Monday night marked the end of England’s antipodean tour, a solid 5 months of overseas failure brightened only slightly by their two ODI series wins. On a personal note, it seemed reminiscent of a fictional never-ending winter like in the Chronicles Of Narnia or Game Of Thrones to me. The persistent cold weather at home during the day, then the depressing feats of mediocrity by the England Test team at night. It might have only been five months, but it somehow seemed like much longer.
In the Test team, it’s hard to think of many players who come out of this winter without a diminished reputation. Jimmy Anderson, and perhaps Craig Overton (although he had a decidedly average average of 42.28 from his three Tests), are the only standout performers. Certainly, you would expect Overton to be pleased that his 2015 ban after racially abusing another player isn’t the first thing that people think of when they hear his name.
For everyone else, it’s been a tour to forget. Joe Root’s captaincy has been questioned by many, although it’s not clear exactly what more he could do. He was England’s top scorer (always a dangerous position in a losing Ashes), and his bowlers were essentially all dire. As the point was often made during Australia’s period of dominance, it’s easy being captain when you have McGrath and Warne in your side. It’s not like a lot of balls were being edged to vacant slip positions by the Australian and New Zealander batsmen, or mis-hit in the air to where fielders should have been. England’s bowlers just didn’t seem to induce many false shots throughout the winter.
Finishing with bowling averages over 60, it’s hard to see how Jake Ball, Tom Curran, Mason Crane, Chris Woakes or Moeen Ali can expect to play for England in the near future. Jack Leach has been receiving plaudits for his performance this week, but they may be premature. Being economical when the opposing team are trying to bat out a draw might not be the greatest test for an international spinner, although I wouldn’t be disappointed if he was picked for the Pakistan series. Woakes and Moeen were also disappointing with the bat, both averaging under 20, which could herald an end to England’s policy of picking three allrounders. In fact, with Stokes’ court dates coinciding with the India Test series, it’s possible that England might play without any allrounders for parts of this summer.
That in turn could badly expose England’s fragile batting lineup. Apart from Root, no English batsman averaged over 40. The tour began with questions about virtually all of England’s specialist batsmen, and it’s ended the same way. Stoneman has averaged less than his opening partner Cook, but also outscored him in 11 of the 18 innings they’ve shared so far. Vince looks great until he plays a loose shot and gets himself out cheaply. Malan did well in Australia, averaging 42.55, but once he was in conditions conducive to swing in New Zealand he seemed to have the same flaws as he demonstrated last summer against South Africa.
All of which leads us to the question: Where do England go from here? So far, the only people to lose their jobs have been the selectors. Certainly this seems overdue. England’s Chief Selector James Whitaker’s last selectorial triumph was Gary Ballance, who was dropped almost three years ago due to a catastrophic lack of form. It’s honestly been somewhat astonishing that he wasn’t fired years ago.
Trevor Bayliss and Paul Farbrace both seem secure in their positions until 2019, having survived this. You’d assume that this is because of England’s ODI form, because otherwise England’s immediate future looks pretty bleak. There hasn’t seemed to be much speculation on Andy Flower losing his position as the ECB’s Technical Director Of Elite Coaching, despite there not being much evidence of any elite players having developed during his tenure. In fact, the more cynical amongst us are speculating that he will move sideways into the vacant selector’s position. It would certainly seem apt, seeing as the ECB hired him for his current job following his team’s abject failure in the Ashes four years ago.
With failures apparently across the whole England team and staff, you would normally expect that the ECB’s Director Comma England Cricket Andrew Strauss should be under fire. When the tragically inept Paul Downton was fired and replaced by Strauss in 2015, England were 5th in the ICC Test rankings on 97 points and even the ECB realised that things needed changing. Today, England are 5th in the ICC Test Rankings on 97 points, and apparently the Director in charge of England’s cricket team is doing a fine job?
Except no one really wants to put the boot into Strauss right now, not least because he left the Ashes tour early when it was revealed that his wife had been diagnosed with cancer. He also seems to have a lot more friends in the English cricket media than Paul Downton did. Whilst Downton was outside the English cricket establishment for several years when he was making a living as a merchant banker (decide amongst yourselves whether that’s rhyming slang or not), Strauss has never left the upper echelons of English cricket society since his ascension to Test captain in 2009. He’s well-connected and, for the most part, well liked by the people who could make trouble for him. Sacking Strauss would also be an admission of failure from ECB Chairman Colin Graves, and even making the suggestion that Graves has failed is probably enough for him to sue you.
All of which means that the England Test team is virtually in the same position it was six months ago. And a year ago. And two years ago. And three years ago. And four years ago. They have a weak and brittle batting line up, a below average bowling attack, and there are no immediate prospects of improvement.
Still, at least winter is over now…
As always, please comment below.
It must have been a difficult winter! (One for the teenagers)
It could well be a difficult summer for England too. Although conditions will be much more favourable for their bowlers, I doubt that the batsmen will improve significantly from what they managed in the previous two series.
Imagine if Jimmy Anderson pulls a hamstring, or treads on a stray rugby ball, before the India series.Then it could really become a summer of public ordure being flung at the team. The England management really is sailing that close to the wind, and it seems so unnecessary. Flower’s obsession with ticking boxes marked ‘character’ could screw the team up for the next 5 years, just because alternatives appear to have been rejected and to still be rejected before being given the chance to show their mettle. It might be dangerous in the current climate of litigation to claim that he must be sitting in on selection, but seeing as his protègé is Director, Comma, he only needs to be a phone call away anyway.
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Conditions more favourable for the bowlers. That is if Director Comma does not send emails to all groundsmen to prepare roads to allow The Holy One to score big daddy hundreds….
Well it’s Mike Hunt’s last year at Lord’s before retirement, so we can safely assume that will be road-like for their two Tests.
Decisive moment in the Ashes came in Brisbane when Steve Smith (now an even a bigger hero in Australia after his choreographed blub fest) stepped up and asserted himself in chest-thumping style. He made Root look like a boy in comparison. Until then, the match looked evenly poised, but cometh the hour, etc.
Of course, we now know that the Aussies were cheating the whole series, so perhaps we shouldn’t take too much notice of these results. Except that we then failed to beat the Kiwis, 58 all out, and all that.
Marks out of 10.
Well done all.
What did Ballance did to lose two points?
Anderson 7, for me. The rest about bang on.
(you forgot Ball. -3?)
That’s a little harsh, he was no worse than Crane or Moeen.
Yep I forgot Ball and Wood. 1 for Ball. 3 for Wood, albeit as he looks at least as competent as Cook with bat in hand.
Personally I thought Ballance was exceptional. I didn’t see him play a single rash shot.
Is that one point for every couple of runs he scored for Cook?
Wood scores 3. Sadly 2 of those are for his batting.
Is the one point for Mason Crane like in an exam where you turn up and write your name at the top of the page and that’s it?
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8/10 for 1-193.
Never let it be forgotten.
Yeah, that was funny…
I think Woakes and Curran can do well in Tests in England. Ball had one good start to a season and would have developed better if he’d been left to play domestic cricket rather than spending a summer or two as perennial twelfth man.
I’d rather pick players who will bowl well everywhere. Picking Woakes and Curran is an admission that we have no ambitions to win away. None.
I’m fine with more ‘horses for courses’ selections, personally. I find the obsession with picking the same 11 regardless (with a couple of spinners replacing the seam bowlers in the subcontinent) to be fairly annoying.
For a start, I think it increases the likelihood of injury or burnout for players. Also, it’s been apparent over the last few years that there aren’t any English players waiting in the wings who are Test-class in all conditions. Instead, I think we’ll have to try and use a ‘Moneyball’ kind of analysis to place sub-par players in positions where their weaknesses are hidden by the conditions and the opposition.
Before the inspiration of Vaughan and Tres (as players picked from nowhere), there was this fellow Thorpe. You see Thorpe never really seemed to smash big runs for Surrey but yet got picked for the A team. They identified him as someone who scored “tough runs”. He went on to be pretty great. I think they see this in Hameed and once he’s on a little bit of form I expect him to be back. I think there is raw talent out there in the batting. It needs shaping.
Lord only knows with our bowling.
The problem is of course, due to the marginalisation of the County Championship, it is hard to figure out which seamers will do well, since the conditions they will be playing in will be heavily influenced by the wiles of April, May and September, which are pretty much unique to England (and to a lesser extent New Zealand), in the Test playing world.
Unless Strauss comes up with the brilliant idea to relegate the County Championship in large parts to the UAE (like the North vs. South fixtures) …, I can’t see that changing anytime soon.
What is left then is to simply go by the action (eg. a left armer would at least offer some variety) and method. And that would require really good and courageous selectors.
Since the ECB has money to burn they could also try something like identifying some prospects, NOT send them to Loughborough, and compensate them amply for playing domestic cricket in other parts of the world. The talent must be there, but it seems like it is deliberately wasted by the ECB.
“Unless Strauss comes up with the brilliant idea to relegate the County Championship in large parts to the UAE”
Oh my lord. Even though that’s a joke, the prospect of it becoming real is far from unthinkable.
Please don’t give them any more ideas!
Might be of interest. KP in the Spectator.
I’m enjoying KP’s post-retirement line.
“I have risen above all that tedious Inside Cricket history and henceforth my life is dedicated to the rhino, and of course my family. How quaint it now seems that they’re all such hypocrites… And wouldn’t you just love to be me cuddling a baby leopard…”
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KP is also writing from the future I see. Always ahead of everyone else!
James Anderson averaged 39.20 when he had as many wickets as Woakes. This included a five-wicket haul against Zimbabwe and only one five-wicket haul outside of England.
Tom Curran’s written off after two Tests!
If someone makes a good start does that mean they’re good enough. Is Steven Finn good enough?
I’m a big believer in players getting better with experience (e.g.: Anderson) so I’m backing Curran and Woakes to take plenty of Test wickets.
I also think that it should be mentioned that Woakes is typically holding an older ball when he bowls and facing set batsmen. It’s hard for bowlers to come into the England team and make an impact when they tend not to have a hard, swinging ball. It’s almost enough to get you looking at the sandpaper aisles in B&Q, I’d imagine…
I have to disagree. I think Woakes’ record tells the truth about his ability at home. Remembering his age, he has two 5 for in England, both in the same game, at an overcast Lords against a very cold Pakistan team. And that’s it. He was not good last summer or any previous summers except for those shivering out of form Pakistanis – and that was before they got hot and beat us.
Woakes is also almost 30.
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Is it just talent? (e.g. Woakes never had the pace of a young Broad or Anderson when young.) Or is it Loughborough?
Loughborough would be my guess. That, and the coaching orthodoxy in English cricket which tends to try and filter out anything not in their manuals.
But he’s statistically a better player than Anderson was 60 wickets into his career.
If we removed everybody’s career bests from their records then all players would be worse off.
I just can’t help myself back players to come good. I’m a supporter. I guess that’s why I’d fit right in on the England selection panel!
“If we removed everybody’s career bests from their records then all players would be worse off.”
Especially Cook over the last 12 months.
I think a point to consider though is how old was Anderson when he got to 60 wickets? Woakes is 29.
I think some of this is the bad luck for Woakes of coming of age in the Branderson era. If he comes good he’s a replacement for one of our swing-dependent bowlers, not the complement we need in a 3rd seamer. So a lot of the time he didn’t get a chance to be the 3rd seamer and learn, b/c we (correctly) were looking for a 3rd seamer who posed a different challenge to the batsman.
Of course, we didn’t find a long term solution to that 3rd seamer slot, but that’s a different selection failure/problem.
James Anderson took his 60th Test wicket a few days after his 25th birthday.
When he turned 29 he had 231 Test wickets at 31.
InspectorVijay in the Guardian comments section
Kudos to Tom Moody – probably my favourite coach in the IPL – and VVS as mentor, they’ve helped bring out a completely different Warner in the IPL – very much the Dr Jekyll. Warner has been just as competitive as the Sunrisers captain as he is in the international arena, but far more effectively so. Not at all a knob, very encouraging of his bowlers and the younger Indian players, gracious in both victory and defeat and a truly inspirational leader. Honest to goodness! I know this would seem mind boggling to anyone who’s only followed his international career.
I have no evidence, of course, but I do reckon a team environment fostered by Tom Moody and one brought into being by Darren Lehmann are two very different squads indeed. Honestly, in the last two IPLs – especially in the last one – The Sunrisers have been the team impossible to hate. Talented, exuberant, cohesive…sort of like the phrase “hard but fair”, in the actual, non ironic, flesh. Only a lot more joyful in each other’s success than that phrase suggests. I’m utterly certain the few people who read this comment will not quite believe me, but Warner has been central to that team identity – in so far as how they appear to express themselves on the field, which is all I can go by. Strange…but true.
International teams are missing a massive trick by ignoring Tom Moody as a possible Head Coach candidate. He’s put together a brilliant, honourable and highly competitive team at Hyderabad. Kane Williamson is their replacement captain, who will only enhance the team’s reputation, no doubt.
An example of why there are different perspectives on Warner.
On the other hand……..
It could have nothing to do with the coach, and everything to do with playing test cricket for your country, as opposed to a more mercenary enterprise of playing hit and giggle for 20 overs.
The innings doesn’t last long enough to bother tampering with the ball. And as for insulting opposition players….. they are only out there for a few overs. Even if an opener bats all the way through one innings it lasts just over an hour. (Half of one session of a test match.) The game moves too fast, and there aren’t that many men around the bat to insult the batsman. They are all standing on the boundary, about 60 metres away.
We were told before the Ashes that Warner had become more grown up, that giving him responsibility (the vice captaincy) had changed him. Much was made of the fact he had stopped drinking. We were told his ban after his fracas with Joe Root, and his subsequent ban had mellowed him.
All complete cobblers. SA showed (with all its wildlife) that a leopard doesn’t change its spots.
Do you mean to say that Test cricket encourages bad traits to be shown up? 🙂
Jokes apart, in reality t-20 cricket has had more than its share of incidents between players.
Also, perspectives on a person vary from people to people. You think of warner and smith negatively. I don’t have any major positive/negative opinion on warner or smith as a person. Someone else thinks it is the team environment and that warner/smith could have been different in a different environment. Someone else may think that warner was driven to it by people insulting his wife.
it is just that there are no back and white judgements that can be passed on the people involved unlike someone who is corrupt.
I don’t know either the two players concerned . I base what I think after reading between the lines of people who do know them, and have played against them, and observing their behaviour. I certainly don’t think Smith is as bad as Warner. I would describe Smith as easily lead.
perhaps if you don’t want your wife to be insulted it is not a good idea to go around insulting other people for years. Maybe Warner thought no one would go so low because of the ever flexible Aussie white line that nobody other than other Aussies know where the boundaries are.
I think you can have black and white judgements. What is your definition of corrupt? Plotting a plan to tamper with the ball, and then getting a patsy to carry it out, and then let the patsy take the rap? That’s pretty corrupt I would say.
my definition is cronje, salman butt etc.
not people who tamper with ball. then all our teams have corrupt players.
the patsy did not take the rap. smith did say the leadership group was involved in the first press conference. let us not rewrite facts.
One can only imagine.
Davey old son. They aren’t going to pick you. You are the sacrificial lamb. You are the bad guy. You are responsible for the bans on two good men. You’ve not got the lachrymose plaudits of Lalor and co. You are being hung out to dry. You know it deep down. You know you are the scapegoat.
One can only imagine.
Well, if they are serious about changing the Aussie culture they can’t have him back.
Have to say I’m not convinced they want to change the culture. Exhibit 1 Mark Waugh….Exibit 2 Malcom Conn…..Exibit 3 almost every past Aussie player….Exibit 4 CA (who had no problem with the culture for the last 3 years)…..Exibit 4 The Aussie media (who also had no trouble with the culture until it all blew up in their face) Exibit 5 Aussie fans who understandably want to win. And look what happened to Micky Arthur when he tried to change the culture.
My only suspicion about all these meek acceptances of CA punishments by the “guilty three” is that they have been told if they don’t appeal CA will reduce the penalties to 6 months. Certainly for Smith & Bancroft. If they bring back Warner no one will take CA seriously again. But then why would Warner meekly accept a loss of earnings for a year and then get told he is never coming back?
Mark, saying that the Aussie culture is so powerful actually goes some way to explaining the comment from Inspector Vijay (I’m glad Sri posted it here because I saw it on the G thread and thought “How odd and interesting”). Warner is different when he’s away from that culture, then, perhaps.
Arguably the IPL has a different culture not because the matches are shorter (or not only that) but because players are often playing alongside people they know are seriously good. Also it’s important to make a good impression to keep your own price up for next year. They’re much more exposed as individuals, they don’t have ‘the lads’ from their home side for reinforcement.
This contrasting report suggests that Warner is actually quite an unformed sort of person, who takes his cue from people around him. And then may go further than they would, in an effort to impress?
This is an intriguing slant. I do wonder how much or little of the truth we’ve been told. For one, did the sandpaper plan really come from the three or was it from higher up?
I once had an argument with my boss over a bad idea coming down from above and I asked him “if you were told to do something you believed was wrong, would you do it?” He said “I would make my point and then if ordered to do the deed anyway, I would obey”. “That’s where you and I differ” I responded. Ironically, in the fullness of time, he lost his job in a “restructure” and I went onto greater things.
As Dmitri says, Warner is definitely the scapegoat. I wonder if the CA hierarchy changes, which it eventually will, whether they feel that Australia will win more matches with Warner in the side than out of it.
I know this will be heresy for some,but I just don’t think players take the IPL that seriously compared to playing test cricket for their country. It’s a pure money making venture with a bunch of “here today….. gone tomorrow” mercenaries. The short format does make it much less likely to be able to behave like a complete Pratt for the reasons I give above.
I also don’t buy into the notion athat everybody in the IPL is “seriously good.” Or that they are somehow better than the players they play for their country with. Australia are world champions of 50 over cricket. Why should they look up to anyone?
I think the whole IiPL thing is a red herring which people are reading too much into. Only Warner knows why he behaves differently. Probably need a shrink to find out.
In my view, any player of sport should have an approach that does not involve taking it seriously be it IPL or Test Cricket. Take pride in your and your team’s performance andd put in your best but the moment you think it is a life or death battle and react adversely under pressure, you are bound to get into trouble.
Probably, they need more of the IPL spirit in test cricket? 😀 and not use the excuse of saying test cricket is serious sport to justify silly behavior?
Probably fans too need to consider it a sport and not a gladiatorial contest?
I couldn’t tell you who the vice-captains were for any other nation – they’re not remotely important unless the captain gets injured, and then they become important – but only because they’re then the captain. Warner a) didn’t do the act (Bancroft) and b) isn’t the captain, i.e. the man responsible for his players (Smith). He’s been stitched up by being dragged into it. By playing to the CA formula and just copying the responses of Smith and Bancroft, he’s left them in an interesting situation in a years time. Why are they allowed back but not him?
Would be interesting to know what the Confidentiality Agreement was worth….
BCCI rights at 6111.70 Crores as of now
That’s £668m for those of you keeping score at home.
Is that the cost, or an Alastair Cook innings?
Start has got the rights. USD 944 Million. I suppose now they will increase the price we pay to subscribe to the sports channel since they also have the IPL rights 🙂
That how it works I’m afraid. Certainly if Premiership football is anything to go by. The rights just keep going up and so does the customers subscriptions until one’d day people say enough is enough. I suspect you have a long way to go yet.
oh yes. Some way to go. Population explosion helps in such cases to spread the toll 😀
Also, a lot is because reach of media to the people is ever improving with power, internet and incomes rising.
But, as you mention, possibly all this will peak a few years from now and then customer fatigue and dissatisfaction could set in
As of now, all of us pay for the tv packages and do not mind but there will come a time when we will sound like english fans about the pay wall. 🙂
An update from James Sutherland
Dear Australian Cricket Fans,
I wish to update you on the actions Cricket Australia is continuing to take in response to the recent events in Cape Town. We recognise the concerns felt by all of you regarding this situation, so I wanted to share these updates with you directly.
As officially announced yesterday, Steve Smith, Cameron Bancroft and David Warner have accepted the charges and sanctions, so no hearings will be required.
These are significant penalties for professional cricketers, and they were not imposed lightly.
We know the players will return to playing the game they love, and in doing so, we are hopeful they will rebuild their careers and regain the trust of you, our fans.
Last week we flagged an independent review to examine the wider context of this event as an important step towards restoring pride in Australian cricket.
The review will examine if any cultural, organisational and/or governance issues should be addressed within Cricket Australia, not exclusive to the Australian men’s teams.
We are currently seeking advice from a wide range of qualified individuals, firms, sporting and other organisations who may have conducted similar reviews, or have relevant experience with these sorts of issues.
We want the review to be completed as quickly as possible, but we are also committed to getting it right. We will take whatever time is necessary to ensure we fully understand the expertise required to conduct such a review, and the procedures it should follow. I’ll share the details with you once we have worked carefully through this process.
We are strongly committed to a culture of inclusivity, supportiveness, accountability, respect, integrity and doing what’s best for cricket, and you, the fans.
Consideration of a player charter
In addition to the independent review, Cricket Australia will initiate a separate player (and former player) driven process to consider a “charter” that sets out standards of behaviour and expectations of Australian men’s teams.
The outcomes from this process will form reference points for the independent review.
Further details will be announced shortly and we will keep you updated on this process as it progresses.
Our focus is on doing all we can to prevent such events from ever happening again, and rebuilding the trust of the cricket community.
I would like to take the opportunity once again to express our gratitude to the Australian public for all the feedback we have received. We have read all your passionate responses and recognise your concerns. Unfortunately, we cannot respond to all your submissions, but I can assure you we will continue to do everything possible to restore your faith in the game and address your feedback.
Chief Executive Officer – Cricket Australia
Dripping with sanctimony from start to finish. An unctuous piece of work.
An organisation headed by a 22 year long employee of moral paragon Rio Tinto, giving it culture change and building trust. It’s hilarious.
Come over and play county cricket, all three of you.
Ind women beat eng women with 1 wkt in hand in last over after making a heavy weather of an easy chase.
Other than smriti every batswomen seems to be having a major issue in form
Of course, most important news for us Indian cricket fans is that tomorrow is csk vs MI ipl 11 start 😊