Fifth Ashes Test: Day Five – Humiliation

Defeat came as expected, and the scale of it was every bit as huge as anticipated, as England collapsed to lose by the small matter of an innings and 123 runs.  In some ways it offered the perfect conclusion to the series, for despite England being well beaten, indeed thrashed, there was also the smallest morsel for some to point to as the latest excuse – in this case the loss to illness of the captain, Joe Root, who at least deserves credit for trying to bat when clearly and visibly extremely poorly.  No doubt if he had been fully fit, England would have saved the Test and started the year on the same kind of high as they finished 2017…

Analysing the final day of the series is pointless, it went as expected, and with little fight beyond Root.  The series as a whole is a different matter, and as the dust settles somewhat, then the questions that won’t go away will come to the fore.  To some extent, Paul Farbrace was rowing against the tide when asking the kinds of questions that ought to be obvious, but which seemingly are buried beneath a wave of ever more desperate explanations.  It is striking that it was the first time anyone associated with the England set up even dared to say anything of the kind, and offered a marked contrast to Tom Harrison’s ridiculous collection of platitudes insisting that all was well.  How Farbrace’s call for “brutal honesty” goes down among his superiors remains to be seen, but the signs aren’t good.

The press certainly aren’t going out of their way to answer them, or even properly consider them.  Two elements immediately spring to mind, firstly that Alastair Cook is consistently highlighted as being one of the more successful elements of the series.  One genuinely superb innings in Melbourne on an officially poor pitch cannot be used to mask the remainder of the series where he scored just 132 runs in 8 attempts.  By all means salute that one knock, but rarely has a series average of 47 proved so misleading or irrelevant.  It isn’t dismissing him or belittling him to acknowledge that, and he’s openly expressed his frustration – why others make excuses that he doesn’t is exactly why some cricket journalists attract such contempt.

Secondly, the response to Mason Crane’s performance has been nothing short of extraordinary.  He’s a 20 year old kid, playing in his first Test, and to that extent expectations were entirely minimal, and his match figures of 1-193 aren’t terribly relevant.  First Test, dead rubber, let’s see what he can do, and he bowled nicely at times.  But it certainly can’t be considered a success, and to highlight him as being so is downright peculiar. No seam bowler would receive such plaudits for that kind of debut, and certainly no off spinner, no matter how young.  It isn’t about hammering him for not having a good match, it’s about being realistic about what it was, and acknowledging him for what he is – a young player learning his game, who may or may not go on to have a good career.  Adil Rashid must wonder just what it is about him that deserved such an entirely different set of headlines throughout his seemingly finished Test career.  On that point, what England would have given in Australia for a spinner who could bat and was capable of taking 23 wickets in India.

The parallel universe of cricket reporting and administration continues to amaze.  A 4-0 defeat is hailed as being better than the last attempt four years ago on the grounds that England managed to draw one on the flattest pitch ever seen in Australia.  Nominally, that’s true, but denial of the horror of this tour against an Australian side that hasn’t been particularly outstanding over the last couple of years is a remarkable exercise in putting heads as deep in the sand as possible.  One draw and four heavy defeats as progress isn’t the highest of bars at which to aim.  At that rate of improvement, a  flippant observer might think England could just possibly look forward to a very dull drawn series round 2034.

Any cricket supporter can acknowledge and accept being outplayed by a better team, but they also have the right to ask why that is, especially when it keeps happening.  This series defeat is worse than any of those in the 1990s, when Australia did have an exceptional side and England a poor one, yet at no point during that era was there such insouciance in the press and within the ECB about it.  Even the 2006 thrashing, while shocking, had some mitigation in being at the hands of a magnificent side bent on revenge.  2014 might well have been a disaster, but at the end of it the sole response was to kick out one player and insist that it wouldn’t happen again.  Well, it has done.  What the bloody hell have the ECB been doing for the last four years and why will so few in the media hold them to account for it?

The truth is that they don’t care.  The money is rolling in from TV deals and T20 cricket in particular, though they’d be wise to realise that catastrophic performances (and it’s only a year since the same thing happened in India) tend to kill interest quicker than anything else.  Cricket is in deep trouble in England, not because of one series defeat, but because of the policies adopted that have led to it.  Viewing figures are down, participation is down.  Sponsors tend not to align themselves with invisible sports that are failing, and kids most definitely don’t take up sports they don’t see and don’t have any heroes in.  Yet because finances look good at present, there is much backslapping at Lords, and those responsible will be long gone by the time the reality of the disaster they’ve overseen in the game manifests itself.

There are so many elements to this, and barely any of them are ever even acknowledged, let alone addressed.  The ECB have already stated that there won’t be major action taken over it, so just like last time around, the structure will remain the same – only this time there’s no obvious scapegoat to blame for everything.  The county championship will remain marginalised at each end of the season, limiting opportunities for fast bowlers and spinners, and continuing to ensure that medium pacers who do a bit off the seam can thrive – and be entirely unsuitable for higher levels.  Darren Stevens’ success last season was a beautiful thing, but the fact it could happen at all is not.

The fast bowling academy at Loughborough, which has been spectacularly unsuccessful will carry on as though nothing of import has taken place. The bowling attack will continue to be carried by two veterans who have done sterling service over the years, but who have so little behind them to challenge their positions.  The batsmen will carry on being drawn from the ranks of those averaging in the thirties in first class cricket, who may or may not be capable of making the jump to the top level.  The administrators will remain in position with no accountability whatever for what has transpired on the field.  The players will be developed from the tiny pool of the public schools which demonstrates a genuinely impressive level of wastage amongst the 93% who do not.  The people who care for the game will continue to be dismissed as “obsessives” in favour of those who wander along to a T20 match.

The worst part is that none of this is going to change.  None of it.  This is how it has been set up, in fact this disintegration of English Test cricket (it isn’t going to get better as things stand) is the exact outcome from the policies set in place over the last decade.  Removing all cricket from free to air television in favour of a financial drug fix was a disastrous decision.  It doesn’t mean that had they not done that all would be well, but it does mean that it set the game on a path of dwindling relevance and interest that the ECB then compounded with their other decisions.  To that extent, this is what they’ve achieved, and it was pointed out at the time.

The ECB consistently talked about the four year cycles, and did so after the last drubbing.  What have they achieved in that time?  The refocusing on short form cricket has delivered precisely zero titles, and the current team is mired in the middle rankings of the ICC tables, just as they were four years ago.  They approach it rather better than they did, and they’re certainly more exciting, but it’s hardly been an obvious road to success.  The Test team in that four year period has been “rebuilt” to the point where the only players secure in their places are the ones who have been there since then, and in most cases, years before.  Jonny Bairstow is the single exception to have come through and he was on the fringes then anyway.  England don’t even have the excuse of being  young side.  They arrived in Australia with doubts over three of the top five batting positions, the spinner in Australian conditions (and who openly regards himself primarily as a batsman anyway) and the entire seam bowling attack apart from two who have been around for a decade and more.

The biggest crisis the Test team face right now is the sheer poverty of what is behind the veterans, with very little sign of anything truly exciting coming through.  That this will get worse, not better.  When people say England will miss Cook, Anderson and Broad when they’re gone, they don’t realise just how right they are.  Home series against Pakistan and India may well paper over the cracks somewhat – though should England lose, as well they might, perhaps the alarm bells might finally penetrate the heads of the assorted establishment figures – but not to anyone paying close attention.

England have lost 9 of their last 12 away Tests – two thrashings in India and Australia, and a drawn series in Bangladesh that frankly, they got away with.  But it’s ok, Tom Harrison says all is well.

A small housekeeping note:  Sharp eyed visitors will have noted a new link at the top of the home page where you can contact any of us, to have a rant if you feel the need.  We will do a final Ashes panel over the next few days, so if you’re interested in being part of it, drop an email to tlg@beingoutsidecricket.com

 

 

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93 thoughts on “Fifth Ashes Test: Day Five – Humiliation

  1. Silk January 8, 2018 / 6:47 pm

    I’m with Ed Smith. England are rubbish overseas therefore all cricket overseas is totally one sided and that’s what we should focus on.

    Like

      • nonoxcol January 8, 2018 / 7:00 pm

        Can’t click. Still getting over your last link/photo:

        Crane 5/10, Root 4/10.

        Retire now, Joe. Your contribution across five Tests (which I believe included wickets, yes?) was worth less than 1-193 in one innings.

        Like

      • Mark January 8, 2018 / 7:47 pm

        They really hate the “most commited” don’t they?

        If only they could rid themselves of these obsessives, and instead replace cricket fans with consumers. Cricket should be like a day at Disney. A bit of light hearted fun. See you again. Have a Pepsi, and a candy floss for the children. Buy a sticker book or download an app.

        We want you to have a great customer experience, but the result is just a bit of fun. See you next time suckers!

        Liked by 2 people

    • jennyah46 January 8, 2018 / 10:10 pm

      I can’t see anything wrong with that.

      Like

      • jennyah46 January 8, 2018 / 10:12 pm

        In response to Silk.

        Like

        • BobW January 9, 2018 / 9:38 am

          Your initial response was funnier Jenny.

          Like

  2. Rooto January 8, 2018 / 8:42 pm

    Tell you who has performed throughout the series: you lot on here. Thanks very much for all your efforts, and the time it takes to provide the best outlet for cricketing honesty on the web. This very article is a perfectly written example. You know it’s serious when TLG gets his angry hat on!

    Meanwhile, though Anderson claims that he’d like to be around for the return fixture in 2019, this article makes me think we’ll probably not have produced any decent challengers to his ‘supremacy’ by the time the 2029 Ashes rolls around…

    Liked by 2 people

    • thelegglance January 8, 2018 / 8:46 pm

      I never know what to say to something like that. Thank you doesn’t seem to cover it, but thank you anyway on behalf of all of us. I’ve got a post drafted thanking everyone on here, but then the Test got in the way. I’ll make sure it goes up though.

      Like

  3. Benny January 8, 2018 / 8:51 pm

    I’m in a pondering mood atm and it’s about accountability. Clearly the ECB don’t care about producing a successful Test team or about a county championship that will bring the crowds in and, hopefully, grow a few fine players. So who do the ECB explain themselves to? Do we still have a Minister for Sport? Can we get the Secret Service to take out these clowns?

    Liked by 1 person

    • thelegglance January 8, 2018 / 8:55 pm

      That’s actually a subject I’ve been meaning to post about for ages and not got round to – what gives the ECB its legitimacy as a governing body when it elects itself. The FA has elections right the way down to district level, but cricket appoints itself, and then claims the right to govern the entire game.

      So the accountability is absolutely not to supporters, players or clubs, who have no right of oversight. The counties do of course, but that’s all. If cricket was a more popular sport it would be ripe for Parliamentary enquiry, but it isn’t.

      Liked by 4 people

      • oreston January 8, 2018 / 11:52 pm

        I’m not sure that the counties always remember that they theoretically have leverage over the ECB. Indeed most of the time the boot seems firmly on the other foot these days (with arbitrary points deductions and relegations, financial dependency, counties forced to bid for the right to host international games etc.) and power in the English game appears to have become very heavily centralised. It doesn’t help that individual First Class counties are in dire financial straits, resulting in their chairmen focusing on local survival rather than the bigger picture – which allows Harrison & co. to divide and rule. It needs someone to bang a few heads together and persuade as many counties as possible to demur more strongly from the ECB line on major policy topics such as the T20 franchise, the marginalisation of the Championship and the lack of FTA coverage. They need to hold them to account for the Loughborough white elephant. In fact, unless the counties collectively grow a pair and force major changes in both its policies and its governance, the ECB will simply continue to be a parasite draining the life from it’s host.

        Like

      • BobW January 9, 2018 / 9:42 am

        Yes elections. I’d vote for you to ‘Drain the swamp!’ TLG!!

        Like

  4. Adam H January 8, 2018 / 9:15 pm

    It seems the mainstream media and fans are only just starting to realize how ordinary this England test side is.

    Next up — it’s the white ball side that will be exposed as bog ordinary. England have the worst white ball bowling attack in its history, and despite all the hype and propaganda, they are really no better as a team than those of yesteryears. “Exciting” they may be, but not good.

    Liked by 3 people

    • LordCanisLupus January 8, 2018 / 9:35 pm

      Oh Yes. Oh Yes, this. The world champions on their own patch. This could go pear shaped very quickly and where will little Tom Harrison have to hide then?

      Like

  5. Adam H January 8, 2018 / 9:16 pm

    Meanwhile, a very good point raised by Mark Butcher on twitter:

    Like

    • Mark January 8, 2018 / 9:21 pm

      Probably you Butch. You were playing then!

      Like

    • LordCanisLupus January 8, 2018 / 9:23 pm

      So what is he saying? That the sport being less visible than it has been in the past is a sure fire way to get back to the top? That we’ve always been rubbish? That there is nothing that you can do?

      Again, I don’t like saying this about a bloke who I loved watching, but he’s on Sky. He gets his gigs from Sky. He’s not going to criticise the golden goose is he and say satellite TV is the problem? But, and it is a big but for Butcher, I like listening to him even though I disagree with a lot.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Adam H January 8, 2018 / 9:41 pm

        I think Butcher has a good point in that it’s too simplistic to try to explain the poor on-field results with everything that’s wrong with English cricket (lack of visibility etc). England might’ve won this series, and those would still be problems. They should be treated as problems in and of themselves.

        Take football, for example. There is no lack of popularity or visibility of football in England, and never has been. Yet, compared to countries with similar populations, and similar level of economies like Germany and Italy, the national football team has underperformed for decades.

        There must be something deeper here. It’s a question for the sociologists to ponder why England underperform in sports.

        Liked by 2 people

        • thelegglance January 8, 2018 / 9:52 pm

          The problem is that Butcher too is being simplistic. It isn’t the 1990s anymore, we live in a multi channel era where visibility is a major issue that it wasn’t back then, while there is now something like T20 to take attention and focus way from the season. It isn’t important to compare then and now, it’s really rather irrelevant. Instead it is important to compare now with other sports and other countries playing cricket, plus the demands and interests of sport in this country.

          You might as well compare any number of things to the 1990s and ask why it is a problem now instead, and it remains as meaningless as ever.

          In 20 years time, governing the sport for then will be appropriate, not for 2018 either. That’s how it is. In the 1990s many things were wrong for the 1990s. In 2018 different things are wrong for 2018.

          Like

        • metatone January 8, 2018 / 10:00 pm

          Each sport of course has particular problems, but I’d draw some general lessons:

          1) Where other countries have always thought of coaching/management as a real expertise in itself, England too often looks to ex-players on the grounds of their playing achievement.

          2) Skills training has historically been deficient in football and rugby, especially decision making skills – things other countries consider “basics” seem to be concerns with players at the top level in England. The cricket analogy that comes to mind is that it seems England’s special pair of bowlers are really bad at picking which length to bowl (and seem often incapable of adjusting – not sure if it is mental or physical.) We might also look to how spin has been treated too. (Although that’s a rant for another day.)

          3) Talent spotting – football and rugby have actually moved on and improved this, but we can look back to decades of a lack of investment in youth, along with some questionable attitudes to “faces that didn’t fit” and see that cricket may well be struggling with some nationally embedded cultural attitudes that haven’t helped.

          4) We hate thoughtful quiet players. We bully them in the dressing rooms, we look at them on the field and accuse them of a lack of passion or call them fragile. I’ll add that the drinking cultures in all sports have hurt them all re: non-drinkers, but maybe (given the potential pool of Asian players) it has hurt cricket the most.

          5) There’s a nagging sensation that we don’t really like talent. It seems every English sport has a history with this. Of course, there is an issue with work ethic that has to be balanced with it… but it does feel like there’s a pattern.

          Finally, it’s old and out of date now, the world has moved on, but if you want a good set of answers to Butcher’s questions, there’s a book, Pommies by William Buckland that goes into pretty good depth about that era and the problems England’s setup had (from the point of view of the Australian author.)

          The one I’ll draw out from Pommies because it does seem to continue to be the case, England are really bad at fielding a fit and firing bowling attack for big Ashes series. Reasons over the years include: overbowling of fast bowlers, crap medical team, backward fitness practices, lack of depth.

          Liked by 1 person

    • quebecer January 9, 2018 / 1:21 am

      Fun or not, it’s surely the wrong question. We need to ask what we were doing in the 2000s when we started winning.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Rooto January 9, 2018 / 5:22 am

        Your thoughts chime with my own there, q. Who’d have thought it? In the 90’s, there were different problems connected to player fitness and tiredness which central contracts were brought in to solve. O tempora! O mores!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Mark January 8, 2018 / 9:25 pm

    I’m sorry to revisit this but it has really boiled my piss today. In some ways I’m glad because it has been very enlightening. I Am referring to Boycotts interview on BT. Or more accurately the response to it by Selvey.

    Now I should declare an interest here. I like Boycott. I grew up in the age when he played. I watched him get his 100th 100 on tv as a teenager . Now I know he is not everyones cup of tea. His professional Yorkshireman routine can grate with some. But that is who he is. It isn’t put on. It’s not an act. I remember the in fighting at Yorkshire in the 1980s with extraordinary General committee meetings . It was part Monty Python and part part National emergency. It lead the Nine PM news. But this is who he is. He’s old school, but he was old school when he was 14 going to the nets.

    His interview was fascinating because he elicited from Jimmy Anderson an honest answer “It’s above my pay grade.” Well that’s better, and more honest than the usual “we’re taking the positives” or “we will be back giving it 100%.” Boycott also dared to give an answer. “They didn’t do a very good job.”

    Oh dear, he might as well have just shot bamby. Out of the woodwork came Selvey, the opposite to Boycott. Both of the same generation, but not of the same outlook. Selvey rushed to attack Boycott for apparently not knowing his job title. Pundit and commentator are according to Selvey as different as Duchess and servant. Who knew? And who knew title was so important to a Guardian liberal? Did Selvey never ask a question in all those years sat next to Brian Johnson and John Arlott? Come on Selvey tell the truth! But even worse…. Boycott had dared to call to account the flabby management of English cricket. A group of incompetents that the likes of Selvey have been protecting for years. As you watched you wondered what might have been if the likes of Boycott had been the typical English cricket writer of the last 4 years.

    Boycott truly loves that game of test cricket. He’s made a living out of playing it, and commentating on it. He doesn’t take it for granted, he doesn’t steal a living from the game He doesn’t ponce about like 39 dreaming up ways to destroy the game he claims to like. (5 day test for me but not for thee)

    What you saw was what English cricket has needed. Some tough questions, and some tough opinion. Instead for the last 4 years we have had the likes of Selvey, and Newman, and 39 all protecting and genuflecting the ECB and a small band of elite players.

    And there is another disreputable side to this. Sneering, smug Selvey with his nose in the air. ” I know things you don’t know.” is also employed by Sky. His carping at other broadcasters….Be it the BBC, or BT has begun to look a little opportunist. We know the ECB didn’t approve of the ACBs deal with BT. And here was a BT journalist calling out the very ECB management. Look who rushed to defend them? Sums the last four years up perfectly.

    Liked by 6 people

    • LordCanisLupus January 8, 2018 / 9:33 pm

      Bang on. I might not quite be the fan of Boycott, but Selvey did all that and more this morning (and nonoxcol and I have had a look at how he approached matters last time on the previous post – inspired choice that Mr Downton, he told us). Boycott said they were spouting platitudes and the interview doesn’t quite go as the shortened version suggests (there’s a fair gap from reading the transcript from the “it’s above my pay grade” to “they aren’t doing a very good job”). Boycott was attacking Strauss and co. That will never do.

      Liked by 1 person

    • thelegglance January 8, 2018 / 9:33 pm

      Selvey is being rather impertinent towards someone who played 105 Tests more than he did.

      Some might say on the same grounds that he’s used, he should shut it and defer to those with greater knowledge.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Mark January 8, 2018 / 10:00 pm

        I don’t mind that he played only three test matches to Boycotts 100 odd TLG. I have never played any test or county cricket. What I deeply resent is the lies and the smug pomposity.

        Titles? Fucking titles? Give me a break. He should join the funny handshake brigade. The order of the garter. He should dress as Black Rod.

        Your not fooling anyone on here Mr Selvey.

        Like

        • thelegglance January 8, 2018 / 10:01 pm

          Of course not, no one rational would. I’m just using his own attitude back to him when he insisted on dismissing anyone who disagreed on the grounds that he’d played Test cricket and they hadn’t.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Mark January 8, 2018 / 10:05 pm

            Absolutely! The hypocrisy is off the scale. Boycott has every right to look down his nose at Selvey and say…..

            “I really do know things that you don’t know.”

            Liked by 2 people

          • LordCanisLupus January 9, 2018 / 10:26 am

            Not declaring an interest? Be lovely to see him as chair of Cricket Writers on TV.

            Like

    • BobW January 9, 2018 / 10:06 am

      I saw that Twitter post yesterday and was also disgusted with what Selvey said and the ignorant responses that followed it. Followers banging on how Boycott avoided fast bowling which was so far from the truth. (How many 40 year old batsmen have gone to the West Indies and faces the likes of Holding etc)
      Funny though because if Boycott was an England batsman today. My bet is he wouldn’t be in the England team. He would be seen as too self centred and divisive. That says more about the management shortcomings than it does of the player.

      Liked by 2 people

      • man in a barrel January 9, 2018 / 12:00 pm

        In an earlier phase of the tour, Foxy Fowler got annoyed by Boycs and started tweeting nonsense about avoiding fast bowling. Sorry to say that I got rather abusive towards him and his flatterati

        Like

  7. LordCanisLupus January 8, 2018 / 9:41 pm

    Hoult has those exclusive Colin Graves quotes for us.

    “We have a very good relationship with Cricket Australia and we are already talking to James Sutherland (the chief executive),

    “There will be a lot of soul searching about how we can get it better for next time. Everyone is very disappointed. Everyone gave their all but we have to do things better going forward,” Graves told Telegraph Sport. “There is no specific review. We have Andrew Strauss as MD of the England team and Tom Harrison in charge and I trust them completely to make the right decisions. There will be no witch hunt. We have to look at it and see how we can improve so in four years’ time we are better placed to win than we were this time.”

    Well done Nick for spinning that out into an article. I wonder how Costcutter Colin would react to one of his store managers spinning this drivel?

    And this little nougat…

    England lost the Ashes in Perth but since then managed to hold the team together. Alastair Cook is said to have given a stirring speech in the dressing room at the Waca about playing for pride and reminding players they had to behave on England duty.

    Of course he did.

    Like

    • Silk January 8, 2018 / 10:18 pm

      So are we admitting there was a witch hunt last time?

      Liked by 2 people

    • Mark January 8, 2018 / 10:27 pm

      It’s very depressing reading the same, same old.

      “Everything is fine, no icebergs in sight, everyone is brilliant, let the band play on.”

      Like

  8. metatone January 8, 2018 / 9:43 pm

    I know Dobell has had a rant now and then, but has anyone run the figures on number of players put through Loughborough/Lions and what the results have been?

    Like

    • dannycricket January 8, 2018 / 10:54 pm

      We know Loughborough has been a massive failure because if it had one success, just one, the ECB would never shut up about it. It’s the equivalent of how James Whitaker mentioned Gary Ballance in every interview he had while the number 3 was averaging around 50, and never mentioned him after he was dropped. They aren’t shy about their successes.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. man in a barrel January 8, 2018 / 11:53 pm

    I wonder what has happened to the university teams? I know Fowler was involved with the Durham team and he talks in his last book about that system was about to be dismantled. It is also worth casting our minds back a year, to the curious case of Zafar Ansari. He was picked out of nowhere for the tour of Bangladesh and India. Alec Stewart rated him very highly, having watched him progress through age-group cricket etc. Clearly he had a very sharp intellect. Yet, or maybe because of that, he decided to turn away from cricket to pursue a career in the City. Was there ever a debrief? Did #39 elicit his views on first-class/test cricket?

    It’s a little too easy to put all the blame on Loughborough. What has happened to all the other parts of the structure that I seem to recall that Flower was supposed to build?

    I seem to recall reading somewhere that MCC funded a lot of the university coaching set-up and were getting cheesed off by the way they were treated by the Lord Mucks at the ECB. Essentially they said “over to you” and the ECB promptly dropped the ball.

    Happy to be put right by anyone who knows

    Like

    • thelegglance January 9, 2018 / 12:00 am

      The ECB slashed the funding of centres of cricketing excellence at the universities eighteen months ago. They did then get a sponsor, but it’s rather disappeared as a disparate organisation in favour of concentration at Loughborough.

      Liked by 2 people

      • man in a barrel January 9, 2018 / 12:35 am

        Thanks – I am disappointed that this receives so little mention in the “serious” analysis

        Liked by 2 people

        • BobW January 9, 2018 / 11:02 am

          The only thing I would point out about the University aspect (and don’t get me wrong it is something I agree that is needed). But it again accentuates the privately educated who get the better facilities since they are more likely to attend university.
          The game is in dire need of widening its playing base. The All Stars debacle when Clubs already have junior sections didn’t address the issue. The ECB need to get into junior schools and work to drive up participation. Among other things.

          Like

          • thelegglance January 9, 2018 / 11:10 am

            I fundamentally disagree with the idea that it’s all a matter of cricket in state schools. I played cricket at school, and it was a case of a teacher being a baby sitter more than anything. There was no coaching or anything. The level of teaching at the clubs kids receive these days is vastly better than anything I got at school. And I note that almost invariably, the journalists who talk about this went to public schools. It’s a red herring.

            Like

          • BobW January 9, 2018 / 11:14 am

            I get what you are saying. My point is the ECB need to be looking to expand the interest in the game from the younger generation.

            Like

          • thelegglance January 9, 2018 / 11:16 am

            Definitely agree. I just think this is often used as an excuse. ‘oh there’s no cricket in schools anymore. Poor ECB can’t do anything about that’ etc.

            Like

          • man in a barrel January 9, 2018 / 12:15 pm

            Have you looked at the figures for university attendance lately? About 2 million. Not all undergrads are public school toffs.

            However my point was that the university cricket coaching scheme has been a success. However a lot of the participants had come through the county systems – Ansari for example. It is not just about public school cricket, for all that products of that environment such as Agnew, Pringle, Selvey etc witter on about Cook and Panesar and Crane and Buttler etc. It seems strange to let a successful part of the framework wither when participation levels are declining

            Like

          • BobW January 9, 2018 / 3:29 pm

            Yes but what universities were the MCC development facilities at? Durham, Oxford, Cambridge, Loughborough, Leeds and Cardiff. The first three are top universities if you ask me.
            Anyway. It has been a success but the ECB needs to be doing more for the grassroots of the game. Not paying lip service.

            Liked by 1 person

          • man in a barrel January 10, 2018 / 12:20 am

            But was it better to dismantle the system rather than, say, extend it to Nottingham, Cheltenham or whatever city you like?

            Like

  10. man in a barrel January 9, 2018 / 12:34 am

    Lots of people are saying that this was a turgid series yet I recall: watching Smith stay at the crease for hours without seeming to expend any effort, defending for hours or scoring runs apparently at will. A monumental exercise in batsmanship. Shaun Marsh batted with real elegance as did Khawaja in the final test. The Australian attack bowled beautifully – apart from Cummins to Broad in the first innings at Sydney. The way Cummins in particular could suddenly claw a bit of extra bounce was fantastic to watch and I bet Holding would have been purring if he had been on commentary. Root batted like a prince too but was not able to score a big innings.

    Look at the scoring rates back in the good old days of timeless tests. The Melbourne test of 1928/29 lasted 7 days. The innings were 397 and 351 against 417 and 332. The runrates per over were about 2.1 per 8 ball over (say 1.6 in modern terms). The batsmen included renowned strokeplayers such as Hammond, Hendren, Bradman, Kippax, Ryder. Bradman scored in the high 30s per hundred balls – rather like Cook. Hammond scored 200 at 42.37 Larwood bowled 53 8 ball overs, Tate 93, and the spinner Jack White 114!

    The Sydney test just completed went like a rocket in comparison. That ancient test encompassed 702 overs – 936 6 ball overs.

    It makes you wonder whether the people who claim to love test cricket really enjoy it when it is served up to them?

    Liked by 1 person

    • thelegglance January 9, 2018 / 12:41 am

      How many of those saying it was turgid also said the last home one was thrilling, I wonder…

      Liked by 2 people

      • man in a barrel January 9, 2018 / 1:05 am

        That last home series….the result was not in issue for any test match after the end of the first day. This time, the matches were in the balance – especially the one at Adelaide – until this last match. At the close of every day in most of the other matches, you felt that a monumental effort could actually shift the balance. i remember being surprised on several occasions on waking up to find that the “inevitable” had not happened – Shaun Marsh or Malan had scored a ton, Australia had been bowled out cheaply. It was fascinating in an old-school way

        Like

      • RufusSG January 9, 2018 / 12:25 pm

        Haven’t got the link to hand, but I think the series scoring rate was one of the lowest in recent Ashes history, with Australia’s slightly lower than England’s. The “turgid” label probably comes from all the games panning out so predictably and in a one-sided way. The 2015 series arguably featured two similarly ordinary teams, but the games being so fast-paced and both sides enjoying periods of dominance probably papered over the cracks by giving the action at least some level of immediate intrigue and excitement, even if neither side was good enough to sustain it for longer than two games. If the matches had been on any level close I doubt there’d have been much complaint.

        There’s more than one way to skin a cat, or win a test match – the steady going worked wonders for Australia this time, just as it worked for England in 2013 and as the quick going worked for them in 2015. I think it’s more the case that seeing your team ground to death over 150+ overs, with your bowling attack showing the sharpness of a wet sponge, is a bit soul-destroying rather than people inherently disliking test cricket “as it used to be”. I’m sure plenty of those timeless tests, and older series in Asia where five-test series were occasionally drawn 0-0, were dreary as hell just as one-sided series can be now. Whether the game’s over in three days or a five-day draw isn’t important, it’s the context of what actually happened in that time that makes a game of cricket worth remembering or not.

        Like

        • man in a barrel January 10, 2018 / 12:36 am

          If you think Melbourne 1928 was turgid, look up any match of the infamous Bodyline series. It was slow. Check the scoring rates. Almost 2 per 8 ball over. I have seen a lot of Ashes cricket and the batting, mainly by Aussies, has been lovely to watch but the tempo is less than 50 per 100. Try watching footage of the 1970 series. I accept that the timeless tests were slow in pace. But just what do you want? In 1970 we watched Boycott, Edrich, Lawry and Stackpole compile runs. They were great batsmen but not exciting. In the 30s, a few stroke playing innings apart, the tempo was slow..

          It comes down to what you mean by test cricket. This series gripped me for the individual contests.. Cummins, Shaun Marsh, Bairstow….

          That is the cricket I grew up on. Every 5 minutes you would hear Jim Laker say something interesting rather than Slater telling you about his stamp collection every 5 seconds

          I preferred this series to the shit served up in 2015

          Like

  11. Adam H January 9, 2018 / 6:10 am

    BREAKING NEWS: Trevor Bayliss says he won’t renew his contract when it expires in September 2019.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Silk January 9, 2018 / 7:21 am

      He’s known for “a couple of years” that he’s 4 players short of a good test side….

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Silk January 9, 2018 / 7:23 am

    OK. So England have “6 or 7” good young players who’ll likely feature in they next Ashes. Assuming Broad,Anderson and Cook aren’t young, care to name me 7?

    Liked by 1 person

    • metatone January 9, 2018 / 7:59 am

      I don’t know that they have 7. But since I’m up earlier than I planned (thanks fam.) here are a few players I’d like to see given proper chances to show what they have got over the next couple of years. Nothing scientific about this given that I didn’t actually see that much county cricket in recent times, just some impressions. I am sure others can add to the list:

      Leach
      Reece Topley
      J. Overton
      Jamie Porter
      Joe Clarke
      D. Bell-Drummond
      Saqib Mahmood
      Hameed & Foakes of course as well.

      One big flashing red warning light is that I think most of the pace bowlers I can name have had contacts with Bluffborough AND are injured right now…

      Like

    • BoredInAustria January 9, 2018 / 12:01 pm

      Crane
      Crane
      Crane
      Crane
      Crane
      Crane
      Crane

      Like

  13. Scrim January 9, 2018 / 10:37 am

    I’m tuned in to a bit of BBL, and ol mate Lovejoy is commentating. Blackadder impersonations, lovely. Someone just asked him about Adil Rashid who was excellent for Adelaide Strikers a couple of seasons ago, and wondered if he was in the ODI squad. He said that he had made himself into a white ball specialist, and doesn’t play any red ball cricket for England any more.

    Really? I wonder if Rashid himself is aware of that.

    Like

    • metatone January 9, 2018 / 11:24 am

      Agree. Just in passing I’m sort of annoyed that since 2010 we have never since put the same amount of time and effort into lead-up games before the series, and I think it shows. That’s something I’d change.

      Like

  14. dlpthomas January 9, 2018 / 11:09 am

    Dobell gives Cook 2.5 /10 and Moen 0.5 / 10 for the series. That seems a bit harsh. I know Dobell pisses people off from time to time but he remains his own man (and is, in my opinion, always worth reading)

    Like

    • man in a barrel January 9, 2018 / 12:18 pm

      If anything that is generous to Cook and harsh on Moeen. I’d swap the scores around, personally

      Like

      • Silk January 9, 2018 / 12:57 pm

        I disagree. The 244 was significant, and a very fine innings. 4 out of 10 seems fine, in that 5 would be “acceptable” performance and 8 scores under 40 is hardly acceptable, but he scored more than Stoneman, Vince and Bairstow.

        I wouldn’t drop Cook. He’s a fine player and we lack XI fine players. Personally I think he should drop to 3, and 2 from Stoneman, Robson and Hameed should open in NZ.

        Like

        • man in a barrel January 10, 2018 / 12:39 am

          Obviously you can’t drop Cook but you need to put him in a place where he is less pivotal. But I incline to the belief that he has been found out by international bowlers

          Like

  15. thelegglance January 9, 2018 / 2:39 pm

    I see the FA have announced a major increase in funding to grassroots football. £180m per year, from their turnover of £370m.

    The ECB give £2.5m per year on a turnover of £120m.

    Liked by 1 person

    • AB January 9, 2018 / 3:01 pm

      More funding would be nice, but it kinda misses the point. Most clubs are desperately short of players – both junior and adult – and no amount of money from the ECB is going to make up for that.

      Like

      • dannycricket January 9, 2018 / 4:34 pm

        I’d have to disagree there. There is lots that money from the ECB could do but, and this is the kicker, it would have to be well-spent. A competent sports body (if such a thing exists in the world) could do it. The ECB? I’m not so sure…

        Liked by 2 people

        • AB January 9, 2018 / 5:07 pm

          What would you spend it on?

          Like

          • dannycricket January 9, 2018 / 5:45 pm

            Well that’s a question which requires a long answer, which I don’t have the time for tonight. The short answer would be “Everything I could think of”. I would try everything, anything to increase the popularity of cricket. This is is marked contrast to the ECB’s strategy of doing nothing. Or counting their money in ECB HQ whilst laughing. Whatever it is they do all day.

            Like

          • AB January 9, 2018 / 7:46 pm

            Surely there is one thing that would boost the interest in popularity of cricket with twice the effectiveness of all the other schemes put together?

            Like

          • dannycricket January 9, 2018 / 9:40 pm

            Yeah, obviously FTA TV would be an effective aid but that isn’t a possibility until 2020 for the T20s on the BBC and 2025 for anything else. Having watched the ECB do nothing to arrest the decline of cricket in England over the past 13 years, I don’t want them to wait for FTA to solve all their problems. Something has to be done now.

            Like

          • AB January 10, 2018 / 12:36 pm

            ok, lets take a specific example. Norwich. How do you get more kids in Norwich interested in cricket? You have an unlimited budget. Pitch to us.

            Like

          • dannycricket January 10, 2018 / 6:24 pm

            Well for a start, were I in the ECB’s position then I would try to stay out of local engagement as much as possible. They aren’t good at it, and it’s massively more expensive and time-consuming than most ways of gettings kids’ attention. Therefore, my ideas would mainly be in terms of national reach.

            The first key point would be to increase the national awareness of cricket and cricketers across all age groups, with particular emphasis on parents and children.So for kids, that would probably mean kids TV. As a first step, you could work to get current England cricketers onto existing shows like Blue Peter or whichever other programmes which allow for guests. Longer term, I’d want to produce a cricket-centric show for CBBC. Perhaps something like Match of The Day: Knockabout, but given cricket’s low levels of recognition probably with more priority given to introducing current players (both men and women) as well as teaching basics of the sport. I would also lobby producers of kids show to include cricket, cricketers and cricket grounds in existing shows. A kids cooking show could take place at Lord’s, or a kids drama could have scenes filmed at Edgbaston, or Peppa Pig could have an episode about her playing cricket.

            It’s important to target adults as well, because ultimately they’re the ones who pay for the kids coaching, drive them to the grounds and so on. Also, kids probably see a lot of ‘family’ and daytime shows which their parents are watching. Again, I’d use a broadly similar strategy as before. Book cricketers on every show which has guests, as often as I could get away with it. The One Show, This Morning, Loose Women, Graham Norton, 8 Out Of 10 Cats, The Last Leg, The Wright Stuff, A League Of Their Own, Question Time, whatever. And reality shows, I’d try to get current cricketers on Celebrity Big Brother and I’m A Celebrity. Hell, even on Love Island! And like with kids, get shows to film at cricket grounds and ideally with cricketers. Have a Bake Off challenge to make a cricket team’s Tea from scratch. Gardener’s World could do a feature with Mike Hunt about keeping lawns. Alastair Cook could be on Countryfile at his farm or Songs Of Praise showing off his voice. Exploit the players’ interests and backgrounds to get them on TV as much as possible. Have them do magazine and newspaper interviews, appear on popular websites, go to celebrity parties and movie premieres and awards shows. Anything to increase their profiles.

            I essentially want the general public to say “I’m sick of seeing Jonny Bairstow/Joe Root/Jimmy Anderson all the time!” for two reasons. First, if they’re saying that then they know a cricketer’s name, which probably isn’t the case right now. Being able to recognise players is key to building cricket’s popularity. Secondly, and this seems counterintuitive to me, many people see celebrities as being successful and worthy of emulating. The biggest problem English cricket has with attracting kids and new young fans is that this is often based around hero-worship of a player or players. Obviously having tons of cricket on FTA TV would be a better option, but that’s not possible until 2025 at the earliest now. To put this part of the strategy in one sentence: I’d make people interested in the players, and through that try to make them interested in the sport.

            And then there’s the issue of access, I’d want to get a cricket bat and ball into the hands of as many kids as possible. One way to do this would be a partnership/sponsorship with McDonalds. Every spring, they could give away a plastic bat and ball of various colours/designs. They could also have prize draws for various cricket prizes. If they sponsored All Stars Cricket and other kids initiatives, they could make them cheaper and promote them in their thousands of locations around England. The ECB could work with Sport England to make more artificial pitches and nets available in public parks and schools. I’d assume that they could get a great deal for the materials if they were buying enough to make thousands of them.

            The All Stars Cricket scheme seems like it might be a step in the right direction in terms of the digital side of things. I basically want there to be a kid-friendly cricket website/app with games, links to training videos and guides for kids attending coaching, and stuff like scorecards for all the games the kids have played in. As they get older, it should transition towards more mature content and a focus on converting the players to fans by having more appearances from players and coverage of England games.

            Of course, that’s just off the top of my head. Given a bit longer I could probably come up with some more ideas.

            Like

  16. Cricketjon January 9, 2018 / 6:58 pm

    On the matter of the ECB, I defer to Tony Benns five questions re democracy, as follows:

    1, What power have you got?
    2, Where did you get it from?
    3, In whose interests do you use it?
    4, To whom are you accountable?
    5, How do we get rid of you?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Grenville January 9, 2018 / 10:25 pm

      Nothing is here for eternity. Just ask Caesar.

      Like

  17. man in a barrel January 10, 2018 / 12:15 am

    I wonder whether we might not revert to the 19thc model of a central club of pros touring the country for matches of varying lengths. And for a super authority such as MCC sending out a team to other nations. The ECB has fucked up so badly, why not go back to when cricket was cricket, if it ever was….

    Like

  18. man in a barrel January 10, 2018 / 12:18 am

    Let’s reduce it to simple questions.

    1,are the counties producing enough players of international quality?

    Then let’s drill down from there. If the players are there,then we can blame selectors

    Like

  19. man in a barrel January 10, 2018 / 12:46 am

    The counties could still break away and found a new system. Since the ECB depends on the counties for funding… M

    Like

  20. Miami Dad's Six January 10, 2018 / 8:08 am

    Bayliss thinks that he’ll stay until the 2019 Ashes. Bless. I’d give him the World Cup, but be tempted to removed the Test format from his ‘grasp’ already.

    Like

      • nonoxcol January 10, 2018 / 10:06 am

        Well, picking Mason Crane as a “winner” who needs to play “in all conditions” makes me scream, Paul.

        Like

        • metatone January 10, 2018 / 11:53 am

          I’ve said over time that Rashid was no second coming of Warne, but the difference in treatment is painful to see.

          Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus January 10, 2018 / 9:26 am

      I’m struggling to see the logic in saying we blood new players and maybe not worry about the results and then give Vince and Stoneman another go in New Zealand. Can’t work that out.

      Liked by 1 person

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