter is that none of this will count in 3 months or so. There will be no report, no investigation, just a large ‘sweep it under the rug’ job from the likes of Harrison and Strauss. There may be the odd superficial change such as the selectors getting the bullet or Bayliss being moved sideways, but in essence nothing will change, it will just be referred as another ‘difficult winter’. If you don’t believe me, then take it from the horse’s mouth instead:

“The health of the game is more than just Ashes series overseas,” Harrison said. “We’ve had record-breaking attendances in domestic and international cricket, changed our governance structure, hosted two global events, won the women’s World Cup and launched a participation initiative for kids. We’ve had a successful entry into the broadcast rights market out of which we have secured the financial future of the game until 2024.”

“We are in a process of delivering cricket across three formats. They’re making huge strides across the white-ball game, up to a place where we’re winning 70% or so of our white-ball matches – the ODI side in particular – and the T20 side is making good progress.”

Ah yes, when in doubt mention how secure English cricket is and how the white ball game and in particular T20 is going so well. After all, we have a new T20 competition to sell. Stuff the traditional game, that is only useful when Tests are being played at Lords (anyone else find it hilariously funny that every England commentator praises the Barmy Army to the hilt, yet these individuals wouldn’t be allowed within a 5 mile radius of a Lords Test Match). I have always had a particular dislike of the way that the Premier League has been run, trying to rip every single pound possible out of every fan and in the past I would look at cricket and was thankful for the way it was run. Yes, the ECB have always been incompetent and an old boys club, but their various terrible decisions always smacked of sheer incompetence rather than anything more sinister. Of course, this is no more. It started in 2014, when they decided to fire a rather good, South African born batsman because he was a bit difficult and because they supposedly had a dossier of bad behaviour against him (though naturally this never saw the light of day). That was just the beginning though, nowhere near the coup d’état that are currently witnessing. These last 4 years have seen the rise and rise of naked greed from our administrators, indeed it seems that the ECB are no longer even bothered to cover up their true intentions anymore. It’s not my game, your game or our game anymore; it’s their game and if you don’t like it then tough, you’re obviously not from the right type of family. It doesn’t matter to them that the Test side continues to fall from grace, with the same issues that we have had for the past 4 years. It doesn’t matter to them that most of the counties are dying a slow death, nor does it matter that many don’t want a new T20 competition. Sky have said that they quite fancy it and are willing to pay for it, so therefore it is gospel according to Tom Harrison. Always remember it’s the money stupid.

And what hope do we have? Almost none. We at the blog are some of the few dissenting voices out there and we are just 4 cricket junkies who do this in our spare time. The rest are either having their palms greased by the ECB or are so desperate to be ‘inside cricket’ that they are happy to leave their morals at the door. This is the new world, not for you and I, nor for the fans of our once beautiful game, but for those who are happy to line the pockets of our administrators. This in particular, breaks my heart. I’ve followed England for over 20 years and many of our readers have done so for much longer through the good and the bad. I’ve personally been to at least one home Test match every year for the past 17 years, I’ve also paid from my own pocket to watch England in Australia, West Indies, Sri Lanka and in the UAE, yet I am deemed not a true fan because I dare to ask why our beautiful game is heading down the toilet.

Quite simply, I’m done with this series, I’m done with this team and nearly done with English cricket altogether. The moment that I was no longer classed as a fan but a consumer was the point of no return. I’m sure there are plenty of others out there with deeper pockets than mine that can take my place, but the moment that you turn true fans away from the sport is the moment that no amount of spin or bluff can prevent the death spiral that English cricket will soon find itself in. If this is the future of cricket in this country, then you can count me out for good.

For those who are more committed than myself, then comments on Day 4 below. I won’t be watching mind, 8 hours of sleep seems a far better idea than watching this non-contest….