And There Upon A Rainbow Is An Answer To….

One for all you Limahl fans out there.

A Never Ending Story indeed. The tour that started way back at the end of October rolls on to New Zealand and the one day international saga resumes. England face New Zealand in (looks up because frankly he hasn’t checked) five 50 over contests, and the first is tonight, in the early hours, in Hamilton. Feel free to comment away on here, and who knows, we may even watch some of this series. There are priorities at the moment and giving up a night’s sleep for JAMODI is probably not one of them.

I hope we can put a post or two up in the following week because there also looks to be a cracking test series in the offing in South Africa as Australia are visiting. I’ll be looking forward to catching as much of that as I can and while I think Australia have to start slight favourites, South Africa were pretty resilient at home to India and the quality of the pitches will be really interesting. Sometimes I think too much is made of a wicket with a bit of life in it, but that Joburg surface was a brute. We are about a week away from the ODI qualifiers for the World Cup. Much has been written about the structure of 2019’s edition, but this could provide some thrilling cricket which very few of us will see…

The big news this week were the white ball contracts for Adil Rashid and Alex Hales. This isn’t really new, as overseas players have been on these for a while now, but the two players have shown their cards and as is everyone’s wont in the cricket world, there has been much hand wringing and wailing. Rashid is the less surprising of the two. He’s had a while now of being briefed against – once again Selvey was at it recently with his “colleagues have formed a view” – but he is penned in now as an ODI and T20 bowler and that is it now. How we can blame Adil for doing this when he can only be of limited value in the County Championship, and the test team don’t want him, I don’t know. Hales has taken the path of least resistance, and in my view he wasn’t in with a shout for the test team because if he was, he wouldn’t have taken this view. Despite a white ball barrage in the last couple of years, he hasn’t got an IPL contract. He’s also one of the players who has a reputation for off the field stuff, so goodness knows what is really going on. Sean is going, possibly, to delve into this more and I’ll leave his path clear. But one thing it leaves me with is that the England set up doesn’t exactly seem to be engendering a love for the game.

As the snow and ice moves in to the South East, and the county cricket season draws closer, the contrasts between what we have now and what we might have this summer is stark. The overseas commitments for England and its staff continue until early April, and it is little wonder that the players feel burned out. The summer doesn’t exactly offer respite. The final test ends on 11 September – not last summer’s end of September farce – but it’s an intense summer against India, preceded by 2 tests against Pakistan, and for some reason not related to money, Australia are popping over for an ODI series.

A couple of observations. Michael Atherton wrote an article this week for The Times that read like it was a blog post from here, or from The Full Toss. But it was Atherton who wrote it so the press went absolutely all over the shop about it. It was “brilliant, amazing, wonderful” etc. etc. This is the damn problem. Atherton can write an article bemoaning the illogical nature of cricket and its decision making, but the fact he is employed by News International, commentates on Sky and writes for The Times he can’t speak the bloody obvious. That a decision made to hide the game behind a paywall for 12 years now has been an unmitigated disaster for the sport’s visibility. That didn’t appear in his list of cricket’s “failures” or ” mad decisions”. I thought it wouldn’t have made the cut for this place, but of course, cricket’s cognoscenti and those in the sport’s media probably saw it as hard-hitting and great. Athers is like a mafia don, and they were all paying their respects.

Out in the West Indies, our Lions took a pasting. Andy Flower is charged with bringing on the talent. The team included a man with a test hundred (Jennings), the child prodigy who has gone off the rails (Hameed – I’m not going to tell you I told you so), the man who has had his tyres pumped for a while and who will be touring New Zealand (Livingstone), a test debutant who made the media lose their minds (Crane) and someone who would have played in the Ashes if he’d stayed fit (Roland-Jones). 4 test players and a couple of others who have been in squads. And we got destroyed in the second game. Flower allowed himself to be interviewed afterwards, and his nonsense went relatively unchallenged. As some in the comments pointed out “I’m not a selector” has to be one of the great rib-ticklers of the modern England cricket era. He’s not a selector but his favourites seem to get “publicised” and “picked”.

“People should be patient with his development and he should find a balance of pushing himself with high expectations and standards, but also understanding that he is a 21-year-old leg-spinner,” Flower said.

Good. I agree. So why dump him in the middle of an Ashes series, with his run up not sorted, with no real hope of success? To find out if he doesn’t fall apart at the seams? To find out whether he can recover from mental scars? To watch our media lose their bloody minds? It made no logical sense.

“Just because he’s been picked for the New Zealand series doesn’t necessarily mean he will pull up trees.”

This begs a rather bloody obvious question. WHY THE EFFING HELL HAS BEEN PICKED? James Whitaker must be seething at how he has been slung under Alexander Dennis’s finest double decker.

He’s a confident young guy and I like that he’s combative. But he also knows he has got a lot of learning to do, and overs to get under his belt, to come anywhere near to mastering his very difficult art.

3-0 down, off you go. Good luck! Shane Warne didn’t bowl well in his first test and all that…. Also, I’d prefer our players to be “good” “excellent” or merely “very competent”, but instead “combative” seems what we want. Good, we need another gobby player who can start fights? Or am I misunderstanding what Flower means by “combative”.

Selection is not down to me but on pitches that turn he has shown himself to be very effective and has been the dominant bowler for us. In Sri Lankan conditions and with continued development, there is no reason why he can’t make an impact.

Stop laughing at the back. Mr Leach has taken a ton of wickets on this tour, but he needs to develop to play. Meanwhile someone patently not ready is off to New Zealand for a test tour. It’s a giggle this England test selection lark. Selvey had already received his briefing…

Leach nearly pulled the first game out of the fire and added another 6 in the only innings in the second game. But that’s ordinary, “he’s been told”. Who told him that?

Most reasonable people understand results are not always connected to resources, otherwise India would win every series they play. A big part of the Lions is to give players opportunities to grow and learn. We have lost on big turning pitches and batsmen haven’t coped. So that tells us where they are and informs how we work with them.

“Our top score in four innings is 60 from Paul Coughlin at No 7 and that is not OK. So I am not going to talk about who has been impressive, as no one has been. There have been snippets of class but nothing substantial, nothing to match what West Indies have done. People underestimate them and denigrate them but they are proud performers and have a lot of talent.

It doesn’t take Matthew Syed and his common sense dressed in fine flowery pyscho-babble to pick apart this drivel. Four of these players have played test cricket, so should be very much at home at this level. If you have more resources then you should do better – big clubs, well organised nations, well funded Olympic associations win more than those without – but Flower is throwing the players under the charabanc, and not his own well-tried methods that have never rubbed anyone up the wrong way.

The third game starts on Monday. Could be worth monitoring.

OK. You’ve heard enough from me. ODI time tomorrow. Ben Stokes may well return. Cue the noise.

Cheers!

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17 thoughts on “And There Upon A Rainbow Is An Answer To….

  1. Sophie February 24, 2018 / 4:34 pm

    Apparently you can still watch the first two Lions games, in silence, here:
    http://cricketwestindies.org/index.php/match-centre/
    This is a terrible website. You have to click on ‘domestic’ to get a list of the Lions games.
    It’s just a fixed camera without any sound, and I hope they’ll show the next game, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rooto February 24, 2018 / 5:13 pm

    “People underestimate them and denigrate them.”

    There you have it. It’s official. Colin Graves doesn’t matter. Otherwise why would the man who is supposedly a master of ‘managing up’ be happy to diss Graves’ notorious opinion of WI cricket?
    Flower knows who to suck up to (hat tip to AB for his comment on TFT), and it isn’t the Chairman of the ECB.

    Like

    • Rooto February 24, 2018 / 5:16 pm

      Apologies to AB and especially to our hosts. It wasn’t TFT, it was here.
      *hangs head*

      Like

  3. Julie February 24, 2018 / 9:44 pm

    Would be interesting to see where England cricket would be if Andy Flower had actually been sacked as KP was and hadn’t been allowed to get at the youngsters on their way up. At least KP found more happiness away from Eng and ECB.

    Like

  4. Mark February 24, 2018 / 10:19 pm

    “Selection is not down to me but on pitches that turn he has shown himself to be very effective and has been the dominant bowler for us.”

    The pitch that turned and bounced the most in the Ashes was Brisbane (a happy hunting ground for Warne in his day….seeing as every leg spinner from now till eternity must be compared with the great Shane.) Yet England didn’t spot this even though it was turning from day one of the test match. Remember how Lyons had us on toast?

    Unfortunately our geniuses at selection couldn’t pick a functioning spin bowler. (Ali had a bad finger) Yet no one is called to account for this school boy management. If Crane was good enough to be picked as the spin bowler of the tour he should have played at Brisbane. But he wasn’t good enough, so why was he on the plane? Nobody knows and nobody cares.

    Look over there…….. Stokes is back…….

    As to Flower, his term as Lions coach since 2014 has been a pretty damp affair. How much is this bloke paid? A lot for the Lions. Money for old rope and jobs for the boys. The Flower/Strauss axis remains in situ and in unaccountable. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    Like

  5. Sri.Grins February 25, 2018 / 4:13 am

    I think Andy Flower and the cosy relationship that many journalists and ecb power centers share with him is a curse on the development iof English cricket. It is tough but one hopes people will be asking for his resignation after this A tour. It is terrible performance and Flower has to be sacked.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Julie February 26, 2018 / 7:17 am

      🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

      Like

      • Sri.Grins February 26, 2018 / 2:10 pm

        😀 :-).

        I guess most probably he would given an extension of his contract but as Q can certify, I am an optimist. 🙂

        Like

  6. dlpthomas February 25, 2018 / 4:45 am

    5 for 285 – bit hard to judge but that’s probably seems a bit under-par given the size of the ground and the speed of the outfield. We will need to bowl well.

    Like

    • metatone February 25, 2018 / 6:39 am

      Yes, although we made a good start, after 3 wickets batting looks a bit easier again.

      Like

  7. metatone February 25, 2018 / 7:12 am

    Couple of good overs from Rashid… not to get distracted but his googly is so much further on than Crane’s it really makes a mockery of the selection decision.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. metatone February 25, 2018 / 7:40 am

    Woakes goes for 9 and then Rashid for 10… wheels falling off…

    Like

    • metatone February 25, 2018 / 7:55 am

      Although having said that, England are not yet out of it (37th over) – NZ have a bit of work left to do.

      Like

  9. metatone February 25, 2018 / 8:07 am

    Latham tiring, gave chances to Rashid and Curran, but the fielding… now Stokes gets him. NZ still in a great position, but…

    Like

  10. metatone February 25, 2018 / 9:11 am

    NZ win. I didn’t see the England batting so I can’t say if they should have scored more, but watching NZ bat it wasn’t an easy pitch to score on much of the time, so I’d say these are two pretty evenly matched teams.

    Game probably turned in overs 32 to 38 where Woakes, Rashid and Stokes all gave up some big runs. If anything you wonder if Morgan should have tried Willey in the middle there just to stem the flow by variety, but of course you have to balance that with giving bowlers enough faith. That said it feels a little odd to give Stokes 8, and Curran 10, but Willey only 6 overs given he seemed in a decent groove.

    Like

  11. dannycricket February 25, 2018 / 9:32 am

    The ECB has just scrapped a £50k payment which it gave to non-centrally contracted players who played a certain number of games. Stoneman, Vince, Malan and Curran were all due to receive this money before the change of policy, allegedly due to white ball contracts using up the available wages budget.

    I’m sure the PCA will have a suitably robust response to this…

    Like

    • Mark February 25, 2018 / 11:22 am

      Which once again demonstrates that the ECB is not the real governing body of English cricket, but a private club that has high jacked cricket in this country for its own benefit. It’s a bunch of old boys looting the game for their own ends. Just look at the ridiculous Salaries that are paid out to numerous “Good old boy types ” who are employed on a money for old rope principal. Look at the salary of the Lions coach if you want a good laugh. Never mind the bungling bureaucrats behind the scenes. It’s just gravy today, and gravy tomorrow and for ever more for these special ones.

      Is it any wonder that more players aren’t abodoning being fringe England players when you will now lose your bonus if you don’t have a central contract? Also notice how they have done this without apparently consulting anyone. The usual arrogant ECB MO that this private club operates by has a contempt for the players who they expect to play for them.

      Why would anyone want to play for team ECB? If you are not one of the chosen few you will be treated like shit. A bit like the way they treat their customers.

      Liked by 1 person

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