Rumbling

So many of you have picked up on the George Dobell / David Hopps piece on cricinfo. Paul Downton’s future appears in the balance. There are rumblings afoot. It comes as little surprise to me that if this meeting was meant to be held in secrecy that information has come out in advance. As it’s George we’ll call it good journalism.

I’m not going to be dancing any jigs, whooping that I told you so, or any of that. This catastrophe could have been written last year. The warning signs were going off all over the place. When, as an administrator, you are the story, and if you don’t have a “terrific year”, you are going to be in trouble. The ECB made their stance clear about this World Cup. It would present us with a great chance to do well, and from a long way out the decks were cleared. It was a disaster. Much was not in our gift, but a hell of a lot was.

This is a sad time for English cricket. It’s not the time for joy or crowing. It’s the bloody time to unite behind a team we can believe in, and with no petty administrative spats. I’ll only believe this is for real when Andy Flower’s shadow isn’t cast over the proceedings. We do have a lot to thank him for, but just like the presence of Ferguson loomed over Moyes, it isn’t doing anyone any good him remaining on site.

Pietersen has been the symptom, and now, finally, we might be coming to a more realistic diagnosis. We may have a very interesting time to watch this play out, but things look to be moving. Given this is the ECB, don’t expect them to do the expected.

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Reporting

Ah, with that off my chest, let us turn to the latest by Dmitri #1 George Dobell:

England have lost 16 of their last 21 ODIs against Full Members. The last four of those have been thrashings. In the last five-and-a-half World Cups they have won five and lost 17 matches against Full Member nations. They have not won an ODI series for a year; when Ashley Giles was coach, Stuart Broad was captain and Michael Lumb made a century on debut. They have dropped several chances in recent games, including Aaron Finch before he had scored in Melbourne and Lahiru Thirimanne on 2 in Wellington. Both went on to make centuries. Sunday’s result was not an aberration.

Root, of course, was in an impossible position.

Joe Root was put up as the interview person for the day or so after the loss to Sri Lanka. Many are questioning why Moores wasn’t fronting up. I made many of those same accusations in Sri Lanka (how he came out when we won a game, then didn’t speak until we’d lost the series) and was told I was being unfair. OK. But come on. Root was emotional after the game. This can’t be right, can it?

The man who, at 24, had just become England’s youngest World Cup centurion deserved a better fate than being wheeled out to explain the team’s latest calamity. The ECB might as well have thrown out a piece of meat.

I concur, George.. now to the pay-off.

But their logic was simple. They no longer trust some of those in management to defuse situations – Paul Downton was originally pencilled in to take this press conference and every time Colin Graves speaks he undermines his executive team – and they hoped that, by producing one of the few men who has performed well in recent days, they might distract attention from the wretched performance of England’s most senior cricketers in the field.

Well I never. That’s just so out of character. A trait we were mentioning, what, a week into his tenure?

That’s “guesswork”.

It was a desperate ploy. The ECB knew full well that a report leading with Joe Root’s century would be like leading a report into the sinking of Titanic by noting that the band played beautifully.

It’s why we like you George. You tell us things we don’t know, and you do it as if you are our eyes and ears.

2015 World Cup – Game 14 – England v Scotland

In just over an hour this crunch match for England commences. Given my need for sleep, I think I’m going to make about an hour and a half of it, whereupon I expect to top up the Lordly coffers with contributions to the old Christmas Fund Swear Box. It’s certainly had some replenishment over the last few days as those who told us all last year to quit flapping our gums over the departure of the evil Pietersen, and that all will be right with the new MD, fresh from JPM, and with BFIs, as well as the greatest coach of his generation (and will that clown ever live that down) all on the good ship Iron Rod with a core of steel.

They have to win this one, or the consequences are unthinkable for the hierarchy. Hell, they may even have to talk to the outside cricket plebs for once.

Feel free to comment below, read Maxie’s annoyance on TFT, or just listen to George Dobell’s podcast with Peter Miller one more time to actually convince the weapons grade cretins who think this is all about KP that we weren’t THAT serious about one man, but rather about the leadership and how it runs things. Why is Flower still, according to these sources, so influential when his methods resulted in a total implosion even our losers of the 1990s never quite managed (and they were up against much better teams).

OK. It’s England v Scotland in Christchurch. Have fun.

UPDATE – 75/0. Good start by Moeen, but Bell looks too cautious to me.

I’m getting royally fucked off (a quid for the swear box) by the “only care about the Ashes” mob. Many of this mob have also been the most vociferous when we are supposedly cheering against England, accusing us of all sorts. It’s needling me no end. While I appreciate this country needs something to focus on, and beating Australia is always nice, it should not be the only thing. I’m having Rugby Sevens thrown at me (indirectly) but ask the England World Cup winners in 2003’s rugby tournament, and many of them are most proud of winning in New Zealand a few months before that – not the World Cup. The sevens thing may have its world tournament, but the main format of the game does. Cricket doesn’t have a test championship, so this is its world event. If we go a distance in this, people will be interested all right.

Winning prefaces winning. The great teams don’t opt out of things. I believe these players desperately want to do well.

We have a real problem in this country in focusing on winning the big one every so often, instead of creating a culture of domination. Roger Federer won Wimbledon, won all the hard courts stuff, but desperately wanted to win the French. You don’t think not winning the French eats at Djokovic? They want a culture of dominance. We seem happy if we peak just to win a test match series against one team. I’m sorry, I’m not like that. Most great teams don’t have that mentality.

Killing Puritans

Ah yes. Always going to throw in an Armand van Helden reference where I can. If you thought not, well, you don’t even know me.

But the main reason for invoking the above album name is because of George Dobell. Those of you who have not listened to his podcast with Peter Miller, aka The Cricket Geek, should. End of. Those of you who think the “campaign” I’ve run here and on my previous incarnation, and that The Full Toss has been on too, is one based on bile and rancour need to listen to it. You have to. Choose not to believe George when he mentions when the ECB deliberately leaked misinformation on an individual, and instead believe Selfey with his “anal about leaks” comment. Choose not to believe George when he said that individual items on the dodgy dossier were leaked to journalists, and that when the full document became public property the ECB tried to sue, and instead believe the mainstream media who believe their work is good journalism rather than the beneficiary of crumbs from the table from above.

This podcast has so much to recommend it. Readers of the previous incarnation will not be surprised at my “bigging up” of George Dobell, and also Peter does a superb job of keeping the fires burning. The podcast leaves you wanting more, almost as if you’d just like to go down the pub with the bloke and get the lowdown as he sees it. There is definitely a “I know a lot of what is going on, but can’t tell you” but the fact is, he lets you know a lot more than the ECB line.

The podcast is also good on the current England set-up. From Dobell’s standpoint it is clear to him that Andy Flower remains a key influence in the England firmament. There is some even more damning stuff around the fall of the Flower Empire, which I’ve not seen or heard in such graphic detail, and the story arounf Boyd Rankin, for instance, really needs to be examined if he was told to play with what was a pretty bad shoulder injury. Flower seems to be the sort of bloke Downton is in awe of, and this is worrying. Dobell clearly initmates that it is Flower pulling many of the strings. Maybe, just maybe, we are getting some clarity on the KP exile that the ECB don’t want to admit.

I’ve got a bit of sympathy for the Moores stuff. As you know, I’m not one who wants to plunge the knife into him, but it is inescapable that this team set the 2015 World Cup as a goal, and the preparation was farcical, the late switch of plans a hint of indecision and the current performances are lamentable. Moores is going to be in the firing line, big time, if this doesn’t turn around. The narrative, set by a friendly media last summer, was that he had created a good environment, and that young talent was thriving under him. People ignored the dodgy start against Sri Lanka, leaped on the turnaround of the India series, and put the late season ODI collapse down to end of season blues. Moores had a friendly press after their initial scepticism.

Moores, as Dobell says, doesn’t do himself any favours in press conferences. He does always seem a decent bloke trying his best to me, and if that sounds slightly patronising it isn’t meant to be. Moores was handed a horrible bed of nails to lie on, and he’s starting to show the marks. The latest interviews seem to indicate that the plans are right but the execution is at fault. Fair enough, but the players look shit scared when they go out there. The problem, and I know it is extraordinarily simplistic, is that our lot go out there as if this is a job of work. Many of us who do jobs don’t love what we do, and hence we don’t perform to our best. Some respond to the threat of the Sword of Damocles, and others retrench and play it safe. How many of this lot actually look like they are enjoying playing the game out there? I felt a little bit of that once we turned it around against India, but it needs the team to grasp the nettle before we get into winning positions. Given what we’ve been told about the regime that ended in Australia last winter, it seems fun was well down the agenda. Was it really true that players were asked not to celebrate birthdays because it could disrupt the team? This is sport, not a war. It’s meant to be enjoyable, not a torture. I perform better when I’m enjoying it, not when it is a matter of fear. I have been told of players snapping at journalists for daring to suggest there may be alternatives to them in the team, as if some believe they have a right not to be questioned. They may be a likeable bunch, according to George, but that message isn’t getting through here.

There are so many nuggets in that podcast, that I urge you all to listen to it. So, before this evening’s entertainment, let me leave you with a quote from Nick Hoult’s article…

Michael Vaughan, Paul Collingwood, Cook and now Morgan all found run making difficult while Moores was the head coach. The only one who did not struggle was Pietersen, partly because his tenure was brief, and he probably did not listen to Moores anyway.

But, never forget, KP was the problem. The real problem. The thing that needed to be dealt with.

My thanks to Mr Miller and Mr Dobell. Do it again soon.

On other parish news, here is where a friend of mine has been recently and mailed to me today…

Galle