A Good Weekend To Bury A Bad Result

Good day to you. It’s test losing day on Being Outside Cricket, and we know what that means. Rancour. Introspection. Anger. Despair. Ambivalence. Wait. Not ambivalence. That never happens here. Imagine what it would be like if this were the Ashes! Instead of that anger, we are probably all still too busy laughing over the other events. No, not Afghanistan winning the World Cup qualifying, or the news Varun Arron is going to play for Leicestershire. But worrying about whether Malcolm Conn is OK. Australia Fair indeed. We’ll come to that.

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Lord Save Me…. Oh, You’ve Got It On Tape?

To England first. Another defeat by an innings away from home, as they came within 20 or so overs of forcing the draw their first innings of 58 didn’t deserve. There were half centuries in the innings for Stoneman, Root, Stokes and Woakes, but none went on to the big century or the 250 ball stay that the situation was going to require. It was certainly a better effort, and survival until later than we probably expected, but it was still very disappointing. England’s record away from home is abominable, and the excuse that no-one is winning really doesn’t wash. India, for example, went to South Africa, lost 2-1, but were competitive all the way. Australia have been pretty competitive in South Africa too (more of that later). We fold like a cheap suit, and it’s not good enough.

But that is the easy bit. Identifying the issue is a bit like identifying why Monday and the horrors of commuting, has to follow Sunday and the relative pleasures of sitting at home watching the Australian media drown in hubris. It just happens (God, that was a bad juxtaposition – Ted Dexter will be after me). Why it happens needs some more deep seated, probably psychological analysis. How has Joe Root stopped getting to 100 in test matches? Why does Stoneman look like a test opener, and then looks so out of his depth? Why does Alastair Cook do “it” so rarely in match saving situations? Why is it just absolutely bleeding obvious that Stokes is worth his place as a batsman alone when he is clearly carrying a back injury? Will Bairstow ever be consistent with the bat while he has wicket-keeping duties? What the bloody hell has happened to Moeen Ali? Is it a measure of our desperation that Dawid Malan’s form is going to be more John Crawley than Graham Thorpe? When will Stuart Broad bowl another one of “those” spells? Would Woakes be in the team if he couldn’t bat? What’s James Vince doing there? What’s Liam Livingstone doing there? What’s Jimmy Anderson really offering these days? Why did Craig Overton have to spoil it all? It’s like an episode of SOAP.

England started the day three down, and didn’t have to wait long to be four down after Malan nicked to Latham at second slip with 10 runs added to the overnight score. Stokes settled in for a decent bat, and Bairstow joined him, which you sensed needed to last well into the second session to give England an earthly. 20 overs of denial, especially from Stokes, followed, but Astle got the England keeper who pulled a long hop to mid-wicket to give the hosts their fifth wicket. England could probably have lost one wicket in the first session, at worst two, but it became three on the stroke of tea when Mooen succumbed, and for all intents and purposes, England had too.

Woakes and Stokes put up a long spell of resistance throughout the second session, and hope started to rise. But this England team have become specialists in hope rising only to be disappointed, and although I’ve not seen it yet, it is the dismissal of Ben Stokes that has the tongues wagging, or keyboard fingers itching, on social media. Another gift wicket, another at the interval, and another hammer blow. He may have made 66, and we are great at having a go at the contributors rather than those who flop, but one wonders just how much more vehement a KP or Ian Bell dismissal in those circumstances might have been treated by the press.

300 for 7 at dinner, England fought gamely for another hour or so, with Woakes completing a half century, but the game was up. When Anderson lofted tamely to end the innings, England had been beaten by an innings.

I know a number of you, including those who don’t comment on here, made/make a bee-line for the site when we lose. They seem to like our sense of anger, our dismay that this is going on, that somehow, if only we’d done things better we might have won. I would normally go off the deep end, usually going at members of the media not giving it to us straight, the ECB pulling the wool over gullible eyes or some other matter that would get the rage machine firing.

Not today.

This England team are now in the laughing at them stage, as I said after the 58. For a team mollycoddled and given all the support staff and encouragement they need, they under-perform mightily. Or do they? Is this, whisper it, our standard for the foreseeable future? Half decent home, half a team away? There is no sense of anger here, because even some of the media cheerleaders have given up, thrown their hands up in the air, and just accepted it. Sure, they’ll give some big and mighty words, but they don’t mean it. That the selection of James Vince did not have them screaming blue murder showed that. A selection to be laughed at, was one to be ignored, by and large. I don’t sense anger from the fans, I don’t sense anger from bloggers and I certainly don’t sense it from Strauss, Harrison and Graves. England writers, one senses, are only conceding test cricket is in trouble because England test cricket is. There is so much to put right, you don’t know where to start. There are so few solutions, one senses it is going to take luck to find them. I don’t think there’s much upside at the moment because batsmen seem incapable of making very big scores on a regular basis, and our bowlers don’t look like bowling teams out overseas. That’s a combination.

But the best thing about this loss is when it happened. It happened on a weekend when our best of enemies decided to have a meltdown. Many hundreds of thousands of words have been written, but if I may, could I be permitted to give you some more…

First, one of the fascinating things was watching the scandal develop. There was the press conference. As soon as Smith announced he was part of the group responsible I tweeted “he has to be sacked as captain”. There were some out there who thought this was because of ball tampering – it wasn’t, it was because he was admitting a conspiracy and you can’t have that. After all, you can’t even text your mates in the opposition these days.

But the Aussie journalists at the ground seemed strangely reticent. Indeed Peter Lalor praised the two for confessing and fronting up. At this time Australians would mostly have been asleep, and I was waiting for the Sydney / Melbourne boys to wake up. Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Brisbane Courier-Mail all seemed quiet. Then Michael Clarke woke up, tweeted, got dressed and let fly. Fox Australia let them have it with both barrels and the floodgates opened. It didn’t take long for a tsunami of hand-wringing, a flood of self-loathing and some good old scapegoating of the present for past sins and we had ourselves a full blown meltdown. I’ve seen this happen before, and it never gets less dull watching it. By the end of the Aussie day we are seeing mentions of life bans, every Aussie and his/her pet koala having a say, and proportion and perspective abandoned for the immediate future. How could they? How very dare they?

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Him, Or Me. Australia decide…..

The second is something that might strike you odd. I loathe Australia as a cricket team, but I love watching them play. The male equivalent of treat ‘em mean, keep ‘em keen. You want them to lose, but you want them to lose with them playing hard and keeping the winning team on their toes. It’s why I will always love 2005 over 2011. So I think we need a strong Australia in test cricket, because we need a great rival that over time has been better than us. Their late 90s, early 2000s team had sanctimony by the bucketful, cheating (in its widest sense) down to an art. We, well I, secretly loved them for it. Every action movie has a baddie. The fact is Australia genuinely never saw themselves as the bad guys. They were, it seems, utterly convinced they were the pinnacle not just in achievement, but in attitude and fair play. Every piece this weekend, will nearly every, seems to take this line. There was a running joke between me and my mate Adelaide Exile about Gilchrist’s selective sportsmanship, but now Adam is seen as a paragon of virtue. I’ve seen it suggested that Ricky Ponting come back to instil Aussie values, which I presume including haranguing umpires if he doesn’t agree with decisions, and screaming at visiting coaches (and I love, almost unhealthily, Ricky as a pundit). I think I speak for many when I am amazed they think this way. This isn’t me putting my lot on a pedestal. How the hell can I with our vile governing body, a director who called his former star player a c***, a team for many years hated by match officials every bit as much as this Aussie team is now, it seems. We are laughing at you Australia. Stop it. We know you are upset. Take a deep breath, realise this was stupidity personified, that there is a sporting crime and someone has to pay, make them pay, then rehabilitate, reform if you must and move on. We will, once we’ve stopped laughing.

Third, watching the press and others stick the boot in here is very funny. They should be looking at the way Australia handles this and be ashamed. There’s no sense here of one Cricket Australia. If the organisation doesn’t do something to address this, and presuming it isn’t off the charts, or too soft they will come to some thoughts, the press will crucify them. They will do it to their Australian of the Year, who was exceedingly popular it seems, until he isn’t. The Cricket Australia statements included fans, don’t say they are outside cricket and to fuck off because this has nothing to do with them. They at least provide some recognition. If they care in Australia, they care too much, which is not an awful thing. Here, our press are so terrified about losing access, that they avoid conflict. You know what I’m talking about, I don’t need to draw you a picture.

Me? I’d make sure they never captained their team again – that honour and increase in pay has to be forfeited – but they should all play again if their form permits it. A suspension seems in order, and Bancroft needs to do the time too, but if it is six months they’ll miss just ODIs, T20s and a test in Zimbabwe. They’ll be back for India at home. A real punishment may be to ban them from the IPL by not giving NOCs, but that might bring in m’learned friends.

As I said, we’ve all read a lot. Sydney Morning Herald has been my go to site, and I recommend it to you all.

But as Jo Moore said, this is a good day to bury bad news. England chose the right time to lay a cricketing egg. We await Friday in Christchurch to see if there’s an Easter resurrection, or we prove to be the bunnies we really seemed to show in Auckland. And with that, comment away on the lines above if you feel you want to, and thanks for your contributions over the weekend, whether you agreed with us or not.

Dmitri (Peter)

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38 thoughts on “A Good Weekend To Bury A Bad Result

  1. metatone March 26, 2018 / 5:03 pm

    So… on England.

    At some level the 58 all out is a freak result.
    Indeed, it’s telling when one looks back at the 51 all out against WI in 2009 that roll around to Ashes 2010/11 and on the batting side the only change is some shuffling of the order and the replacement of Flintoff with Trott.

    So, I am inclined to think (as I always say) too much can be read into one scoreline, one result.

    What’s more concerning of course is that it’s hard to look at the current lineup and feel like there’s the same kind of quality as in 2009.

    Cook is clearly trending down, yes he can bash out a big score on a flat pitch when his career is once again on the line, no, it’s no basis for games against most teams on most pitches any more. (I’ll admit that you’d need to do more mathematics than I have to work out when Cook’s decline actually means he should be dropped, but the point is we’re on that road now, even if we’re not there yet.)

    Stoneman – I just don’t know…

    Root should bounce back eventually, but it’s a good question if the coaching is helping him. Bairstow is worth persevering with too, although sooner or later we have to ask if keeping is the best way to use him.

    Malan is painfully interesting because you fancy his technique just isn’t made for home matches. I really don’t know what you do about this because 140 at the WACA against a good Aussie attack shouldn’t be taken lightly in terms of talent or mental aptitude for Test cricket. However, you sense without either some stunning remedial coaching or a lot of luck with the weather, he’s going to bat himself out of the side with a string of low scores on green pitches…

    Moeen… it’s all come apart for Mo and while he had a little slump I very much blame England for playing him as a bowler when he wasn’t fit to bowl. Confidence problems fed through and amplified a batting crisis. While I think he can come good, unlike others mentioned above I don’t think he should be playing Tests until he’s got some form back.

    As for the bowling, nothing new to report from this match, really. We’re no worse than we were in the Ashes, but not visibly any better… and that’s not good news…

    Like

    • jennyah46 March 26, 2018 / 9:00 pm

      Very perspective. I enjoyed your post. Ther is nothing to argue with here.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Adelaide Exile March 27, 2018 / 5:50 am

        Some lengthy bans for anyone who was in that meeting.

        Warner and Smith cannot continue as captain and vice captain. Lehman has to go.

        I must say, it’s a lot of fun over here at the minute. Got to rush, need to buy some sandpaper before training.

        Like

  2. jennyah46 March 26, 2018 / 5:22 pm

    A great piece Dmitri. I can’t quite recall if this is a first, but I agree with every word you have written.

    It’s the conspiracy that got to me, including Lehmann’s call to the 12th man. As the events unfolded they provided the most bizarre spectacle that I’ve ever seen in cricket. I went from gazing at it open mouthed to hysterical laughter. Having said that, Smith must go. Connived conspiracy will not do. It’s not cricket.

    Amidst all the mirth I forgot to get cross with the England team. I mean, what can you say?They seem to have skill, but without a brain to complement. Surely some of them were taught to think at those expensive schools of theirs?’

    It’s a shame about Malan but st least, mostly, he tries. He is not a number 4 test batsman and should not have been put in that position. I would still prefer to see Root at 4. It’s the perfect spot for him and where his game can flourish.

    Root is our best batsman. He should play where he feels most comfortable.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mark March 26, 2018 / 6:41 pm

    What a weekend for cricket. Or was it? There is a nagging, uneasy feeling about all of this. I will come back to that. One of the so called big three gets bowled out for 58, and that was a recovery. England came close to being all out for less than 30. And how we laughed. But that was small beer to what was happening down in SA.

    Skulduggery, farce, cage fighting (well stairway fights) and comedy gold. The “leadership group” of another so called member of the big tree were doing stuff that a pirate ship would be proud of. And this then lead to yesterday’s batting collapse and a SA victory. The atmosphere at the ground was electric. It was like a coliseum as one Aussie gladiator after another was hacked down, and the pulled off behind a horse. We have all seen what it’s like when a home team gets on a roll and the crowd are loving it.

    And so here my worry…….The sport has not had such coverage for ages. The Ashes got nothing like it. The sport is hidden away behind a pay wall, and yet here is my concern………it took scandal, cheating and bad behaviour to get attention. But the truth is we love it! To use the old Tiswas line……”This is what they want.”

    For cricket to survive do we need more of this not less?

    Liked by 1 person

    • @pktroll March 26, 2018 / 7:48 pm

      Problem is though that you could only watch these two tests on pay tv too. It will be a short term thing and cricket will be as irrelevant overall here as it has been for 12 years.

      Liked by 1 person

    • jomesy March 27, 2018 / 7:34 am

      Is that what the Roman’s did?! More depraved that I’d realised….

      Like

      • Mark March 27, 2018 / 9:17 am

        Ha ha ha

        Like

  4. Rohan March 26, 2018 / 7:28 pm

    I said it at the weekend, but I’ll say it again here. I think this current England team may be very much in the mould/ilk of there 90s counterparts. Results are starting to perhaps confirm this. If true at least it will be interesting and fun, albeit frustrating……

    Like

  5. Silk March 26, 2018 / 7:55 pm

    I’ll be brief. Only 4 of the English test side are any good. Root, Stokes, Bairstow, Anderson. One of whom is 35 and one of whom isn’t fit.

    Jury out on Stoneman and Malan. Broad /might/ come good but I doubt it.

    The rest need dropping but that requires 5 Test class players to come in, and I’ve no idea who they are.

    Like

  6. thelegglance March 26, 2018 / 9:10 pm

    Telegraph is reporting Lehmann to resign, and repeating the line elsewhere that Smith and Warner will receive bans of up to a year.

    Like

    • Mark March 26, 2018 / 9:32 pm

      Why on Earth would Lehmann resign? After all Smith said the coaches weren’t involved.

      Like

      • dannycricket March 26, 2018 / 10:27 pm

        Something about “team culture”, I expect. I’m disappointed, I don’t rate him particularly as a coach so having him in charge increased England’s chances next year. Whoever replaces him will probably be an improvement.

        Like

      • MM March 26, 2018 / 10:43 pm

        Mark: Smith just cheated his socks off. And he threw the junior under the bus in order to do it. I ain’t believing a single word Smith says. Lehmann can’t be that saft, surely. This happened on his watch. If he knew of it – he’s doomed. If he didn’t know of it – he really should of, and therefore he’ll be doomed. If he really didn’t know… he’s lost control of the ship. That just can’t happen.

        I’m glad we’ve got summat different to observe now, coz TeamStrauss are truly stinking world cricket up. Can’t be watching that tripe anymore, thank you.

        Like

        • Mark March 27, 2018 / 9:23 am

          Yes I agree, but I was being sarcastic

          If the coach really didn’t know anything about it, you have to question why they pay him to be head coach?

          Like

  7. dlpthomas March 27, 2018 / 12:21 am

    I haven’t thought about SOAP for a while – I may have to dig the DVD’s out of the basement.

    Like

  8. dlpthomas March 27, 2018 / 5:36 am

    Does any-one know what happened to the tape? Do the umpires have it? Did the players throw it away? I’d really like to know what happened to it because, and I’m putting on my tin-foil conspiracy nut hat, I’m not convinced that object is tape.

    In my experience sports tape is bloody sticky and sticks to everything! Surely if you put it in your pocket it sticks to the insides of your pocket or even sticks to itself. It doesn’t come out of your pocket dead straight, with no frayed edges and with sides that are cut to a point. It also sticks to your fingers making it hard to put into your underwear. (Try it at home – a fun new game for the whole family)

    My initial impression was that the object was solid like a piece of plastic but it has been suggested elsewhere that it was sand-paper. To me, sand-paper would be far worse than tape.

    Now if you will excuse me, I’m off to disprove the moon landing before I build a rocket to prove that the earth is flat.

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus March 27, 2018 / 7:53 am

      five people taken to hospital as #39 shoved them out of the way to get on national radio.

      Like

  9. dlpthomas March 27, 2018 / 9:03 am

    The latest story from the Australian dressing room is that Warner has “gone rouge.” Warner has supposedly said that the bowlers were aware of what was going on and now Hazelwood and Starc are furious. The first 15 minutes of tonight’s “The Back Page” are well worth watching (if you can access it form the UK)

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus March 27, 2018 / 9:19 am

      Watching the KP playbook being followed to the hilt. Almost amusing!

      Smith being cast as an Alastair Cook figure in terms of leadership. It’s brilliant.

      Like

      • dlpthomas March 27, 2018 / 9:51 am

        From what Robert Craddock is saying, the dressing room is divided and very angry with at least one player demanding that Warner be sent home immediately. He said that every time Warner gets into trouble, he says all the right things and then offends again. He went as far as to question whether or not Warner will ever be welcome in the Australian dressing room again (but decided he would be). The panel agreed that Smith had to be punished but also supported so that he can get through this because they think he is mentally “fragile”.

        Kerry O’Keeffe got quite emotional and said “we’ve tried playing the Australian way and look at the toxic culture that has developed. David Warner is part of that, he is an integral part of that. When he returns from suspension…….he has to fit into the ideals and the values of cricket the un-Australian way, the new way the way where you respect your opponent, where you respect your team mate, where you respect the game.” Craddock responded that it is “beyond Warner to conform.”

        Amazing stuff.

        Like

        • Mark March 27, 2018 / 9:59 am

          Does anyone else find this a bit rich?

          Steve Waugh called for consideration to be given to the “social impact and mental health” of all players involved in the episode.

          Mental disintegration for thee….. but not for me.

          Like

          • dlpthomas March 27, 2018 / 10:31 am

            Does seem to be a bit rich coming from Waugh. However, James Hird (an AFL coach) was involved in a doping controversy and ended up taking an over-dose( he survived) so I think (or at least hope) that the media / fans are now more aware of the possible consequences of these kinds of scandals. I think Smith will need a lot of support to get through this.

            Like

        • Zephirine March 27, 2018 / 3:02 pm

          Craddock responded that it is “beyond Warner to conform.”
          Very similar to remarks made about Stokes in the past, by various people around the team. Said almost admiringly.
          It’s all right as long as they’re winning matches for you.

          Liked by 1 person

  10. Mark March 27, 2018 / 9:15 am

    Best joke I have seen so far…….

    Warner showing his true colours……But would those true colours look better on an OLED TV?

    Sponsorship joke!

    Like

  11. Sri.grins March 27, 2018 / 2:37 pm

    Looks from Media leaks that Warner will probably be hung out to dry more than anyone else. Interesting.

    Like

    • dlpthomas March 27, 2018 / 11:02 pm

      The problem I have with Warner, and I suspect I’m not alone, is that I don’t like him and it is thus really hard for me to be objective about him. I can believe he is the ring leader but I also have to admit that my lack of objectivity makes Warner the perfect fall guy. The only thing I’m sure about is that it will be a long time, if ever, before we know the whole story.

      Like

  12. Sri.grins March 27, 2018 / 3:22 pm

    What puzzles me is that Warner was the ball manager toll the second test. Everyone in the team knew it. They also knew he used the strapping on his fingers to rough up the ball. They knew Warner was under scrutiny after the second test. So, they knew Warner was ‘managing’ the condition of the ball till the second test. Yet the rest of the team is claiming that Warner is the only bad egg? Looks more like minimizing damage than truth.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. BoredInAustria March 27, 2018 / 4:21 pm

    All this talk of the spirit of cricket is one thing.

    What really amazes me, is the fact that we are talking about individuals that earn their money (admittedly quite obscene amounts) from an employer and through sponsorship deals. They do not seem to have the slightest awareness that when they misbehave (beat up a bloke in the street or thinking up some really stupid idea to cheat) this could just embarrass the before mentioned with certain implications.

    But then accountability is not really written big in cricket, at any level, at the moment

    Liked by 1 person

  14. d'Arthez March 27, 2018 / 4:24 pm

    If two players don’t mind deliberately deceiving the standing umpires, who is to say that the rest of them are honest (or dishonest)?

    Sometimes people are desperate to believe that it is just one or two ‘rotten apples’ – I don’t think I have to remind anyone of the idiocy BTL in the UK press after the difficult winter’ 4 years ago.. England have plenty of experience with that – even when the actual facts support Pietersen and several others on many an occasion. Some people are so desperate to believe it was all down to Pietersen that tBhey are behaving hostile towards anyone who mentions the actual facts.

    It is hard to gauge the truth. Maybe Warner is speaking the truth, and the rest of them pile on in a ploy for self-preservation. Or maybe Warner is trying to deflect some responsibility to others. Hard to tell, certainly as an outsider. Hell, we don’t even know if the bowlers have had the opportunity to talk in private about the matter, to come up with a plan to save their international careers. They might have, they might not have. It is not like ACSU is even remotely competent, so why should we assume they did their jobs for once?

    If you’re desperate for self-preservation, a viable strategy may well be to just pick on one or two vulnerable guys en masse and hope that the judges are persuaded by the number of people claiming the guy(s) who has been piled on is responsible.

    But I have the impression that it simply cannot be just Warner. I refer to the sugar in the pockets story from the Ashes. Also it would be a bit rich of the bowlers to feign complete ignorance that something untoward might have been happening, considering how quickly they gained reverse swing in conditions normally not suited for it. And this was not exactly the first occasion where that was the case.

    Furthermore it is not like ball shining is an unimportant task handed out at random. Maybe it is in village cricket, but not in professional cricket.

    So, in some respects I do believe Warner more than the bowlers, on the evidence thus far.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Sri.Grins March 27, 2018 / 5:40 pm

    well nothing major so far except the return of the three to Oz.

    Lehmann stays.

    Not sure how the reactions in Oz gonna be after all the steam they let off. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Sri.Grins March 27, 2018 / 5:43 pm

    Another 24 hours of more drama left .

    ‘Heavy sanctions’ expected. Not clear what that means. Basically, 3 scapegoats identified is my view..The cannot afford to punish the entire team anyway as it would be difficult to prove knowledge even if we think that they may have known of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. northernlight71 March 27, 2018 / 6:03 pm

    Darren Lehmann looks like a fat Simon Hughes.
    Just putting it out there.
    Can’t believe either of them still have a job connected with cricket.

    Liked by 1 person

    • metatone March 27, 2018 / 6:51 pm

      Looks like Lehmann is going to keep his job, too…

      Like

    • MM March 27, 2018 / 10:04 pm

      I heartily endorse this comment.

      Like

  18. BoredInAustria March 28, 2018 / 11:28 am

    So CA says it was sand paper. I am just trying to get my head around this:

    I am on a cricket tour of South Africa. I have a packed schedule of training, playing, press interviews, flying between foreign cities, bussing around between venues all situated in the leafy suburbs far from any hustle and bustle.

    When do I manage to stumble onto a chance to run into a little DIY store to buy a piece of sandpaper? What logistics must be put in place to get that? “Sorry coach, mind just stopping outside the DIY, I need a few nails…?”. “Dear concierge, could you maybe order me some 180 grit?”

    Or do I / the Team Leadership carry these things around with our kit? And if we do. Why?

    Is it just me or this brings a whole new level of meaning to the concept “premeditated”.

    Like

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