England v Pakistan – 1st Test – The Sorry End

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So here we are. England have lost the first test match of the summer at home to an invigorating, enthusiastic young Pakistan team, who played with maturity, nee aplomb, in conditions so unlike that they are used to one can only applaud. Let’s applaud them, because they thoroughly outplayed England, and but for one stand of resistance, could have had this game wrapped up in 3 days and won by an innings. Pakistan, a genuinely young and pretty inexperienced team, England take note, have performed. They looked like they enjoyed it, which winning always does, but also they did not fear it. England, it has to be said, look terrified of test cricket at this point. All the good work undone by a 7 for 4 morning. All the big talk undermined in half an hour of garbage. So typically this England.

So while we laud the bowling performance of our visitors, and the sensible, level-headed batting to grind out, and then build a considerable first innings lead after England spit the bit on Thursday, we have to look at England. I’d really rather not these days, but I’ve a blog team to support and a readership who seems to want to know how we feel, so it’s the necessary thing to do. The question, as I thought about when starting this piece, is where the hell do I start?

Let’s start with selection. The oddest thing is happening here. Ed Smith has taken some sort of mythical role I’ve never seen with the likes of Graveney, Miller and Whitaker in the recent past. The media are treating him like some sort of supremo over the team, almost like a manager. It’s been in the way he’s been focused upon in the stands, constantly, during this test in a way his predecessors never were. As if the role is changing into something else, almost alongside Bayliss. Is this what is intended? Anyway, no doubt his supporters will point to the “success” of his Buttler selection, and say that he should do more of this. His next dilemma is who he puts in the team to replace Mark Stoneman at Leeds, for to keep the Surrey opener in the side at this point is an act of cruelty. Let’s see what he does then.

The second issue is Bayliss. It seems clear to me he’s not a test coach in any way these days. This team doesn’t need a “good environment” but it needs a motivator. Bayliss is not getting players to play beyond themselves. People are regressing. The team is going backwards. What is his role? He’s already said he’s gone after 2019. Players respond to this sort of thing by saying to themselves that he’s not committed to the long haul. In the ODI set-up he seems to work well, but in tests we’ve been lamentable, and there seems no signs, outwardly, that it is being addressed. Social Media is full of people wanting his head, but the unsocial media are not bringing their pitchforks.

The third issue is Joe Root. Well done all concerned. Joe is being worn down by the captaincy. You can see it in his eyes. You can see it in his batting. You can see it in his demeanour on the field and being interviewed. He’s not a captain. By making him captain you are seeing diminishing returns as a player. I want his runs much more than his leadership (see also AN Cook). I want his joie de vivre as a player rather than his stern schoolmaster captain look which he isn’t. I know, the question is who replaces him, and in my view it is Jimmy Anderson for the next 18 months. I want my captain to be angry, to be a bit in your face, and challenging. This team is so mentally soft at this point, it’s laughable.

There are many weak links in the team. The batting has been a problem for ages. What do we do? Cook doesn’t have long left, but he’s still one of the best two openers in England, so he has to play. We may not like him, we certainly may not like the way the media and some who should know better treat him as a sacred cow, but we aren’t in the business of not picking our best team. And Cook is in our best team. We shouldn’t do what the geniuses in 2014 did and put the interests of personal pride over picking your best players. Because to do that would be stupid. So would those who cast aspersions over my motives on social media shut the hell up and pick on some other rubbish.

We need to try another opener while we wait for Haseeb “he reminds me of Sangakkara” Hameed learns how to bat again (I ain’t telling you I told you so….). As a Surrey man one might think of Rory Burns, but he’s not getting it. Gubbins is favoured, it seems, but not so much that he could usurp a woefully out of nick Stoneman. I genuinely don’t know what to do there. Good luck Ed. Pull a rabbit out of the hat.

Root at 3 is symptomatic of muddled thinking. He likes it, he doesn’t. He volunteers for it, he does it under duress. All this shouldn’t matter, but in this soap opera it shows they just don’t have a clue. I prefer him at 4. But to do that we need to find a 3. A 3 should be a third opener, or someone who plays there regularly. Please, not Cook. Please, not Malan. Again, I genuinely have no idea. Who is playing well in County cricket to bat at 3? Do you chuck in a novice at test level there? Again, Ed, you make the call. At now, it’s Root at 3. It just seems one place too high.

Malan at 4? No. I’m not convinced about him at all – biggish hundred at Perth notwithstanding. To me he’s the John Crawley of this era. He might make that lovely hundred that secures his future for a while, but you get the impression that if he’s as near as you have to an automatic selection out of the new lot, you are in trouble. He’s safe for now, but you get the feeling he’s holding the spot until we find someone better, and that he’s really blocking a place up.

Bairstow and Stokes are two players who need to step up. I have a feeling they are both one place too high, but Stokes isn’t going to countenance batting at 7. Jos Buttler at 7 is a nonsense. He’s being picked as a specialist batsman, and yet he’s in a slot for your all rounder. If you genuinely think he’s a test batsman, play him in a test batsman’s slot. Otherwise, you are just making a mess of things.

The bowling is not good enough. We know it. Broad and Anderson are on the decline, and we know that too. Anderson had a quiet test, Broad too. Dom Bess looked like the latest in the long line of spin bowlers who had unimpressive debuts with the ball, but might surprise you with the bat every now and then.

This is a mediocre team. You can either try to hope that it becomes less mediocre, with the top players in it stringing consistent scores together, in groups, to make big scores. Or you can blow this up and start again. Some were mentioning a “Hobart Moment” for England, but we’re not about to chuck out a load of players because to do that here is seen as “panic”. The way the Lions performed this winter doesn’t suggest we’ve got a conveyor belt of great test talent on the way.

Yesterday, I was raging. A test team representing England folded on a decent batting surface. Root stood up, but not for the time he really needed to. Bess and Buttler batted well as Pakistan tired physically and mentally last night, but listening to people saying we could set the visitors 200 was fantasy land stuff. Ladbrokes had us at 5/2 according to their TV ad at start of play, for heaven’s sake. Until we stop deluding ourselves about our place in the test firmament, we have no chance. But today I can’t be so angry. England have been in denial since 2014. In 2013 we won an Ashes series 3-0 at home and we berated the team for being boring. Now we lose to Australia 4-0 away and arguably the response was less caustic than the attacks on the winning team. I feared that blithe acceptance of that hammering set the wrong tone. There’s always an excuse with this lot. The excuses are running out.

Back in 2014, after a 5-0 rout, England replaced Andy Flower as coach. Andy Flower was given the job he wanted, and in it, his latest body of work was to see his Lions team humiliated in the Caribbean. His reward now is to take temporary charge of the England set up. You have to wonder if the ECB is deliberately taking the piss out of its supporters. This appointment sends the wrong message. It really doesn’t matter if you played a role in destroying a test team, that broke up under mass recriminations, and then took the younger players under your wing, none of whom make it in tests. This record, in the recent past, is shocking. Your last great thing done for England was 2013. Five years of limited evidence of progress. Then you get the top job, albeit in circumstances no-one would have wanted. What message does that send? The same one that keeps Bayliss in a job. The same one that lauds Cook’s success while ignores his long droughts. The same one that tells us dead rubber hundreds are as significant as live ones. The same one that keeps Ramps in a job as the batting declines. The same one that just shrugs off losses in Australia and New Zealand, and will no doubt shrug off this one too. It’s a culture of resignation, of not showing the desire, of not showing ability. This England team isn’t soft, it’s liquid.

And as I write that last bit, I feel the anger again. It’s important we do. We can’t let the ECB win this. Tests matter. Legends are made in tests. I fear for us if we don’t do something. This team needs a change of direction, not fine words, motivational speeches and good environments. I keep thinking it needs a Nasser Hussain in there. It seems that time again. But what do I know?

Feel free to comment. Not sure this England team are worth much of our time these days, but fire away. There’s only one thing worse than a team that makes you angry. It’s a team that makes you not care.

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152 thoughts on “England v Pakistan – 1st Test – The Sorry End

  1. OscarDaBosca May 27, 2018 / 1:23 pm

    I am sad to say that the ECB have won.
    I just don’t care anymore (apart from the occasional comment on here)
    I can’t even bring myself to rant.
    I do feel incredibly sorry for Root, could have been the best batsman of his generation, but they will stick with him as captain because they don’t want to change and this will just grind him down

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Mark May 27, 2018 / 2:31 pm

    Great piece boss, Agree with pretty much everything.

    My mini manifesto….

    1 Remove most backroom coaches from set up. We need a major shake up now. A new coach has got to be found for next year so we might as well look for a new one now. Players technique should be their own responsibility. They should have their own coaches or advisors back at their counties. A test match week is not the place to be messing about or changing technique. Also, players need to start taking responsibility. All these coaches can’t help you when you are out in the middle. If you ain’t up to it then why have you been selected?

    2 A return to a world where the captain runs the team not the football manger type coach. And talking about captains….how about returning to the old fashioned, and out dated idea of selecting a captain based on….oh I don’t know, ……how about his ability to actually captain the team? That should be the criteria, not boyish good looks that fit in with corporate sponsors or the right type of school or family. Anderson is an interesting choice. Has he ever captained? It might make him think a bit more about the overall situation. But I realise there is a shortage of people qualified.

    3 Seeing the youngster make runs yesterday (even though he was picked for his bowling) shows yet again that you don’t need to slog away for six or seven years doing an apprenticeship in county cricket. Some of our best ever players have come in to the side very young. You either take to it or you don’t.

    4 like you I’m alarmed at the guru status given to Smith. The media morons buy into any such nonsense. While It’s not his fault if the cameramen pick him out in the crowd , he doesn’t have to be seemingly revelling in it quite so much. Is he going to sit so prominently at all test matches? There were times when you got the feeling he was believing his own publicity. It’s is a wee bit dangerous to open up a rival court on the other side of the ground to the dressing room.

    5 Short term selection changes. We need a new opener, and I agree another opener at number three. These players should be picked for their ability to see off the new ball. Not their attacking stroke play. What England need is the top three to bat the first 30 overs (quite slowly if necessary)and see off the new ball. We have an ocean of fast scoring players in the middle order. What they need is protection from being 23/3 or 40/4. I have no idea if any such players even exist anymore in county cricket. But mountains of runs is not the number one criteria right now, Instead a technique that can see of off the new ball and bat time. Cook remains as he always will. Slow scoring rates would be quite useful at top of the order right now. Message to Harrison, a bit less excitement, and a bit more hard yards.

    6 Bowlers who can take wickets and horse for courses. I realise the cupboard is bare. There was much talk about preparing for overseas test by bringing back Wood, but Woakes might have been a better option for this type of surface. Also Wood seemed to be out paced by Stokes. So I’m not sure he is the long term solution to a genuine fast bowler.

    7 Finally some humble pie from the ECB might be an idea. Stop treating us as fools. Andy Flower is not the answer, and is a rather obvious middle finger to many supporters.

    Liked by 2 people

    • metatone May 27, 2018 / 4:00 pm

      On Wood, I think the England setup is still not being candid about his long term injury status. I think if he was fit and reasonably expected to stay fit I wouldn’t mind persevering with him – Woakes brings nothing new when you have Anderson & Broad in the team. (That said, you could make the argument that Broad has been very inconsistent and Woakes deserves a shot instead and I wouldn’t necessarily disagree.)

      Anyway, the nagging thing with Wood is that his pace drops during a match and you wonder if he is protecting himself, trying to avoid injury… I’m of course open to the idea of picking a young raw bowler instead, but most of them were not fit for this match… which brings us back to Bluffborough and Flower.

      Like

      • Mark May 27, 2018 / 4:44 pm

        Yes I agree with that. There is a big question mark over Woods fitness. As to Broad what happened to all the talk about how he had reinvented himself before this match? Bob Willlis said he bowled well first innings, but he was not able to stop Pakistan getting a decent score.

        I just think sometimes Anderson and Broad don’t bowl the conditions, but more their own choice. And their hatred of giving away runs seems to be the most important thing.

        Problem is the cupboard is bare. Paging Andy Flower, paging Andy Flower wtf have you been doing for the last 4 years?

        Like

        • OscarDaBosca May 27, 2018 / 5:50 pm

          Re point 4 – look at Ed Smiths website publicity shot. It’s not a former cricketer but some pseudo intellectual in a suit. He believes he is something more than he actually is

          Liked by 1 person

  3. sillypointcricket May 27, 2018 / 2:48 pm

    I’ve always thought the selector should be the person answering to the media not the coach. The selector picks the team and should be held responsible good or bad. The role of coach is a joke, there are specific coaches and the players can play. Quite why they need a Head Coach at this level is beyond me. This isn’t under 11s! The players can put cones out themselves and talk to the specific coaches if they need a shoulder to cry on.

    Also, there is no greater example of a player being picked on form alone than Ed Smith! All these people who claimed they’d campaigned for Stoneman for England for years when he scored a few hundreds last year, well they’ve gone quiet now!

    Michael Vaughan said Pakistan had obviously done their homework but what did England do for one week before the match? They were taken out of county cricket so weren’t playing cricket. Did they just net and if they did talk tactics/watch videos then what happened?

    Like

  4. Rohan May 27, 2018 / 3:02 pm

    So much I agree with Dmitri, great read.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I really think we are back to the 90s era, in terms of the standard of English test cricket. The difference being, however, there were some good characters and players in the 90s, who were likeable and put in some good performances.

    This current period, worryingly, seems potentially altogether worse for England. Could this be the start of a really poor era, like we have not known, for English test cricket. If it’s is, you are right in your concern as it could be a disaster for tests……..I really hope it’s not and I am being overly pessimistic.

    Yes, we need a 1990s Nasser as captain, but please not this modern version. I wonder what captain Nasser, circa 2000, would think of what he has become as a commentator?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ab May 28, 2018 / 6:35 pm

      This is worse then the 90s,this is as bad as the 80s

      Like

      • Rohan May 28, 2018 / 10:09 pm

        Don’t really remember 80s cricket, apart from hearing of and watching bits about the West Indies fast bowlers. Was it bad?

        Like

  5. metatone May 27, 2018 / 4:14 pm

    Ok, 180 was a pivotal failure in the game – but we won games in 2013 with first innings scores of 215 and 238. Did we lose out in this game by only 30 or 50 first innings runs? No.

    So what has really changed since those 2013 games? Well, we did better in the 2nd innings, both times thanks to Bell. (I think we forget too easily that for all his faults, he really did win us that series in a lot of ways.)

    But there again, we were more at the races before the 2nd innings – once thanks to Anderson, once thanks to Broad. I think we have to face up to the idea that part of why we were so thoroughly thrashed is we had typical English shootout swing bowling conditions – and our bowlers aren’t up to the job any more.

    (Of course, a run down other names now no longer with us shows up massive quality gaps, Swann, Pietersen…)

    Reason I want to focus on this is we could have batted much better – and with a couple of different selections (Stoneman, Malan) and better prep I can see us doing so in the next game. What I don’t see is any reason to think that we have the wicket taking capability to beat Pakistan if they don’t beat themselves. (Pakistan being Pakistan, we can never exclude that happening in the next game.)

    Like

  6. oreston May 27, 2018 / 4:52 pm

    Great piece as always, Sir. It can’t always be easy to find the will to write with things as they are. I agree that the Test team needs a reboot with a Nasser Hussain c1999 figure at the helm. The only question is… who the hell would that be? No names really spring to mind. Agree also that Anderson as short term captain is about the best option available. Were there viable alternatives he certainly wouldn’t be my first choice, but deperate times call for desperate measures. Talk of the captaincy is hypothetical though as there’s no indication either that Root is contemplating resigning just yet, or that anyone at the ECB can be bothered to do anything about the situation. England certainly need both Root the World class (no. 4) batsman AND a captain with a fine cricket brain and great leadership skills. Sadly, I think there’s now overwhelming evidence to suggest that these two entities do not inhabit the same person.

    Like

  7. nonoxcol May 27, 2018 / 4:57 pm

    Flower’s side had talent to burn. Every regular player, 2009-13, was world class in his position, except the third seamer and the post-peak Collingwood and Strauss/their various replacements.

    I am honestly not sure how he could have cocked up a side with that much talent and experience. Which is to say that, although I would never criticise anything he did from 2009-11, I always thought he got too much credit for everything the players on the field did. Fletcher got more out of less, in my view. And needless to say his side was more watchable (even before KP arrived).

    Flower should look around now and realise how lucky he was to have players like that at their peak, consider what they did for his reputation and how little he has actually achieved since then, and piss the hell off out of it. Or, as some would have it, call time like the pragmatist he is.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Mark May 27, 2018 / 6:04 pm

      Yup, it’s the point geniusus like Selvey don’t understand. He had really good players at the peak of their talents. He also had the advantage of the end of the great Aussie side. Warne and McGrath retired in 2007.

      Like

  8. Silk May 27, 2018 / 5:05 pm

    Just so pleased for Pakistan.

    Like

  9. nonoxcol May 27, 2018 / 5:07 pm

    Guardian BTL says “Bring back Captain Cook: underrated by imbeciles”.

    Never change, Guardian BTL.

    Like

    • OscarDaBosca May 27, 2018 / 5:53 pm

      I saw that and smirked. Such revisionism is breathtaking in its lack of awareness.
      Also Cook had better players

      Like

    • Mark May 27, 2018 / 6:10 pm

      They have never been able to distinguish between his batting, and his captaincy. Probably because they don’t know the difference.

      I wonder if Cook will ever come out and say he never wanted to give up the captaincy, and felt he was pushed into it. Then he can claim he was wronged again.

      Like

      • d'Arthez May 27, 2018 / 6:56 pm

        Well, the last time he did that, he learned the hard way that he would have been better off waiting for a few series and tournaments before making such claims.

        So give it until at least the end of his playing career before such statements might be made.

        Like

      • jomesy May 28, 2018 / 11:04 am

        You only have to look at the poster to not concern yourself!

        Like

  10. Gareth May 27, 2018 / 5:23 pm

    Where to begin?

    Personnel – I’ve never understood why James Hildreth never gets a mention for a batting slot. Yes it took him until fairly recently to put it all together and he is 33, but surely an average TEN runs higher than the likes of Jennings, Stoneman, Buttler et al should maybe suggest he is someone who is finally comfortable with his game and the demands of batting? Perhaps a steady experienced head in the short term is better than another ‘promising youngster’ whom Bayliss has never seen or a white ball player?

    Malan strikes me as a flat-track player, due to his minimal footwork. Moving ball in May was always gonna be tough on him.

    Bairstow has not shown the same form as he did in 2016 for a while now.

    James Vince should never have gotten a chance in the first place, but I fail to see the logic, having given him his unmerited recall and investing the time in him, in dropping him now, yet retaining Stoneman, when Vince had just batted all day and Stoneman cannot buy a run.

    Like

    • Sophie May 27, 2018 / 6:12 pm

      Incidentally, 2016 was the last time Bairstow had a proper preparation for the season, as opposed to being actively kept from playing for the better part of half a year or just coming back from New Zealand and two county games.

      Also, people simultaneously complain about him playing too loose shots and want him to open. And why not, it’s one of the few positions he hasn’t batted in.

      Like

      • Gareth May 27, 2018 / 9:51 pm

        And all the shuffling of him up down, round, round and through the streets oh his home town surely cannot help him get focused and in the right frame of mind. Talk of him opening now as a leftfield suggestion in a couple of the less reputable online sources. Good grief.

        Like

  11. Silk May 27, 2018 / 5:26 pm

    Oh. Also. “Sarfraz Ahmed, the Pakistan captain, said: “To take wickets in England you have to pitch the ball up””

    Who knew?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. BoredInAustria May 27, 2018 / 6:44 pm

    Great post Peter. Thank you.

    Depressing stuff. An absolute scandal that with the resources available as England can only offer this performance at the home of cricket. Well done Pakistan.

    Ps – Why is Flower back? FFS

    Like

  13. Mark May 27, 2018 / 6:53 pm

    I really like James Taylor, and it’s absolutely tragic what happened to the poor guy, but it’s pointless having on the verdict.

    He is loyal to the players he played with, and he is now a scout. So what can he really say?

    Like

    • northernlight71 May 27, 2018 / 7:20 pm

      No offence to JT but his reputation as a batsman is based on a lot of sympathy and a lot of stuff he never had the chance to do since he didn’t play that much.
      He might have been a great middle order player for England. But we really will never know. The fact is, he wasn’t.

      Like

      • Rpoultz May 28, 2018 / 4:40 am

        I wholeheartedly agree with this comment. Taylor sadly had to retire but until that point his record for England was mediocre and now just another example of an ex pro face for the ECB

        Like

  14. Cricketjon May 27, 2018 / 6:56 pm

    We had a quality number 3 even in the drought era of post 2015. It was Nick Compton who won us a game a Durban with two splendid innings but appeared pretty rapidly to be the subject of a narrative about slow batting and the face not fitting. We do like to shoot ourselves in the foot. His attempt at a six over long on when the scores were level a few Tests later demonstrated how much the hacks had got to him.

    As for a Nasser type post 99 resurge it has to be a policy driven decision to make changes for the better which was done in 2000 and brought amazing success which peaked in 2005. Steve James book, The Plan reflects on the decisions taken.

    No such vision or policy is in force at the present.

    Like

    • Mark May 27, 2018 / 8:59 pm

      Very true that. And they attacked Compton on mass. I could name certain commenters who kept on about his slow scoring rate. It was almost as if it was pre-organised. These were the luxury days of Harrison, and his exciting brand of cricket bullshit.

      He tried to speed up, and got out. Disgraceful how the ECB seal media behaved towards him.

      Like

      • Elaine Simpson-Long May 28, 2018 / 6:24 am

        He was on The Verdict the other day talking complete sense. No wonder they got rid of him

        Like

        • Rohan May 28, 2018 / 10:10 pm

          I can’t like, so am giving you a comment like! 👍

          Like

  15. Riverman21 May 27, 2018 / 7:04 pm

    Legside Lizzy tweets they are considering Bairstow to open.

    Like

      • Sophie May 27, 2018 / 7:23 pm

        Well, he’s done it once in the second innings of a county game.

        Like

      • Riverman21 May 27, 2018 / 7:23 pm

        We are now in the polar opposite of the 1980s. No England player can be dropped as there’s no-one else out there (allegedly) so they will now rotate places for eternity.

        Like

    • thelegglance May 27, 2018 / 7:27 pm

      As well as keeping wicket??? That would be the most insane idea yet.

      Like

      • dannycricket May 27, 2018 / 7:35 pm

        I don’t know, there’s a lot of competition for the most insane idea. Personally, I just don’t think his technique is strong enough (with regards to keeping out the new, swinging ball) to play at opener. You might as well shove Jos Buttler there, although I think he’d do worse than Bairstow.

        Like

        • thelegglance May 27, 2018 / 7:40 pm

          Technique wouldn’t matter after 100 overs of keeping. He’d be mentally exhausted. It’s a big ask in an ODI, Tests, nope.

          Maintaining both disciplines non-stop like that isn’t feasible.

          Like

          • dannycricket May 27, 2018 / 7:43 pm

            Oh yes. I meant even as a specialist batsman, or in the wildly hypothetical scenario of England having a bowling attack which could get the opposition out in less than a day’s play.

            Like

          • Rohan May 27, 2018 / 8:25 pm

            Didn’t Alec Stewart do it and Sangakkara? Not saying it’s a good idea at all, but just showing some have done it, but not sure if their batting form dipped as a result.

            Like

          • thelegglance May 27, 2018 / 8:28 pm

            I don’t think so. About 4 is the highest I remember anyone doing it, and that’s pretty intense unless the top three are very reliable indeed. AB De Villiers managed that for a bit.

            Like

          • thelegglance May 27, 2018 / 8:40 pm

            I’m really surprised it’s that many, I have to say. Note how much lower his average was compared to as not keeper. About 25 runs – that’s huge.

            Like

          • Rohan May 27, 2018 / 8:42 pm

            Interesting Danny. I tweaked the fields in that link, to just include batting positions 1 and 2 and it showed Farouk Engineer played 24 tests, 48 innings at 1 or 2, averaging 32.85. It can be done but I imagine Engineer, from what I have heard, was a far superior player to the current Bairstow.

            Like

          • Rohan May 27, 2018 / 8:46 pm

            But still an average this current team would die for from an English wicketkeeper!

            Liked by 1 person

          • thelegglance May 27, 2018 / 8:49 pm

            His overall record isn’t that far off that I think? Albeit down the order and rather iffy at 32 over the last couple of years.

            But yes, Sanga was special. That average of about 68 as specialist batsman is quite unbelievable.

            Like

          • oreston May 28, 2018 / 12:51 am

            Farokh Engineer played “only” 46 Tests over a fourteen year period, and didn’t play in ODI’s until towards the end of his career. Obviously that doesn’t diminish the exertion of keeping and batting at the top of the order in any one of those individual games where he did so but there was just a lot less international cricket played in those days. I can only imagine that Smith must also be considering either giving Buttler the keeper role or (gasp!)picking a specialist like Foakes. But Bairstow opening would just be madness, even if he weren’t also keeping. He’d be the new Moeen – yo-yo’d up and down the batting order ’til he doesn’t know if he’s coming or going.

            Like

      • Mark May 27, 2018 / 9:07 pm

        They have reached peak stupid now. If they are going to just keep revolving the batting order, they may as well put Anderson and Broad as 2 and 3.

        Tell them they are sacrificing their wickets for the greater good. See if they can each bat ten overs, and see off the new ball.

        Like

        • dannycricket May 27, 2018 / 9:28 pm

          I’m sure I’ve seriously suggested this before…

          Like

  16. Ben May 27, 2018 / 7:34 pm

    Hi all, i’ve been lurking here for a long time without ever commenting. Sorry to sound like an ignorant youngster, but the first series I remember is the 2005 Ashes, and I have no idea what Nasser Hussein did as captain, would someone be kind enough to explain?

    Like

    • Zephirine May 27, 2018 / 8:26 pm

      Nasser Hussain in his captaincy days was much more fiery and intense than he is nowadays. He was very demanding of the players and pushed the side to be more aggressive and more disciplined than they had been.

      He stepped down in 2003, having pretty much burned out after 4+ years as captain.

      He worked really well with the coach Duncan Fletcher and arguably the two of them changed the team culture and set England up for the later successes under Michael Vaughan’s captaincy.

      Like

    • Riverman21 May 27, 2018 / 8:27 pm

      Hi Ben.

      As captain he inherited a shambles. England test team was a joke. Bit like now. Made us difficult to beat and built to become 3rd in rankings. Laid many foundations for the 05 win. Put a lot of pride back into English cricket.

      Don’t worry about not having as much history. We’ve all been there!

      Like

    • nonoxcol May 27, 2018 / 8:47 pm

      Still the last England captain to win series in Pakistan and Sri Lanka; only Cook has won an away series against one of the big three Asian sides since. This is his defining achievement, in most people’s estimation.

      After the shambles against NZ in 1999, his only home defeat was against Aus in 2001 (and they were probably one of the two greatest sides to tour this country since 1948).

      First captain to beat WI in a series for 31 years (in 2000). Tough to imagine now, but this was a big deal at the time and the side did include Lara, Chanderpaul, Ambrose and Walsh.

      Got fucked over by the ECB in the World Cup of 2003 re the Zimbabwe game.

      Of the 2005 side, most either made their debut or established themselves as Test class under Hussain.

      Timed his retirement as Test captain well. Timed his retirement as a Test player perfectly.

      “Only” averaged 37, but do look at the bowlers he had to face. Would still be an immediate pick for this England side.

      Liked by 1 person

      • thelegglance May 27, 2018 / 8:52 pm

        Re: his average, I honestly can’t remember any batsman getting as many rotten decisions as he did. He seemed to attract them.

        Like

        • nonoxcol May 27, 2018 / 9:00 pm

          Not forgetting that indisputable lbw that still reduces his then-coach to tears of laughter…

          Liked by 1 person

          • thelegglance May 27, 2018 / 9:02 pm

            To Carl Hooper. Although I still think he may have had a case for being outside the line on that one….

            Like

  17. Benny May 27, 2018 / 7:50 pm

    You hit lots of nails on the head there LCL and Mark too. Can’t see any solutions at the moment apart from it it ain’t working, so change it.

    At therisk of being sent to the Tower, I really enjoyed watching Pakistan playing proper cricket. Suspect that Micky Arthur might be quite good at coaching a Test team

    Like

    • dannycricket May 27, 2018 / 8:05 pm

      Well England signed up Paul Farbrace when he was already head coach for Sri Lanka, so it wouldn’t be out of character for them to sign another ‘smaller’ team’s coach. Whether Arthur would want the job now is another matter. He seems to have a lot of control and respect in the Pakistan camp. The situation if he was England’s Test coach would be more reminiscent of his time as Australian coach: Big egos, a hostile press, and a lack of support by the board.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Deep Purple Fred May 27, 2018 / 8:11 pm

    Tough game for England, but on the upside, at least they did unearth an exciting new batting talent! He was probably played a bit low down the order in this game, but once they push him up Bess should start having a real impact. Then they could have Root at maybe six, to cope with the new ball, and Stoneman at seven to shepard the tail.

    Like

    • quebecer May 27, 2018 / 9:33 pm

      Look, don’t snipe. We’ve moved beyond our 6 bowler strategy to embrace the new dawn or two wicket keepers and specialist batsmen at #7 and #8. All the cool kids will be doing soon. It’s like how our ‘building a sold base’ was adopted by the world in the 50 over game.

      Like

      • Deep Purple Fred May 28, 2018 / 2:34 pm

        Ah yes, those laboriously constructed bases, 2.5 rpo for 30 overs. A perfect base from which to then attack…and lose 6 wickets for 15 runs.
        I was goping to make the obvious comment about you better go find another Saffer, but dammit, beaten to the punch, by Ed Smith.

        Been scanning some comments, lots of depression, seems England’s in a bit of a hole.

        Like

        • quebecer May 28, 2018 / 3:51 pm

          Big old hole and haven’t stopped digging yet.

          Like

  19. Rohan May 27, 2018 / 8:22 pm

    In 2013 the ECB thought they were driving a small boat that had veered slightly of course, the solution, sack the best batsman and remove the coach (giving him a nice little number elsewhere). What they didn’t realise, however, was that they were driving a tanker that needed turning round completely, that takes a long time; they still haven’t realised yet.

    You guys realised years ago, go figure!?

    Like

  20. Rohan May 27, 2018 / 8:32 pm

    Oh, and on the captaincy note, I know it will never happen, but I’d have Eoin Morgan for a while……

    Like

    • dannycricket May 27, 2018 / 8:50 pm

      I’m not sure Eoin is the kind of captain the Test team needs, although to be honest perhaps no one can be right now. If a captain or coach upset Anderson or Broad by telling them to pitch it up, and threatened them with being dropped, the bowlers could go straight to the Director, England Cricket (Strauss or Flower) and get it overruled. Or leak the story to their friends in the press and cause so much pressure that they keep their places. Anderson, Broad and Cook (and to a lesser extent Root, Bairstow and Stokes) are effectively untouchable. How can you enforce discipline and responsibility (on the pitch and off) when it barely applies to half the team?

      Like

      • Rohan May 27, 2018 / 9:41 pm

        I’m not sure it’s the others you mention. I really think the 2 main culprits, untouchables supreme, are Anderson and Broad. Perhaps they need reminding that they were given a big break when Hoggard and Harmison (iirc) were unceremoniously dumped in NZ and the same will happen to them, if they don’t stand in line and follow the captain.

        Also, how could Morgan do any worse?

        Perhaps he is such a good one day captain, precisely because he doesn’t have to captain Broad and Anderson? Maybe the clique just needs to go. Nite the bullet and see what life is like without them?

        Like

        • dannycricket May 27, 2018 / 9:48 pm

          I can’t see that happening until after 2019. A home Ashes, a home ODI World Cup, the end of Bayliss’ contract. If England lose both the World Cup and Ashes, it will likely be a bloodbath. Cook, Broad and Anderson will retire, Strauss/Flower will be sacked, even Graves might be in trouble.

          Like

          • Rohan May 27, 2018 / 9:55 pm

            Well both of those are quite possible, especially, based on current form, losing the home ashes!

            But sadly you are probably right. I don’t ever remember such a period, with England, of certain players being completely protected from criticism or being dropped, as now.

            Like

          • Sherwick May 28, 2018 / 10:02 am

            “even Graves might be in trouble”

            Steady on, old chap!

            Like

          • dannycricket May 28, 2018 / 10:44 am

            Yes, hard to believe I know. He’ll probably survive until 2020 regardless, just to see the new competition to fruition.

            Like

        • Zephirine May 27, 2018 / 10:03 pm

          I always get the impression that Morgan likes the independence of the one-day captaincy, and indeed he doesn’t have the clique to deal with. Not sure he’d even want the Test job, he probably knows a poisoned chalice when he sees one.

          Anderson supposedly wanted the captaincy when Cook got it. So let him have it now. He might have a few shocks, like actually having to speak to people when he’s not in the mood.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Elaine Simpson-Long May 28, 2018 / 6:28 am

            I would rather like Anderson to put his money where bis mouth is… which is usually open

            Liked by 1 person

      • jomesy May 28, 2018 / 11:31 am

        Which is precisely why the next captain should have them both dropped. I’m sure I’ve been told before that no one individual is bigger than the team and yet those two do whatever the f they want, whenever they want. I’m not saying I wouldn’t have them back (that would be stupid) but I’d let them know who is boss and on whose terms they are in (or not) the side. Won’t happen of course but, sadly, I think that would be the best medecine for them. The batting issues are a different matter but Root at 4, Hales at 5 and Bairstow (if he has the gumption to drop Broad and Anderson) as captain with Root as his mate 2 i/c. There’s no way in hell I’d ever make Anderson captain. He’s an absolute prick and not someone I would ever want representing my national team.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jomesy May 28, 2018 / 11:32 am

          Also, pls can we have Foakes keeping under this model. That would be nice. Now where’s my medicine?!

          Like

  21. quebecer May 27, 2018 / 9:30 pm

    These things can change quickly – hammed remembering he’s the best young batsman I (and plenty of others) can remember seeing, for example. Olly Stone being fit. Jack Leach too.

    But this things aren’t true, and I just can’t see any options anywhere. There are no young bowlers on the horizon, no batsmen, and three of our four best players we have to admit are past their best and have to be expected to play so. And they re the half of the team that are actually test quality. it’s no wonder our captain is struggling, and no wonder he’s losing his batting in the process.

    I can’t remember things being darker. At least in the 90s there was some semblance of a team for Nass and Fletcher to create. What the hell do we do now?

    Like

  22. psoans May 27, 2018 / 10:00 pm

    Really good read. I liked the idea put forward by Bob Willis that Cook should be batting at 3. The openers are just not clicking. I like the way Malan plays. I think he should be batting at 3 like he does in the white ball format. Root seems to be most comfortable at 4. There needs to be a change in the bowling attack too. My analysis is here. https://soanstimes.com/2018/05/27/analysis-england-vs-pakistan-test-1/

    Like

    • BoredInAustria May 28, 2018 / 4:56 am

      I suspect the idea that Cook should bat at 3 implies that MCC changes the laws and Cook would be allowed to bat twice in the innings.

      Like

      • Sherwick May 28, 2018 / 10:06 am

        He’s from the right type of family to bat twice in an innings, IMHO.

        Like

  23. TestFan May 27, 2018 / 10:08 pm

    I am sorry to be harsh, but England are just a poor poor batting team fully deserving of their 7th rank, and first class cricket standard appears to be woeful.

    As an India fan, the series that India just played in South Africa is fresh in my memory. SA laid out pitches helping the quicks, with plenty of bounce and lateral movement, so much so that the 3rd test pitch was deemed dangerous by ICC.

    Morkel, Philander, Rabada and Ngidi/Steyn are 10x better than Amir, Hasan and Abbas. If Malan is going to be hit on the helmet by Hasan Ali bowling 135kph he doesn’t have a prayer against KR at 150kph. If Bairstow is going to be bowled by Abbas through the gate, he is going to have a horrid time against Starc or Hazlewood. In the second innings I think Bairstow just missed a straight one.

    To me what was awful was watching the England top order hang back and play the ball late on the 3rd day even after the pitch had dried out. You need to adjust to the conditions, and the onus is on the coaching staff to lead these adjustments. Amir looked incredibly slow off the pitch on the 3rd day, and so did Hasan Ali.

    England would do well by backing talent that can play at the highest level. A 50 average in county conditions may mean jack at international level. I remember Dhoni talking about technique meaning nothing, it is the ability to absorb pressure that is important. England don’t have to follow this particular maxim, but the talk I always hear from England fans is re: ‘next cab off the ranks’ etc. Well, the next cab off the ranks may not be good enough and by the time that person gets 5 tests for a decision to be made on them, 2 series may be over.

    Like

    • Sri.grins May 28, 2018 / 12:13 am

      Hi TF,

      Good to see you. Is this the first time you have posted or have I missed earlier posts?

      Not frequenting guardian pages so much now. Get Inspector Vijay in here if you can

      Like

      • TestFan May 28, 2018 / 1:25 am

        Hi Sri, I don’t post much on the Guardian BTL any more. I do like the conversation here as it is freer of pre-conceived notions, but I rarely post here, as I see it more as a forum for England fans (not that I feel unwelcome from posting here, not at all). I have been posting on Reddit, as has Gluck.

        Like

        • Sri.Grins May 28, 2018 / 3:41 am

          ahhhh. good to know that you and gluck have been posting. Whenever I go to guardian have not seen much from both of you as well as a lot of the other indian regulars there. Rufus and hblove I still see.

          I agree that this is en England oriented forum and that is a drawback for fans of other countries unless a series is going on between the country you support and England.

          But, I agree with you on the quality of the posts here (excluding mine of course :-D) and it is interesting because I like the passion the posters here have for cricket though I disagree with their view quite a few times.

          It helps me learn more about cricket and it is always a pleasure to read sensible cricket fans.

          Like

    • quebecer May 28, 2018 / 12:41 am

      Hello TestFan and welcome to where the cool kids are. Happy to have another (your) voice here, even though in this case, it is depressingly on the money.

      Just to add a couple of details, Bairstow did’t do that badly against Starc and Hazelwood in the winter, but he does have a bit of an issue with the ball moving in to him. This is strange in that he plays the moving ball away from him incredibly well – as well as anyone, actually – delaying the shot for that fraction of a second necessary to deal with the movement. However, when the ball slants in he doesn’t seem to play as late and can be a bit leaden and early.

      As for the cabs off the ranks, we’ve already gone down the ranks, and we can see that your point about the next cabs not being good enough has already been proven, as has your assessment of the domestic game.

      But on a happier note, glad you’re here!

      Like

      • TestFan May 28, 2018 / 1:54 am

        Hi Quebecer,

        Oddly enough I understand completely how someone could have an issue with balls angling in and not much at all with balls moving away. I used to be one of those at my 40-over an innings level here in the North East US, I got bowled way more than I liked esp with left-arm bowlers – and for a batsman you only like getting bowled at the rate of 0 per year.

        Technical adjustments like those are owned by coaching. I see issues like that with Kohli and Rahane shuffling and getting LBW, and Kohli cover-driving and nicking off. When Anderson and Broad pitch too short or bowl at 5th stump, and batsmen are happy leaving, that should again be owned and adjusted by game-day coaching. This is what NFL and NBA do so well. A professional setup like England has to be better at that than a moronic setup like India’s where Shastri claims to be a motivator and not a technician, but evidently England are failing.

        I don’t really have a solution for England fans, but overall the tone BTL appeared to be that England’s batting was poor and Pakistan’s bowling was great – but if people think Pakistan’s bowling was great, they ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

        Like

    • Miami Dad's 6 May 28, 2018 / 9:37 am

      Welcome.

      I’m not sure that the Pakistani attack is as weak as you make out, certainly in English conditions. There is no Rabada/Steyn stand out player, but Hasan was the top wicket taker in the CT last summer, Abbas is excellent in the “Philander” role, and Amir is pretty decent too. I’d pick all 3 above Broad and Wood; Anderson too while he maintains that length and 5th stump line. I’m not saying England didn’t miss a load of straight ones, but there was good intensity I thought.

      Like

      • TestFan May 28, 2018 / 2:03 pm

        Hello Miami’s Dad.

        I am not saying that Pakistan’s attack was weak. I am saying that in comparison to SA, Pakistan’s is much weaker. OK, 10% the strength was hyperbole, but at international level there is a huge difference between a 135kph short ball vs a 150kph short ball; and movement off the pitch at 140+kph vs 130+kph. If England found this Pakistan attack a handful, they would been blown away by SA *in the same English conditions*.

        If you have not watched the SA vs Ind or SA vs. Aus recent series, it is hard to explain the quality of SA’s attack. If KR goes off, he is replaced by Morkel or Ngidi or Steyn, they don’t stop coming at you. Pakistan just don’t have the raw pace and hostility to push back a batsman who might bat a yard down the pitch to negate movement.

        I hear what you are saying about Hasan, but he was pretty ineffective in the 2nd innings; CT was ODI, a batsman has to go after a bowler. In tests a bowler has to go after a batsman. Abbas got good nip off the pitch esp after the ball was changed, and Philander is a great analogy. Amir was good too, but all too often sat up off the pitch. It seemed like they were out of ideas once the ball got old and soft and the pitch flat. Here’s where the 10+kph of raw pace SA has would make a difference.

        I do agree that on present form, Hasan, Abbas and Amir would be picked over Broad and Wood. They just attack the stumps more and bring LBW and Bowled into play.

        Like

  24. dannycricket May 27, 2018 / 10:10 pm

    The Telegraph is suggesting that Keaton Jennings will replace Mark Stoneman in the next Test. He’s in form at the moment, with his last two Championship innings being 126 and 109 plus a few big scores in the One Day Cup. He averaged 15.87 at home against South Africa in his last stint in the England team though…

    Like

    • quebecer May 28, 2018 / 12:51 am

      In all honesty, I don’t see there’s a choice. Stoneman is shot, and Jennings is the only contender.

      Other changes? even the conservative and undemonstrative Vic Marks says it’s not the moment to stick, but who the hell else is there to try? I don’t think Jonny is mentally strong enough to bat in the top 5 in both innings and keep, but Buttler got a few so that’s that.

      Malan? Who’s better? Sam Hain? Always looks a big bat when I see him and he’s young, but is he really closer to being a test batsman than Malan? Is Clarke? Northeast? Ollie Pope???

      Test #4s????

      Woakes in for Wood seems probable, and although I’m not a cheerleader for Woakes, by the second innings, Wood was no quicker and certainly less controlled.

      Bess’ bowling was not nearly good enough, and the perceived cut of his jib shouldn’t mask that. It will though.

      So Jennings for Stoneman and Woakes for Wood seems all we’ve got. Obviously, the words deckchairs and Titanic spring to mind.

      Like

      • dannycricket May 28, 2018 / 1:19 am

        Nick Gubbins was touted as a possible replacement for Stoneman before Ed Smith announced the squad for the first match. Rory Burns also gets quite a lot of interest due to a high championship average.

        I always assumed that the main issue with wicketkeepers in the top order was physical more than mental. Crouching and rising on every delivery, as well as frequently having to dive, just leaves the legs stiff and tired. In other words, not ideal for having to bat immediately after.

        I can’t say I’ve ever particularly rated Malan for England. He is able against pace (ie in Australia), but any kind of sideways movement seems to fox him. I’d be surprised if he survives the whole India series, but I suspect he’ll at least start it. The conventional wisdom will be that his scores in the Ashes showed an ability to handle pressure, rather than simply an aptitude for the conditions, and so should be given a chance.

        Of the two, I’d definitely choose Woakes over Wood. Wood unfortunately seems unable to get through a Test match intact, let alone a Test series. If Toby Roland-Jones was available I’d pick him over Woakes, but he’s out injured for the season.

        With Bess, I’m unconvinced. Obviously we only saw him bowl 20 overs, and most of that in the first innings. Even so, he didn’t seem to be a bowler who can spin the ball much. He’s young and might well improve rapidly, but I’d go for Moeen Ali over Bess right now. If Jack Leach were fit I’d pick him, just to see how he did in a home Test series.

        Like

  25. Rooto May 28, 2018 / 11:39 am

    Jennings following Flower back into the England fold seems as predictable as night following day. I can’t say it’s a bad decision since he appears in decent form, but it’s such an obvious move that I’m amazed I didn’t see it coming.

    Like

  26. Rooto May 28, 2018 / 12:05 pm

    Just as a sign of how much England have regressed over the years, let’s remember that Pakistan have lost a few excellent players recently. Mohamed Abbas has been described in the press as ‘Asif-lite’, and Amir as ‘almost back to his pre-ban level’. Very admirable, but when Pakistan had the real Asif and the pre-ban Amir, England won heavily. Even Cook got a career-saving ton.
    So some credit, but this is not a team of world beaters that England have just been whipped by. And I say that as someone who failed the Tebbit Test last weekend.

    Like

  27. Riverman21 May 28, 2018 / 2:15 pm

    Is anyone here prepared to back a sabermetrics approach to selection? My only (small) hope for Ed Smith being chairman of selectors was that he would borrow or steal the Moneyball type approach (rather than being a modern equivalent to Ted Dexter).

    How would such a selection look?

    My own thoughts was that it would involve getting an impact new ball bowler with possibly a high strike rate (but the bowling average may be not low). You will have some names but try Olly Stone, Josh Tongue or the Garton lad for starters. I think this explains the Wood selection. From the batting side you would look for a complementary opening pair (left/right, height difference) whose innings may have a higher average balls faced rather than basic average. Seeing the shine off and ability to be in higher % of significant partnerships should be a bigger consideration.

    Like

    • northernlight71 May 28, 2018 / 2:31 pm

      Nothing explains the Wood selection. Nothing but vague hope, lack of vision and the old familiar face-fitting criteria. Somebody should report him under the Trades Description Act when he allows scorecards everywhere to classify him as “Right Arm FAST”

      Liked by 1 person

        • thelegglance May 28, 2018 / 8:35 pm

          I was just listening to him expand on this. His line that Anderson and Broad are part of the losing team so change it has a tiny bit of merit, but it’s simply bizarre to respond to the batting wreckage by blaming the bowlers like that.

          If he’s going to make that argument why not Cook? Why not Bairstow? Why not Stokes? Why just the bowlers for what’s principally a batting shambles?

          Like

          • oreston May 29, 2018 / 9:57 am

            Yep, the captain makes a howler of a decision to bat first in conditions that seemed to everyone else to be ideal for the bowlers to make hay in, England are skittled out for 184 in their own back yard and never recover but it’s a bowler that needs to be sacrificed. Even then I think there’s a stronger case for dropping Wood than either Broad or Anderson. He hasn’t really thought it through, has he?

            Like

    • dannycricket May 28, 2018 / 2:45 pm

      I’m not a fan generally speaking of a moneyball approach to cricket. There are several factors which make baseball easier to break down into mathematical terms. The more rigid rules and conventions, for example. The fielding positions are virtually the same for almost every ball pitched, and most players only field in one or two positions. The home field has less impact than in cricket. There are also much fewer scenarios for players to be facing. Last but not least, baseball has a much larger sample size. Players often have 100+ games in a season, where most cricketer only have around 15.

      Like

      • quebecer May 28, 2018 / 3:53 pm

        How do you feel about Moneyball, Dmitri?

        Like

      • Riverman21 May 28, 2018 / 4:20 pm

        Ah. Go on go on go on.

        Like

          • Rohan May 28, 2018 / 5:22 pm

            What’s moneyball? Is Ed Smith a fan? If it’s mathematical, I imagine he would be, as he’s very clever.

            Like

          • dannycricket May 28, 2018 / 5:29 pm

            I think we’d better let Dmitri explain it, he’s the real expert…

            Like

          • LordCanisLupus May 28, 2018 / 8:46 pm

            Moneyball is about a “small market” team in Major League Baseball, unable to compete on wages with other teams in the league like the Yankees and Red Sox in the early 2000s, using other techniques to do so. They punched above their weight for a fair while, through a mix of statistical analysis, a new look at players, so they said, ignoring athleticism in favour of performance. So a slick, power hitting athletic type who may have a decent batting average, runs batted in, and so on, but also struck out a lot might be ignored for someone with a worse hitting average but excellent plate discipline and drew lots of walks. It’s one of the statistical points made, and it’s by no means the only one.

            I have a number of problems with the book, not least one of the key elements of Oakland’s success was down to the fact they had a Cy Young winning pitcher (Barry Zito), an All Star, Cy Young candidate (Tim Hudson) and another top starter in Mark Mulder. These three key elements of Billy Beane’s “genius” were not mentioned until over 200 pages in. It’s a bit like going on about the success of the Ashes 2005 squad, and how Geraint Jones and Andrew Strauss were two key cogs, while mentioning the role of Freddie Flintoff in the final chapter.

            Then there comes the application to the England cricket team. Especially the test team. Number one, we aren’t some poor, on our arse cricket nation trying to rationalise every unit of currency we spend. For heaven’s sake, we pay Tom Harrison north of £600k. Statistical analysis looking to spot bargains is what Moneyball is about – hence the title. If money were no object the teams would not be looking at statistical data to justify spending, they’d be looking at performance now. Hence the Yankees once signed an extension for Alex Rodriguez that paid him crazy stupid money when he was 42, just to get some great years at 35 and 36.

            The getting your bang for your buck is different now in the MLB and NBA especially. It’s about young talent, stockpiling draft picks at the top of the list and getting super talent. Last year the Houston Astros, a team that basically packed it in for four years, won the Championship in baseball. They had great young talent and at the end, spent a ton of cash on a top class pitcher, Justin Verlander. In basketball, Philadelphia basically tanked five seasons, and they now have Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and can even afford to have a total bust as last year’s number 1 pick. There are rumours, and only rumours that LeBron will go there next year and make that the next top team.

            What the hell has this to do with England cricket? Sure, you could use it more in 20 or 50 over cricket, determining a player’s stat strengths and weaknesses for an auction process if money is capped. But at international level, and England? I’m willing to be educated how a book which was based on a supposed General Management Genius picking up scraps of players for cheap money and competing has to do with a system with a fair bit of it here, and not bringing talent through. It’s a diversion, a supposed other way of doing things, which ignores the fact talent is not coming through here. It’s a fig leaf.

            I’ve read a few of Lewis’s books. Liar’s Poker is great. The Big Short, good, not quite as great. Moneyball, interesting but overrated. What it did in the US that was good was it made dinosaur commentators, with blandishments, look stupid when people concentrated on more nuanced stats. You know, if you have a series where you average 45, make one score of 244 when the series is dead, and averaged the square root of fuck all in more high leverage situations, you may not necessarily have had a good series at all. Whereas the bloke who made six fifties and averaged the same, and scored some of those in live situations has actually had a better series. Try that “moneyball” approach to social media and see where that gets you.

            Happy now Riverman? 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          • Deep Purple Fred May 28, 2018 / 7:59 pm

            What, was Dmitri a ghost author on that book? Lewis’s other books were excellent.

            Like

          • Riverman21 May 28, 2018 / 8:56 pm

            Always enjoy you off your long run 🙂

            Like

        • LordCanisLupus May 28, 2018 / 9:05 pm

          I did, hope you liked it.

          A couple of further points to add. Last night the new statistical approach, rational thought Boston Celtics, with a team a greater sum of its constituent parts met the Cleveland Cavaliers, which at this stage of the season is basically the second greatest player of all time and a bunch of rag tag and bobtail parts. Boston had won all three home games comfortably, but bizarrely, were atrocious in Cleveland. Boston at home found out that in a sport like basketball, one megastar trumps five functionals. One megastar makes shots no-one else can. One megastar can defend amazingly. One megastar feels little pressure because he’s been there before. One megastar saves and wins series. That one megastar, with the highest pressure, won the game. (Oh, and one megastar gets nearly all the 50/50 calls, while rookies don’t).

          Second, the Yankees, the richest team in baseball have not been to the World Series since 2009. They are nearly always the biggest spendera, but they spend money stupidly at times – 40+ year old players well past their prime etc. They’ve gone youthful, through draft choices and trading, with the odd big spend (Giancarlo Stanton). They are favourites to come out of the American League with a team that will have an in house feel. Some might call it moneyball, but it’s good old fashioned talent spotting and youth development (in the cases of Judge, Sanchez, Severino etc.) as well. You do need the megastars to have a good team – it’s by no means a certainty, but it helps – and the Yankees have grown their own (as have the Red Sox with Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi).

          Interesting tonight to see Game 7 of the Western Conference. Rich and powerful Golden State go to the statistical team of Houston. If the Rockets (Houston) win, watch for the Morey-ball nonsense to come out. Basically, Houston live and die on the three point shot, believing it to be more efficient than two points shots for a slightly higher percentage. When not available they plunge towards the basket to draw fouls or try to get lay-ups. Again, it’s about efficiency of scoring. The fact other teams have sort of been doing this for a while has not really been picked up, but people seem to think this is new.

          Like

  28. Mark May 28, 2018 / 5:44 pm

    Meanwhile look over there……

    Lawrence Booth……….“Asked Root about the Al Jazeera allegations. He said he was aware of the documentary, and added: “All the players have been briefed by the ECB, and have been told there’s nothing to worry about. I’ve been told to strongly deny the allegations. It sounds quite ridiculous really.”

    “There’s nothing to worry about. I’ve been told to strongly deny the allegations.”

    Sorry? Told to strongly deny the allegations? How do the ECB know? They have had no time for a proper investigation. Far from allaying ones fears, their answer makes me more concerned.

    There may be nothing to any of this, but you can’t just say nothing to see here look away so quickly.

    Like

    • dannycricket May 28, 2018 / 5:55 pm

      They must have known at least a week ago, because the documentary itself included a denial from the England players’ lawyer. Obviously they must have informed them of the allegations.

      Like

    • d'Arthez May 28, 2018 / 7:45 pm

      The problem is of course, a denial does not prove anything. No one is that thick to profess their guilt (and thus ruin their entire career and life), unless the evidence is really compelling them to do so (and even then). Salman Butt to this day still maintains his innocence, and I think but few people in England would even entertain such thoughts about Butt’s innocence.

      It sounds ridiculous? Funny, we would have thought the same thing about the more or less proven instances of corruption in cricket. But those allegations have probably been proven true. Also, people are desperate to forget some of those instances, especially where their team benefited from the corruption. I am pretty sure that a “History of Corruption in International Cricket” could span several volumes. From talking to bookies, betting on your own team to lose, match fixing, spot fixing, team fixing, drug use, fixture fixing (a speciality of the ICC), pitch doctoring, and the list is by no means exhausted yet. I am under no illusion that any team / nation is immune from all this.

      ACSU has been strangely silent on this, but then again, what corruption have they actually uncovered? Spotfixing in 2010? Not ACSU. Corruption in IPL? Not ACSU. Hell, even if the ICC blatantly says “We have been corrupt” that does not register with ACSU. And we’re supposed to trust ACSU?

      I don’t want to believe the allegations, but the ICC has tried in the last decade their best to make such allegations credible, by their own wilful stupidity, and short-sighted greed.

      None of the various members’ boards is clean, and in the past decade actively pursued an agenda of undermining good governance. Both at the national level as well as the international level.

      The ICC can’t even make certain that DRS is a fair system (public scrutiny of the code would be a decent start). The ICC cannot be bothered to check whether money that is supposed to go to players, does not get stolen by some corrupt board members (see Zimbabwe Cricket for one) to finance political election campaigns. And I don’t think I have to mention the trials and tribulations of Srinivasan, the shenanigans in Sri Lanka, or the Stanford affair to point out that this is not the exception, but the general rule among cricketing boards of Full Member nations these days. And if one is willing to spend some time, I am sure most if not all other Full Member nations have some skeletons in their closets as well.

      And those are the boards and bodies with the resources to actually combat corruption. We can only imagine how much worse the problems are with less well resourced boards (cricket in the US and Kenya for example).

      International cricket has reaped what it has sown. And denials of corruption in cricket are about as believable as they are in cycling or body building. Honestly, the ICC appears so corrupt to me, that I would not be surprised that some people within the ICC make a fortune on ICC-approved corruption (by betting on approved / fixed results). Call me cynical, but cricket seems to be returning to its corrupt betting origins.

      Liked by 1 person

      • TestFan May 29, 2018 / 3:54 am

        I take strong exception to the random attack on Srinivasan. His son-in-law was accused of betting on the Chennai Super Kings. Sports betting is illegal in India. There was no hint of match fixing – bear in mind you are talking about a team led by Dhoni, the same guy who recalled Ian Bell. When the betting came to light, Chennai said that Srinivasan’s son-in-law wasn’t really related to the team, and I take that on par with Clinton’s ‘It depends on the definition of what is is’. Net net, Chennai were banned for 2 years for an activity that is legal in the UK, betting done by a jackass who really had no bearing that anything the team did. Chennai just won the 2018 IPL with no input from Srinivasan’s son-in-law. They are a professional team.

        Srinivasan did a lot for grassroots cricket development in Tamil Nadu. Bear in mind that for the longest time in India, cricket wasn’t really a career. Cricketers would work for companies that would allow them the time to play in local leagues and FC cricket. Srinivasan’s company had a team in the Chennai local league and he also started a T20 league in Tamil Nadu state; it has resulted in players from interior Tamil Nadu getting valuable exposure, exposure that was previously limited to players from Chennai alone.

        Is he a power player? Absolutely. That is the way of the world.

        Like

        • Mark May 29, 2018 / 8:43 am

          “Sports betting is illegal in India”

          Isn’t that part of th problem? The whole thing is pushed underground with shady types, and criminals running it.

          Like

          • Sri.Grins May 29, 2018 / 2:50 pm

            Most law abiding Indian fans don’t see the non availability of legal betting channels as an issue.

            Like

          • Mark May 29, 2018 / 4:00 pm

            It’s nothing to do with law abiding fans Sri,

            If betting is illegal it will be run by crooks. The very people who will start tempting players and grounds men with financial offers.

            Like

        • Grenville May 29, 2018 / 11:58 am

          This is a genuine question from a serious admirer of Dhoni, wasn’t there more to it than illegal betting? My impression was that Srinivasan was circumventingthe conflict of interest rules by running CSK through his son in law. I also had the impression that there was the strong suspicion that the son in law was passing team info to the bookies or worse. Wasn’t Dhoni one of the people named in the sealed deposition to the supreme court and haven’t there been mutterings about the csk – India connection that go beyond selectorial bias and claim a motive as betting market manipulation

          The real scandal here is the lack of moderately competenant joutnalism

          Like

          • TestFan May 29, 2018 / 4:11 pm

            @Grenville

            AFAIK it was just an issue of illegal betting by someone not really making cricketing decisions of any import. He may have sat it in on team meetings and may have been aware of strategies, but I don’t think Dhoni or Fleming would have paid him any attention other than to humor the boss’ son-in-law. At no time was Srinivasan’s son-in-law in any position to make any cricketing decisions of any import. CSK over the years has had a stellar record in IPL.

            Think about it from a money angle – Dhoni is worth $100M+ with at least $25M+ in future earnings potential, completely legal. Stranger things have happened, but I don’t see Dhoni jeopardizing that legal endorsement revenue stream.

            I do think the Rajasthan Royals’ owner’s betting was more serious. He was an owner, not just a hanger-on, and could have made cricketing decisions that affected his team because of his betting.

            Srinivasan was absolutely in conflict of interest, but throwing him out of ownership of CSK for a perceived conflict of interest would have penalized the man completely unfairly given all he had done for Tamil Nadu cricket and for India cricket. See Srigrins’ response to me for validation for all the corporate help given to India and Tamil Nadu cricket at a time when cricket was popular in India but not a professional career. It was completely normal for cricketers to be in the employment of companies that would allow them time to play for the companies’ teams in local leagues, and for their states; and for companies to run teams in local leagues.

            What was somewhat unusual was for Dhoni to be employed as VP for India Cements (Srinivasan’s company) after a time when Dhoni didn’t really need the money, but as long as CSK won Dhoni in the salary-capped auction paying more than anyone else, it is nobody’s business if Srinivasan wanted to pay Dhoni a retainer to ensure Dhoni’s continued loyalty to the franchise.

            Like

          • TestFan May 29, 2018 / 4:38 pm

            @Grenville

            Sorry I realized I didn’t address the issue of selection. I don’t know what to say, it is possible that Dhoni was biased towards his CSK teammates for India selection, possibly from being more familiar with them. But that is a cross that all sports fans must bear. Kohli is biased towards Rohit Sharma; though Kohli plays for Delhi and Rohit plays for Mumbai, there is a definite bias.

            You just have to trust that your leaders are biased more towards winning and will do whatever they can to win for their team/country, and Dhoni just won the 2018 IPL so it is hard to argue with Dhoni’s talent judgment. Dhoni also gave up his test career mid-tour of Australia in 2014-15 when captain, so the man knows when to walk away.

            It is like Root being biased towards Ballance, eventually he gave up. I can but hope that Rohit Sharma won’t be in the India test team that tours England shortly.

            Like

          • Grenville May 29, 2018 / 8:57 pm

            Thanks for your replies. I guess I remain a bit cynical about powerful businessmen and their motives. Our dear darling , Giles Clarke is a tireless advocate for the PCB but his motives aren’t pure.He wants their backing. It does result in some international cricket returning to Pakistan. I didn’t know about Srinivasan’s involvement in Tamil Nadu, so thanks. I guess the cynic in me thinks that he needs his team to be the best so that he can retain his ppwer and make his money. He is clearly close to Dhoni, whom I really find it hard to be cynical about, but I was burnt by Butt. But basically what with the spot fixing at the RCB and Pune, the court intervention and Srinivasan’s power, I find it hard to believe in the integrity of the league.

            I also find it hard to believe that this documentary is all piss and wind and frankly consider it part of Anglo racism that no journalist seems to be interested in the story.

            Like

        • Sri.Grins May 29, 2018 / 2:49 pm

          TF,

          I agree with you re Srini. A manipulator for power but he loves cricket and has done a huge amount for cricketers through his companies.

          Without these companies owned by Srini or TVS family or Murugappa Group, cricketers would have struggled in Tamilnadu

          The problem is most cricket fans outside India know nothing of Srini except what they hear from the media especially the western media who resented Srini 🙂

          So, fans blaming Srini here is honestly due to complete ignorance of scenarios in India .

          Like

          • TestFan May 29, 2018 / 4:19 pm

            Agree totally Sri. I am from Madurai and the local TVS family ran teams in all 3 divisions in the local league. If it weren’t for their support the local league wouldn’t have flourished. They really supported Venkataramana in his quest to play for India.

            I don’t have a good answer for conflict of interest questions but they can’t be applied in a zero-tolerance fashion; they seriously damage people who have done a lot for the game.

            I agree that in general, there isn’t malice in the BTL questions re: Srinivasan, but it gets tiresome.

            Like

      • d'Arthez May 29, 2018 / 6:41 pm

        So engaging in an illegal activity is now suddenly moral behaviour? An act of good governance?
        Okay. Disobeying orders from the Supreme Court is good behaviour? Good governance?

        The active pursuit to remove of ‘conflict of interest’ clauses makes for good governance? My point was about governance. Care to argue the point, because in your mad ranting and raving you have refused to do just that (you chose the most idiotic accusation you could come up with, to make it appear that my argument was weak). How is actively promoting conflict of interest good for the game of cricket? I am sure I will be waiting for ever to get a coherent reply on that one.

        How was specifically allowing Srinivasan to own a team, while at the helm of the BCCI an act of good governance? If you can come up with a coherent argument maybe you should have been counsel for him, since the Supreme Court did not exactly buy his explanations.

        As for Dhoni engaging in nice behaviour once (completely unwarranted), that does not mean that he cannot have ever done anything bad either. I am sure Sreesanth and Azharuddin did nice things on occasion on the cricket field. However, that does not magically mean they never engaged in corrupt activities either. Or maybe to you it does.

        I have been on these pages arguing that the IPL has transformed domestic cricket in India, for the better, but that does not automatically translate into “Srinivasan has never done anything wrong.”

        Like

        • TestFan May 29, 2018 / 7:02 pm

          I am not sure I understand your argument. Here is mine, in case it isn’t clear. I never said Srinivasan did anything wrong. I never attacked any of your argument other than the equating of Srinivasan with Zimbabwe cricket administration etc.

          All betting is illegal in India. An individual in CSK management – with little power in cricketing decisions but with awareness of team strategy – engaged in sport betting. As betting is illegal, he needed to be punished. (I don’t even know if he even was individually punished for being in violation of the law, by the courts.) However his role in the team management was sought to be covered up by minimizing his role. As is the case usually, it is not even the crime but the cover-up that attracts punishment. The India Supreme Court determined that Srinivasan may have tried to cover-up his son-in-law’s role and CSK were punished by being banned for 2 years.

          The above is the legal angle. My angle as sports fan is, Srinivasan actually built up CSK, Tamil Nadu cricket and also had a large role in India cricket’s improvement. You can talk about zero conflict of interest etc and appoint disinterested administrators, but they don’t have the passion and expertise in the issue.

          I am familiar with the Indian courts system. Just because the India Supreme Courts said something doesn’t mean they are infallible. The Supreme Court appointed administrators are morons with little expertise. Left to themselves, they will drive India cricket into the ground. I am also familiar with conflict of interest laws. They don’t always achieve what they set out to do. The world isn’t black and white.

          At the end of the day you are free to say whatever you want, but I want fans BTL to be aware of the role of Srinivasan in building up India cricket. He isn’t some jackass interested in solely self-aggrandizement.

          You are welcome to call my argument ranting and raving. I shall leave my opinion on you unsaid; you can rest assured it isn’t complimentary.

          Like

          • Sri.Grins May 30, 2018 / 4:57 am

            Shabash TF. You are completely accurate in your assessment of Srini and the CSK issue.

            I don’t like him honestly due to the arrogance shown many times and his attempts to protect his Son in Law but an attempt to analyze Srini without knowing much about Indian cricket history over many years is a remarkable feat which is amusing to say the least. 🙂

            I also agree with you on the current administrators who are a bunch of morons who are ideal for theoretical discussions on cricket. It is a classic case where the SC intervened disastrously much as the media try their best to protray it in a favorable light.

            It is a classic case of the the remedy being worse than the original disease. The guys who ran BCCI earlier loved cricket genuinely and did spend time and money when it was not popular at all and while their highhanded behavior was pathetic, the current setup is a buncrator concept.h of intellectuals attempting to manage cricket.

            Hopefully, the SC will do something positive for a change and stop this idiotic administ

            Like

          • Sri.Grins May 30, 2018 / 4:59 am

            Actually the current administrator set up can be equated with the current english chief selector managing selection. 😀

            Like

        • TestFan May 29, 2018 / 7:35 pm

          To address one specific argument you made: How can Srinivasan administer BCCI while also owning CSK? There isn’t a good answer to that. However I make the analogy with the cricket captain who might favor people from his own country/regional/IPL team. You rely on their behaving with the larger goal in mind, and appoint people who can look past parochial interests as they gain more responsibility.

          In the BCCI’s case, the previous administrator was Sharad Pawar, a politician with no expertise in cricket. Compared to him, Srinivasan had actually been involved in, and contributed to, cricket for decades; I trust Srinivasan to take the larger view and advocate strongly for India’s interests in world cricket.

          Making him sell CSK just in order for him to administer BCCI would penalize him personally. Not allowing him to take a role in BCCI just because he owned CSK is penalizing India cricket. We now have a cricket historian, among others, in the court-appointed administrators. What a joke.

          Like

          • Grenville May 30, 2018 / 8:20 am

            As someone who spends his days assisting people navigate a hostile immigration system, I have first hand experience of the double edged nature of legal ‘victories’. My favourite example is the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in the 60s. It led to an increase in successful prosecutions of gay men because the courts took the view that parliament had now clearly defined public indecency as anything that wasn’t two men having sex in private.

            Having said all that, IIRC the SC ruled that the BCCI was performing a public function and so had to be treated like a public body. I wish that we could get a similar ruling here. It would allow us to get rid of Harrison, Graves and Clarke.

            As for Srini, my view is that he is a power hungry, self serving nepotist much in the ilk of modern politicians everywhere, from our very own PM through Trump, Putin, Ocalan to your PM, but the real villan of the piece is Giles Clarke and the ECB.

            So, all these modern politicians are unable to see a distinction between their interests and the public interest. May runs the country for the benefit of her mates in the city and the CBI. She calls it ‘best for Britain’, but even if it is best for Britain in some plausible metric, the appeal to Brittish interest is a smokescreen. It is only true if what it is to be Brittish is to be part of her clique. Mohdi and the BJP seem from here to be doing something similar in India. They are enriching themselves and their power base and calling it best for India. Clarke and Srini seem to be doing the same thing in the limited domain of cricket. That doesn’t mean that no one but they and their power base win. It does mean that you are relying on a lucky coincidence between good governance and their interest for a reasonable result.

            I do think that Clarke is the real villian. The ECB think that they have a god given right to run world cricket. The IPL was a major threat to them. Instead of negotiating a window for it before the county championship and English international season, they tried to break it and we had Stamford. Having lost, they grabbed Srini and CA to organise the take over. They played on Srini’s greed to maintain as much wealth and power as they could.

            I would rather see the BCCI run the ICC alone because they seem to have the most interest in protecting test cricket and in growing the game. Perhaps simply because they have more money to burn, but I also think because they have some respect for the global game and its history.

            Like

          • Sri.grins May 30, 2018 / 2:35 pm

            Dear Grenville,

            Don’t get into politics especially driven by reading media articles.

            Most unbiased people in India know that corruption is down under the bjp government.

            In the 48 months, the government has progressed in many areas. Suggest you go through the articles assessing the performance of the government in Indian express one of the news media that is very much against modi to understand the real progress made.
            It is this amazing ability to make assessments without any real data that characterizes us humans I guess.

            I refer you to the best poet and philosopher in the world (thiruvalluvar). Among many of the gems he came up with, one of the most relevant is whatever any one says, a sensible man dies not believe but finds out the truth or falsehood before judging.

            Like

  29. Cricketjon May 28, 2018 / 6:57 pm

    It’s the one time you DO want a united narrative but that shouldn’t be difficult given the approach of the last 5 years.

    Like

  30. Deep Purple Fred May 28, 2018 / 8:41 pm

    So I’ve been pondering rthe smouldering ashes of Englands performance, and the various reactions too it. I think I’m coming to the conclusion that no one really knows very much about how cricket works.
    There is great enthusiasm to discuss selection options, but no one goes very deeply into why one option would be better than another, other than a binary attacking/defensive player, left hand/right hand, experienced/new.

    We have pitching it up vs bowling too short.
    We have being negative vs attacking, with no consensus on what is best.
    We had Nasair on TV saying its time to stop talking about how to improve and time to get angry in the dressing room: this from one of the games best brains.

    After all this, I have no idea what England did wrong. I have no idea why Broad, who was a great lower order batsman, has become someone even McGrath would laugh at. No idea why superb cricketers like Root and Stokes can’t play to their potential.

    I’ve more or less given up on reading pitches, noone really knows how it will play, except in extreme cases. Swing bowling is also a mystery, and there is no consensus on how that works.

    Can anyone explain Steve Smith? Or AB dV?
    It seems like everytime we discover a truth or law in cricket, someone disproves it. T20 has just in many ways redefined cricket.

    Someone compared cricket to baseball in terms of the options and complexity, made my brain explode thinking about it.
    You can bowl the same ball in cricket and the batsmen’s response will be different depending on the time of day, personal style, pitch, the crowd, the size and shape of the gound, the wind, the match situation, the fielder involved, the ball being used, the bat being used, the preceding few balls, team culture, coaching philosophy, batting order, specific rough patches on the pitch, what happened yesterday, the non-stricker involved, and not just the weather today but also the fucking weather forecast for tomorrow. How the hell are you supposed to analyse that and come up with a strategy?

    Apparently it’s theoretically impossible to play a fast bowler. Given the time it takes for the ball to travel the pitch and the time for human reaction, seeing, deciding and executing a hook is impossible. Yet they do.

    Root said his team is full of character, that’s when i knew they were really stuffed. Character is the last refuge of the clueless.

    Good luck England, you’re struggling with a problem that afflicts every team, because cricket is basically an impossible conundrum. I haven’t heard anyone explain it yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • northernlight71 May 29, 2018 / 12:49 pm

      I’m touched that you think about us all so much Fred. Guess it saves having to think about the Australian team right now?!

      Like

    • Deep Purple Fred May 29, 2018 / 6:26 pm

      Ah rumbled. Indeed, it’s a relief every time Aus screws up, which seems often these days, England is not far behind with a distraction.
      But my “no one knows anything” comment, which may have been a bit overpitched on reflection, was not aimed just at England.

      Like

  31. dannycricket May 28, 2018 / 10:40 pm

    Let’s all pack up and go home. The Analyst has identified the only problem facing England’s Test team, so everything from now on will be great!

    Is it the coaching? No. Is it the selections? No. Is it the development process? No.

    It’s social media.

    I hope everyone enjoys the last line…

    Like

    • Mark May 28, 2018 / 11:30 pm

      When all else fails, blame the customer.

      There is no-one else left now without blaming the hand that feeds.

      Like

    • metatone May 29, 2018 / 7:50 am

      What’s so weird is that while there is genuine boredom available in the field (If you’re in specific positions a fair number of overs can go by where nothing comes your way.) batting is just like browsing Instagram, short loading period, followed by intense stimulus, then more loading, then another fast ball adrenaline shot to deal with, etc.

      Like

    • Sophie May 29, 2018 / 8:06 am

      I might be wrong, but I get the feeling that Cook’s massive conversion rate is at least partly due to the fact that he hardly ever makes it to 50.

      Liked by 3 people

    • jomesy May 29, 2018 / 8:31 am

      The last sentence of that article is incredible.

      Liked by 1 person

    • nonoxcol May 29, 2018 / 9:13 am

      This is ripe for a proper fisking.

      He doesn’t understand conversion rate for starters. Rate = A / (A+B) where A is hundreds and B is fifties, not A / B. Any casual reader (which accounts for most of the replies, judging from all the fawning) would think that Cook had recently been batting at 2009-13 levels of consistency, instead of making his occasional monumental score and then disappearing for entire series.

      I’m just surprised he didn’t throw in a plug for his book on batting…

      Liked by 1 person

      • jomesy May 29, 2018 / 9:43 am

        You’re right…There’s tons (pun intended) for fisking. How about this one:

        “It is ironic that the ECB’s shiny new tournament is called ‘the Hundred’ because it is individual hundreds that England are lacking.”

        From the man who was claiming credit for the original idea of The Hundred only a matter of weeks ago.

        Like

      • Rohan May 29, 2018 / 11:59 am

        I enjoyed reading that, honest, well written and seemingly, without any hint of bias or vested interest; proper journalism?

        Like

      • Grenville May 29, 2018 / 3:42 pm

        The only quibble that I had with that article is his comments about batters lacking a defence. Whilst it is true that people used to come into the test team with a solid defence and then learnt to expand (like they should have let Carberry try), players now come in needing to build a defence. 2020 and all that. I think that this is not such a problem with good coaching and some nous. Warner is a prime example. England’s failure to help its players do that can be laid at the coaches door, I feel. I also think that more could be made of the face fitting problem. Patel, Carberry, Jordan, Hales, Compton, Rashid and Panessar have all been given short shrift for just those reasons. Too many of them are ‘of colour’ formy liking.

        It caught my mood well. I don’t mind England being rubbish. There is no god given right to be good at test cricket. I do mind that the rubbish is a direct result of mismanagement and blatant corruption (by which I mean the organising of cricket for the economic advantage of a few organisations, but chiefly Sky).

        Like

  32. dannycricket May 28, 2018 / 11:48 pm

    And another one.

    I’ve not read it (since the Time only allows 2 free articles per week), but I’m curious how this only applies to Stoneman. He’s outscored and outlasted Cook in 12 of the 20 innings since he debuted last summer. Surely that means Stoneman is the more reliable opener, or at least that they’re very similar in that regard…

    Like

    • Pontiac May 29, 2018 / 1:17 am

      It’s perfectly clear that as long as Cook, Broad, and Anderson are in this team there will be nobody better than them at their respective positions.

      Like

      • Prime.Evil May 29, 2018 / 6:26 am

        Cook, Broad and Anderson are the remnants of the Strauss/Flower dynasty. A dynasty that has an unhealthy influence on the dressing room – still. That dressing room ain’t kosher. Strauss and Flower are looking after each other. It is as clear as mud Flower is keeping Strauss’ chair warm.

        When Cook became captain, Flower’s iron fist took hold of him and Cook became an errant boy. Which he is to this day. Strauss being the puppeteer this time.

        Root was made captain because he could be “managed.” Few people are so weak that they cannot handle normal pressure. There’s more than just normal pressure on Root.

        Stokes is a bit of a loose canon – as was KP. Loose canons cannot be “managed.” A loose canon gets thrown at the enemy and then you pray for dear life that they blow up in the enemy’s face and not your own. KP was bubbling, so Strauss/Flower got rid of him – just in case.

        Cook, Broad and Anderson will stay until the dynasty can replace them with the next generation of “yes-men.”

        Strauss/Flower alliance – African democracy at work ???

        Get rid of the dynasty. A radical measure, sure. Like chopping a leg off. What if the leg has gangrene?

        Like

    • oreston May 29, 2018 / 10:15 am

      Granted, England haven’t managed to find a World class opener to partner Cook since Strauss (ahem) transitioned into a management role. The attitude we’re seeing shown towards Stoneman explains why none of the legion of half decent/OK/average openers who have been tried have been persevered with. No one’s worthy to even walk onto the field with Alastair – even when they’re at least scoring a few runs and he’s out for single figures more often than not. And they think we don’t notice?

      Liked by 1 person

  33. Benny May 29, 2018 / 12:25 pm

    For something completely different, if your intelligent selector picked two keepers for the team, wouldn’t you put the one without the pads at first slip? Just wondering

    Like

    • dannycricket May 29, 2018 / 4:09 pm

      Ideally you want a settled pair at keeper and first slip, so that they always know where to position themselves and which balls each of them should go for. You know, like Cook and Bairstow did in the last Test…

      Like

  34. Rohan May 29, 2018 / 1:31 pm

    Just watching Butcher, Key and Knight chat about England during the rain interval on sky (Royal London Cup). Butcher must’ve been reading here, because he just made the point about Sangakkara averaging 40 as a keeper and 68 as a batsman, in relation to what MIGHT happen to Bairstow if he plays as a specialist batsman.

    Anyway, Butcher and Key talking some good sense and some good points…….interesting debate and Knight is a good anchor/front man, far better than he was as a pundit/commentator.

    There do seem to be some people out there who have a clue, including amongst the ex-pros, but the problem is, they are not the ones that are trendy to listen to, or who the ECB seem to value the opinion of! #wrong people in charge

    Like

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