The Moores things change

So I picked a good few days at the end of last week to be snowed under…

Dmitri has highlighted a few things about the peculiarities of the ECB actions, and as the days go by it seems they have learned absolutely nothing.

Firstly the sacking of Moores has handled with a complete lack of respect.  Whether he should have been appointed for a second stint as England coach is one thing, but he was.  Dumping him after a year is an open admission they got it completely wrong, just as they did with Downton, though with fewer excuses given Moores had done the job before.  Naturally, there’s been no admission from the ECB of that, and naturally they managed to make a mess of it.

On Friday Moores took the England side to play Ireland in Dublin, and the morning papers were full of articles about his impending sacking.  The television coverage consisted of commentators openly talking about it while the camera focused on him.  Moores retained his dignity after his first period in office, refusing to criticise the ECB or complain about his treatment, indeed his conduct would have been part of the reason that they considered his return.  He deserved far better than the public humiliation of leading the team to Ireland and having his removal an item of discussion while the camera focused in on him, just as he deserved far better than being the subject of numerous press articles that morning.

Moores may not have been the right person to be England coach, but that doesn’t make it remotely acceptable for someone in the ECB to have briefed the press about it all before the official announcement.  The journalists are doing their jobs, there’s no criticism of them.  There is criticism of the ECB for failing to treat an employee with the respect due to them. One must hope that Moores had already been advised of what was to happen before then, because anything else goes off the scale of dreadful treatment.  It is to Moores’ immense credit if so that he still did his job that day.

The point here is that you don’t have to approve of Moores’ appointment or the job he was doing to be be aghast at his treatment.  This is a decent man doing his best for the England team.  Whether or not his best was good enough is entirely beside the point.  Treating people like commodities to be discarded without recourse to their feelings has been a pattern of behaviour within the ECB for quite some time, and it seems clear that nothing has changed.  Doubtless they will wonder what all the fuss is about; after all, the bilious inadequates weren’t happy about Moores’ appointment in the first place, so surely they got what they wanted and should pipe down and move on.  No.  Moores deserves an apology, and a public one.  It is unacceptable in the extreme to treat him with such contempt.

Of course, the appointment of Strauss has led to numerous articles about what this means for Kevin Pietersen.  Like others, it is intensely amusing to read the usual suspects who lament that Pietersen dares to be an issue write extensively about him while demanding that everyone else move on.   Like a dog returns to his vomit so fools repeat their folly.  But there is an important point here – if Pietersen is once again going to be told that he won’t be selected for England, then the ECB have told him lies.  He came back into county cricket because he was led to believe there was an outside chance of him winning back his place in the England side.  He gave up his IPL contract, and he donated his salary with Surrey to charity.  He would not have done so if told he could forget any possibility of selection.   Leave aside the practical matter of whether it is remotely sustainable should England have a poor summer, a restatement of his banishment is at odds with the indications they have given him.

Pietersen has a limited number of years left in the game.  Leading him up the garden path and messing around with the remainder of his career would be a spiteful, vindictive thing to do.

And this is where the treatment of Moores and the treatment of Pietersen coincide.  Not for the first time, the ECB have behaved with nothing but contempt for others.  The defenders of them try to argue that the dreadful disaffected people are the problem, and that nothing the ECB could ever do would satisfy them.  They can’t even treat their own employees or players with respect, it is hardly surprising that they don’t care about anyone else.

Let’s be abundantly clear.  The treatment of Moores was loathsome.  If they do what has been trailed in the press to Pietersen, that is repugnant.  There are no justifications, no weasel words that make it more palatable.  Simply an organisation that cannot even abide by standards of common decency towards other human beings.

@BlueEarthMngmnt

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Esperanto

Bilious Inadequates

Which one makes more sense to you?

The last year has been a period of transition and rebuilding in which Peter has nurtured new talent, developed new players and laid the foundations for the new coaching structure to build on.
“This decision has been made as we focus on the future and our need to build the right approach and deliver success over the next five years within a new performance structure.”

or this…

La lasta jaro estis periodo de transiro kaj rekonstruo en kiu Peter nutriĝas nova talento , evoluigis novajn ludantojn kaj fondis por la nova trejnisto strukturo por konstrui sur .
‘ Tiu decido estis farita kiel ni enfokusigi sur la estonteco kaj nia bezono por konstrui la dekstra alproksimiĝo kaj savos sukceson dum la venontaj kvin jaroj ene de nova agado strukturo .

Because it doesn’t make any sense to me. I weep when I see this sort of thing. The implication is that Moores has done a good job developing talent that they needed after the loss of the Ashes and the key players who walked, were injured/ill or just chucked out for reasons not explained, but now it needs to be left to the big boys, like Andrew, who knows best. The only way this could get better is if they re-appoint Andy Flower as coach.

More on all this later. It’s a lovely sunny day by the Shore and we have visitors coming so probably won’t be around much more today.

UPDATE – Vaughan’s piece in the Telegraph, if true, is astonishing – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/cricket/international/england/11594878/ECBs-handling-of-Peter-Moores-sacking-was-disgraceful.html

I had talks with the ECB about the director of cricket job the day after the Grenada Test when the team had won and there was a vibe about England’s Test cricket. It was clear to me that they would not be removing Peter from his job and I felt I could not be the boss of someone I did not rate.

It would have created too much pressure around the team and too much focus would have been on that relationship leading into a huge Ashes series.

There was also the Kevin Pietersen situation. That was always going to be hard to manage. I personally wouldn’t want to rule him out of playing for England again if he scores runs for Surrey and a vacancy opens up in the middle order. If his game is good enough why would you not want to take someone like that to a World Twenty20 next March? But the ECB still seem to be a little bit reluctant to bring him back and I feel that the Pietersen issue is still going to be a talking point through the summer. So it was not the right time for me and I was never offered it anyway.

But then the situation changed. England lost in Barbados and Peter’s job was on the line again. It is a warning of how quickly things can move on in sport.

Where do you start with that? I have not mentioned KP that much recently but this indicates there is still no desire AT ALL for KP, meaning he has been led up the garden path as I thought.  How one match (Barbados) changed everything with a body that talks about “long-term” strategy and building structures. How Moores was staying, then going. In a blink of an eye.

I mean, it’s enough to inspire zealotry in anyone, isn’t it?

Curious

I wrote this last night. I didn’t enjoy writing it and have had thoughts about whether to publish it. Quite a lot of the time I try to be humorous when having a pop at a journalist, but in this case, I couldn’t find the humour. Is it our fault?

So read on…..bilious inadequates.

There are advantages and disadvantages of being 3500 miles away when stories break. I’m a bit more removed from the sources of the stories than if in the UK, but also I’m not at work and I do find this sort of thing quite relaxing, believe it or not. But this Moores story is one of the oddest in an odd 16 months or so. Once again a major story is put out in advance of the agreements being signed or deeds being worked upon, and the ECB’s media strategy, whatever it is, has gone up in smoke. The new man in the role, name not known at present, hasn’t had a much better time than his predecessor.

This is not an ECB leak. We’ve been assured this by all and sundry, except, interestingly, Jonathan Agnew who appears to be jumping to the conclusion that we have. BOC has been informed that this was not an ECB leak, but will not be told who has spoken. Fair enough. But you could be forgiven for thinking “so what” if they did tell us. What difference would it make? Luke Sutton had been tweeting away yesterday about how bloody unfair it all was, and I’m wondering out loud about who might be the source, but I am only guessing. This isn’t right. It can’t be right. The ECB may be anal about leaks, but they seem pretty hopeless in stopping them.

Which brings me to dear old Mike. He’s been on form today. Let’s go through a couple of his golden greats. I like this one:

Too many people here do not understand how journalism works. And too many look for conspiracy where there is none. And do you seriously think we would give up the sources of our stories? Get real, as Farage once said.

This is getting out of hand. You ain’t the victim here, Michael, the paying cricketing public are. You get to sit around, write and watch games as a job. Many of us would love that role. You seem to think it better to sit behind your keyboard admonishing the great unwashed for being reasonably on form when it comes to the way the governing body has acted for the last 18 months. To say “too many people here do not understand how journalism works” is hilarious. You don’t have the faintest idea how social media and blogs work, as judged by your dismissive attitude to anyone disagreeing with you. I fundamentally disagree with a number of journalists, but have a decent online relationship with a few, because, to a degree, I get how journalism works. What I don’t get is how what you does works? When we see Moores shabbily treated like this, what are we supposed to do? Say “oh, well done ECB. Another bang up job done.” Even if the ECB did not leak, THEY ARE SACKING HIM AND THEREFORE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THAT INFORMATION. You made a decision and decided to tell certain people of that decision and no doubt stressed its confidential nature. If that person then went on to leak it, you’d have to question your judgement. Or am I being too harsh here?

Which brings me on to part two of Selvey’s beauty. “Too many look for conspiracy when there is none.” Nothing drives me, and I suspect those who comment on here in record numbers each month, more mad than this “I know what is going on but I’m not tellling you.” Then, to compound it, they make less than subtle digs at your sanity for thinking there might be more to things than meet the eye.

The ECB are firing a Head Coach, which while I’m not completely against the decision, is a shocking development and the way it has been “released” to the public, by what appears on the face of it to be a synchronised piece in three newspapers at 12 noon, screams out for someone to try to connect the dots! “Too many see a conspiracy” when clearly someone has coordinated this piece of information’s release (that’s how it looks). So we’ll question the timing, the synchronisation and the content. This isn’t the 19th century where we just take the view of our Lords and Masters. We try to investigate, try to get to the bottom of this and theorise. Because, at heart, we are inquisitive and want to know what is going on. To dismiss this as the work of “conspiracy theorists”, which is a dog whistle for “nutters” – a charge thrown at us regularly, and dismissed just as easily as the accusations of the morons throwing it – is insulting your readership. I’m so sorry about that Mr Selvey Sir (I tug my forelock).

In the third part, I don’t expect you to give up your sources, because I understand to a degree how journalism works. I’ve learned a lot talking to some journalists about it, funnily enough. I share as much as I can with my readership, because I don’t want to betray trusts. I’ve never been asked not to say something (I don’t think so) but recognise that balance needs to be struck. However, once my information is confirmed I let people know what I know. Don’t tell me to get real (because I believe this stuff is aimed at the likes of me and my readership). You get real. Work out why the people BTL have turned against you in large numbers in a way not seen anywhere else. Work out why Ali Martin, Nick Hoult, Lawrence Booth, Scyld Berry, Dean Wilson and even John Etheridge get better social media reactions than you. Because they don’t treat their readership like the shit on their shoes. Don’t go hiding behing a ridiculous article by Ed Smith (he’s so clever, just ask him) to prove that those who disagree with you are just a voluble minority (who can be ignored), when that minority are pretty adept at reading between the lines, and don’t like this secret squirrel bs. The secret, silent majority may pay their ticket prices and pipe down, but then who is to say that they aren’t thinking “this is a bit of a shambles, isn’t it?” You can’t keep assuming their silence means consent.

Peter Moores, although he’s not a favourite on here, has never ever had his commitment questioned. He’s tried his hardest, and although I think he should have gone after the World Cup, has tried to keep this team on the road. The “antis” should not ever question that. It was the ECB who gave him the hospital pass, it was the ECB who “bigged him up”, it was the ECB trumpeting every success, backed up by a largely compliant press who were always primed to provide six inches of mitigation if we just held on for a couple of balls more. Lots of us had doubts, ongoing doubts, but we were told to pipe down about them because we beat India in a test series. We may have had those doubts, but I’m not here to bury Moores. I’m here because I get angry when I see someone treated very, very badly by authority or whoever it was who leaked this. Moores is another one spat out by this machine. Excuse me if I theorise over what happened. You get real.

I see journalism. I see a victim. I’ll theorise.

Contrast this with Ali Martin’s reponse to wctt:

And you’d been complimentary about my work early on too. Ok, I have seen both your comments today and while they stung a wee bit, no one is more aware that my writing style is not a patch on some of my illustrious colleagues than myself. What I would say is that while they turn out the beautiful flowing prose, I work very hard to source cricket news stories and share it with the readership as soon as I can turn it around. Not every piece can be Cardus – it’s news, ultimately, and that is my brief. When it comes to great writers, the Guardian had an abundance.

I respect Ali’s work a lot. He gets “us” to a degree and if I’m not putting words into his mouth, doesn’t think a great way to carry on is to piss off his customer base. Which includes those who disagree and those who agree.

Unlike this.

Good night all. Bilious inadequates. Remember, those silent and who don’t comment on blogs or the newspapers think that too.

Lament

Well, good morning/afternoon all. It has been an interesting one to wake up to, I have to tell you. I’ll leave “proper” politics because there’s a ton more places to look for it than on here, and it divides rather than unites which is never good in my book. So let’s talk about the sort of politics we all love to indulge in and that’s from the good old ECB.

I think you all remember the aftermath of the Ashes debacle when in the infamous February press release, the most heinous crime anyone could perpetrate in the English cricket firmament was to breach the sanctity of the dressing room. There were certain journalists who were said to be “anal about leaks” but that didn’t stop them talking out of that orifice on a daily basis. The people on this board, out there in the world aren’t stupid, and they know these stories don’t just appear out of thin air. These journalists have contacts, have their way to read the runes, because if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be doing their jobs. I’m not sure it is, as John Etheridge I believe once said “more good journalism than leaks”, but it’s something that annoys us all.

So we can’t be all up in arms because the news leaked regularly about Kevin Pietersen and not be when it affected Cook (in December when his sacking from the ODI captaincy got out) and now seems to be for Moores. I know the journalistic corps will accuse me of naivety and all that, and that this is how the world works, but it doesn’t make it right. I’m going out on a limb here and say that although I didn’t support the appointment of Peter Moores (reeked of a pre-ordained Flower-inspired stitch up) and don’t particularly rate him as an international coach (this progress we are making seems rather ephemeral to me – as Grenada / Barbados seems to indicate) he comes across as a very decent man trying his best, and the one thing that those people deserve above all else is to be treated with the same decency. If this is proved, and I note Lawrence Booth for one is saying this didn’t necessarily come from the ECB, to be from high-placed official sources then more shame on them. This is not the way a new and improved organisation does business, and if it is one of the exiting old guard doing it, well….. you know what you should do about that.

The responsibility for a leak goes to the source of the information. So if the ECB told someone in confidence that the decision had been made, and then this gets out, it’s the ECB’s fault for trusting that confidence. The fact is that if this is the case here, and that’s the message coming out here, there’s always the convenient “plausible deniability” on behalf of this organisation which seems to make key decisions ahead of appointees taking up their roles. Indeed, Strauss hasn’t even been officially announced yet, and he’s supposed to be the one either doing the sacking or rubber-stamping it.

I see one of the commenters BTL on the Guardian is going on about us conspiracy theorists again. I’m glad these people are so trusting of those in authority to think that way and just let those running the game to do as they please, no questions asked. Trust those inside the game. But from the outside there seems to be a bit of a power struggle within the ECB and I have no idea how it is going to pan out. The deserved sacking of Downton, a man who should never have been appointed, seems more and more like a piece of meat thrown to us “slobbering hordes”.  We then replace his role with something not yet defined, and when they found out that not many people were interested in a Downton-lite role, the new revolution stumbled across an old pillar to effect whatever it is Harrison and Graves think is needed, which at this stage, we don’t have a clue about. Memo to all here, I’m not buying what Harrison is selling, not at all. Now to appease the hordes again, we are going to fire a coach AFTER a series where we could have looked at new players, but the coach and captain were too keen to bolster positions and didn’t try much. This isn’t a new bold strategy, but something else too familiar. Clueless, aimless and now heartless. The absence of a decent media strategy, treating people in their employment with dignity and class, and allowing things to just get out there, however they get there, isn’t great. It really isn’t.

Lawrence Booth, Jonathan Agnew and Ali Martin can all put their side of the story any time they like – they are more than welcome to here, but I would not expect that. How this news got out there matters to people. It speaks of an organisation seeking to regain our trust, to re-engage with us, to make us proud of the England cricket team again and to bridge the divide. This is not what is happening. The divisions aren’t now a simple chasm down the middle framed by a decision to sack Pietersen. They are becoming fractures, along familiar fault lines, but fractures nonetheless. Those that were original members of the outside cricket club see more of the same. Those who were more attuned to the ECB way of thinking see appeasement of the great unwashed. Those of a more sceptical bent than the ECB line to takers see increasing incompetence and doubt creeps in, like rot in a wooden building. The Cook fans see devilment in every utterance on the doubts in his form. The KP fans see an ECB talking out of both sides of its mouth. The ECB are further away than ever from gaining public trust. Their ultimate test was to keep their traps shut and do this the right way. They haven’t. It’s a bloody PR disaster.

Just one thought, that could negate much of this, but not all. The only explanation that gets the ECB partially off the hook is that the leak came from Peter Moores himself, or someone close to him. In which case we can make our own judgements on him. That said, it would seem a little out of character, wouldn’t it?

Assembly

The aftermath of the tour continues and eyes turn towards the futures of the top table. Those eyes are cast more in the direction of the coach, Peter Moores, and when you read some of the stuff coming out, it’s no surprise.

Moores has to carry a number of burdens, partly of his own making, and partly a little unfair. I have not been inside a dressing room at professional level, but even at club level, you know when people don’t think you are credible, don’t listen to what you do, don’t care about your future. It’s not fair that Moores never played international cricket, and that will always count against him when it comes to motivating and coaching great international players. However, he has been on the county treadmill and knows it inside out, and will be a great county coach again when this ends. He commands respect of the county pros, but maybe lacks a little at the top level with the senior pros. Maybe. It’s guess work, but I’ve seen enough football managers lose that respect, and I can recognise some of the problems. At this stage, with a young core of players, Moores can bring them along, as long as he retains the support of the key senior pros. These being Cook, Bell, Broad and Anderson, and to a lesser degree, the next in line, Joe Root. All have played every game under Moores, and there is no hint of this changing any time soon.

The second cross he has to bear is that he lacks credibility among much of the watching public. James Morgan on TFT makes the analogy perfectly – would the England national team go back to Steve McClaren, or would the rugby team go back to Andy Robinson. Both were assistants under more successful coaches who never bridged the credibility gap with the public, probably unfairly. Moores, like it or not, comes across as a nice guy out of his depth at this level. I’m not, like some, going to assign some malevolent motive to his tenure on his behalf. He’s been thrown a hell of a challenge after the Ashes 2013-14, made even harder by the idiotic jettisoning of Kevin Pietersen (not for his absence from the team, but because of the messages it sent) and he has developed some of the younger players (although not greatly, not really). The sense remains though, as the World Cup campaign showed, that Moores is not up to key elements of the job. He will present a case, but the evidence is not backing it up. Combine an abject disaster in the World Cup with a home loss to Sri Lanka in all formats, and coughing up a 1-0 lead in the Caribbean, and there is not a lot to say “keep me on” other than some sort of hope for a change of fortune. My football team did that this season, and by the time we sacked our manager it was too late to save them, despite the best efforts of a new manager who did really well.

Which brings us to the third problem, and this one was partly of his own making, but more of that champion of champions Paul Downton. Peter Moores applied for a job and got it and accepted terms no manager/coach should ever do. That is, be told who he could not have in his team under any circumstances. You anti-KP fans keep making it about him if you want, but the message this sends to any player is profound. Be independently minded, have a strong opinion about your game, and how you want your career to pan out, and that could happen to you. It wasn’t a good start. Then, to have your appointment accompanied by the “greatest coach of his generation” comment by Downton was just amazing. Moores would have been completely at liberty to tell the MD to shut his hole, because that was going to stick. If he could not put before the public a set of results to live up to that billing, he was going to be ridiculed. So it has proved.

The final problem for Moores is his inability to speak, or appear to speak, in anything other than management tones. He sounds like a first year MBA student more than a cricket coach. Sport is about maximising the analytical tools to hand (I’m reading a fascinating book on baseball analysis at the moment) but it is also about unquantifiable exploits. You don’t find Jimmy Anderson’s fifth day morning session in any text book. You have that seize the day approach, the raising of the game to higher planes which can’t be factored in. If they were, sport would be bloody dull and we’d all not bother to watch it. But it’s too much process this, learning lessons that.

I’ll tell you another thing that doesn’t help, and it’s a warm welcome to a Paul Newman quote on here after at least a couple of weeks absence, is nonsense like this:

To watch England here has been to see a highly promising group who respect their coach and want to succeed for him and I believe Moores should be given that crack at the Ashes denied him in 2009 by another Kevin Pietersen-inspired controversy.

Just read that and weep. No player is going to come out in the open and say Moores shouldn’t be coach. KP did that and got fired as captain. KP said that about Flower and was booted out for it. There’s not a lot of longevity in showing you aren’t playing for the coach. I’d say we need to win more games to show how well we are playing for Moores, instead of going overboard over one win in Grenada. But Newman doesn’t let it go with his bete noire, who he is now getting all tin foil hat over. KP has the square root of eff all to do with Moores staying on as coach. Pietersen has not scored the runs required of him by Graves et al for starters. Second, KP is not responsible for Moores performance in the job thus far, so is a total utter irrelevance about whether Moores should stay in the job. Third, we’ve been down this long service award drivel before (he deserves a crack at the Ashes – if he deserved it in 2009, he’d have made an unanswerable case instead of losing home series in 2007 and 2008) and that worked in the World Cup. Also, Newman’s changed his tune. He was really down on Moores after the World Cup. Maybe Cook’s told him to lay off or something.

I feel a bit for Moores, to be honest. I actually think he’s a really decent man giving it his all, but he doesn’t really stand a chance. It may be, like before, he’s laying down the foundations for someone else, but also there’s the suspicion that this is as far as he can go. While it is hard to ignore the fact he took the job on compromised terms, he has not been the hate figure some portray him to be. He’s more a figure of sympathy, and in international sport, that is often much, much worse. If this best case you can make to keep him on is he deserves his go at the Ashes because he got sacked before, then you are not making a convincing case.

I thought I’d concentrate more on Moores in this piece, but do a brief bit on Cook and Strauss before longer thought pieces.

Cook has been the subject of a vicious attack by Boycott in the Telegraph. I wonder how Cook will approach Jonathan Agnew about that. Cook doesn’t take kindly to being spoken about like that and the consequences could be interesting. Boycott is a loudmouth, paid to express loud opinions, and you take them as they come. But I’ve never seen him this aggravated by a captain / player ever. This was going for the throat. I would say that it’s not as easy to dismiss Boycott’s views that align with a lot of us outside cricket, than it is for them to slate me, but they try (he’s a wife beater, he quit on England, blah blah – he also faced top quicks at 90 mph without a helmet on). A lot of us believe Cook isn’t the nice guy that his image is portrayed as, but I want to get away from that part. I want to look at the evidence – it’s all I try to do, and try to interpret. He’s protected, for now, and could jettison Moores to keep his career in check. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

As for Strauss…. appointing him the new Director of Cricket would be Downtonian in its brilliance. He talks the language of all charlatans – promising to build for a non-specific future, while using this to move on from something else that he doesn’t like (in this case a player who might return to form and demand selection). He also has the cult of Cook in his playbook, and would be an establishment, company candidate when root and branch change to a more exciting, attractive style of play is going to be needed. This current England team still has dedicated fans and lovers of the game actively wanting them, or key members of them, to fail to get the changes needed in structure, attitude and approach. Bringing back Mr Bowling Dry, with his foster son as captain and his foster dad wheeling away behind the scenes, is spitting in the face of those who actively want to love this side again. Strauss is typical ECB. Unexciting, not credible and the wrong man. More of this later.

Mediocre

There ends another series. If we’d just got Jason Holder early on in Antigua, and we’d scored 50 more runs in Bridgetown, it would have been a whitewash. Then it would have been six on the bounce and bring on the Aussies. Sorry. Been chanelling my inner Selfey there. It’s probably all Jos Buttler’s fault.

Instead of a whitewash we’ve got into a decent position here in Bridgetown, had our feet on the home team’s throat, and in another calamity, let them off the hook. To do it in Melbourne could have been understandable on a bad tour; to do it at Headingley could have been considered an understandable, if lamentable, brain fart. This reeked of complacency. This reeked of thinking we had the job done once we’d edged up to around 280 and had the home team a few down early. Blackwood got the West Indies into range and our lamentable, undroppable batting line-up (other than the revolving door non-Cook opener slot) handed another test over to the valiant opposition. Ballance, Root, Bell and Moeen – Headingley, Lord’s and Kensington Oval. Save your Moeen at Headingley stories….this middle order is untouchable we are told.

As a not a real fan candidate (according to Guardian commenters I’m supposed to be nice to – add “the usual malcontents” to the list of glorious things I’m not to be cheesed off about), I can say that I lost contact with this game at around tea. The feed for Sky Sports, which I bloody well pay for, went down. It never came back. I tried TMS, got 10 minutes of Swann’s summarising, and my internet link shut down to prevent further damage. Instead I watched a team live up to its billing in the NBA Play-offs (Golden State Warriors) on the TV and followed updates on cricinfo and Twitter as another team didn’t live up to its star-studded rep. To me this isn’t surprising – we’ve seen the over-hype machine cranked to bursting point after Grenada and it’s not as if we weren’t warning them. We’re not Jeremiahs…we’ve bloody seen this before. Lots of times. Now those who were quick to spray their bile over us after that miracle at St. George’s, will need to take it back. This was utterly abject. But they won’t when it’s easier to shoot the misery messenger telling you as it is.

It may be funny, in a strange sort of way, that Cook’s century was made at last. Because all the while he wasn’t scoring those big runs (and 105 isn’t massive, although very good in the context of the match) there was almost this paranoid need for him to retain all facets of the test job as if this would inspire him to make those scores. You know, all that leading from the front twaddle. There has been an air of defiance from our wonderful captain this tour, with his prickly demeanour reputed to have included a heated discussion with Agnew over his commentary stints with the mortal enemy. Who know’s if this is true? But what I heard from the bits of this series I caught was a concerted effort from some of the Sky crew to really “get behind” our captain, to the extent that there were copious mentions of our dear leader’s “body language” and “I’m in charge” stance. It’s nonsense. That you feel the need to point this out, or to comment on how much better it supposedly is indicates there’s a problem. I’m trying to work out a captain post-Gower who had these comments made about him.

I said after Grenada that:

1. When you win a test, act like you’ve been there before; and

2. When you win the test on a back of an inspirational solo effort, don’t bank on that as a long-term solution.

Instead, even I got sucked in, with my prediction that the WIndies would fall 40 or 50 short in their chase. This was in direct contrast to my suspicion. The suspicion was that the 123 we made in the second innings wasn’t the product of a minefield as seemed to be intimated on the wires last night. It was the product of total, utter incompetence, and watching this morning I didn’t see much devil in the wicket. No, we were perfecting a craft. Losing from winning positions is becoming a lovely little Cooky habit. Bring on Australia, I say. So I dismissed West Indies, wrongly, and they showed what getting your head down and not fretting about the “one with your name on it” as Botham muttered on could achieve. Well played chaps.

I’ve missed the aftermath. I understand Nasser got a bit pointed with Moores. Oh well, it’s always better to a sinner repent and all that. There’s far more good than bad with Mr Hussain. I’ve missed Bob off the long run, although I’m sure it will be the same old same old. It loses its resonance when you’ve been throwing hyperbole all over the place after Grenada. Then there’s the press – ready to stick it to all the doubters on Friday when Cook made his ton, and now ready to stick a belated knife in to whoever is this month’s sacrificial non-Cook lamb. Some have been just totally dismissive of the opposition, but now lay the blame at a comment by a loudmouthed Yorkie who gave the home team a supposed push with his “mediocre” comment.

The West Indies played with passion, with patience, with skill and with no little application when the going got tough. Darren Bravo’s innings summed it up. He has been accused of being flashy and irresponsible. Now he played with a calm head and rode what luck he had to make the crucial contribution. Jermaine Blackwood, a dasher of huge irresponsibility it is claimed, stuck to his task and was there at the end. He’s had a really promising series and I hope he goes on to bigger and better things. The bowling was honest, was clever and too good in the end. We kept being reminded that Jason Holder was “fourth seamer” material and yet he took wickets, whereas our seamers (Stokes and Jordan) appeared to have no clue for much of the time. I am still not seeing what the world sees in Chris Jordan’s bowling that I didn’t when at Surrey. Sure, he bowled a decent spell that took an early wicket, but he’s not consistent enough.

So where does this leave us? I’m fed up with saying what I say about Cook. The batting is now put to bed, and we have no chance of seeing him leave the team on form now. The captaincy position is more interesting, but there’s nothing I haven’t seen before. We’re told he is developing all the time, but I’m fed up with hearing this drivel, month in, month out. The century in Barbados proved nothing. It was a good innings, but not a match-winning one. It was his first in two years, yet this isn’t something to be lauded, but something to be concerned about. It answered no questions, other than one in the media’s mind. We weren’t wrong to criticise his preferential treatment just because me made a ton. You carry on, because the evidence is stacked in our favour. Boycott has had enough, that’s for sure.

I don’t know about Moores. I am not as down on him as others, but the position is becoming more and more untenable. The story book had been set. After the World Cup embarrassment, it was clear that the media message the ECB wanted to portray was that the tests were what mattered now, and we’d just won three on the bounce in that format. Cook was refreshed, there were young pros developing and this is the future. Now we look like a shambles within a week of a “famous victory”. The reports I’m hearing is that we are trying to say the Windies weren’t really “mediocre”. Well, let’s see how the Australians deal with this team. Moores has to be on thin ice, and we’ll see very soon how the new management react.

Jonathan Trott has been sent to the cricketing gallows, so he’ll pay the price. Ian Bell started the series on fire, and finished it fully soaked. Gary Ballance looks good, but I’m still worried about his technique, and Joe Root did not follow up his great effort at Barbados. The bowling is a long-term issue, and you can moan about Moeen until the cows come home, but 123 all out sums it up. Is that Moores fault? Really?

Meanwhile one of the main architects of this struggle remains in Loughborough like the malevolent priest, the power behind the monarchy. We have rumours of his evangelical student Strauss becoming the Director of Cricket, which fills me with all the joy of a root canal procedure, and there remains the thoroughly uninspiring body language king as captain. Good grief. How can you put up with Stuart Broad’s batting as captain of your team. I don’t care if he got hit, we all have who have played the game, and the next time you bat you are nervous. He’s not pulling his weight. If the issue is that serious, he has to go. Just has to. How can you ask people to play through tough times when one of your senior pros is showing such fragility?

I am now listening to TMS and Boycott’s comments. This should be fun.

Vian will have more tomorrow, hopefully, and thanks for all the comments today. We’ll be back tomorrow with more comments and analysis of what has just happened, and some of the reaction.

Mob

I am currently in a bit of turmoil. Personal reasons to some degree, also been told I’m moving positions in my work life to a newly created post which I want no part of but have no choice, it seems. So unhappiness is not uncommon in those that have followed my path, and nor are the ups and downs of moods. So it is with this in mind that, other than my rant at Downton the other day, I’ve taken a back seat to watch all those follow the words I said at the start of this wonderful adventure car-crash and that resonated with so many of you.

Downton with aplomb - brenkley

However, let’s do what I used to do, and fisk some load of old twaddle. I’ve selected Brenkley. That should come as no surprise. I don’t know who has been saying he’s seeing the other side because this load of old establishment shite isn’t giving the game away.

England refused yesterday to buckle to the demands of the mob. In many ways, it was an admirable stance, which did not exactly ignore the  evidence but tried to lend it balance and perspective.

We’re off to a flyer. Those that have pointed out the failings at the start of this gruesome twosome are “a mob”. Nice one. And by ignoring those who are being proved right every day this is “admirable”, and by doing so they are showing “balance” and perspective”. Taking the opposite view those of us who have pointed out the failings are contemptible, we are unbalanced and lacking in perspective. Good start. I’m looking forward to the rest of this…. (unless Brenkley is taking the piss, and frankly, if this is satire, it’s good, because I’m not getting it)

In short, it seems that as nobody expected much from the World Cup campaign and despite the fact that it has gone much worse than anybody could possibly have imagined in their most horrific nightmare, everybody can carry on regardless.  No one will be sacked, or asked to resign or pushed conveniently aside.

Downton thought we’d be a bit of a force to be reckoned with, didn’t he? You giving him a free pass? So this it what it comes to. Go in with a defeatist attitude, lose, and it’s all OK. Those who put the structures in place, those who cleared the decks, those who focused on ODI cricket and those who planned our campaign should stay. Because we’ve always been crap. That’s the attitude that gets you to the top of the pile. I do hope Brenkley is taking the michael here.

Because if he is, I’m missing the gag.

A review is being launched….

Do stop it Aggers.

as soon as England return home next week after completing their programme with a fixture against Afghanistan on Friday. But it is seeking reasons for the failure so they will not be repeated – a mantra heard often before – not heads that should roll.

Those reasons will not be the MD who set this course, or the greatest coach of his generation. I see 1999 referred to a lot as our worst ever performance. Let’s remember we beat Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe in that competition and finished 4th in the group thanks to a bit of a freak result in the South Africa v Zimbabwe game. Here we are 5th in the group. This is the worst ever. Seek a reason for the worst ever World Cup performance after the worst ever Ashes performance last year when a review was deemed unneccessary other than to fire one of your marquee players and give the old coach a nice domestic number. I don’t trust these people to review a Janet and John book.

The loss of four matches from five in the tournament, which has led to England’s elimination, is a matter for grave disappointment, but no more.

Who is saying this? Brenkley? Is he mad? Or is he doing this in an ECB voice, because it’s bloody hard to tell at this point…. In a sense he is right, it is sport, and that isn’t life and death. But it’s not an old boys club either, and the rest of the world don’t seem to be so matter-of-fact oh-well about it.

Peter Moores was the right man when he was re-appointed as head coach 10 months ago and he remains the right man now.

I’ll let that statement stand for the ridicule it deserves… I’m sure I heard that about Alastair Cook about a billion and one times.

Whether the public will be appeased by that, or whether they expected precisely this sort of return and will put up with anything, will gradually become clear as the summer unfolds.

Public appeasement? Nice. We want to see the best for our team. Very few people believe that is represented by Moores and Downton. I feel a little for having a pop at Moores, but you know, Bunkers, many of your colleagues in the press box (and Etheridge doesn’t hide his views) are in our camp, not some ECB “don’t give in to the great unwashed” camp. Many think Moores needs to go. It is nice to be joined by them after this time, when we haven’t exactly been proved wrong, have we? You carry on, old fruit….

To rely on survival on the grounds that we don’t give a flying one about ODIs is contemptuous, and seems to indicate this mob that is invoked in the early part doesn’t actually exist. Make your mind up.

It would seem certain that England cannot go on losing after performing so poorly in a tournament for which they specifically prepared over a period of five months.

Because, as the mantra goes, we only give a shit about the Ashes.

Paul Downton, the managing director of England cricket, who calls the shots, was calm and unflustered yesterday when he dealt with a string of questions in a  conference call.

Obsequious. I like that word. Think it applies to both you and Downton. Personally I thought he made himself look even more of an incompetent, out of touch, should never have been appointed imbecile in the interviews I saw, but hey, you make your own mind up.

He was in London, his interrogators were in Sydney. For all we knew he might have been pulling faces into the telephone but much as he might have felt like it, that is not his style.

No. I call it misplaced arrogance. That’s his style. Incompetent buffoonery. More his style. Out of his depth that he’s below fish with lights (thanks Andy), is more his style. You keep kissing his arse.

“I’m not saying everybody’s job is safe and I’m not saying that everybody is going to be sacked,” he said. “It feels as though, from your perspective, there needs to be a scapegoat. There needs to be a target.

Do stop it Aggers.

“All I’m saying is we’re in a position where we’re a transitioning side and that will take time. We have to take the right decisions to ensure we do that as quickly and smoothly as we can. But it’s too early to say yet in terms of any definitives: he’s going or he’s not going.”

Meaningless business-speak, unmeasurable, aspirational cock-waffle. May I also point you to this tweet by your’s truly on Sunday.

I’m actually worried that I can predict this shit. By the way, regretfully, this was not “all I’m saying” from Downton. When he does appear from the cupboard under the stairs, you can’t stop him.

Downton backed Moores continuing in his role. It would be easy to say that he had to do so considering he was instrumental in his reappointment 10 months ago. But there was something oddly reassuring in his comforting words. This was not a man who would be easily swayed from his course, whatever the accusations of misguidedness.

Because nothing screams “fucking incompetence” like bad appointments prolonged, just to prove how god-damn awful they really are. You, Bunkers, might find that “oddly reassuring”. I call it complete insanity. “Hey, I can’t drive an F1 car, and I’ve just totalled it. I tell you watch, let me drive another one…and for kicks, stick a load of people in the way. I’ll be fine…..”

“The first thing to say is that whilst we’re hugely disappointed with our performance let’s put it into context again,” Downton said. “Peter was appointed only 10 months ago and as I said on TV yesterday whoever was appointed to that position was always going to have a bit of a job.

Well, it was 11 months ago, but I’m being picky. Downton’s as good with numbers as he is picking England coaches. I’d have expected a bit more from the “greatest coach of his generation” than this. I mean, really I would. I’m sure a team to be reckoned with was also on your mind as well Paul, but hey, you cherry pick what the hell you want. It’s transition time (as if he and his appointment had absolutely no influence at all…. all those players they “bigged up”, all the illusory “progress”) and that’s the message. Scoundrels.

“We’re in the middle of a very significant rebuilding phase. We offered six new central contracts during the summer. My first job when I came in here was to try to re-establish a Test side which we made progress with in the summer. The next job was to get to the World Cup with as competitive a side as we could. We always knew we were coming from behind, we haven’t won back-to-back one-day internationals for well over a year now. All I will tell you is that there are no quick fixes in this situation. Look through  history, look at any very  successful side which has broken up, how long it takes sometimes to rebuild again.

India recovered in a fortnight. We have more players returning to a World Cup (6) than India (4) and Australia (5). Beware of false prophets spouting codswallop. Also, who has presided over this lamentable ODI run?

“I am very confident that in a year’s time, in two years’ time this group of players will be battle hardened and will be more competitive.”

Jam tomorrow. Blah blah blah…. They may even be a team to really be reckoned with. Did you let him get away with this unmeasurable cock-rot?

Downton is seeking to buy time. The trouble is that sport demands results and this is the sixth World Cup in succession in which England have played badly.

Oh, we are so picky. They set the quarter-final as a low bar target and they couldn’t even meet that. We don’t have a right to demand something better than that? Really? REALLY? We are so damn unreasonable…. It’s such a trouble that we might expect a bit more bang for our buck. Such a nuisance…. After all, who targeted this tournament or are we supposed to forget this?

For this one, they moved Ashes series, to ensure players were not turning up drained after a tough series against Australia, and concentrated solely on one-day cricket for almost six months. The result was still calamity and worse a side that did not lack skill but was intimidated by the event.

Nothing to do with the coach then? The management who prepare them for this?

If Downton is supported by his own bosses at the England and Wales Cricket Board, and all the indications suggest he has their faith that corners will be turned, it would be presumptuous of him to expect two years. That is an eternity in any walk of life and he should know from his former career in the City  that fortunes can be won and lost five times over in that sort of period.

“all the indications suggest he has their faith”. Well, I’d suggest they check faith at the door and check that uncomfortable thing called evidence. Read HDWLIA. There’s plenty there. Listen to Geek and Friends podcasts, read Twitter feeds, read BTL from those not suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. Hell, start reading some of the press, even NEWMAN. They should go now. If they don’t, then they are treating the fans with contempt. Even those that don’t think they are. If I cock up my new role in the first year so badly that we lose tons and tons of money, it wouldn’t be another two years, I’d be gone. This bloke has no track record in cricket management at international level and he’s failed. The coach has a failed track record in international cricket, and he’s failed again. I see one trend. You believe in faith, ECB. I know who is probably right. I have evidence, you have hope. That’s worked for Cook’s ODI form, the KP saga et al…

The Ashes this summer will take on a different hue.  England were a laughing stock in Australia and New Zealand yesterday – and more. In two separate appearances on radio programmes in both countries, trying to offer some excuse for the poor beleaguered Poms, the presenters in both cases called England spineless.

That’s ok. No doubt they are a mob too. Damn colonials. You see, they don’t suffer fools down there. We don’t mind them if they are the right kind of bloke, or the right kind of family, or former cricketers employed by JPM.

Moores wants desperately to prove himself as a capable international coach. He would regret it forever if he left now with not only business unfinished but also because he has never quite yet shown he can cut it internationally as he so patently has at county level.

When I was younger, I was desperate to prove that an overweight, asthmatic, low-income clerical worker could convince Elle MacPherson that I was Mr Right. Sadly, I had to look at her calendar instead. Elle, I have unfinished business, but don’t tell my lovely Missus, eh….

Jesus, this sounds like a love letter. He so wanted to succeed, but leaving this business unfinished would be of regret. This is putrid.

“Clearly he said yesterday that as head coach he feels responsible,” Downton said. “We all feel responsible frankly because we feel we have let the country down and nobody wants to do that.

You don’t feel responsible, Downton. Your entire interview round has been to put forward why you aren’t responsible. This, above all, sickens me. He doesn’t feel as if it is his fault at all. Inexperience, transition, programme not set by him, not aware of T20 impact (I mean, for heaven’s sake, I’d sack him on the spot for that shite) etc. It’s excuses as to why it isn’t “their responsibility”. You let him get away with this.

“As far as his ability is concerned I still feel he is a very high quality coach, so, no nothing has changed since we appointed him 10 months ago. You don’t become a bad coach overnight but the scale of the issues we have got to deal with are significant as everybody has seen.”

It took him his next bit to say he (and Moores) weren’t responsible with these pesky “significant issues”. Many of us believe one of these “significant issues” is your serial incompetence, Downton.

Downton somehow brought to mind the daft wisecrack  in a Carry On film from 50 years ago. “You’ve stood on my Indian dress,” said Barbara Windsor. “Sari,” said Kenneth Williams. “Don’t  mention it.” Everybody’s sari and that makes everything  all right.

No? Me neither…. Tell me I totally missed the point of this article. Tell me I’m wrong. Tell me this is one joke I just didn’t get.

Have a nice evening.

Dread

In the early hours of tomorrow morning, in Adelaide, England face the first of up to five win-or-go-home matches. It would be typical of this team to lose this one, but the odds have to be on us winning the next two and meeting India in Melbourne in a quarter-final next week. But this is England, and nothing is certain.

As usual, when we get to this sort of position, I hear and read the usual load of old shite from those who think they know best about those of us not totally enamoured with the way the game is run in this country. Let me put it this way, so it is easy to comprehend. Those of you out there who think that a Bangladesh (or Afghanistan) win is the only way we’ll get the root and branch examination of the game, its structures and its ruling body that has been overdue for nearly 14 months now, I have sympathy for you. I understand precisely where you are coming from. I am almost totally on board with that.

Those of you who slag those people off as being “unpatriotic” or some such other load of old crap, I understand why you want England to win. I do too. But I don’t feel it an either / or equation, and like most things in life, there is nuance. A win today, and it’s on to tomorrow. A win against Afghanistan, and it’s on to India. A win there and we are in the Semis. This would all have been worth it, then, in many eyes. The pain, the agony, the division, the spite, the nastiness, the despair. Semis is better than anything since 1992 (when our group defeats have been a damn sight worse).

That’s what pisses me off. If we do fluke this, somehow, those who have ruined the last 12 months will be vindicated. “So what”, say those England till I die merchants “it’s improvement”. I say it will be bad in the long run. But I want England to win, still. I just don’t care as much, which is obvious to anyone who has read my rantings over the last 13 months.

I’m in my mid-40s. I get the fanaticism of wanting your team to win regardless of the long-term. I was a fanatic of a football team. For 15 years I went home and away, saw their only ever game in a European competition abroad, saw them in their only two years in the top division, saw their glory day in the Cup Final (the biggest anti-climax ever) and saw two particularly legendary players in their developmental days (one English, one Australian). Three seasons ago, I walked away. I’ve been to one game in three years. We are going down this season. We survived by the skin of our teeth in the last two seasons. I don’t see a sport any more, I see businesses. I see the soul taken out of the game by over-coached, over-priced, under-enthused players, who don’t have an affinity with your club (how can they when you get loan players making up so much of the team) and a lack of hope. I still want them to win, I just don’t care as much. I feel the same about our national football team. I am beginning to feel this way with my cricket team.

I get devotion and fanaticism and I also see how those in charge use it to hold you over a barrel. You criticise those in the authority, those in management, and you are undermining your national team. How dare  you. You traitor. What does it matter who runs the game, it’s those out on the field that matter? Why are you bothered?

Well, as you know, I’m not one of those. Those in authority with “successful business careers” often have a lot to answer for. In my experience many of them suffer from some sort of superiority complex. Often, they have no substance. To a person, I believe they are over-rated. They over think, they project manage, they make a living out of making the bleeding obvious bleeding complicated. One is to hope that Colin Graves and Tom Harrison are not two such individuals, but it is early days and that think-piece paper does not augur well.

The other thing these people do is to latch on to success, any success, and sing it louder than an opera diva. Yes, we are guilty of talking down any achievements, but good grief, you’d never guess we’d beaten India at home, would you? The Sri Lankan defeats, in all formats, were much more a pointer to our World Cup fortunes than beating an Indian team that packed in the series after the first two days at Southampton. A quarter-final place, for all that we cleared the decks for this, will be seen as that expected during a transition phase (so how did we get to a transition phase in a World Cup year should not be asked) and these lot can carry on. Success will be measured in whether this allows the top brass to keep their jobs.

It’s comments like this, interpreted by George Dobell, that mean I don’t care as much..

While it is understood that Graves and Pietersen have spoken in recent days, it increasingly appears as if the ECB’s chairmen is regarded by others as having exceeded his authority and spoken out of turn and that his views are not those of his executive team.

They speak as if they are in a position of strength, not as abject failures in one of our key measurable objectives thus far. As if their decision making deserves no scrutiny. They’ve been abject and yet the “executive team” are getting prissy over someone having a word about a policy they decided upon. I admire their chutzpah.

Because thus far this coaching of our World Cup campaign has been wretched. People like Warner, Maxwell, Finch, McCullum, Sangakkara, Williamson, Dilshan, DeVilliers, Kohli et al are playing a different game. Meanwhile we are settling for 309 in an ODI, and it shows how we are just not on the same wave length as the others. We don’t seem to know how to maximise our potential, which is a damning indictment on our coaching staff. But still, we have the same old, same old. We’ve blown a chance to give Hales a go, we’ve gone to the old ways, we over-praise Root and Moeen, we under utilise Buttler, we mess Taylor about. It’s awful. It’s truly mind-blowing. Don’t even get me started on the bowling – hey, let’s play two blokes just over major injuries, and with little white ball form in the big tournaments and see what could possibly go wrong…

So far I’d barely five this coaching staff 1/10, and the back-room boys and officials even less. But, as is always said, we have a chance, still. Starting tonight in Adelaide.

It’s a feeling of dread all right. I dread the recriminations should it go wrong. I dread the justifications if we somehow fluke it. Dread. No wonder I’m not a fanatic any more.

#RIPDoug

Other House News:

You may be pleased to know that the old archive on the old site is up. The old blog has a new URL, which can be accessed by clicking the link on the right in the Blogroll section. Somehow the head picture disappeared. The old link DOES NOT WORK. I will be staying on this site as the host from now on.

As always, thanks for the comments on the games and other things. Not been as busy on this as I should have been (lots on, not being too chipper) but rest assured, we’ll see more activity if England goes downhill.

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

Wise People Learn When They Can; Fools Learn When They Must

It seems appropriate after a defeat in Wellington to quote the great Duke. It seems to sum up the position of our cricket team at this time. This is a team that looks on its knees, knowing it must “learn lessons” and fast.

I tweeted earlier that I’m not giving up on this team. I’m not basing this on any logic, any analysis, any particular confidence, but this is clearly an underperforming unit at this stage and it can, and probably will get better. Let’s review the team at the end of the competition when the knife can well and truly be stuck in. But clearly this is not going well. I can deal in understatement with the best of them!

Am I angry? Does it matter if I am? No-one has paid a jot of notice of the “refusenik” anger for the past 12 months so what does it matter if we go crazy now. AndyInBrum summed up so much of the pent up fury in his BTL piece on The Guardian that I’m not even going to attempt to outdo him:

Remember last year when Giles Clarke said england weren’t at a massively low ebb? He was right.

I’m gutted we got thrashed & good players are getting a tonking, but I would be lying if I’m not feeling smug about it at the same time.

I told you so, I told you that the leadership Omnishambles at the top of english cricket would lead to this, I told you sacking KP was a mistake, not just for spurious form reasons, but for the utterly incompetent, vindictive, spiteful way it was carried out.
I told you that Paul Downton was an incompetent so far out of his depth that fish with lights were above him.
I told you the signing of Moores was a disaster, I told you the failure to address the myriad failures of the ashes series would be a disaster, I told you the continuation of Cook as captain would be a disaster, & now his removal was too late, but better than nothing. We told you the bowling coach was doing it wrong, that the bowlers were bowling repeated utter dross, & that bowlers bowling well, fast & dangerously in County Cricket were coming to team england and regressing horribly

We outside cricket, told you this would come to pass, & we’ve been ignored, moderated or dismissed as irrelevant KP blow yards.

Well we told you so & it happened, so stuff you & the horse you rode in on

But let me tell you what grates at me. Like the nails down a blackboard, like a Downton interview, like a westcorkthinktank patronising…. it’s this:

We’ve never been any good at one day international cricket.

Or

We only care about test matches.

This make my blood boil. Australia seem to be able to switch between the two with no difficulty whatsoever. South Africa are the world’s number 1 test team, yet they always fill their big ODI games, and certainly prioritise both forms of the game. Why in the name of hell do we think we are so damn special that a form of the game at which an undisputed World Champion will be appointed in a competition that is held every four years is beneath us. That we shouldn’t care? I’ve read this defeatism, and it makes me livid. It’s not as if we performed well in our holy grail of Ashes test cricket the last time we did it. We used to sell out our ODIs with ease, so it isn’t a lack of public interest. Or it wasn’t.

The ECB, for all we slag them off for their stupidity, cleared the decks to prepare for this competition. They got us to play a somewhat daft ODI series in Sri Lanka as a warm-up, and then got a Tri Series gig in the Big Three Cup. They’ve lined this tournament up. I actually don’t want to throw them under the bus for this bit. Where we cocked it up is we decided, 12 months before the competition, to do what we did. We know what that was, and for me I lay the complete farce this has been so far squarely at the door of my bete noire, Paul Downton. It was he who was the man behind the now infamous dismissal of Pietersen. It was he who was the man behind the selection of Peter Moores as the coach. It was he who was the man behind the unequivocal backing of Alastair Cook as captain in both tests and ODIs. It was he who was the man behind the maintenance of Cook as that captain for ODIs because he deserved chance after chance (and hoping he would come good). It was he who was the man behind the public backing of Cook in Sri Lanka, and then was part of the decision team that sacked him, at practically the last possible moment. I love Andy’s line about him being so far out of his depth that he’s below fish with lights! I wonder what needs to happen for this man to vacate his post…..

But you know that’s what I think. Those of you (that’s probably 99% of my visitors) that frequented my previous place will also note I’ve been pretty quiet on the Peter Moores front. While I wasn’t exactly decking the bunting at his appointment, I want to be as even-handed as I can about his performance, but my patience is wearing thin.

Last year I said this:

Appointment of Moores – I don’t believe it to be a conspiracy, borne out of Flower’s removal and then the need to have KP out of the way for him to be brought in. However, I won’t be admonishing those that think that given a large amount of circumstantial evidence to suggest this could be the case (Selvey pumping him, the “greatest coach of his generation” twaddle, his closeness to Flower etc.). I think the job was Giles’s to lose, and Giles lost it.

and this:

I have absolutely no hope for the future. Good luck Peter Moores. Good luck Alastair Cook. This is your bed, prepared using the sharpest nails by the ECB. Go lie in it.

Moores has not impressed. James at TFT points out on a regular basis that he has never won a one day trophy as a coach, but he’s still the outstanding coach of his generation. Moores comes across to me as a genuinely decent bloke. I fear that the culture among major sporting teams in this country is that we seem somewhat resistant to home-produced coaches, seeing them as ordinary compared to an exotic overseas appointment. I think he also had the obvious issues from the first time around that weigh him down no matter how much people deny it. The smell test is that this is not working, no matter how hard he is trying. The selection of Ballance at number 3, and then dropping Taylor down to six on the day of the first game of the World Cup has panic written all over it, even if it is a rational decision in his eyes. I felt his justification, and subsequent comments smacked of “not my fault” after the Australia game, and to a degree, it isn’t his fault if batsmen play crap shots. But this is a team, whenever you listen to them in that management drone drivel they specialise in , that talk incessantly about “getting the right plans”, “doing the basics” and “executing our skills”. It is said a good coach can be reflected in on field demeanour and fielding quality. These seem not to have improved no matter how much we are told about the dream pairing of Cook and Moores “are creating a good environment”.

Moores knows that the attention is starting to move his way. With Cook out the way, and Downton seemingly impervious to the hatred his presence ensures, it is Peter Moores who is in the hot-seat. Saker is on his way out, Paul Farbrace seems to have become the invisible man, and the layers of protection are being stripped away. It’s not looking good. We’ve entrusted a World Cup to this man, and it seems the last line of defence is the old defeatist one that I stated above. “We’ve never been any good at it”. That doesn’t wash.

If this tournament ends in abject failure, heads have to roll. We cleared the decks for this. We supposedly prepared for this. We ruined the Ashes in many peoples eyes for this. We have a brutal 2015/6 for this. To then rely on lazy presumptions that the fans don’t care, and an Ashes win will satisfy us, are taking the punters, as usual, for fools. This is not either/or. It never has been for teams that aspire to be great. I presume that’s what we want. After all, we won a World Title at the shortest form of the game, so that canard of being no good at this sort of game for some endemic reason is absolute shite. It’s a crutch for those who can’t face the fact that the people that made THAT decision are, in fact, charlatans. Because to admit that would be to admit you-know-who had a point. I saw someone today, who I know has encountered KP, say he’s rather have B*llock cancer than have him back in the team. That’s the sort of thinking I adore.

I’m not going to bother with these players. What’s the point? They got us into this mess, they need to get us out of it. By any means necessary. If they don’t, then eyes need to be cast in the direction of the likes of Stuart Broad, Eoin Morgan and Ian Bell in particular, as well as Jimmy Anderson who disappoints me more and more in this format. There’s a lot of talking, and not a lot of doing.

Oh well. 1500+ words of ranting, and I’ve only scratched the surface. There’s plenty more out there, so read them as well. TFT, Peter Miller et al. Eviscerating stuff showing the disappointment we feel. We care. We really care. Why people think we don’t is beyond me. Utterly beyond me.