The Ashes Panel – 1st Test Aftermath

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There are losses, and then there are humiliations

Welcome back to the Ashes Panel, and the comments of some of our regulars, and not so regular, correspondents on the events of Edgbaston. There are five guests, and given I will be in a bunker interviewing people for the next two days, before jetting off to a work assignment in New York in 12 days time, I thought I’d vent too.

Usual format, five questions, answered in differing styles, differing lengths and with their own views by five guests (the five who sent their responses to my hotmail account!). If any of you have sent responses, please let me know and I will add them. The five guests are The Bogfather, who loves this so much he writes poems about it; MM, a former regular commenter, who is either living under another pseudonym, or is so royally peeved with the sport that he can’t be bothered to rant on the comments anymore; there is Growltiger, a great name, and some really good comments too; Alex, who was incredibly keen to get on here, and thanks so much that he did. This is his Jason Roy opening stint, and let’s hope he can grow further from a high base. Finally there is Gareth, who has done this before, and I hope will do it again.

Then there’s me, who has one man in his sights, and he’s not a player.

As always, I’m fair game, so have a pop at me all you want. You’ll lose. For the others, remember they aren’t regular bloggers, they did this in their own time, they are cricket lovers like all of us, I’m sure they can fight their corners, but I for one am absolutely humbled that they take the time to do this, that they feel enough for the blog and what we are to put the effort in, and before I get too soft, and I’ve not been drinking, it brings a little lump in the throat that we get these inputs into the blog

So off we go…..

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It’s KP v Swann on Genius…. Never Forget The 5-Nil……

Question 1 – A brief summary of the first test. Most importantly, they key moments England lost the game?

 

Gareth – Disappointing from an England perspective, but certainly an engrossing Test Match. It was one where the strengths and failings of English cricket were realised over the course of five days. Helpful conditions and a motivated Broad/Woakes saw Aussie down to 122-8 and then lack of options, poor captaincy and brilliant batting saw Aussie get back into it. Day 3 also swung when England’s much-vaunted middle-order sloggers failed to deliver and it was left to Broad and Woakes to scrape together a lead. Finally on Day 5, onlookers were astounded when a batting unit that has collapsed repeatedly…erm…collapsed.

 

Alex – Two key moments for England were Jimmy Anderson’s injury and Ben Stokes’ first innings dismissal. To lose your bowling talisman and still one of the best seam bowlers after they bowled four overs is huge. He probably would have finished Australia off earlier in the first innings and challenged them more early in the second.

As for Ben Stokes’ dismissal in the first innings. He had just reached 50 and he and Burns had the game in their hands and then he edges a cut and then Bairstow and Ali are exposed and potentially a 100+ run lead is gone and perhaps more pressure on the Australian top order and Smith.

Overall, England had the game in their hands twice only to have it taken away superbly by Smith twice. Given the circumstances with Anderson that is probably to their credit but they needed the remaining ten players to all step up and two or three of the rest just didn’t get going at all.

 

MM – As soon as Siddle got to 40 I thought ‘it’s 1993 again’. In my heart I didn’t think we’d get a lead, so I was surprised by that. But I never doubted we’d struggle in the fourth innings. Like you said, draws are a dead entity.

I was very angry about Anderson’s injury. Whether it never healed, has reoccurred, or is a fresh injury, surely someone has to play a competitive match prior to a Test. That’s gotta become a necessity henceforth.

 

Growltiger – The match was always likely to end with a rearguard action on the fifth day, given the pitch.  This was dry, slow, with a bit of variation in bounce to be expected with wear.  So the toss was important, and Australia won it.   Selection was also important, although mainly negatively;  England decided to play Anderson, who broke down after bowling four overs. They also dropped Leach while retaining Moeen Ali  as their main spinner.  On the fourth day, this selection looked extremely ill-advised, as Ali bowled without control and without threat. As a result of the Anderson selection, they were down to four bowlers,  the same number as Australia had chosen to go with, but on the fourth morning this appeared to be an overestimate, as Woakes  did not bowl, although officially uninjured.   Other poor selections (as seen from before the start) were Denly, Bairstow and (arguably) Buttler.

 

Surprisingly,  England started well, reducing Australia to 120 for 8 before the wicket flattened out on the first afternoon.  Broad and Woakes bowled well  (and, in the case of Broad, significantly faster than against Ireland at Lord’s).  However, once the underlying character of the wicket had emerged, gritty batsmanship got decent rewards on both sides, including the Australian tail in their first innings, and the underrated but eccentric Rory Burns in England’s.  Burns succeeded in batting from the end of the first evening well into the morning of the third day,  an innings of unusual durability compared with recent England openers, and some character.  It was, though, not entirely a surprise when a promising and careful start to the innings translated into a lead of less than 100, even after some pleasing runs from the tail.  Not for the first time, the fabled England middle order delivered very little, and did it very unimpressively.

 

Even at this stage, it seemed likely that the lead was insufficient to compensate England for having to bat on the fifth day pitch.   Smith’s second 140 of the match made it morally certain that this would be the case, enabling Australia to declare seven wickets down and setting a massively impregnable target.  With runs to bowl at, Paine (in the field a sort of sock-puppet for Smith) was able to set attacking fields and allow Lyon to bowl for the inside edge.  There were, in fact, no turning points in the England innings, except, possibly, for the very short bouncer that failed to rise and cramped Burns for room, thus taking the first wicket.  Roy was berated for launching himself at Lyon, but this was not a pivotal moment; getting himself dismissed playing an ambitious shot was predictable, although the fact that Roy had batted longer than any of the rest was not (and not much noticed by the press).

 

 

The Bogfather

Our one-day wonders wandered into a wonderland at tea on day one…
Before being cast asunder by the Smith from down-under, twice bar none…
Our batting a mess, few balls to caress, game-plan undressed, sans Anderson…
Mo’ was plundered, his Spedegue’d myth a blunder, Roy swung for fun.

Dmitri – Letting Australia get 280, or whatever, when they were 122 for 8 was the big moment, and utlimately kept Australia in the game. Chasing down anything near 200 was always going to be a challenge, so when England’s 260 for 4 became 320 for 8, the writing was on the wall. This isn’t a test match batting line-up, it’s a mad scientist’s experiment. Sure, losing Anderson was massive, but let’s not just assume Jimmy has to turn up and wickets are bound to fall. I also suspect, for the series, letting bang average players like Matthew Wade make runs is going to be soul destroying.

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Question 2 – Jason Roy has copped a lot of stick for being Jason Roy. Your views on the selection of opener, and what would you do for this, and the next few tests?

 

Gareth – For my money he shouldn’t have been picked as an opener in the first place, so it’s harsh to throw too much shade his way, daft though his dismissal was. They’ve put too much stock in him in now for him to be discarded so soon, and as he has never batted for two sessions in his FC career (stat from BBC) he is very much learning on the job. I don’t see his short-term future being as an opener, nor his medium-term future involving red-ball cricket. I wonder if this selection, more than any other, becomes the one that will define Ed Smith’s approach to selection.

 

Alex – It would not be where I pick him, but I understand why they have gone for it. They clearly don’t feel there is another opener out there ready for the step up now, particularly as its now the middle of T20 season and think it is better to pick someone who could turn one or two sessions in the series in their favour.

I think he is probably better at 4 or 5 if he has a long term Test future but wouldn’t be surprised if he finishes the series as an opener and then they re-evaluate over winter.

 

MM – I ain’t a Surrey fan so I know little about him. I understand he’s not a red ball player recently? But I love watching him in limited overs. If Jos Butler gets to play in Tests then Roy shouldn’t really be denied. I think he’d be better off down the order.  Probably in Butler’s spot to be honest.

 

Growltiger – The elevation of Roy to the Test team was bound to happen at some point, and his role in winning the World Cup dictated that it would be now.  He is a fine player, with devastating power of attack.  In white ball cricket,  where the ball doesn’t move and the fields are defensive, his contribution has probably been maximised by getting him to open.  The partnership with Bairstow has been a remarkable success – the heaviest scoring and fastest opening partnership in the history of ODIs.    But it was always a leap of logic to view him as any sort of solution to England’s post-Strauss opening vacuum (Burns now being, at least for the present, our solution to the post-Cook vacuum). Unfortunately for Roy,  the selector saw that there was a gap and decided that it gave him an opportunity to play Roy. Roy worked hard on his defence to the quicks in this game, but hasn’t the soft hands or the compactness for this to be a rewarding use of his talent.  He deserves some sort of run in the team, and perhaps can be retained if Buttler or Bairstow or Denly are not.   But we need to find another actual opener to partner Burns.  None of those already tried merit another look, including Denly.  Perhaps Dominic Sibley has done enough, as a red-ball opener who plays long innings regularly, to be given a look at the post-Strauss slot.

 

The Bogfather

Let’s get Ed funky
Find another opening flunky
While wearing the coolest of shades
Our white ball heroes
May swing and get zero
Or a ton, so let the blades
Of Roy and YJB flow
(there’s worse ideas, I know…)

 

Dmitri – Rod Marsh once assessed Scott Newman on an England A tour. It is reported he said “you won’t be an international player while there’s a hole in your arse”. While Jason Roy is no Scott Newman, obviously, he’s a man with a thin first class record. To stick him in as an opener and hoping he’s Sehwag or Warner is not the move of a thinking Chairman of Selectors, but, frankly, a chancer. Because he played a dicey shot to get out in the second dig is neither here nor there, he’s not a test match opener. Sure, he’ll have the talent to make a score one day, but he’s not a test match opener. Just in case you are in any doubt where I stand, Ed Smith is a fucking chancer, and Jason Roy is being messed about because he’s not a test match opener. You might as well stick Jos Buttler there. How about playing an opener that was in form a month ago when we had county games on – like Sibley. It’s checking the averages and picking a player, but it makes more sense than the up himself imbecile currently pretending to have a strategy about selection.

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Question 3 – Nathan Lyon was very very good on the fifth day. Great skill, or bad play?

 

Gareth – Combination of both. I have two Aussie buddies who are perpetually amused at how England always play Lyon like he is bowling grenades, but that ties in to just how poor English batsmen are at playing spin. It’s either poke around in defence, or charge down the wicket and take absurd risks. Who is the best English player of spin? It’s not beyond the realms of common sense to say the man batting at number nine looks better than most. Lyon has a significant edge over both Jos Buttler (in 2015) and Moeen Ali (in this life and the next).

 

Alex – Hard to be too critical in the circumstances. Yes Roy’s dismissal was bad but otherwise on that pitch on the final day Lyon was always going to be a handful. Damage was really done on Day 4.

 

MMHe’s an international spinner on a wicket that helps spin. He’s pretty much just doing his job. You’ve got to bowl well nonetheless, and he did so. That doesn’t excuse a capitulation, and it was a capitulation. As was the first innings, in part. So, to answer the question, I’d go 50:50… I think!

 

Growltiger – [Nathan Lyon] …is a decent international spinner, but no genius.  The truth is that he is pretty good at putting the ball on his chosen spot, and spins it enough (although not a lot).  The tendency to overspin gives  him dip rather than drift,  so on slow wickets he can be played off the pitch.  I doubt if he would have got Smith in either innings of this match, even if he bowled 100 overs.  Unlike Moeen, though, as the pitch got older he did what it said on the tin.  It was decent bowling, making decent use of the predicted conditions.  It wasn’t great batting, but mostly not completely incompetent either.   If Australia had lost the toss, Lyon would not have appeared in the role of match-winner, although he would surely have done better than Moeen in the third innings.

 

The Bogfather

We played into the Lyon’s den
Let him settle, Roy swung, and then
The rest of our mix of goldfish and gazelles
Decided to be divided as their wickets fell
Rather than apply their minds, were divest within
They fell farther into blindness at his best spin

 

Dmitri – Nathan Lyon was talked up and talked up. As I pointed out, he wasn’t exactly a proficient matchwinner, but he’s taken a stack of wickets. But sure as apples are little green apples, he rolled his arm over, got a few to turn, and our Frankenstein batting order shorted out, as if asked to translate Esperanto into Swahili. Lyon bowled well, but then we fell over in a heap to Roston Chase a few months ago, something the media don’t really seem to recall when bigging up someone for dismissing this line-up of Ed Smith’s follies.

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Question 4 – Steve Smith is being portrayed as a run-making machine. A product of his environment, as test match cricket diminishes in quality, or a freak of nature, who would have thrived in any era?

 

Gareth – Again, combination of both. I wonder as to whether he would have been afforded the opportunity in previous ages, and certainly if we go back to Boycs “uncovered pitches” heyday then I’m sure he would have struggled. That being said you just have to marvel at his application and appetite, whilst praying to whichever deity you hold dearest that he just bleeding nicks one.

 

Alex – He may have been less successful on uncovered pitches (like most) but if you look at his fundamentals, his hand eye co-ordination, temperament and technique then you have to say he probably would have succeeded in any era. That said, the pitch did negate much of England’s seam attack in the second innings and Moeen was no threat so perhaps some bigger tests lie ahead patticularly if Archer plays.

 

MM – Steve Smith was at Worcestershire a few years back. He weren’t much cop at all, from my admittedly-poor memory. Wasn’t he just a leg-spinning allrounder back then? He’s batting like Border, Waugh, and Ponting all rolled into one right now. So what is freakish to me is his transformation. Has he modified his approach at the crease or has he undergone some kind of mind-transferal? Jeebus. As a Worcestershire fan, I thought he was almost as duff an import as Shoaib Ahktar was, some years earlier, and Brett Lee’s brother years before that. I still can’t believe what he has since become. Can someone become a freak of nature, having been really rather average? If yes, then there’s hope for us all.

 

Growltiger – Steve Smith is not pretty,  but he is the most impressive run-maker  of the age.  He has now been doing this for so long, on so many different types of wicket, against very variety of attack,  that it is has to be accepted he is very difficult to get out.  Period. He would have given Bradman a run for his money, statistically (and it would be fascinating to even out all the environmental factors, mostly favouring the Don, I would guess; nobody bothered to save the fours in his day, for instance).   Smith’s judgement of length and angle is such that he never has any difficulty keeping the board ticking over.  Of course, he has statistical soft spots.  It would be sensible to get one or two left arm bowlers into the side, and also to favour swing against sheer pace (his stats degrade quite badly when there is movement, but pace means nothing to him).

 

The Bogfather –

He knows his game, his limitations too
He’s come through shame to become the glue
That can’t be erased by sanding sheets
His concentration and play is unique

Because he has the will and desire
To be the best, he’ll ever aspire
So in those days of vastly better attacks
He’d work out a way to improve what he’d lack
It’s not the quality, nor the way he plays
He’d probably thrive in most era’s anyway.

Dmitri – I so want him to be a product of his environment, so that the reason he makes all these runs is because the bowling is nonsense. I imagine what the great West Indian line-up would have done to him, wonder what Waqar and Wasim would have dealt with that dainty dancing in front of the stumps, wonder what Hadlee would have done with his brilliant late movement. But Smith is undeniably a freak. And he’s living inside our heads, rent free, and the media reinforce his invincibility so we’re talking about “if” we can get him out. He’s human, he’s fallible, and he will make mistakes, but he’s also damn good, and a cut above anything England can offer in this mad scientist’s LSD trip of a team.

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Question 5 – Your England team for the second test. Your changes and why?

 

Gareth – Ah. Well I just don’t know. People are clamouring for Sibley/Crawley but I haven’t watched either bat. I think Burns has pencilled himself in for the series (your mileage may vary on how much of a positive that is) and they are unlikely to dispense with Roy.
My theory on Denly is that he’s there because Ed cannot pick himself, and I imagine he will get another go. Buttler and Bairstow need runs but are both high-profile enough to avoid the axe for now. I would drop Bairstow and bring Foakes in but I believe he also has a niggle. I personally like Woakes and his record at Lords and a decent performance at Edgbaston should keep him in the side (I often wonder how he would fare if he dropped bowling and focussed on batting).
Archer will surely feature and I would drop Moeen for his own good at this point.

My team then:-

Burns
Roy
Root
Denly
Stokes
Buttler
Bairstow (wk)
Woakes
Archer
Leach
Broad

Really not a lot of excitement there!

Alex – No surprises and don’t think the batting order will fundamentally change and Leach for Ali and Archer for Anderson are probable. If I was being adventurous I would consider Curran for Denly with Stokes up to 4 as strengthens bowling without hugely weakening the batting but can’t see England going for it.

 

MM

 

  1. Sibley
  2. Burns
  3. Root
  4. Roy
  5. Bairstow
  6. Stokes
  7. Foakes
  8. Woakes
  9. Archer
  10. Broad
  11. Leech

 

Proper openers; Roy down the order to attack an (ideally) older ball; a real wicketkeeper to allow Bairstow to concentrate on batting alone; 3 players in the middle whose names rhyme (only joking); a frontline spinner. I’d be telling Bairstow he’s gotta knuckle down. This is Test cricket and he’s done enough of it now.

 

Growltiger – Some of the principles of my selection for the second Test have already been stated:   the balance of our attack at Edgbaston was wrong (four right arm medium pacers would have been better then three, but was not the right balance anyway);  our batting needs an overhaul;  we need a proper opener.  In addition to this, we are carrying a number of players who are being asked to perform roles for which they are not suited, or are deeply out of form.   On grounds of form, we need to drop Moeen (although he is one of my favourite recent England batsmen, and I say this with regret), but this gives us an opportunity to play a left arm spinner – Jack Leach – against Smith.  Bairstow is a hopeless wicket keeper, and seems incapable of batting in Tests nowadays with any sort of calmness or effect;  he should be dropped, with the gloves going to Foakes (if fit) or Buttler.   Denly was selected to open, and should possibly be given one more go at this, but otherwise should be dropped in favour of Sibley.  Roy can drop down to four or five (perhaps ideally coming in below Stokes).  If Foakes is fit,  I would drop Buttler, who seems generally quite ineffectual in Tests, thus making room for Curran, who brings left-arm swing, and is generally someone who ought to be in the side on guts.  Archer comes in for Anderson, so long as his outing for Sussex 2nds hasn’t sprung another injury. Broad and Woakes stay in the team (subject to Woakes actually being fit, otherwise Stone).   So my line-up,  which will not be the one selected by Ed Smith,  is:

Burns, Sibley, Root, Stokes, Roy, Foakes, Curran, Archer, Woakes, Broad, Leach.

Frankly,  I don’t see Root as any kind of captain, but the drama and tears of that can wait until the Ashes have been lost.

The Bogfather –

 

My team in batting order, and if they must continue to flirt
Is this list of ECB/Sky/MSM, with 1 to 11 on their shirts

 

  1. Empty Suit – let him feel the heat of the boos
  2. Andrew Strauss – for his personal trust abuse
  3. Shiny Toy – Once a Captain, now just crap refrains
  4. Joe Root – because he wants and should bat four again
  5. Paul Newman – for his agenda so often bitter
  6. Ben Stokes – our fiery street-fighting hitter
  7. Jos Buttler – to compose and swing our late order song
  8. Lovejoy – banter for those who wing it in a thong
  9. Jofra Archer – our killer of 2nd XI bowlers and batters
  10. Barmy Army – trumpets, dire songs and mad hatters
  11. Stuart Broad – for comedic appeals and being Aggers mate
  12. Selfey – the loneliest ex-swinger in town…that must grate?
  13. Giles Clarke – let him run out with towels, bats and gloves
    …then field at short leg and feel a hard ball in his, with all our love…

 

Dmitri – This utter buffoon allowed to indulge his whims as England selectorial genius – he is just ask him – has got us into a position where there are so many problems, I don’t know where to start. I will hate any team I pick because it is a product of the environment we are in now – a god awful mess, made by a moron, who listens too much to pundits and their hobby horses, and his own voice inside, probably from the classical era. Anyway, if you struggle for a three, pick an opener. Two of them might work. So in the absence of evidence and thought, let me do just as crap a job as the charlatan with the shades, and come up with this.

 

Burns, Sibley, Roy, Root, Stokes, Buttler, Foakes (Bairstow needs to sit), Woakes, Archer, Leach, Broad.

 

Denly’s possession of the number four slot should be enough to get the stripey-tied fop sacked without a moment’s thought, but in looking at this team, I think Root needs to play where he feels comfortable. Roy at three is a compromise. Buttler at six is borrowed time. Sam isn’t quite good enough at either discipline to merit a place. I would think Northeast should be the next cab on the rank, but they’ll go some other way, no doubt. Crawley looked half decent when I saw him. Foakes is the best keeper to replace Bairstow who needs to sit. The rest are on borrowed time.

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OK. That’s the first Ashes Panel of the summer. If you want to have a go, please let any of us know. It will be a quick turnaround between Lord’s and Headingley, so you will need to answer the questions we set within 24 hours or so, because it is a horror to format this! (I had the responses in all pretty colours from Word, and it’s not bloody worked). But once again, many thanks to all who contributed. Sean will be doing a test preview tomorrow, so we are back in the saddle for more content.

I’m not content, but then I never am. Ed Smith out. FICJAM, Foxtrot Oscar.

Number of times the camera pans to Ed Smith in the crowd over the 2nd Test? 20 if there are four days.

Nurse! I need a lie down.

32 thoughts on “The Ashes Panel – 1st Test Aftermath

  1. nonoxcol Aug 12, 2019 / 9:14 pm

    When FICJAM gets you down, always remember.

    It could have been Selvey. Or Pringle.

    Newell didn’t go to Cambridge so he never stood a chance.

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus Aug 13, 2019 / 11:13 am

      Maybe, but part of me would have tolerated Muppet Pringle over FICJAM. But that’s rather like being asked whether you’d prefer to spend 10 minutes with Tim Lovejoy or Graeme Swann.

      Like

      • Northern Light Aug 13, 2019 / 11:40 am

        I wouldn’t need ten minutes. Five would do. So long as I had some gloves….

        Like

  2. growltiger Aug 12, 2019 / 9:35 pm

    Thanks Dmitri for your generous hospitality! I seem to have spread myself rather, but I guess space is free, in blogland. I agree entirely with your views on the Selectorial Genius. Enough said. .

    Like

  3. man in a barrel Aug 12, 2019 / 10:13 pm

    Basically we have no idea what a good England team looks like! It is an astonishing or horrifying thing, depending on viewpoint. Growing up in the 70s, you wondered whether Boycott, Edrich, Luckhurst or Amiss would open, and then David Lloyd comes in and scores 214 against India. Those were the days. 1973 was tough. I recall Boycott dancing down the wicket to Hedley Howarth and getting caught and bowled. You’d never get that from his commentary. Who even remembers the extraordinary batting of Amiss in 1973-74? Mostly against top notch bowling. I find it very hard to think of a single player in the current team to get into the team for the second ashes test of 1972. Not a single one

    Like

  4. Mark Aug 12, 2019 / 10:51 pm

    There is a part of me that sympathises with whoever the chief selector is because we simply don’t have the quality of Test match players. Years of telling us that you can have endless white ball cricket while at the same time claiming …. “we still take test cricket very seriously”…..has I think finally reached our Waterloo. But Smith is a dreamer, and a flake so I have zero sympathy for him. Crackpot theories are for teams with magic talent, and geniuses.

    We still have players who in their day can shine and do amazing things. But as a team and squad we lack constituency & in the last five years at home we have relied heavily on Anderson.

    The much maligned 1990s team seems almost 1948 Australians compared to England 2019 vintage.

    Would you feel a little better if we had Atherton, Stewart, Butcher, Thorpe, Nasser, Hick, Crawley to choose from?

    I would back them to make bigger scores than the current lot. Our only hope is the standard of Test cricket world wide is so ropey that the Aussies are just as likely to fall in a heap.

    Like

    • nonoxcol Aug 13, 2019 / 5:56 am

      Pet BTL hates I don’t think I’ve mentioned before:

      People who judge Atherton purely on his average without accounting for the standard of fast bowling he faced.

      Like

      • Rohan Aug 13, 2019 / 8:07 am

        Exactly! He opened against Waqar, Wasim, Donald, Ambrose, Walsh to name just a few. Look up their bowling averages and wickets taken and then judged Atherton!

        Like

        • nonoxcol Aug 13, 2019 / 9:07 am

          Also, he was averaging 42 before McGrath turned up in 1997, and still a smidgeon over 40 before the 98/99 Ashes series. The 2000 series v WI was a bowlers’ nirvana and he topped the England averages with 34.5. His last hundred was a crucial one in Pakistan, then his back got the better of him (top score 57 in his last ten Tests, average down from 39.21 to 37.69, which is a big drop when you’ve played that many innings).

          He’d have been invaluable post-Strauss. I think (if for) he could have averaged close to 45.

          Like

          • nonoxcol Aug 13, 2019 / 9:08 am

            Bit in brackets: should read “if fit”.

            Like

      • Mark Aug 13, 2019 / 11:38 am

        As I say many of the 1990s players are I think much maligned. The quality of the opposition bowlers was not factored in at the time. With the benefit of hindsight many of those players performed well against very thought bolwing attacks. Also, they operated in a era of no central contracts. Often playing too many games. Although that may have also been a advantage seeing how today players play virtually no County cricket because there isn’t any at the time of the test matches.

        They certainly would have made a better effort of batting the final day at Birmingham.

        I also think it makes an utter nonsense of Cook’s claim a few years ago that Test match quality was as good as its ever been.

        Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus Aug 13, 2019 / 11:11 am

      There is no part of me that sypmathises with a bloke who has made his stock in trade being “more clever than your average type” and was allowed to remain in situ as a reporter/commentator after he blatantly plagiarised, just employing the age-old tactic of keeping your head down, ignoring it, and people will move on to something else, and then be given a wonderful position he was hardly qualified for. The zenith may well have been a series in Sri Lanka where he went with received wisdom, but since then he’s back to his “considerably more intelligent than you” ways, picking and keeping Denly, not figuring out that Buttler can’t justify his place as a batsman alone, that Bairstow can’t be made angry, that Root does what he’s told, that Roy is not an opener. This is now a team put together by the philosophers and classicists in his brain, telling him he is a genius and we just don’t understand. While Bayliss is serving out his notice, the ECB are too busy bigging themselves up over the World Cup, and too ego-driven on their precious Hundred to actually care about this impostor and his fairly risible sidekick.

      Like

      • Mark Aug 13, 2019 / 12:06 pm

        I’m not very good on my classics so I can’t think off the top of my head of Greek or Roman philosophers who were “ too clever by half.” I’m sure there must have been some. And he probably knows them all.

        I think this is selection by laboratory. Men in white coats. Test tubes of bubbling green liquid and blackboards with weird equations and formulas trying to create nirvana.

        This maybe Smith in one of his Test selection meetings trying to create his winning formulas…………

        Like

  5. dlpthomas Aug 13, 2019 / 10:13 am

    Hazelwood for Pattinson is the rumour in Australia.

    Like

  6. Deep Purple Fred Aug 13, 2019 / 11:17 am

    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/sport/cricket/lords-undisputed-as-best-in-the-world/news-story/051bfa84c5f40abffb10c8d72c98b2f2

    “Before the first Test I told the English media there were 15 more intimidating venues than Edgbaston. It was basically an attempt to deflect what was coming, we knew what was coming and we knew that ground was famous for it.”

    Hmm…not sure Tim thought that one through fully.

    Also, other comments confirm the theory that giving lots of shit to them may well be counterproductive.

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus Aug 13, 2019 / 11:27 am

      Subscription only link for me, Fred.

      Lord’s is not the best test venue in the world, in my view. I would argue it isn’t even the best in its city, but I have been accused of bias on that one.

      If you get off in playing in front of foppish tossers, from a private members club, clearly lacking mirrors in their house given their attire, a pompous, snoooty, class-riven, sexist institution, despite reform, loved more by those who want to be in it, than those, obviously, who would rather storm the citadel, then so be it. I thought that would have been rather un-Australian. Maybe they love sticking it to the caricature that is the English cricket world represented by a crap tie and the freedom to let loose champagne corks. Pip Pip. That this institution is treated with reverence is beyond me. The same people who criticise the exclusivity of Augusta go weak at the knees at Lord’s and Wimbledon. It’s hilarious.

      Give me a day at Adelaide Oval or Newlands any day of the week.

      Like

    • Deep Purple Fred Aug 13, 2019 / 12:06 pm

      That link is behind a paywall for me too. Strange, maybe because I got there through a link in a tweet (which I now can’t find). I understand sometimes tweets avoid paywalls.
      I think you’re right; along with the history, “home of cricket” narrative, there’s also the aspect of visiting the home of the archetypal Pom, or one version at least. You won’t find anything like it in Australia. I quite enjoyed being there, but that was because it’s famous and unique, not inherently good. But at least they ban the barmy army trumpeter.

      A surprising number of Australians also like the Royals, and Buckingham Palace is a must-see, because that’s England (or one version).

      He did note how the sandpaper three channeled the abuse into positive energy, and it turned out to be a net positive for the team. Warner even requested to be released from slips to field on the boundary, to incite the crowd further just by standing there.

      Like

  7. LordCanisLupus Aug 13, 2019 / 11:40 am

    Dragging the KP and Swann stuff up here for another round.

    As I said before, I can’t watch on demand, but Sky don’t grant that thrill to subscribers through other portals – well certainly not on Virgin.

    Swann has always been one of those guys to rub me the wrong way, but guess what. When he’s taking wickets for England, or adding on a useful number of runs down the order, I put those feelings aside. I did that with all players I didn’t particularly like, because it was/is England. I hated Beckham, but cheered when he did well for England, even when it was becoming evident that he was the real power.

    I laugh now at the re-opening of the schism, and Swann treading as adroitly as he drove the night the cat got trapped under the floorboards. The problem with Swann is that the man who finds him the most amusing is himself, and there’s a chasm the size of the Grand Canyon between first and second place. So I’ve not seen the claims that “we got him out” yet, but would touch it with a large grain of NaCl.

    The thing it seems to have done is not revisit 2013-14, but more 2012. The same myths about textgate are rumbling on, and the fact that KP initially liked the genius account is used against him, when, at the end, it was a prima facie case of bullying as you could see IF the dressing room were involved. The nonsense is that KP, being a real man, a man’s man, an arrogant man, can’t be bullied – surely. Reading his book. and yes, you need to take it for the truth, he is clearly being bullied but can’t admit it out loud (read the part about him being dropped for an ODI series the year before).

    What it has shown is KP hasn’t forgiven, and nor have his antagonists. There has been some rapprochement from the KPistas, but hell if we’ve seen any movement back the other way. It’s still textgate, fallen out with all his team-mates, greedy, no love for England etc etc.

    As Root’s average falls to KP’s, we may actually understand how good he was. I don’t need to be reminded. I never have. Swann would have denied us Mumbai 2012 with his attitude, so ask this – who really had England’s best interests at heart?

    Liked by 1 person

    • nonoxcol Aug 13, 2019 / 12:00 pm

      I’ve always (privately) acknowledged that one of the biases I bring to this is that I was (cleverly, insidiously) bullied by a work colleague shortly before my breakdown. And I’m not a man’s man type. However I have certain physical and personal qualities that got me noticed, and have no doubt that this person is exactly the sort who enjoyed my downfall. I have found that, if I hide my light under a bushel (which is most of my life, sadly) I get patronised and taken for granted; if I let it shine fully I get tall poppy syndrome.

      All of which is to lead me to the same conclusion I drew in 2012. Human beings are complex creatures and there is no way on earth I’m buying that one man’s ego was so much bigger and ill-fitting than everyone else’s that he needed bringing down. I wouldn’t buy it in a blue chip corporate environment and I certainly don’t buy it in elite professional sport.

      I don’t forgive my antagonist either, and it’s 14 years ago.

      Like

      • LordCanisLupus Aug 13, 2019 / 5:07 pm

        It’s just too easy to say KP got greedy, got denied an IPL place, had a sulk, and then texted his mates about it, and not look at the possibility that the KP Genius account wasn’t appropriate either. I remember Swann saying if he was behind it it would have been funnier. Well, that’s appropriate bantz if ever I saw it. We’ll never know, but there is still a large school of thought out there that because KP shunned them when asking for an autograph, he’s obviously horrific in a team environment. It’s amused me that Sky have opened up this wound again – all for hits – but I for one can’t wait for the textgate episode, especially Strauss with the “sad face in local newspaper” face.

        However, I think that episode might be the one while I am in NYC, so may have to wait even longer for it.

        I still have this nagging suspicion that Swann did not take to KP because the latter did not laugh at the former’s “jokes”.

        Like

    • Mark Aug 13, 2019 / 3:06 pm

      It’s interesting that all these KP retrospectives focus in on 2012. That is the moment the cricket establishment believe his greatest crime was committed, namely text gate. And history is written by the winners. However, the real story begins when the ECB sacked KP as captain and Peter Moores as coach, and the blue eyed boys of English cricket, Strauss and Flower suspiciously became both captain and coach.

      That is the real story that has never been probably explained. If KPs criticism of Moore’s was so wrong why not just sack KP? But they sacked them both, (in effect, and not for the last time proving KP right), but being punished for protocol not substance) and set a course which would lead inevitably to what happened in my view.

      And when these two ECB servants stopped being captain and coach they both found nice lucrative jobs back at the ECB. Flower to this day is still involved with the development of young players. (I wonder if tells them they mustn’t go and play the IPL?) And Strauss is now being lauded as the man solely responsible for England’s World Cup success as he allowed players to go and play IPL. Oh the irony!!!! The same England management who made playing IPL cricket for KP almost impossible without giving up his ECB central contract, are now hailed as the visionaries for allowing future players to do all that KP wanted back ten years ago. Pass the vomit bucket.

      The hypocrisy is stunning. A man metaphorically pushed out of the dressing room, lampooned by team mates, and then they clutch their pearls when he texts a few old mates. How exactly is this different from players of yesteryear before mobile phones sitting in bar rooms with the opposition chewing the cud? Ex players detailing in their autobiographies how they talked with opponents long into the night while downing pint after pint of beer, bitching and whinging?

      “Ah yes” they say, but “KP told them how to get Strauss out.” Where is the evidence? No one has produced a shred of evidence. Why not do a piece on jealousy and envy. Players not wanted by the IPL were jealous of a man who could earn a fortune. And the media, full of bitter ex pros who earned nothing from the game were incandescent that one man could earn this type of money.

      England, comically sacked a man who had just topped the batting averages of a failed tour, and kept all the rest. Priceless!

      Like

      • Metatone Aug 13, 2019 / 4:20 pm

        Not to mention that in this era of video analysis and at that time in Strauss’ career it was perfectly bloody obvious to every team how to get him out.

        Like

        • dArthez Aug 14, 2019 / 5:20 am

          In the last few years of Strauss’ career, the only side that struggled to get him out was West Indies. The same West Indies that conceded a batting average of 542 against them to Adam Voges a few years later.

          Like

      • BobW Aug 14, 2019 / 10:32 am

        Absolutely right Mark. I too have always thought the problems stem back from his sacking as captain. A cock up if there ever was one. The ECB asked KP for his opinion, then sacked him for it? It’s like writing your own epitaph. The way the IPL business was handled was poor too. Pure jealousy on the part of the players and administrators. To be fair to KP, it is because of him that we are now seeing plenty of English players in the IPL.

        Like

  8. thebogfather Aug 13, 2019 / 12:56 pm

    Gareth, MM, Alex, GrowlTiger (and Dmitri 🙂 – some great thoughts and ideas in your panel replies, definitely more sense than ThePlagiarist, EmptySuit, ShinyToy, LoveJoy and BaylingOutLiss between them…. roll on panel 2!

    Like

  9. thebogfather Aug 13, 2019 / 1:47 pm

    …and a big thank you, really, deeply meant – to our host, without whom we’d all be lost.

    …and the best thing about this growing ECB omnishambles?

    There are signs, triggers, subtle hints…

    That his Lordship (Canis Lupus, not Selfey), is beginning to get back to his ‘long run’.
    …and for that alone, we are all truly blessed!

    Like

  10. metatone Aug 13, 2019 / 4:25 pm

    Great answers to the questions, covers most of my thoughts.

    One thing to add: it’s devilishly difficult to find stats on this, but I’m really having trouble remembering a team in a competitive series when they lost a key bowler (ie. one of a 4 man attack, or a new ball taker in a 5 man attack) who didn’t go on to lose the match. And it wasn’t always England…

    So, yes, ES made a number of selection howlers – Denly?!? Roy at opener?!? – but picking bowlers who aren’t fit for the match is in my mind a cardinal sin.

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus Aug 13, 2019 / 5:13 pm

      It’s mistake piled on mistake, and, importantly, it was taking a victory lap far too soon. The World Cup win can’t really be laid at Smith’s door, so the test team is the window into his soul.

      We are a team with, possibly, four or five number 6 batsmen. One of them is opening. One of them is at number five. The one at six is the prodigal son, and some will never turn. The one at seven should be batting three and not keeping. The one at eight in the last test, should be a five, but is told to be an 8. The one at 9 could probably do a job, but better to be two places too low than completely out of position. Meanwhile, our number 10/11 has a test best better than Mark Waugh’s. We also have a number 7 in the wings who can bowl left arm. The wicketkeeper is out of form, the captain wants to bat somewhere else, the opener who made a hundred had a wee bit of luck, but is now in for the time being, and the bowlers are being over-worked because the lead two are old. I had no problem Anderson being in the squad, but I wonder who stopped in the England hierarchy and thought about Anderson’s fitness? I find it tough to lay that at Smith’s door. More Bayliss and Root’s.

      Like

      • Mark Aug 13, 2019 / 5:36 pm

        I did suggest he was taking a rather early “lap of honour” at the end of last season. Butler came off with some runs, and he was hailed as a sectorial genius. Interviews, confetti thrown. I’m surprised he didn’t tour London in an open topped bus throwing laurels to the people.

        Maybe Archer will bowl out the Aussies, and Smith can once again claim credit. But England will still need to make the runs.

        Like

    • Deep Purple Fred Aug 13, 2019 / 9:59 pm

      I’m with Metatone on this one. When you lose a key bowler, and specifically when England loses Anderson, there’s no way back from that.
      I know you’ve pointed out previously that Eng was in good positions at points with Anderson already hors combat, and I see you’ve listed all the other mistakes England made. All true, and I accept England may still have lost with him, but I’m doubtful. The sides are very close, the impact of Anderson’s loss was not just his bowling, but also a senior leader absent. England has been hugely dependent on him over the last decade. Smith stood up, and no one could knock him over. Anderson might have.

      “And it wasn’t always England…” Yes, quite. Australia had good replacements for him, but they were replacements, not the real deal.

      England is on the brink of post-Anderson and post-Broad.

      Like

      • dArthez Aug 14, 2019 / 5:15 am

        There is a way back from that (South Africa lost Steyn, after they had posted 242 in Perth, 2016), Australia were then cruising at 166/1. Australia barely managed to eke out a lead. Even JP Duminy managed to score a ton in the innings …, and in the end Australia lost by a significant margin, despite just having to deal with Philander, Rabada, and Maharaj on debut)
        .
        But it requires more than having 2 guys with rather unthreatening bowling (certainly when conditions eased up), and more than 2 guys who know how to bat like a Test batsman. None of which were applicable to England in the last Test.

        Teams can cope with a bowler down, even a strike bowler down. But it really helps if the batsmen bat as batsmen, rather than wicket-dispensing machines like half the England side were doing last Test.

        Like

  11. BobW Aug 14, 2019 / 10:34 am

    Great writing by the way, really enjoyed the opinions. Much better than the stuff in the press by far.

    Like

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