Absence, Rain and a Forgettable Series.

Hello all, it’s been a while! As Dmitri pointed out in his last post, personal factors and work factors have made our activity scarcer than a good idea at the ECB and for this we naturally apologise. We know that a number of you log in regularly to the site and that our production has dropped dramatically, but we have all committed to increasing our activity for the Test series and beyond. A major reason for the scarcity of posts, alongside our own personal circumstances, is that the recent ODI series between Sri Lanka and England didn’t really set out pulses pounding.

As many of our parish know, we are not the biggest white ball fans and a series against what has been a poor Sri Lanka team in white ball cricket for some time doesn’t really rank as a must watch series; however the ECB managed to out do themselves with this particular series, yet excuses were quick to come:

The ECB said it had “very little wriggle room” over dates for the tour. After hosting England, Sri Lanka spend the rest of the 2018-19 season touring New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. “They play their first match in New Zealand on 8 December, which left very little wriggle room given our final Test in Sri Lanka finishes on 29 November”

Ah yes, the old future tours excuse, which has been trotted out more times in the past than the England batting unit has managed to make it to 400. Sri Lanka has 4 monsoons a year and despite the weather always being unpredictable there, whatever the time of year, the monsoon seasons rarely move. The ECB could have asked any travel specialist (Mrs TLG springs to mind), who could have told them that, but they decided to go ahead anyway without any thought for the fans who had paid less than an inconsiderable amount to be out there to see the tour. It is a classic case of greedy administrators having their cake and eating it and screwing the fans in the shorts at the same time (don’t even start me on the planned cost of £75 per day that the ECB are letting the Sri Lankan cricket board charge England fans for the Test series). Unless this is a ruse by Harrison to test underwater cricket as part of his whack job plans for the T100 (never rule that out), then it must have been an incredibly frustrating and anti-climatic experience for both the players and fans alike.


As for the series itself, the constant rain interruptions meant that we learnt even less than we thought we would, unless that plan is to chase down low scores under the DLS rules in the 2019 World Cup. The batting line up is pretty stable with only injury or a dramatic loss of form from one of the top 7 likely to result in any change. When we did change the batting line up in the dead rubber game, we got well and truly stuffed (who knew, England losing a dead-rubber). The seam bowling unit looks like it has some depth with Woakes, Plunkett, Tom Curran and Stokes all able to take wickets at regular times and our spin bowling attack looks settled and potent whatever the surface. Rashid may cop a lot of stick from the journo’s and some of the fans (remember his card has been marked) for his less than stellar returns in the Test arena; however he is a truly world class leg spinner in the white ball game. As for the T20 squad, it looks like Root might be on the outside looking in for some time and whilst Denley’s deadly non-spinning leg spinners accounted for a rather meek Sri Lanka batting line up, I have a feeling that this was more a horses for courses game.  The only major downside (from a playing point of view and not a fan point of view, as one can only really visit the Dambulla caves once before seeing everything Dambulla has to offer) is the injury to Bairstow, which could well rule him out of at least the first game of the series and maybe more, alongside the fact that Stokes looks less than fit at the moment. It may be that Stokes is simply carrying a knock at the moment, but if so, it seems less than wise to play him in a pointless series when we already know what Stokes can offer to the team.

As for the Sri Lankan team, one who has a pedigree of fielding fine ODI sides (just think of the 1996 side), this side looked a pretty horrible rehash of a team. Their tactics seemed to have been borrowed from Peter Moore’s 2015 book of how not to play white ball cricket and of course, dropping their captain and probably best ODI player because their administration needed another scapegoat, was never a great idea in retrospect. In previous years, Sri Lanka would have been favourites for both the Test and White ball series, but they looked anything but a competent white ball side, especially in wet conditions where their spinners struggled to grip the ball. The Test series could be very different mind..

There have also been a few things that have happened in the interim which no doubt we shall cover in more depth in the coming week or so. The Director, England Cricket has stepped down for personal reasons, so no doubt there will be a tranche of individuals linked to the job before the ECB hire some friendly goon who will publicly support their plans to ruin cricket, sorry the T100. There has also been the fall-out from Australia, where its culture report into the sandpaper incident has labelled Cricket Australia’s actions as ‘arrogant’ and ‘controlling’. There are probably a few other words that I can think to add to this, though I hasten to add that any cultural report into the ECB would find exactly the same thing. Of course, not everyone agreed with these findings as a certain ex-Australian captain, not known for his commitment to the spirit of the game commented:

“You know they push the boundaries a bit by throwing the ball into the rough on the ground, which they shouldn’t do and then it’s escalated from there. It’s a shame how it got to the point that it did but I guess the authorities let that happen. There have been captains in the past who have been done for tampering with the ball and the penalties have been very lenient so there was no penalty for doing something wrong and it was always going to get to the case where it got out of control”

There is still nothing more Australian, than trying to pin the blame on somebody else, when you’ve been caught cheating red handed! I’m half surprised that they didn’t blame it on the ball for allowing itself to be sandpapered!

With the Test Series against Sri Lanka coming up, despite the threat of more rain throughout this series, we do plan to be a lot more active on the site. So please do feel free to comment below on any thoughts on anything above and thanks for bearing with us during our recent quiet time.


12 thoughts on “Absence, Rain and a Forgettable Series.

  1. Mark Oct 30, 2018 / 5:10 pm

    Hi Sean, good to see you back. Frankly I’m almost out of the door regarding English cricket. I just don’t give a shit anymore. Seriously considering dumping Sky sports. Thanks ECB for killing off a love of cricket in just four years. An amazing achievement. Never mind, I’m sure you will replace me with one of these new mothers who can’t count to six.

    If the ECB is bad, Australian cricket is even more bizarre. The players union have demanded the sentences for the three cheats be shortened because they claim that the players were under huge pressure to win at all costs. Apparently professional players with huge amounts of experience are too stupid to understand that you can’t take sandpaper to a cricket ball. Most ten year olds could tell you that. The South African players must be thankful that the three morons didn’t take machine guns out onto the field and gun down the opposition, and then claim it was the bastards in suits that made them do it.

    This is the same players union who demanded more money for their members last year on the grounds that they were great professionals. Now they want you to believe they are knuckle dragging cave men who don’t understand right from wrong. I wonder if the three players themselves are behind the calls for the overturning of their bans? Because if they are then that goes against their claims they have accepted their punishments.

    Quite handy that this wheeze comes at just the time Cricket Australia have been criticised for their handling of many things. The funniest bit is the report has endless redactions of names. Who do they think they Are! The CIA? In normal times I would laugh my head off, but when your own home governing body is the ECB you know they are all just as bad. Cricket is more a soap opera than a sport these days.


    • Sean Oct 30, 2018 / 5:37 pm

      Hi Mark, I must admit I have felt the same way the last few weeks! Combine that with a crazy work schedule and so it’s not been that conducive for me to write!

      I’m hoping the Test series might get me more in the mood, as I personally couldn’t care less about the white ball stuff.

      The Australian news has amused me because it’s Australia and despite the odd review and criticism, they’ll always breed the next David Warner. It’s ingrained in their mindset! The ECB would never agree to such a review, especially as it would be so short and keep repeating ‘fucking incompetent’ about 1,000 times.


  2. LordCanisLupus Oct 31, 2018 / 1:27 pm

    The Aussies are making themselves a laughing stock. What with ludicrous punishments, claim to moral superiority, arrogant business leaders at the top of the tree, accusations of sanctimony directed at all who comment on their misplaced values, it’s been a bonanza. The player statement is so crap I had to check Paul Downton didn’t draft it.

    They cheated, they lied, they should have been punished a bit, but not to this level, and the world would have moved on. But every pantomime needs a villain I suppose.


    • Mark Oct 31, 2018 / 5:03 pm

      I believe that in one part of the report they have redacted the names of the three players who were banned. As if nobody knows who they are? Priceless.

      Cricket seems to be the worst run sport in the world, and the players aren’t much better. They kind of deserve each other.

      Liked by 1 person

    • dlpthomas Nov 1, 2018 / 12:54 am

      The latest Cricket Unfiltered Podcast (the artist formerly known as “The Australian Cricket Podcast) is well worth a listen (actually, it always is) to hear the thoughts of 2 senior Australian cricket journalists.


      • dlpthomas Nov 1, 2018 / 12:55 am

        Ooooh, didn’t mean to post all of that – sorry.


        • Prime.Evil Nov 1, 2018 / 1:07 pm

          I’m glad you did. Listened to bits and pieces and downloaded a few audio clips for later listening.


  3. quebecer Oct 31, 2018 / 3:30 pm

    Interesting selection questions looming for England. Firstly, we have to hope we’ve moved on from the Flower principle of turning up in the UAE or Asia, get greeted by a big turner in the first test, and play 4 seamers and one spinner. In Galle, surely Leach plays along with Rashid and Mo, and that means jimmy and one other seamer (given Stokes is playing). A good time to rest Broad? I’d say yes, and everything points to Woakes as his new ball partner. Funnily enough, I’d have thought Stone would be a better fit though, given the make up of the team, to be let loose with the new ball and deliver short sharp spells. I think this would be a better fit for Stone than playing 50 over games.

    As for the batting, it looks like Bairstow won’t be fit, and I think that this actually makes things a bit easier in terms of working out our line up. It seems it will be Burns, Jennings and Denly, Root at 4, which means Ali at 5, Stokes 6, Buttler 7, (Woakes 8, Rashid 9, Leach 10, Jimmy 11).

    It’s a weird test, as I don’t think we’ll know much more about our team afterwards than we do now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • oreston Nov 1, 2018 / 3:24 am

      Burns, Jennings and Denly. Good luck to them all if it proves thus, but really? That would be a top three with an average age of 28 but only one Test century (and that quite a distant memory) between them and of whom only one has a First Class average over 40. OK, two of them are on Test debut (so holding a lack of big scores against them before they’ve even faced a ball is a bit mean) but the lack of experience and shortage of real, demonstrable calibre at that end of the batting order is a concern. On the other hand we’ve just waved tearful farewells to a bloke with 161 Tests under his belt and for most of the last few years his form was a major worry, so will it actually make any difference? However with Bell available and in some kind of form you have to wonder why Joe Denly was preferred. Probably for some reason that has little to do with either experience or relative batting ability. Still, good luck to them as I say. Maybe Jennings will fare better in Sri Lanka, Burns will get off to a flyer and Denly won’t let anybody down. At the moment though it feels less like a brave new era and more like a rather desperate exercise in make do and mend. To be honest, looking at the scorecard at the end of each day’s play is probably about as much attention as I’ll be paying.


  4. Miami Dad's Six Nov 1, 2018 / 4:25 pm

    Hoping for a 3-0 home victory, but Sri Lanka are at their weakest since I can remember, possibly since their admission.


    • quebecer Nov 1, 2018 / 9:18 pm

      I thought that before they beat the Aussies though, and I’m not sure England are any better than that Australian team. Herath only playing one game might be crucial.


    • d'Arthez Nov 2, 2018 / 4:43 pm

      Just win the toss and it is job half done for the team that wins the toss. It is I think about 22-7 for whoever won the toss since the start of 2011.

      The only team Sri Lanka have a winning record against (since 2011) after losing the toss is Zimbabwe. Mind you they STILL needed the assistance of a frankly incompetent third umpire who did not know the basic rules of the game.


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