Let’s start with the positives. Erm. Ollie Stone looked good I suppose. And now for the negatives …
What in the name of Zeus’s pubic hair was that? I’m gobsmacked. To get bowled out for 85 in a single session is bad enough. But to get bowled out by Ireland? At home? After winning the toss? It’s completely inept and a total humiliation.
In any other era this would lead to captains being sacked, coaches being replaced, and petitions being drawn up. But in this era of the England test team, where lamentable collapses come two a penny, we’ve almost become desensitised to such calamities. People just seem to shrug their shoulders or laugh.
However, I’m not going to let them get away with it. So I repeat. We were bowled out of 85 in a single session – just 23.5 overs in fact – by Ireland. The lowest ranked test team on the planet. And we contrived to achieve this unique feat of sporting ineptitude at home after winning the toss.
I’m afraid today’s performance was absolutely pathetic and completely unacceptable for a professional cricket team. Everyone connected to the team should be thoroughly ashamed. It was possibly the worst batting performance by an England test team ever. And the statistics back this up.
There’s no doubt that Ireland were magnificent. So kudos to them. They must be over the moon and rightly so. But this wasn’t exactly Allan Donald or Wasim Akram bowling at us today.
Tim Murtagh is a very good professional bowler – as we mentioned yesterday he averages 23 this season at Lord’s – but he’s going to be 38 years old in a few days time. I suspected he might do some damage but 5-13 off 9 overs? That surpassed my worst nightmare.
And then there’s Boyd Rankin, who some people argue is the worst seam bowler to play for England in the modern era. I personally think that’s harsh, as he clearly wasn’t fit when he played down under back in 2014. However, he’s 35 years of age now and clearly not the force he once was.
And finally there’s Mark Adair. He bowled like a hero but he’s no Red Adair. He was released by Warwickshire a couple of years ago and doesn’t even have a professional contract with Ireland yet. Thank heavens Stuart Thompson had a bad day otherwise England might not have reached 50.
Although we must congratulate the Irish on an outstanding achievement – and whatever the outcome of this game they’ll be able to hold their heads high after this – we simply can’t avoid just how appalling and embarrassing England were today.
Those who have been paying attention have cringed at the way the ECB have criminally neglected first class cricket in their pursuit of World Cup glory. They could have had a good ODI team and a good test team – much like other recent winners of the World Cup – but England went all in to secure an international 50-over trophy and neglected everything else.
We can argue about whether last Sunday makes this all worthwhile – I say ‘no’ while others will say ‘yes’ – but this pitiful red ball batting line up is the price we’re sadly paying.
England’s top 3 is a joke. And those who think that Jason Roy will solve all our problems might have to think again after he was effectively dismissed twice in the space of just 11 balls for just 5 runs this morning. He looked as poor as he did in the final against New Zealand when the ball moved around.
With Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler missing, and Moeen clearly suffering a nosebleed batting at No.6, I argued yesterday that this was possibly the worst England test batting line-up of all time. And today they lived down to the hype with a performance to match.
It’s so utterly depressing. Take a couple of batsmen out of the ODI side and we still look great on paper. One could draft in Alex Hales or Dawid Malan and the side wouldn’t break step.
But our test team has no depth whatsoever – not even in the starting XI. Other than Root and Bairstow this side lacks any quality whatsoever. And I’m not sure that Jonny is even a banker anymore.
The shot Bairstow played today sums up everything wrong with English cricket. A very good player has inadvertently sacrificed his test form in order to win a World Cup winner’s medal.
Jonny wasn’t in the ODI side a year or so ago but desperately wanted in, modified his technique to help him hit the ball through the off-side, and in doing so made his defensive technique as porous as a cherokee hair tampon.
Today’s unsightly ‘drive’, which bowled him neck and crop, was the result. And they say good players don’t get clean bowled …
England’s other batsmen made very similar technical and mental mistakes – exactly what you’d expect from a team of white ball hitters in fact. They groped at balls they didn’t need to play; their feet looked stuck in molasses; they went hard at the ball when soft hands were required. And needless to say their shot selection was utterly abysmal.
Things had better improve quickly or the Ashes will be over by the end of the third test. And at this rate that might only entail eight or nine days’ cricket.
Right, I’m off to lie down in a darkened room and down a bottle of whiskey. Desperate times call for thoroughly sensible measures.