Once Again, Cast Unto The Dark, To The Coldest Night, And The Misery’s Dawn

In case you are wondering, the song lyric above is from a cheerful ditty by Royksopp called “Woods of Desolation” from the album “The Inevitable End”. No prizes why that album title popped into my head. Because there was nothing more inevitable than England losing this test match overnight, dark and cold in the November early hours, and dawn bringing misery as I looked at the phone.* (See note at the end for a Dmitri Mess Up confession)

Well, misery for those that care enough. Judging by the reactions I’ve seen, the number that care are dwindling in number. There’s something to learn there, you know, ECB. When it comes to future series, you won’t even have the TMS diehards to wax lyrical, because that’s been flogged off for most overseas tours to Talk Sport. Yes, I know that’s not the ECB’s fault. It is pretty much the only thing about this debacle that isn’t. The alarms are going off, the word salad emanating from those in high office gets more irritating, and while Rome wasn’t built in a day, these are players getting paid more to produce less. It’s not lost on me. I hope it isn’t on you.

But it’s not new. It feels inevitable.

Stop me where you’ve heard this before. Inadequate first innings by England. Bowl themselves back into the game, then let the opposition off the hook and allow a relatively unheralded player to make their first test double / career best, sometimes accompanied by a lower order bat making a ton, and the bowling attack look toothless. Then, when faced with saving a game, falling apart at the seams at the first hint of pressure. This could have been any number of tests – the ingredients are there. Bridgetown, Antigua, Perth, Sydney, most of the last tour of India. It’s the same old same old. Jason Holder, Karun Nair, Mitchell Marsh – we’ve been here before.

A couple of years ago, and I don’t forget these things as you may notice, I once berated England winning a test match and was called out for it – at home against Pakistan. We could have done it better, I said. I was told that I was being too negative, and knew sod all. The crux of my criticism was that no-one makes big hundreds any more. While Jos Buttler making a flowery sixty was all well and good, the lack of big hundreds was frightening. How many scores of 150+ in the recent past? Bueller? Bueller? Where have been the first innings hundreds taking the game by the scruff of the neck? Where have been the massive innings on flat decks – because contrary to the opinions being expressed, there have been a number of flat decks. If we’re happy to potter along looking forward to winning matches on relative green tops at home, with a Dukes ball and an overcast sky, then great. If you want to be world number one, and these guys say they want to, then act like it.

Here England faced a flat deck and a bowling attack not quite on it first up. This is the new era. The Silverwood era. We were going to change from the apparent simple approach of Trevor Bayliss – he of the give it a red hot go mate, while I have a kip in the changing room – which was pretty much the simplistic message conveyed by our media about him when it came to tests. Bayliss was employed as the limited over cricket savant, limited savvy when the overs weren’t. The test job as an additional throw-in to keep him occupied when not planning the triumph of 2019.

But that’s changed now. Ashley said so. Now Chris Silverwood is in charge and we are going to play like test batsmen, give test cricket priority while the board tries to launch cricket’s version of El Dorado (look it up). No longer the give it large, give it high, devil-may-care approach of Bayliss. No. This is Yorkie world, and a price needs to be paid for your wicket. An opener being 75 not out at the end of a full day’s play would be lauded, not lambasted. A batsman making a 300 ball ton, not called Sir, would not be pilloried as dull, but heralded as a test batsman to relish. Long passages of play with little scoreboard movement will be recognised as proper test cricket, not aggressive, in your face play. Hell, even our feed was drinking the Kool Aid on Day 1, thinking this is something more like it. 241 for 4. Denly showing grit and determination. Stokes sticking at it. Burns and Sibley playing like proper openers. Love it. We’re in. This is TEST CRICKET, baby. It’s common sense. While at the back of my mind my thought was, couldn’t we have been 280 or 290 for 5? But it was better than 200 all out, or other worse initiations to recent series, so better to be on the safe side.

Then it went wrong. After a docile hour on Day 2, with Pope and Stokes starting to put the foot down, there looked minimum 400 and a bit more in the offing. But no, I shouldn’t have let those thoughts in my head. Leopards don’t change their spots. England collapse, more news later. Past performance is a useful guide to future results, and so the wheels came off.  That four wicket flop in the morning session on Day 2 ultimately cost England the match – we just didn’t know it then. While we were being told Ollie Pope is head and shoulders above anything else in county cricket, so was Mark Ramprakash! Ben Stokes looked imperious, until he didn’t. Sam Curran got nailed first up. Jofra made an application to bat at 11, not 9.

Shit shots, decent bowling, the rot infusing this scientific experiment of a cricket team as surely as if they’d been an old bark dowsed in stagnant water for days on end. This was a wicket for someone to go big. Really big. 91 is not really big. New Zealand bowled well, but not amazingly. England seemed to revert to their modus operandi of tours past, and posted 350. Hell, even yours truly tried to convince himself that 350 was an OK score that kept England in the game. I’m a fool.

As England took five wickets before the New Zealand score had reached 200 (with Taylor and Williamson out), and yet still managed to concede 600 runs, you have to ask why. It was a good pitch, but once again this bowling attack travels about as well as English wine. Make your own jokes. I saw some of this insipid performance, and at times it was hopeless. Commentators love a bit of this, and they went to town. While I don’t necessarily equate hands on hips, or crouching on kness as a pointer to not taking wickets (the New Zealand commentators can talk some real old toss at times, and they took turns to show fielders with hands on hips or crouching to prove the point), it is fair to say that Root’s captaincy is far more Cook-esque than Shiny Toy-esque and that’s not a compliment. It doesn’t have the showmanship or vivacity of others, and can look as thought the key word is drift. But that’s not all that alarms about Root’s captaincy. We’ll get on to his handling of Jofra later.

I’ve made a point of tracking Root the batsman’s average as he took over the captaincy. From an average comfortably in the 50s, and being a cut above any middle order bat in my cricket watching lifetime, he’s now just a couple of basis point ticks above Kevin Pietersen’s 47.27, which, as we recall didn’t make him a great player, just a player of great innings. It’s hard to remember Joe’s last great innings. I’ll take it back to Joburg 2015, and you can shout out any other (Cardiff 2015? Edgbaston 2015?). It’s also giving the lie to the nonsense of the conversion rates – sure I want to see big tons, but I also want to see Root make 70s and 80s if he isn’t. I don’t want to see him get out to crap shots, or worrying early technical lapses. He is so much better than that.

Around Root are bits and pieces, not quite good enough test batsmen. For all his verve and sense of occasions, Stokes still averages 36 in 58 tests. It’s not exactly stellar. Burns looks like the best of a duff opening bunch, what the US would call a AAAA player in baseball – too good for the minors, not good enough for the majors – while Sibley looked what he is, in my view – ungainly and bound to be found out by the good bowlers. Denly’s mental fortitude and sheer application is to be applauded, and rewarded. He should be the last of the top order to be dropped, but he’s not a long-term answer. Ollie Pope, sitting at six, is a talent, but he’s not going to get away with being loose at this level. Buttler hiding at seven is a waste, but then he’s not a test bat on his own merit, so not sure where he should be. 33.5 in 37 tests, with one century (in a losing cause, where hope there was none) isn’t anything to write home about, but makes you an almost automatic selection in this team. They are already talking about bringing Moeen Ali back for South Africa, as if the poor man hasn’t suffered enough.

The bowling was lack lustre. Broad was bowling within himself in the mid 70s most of the time. Archer was borderline accused of being a lazy child by Simon Doull in particular, an interesting, and not altogether wholesome opinion, for a man who bowled more overs than any of the other pace bowlers. He is supposed to be a shock bowler, not a stock bowler. It isn’t going to be any surprise in three years time when the 90mph spells will be the thing of joyous memory, and Archer will be bowling mid to low 80s, has had a stress fracture or a knee injury, and find his character further impugned. It’s the way we play, I’m afraid. Joe Root looks as well suited to handle him as I am to author the book “Looking on the Bright Side”.

Curran looked OK, but the experts think he bowls too slow, and they seem to like Woakes more, so there is that. I’m still convinced he’s a tweener – not a good enough bat, not a good enough bowler, but just about tempting enough to play. He does remind me of the early days of Ben Hollioake – the potential is so alluring. Jack Leach did little to convince he is the future runner through batting line-ups that his stats in county cricket indicate. This looked a light bowling attack and it proved so. I have no idea what they will do in Hamilton.

As always I concentrate too much on England and not on the excellent play of the hosts. My Kiwi colleague has been waiting to hear my views on the game, in the way I wanted to hear Charlton fans talk about their latest loss in their cup final to my team. To downplay the New Zealand performance would be wrong. It is always great to win from positions of difficulty and 197 for 5 chasing 350 required it. When needed Watling, de Grandhomme and Santner played magnificently, honing in their natural game (and in CdG’s and Santner’s case, giving the lie to the adaptability argument/defence we continually hear to excuse our performance) and then pounding home the advantage.

BJ Watling has been a bloody good cricketer over the years, sticking in there with his more heralded team-mates. It was he who accompanied McCullum for much of the time to get New Zealand’s first test triple hundred. He accompanied Kane Williamson in a partnership of 365 against Sri Lanka as well. He’s no stranger to batting long. Or batting well against England. His century in the Headingley test of 2015 was pivotal in the series levelling win. Here he had a game plan, stuck to it, made the most of being dropped, made England pay, and, by all accounts, kept wicket very tidily too. He’s no superstar like Jos, nor a firebrand like YJB. He just averages 40.8 in tests, and is rated as a good keeper. Our two average in the mid 30s, and aren’t being confused with the greats behind the wickets either. Sometimes, you need to doff your cap. Sometimes you have to ask who is overpaid, and who doesn’t get enough respect.

Mitchell Santner joined Watling for another mammoth partnership against England and all hope ebbed away. 600 out of 200 for 5. Vive la revolution. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Santner has that in him, he’s a dangerous limited over batsman. It was his first hundred in tests, and one suspects it might not be his last. The New Zealanders took England to school, and not enough lessons were learned. Our successful rearguards of lore are now in the distant rear view mirror.

I’ve not seen the highlights of England’s demise. Reading the tweets, the reports, the comments and some of the online clips is enough. It doesn’t need watching. Just as you’d seen all the Police Academy films when you’d seen the first one, so this tired old retread, with several different cast members isn’t really dragging you to watch it. Therein lies the rub. If we aren’t watching it, or bothered, then who should be? Would we really miss the Barmy Army and their self-serving rendition of Jerusalem? Would we miss the post-match comments about learning lessons, and good play being let down by bad? Would we miss Chris Silverwood talking about holistic approaches? Would we miss Mike Selvey having a go at this management-speak while in the past he’d given the Flower and Moores piffle a free pass?

On to Hamilton for the next test. You may remember around a decade ago us collapsing in a glorious heap in the fourth innings there. It happened to a team stacked with the players that would lead us to world domination. It can also happen, but a lot more frequently to a team stacked with also rans. Until proven otherwise, and in the absence of miracles baling us out (not a long-term plan), this team is a bunch of also rans, and no holistic paradigm shifts, no straight talking, no taking the positives, no learning of lessons can persuade me from the belief that this is a team, and a future, in almost terminal decline. I hope to heavens I am not wrong.

Which brings me to Joe Root as England captain. Accompanying his diminishing average, are dismissals a top batsman should not be encountering. He should not be giving it away to distracted strokes. He should be averaging over 50 and he isn’t. This is the criminal damage we are inflicting. He should not be bowling Archer as a workhorse, but as a man to bowl short, quick spells. He should not be the languid, almost invisible presence he portrays when he is in the field. I didn’t think we’d go back to the Cook style, but we are. It’s worrying. He shouldn’t have long to turn this around, but we live in the ECB world of TINA. His runs are more valuable than his leadership. There are no guarantees that relinquishing the captaincy will increase the output. It didn’t really with Cook. But the trend is alarming.

The second test starts on Thursday night, UK time. May optimism be on the agenda, and may we actually see an England player pass 150 sometime before this winter is out.

“The warmth of a thousand suns, drawn away
And fade before my eyes
The Inevitable End, I always knew would be
The truth you could always see.”

Could be the mantra for English cricket, and the first test at the Bay Oval.

* The funny thing is, I got confused. Royksopp has a great album called the Inevitable End, but these lyrics aren’t from that album. They are from a band called The Inevitable End and a song called Woods of Desolation. I’ve since listened to the song, and have no idea where these lyrics are in it. Oh well. You get the message.


41 thoughts on “Once Again, Cast Unto The Dark, To The Coldest Night, And The Misery’s Dawn

  1. growltiger Nov 25, 2019 / 6:55 pm

    In the Bayliss era, the reaction to a catastrophe like this Test would be to play the same eleven. In a previous age, it would be fairly typical at this point to drop Curran in favour of Woakes. If there were to be a selection change, now, there is a case for dropping Broad and playing Woakes; Broad delivering at speeds slower than Curran is not a match winner, exactly. However, what is actually needed is a resolution to the linked problems of Root’s lack of runs, the innocuous bowling of Archer, and the complete lack of mental activity in the field. Root is a blight as captain; needs replacing before he irreparably ruins Archer; and needs to recover something like the batting productivity of his pre-captaincy years. As you say, there is no guarantee that removing him from the captaincy will fix the other problems, but is not the less urgent for that.


    • growltiger Nov 25, 2019 / 6:59 pm

      By the way, Root’s dismissal in the second innings was a classic. Williamson bemused him with all those randomly placed men at silly mid-off, straight silly-mid-off, wide silly mid-off, then De Grandhomme set him up with the silliest slow bouncer you have ever seen, which got Root grinning like a lunatic. The next ball was the sucker ball, which he should never have gone near, but because it was within reach, he tried to play it into a part of the field without all those Monty Python fielders. Root is the sort of captain who doesn’t think of tricks like that, but falls for them as a batsman.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Mark Nov 25, 2019 / 7:47 pm

    The ECB have cleverly abolished any accountability for overseas tests for a while now. We have seen the same move sequels many times. Cricket in these foreign fields is played on flat decks with a Mickey Mouse ball with no seam. Not like the great old country with lovely fresh green grass, and a Grand olde Duke ball to seam round corners.

    A batting line up that only needs to whack a quick 300 is all that’s required at home. ENTERTAINMENT, ENTERTAINMENT, ENTERTAINMENT…That’s what the punters want.

    The team don’t need a captain in this dumbed down version at home, Bowlers don’t require funky field placings. In fact I’m surprised they haven’t worked out they could save a few quid by abolishing the whole concept of a captain. Pick a robot. Could you tell the difference between a machine and the last two captains?

    And then there is the money. The lovely loot that has been spent (wasted ) on this team. One of the most wealthiest of International cricket teams. What exactly do the cast of thousands back room staff do? Gawd knows.

    Look over there, the 16.4 will come to save us………..


  3. Metatone Nov 25, 2019 / 9:24 pm

    I’m glad you’re not giving the bowling a pass, because this is a pattern I’ve been complaining about since 2012.

    The batting though, the batting is worse.

    I started typing out the details, but it’s all so familiar, I have nothing to add.


  4. OscarDaBosca Nov 25, 2019 / 10:04 pm

    El dorado – Pilar, Pilar, you are my usband
    Made me smile to remember


    • Mark Nov 25, 2019 / 10:52 pm

      Any idea why Selvey is so intolerant to Silverwood? I have no bias for or against Silverwood, but if he pisses Selvey off so quickly then I am warming to the man.


  5. dlpthomas Nov 26, 2019 / 12:11 am

    I’d have taken the captaincy of Root at the end of the Ashes but that’s easy for me to say when I don’t have to pick his replacement.

    What amazes me about his handling of Archer (who, in only his 5th test, bowled more overs in an innings than Broad has ever done in over 100 tests) is that Root played in the 2103/14 Ashes and saw up close how Clarke handled Mitchell Johnson – short, sharp spells. I can’t believe that no one in that dressing room has said “Skip, we need to talk”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pontiac Nov 26, 2019 / 1:48 am

      They’ve been sowing the fields with salt ever since the very beginning with overbowling Archer. There has to be someone responsible who is not an idiot to get this to stop, because it is obvious for all to see.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. dlpthomas Nov 26, 2019 / 1:02 am

    As you say, New Zealand were excellent. I’d forgotten they were ranked number 2 in the world.

    One of the Kiwi commentators remarked that he was tired of people saying New Zealand punches above its weight as New Zealand is a cricketing nation. True dat.


    • metatone Nov 26, 2019 / 7:09 am

      When did we last have a player like Watling? I’m tempted to say Collingwood…


    • dannycricket Nov 26, 2019 / 7:47 am

      I think that is more about their population of just 4.8m people. That’s around half of the population of London, and yet they consistently produce teams which are frankly probably better than England’s.


    • LordCanisLupus Nov 26, 2019 / 11:11 am

      Redrafted. Actually not going to have a go at Liew, but give some things I thought could have been mentioned and my own observations.

      I was extremely perturbed by Simon Doull, supported by either McMillan or Richardson (I couldn’t tell), when commenting on Archer on Saturday night. It was as if he were a naughty little schoolboy, who only put it in when he felt like it, and immediately singled out as a wrong ‘un who needed discipline (something happened similar on the highlights when Archer misfielded, and the contrast with the attitude shown to Stokes when he dropped a catch was startling – no benefit of the doubt for some sloppy Archer fielding, but plenty of “he’s a great fielder, how did he drop that” for Stokes). He appeared a millimetre away from calling him “boy”. Doull is a fine commentator, and might have had a little point, but when said “lazy” player Archer bowled 45 overs of toil, not all at top pace, it sort of gives the lie to it? Liew was there so probably didn’t hear it, and I might be over-reacting, but it leaves me uncomfortable. As if black and Asian players have to prove their loyalty more than their colleagues.

      But most of all, and the one we call out on here, is how our Asian players are treated. The scandalous treatment of Rashid, of having his card marked, of questioning his motivation and loyalty as if he owes more because he’s Asian is sickening, has been sickening, and several prominent journalists, most notably a predecessor at the rag he is writing at, played their part in getting these messages out there.. I’m glad Eoin Morgan and Trevor Bayliss, and to be fair, Ed Smith too, did not give a stuff for those views and cared that he was a wicket taker. The treatment of Moeen, who just a couple of months ago was subject of a disgusting article in The Cricketer (along with Rashid) by Michael Henderson also speaks volumes.

      I’m not complacent. I have rarely, if ever, seen racism in crowds in England at cricket. The abuse an Indian fan singled out at Vikram Solanki once had me on edge. But if sledging gets racist, there should be no omerta, and Liew is right to call that out. It’s not just racism, but homophobia, which England have a good track record of having no truck with (Shannon Gabriel).

      Liew recounted a couple of odd examples, and some pertinent ones (the Darren Lehmann one in particular), said abuse is unforgiveable, both in its act at the time, and in perpetuity for the offender (I believe everyone deserves a second chance, if they have truly repented and made amends). He’s usually a damn sight more forthright than this.


      • dlpthomas Nov 26, 2019 / 11:30 am

        Jo Root in the press conference at the end of the game seemed to be saying that Archer doesn’t always give 100%. He qualified it by saying he is young and inexperienced but it was still a pretty shitty thing to say (and I don’t remember him calling out any other player by name.)

        I wonder if Root was expecting Archer to rip through New Zealand even with the kookaburra ball. Archer didn’t do it and now he gets criticized because England don’t have a Plan B


        • LordCanisLupus Nov 26, 2019 / 11:37 am

          Did he say that Stuart Broad, lopping them down in the mid-70s, was giving 100% all the time? It’s an incredibly shitty thing to say. If he had bowled at 90+ mph for 45 overs, he’d be well within his rights to tell the whole of this lot to do one, and play franchise cricket until he retires.

          When I saw him this summer, even when we were toiling, I saw enthusiasm, bounce, energy and a zest for the game. Didn’t take long for the weasel words, did it?

          Liked by 1 person

          • dlpthomas Nov 26, 2019 / 12:25 pm

            As multiple people have said about Archer over the last few days “they are going to break him”.


          • LordCanisLupus Nov 26, 2019 / 4:56 pm

            When he didn’t bowl at 90 in the Ashes, these same whispers were heard. Trust me. At the start of the Headingley test he was coming into that on the back of a firestorm at Lord’s and bowled twaddle. He came back later to run through the tail, but at the start he was nonsense. Then it was all about workload, attitude, etc.

            Archer is going to win us some games, not just every game. If we use him correctly. On that, they appear clueless.


          • dlpthomas Nov 27, 2019 / 11:01 am

            The Australian journalist Robert Craddock claimed that the stump mike picked up an English player saying “C’mon Joffra, its a test match”, the implication being that his team-mates did not think he was trying.


  7. metatone Nov 26, 2019 / 7:09 am

    Did anyone see enough play to have an informed opinion on Leach?


    • dannycricket Nov 26, 2019 / 7:44 am

      Nope. His figures look like he wasn’t especially economical though, which was supposed to be his major advantage over Ali and Rashid.

      Liked by 1 person

      • metatone Nov 26, 2019 / 9:58 am

        I never know what to make of Leach.
        His county record means he should be under consideration, but I don’t know if that reflects more about county batsmen than anything…


        • dlpthomas Nov 26, 2019 / 11:33 am

          Leach was tidy but didn’t get much spin / bounce. I reckon his home county pitches must turn square.


        • LordCanisLupus Nov 26, 2019 / 4:53 pm

          I think he is worth persisting with, and when the wickets suit I’d rather have a bowler used to taking wickets than one who has potential to. I am not saying he’s the answer by any means, given what we have seen, but I wonder how he would perform in the sub-continent? I’d want him over a Liam Dawson type, that’s for sure.

          The problem with spinners is the pressure of taking wickets on a turning pitch. They are often the only one of two, and the emphasis is on them. On a green top, you’ll often have four to do the damage.


  8. simpsonlong1 Nov 26, 2019 / 7:49 am

    OK I am going to say it 2014. KP.
    Don’t groan.
    Superstar arrives in the dressing room. Everyone delighted. Big impact. All over the newspapers.
    Superstar, inevitably, has a bad day or two. Fails to live up to initial hype. Mutterings in the dressing room. Jealousy. Then reports in the press he is “lazy” “doesn’t seem to be too bothered”

    Then the captain criticises him. In public.

    Substitute Archer for KP and we have the same scenario.

    And, sadly, as we had the spineless Cook who did nothing to try and sort the mess out and impose his authority, now we have Root, doing exactly the same thing. What kind of captain disses his team mates in public? root that is who.

    He has obviously learned his captaincy observing Cook. this means standing in the field looking gormless, with the odd clapping of hands and shout of Come on lads before relapsing back into a stupor. I suppose we should be grateful he does not pick his nose….

    Other blogs have said it and I have repeated it – Archer will get fed up with this crap and will leave Test cricket within a year.

    Root needs to be sacked as captain NOW. And don’t tell me he is a “young captain” and is “learning”. I have had it with all that bollocks.

    Liked by 2 people

    • LordCanisLupus Nov 26, 2019 / 9:16 am

      Selvey being fairly forthright.

      It does beg the question, why now? And was Cook an inspiring captain?

      My gob is smacked. The rules have changed.


      • simpsonlong1 Nov 26, 2019 / 12:26 pm

        Blimey he has changed his tune. Who is paying him these days?


        • LordCanisLupus Nov 26, 2019 / 5:02 pm

          It’s remarkable.

          I have to say I’m a bit surprised that there is a furore over the captaincy now, and not after Barbados, for example. The media seem to have an inkling and others are now piling in. There seem to be a number of articles on the subject as well. I know the media abhors a vacuum and needs something to fill a column, and Root’s decline and poor results away from home are now attracting attention.

          But for Selvey to wield this stick against Silverwood and Root, while ignoring it for Flower and Cook is remarkable indeed.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Mark Nov 26, 2019 / 5:49 pm

            The media are just back to where they were before Cook was made captain. . He was an aberration. His period as captain will go down as one of English cricket media’s lowest points.

            The fact they are now questioning Root just show their dereliction of duty during the Cook madness. In the 80s and 90s the media often disagreed about who should be England captain. It was only under Cook they all closed ranks and became Pravda for the ECB.


      • Mark Nov 26, 2019 / 3:48 pm

        There is absolutely no difference between Cook and Root’s captaincy style. Which is precisely why the ECB appointed Root after Cook. Right type of family, right school, and sponsor friendly. He had, like Cook little captaincy experience. He also has the benefit of TINA. Just like Cook!

        The question is why is Selvey such a fucking hypocrite? Why did Cook get a free ride, along with the coach and Root and Silverwood doesn’t?

        All this does is reveal how rotten a journalist he was during that period at the end of the Cook era. The Guardian should have fired him years before. A lot of the shit that went down after 2014 is slowly being exposed. Certain sections of the media were nothing more than senior management echo chambers.

        This site was right all along. The haters can do one!


        • LordCanisLupus Nov 26, 2019 / 5:48 pm


          As we all know, or should do, KP’s sacking was not about KP per se, it was about power. The power to end a man’s international career to protect another’s. The power to impose their own set of ethics on a team they are custodians, not owners of. The power to show those that follow that if you are a good little boy or girl, play the game, don’t threaten to upset the applecart, and certainly not go on about making yourself wealthy before your time, then you will be treated well. One thing that gets me about the KP Genius show on Sky is Vaughan saying he wouldn’t have sacked KP over Australia, he’d have been out before then for the texting issue. Vaughan, apparently, knows what is in those texts to be so trenchant in his criticism (or else he’s believing comments from outsiders). It’s all encompassing. KP was shown the door pour encourager les autres, and the press dutifully reported it as a one off, he was a wrong ‘un, he was unmanageable, his returns were diminishing and Cook needed to go on without him. They damned Cook as a weak leader. Nothing he did after proved that assessment wrong. Not even his “redemption” Ashes.

          I’m still bitter. It is still a massive scar on the game for me. KP may have been an arse, but he was our arse, and has been shown with this current crop, world class players don’t grow on trees, top quality batsmen aren’t easily replaced, and short-term pain can easily move into long-term pain if the game is run by idiots. But that said, Selvey getting the hump with Silverwood for using “holistic” (secret – I agree on hating using that word too) but giving all that management guff twaddle by Flower and Moores a free run is hilarious. Only he knows the motives.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Mark Nov 26, 2019 / 6:06 pm

            Yes I agree. The media backed Cook because they hated KP more. They elevated Cook to God like status to protect him. (Not their job) and in doing so they made fools of themselves. He was an awful captain protected by Anderson and Broad on green seamers.

            As to Shinny toy, I take everything he says with a large pinch of salt. He is quite likely to contradict himself a few weeks later.

            The fact the Sky show was called “KP genius” (a play on words of the fake twitter account run out of the England dressing room by friends of certain England players with many people having access to the password. (Something his wife had to explain to Agnew) shows the slant that show had.


      • Mark Nov 26, 2019 / 5:53 pm

        “old bowlers readily recognise such things”

        Shouldn’t old bowlers by and large pick their own fields, and know how to bowl without much input form the captain?


        • LordCanisLupus Nov 26, 2019 / 6:08 pm

          What he is saying is actually my case. Root was a top batsman before he became captain. He started off well, but the returns have declined. He has just gone a home summer without a test ton. He gets out in mysterious ways. It APPEARS as though the captaincy is weighing on him. BUT…

          He was captain of the side who won 3 out of 6 tests at home last summer, and won 3-0 in Sri Lanka, albeit against a poor side, last winter. He came unstuck in the West Indies, but we take that tour too lightly. Why NOW? When we lose to a good side away from home? Why NOW? Because of a massive partnership marked by insipid bowling and captaincy? Good grief, we’ve had enough of those over the years.

          A number of bloggers have hitched the car to this bandwagon and are rolling along. It’s a bit sad really. It’s also absolutely inevitable.


          • Mark Nov 26, 2019 / 6:55 pm

            The funny thing is he is just revealing what he should have been doing four years ago as a Guardian journalist. It was not his job to act as stenographer for the ECB management.

            If Old bowlers know so much perhaps we should make one of them captain.


      • Marek Nov 26, 2019 / 9:41 pm

        Get with the programme people! You can’t criticise Root’s captaincy before this match because the ECB wasn’t taking Tests seriously.

        Maybe I’m having a sense of humour failure, but that was one of the most breathtakingly arrogant–and stupid–things even the ECB have come out with recently (well, excepting anything said by Tom Harrison and Sanjay Patel, obviously!)

        Fans–who gives a fuck about ’em? I’m seriously unimpressed with the Director of Cricket telling me that the team have basically not been bothering in one format for quite a while.


      • nonoxcol Nov 26, 2019 / 9:58 pm

        It’s clear to me. Joe didn’t go to Bedford, married someone not called Alice and doesn’t do enough lambing.

        Liked by 1 person

        • dArthez Nov 27, 2019 / 6:39 pm

          You mean, he did not shoot Bambi.

          Liked by 1 person

  9. Rohan Nov 26, 2019 / 2:42 pm

    Mr Old this was a great read and sadly spot on. It may me sad with nostalgia for the game of test match cricket I grew up loving and devotedly watching into my 30s, when it all started to go wrong…..

    A poor winter performance in tests has already been covered by the insistence that Root and Silverwood are planning/focussing on the ashes, so that’s it we’ve been told not to expect any more than what England produced here 🙁


    • LordCanisLupus Nov 26, 2019 / 5:04 pm

      Many thanks Rohan.

      We are learning and building. Building to learn. Learning to build. It’s back to basics with real test cricket but being positive. It’s team pathways and ethos. Culture and message setting. All to peak for a massive defeat in Australia in a couple of year’s time.

      Job’s a good ‘un.


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