Mixed feelings is the lot of most people for most eventualities in life – good things can happen, but with a caveat. Absolute certainty is forever dangerous, the prerogative of the zealot. Thus it is that England’s 5-0 demolition of Australia in the Meaningless Ashes series evokes several different responses and emotions.
To begin with, the pain of realisation that we are barely a third of the way through the white ball international schedule can be tempered with enjoying the clear irritation displayed by Malcolm Conn, as his beloved
Cricket Australia Australian cricket team were demolished by the side he gleefully reminded had been beaten by Scotland. Whether fans or press pack, looking forward to the latest surly, childish tweet from him was always a delight.
Equally, England’s batting line up repeatedly fired, and while Jos Buttler deservedly got many of the plaudits (especially for the extraordinary knock in the final match), he was anything but alone. Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow and Alex Hales were all at different times utterly devastating, while Eoin Morgan, without quite getting the volume of runs of his team mates, destroyed Australia’s bowling when he got going. An England batting line up where Joe Root appears to be something of the weak link has something seriously going for it.
Of course, for various reasons this wasn’t Australia’s best side, but the absence of players through suspension cannot be used as any kind of excuse, any more than it could in the winter when a player was missing from the England side for legal reasons. Injuries perhaps, for Australia lacked their primary pace bowling attack, but even there, justifying heavy defeat by complaining about absence is as pointless as it ever was, while belittling English success on the basis of the standard of opposition remains a curious national obsession.
Nevertheless, it can be said that it wasn’t Australia’s best team, certainly, albeit England too were missing a couple of players in the shape of Stokes and Woakes. The best teams available to both were largely selected, and to that extent it was representative. Of more importance is the relevance of the series itself, shoehorned into the heart of the summer, nominally as part of the preparation for next summer’s World Cup, but since that could have been equally done by extending Pakistan’s stay (and they did win the Champions Trophy last year) the reality that it was down to financial considerations is abundantly obvious. The crowds were largely decent, so the ECB will consider it mission accomplished.
Australia explicitly stated in 2011 that they were prioritising Test cricket, and the decline in their ODI performances since then intriguingly correlate with that, particularly given their Test performances have remained strong – the South Africa debacle notwithstanding. Yet, and here is where the excuses about missing players ring hollow – they have lost 14 of their last 16 ODIs. Pretending that the return of those players will make all well for next year flies in the face of poor performance even when all are present and accounted for, but above all else it makes interesting reading and Daniel Brettig goes into more detail here. When considering England’s alternate strategy of focusing on the white ball form of the game, whatever their protestations to the contrary, it is striking that there appears a connection, though India may raise a hand at this juncture. The marginalisation of red ball county cricket, reduction in Test volumes across the summer and creation of wheezes like The Hundred could be argued to have been highly successful in terms of creating the conditions for generating a strong England ODI and T20 side. To that end, the ECB could claim vindication for their strategy, yet they are unlikely to do so precisely because it’s a strategy that finds little favour with England cricket fans. It is, unquestionably, an irony to see the ECB succeed in their aims yet be unable to truly take credit because of the corollary impact and what it would say about them.
If the stated aim is to win the World Cup, then England are in good shape, with a couple of provisos. No team will be confident of setting England a score for the simple reason that no total seems safe from the destructive capabilities of the batting line up. The world record set two years ago was extraordinary, the pulverising of it in this series simply astounding. That 500 became a realistic prospect is something that seems scarcely credible, as was the rather odd feeling of disappointment when they didn’t get there. It must be said that pitches so flat that bowlers become cannon fodder for batsmen is fundamentally unhealthy, and by far the most exciting game in the series came in the final match, where bowlers had the upper hand, and the century from Buttler had real value because of the circumstances.
The belief of most cricket fans tends to be that these make the best matches, a proper balance between bat and ball and the excruciating excitement of a team limping over the line as true batting peril and hunting packs of bowlers come to the fore. Yet the likelihood is that those cricket fans are wrong. Casual observers probably watch to see the ball disappearing to all parts of the ground, caring little for the skill of the bowler, but enjoying the resounding thwack of willow on leather. This may be something of a depressing thought, yet the sidelining of Test cricket where that balance really does apply suggests there is truth in it, no matter what we might wish to believe. Put it this way, it’s more likely to receive a text to turn the television on because Chris Gayle is going berserk than because Liam Plunkett is rattling through the top order.
The final match also highlighted the potential flaw in England’s side, particularly when the ICC get hold of pitch preparation next summer – that England have a tendency to fall in a heap quite spectacularly from time to time. Some context is needed for that, for no one day side, no matter how strong, wins every game. England are defeated rarely, and if the semi-final last summer can be perhaps put in the category of a one off, it doesn’t mean that some caution about their prospects isn’t in order.
Perhaps for that reason the victory at Old Trafford was particularly impressive, for despite the collapse England still found a way to win. Or more specifically, Jos Buttler did. He is in an extraordinary run of form, whether at the IPL, in this series, or indeed in Test cricket. Whether this is just a purple patch, or whether he has found his feet in the wider game of cricket is a moot point, for this can be said of any player suddenly thrust to the fore through sheer performance. It is enough for the present to enjoy his extraordinary run and to hope that it continues.
The arrival of India will perhaps answer some of the questions underlying England’s level of performance, but it seems beyond question that they are among the favourites for next year. Buttler’s supreme displays have overshadowed players who in any other circumstances would be in receipt of unqualified praise – Roy and Bairstow actually scored more runs this series for a start.
This series was also played out in the backdrop of a football World Cup, which has deliciously highlighted both the appetite for watching event sport, and the invisibility of cricket to the wider public. The two England football matches have attracted extraordinary viewing figures – over 20 million for the game against Tunisia, and while the totals were lower for the beating handed out to Panama, the 83% of total television audience (when the cricket was on, note) is one of the highest on record.
Cricket isn’t football of course, and a World Cup is a seminal collective experience, but there are some observations that can be made from that. Firstly that a likeable team whom the public believe are deserving of support receive it, and secondly that the claims of the ECB over the years amount to so much nonsense. The near 10 million who watched the climax of the Ashes in 2005 were specifically discounted as a future factor when justifying the move to pay TV on the grounds that the digital age meant that such community viewing was no longer possible. Young people in particular apparently no longer consumed sport in such a manner, too distracted by social media to sit and watch a game.
The huge audiences for the football demonstrated that this was so much drivel. All ages watched the England football team, all ages cheered the goals. The cricket team could never hope to match those raw numbers, but it is beyond question that were they to move to the latter stages of next year’s World Cup, both the interest, and the audience would climb dramatically if it were widely available, not least because it would be promoted across all media, social or otherwise. Instead, even if England were to win the thing, it will remain a niche occasion. It is this in particular that remains unforgivable, that the ECB blew the opportunity offered to a sport that had captured the public imagination as on few occasions previously. Cricket is not football, but the shared national experience when our team does well is something beyond price, and really does inspire a generation.
The football team may not have beaten anyone of note yet, but kids across the country were kicking footballs afterwards, just as in 2005 they were taking a bat and a ball to the park. For all the protestations about the viability of the professional game without Sky’s money (how on earth did they survive before 2006?), this fundamental importance has been ignored. The argument these days appears to be an almost apologetic one, that ok yes, perhaps they have destroyed the game in national consciousness, but it’s too late now and they can’t survive by changing tack. It is weak, defeatist nonsense driven by self-interest.
Buttler should be a household name. Roy should be a household name, Hales should be a household name, the captain Eoin Morgan should be a household name. Children should be trying to emulate Adil Rashid and make their friends look foolish with one that grips and turns. But they aren’t, and after a series where whatever the caveats, England were both exceptional and thrilling, this is the most disappointing part. Forget for one moment the debate about red ball and white ball cricket, when England really do have a team that can inspire a nation, hardly anyone saw it.
It is that, above all else, that can never be forgiven.
“Jenny Bairstow” ??? The England men’s team now has a pre-operative transsexual wicket keeper batsperson? I know we live in progressive times, but this is a surprise nonetheless, TLG…
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Damn, you corrected it 🙂
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Already been pointed out, already said “bollocks” , already corrected it! 😂
I shall retire to a quiet corner and reflect on my shame of failing to see that in the proofread!
Thanks, you bastard! 😉
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For all this I did enjoy the Jenny Bairstow tweet. The day might come. 😀
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Perhaps if it was Jenny Bairstow, then the MSM and FTA channels, even in new reports, may well have helped keep cricket in the national conciousness despite ECB greed and ignorance – #SarahTaylorForTheMensTeam
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What if it catches on? Jacinda Roy, Alexa Hales, Josephine Root, Oona Morgan, Josella Buttler. Already a formidable batting line-up, they would now be truly terrifying – and that’s without Benjamina Stokes and Christine Woakes…
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Just a totally off topic comment.
We hit 50000 comments yesterday. Rohan is the lucky commenter.
No prizes. Just the honour.
A good honour!
By the way, this:
‘Buttler should be a household name. Roy should be a household name, Hales should be a household name, the captain Eoin Morgan should be a household name. Children should be trying to emulate Adil Rashid and make their friends look foolish with one that grips and turns.’
Spot on, you are so right! It made me happy because it reminded me of my brother pretending to be Courtney Walsh in our back garden and trying to knock my head off, but sad as this just isn’t and can’t happen for kids today and sad that such excellent players aren’t getting the exposure they deserve…..
Made a post in reply to this but it has not appeared!?
It went to spam again, no idea why.
Nice article but a couple of issues
a) According to most posts English fans do not like white ball cricket. At least , that is what I have read over 5 years at the guardian and a year+ on here. How will they become household names if most English fans don’t like white ball cricket. I think, there is a serious issue here which needs to be thought through.
For us Indians, it is clear. Any cricket is exciting to most of us. But, the problem for ECB could be the perceived looking down on cricket by the English fans. Would you not rather blame English fans for perpetuating the belief held by ECB that english fans don’t attach importance to T-20 or ODIs?
How does it matter to the person who is playing in the team for England in white ball cricket whether the people coming to watch him/her and cheer are casual fans or those who know every nuance of cricket. Casual fans can become knowledgeable observers you know and so nothing wrong in getting them in through white ball cricket.
I would rather blame the attitude of the serious English fans, journalists and establishment who tried to make test cricket as the only worthwhile form of cricket to follow.
b) Also, the difference between football and test cricket watching is that football matches finish quickly even faster than T-20s. Tests take up a lot more time. FTA of test cricket is not as important as FTA of white ball cricket. You have missed a following because of the lack of FTA of white ball cricket because the serious English fans, journalists and the establishment kept downplaying the importance of white ball cricket to build a fan following
c) You should be happy that despite all its obvious cronyism, motivated briefings, weird concepts, focus on money etc, the ECB has at last prioritised white ball cricket. That is where the new test heroes would come from.
perceived looking down on white ball cricket
As a customer Sri, (and sporting bodies, particularly cricket ones do love calling us all customers) I think I get to decide what I like. There is no obligation on the customer to be forced to like something or pay for it. There are plenty of customers (fans) who like white ball cricket. The ticket sales are good for them.
But, Virtually no one in the UK would recognise an England player (from any format of cricket) if they saw them walking down the street. When Joe Root was the number one player in the world he wasn’t even mentioned in the biggest sporting voting show of the year.
The ECB took the money for an exclusive TV deal, and cricket over night became invisible to most UK citizens. That’s not my problem. It’s the ECBs problem.
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These accusations of “looking down” on white-ball cricket are wide of the mark. The simple fact is that outside the sub-continent, most people find test cricket more exciting and attach more importance to it. White ball cricket’s relationship to red ball cricket is 5-aside to 11-aside, 7s to union, par-3 golf to tournament golf, softball to baseball. Its a game for participation and for fun, not to be taken too seriously at the highest level. That’s simply how most people see it.
Who are you to tell them they’re wrong?
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You prove my point
A) the sub continent geographically does not cover south Africa, west indies etc as far as I know where test cricket seems to have no takers
B) if not taken too seriously, highest level etc etc is not an euphemism for looking down on white ball cricket, I don’t know how I am wide off the mark that such thinking actually harms the growth of a big fan following
C) I am willing to assert that a lot of your test team five years from now will be people who made their mark in white ball cricket first
Test Cricket in the West Indies was murdered by the world cup, which replaced all of the popular, convenient, atmospheric historic stadia with enormous white elephants that aren’t fit for purpose.
That and the fact that the West Indies board has been screwed over by ECB, BCCI, CA to such an extent that they can’t pay their players, meaning the majority of talent has abandoned the team.
Nothing at all to do with an intrinsic appetite for good test cricket amongst fans.
TBH, the rest of your post was confusing and self-contradictory.
No-one “tried to make test cricket as the only worthwhile form of cricket to follow”. That’s nonsense.
“According to most posts English fans do not like white ball cricket” Not true – many if not most English cricket fans just see test cricket as the more important, exciting format. That a preference, its not up to you to berate them for that.
“the problem for ECB could be the perceived looking down on cricket by the English fans” Eh? This makes no sense. You think English cricket fans look down on cricket?
“Would you not rather blame English fans for perpetuating the belief held by ECB that english fans don’t attach importance to T-20 or ODIs?” No, because its a) true, so why would they lie, and b) not particularly harmful.
“How does it matter to the person who is playing in the team for England in white ball cricket whether the people coming to watch him/her and cheer are casual fans or those who know every nuance of cricket.” Didn’t understand this bit.
“Casual fans can become knowledgeable observers you know and so nothing wrong in getting them in through white ball cricket” Why do you assume casual fans only watch white ball cricket or are only able to get interested in the game via white ball cricket? Cricket did just fine at attracting and converting casual fans when only test cricket was shown on the tv.
“Also, the difference between football and test cricket watching is that football matches finish quickly even faster than T-20s” I don’t think this is the most profound difference between football and cricket.
“FTA of test cricket is not as important as FTA of white ball cricket” Rubbish. Test cricket is the better tv product, has been very successful at drawing casual fans in the past, and would be more likely to draw casual fans in the future.
“the ECB has at last prioritised white ball cricket. That is where the new test heroes would come from” The evidence doesn’t seem to be in favour of this – in fact as we’ve discussed below, the obsession with white ball cricket has seriously damaged the quality of our test team and test cricket as a whole.
But I know what Sri means. Even though the 50 and 20 over forms are developing almost by the day and are challenging and innovative, you still get a lot of English fans dismissing them as skill-free zones, boring slogfests etc. I don’t quite understand why, but it’s their loss.
There’s no reason whatever for it to be either/or. Just because someone’s an expert fan of the marathon doesn’t mean they have to dismiss the 100m sprint. They can love both. Or they can choose not to watch the 100m, but they don’t need to deride it.
FTA white ball cricket is far more likely to bring in casual fans in today’s life because of T-20 and ODIs) than FTA test cricket in my view. Earlier, popular T-20 leagues did not exist. But, the moment IPL, Big Bash etc came into being, it meant that more casual viewers will tune in to FTA white ball rather than FTA test cricket.
The scenario was different 15 years ago when FTA test cricket could bring in more casual observers than FTA white ball cricket.
Such changes are a part and parcel of life. It reminds me of the book, ‘Who moved my Cheese’?
Ninety-five per cent of fans said they were interested or very interested in the 50-over World Cup and the World T20.
92% are interested in T-20 cricket among the estimated billion fans.
70% interested in test cricket
This is from the ICC survey published on espncricinfo.
The trends are clear. T-20 is the way to attract fans to cricket and thence onto the long format.
You’re just repeating your personal opinion Sri, you’re not actually presenting any evidence or logical argumentation. The actual facts are in contradiction to your claims. You’re beginning to look a bit silly, like you’re so wedded to your preferred interpretation of events that you refuse to acknowledge the actual facts.
For example, you say:
“But, the moment IPL, Big Bash etc came into being, it meant that more casual viewers will tune in to FTA white ball rather than FTA test cricket.”
Except of course, this isn’t true, (except perhaps in the subcontinent). The lowest tv rating Ashes session was still 4 times higher than the highest rating Big Bash game. Test Cricket is still BY FAR the most popular form of cricket with casual tv viewers. This isn’t wishful thinking, its an undeniable fact.
“Even though the 50 and 20 over forms are developing almost by the day and are challenging and innovative, you still get a lot of English fans dismissing them as skill-free zones, boring slogfests etc”
You get all sorts of people on twitter or cricket message boards who don’t actually know much about cricket talking all sorts of shit. I wouldn’t pay much attention to them. I don’t think its just English fans that do this, either.
T20 games are great. Here in the UK they’re the most popular amateur format by far, we’ve been playing them since the 80s, and were the first country to play them professionally, have arguably the best T20 tournament, and have one of the best international T20 teams in the world. No-one needs to lecture us on the merits of T20 cricket, thanks.
50 over games I could take or leave. Games like Sunday’s, which are effectively replicate the last day of a test match, are fascinating. The games that play out like an extended T20 are a bit dull – if I want to watch T20, I’ll watch T20. 50 over cricket needs to offer something different to merit its existence.
You don’t consider the ICC survey as data or logical?
Also even in Oz, where test cricket is a big focus the big bash highs are as close to ashes test highs.
Doesn’t this indicate that the big bash is slowly overhauling test cricket audience in a traditional test focused country?
I rest my case here. No more cp on this article. 😊
I’d like to know more about the sampling methodology. Who did they ask? How did they avoid selection bias?
Sri, I think I know what you are trying to say but I advise you to be a little more circumspect with statements “blame the attitude of the serious English fans” in your analysis. You’re a passionate guy and that’s great but everyone will react differently.
I really enjoy white ball cricket, but I would have much rather had a third test match against Pakistan than the extra one-day series we had against the same opposition again. England’s performance was record breaking, batting fantastic, Buttler (and others) in the kind of form that makes your jaw drop. I would have preferred the alternative.
The thing is (and this is only my opinion) is that test cricket is the ultimate form of red ball cricket. I don’t care for a test championship; the test match itself is the top form of red ball cricket (I will keep stressing this) that by itself stands alone as a true test of a (red ball) cricketer.
I don’t see T20s or ODIs in the same manner. The Cricket world cup is the ultimate form of 50 over cricket. Getting excited by another ODI series is like getting excited by another football international friendly. Harry Kane scores a hat-trick in qualifying / friendly – I’m pleased for him. He does it in the World Cup and I go nuts, whoever the opposition.
This ODI series against India will be interesting. It’s part of a broader tour; one-on-one duals have a chance to develop. The ODI series against Australia is a pure cash cow that is part of a larger malaise meaning the Big 3 take precedence. You talk about WI players (and you can throw in SA and NZ as well as everyone else) – it’s no surprise that they prioritise franchise domestic white ball, when their international opposition boards (and sometimes their own) treat them with such disdain.
This, at least, is my attitude towards white ball vs red ball.
I am not talking of the current Oz England series but white ball cricket in general.
As far as tests are concerned, I agree with you that I never needed the test championship to be excited about tests India play.
As far as my points go, they are valid. The reason England were poor in white ball cricket for a long time was a reflection of the attitude that it does not matter. Personally, one may prefer x to y but one need not state it in almost every comment one makes whatever be the topic. On an average, I would have read from every English fan who prefers only test cricket how superior tests are and how white ball cricket is meaningless a minimum of 100 times if not more.
I just think that looking down on white ball cricket is not advisable in a country where cricket is not the top sport.
We should be playing Test cricket in this lovely weather. It depresses me that from now on June and July will be a barren of real cricket.
As to the England ODI team….. the ECB is taking much credit for prioritising white ball cricket. However, isn’t it just a bit of luck that these talented batsman have all come through at the same time? What have the ECB done for prioritising the bowling? Nothing, as far as I can see.
I always remember Tony Cozier saying that it was just a freak that all those great WI bowlers appeared at the same time in the 1970s and 1980s. It’s a bit like Alex Ferguson and the famous class of 92. He took all the credit because he revamped the youth system in the late 1980s and the class of 92 was seen as the result. Ten years later, no new class of 92. Twenty years later, no new class of 92. We are now heading to nearly 30 years on and it has not been repeated. Perhaps, it too was more a freak of nature than anything else?
I remember when Shane Warne appeared in the early 1990s. People just assumed that ten to twenty years later there would be a plethora of bleached blonde leg spinners coming off Bondi beach. Has’t happened. It’s over ten years sine he retired and no sign in sight. Sometimes it’s just a freak.
However, isn’t it just a bit of luck that these talented batsman have all come through at the same time? ”
Actually, I don’t think it is luck. I think that so many talented batsmen come through in each generation, and before they ever get into the minds of selectors, they build their game around one form of the game or another as they are directed by their coaches.
20 years ago, there was no meaningful choice. “White ball specialists” tended to be relatively rare and most developed late after an initially moderately successful stint in red ball cricket. All young cricketers built their game around the ambition to become test cricketers. Had Roy, Buttler, Hales all been around 20 years ago, their focus would not have been on mastering line drives and scoops, but on mastering playing seam bowling on a green-top, or off-spin on a dry turner.
Over the past 15 years since professional T20 cricket was born, there is now a choice. The reason Roy (27), Hales (29) and Buttler (27) are specialist white ball cricketers is because they have been brought up in that environment.
There is an element of zero-sum game here: very few players have the ability to master both red ball and white ball skills.
The success of our white ball team and the corresponding collapse of our red ball team are just a slightly more extreme example of what is happening across the entre cricketing universe: white ball skills are being prioritised, and the standard of white ball cricket just keeps improving. Red ball skills are being side-lined, and the direct result is that the standard of test cricket is at its lowest point in 100 years. Test teams today would be absolutely murdered by pretty much any test team from the 90s or early 2000s.
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So where are all the great white ball bowlers then? If your theory is that they have grown up in this environment.
I’m not saying there is no influence from the governing body, and the environment that they play in. Just that it’s perhaps over rated sometimes. . Alex Ferguson was a great manager for over 25 years. But there was only one class of 92. If there was a certain path to achieving that he would have replicated it. Therefore it was a freak.
They all gave up and became batsmen instead.
Seriously – bowlers now work on their batting and fielding a lot more than they did 20 years ago. One could argue that one of the results of this is that they inevitably work less on their bowling. The result is a team with a bowling attack consisting of 3 2nd change seamers and 2 reserve spinners, all of whom can bat and field well.
I think very few bowlers now come from working class areas having been through the state system of education. Harold Larwood, Fred Trueman, Ian Botham, Daren Gough, Steve Harmison, and plenty more.
These days these kids are doing something else instead. Kick boxing probably!
Virtually no cricketers at all now come from working class areas – the only ones that do are the sons of keen club cricketers, and that itself is a rapidly shrinking demographic.
Look around the England team or the county squads and you soon realise that If it wasn’t for the private schools and their insistence on maintaining traditions, there would be no English cricketers left at all.
Shane Warne completely changed the spin bowling landscape, not necessarily for the better. So many players try to copy his bowling action, not always wisely. Huge spin is now fetishized, even though good batsmen often find it considerably easier to bat against big spin than against balls that turn small but unpredictable amounts from a good length at a decent pace.
Did he change the spinning landscape? He was certainly a ledgend of the game, and crickets biggest star of his era along with Lara. But Where are the new Shane Warne’s that followed him?That’s my point. I am lucky to have lived to see his era, but there wasn’t an army of leg spinners who came after him. Suggesting he was a one off, or freak.
Yes, he spun he ball big, but I would argue his relentless accuracy, and very rare loose ball was as much his great strength. Before that, leg spin bowlers were thought of as wicket takers who tended to bowl too many loose balls to score off.
The point I’m making is sometimes a talent just comes through on its own. Governing bodies try to claim responsibly, but usually it’s luck. If the EzcB is responsible for all our good batsman why are there no bowlers?
There are 100s of Shane Warne bowl-alikes around cricket, its just that they are all shite, mostly because they’re trying to be Shane Warne, rather than simply trying to be the best spin bowler they can be. Most of them are in their 30s now. I was a Warne-alike between the ages of 11 and 14, until I made the sensible move and switched permanently to finger spin.
There are very few young spinners around now at all, because, well, there are very few young cricketers around full stop as there is no cricket on the tv to inspire them. Most of them are privately schooled and horribly overcoached with that ugly action that the ECB insist on coaching.
Warne didn’t come from nowhere, he was a product of the Australian Cricket Academy, where Terry Jenner was the bowling coach.
Didn’t Warne have a very bad childhood accident that left him with broken limbs? This forced him to go around on a sort of go-cart, and that gave him very strong shoulders. Or is that bullshit?
I think Warne was a one off, and the fact nobody has been able to get any where near him shows that. Sure, lots have tried to copy him, but they have failed. Says something I think. Probably he was a genius at his art.
Murali was a one-off, especially now they’ve tightened up on front-on bowling actions for off spinners.
Warne was a pretty orthodox leg spinner, which is an Australian tradition going back 100 years, but just a very good example of one. Was he actually that much better than Grimmett and O’Reilly? Its hard to say.
Australia losing in the football to Paddington bear at the moment.
I’m glad Peru managed at least to win one group game (and send the Soccaroos packing). Apparently nobody could be arsed even to look like they were trying in the France vs Denmark fixture. Both sides qualified for the round of 16 but were booed off the pitch after a nil-nil bore draw. Shades of the infamous 1982 “Disgrace of Gijón” game between Austria and Germany. I suppose at least it makes a change from VAR controversy.
Well, at least FIFA is sensible enough to schedule final group games at the same time (though I would be in favour of 2 points for a win in the group stage; that way bore draws in the final game can only occur when both the teams playing have already qualified or are eliminated).
The ICC doing something like that? No chance.
Er, don’t look up the format for the 2022 World Cup….. Three-team groups with two qualifiers. The single worst idea I have ever seen in international football.
Reading up on it, it seems this idiocy is only going to start in 2026.
Geez, did FIFA take lessons from the ICC on how to generate favourable outcomes? That is a dreadful idea, and probably going to be made worse by ensuring that the highest seeds will not be playing in the first two games only (which is a distinct disadvantage). It is almost as if governing bodies are desperate to give the impression that part of their funding is the result of dubious betting practices …
FIFA won’t be scheduling games at the same time when there’s only three teams in a group in 2026!
Cue a load of groups finishing with three teams all on 3 points!
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Kent have compiled a last wicket partnership of 100 runs in 16.4 overs. It’s the perfect marketing ploy for the ECB….. 🙂
Anybody smell conspiracy?!
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Good piece. Not a lot to add.
I do wonder though if ODIs are “dead man walking” – Aussies didn’t just prioritise Tests, they prioritised the BBL. In the past, teams could be good at Tests & ODIs, maybe it’s the 3rd format that is just a bridge too far? So, pick 2 – T20 & Tests seems like a good compromise.
If you’re good at T20s and Tests, do ODIs not take care of themselves? Stick your best test bat and your best test opening bowler into your T20 team and voila, an ODI team.
Back to the dim and dusty past, we used to have the Sunday League (one dayers, 40 overs each with a red ball) living happily alongside championship and Tests. All on FTA. Many players could do the lot then, especially Barry Richards, Sir Viv, Andy Roberts and,naturally, Ian Botham.
Should it be difficult now?
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Those were halcyon days indeed and I’m grateful to have experienced them. There was the sense back then though that all players involved were primarily First Class cricketers who happened to play 40 or 50 over matches too. Professional limited overs specialists were rare and limited overs cricket in the ’70s and ’80s hadn’t yet evolved into the distinct entity with its own specialised (batting) skill set that we’ve seen develop in the last decade. If you go back far enough, they even played limited overs games in whites. There were no power plays and certainly no DJ. Though big hitting was a feature, there was still more of an even contest between batsman and bowler. So while I personally don’t altogether like the way things are going, or the probable implications of where it’s all taking us, I can see why some players now specialise in one format or another. Then there are the financial rewards to consider, which are another story altogether. Having said all that, there are plenty of players who’ve come of age in recent years who DO do the lot – just look at England’s teams. Unlike the old days though, surely the worry now is that (with limited overs formats gaining primacy) the modern hell for leather approach is having a negative impact on the quality of the First Class game?
Indian batsmen not looking too good against Ireland even if they did pile up runs. None of them looked classy.
I hope they become fitter and in better form before they reach England
Been 75 odd years now, hasn’t it, Gerry? Russia just does not want to be nice to you!
Well, Germany was crap this time around, anyway. That last, gasp goal was just plain dumb luck.
It was too delicious for words when the VR showed the ball touching a German – effectively kicking them out.
When was the last time England outlasted a German side at a world cup? Nothing can go wrong for England at the moment. Of course, this may mean India winning 5-0 to balance the universe again…
I always thought Jerry was with a ‘J’.
Can we get a definitive on this one please?
I’ve got a german friend who posted on Fb that it was the worst since 1994. Obviously, I thought of replying, “You mean 1943”, but then Mrs. Q said that apparently the Germans don’t find those kinds of war references as funny as we (or at least I ) do.
This prompts more jokes about Germans having no sense of humour, but my German pal actually does.
P.S. I did point out that it was ironic that the Germans had given us the word ‘schadenfreude’ though.
I read a lot of Commando comics when I was a kid – definitely a “J”.
Mein Hund hat keine Nase.
Wie riecht er denn?
Schrecklich!! Ha ha ha!
Proof if proof were needed that the Germans do have a great sense of humour….. 🙂
German friend update:
He just sent me a message which said, “Favourite headline so far, ‘Don’t mention the score'”.
One of my clients is essentially a German company, and all the senior staff are German. I’ve worked on the principle that after having chatted about the World Cup with them all tournament so far, I’m staying totally silent.
They are expecting and waiting for my piss take. It’s going to drive them nuts.
Ah, Operation Sealion in reverse. Very clever indeed.
Hugely enjoyable T20I today, packed crowd at Edgbaston, Buttler breaking a record, Rashid Man of the Match, fresh-faced young Mitchell Swepson getting wickets in his first international, Aaron Finch making a gritty 81. England won but could have thrown it away at one point.
Great television. Lots of things to get the casual viewer interested in cricket.
But of course I had to pay to watch it, and I’d never have known it was on if I hadn’t already been interested.
These one-off T20Is would be perfect for Sky to show unencrypted and get some new viewers in. Sigh.
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From 2020 there will be at least 2 T20Is on the BBC, so they will be on FTA TV.
Two. Just enough to make viewers watch: “What the hell is this?”, not enough to actually give the impression it is not a glorified version of lawn bowls.
Ah, good. Better than nothing, though I agree with D’Arthez that two is nothing like enough.
I don’t think the casual viewer would think it was a glorified version of lawn bowls but they might think there’s some curious kind of crowd judging participation, since the batsmen mostly hit the ball at the crowd, who then hold up scorecards saying 4 or 6.
But that’s OK, they can always get educated later.
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That Jenny Bairstow won’t understand though.
The glorified lawn bowls is of course an exaggeration. But lawn bowls has the advantage of the simplicity of its concept. For a casual viewer it is easy to work out how the game works, what the rules are etc.
But the point is, it is hard to make sense of a game, when there is so little coverage. Why is the bowler bowling and not pitching? Fielding restrictions? Fielding positions? By the time a casual viewer has worked out how the game works, and some basic fielding positions, he / she has to wait for another 3 months to get to (accidentally) watch the other game. Not really a recipe to spike massive interest, methinks.
I am suspecting that lawn bowls will STILL get more coverage than cricket on the BBC. And that is not because lawn bowls is a major sport worldwide. So cricket will be competing with extremely niche sports, not to mention the likes of snooker, cycling, tennis, and whatever other sport might grab the fancy of the BBC.
What if it rains for those two games?
I sometimes think we overegg how complicated cricket is. One bloke tries to hit the stumps with the ball, the other bloke tries to whack it with the bat.
“I sometimes think we overegg how complicated cricket is. One bloke tries to hit the stumps with the ball, the other bloke tries to whack it with the bat”
Totally agree, AB. What used to be an affectionate joke about cricket has become a label that the sport is obscure and over-complicated, it’s not a good thing.
See Ian Jack’s charming article in the G today about how one can enjoy watching cricket without understanding it at all.
Nice of you to point out the article. I also read the article comments and read the bit about a lady who says she doesn’t understand cricket but finds it relaxing.
No agenda, just a ramble which is how I like articles.
Though it’s a shame that cricket is so often presented in the British media as being ‘for old people’.
White ball cricket is for the young.
Seriously, I saw that part of the article and winced too. But, probably it is reality as the cricket is happening in an ‘out ground’ and from the description not a happening place for the younger generation.
However, as a cricket fan and an old man, I console myself with the thought that everyone who is young now has to grow old anyway. ☺
The coming series between India and England looks like Indian bowling against English batting. This is a real turnaround for both teams.
Usually, India is not known for its bowling outside the sub continent so this promises to be interesting as an India fan.
Hardik pandya dies not seem to be suited to a 5th bowler role and better for kohli to look at a regular bowler even if it weakens the batting
It’s an interesting point, Sri. Remembering last time, it was after Lords where the pitch had been slow and low that things changed, and I think it was mainly due to the other test venues having quicker and bouncier tracks. It’s not so much the movement that gets Indian batsmen (in my humble opinion) so much as bounce. In the 2nd-4th tests in that series, Jimmy in particular was hitting 85mph and getting zip from the pitches so the ball was getting edges closer to the shoulder of the bat. More than anything, it was that zip and bounce that made the Indian batsmen look so different than they had at Lords. On the other hand, on those slightly quicker pitches, although India probably had the two quickest bowlers available, the English batsmen could handle them much better.
This time, as you say, it might be a little different, especially with the fragility of England’s top 5. however, can the Indian quicks hit the right lengths for best effect?
You are right as far as inability to handle bounce is concerned unless it is true bounce like in Oz where Indian batsmen don’t do too badly.
The indian batting has actually worsened since the last tour of England.
But, the bowlers have all come on quite a bit. Not only Bhuvi, Ishant, Yadav make a potent trio with backups in place should any of them get injured but the spinners Ash / Sir J / Kuldeep whoever is preferred will also bowl better this time around.
I am looking forward to kuldeep vs the english t20 and odi lineup. If they struggle against him, he will probably get a role in tests.
I would play three pacers and two spinners. When we won in 1971 we had three spinners and in 1986 two and 2007 two.
I would just play 5 batsmen and ignore hardik. I don’t think his bowling is likely to pose trouble and his batting in tests is not yet so solid that it is going to make a difference.
Far better to go with three regular pacers and two spinners all of whom have a good record of running through lineups and taking a few five wicket hauls
Would that mean Ashwin at #6?
Vijay, Dhawan/Rahul, Che, Kohli, Rahane,Karthik (WK), Ashwin/Jadeja, Bhuvi, Ishant, Yadav, Kuldeep
Makes Ashwin / Sir J number 7.
Rahul looks good today in the t-20 vs Ireland. I prefer him to Dhawan
But who knows Kohli’s mind? :-). He could play Rahul instead of Che. :-). He applies his own weird logic in selection of the XI.
Kohli may also play Hardik instead of one of the spinners though I don’t think it would make much sense as Hardik is not the kind of bowler to take a clump of wickets in England nor is he a sound test bat. I would rather go for the attacking option of 2 spinners. All the three spinners have experience of running through sides and Kuldeep brings in the X-factor.
I am awaiting keenly the battle Kuldeep has to fight in the T-20s and ODIs. Youg guy but has a real heart for spinning the ball.
I’m not in the UK, Sri, bit the consensus seems to be that the summer is a good, dry one. Seeing as how the series only starts in August, plenty of spinners would appear to be the order of the day.
Thanks for the update Rooto on UK weather. I think that you live in France. Hope I am correct. Lovely place. Knowing Kohli’s selection foibles, one never knows what the logic would be. 🙂
Your sources are correct, sri. Your spies are everywhere! 🙂
Hot and dry here is nothing exceptional, but I’m hoping that the good weather holds until my holidays back in Britain. Oh, and for the test series, of course. Happy memories of great TV highlights of 1976 or 1990 with the yellow outfield rather than the usual lush green.
Blame or praise my memory @rooto. I remember information from posts made in the past.
Saw Kohli and remembered your post on the ball hitting the shoulder of the bat. :-). He was unimpressive and got a couple of deliveries that hit the shoulder of the bat rather than the middle.
KL Rahul however, looked fluent and even Raina seemed better. Hardik showed why he is a great t-20/odi choice.
Manish Pandey should be nowhere near this team however but I assume he would not play in normal circumstances.
So, white ball team I would prefer
Rohit, Dhawan, Kohli, Raina, Rahul, Hardik, MSD, Bhuvi,Chahal, Kuldeep, Bumrah
Again what maybe selected could be dependent on Kohli’s hunches. 🙂
The bowling was superlative against Ireland. This is not saying much at this stage of where Ireland are in their journey but Kaul and Yadav are good replacements for Bhuvi and Bumrah.
I’m sure the big 3 would agree to this
The horse bolted some time ago and the stable door isn’t even on its hinges. Perhaps if the smaller nations’ boards had stuck together and fought a little harder at the ICC a few years ago against the emerging hegemony of the Big Three we wouldn’t be where we are now.
Ouch. Bumrah out of t-20 series. Sad. Wanted to see how he would go against the English batsmen given that he is a t-20 specialist
Washington Sundar also out of t-20 and odi tours.
Such a great name! To British ears he sounds more like a racehorse than a cricketer.
How he got his name is also interesting.
To be fair looking at him you may probably see a resemblance to a long legged colt. 🙂
England may well lose to Columbia. But if they can beat them, they will then play either Sweden or Switzerland in the quarters, and then avoid Spain in the semis.
We are jumping ahead of ourselves of course, (a dangerous thing with England) but watching all the moron football journalists saying last week that losing to Belgium was a disaster, one wonders again how these people get jobs in the first place? Even the BBC,s resident village idiot Robbie Savage was on about it. For them, Japan was easier than Columbia, but they seem to be unable to read a World Cup schedule. If they did….. they would see that it is likely Brazil would then be the next appointment.
If you are going to get to the final of the World Cup……Columbia, then Sweden/Switzerland, then avoid Spain sounds like a pretty good draw to me. If England can’t beat any of them then they shouldn’t even be thinking of going all the way in the first place.