77 All Out: The Rant And The Rave

We’ve got two different views on yesterday’s action for you today. I’ll go first and then Alex, the eternal optimist, will have his say …

77 all out. Sigh. What a stinking pile of donkey crap. If I was James Anderson I’d tell the batsmen to do one and get on the next plane home. He and Ben Stokes deserved better than the rubbish England’s batsmen served up yesterday.

Yes the bowling was very good. Yes the pitch was doing a bit. But this pitiful performance wasn’t an aberration. England have now been bowled out in a session – and that’s what basically happened yesterday – three times in two years. Before that it hadn’t happened for decades. Coincidence? Don’t you believe it.

The truth is that cricket is changing (or has changed). And England are leading the way in this so called ‘renaissance’. Cricket’s authorities have inexplicably decided that cricket needs to emulate the razzmatazz of the Premier League to survive. They’re completely wrong of course – there will always be a place for subtlety and nuance as not everyone in life lacks the capacity to follow strategic pursuits – but that’s what the money-chasing sell-outs who run our game think.

Consequently English cricket has essentially turned its back on the first class game and focused all its energy on white ball formats. They could have nurtured cricket’s uniqueness, and positioned the game as something captivating and intelligent, but instead they’re focusing on fireworks and pop music. It’s a bit like Martin Scorsese deciding that there’s no money in fascinating characters and beautiful cinematography so he’s only going to make superhero action-adventures now.

The ECB say they’ve had compelling marketing advice but the consultants have obviously forgotten an all-important truth: marketing is largely about differentiation. Cricket was something unique and special. Instead it’s turning it into a me-too version of baseball. It’s a complete betrayal.

Yesterday’s appalling batting effort by England was just another manifestation of this essential problem. England just aren’t producing proper cricketers anymore. Yes the Windies bowled very well, but batsmen with better techniques might have survived.

Exhibit A was Jos Buttler’s wicket. It was a very good ball that would have dismissed many batsmen. But I doubt Cheteshwar Pujara or even Alastair Cook would’ve played at it. They would’ve seen the ball lift alarming and played it differently. After all, the ball was never in danger of hitting the stumps. Modern players lack that crucial bit of judgement and inexperience. Their instinct is to put bat on ball rather than looking to leave and keeping their wicket intact.

But unfortunately English cricket probably isn’t going to produce many more Cooks, Trotts, Strausses, and probably not many Ian Bells either. We live in a world where people think Jonny Bairstow is a 3 not a 6; where people think Jason Roy might make a good test opener; and where our national selector wants to pack the side with all-rounders like it’s a Sunday League match.

Joe Root gave the game away in another of his bizarre interviews the other day. He said there was no point hanging around the crease. He wants his team to be aggressive and put runs on the board because you don’t win test matches by wasting time. In doing so he effectively disrespected those Pujara masterclasses in Australia a few weeks back.

Well here’s a little lesson for you, Joe. And I hope your boss Tom Harrison (who gave a cringeworthy interview full of outrageous spin on Sky at lunch yesterday) is listening too.

England lost our recent tour of Australia 0-4. We were thrashed. Pujara’s India, on the other hand, won the series.

England’s approach might be to “put runs on the board” by packing the side with stroke-makers. But what does it matter if those runs add up to a paltry 77?

England lost this test match in a session yesterday. And to explain it away as an aberration is a dereliction of duty. Lightning does not strike thrice for no reason.

And now I pass you over to Alex who, in the interests of balance, takes a different perspective. And why not? Yesterday was a really exciting day for the neutrals. There’s something magical about Windies fast bowlers running through sides like a hot knife through butter …

If people think that Test cricket is boring, then please have a look at Day 2 of the first Test of the West Indies vs England series in Barbados, which had more twists and turns than a 90s raver in a warehouse party.

After Jimmy Anderson completed his five-for and Ben Stokes finished it all off with his fourth, England came into bat with the pitch still jumping around. Snakebitten from the evil looks the media had given it, this surface was always going to serve up drama – and drama it did.

Within a flash, Kemar Roach (five wickets for four run in just 27 balls) and the West Indian bowlers had demolished England for 77, with only four players even reaching double figures.

Swear as much as you want about batting collapses, but this was all about fantastic bowling on a bouncy pitch. True, there were a couple of wickets that the England players will be ashamed of, but Buttler, Root and Stokes all got good balls (Buttler in particular got a beauty), and Burns and Bairstow were unlucky to play on.

Comfortably in the lead, the Windies looked to crank up the score. It was all looking good, with the hosts at 52-0. Then one fell. Then another. And another. And other. Suddenly it was 61-5 and the crowd suddenly took in a breath again.

Thankfully for them a pulsating partnership between Hetmyer and Dowrich added 60 to ease the West Indies’ worries. It was fun while it lasted until Hetmyer was caught by Buttler (ironic considering Buttler’s drop of the man on 3 in the first innings!).

The West Indies are vastly in control. This game should be won by the end of Day 3. But you never know. Anything might happen in Crazyland, where the rum flows and the green smoke blows.

James Morgan & Alex Ferguson


  • Fair amount of truth in both those. The pitch had something in it for all the bowlers (it’s a 300 pitch, not a 500 pitch, and one of the best in West Indies in the last 20 years).England got their selection wrong, and WI got theirs right. The WI quick bowlers hit the pitch hard, and bowled the right length to get the pitch to do the work (Kemar Roach, in particular, bowled beautifully), and England batted pretty badly.

    Good thing it was Gabriel, Roach,Joseph and Holder, not Marshall, Holding, Garner and Walsh.

    • To explain what i mean, here are some highlights of the 1984/5 Perth test. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03COke_9pPs These include Australia getting bowled out for 76. Australia in those days: “we play the first 2 tests at the Gabba and the WACA. We win if your fast bowling attack isn’t up to it.” West Indies: “We have Marshall, Holding Garner and Walsh. Hold my rum punch.”

  • I must admit that when Jennings was out characteristically early in characteristic fashion, it never occurred to me that I was watching our highest scoring batsman on his way back to the Pavilion. First and foremost credit to the WI bowlers who demonstrated the timeless virtues of bowling line and length, especially when you’re getting enough movement to do the rest, especially against batsman who, for the most part, lack the technique, ability to concentrate and patience necessary to deal with it. Having said that, there was no Holding amongst them – makes you shudder to think how many this England side would have managed against some of those attacks of the Clive Lloyd era !
    Second, however, we really have witnessed the downside of picking a collection of batsmen who have been brought up to play their own game regardless, rather than batsman with expertise in particular a position prepared to adapt their own game to the needs of the situation and the team.

    • I have asked the question before but……..why is Jennings an opener? Surely a bat with such obvious technical flaws against pace and the swinging ball (and who plays spin pretty well) should be a no5 or 6? Has no coach questioned his batting position?

      • Sorry hit report comment instead of reply.

        Re the query has no coach questioned his batting position my reply is simple:

        Mark Ramprakash

      • Because he has learnt his trade in limited overs games and in the county game where it’s far easier to bat. Meaning we get ‘top order’ batsmen like Roy, hakes, moeen, Lyth Etc Etc .. basically, they are good enough st that level but will never make it

        Sadly, counties would rather produce a hales (limited over success) than a hammeed/cook type

        Yet again, people need to stop ove rrating our players and realise that the only way to produce genuine top 6 test payers is to have a game from root to test that nurtures the exact roles, traits and skills needed. Most people now only play win lose slog fests and then we wonder why the skills needed have disappeared

        • I agree with all you say but am not questioning Jennings ability, just why he is batting in the one position which most exposes his technical flaw. I can imagine him doing well for England down the order a little.

  • Bit of nostalgia reading about England getting slaughtered in the Windies. Of course Marshall, Garner and Holding would have sent that England side off for even less, but then they did the same to everyone else on a pretty regular basis.

    In defence of test cricket, two Sri Lankans recently batted through an entire day’s play, while several New Zealanders in response played proper test cricket. The Australia vs India series was enthralling even though the Australian side was historically weak (through their own fault). If nothing else, the fact that the ECB and the Windies boards don’t understand the value of test cricket is being shown up here – England are showing they’ve forgotten how to bat properly, and the Windies have missed out on hosting a proper series in which quite clearly their side is able to compete.

  • 26 runs from the tail and 10 extras, doesn’t say much for the batsman. It could have been worse, Jofra Archer might have been bowling for the Windies !!!

  • I totally agree with James. The interview with Tom Harrison was very revealing as he spoke like a con man. In other words no logic but all spin. He really is ghastly. For example he admitted – not hard to with the evidence in front of his eyes – that England fans love Test cricket and always pack out Test grounds. In almost the next breath he said the future of the game depended on The Hundred because the fans yes he said fans! wanted It. What happened to the mums and kids? Why didn’t he come out and say he wanted to jump on franchise bandwagon because he represents business men? Greed creates lies. Nothing to do with sport. It’s the cheap end of the market like Cost Cutter. That’s the mentality. But there’s huge opposition to The Hundred. As for Windies they are just picking themselves out of the mess of franchise cricket greed and poaching. A few cricketers made a lot of money but it was catastrophic for the pride and skill of the Windies game. That’s our future if we don’t fight for our county game and Test cricket. I enjoy T20 but it’s obviously limited and a bit repetitive. It can’t satisfy at the top level. It’s become a game where classic batsmen can flourish alongside the big hitters and bowlers have become more cunning. But it just can’t offer the drama of the longer format with its twists and turns. The intricacies of cricket make it endlessly fascinating. It is deeply satisfying and that doesn’t just depend on the result. That’s why good cricket is great to watch. Yes wickets falling!! But also the fight of the batsman trying to build a partnership to save the innings.

  • While there are some England-specific things to yesterday, it’s part of a much broader trend….

    Having got the average Test score below a typical ODI score, the ICC aim is now to get Test scores below what we see in T20. “Lively” pitches are now the order (anyone see that Gabriel bouncer that moved 45 degrees and went for 4 byes?) and these balls swing all day long. I watched the SA v P series where there was just one team innings over 303 (which depended heavily on dropped catches) and this is just more of the same. Those who think this isn’t a deliberate strategy have to explain why ODI pitches are roads and the white-ball thinks swinging is something bored suburban couples do.

    Think about it, we know all the boards except the BCCI want 4 day Tests. If they try to introduce them openly, they can’t get them past India and there’ll be opposition from traditionalists (or, as Harrison likes to call them, “obsessives”). Much better to smuggle 4 day Tests in on a de facto basis by gerrymandered conditions. Your media stooges can trumpet how exciting it all is (this sort of Test cricket is “exciting” like sugar-laiden food is “nourishing”) and traditionalists can be led by the blind alley of lamenting modern day batting techniques.

    By the way, England are of course winning this game like they win every game they play (except against their Big Three mates). Most of the England players are paid ten times what Hetmyer is getting. By my reckoning (and available info is a little sketchy and slightly out of date), Hetmyer as he’s on a WI red-ball only contract is earning about 100k a year whereas the 9 centrally contracted England players are on a million. The best paid WI players (Holder, Hope, Roach and Joseph) are earning about a fifth of England’s pay. Their opportunities to earn match fees are frustrated by a lack of fixtures yet their board has also blocked their route of playing in lucrative franchises. Sure they may have scored more runs but try telling that to your bank manager. WI players are actually not badly paid by other non-B3 standards and earn more than, for example, SL or Pakistan.

    • Keeping an eye on the SA v Pak ODI. I don’t think Supersport Park is a road today. Pak 4/1 after 3.1 overs.

  • In a world of seismic changes in politics and venom-filled social media, it’s reassuring to see something familiar i.e. the collapse of a poorly selected England team hopelessly exposed by a good bowling attack. And with yet another Test almost certain to be finished well within its allotted time the authorities can purr with satisfaction that if shorter Tests are to become the norm, there will be more room in the calendar for shorter forms of the game.

    Fortunately I didn’t see the interview with Harrison who induces violent thoughts in my normally placid mind.

  • I had half expected an announcement that Broad’s mosquito bites or whatever they were had turned septic, but no such excuse appeared. 2-33 and 4-15 (I think) suggested that he was in reasonable form, but hey-ho, why not play about and see how the team does without the obvious bowler to select. Joe’s pre-match interview from the Kensington Oval on Tuesday in which the Captain revealed that hadn’t been able to pin down much about the pitch and that the groundsmen hadn’t told him a lot seemed to reveal both a casual ignorance of history and a determination to avoid the obvious. Blow me down; the Oval performed as normal and predictably just how anyone who lives within 5miles (or in fact 300miles!) of the ground could have told him.

    Then again, Broad’s omission might have been survivable if the squad had actually had some appropriate preparation for the Test. The WICB had offered England a four-day first class match, but he ECB had declined (to the astonishment of the WICB member I met in Nelson’s Dockyard before Christmas) apparently on the basis that the ECB did not want to “overwork” the squad. Let’s be clear: the two-day warm-up matches that the ECB requested instead provided no actual preparation for Test Match cricket in Caribbean conditions.

    England’s bowling was unremarkable on Wednesday (reinforcing the exasperation of those amateurs who had lamented the lack of Broad) but the batting collapse that followed was of a shocking scale. Failing openers have become an unwelcome tradition for England, but without Sir Alastair’s example there now seems little hope of whichever hapless pair who take the crease ever learning this character-based craft.

    The commentators seemed to be overly kind to England’s “batsmen.” From what I could see Bairstow left a gap you could have driven a lorry through but no, everyone commiserates with him as the elbow was “unlucky.” The Captain, England’s finest batsman of his generation, just lazily played across the line. Buttler misjudged the bounce of a ball from Kemar Roach who, although by WI standards is only medium fast, had battered Bairstow at Lord’s all those years ago in such a memorable fashion that one can only presume that Jonny B had not given Joss B any kind of heads-up. Moeen sleepily top-edged his first ball. Chris Foakes came forward before he had got his brain functioning, perhaps understandably having not expected to have been batting quite so early on. In fairness, Stokes seemed unlucky.

    Commentary that I caught up with yesterday evening seemed to suggest that the Windies bowling had been brilliant “every ball a grenade” etc. Newsflash: it really wasn’t anything special. I wasn’t sure that Shannon Gabriel was actually even trying very hard and I’ve seen Joseph do more with the ball for the Patriots in the CPL.

    I could go on, but the overwhelming impression was that here was a side “having a laugh.” I shouldn’t think Jimmy Anderson was best pleased. Stuart Broad would have had to exercise super-human self-control not to have said something along the lines of “I told you so.” Sir Alastair must have his head in his hands in disbelief. Andrew Strauss, if he could bring himself to watch, must simply be spitting mad. No doubt the Root groupies will be preparing something along the lines of “fair enough – it’s all good practice.” Well, the thing that is good practice is, ummmm, well, practice. This was a shambles revealing just a simple lack of seriousness.

    Without some motivation to win appearing from somewhere this England squad are going to have a less pleasant Caribbean holiday than they seem to have expected.

    • Thanks for your comments Xan. I often wonder whether England get complacent, especially as they play so many matches. It must be hard to motivate oneself when international cricket often feels like a treadmill. Having said that, this was the first test of the series post-Christmas so they should have been fresh. I really don’t know what to make of it all.

    • “Commentary that I caught up with yesterday evening seemed to suggest that the Windies bowling had been brilliant every ball a grenade”

      Bishop described the ball that got Buttler as “a quick delivery”. According to the speed gun it was 78 mph.

  • Roach is a good bowler, but just to put his career record in some sort of perspective:

    Before this match his bowling average was 31 against the current top five ranked nations (and that’s heavily dependent on his record against NZ). He averages 40 against Australia and 50 against India (albeith on a very small sample against the latter).

    Malcolm Marshall or Curtley Ambrose he isn’t. I know we know this but try telling some of the media this morning.

  • West Indies bowled well, but our batting was poor, which considering the ECB turned down a 4 day game, isn’t a surprise.
    Disagree with Alex, Burns & Bairstow weren’t unlucky, it was poor techniques.
    Had the misfortune to see the interview with the clown-in-chief, Harrison. When states that ”the fans want the 100”. Which fans does he mean, as I’ve not seen any cricket fans that were actually asked by the ECB.

  • I haven’t analysed a retrospective look at let’s say England’s last 10 tours, but it seems like we produce one or two of these batting displays on almost every one. The domino effect needs renaming.
    I think what has happened is England’s recent one day resurgence has produced a mentality in the camp, composed of largely the same group of players, where ‘play to your strengths’ looking to score off every ball, has taken over as the new mantra, rather than play the conditions or play the situation. This maybe because the batsmen haven’t the technique or temperament to be more watchful. This one dimensional attitude is bound to throw up occasional debacles like yesterday.
    Yes the Windies bowled well, yes they selected the right type of bowlers, yes the pitch was responsive. However there is now no ‘traditional’ test batsman available to this squad to lead by example. To me it’s something that’s not going to change and as supporters we may have to adapt our attitude towards it.

  • If half of this shambolic England side are being paid up to £1million a year they should be sacked and refund thier salaries. This was appalling and shows nothing more than a T20 mentality. As I said yesterday we’d reach a position where the one day all rounders wouldn’t bail out the top order yet again. Well it just happened so they may as well open with Rashid and Curran and reverse the batting order. Jennings was the top scorer for christs sake! The Aussie pace attack will slaughter us in August if we persist with this lot.

  • Why on earth didn’t the Windies enforce the follow-on? I know it is the modern way but it is, to me, inexplicable – demoralised batsman, bowlers only just warmed up (only 30 overs bowled between them) but on fire, one session of play left in the day., pitch remaining helpful. I really do not understand.

    • I expect it’s becasue they didn’t want to be batting last on that pitch and also not to overwork their bowlers.

      • The bowlers were still reasonably fresh – and no doubt buoyed by adrenaline – one more session was not a big ask. And the Windies may not have had to bat again anyway! OK, it’s cricket and anything can happen, but even so…

    • If England follow on and bat on day 3 and 4 (still good for batting) a target of 150 / 200 (unlikely based on 1st showing I know) is a more challenging option than Windies batting again and batting England out of the game.

      Another factor is the back to back test matches – Jimmy bowled c30 overs first up so why not get him bowling for another day and a half to wear him out.before the second test.

      PS – James, I accidentally hit report comment instead of reply – ignore it.

  • Let me add that the ECB goes on spending £squillions – and paying its employees generously, to say the least – and for what?

  • That was a terrible batting performance from England. They appear to have 5 no.7s in their team, the opening is still a problem, and the obession with allrounders seems to have backfired in this game. Moeen has been batting poorly for a long while now, Curran is not an opening bowler (although most people already thought so), and Broad’s reputation has been considerably enhanced by his absence.

    As for Jimmy Anderson, he finishes with a five-for and instead of getting a well deserved break, 3 hrs later, he is bowling again. If I were him, I’d just book the next flight home and let the batsmen fend for themselves.

    • At this rate they might as well bring back James Vince, he’ll atleast get a pretty 30 before getting out, which is more than what the others are doing.

      • A pretty Vince 30 would’ve taken our total into triple figures! Sounds slightly better than 77 all out.

    • The problem is not that they have five no7’s. The problem is that their various no7’s are just as good as the more rated bats.

  • There are a number of comments, both here and in the press, implying that the wicket is unsatisfactory and to blame for the England collapse. It seems to me to be a decent wicket with a bit in it for the bowler but nothing remotely out of the ordinary or that you would not see in the County Championship. I am currently watching Dowritch and Holder batting serenely on the 3rd day and both seem untroubled (kiss of death alert!). Lets just admit it; the wicket is fine and England’s batting was rubbish.

    • The wicket looked trickier when England were batting simply because the Windies bowlers are taller and faster; therefore they got more out of it. Surprised if the media are ignoring this. The Windies are currently 237-6 today and haven’t lost a wicket. The surface looks pretty flat right now but I bet that changes when Gabriel is storming in!

  • As a neutral fan it was nice to see a fine exhibition of fast bowling by big mean Caribbean fast bowlers. Yes, Roach et are not in the same league as Marshall et al but some of their deliveries were as good as their colleagues from yesteryear. The difference between Roach and co and Marshall and co is that Marshall and co consistently bowled like Roach and his mates did yesterday. It was one of those days when the ball came out beautifully for Roach and his mates, the English batsmen struggled and the pitch did the rest of the work for them. Fast bowling is the life and soul of test cricket and if only the Windies fast bowlers can bowl like this on most days they take the field there’s no reason to believe they cannot compete with test cricket’s big boys.

    • They’ll need to put competitive totals on the board too but the bowling has definitely improved by the looks of things. It’s good to see.

      Roach has always been a good bowler. Not top draw but very useful.

  • What’s the problem with the pitch? Got a bit in it if you bowl well which we didn’t and you can obviously score if you apply yourself, a number 8 has just got a ton. Trouble is our 5 number 7’s can only bat on flat tracks. England are nowhere near as good as they think they are, as is being exposed here.

  • Nothing wrong with the pitch
    WI bowled well but not that great

    Englsnd simply aren’t very good but sadly many people over rated this bunch of players. Everyone is ready to let them off because suddnely one will biff an innings in one day style and they are the next great hope, full of potential etc

    Curran.. dilly dobbler.. hitter.. yet many suddenly think he’s going to add on 8mph and become a test bat,sen.. you’re having a laugh.. he won’t put on enough pace and he is anhitter.. modern day bits and pieces white ball product.. like Roy, hales, Lyth Etc Etc

    Moeen.. avg 30
    Stokes avg 32

    Come on guys.. people have been telling me stokes is a test clas batter in his own right.. act 32!!!

    Moeen… he simply isn’t a batsmen t test level and so unless he’s the best spinner.. drop him

    Burns gets. Run

    Jennings needs to get his avg of 25 to 40 quick or he should be dropped

    Tbh, I know there is nothing out there but sod it.. can’t keep playing the same chumps..

    ECB need to sort out priorities
    Counties need to be forced or red ball champ needs a monster pot of money if you win (2020 pot lowered) to produce red ball batters
    Locks leagues top 5 divs need to be draw cricket and there needs to be a 2020 league on sats where they use local schools Astro pitches to keep those with no time around .

  • 17 wickets one day, none the next! At least modern day test cricket is not predictable and that makes for an entertaining spectacle, whatever your views on the quality of proceedings.

  • James, whilst I agree with your comments that India’s batting policy of batting long in Australia via Pujura was much better than England’s hit everything for four approach, one of the reasons why India won the series so easily was that Australia’s best two batsmen Smith and Warner were banned and their replacements weren’t up to the job.


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