It has been a horrible, horrible year or so for English cricket. We got stuffed in the Ashes 0-5. The board reacted by sacking the best batsman without sufficient explanation, appointing a failed old coach, and patronising the fans with outside cricket jibes (something that offended many supporters whether it was directed at Piers Morgan or not).
English cricket was subsequently dragged through the mud. The board came across as bumbling and disingenuous. The outside world laughed at us. The legacy of the team that reached number one in the world was ripped apart by accusations of bullying. And on the field we lost to Sri Lanka in all forms of the game, and suffered a humiliating defeat to India at Lord’s.
Although things improved with a dramatic turnaround against India, we lost the ODIs, then lost another ODI series in Sri Lanka, and were utterly humiliated in the World Cup. Things couldn’t have been much worse. Meanwhile many fans still felt ostracised, angry and disenfranchised.
Colin Graves, the incoming chairman, made things worse by dangling a carrot in front of Pietersen and then snatching it away. The board looked like fools all over again. And to make matters worse, far worse, Tom Harrison the new CEO dashed hopes that some live cricket would return to FTA television (something the counties wanted) and called terrestrial channels ‘irrelevant’.
Personally, the last year has been my lowest point as an England supporter. To see so many people actually rooting against the team; to see the ECB stitch up world cricket at the ICC; to hear that the England captain owed his position to his social class; it all made me sick to the stomach.
Yet today was a good day. A bloody good day. After all the embarrassment and anger of the last year or so, we finally have something to cheer about. The ODI series against New Zealand was entertaining, but at the end of the day it was just another ODI series. Did it really count for much? A resounding win in a live Ashes test, however, is a big deal. It’s brilliant. And it’s a genuine reason to be happy.
Our lads played extremely well in this test match, in a manner that was miles apart from the stodgy, stats driven, attritional style of the past – the style that had served us so well, but had become stale and outdated. Change has finally arrived.
To see young cricketers like Stokes, Wood, Moeen and Root play with freedom, enjoyment and panache warms my cockles. I’m bloody chuffed with all of them. Hell, Alastair Cook even captained the team pretty well. Things just went our way.
Although it’s only the first test of the series, and this team has a worrying habit of following up a win with a loss, I don’t really care about that right now. Let’s just savour a great performance and a well earned victory. If the Aussie fans who goaded us in January last year are crying into their beer, and David Warner’s feeling a little low, that’s good enough for me.
The thought of Shane Watson’s challenging yet another lbw decision, with that gormless expression on his face, will keep me warm for the next few nights. Today was a good day.
PS please excuse the rap video above. I actually dislike most rap. But i like this song because it reminds of GTA San Andreas and a happy time in my life. My favourite blog, Niners Nation, plays it whenever my NFL team the 49ers win. It’s called ‘It Was A Good Day’.
“If the Aussie fans who goaded us in January last year are crying into their beer, and David Warner’s feeling a little low, that’s good enough for me.”
The Australian fans goaded you because you capitulated to a 5-0 loss.
Are we going to see the familiar English routine of exaggerated pessimism followed by exaggerated triumphalism?
Nothing you can say is going to spoil today Tom. You lost :-)
I’ve got a few hundred bucks on England winning the series.
A few hundred? High roller. I hope you win of course!
Check out this piece by Jarrod Kimber. I think he accurately captures your weird pre-series pessimism.
In a word, yes. In a number, 1 nil…
Let the jingoism continue – what a load of bollocks!
from reasoned critique to this in no time at all – this website has lost all of my respect – the EC B will be ‘lovin’ it’ – viva the revolution and goodnight!!
What isn’t ‘reasoned’ about the above? I’m happy we beat the traditional rivals of English cricket. All I can be is honest.
Honest question, do you even like cricket any more Ron? I’m guessing from your passion that you did at some point.
It’s possible for most of us both to dislike the EBC, and enjoy the cricket.
Yes, absolutely! I have never, ever liked the stuffed-shirt attitude of the MCC (in my younger days) or the way in which the ECB have operated more recently, but that does not stop me from enjoying the cricket, and supporting the England lads when they are playing. It is not possible, if one is a real cricket fan, to turn on or turn off one’s support for the team just because I might not like some of the fools who control the game. I’ve been following English cricket since I discovered it on the radio (or wireless) in 1962 and I cannot and will not lessen my support when the lads take to the field. Oh, and I am Welsh and was proud to travel to Cardiff for day two of the test, great atmosphere, lovely ground and we won! What could be better?
I’m sorry to say that, much as I am pleased for some of the young players in the England team (notably Wood, Root, Stokes and Ali), the ECB’s duplicity and contempt for fans cannot be wiped away in one victory.
Because let’s be clear. The ECB see this as vindication – vindication for their lies about Pietersen, about the way they’ve treated one of the greatest England batsman of the last 40 years, about the contempt they’ve shown for fans, about everything.
I wish it weren’t so – and that this result could be separated from all that but it can’t.
As long as Cook is there, grinning smugly as if all his Christmases have come at once and feeling the pressure is now off (completely undeservedly for so many reasons – not least of which is that he continues to bat poorly), I can NEVER support this test match side.
The ODI side under Morgan are different. But Cook’s actions in backstabbing Pietersen are simply unforgiveable and I will not give him the crumb of comfort of support that he is so desperately looking for from people like me.
If this comes across as bitter, it’s because I am – my favourite batsman of the last 40 years has been treated with such contempt by the cricketing establishment that only a full apology for their behaviour to him (or Cook’s resignation) will come close to satisfying me. I know that this will never come. I deeply resent that I have been put in this position by the ECB and their cronies and will never forgive them for it.
I’m afraid I will be willing on Australia to retain the Ashes for the remaining 4 test matches.
I do know how you feel Jeremy. The ECB don’t deserve the reflected glory. We’ll be on their case again soon. I’m going to a press screening of the film ‘Death of a Gentleman’ on Tuesday which investigates the stitch up at the ICC. We’ll no doubt be talking about this subject in future days.
For me, however, this test was more about England versus Australia. Our cricketers against theirs. I suppose you could say that our rivalry with the Aussies, who have given us endless grief over the years – the whitewashes, the sledging, the gum chewing, the broken arm threats etc – is slightly more important to me than the politics (or at least runs deeper). An Australian win would’ve meant more piss taking, a big grin on Warner’s face, and …. need I go on.
I know it’s impossible to separate the politics from the team entirely, but when my football team occasionally beat Man Utd in the 1990s, I cared not that I reviled our chairman – at least not for a day. The whole point of hating the chairman was my belief that he was holding the team back. But if the team won anyway, it didn’t seem so bad.
What happened? Was there a cricket game? I’m pretty sure hardly anyone in England noticed.
Indeed. I was at a work thing all day yesterday and at one point somebody looked at their phone and said “Oh, 1-0 England!”. But when I said “Great, Australia all out then?” he looked at me blankly. He was talking about football. Nobody in the room knew anything about the match in Cardiff. One person said vaguely “My dad used to like cricket.”
I’m with Jeremy Livitt in being unable to support ‘Cook’s England’, much as I like Root, Ali, Buttler and Wood and much as I support Morgan’s one-day side. But more important is that cricket has faded from the public consciousness in England and Alastair Cook isn’t going to put it back.
“What happened? Was there a cricket game? I’m pretty sure hardly anyone in England noticed.”
I honestly don’t think the average person in England gives much of a damn about the politics – its just the effect of the Sky sell-out. Like it or not, cricket will never be a major sport again whilst there is zero live coverage on terrestial TV. Sad but true. And its going to take a long time before the real impacts are measurable.
I really think sometimes you just need to watch the cricket. James was right, its been a terrible year for English cricket but the ODI team is looking good and we lead the Ashes – I can’t understand for the life of me why cricket fans wouldn’t want to enjoy that. Dosn’t make sense – the administrators will always be unpopular that’s not going to change.
As James said … you can hate the ICC for holding England back. But if we are winning and playing exciting cricket , what’s the point ? Maybe, just maybe we wouldn’t be any better with KP.
“Sometimes you just need to watch the cricket”.
Well said. Couldn’t possibly agree more. We fell in love with the game when we were kids, and the game has always been the antidote to any grubby corporate deals or power struggles that take place in its name.
I’m a sports fan, and just about every sport can only be loved in spite of the people and organisations that run it. Football? Corruption. Gridiron? Scandalous disregard for player safety. Aussie Rules? Never-ending drug probes and bureaucratic stuff ups. And that’s just three. And in every case, the game continues to enthral us even as we shake our heads at some of the stupidity that surrounds it.
Abandoning a game (or a team) that you love just because you don’t like the way it’s run is, frankly, like divorcing your wife because you don’t like the in-laws. A giant collective exercise in cutting off your nose to spite your face.
For the rest of us, who understand the very clear difference between the 11 players on the field and the suits in the boardroom, it’s been a glorious few days. Long may it continue.
Yes, my point wasn’t that Cook wouldn’t put cricket back into the public eye but KP would (though KP is undoubtedly better box-office).
It was that the problems of public unawareness are much too big now to be cured by trying to make the captain into some kind of personification of the sport in England, which seems to be the current aim.
Imagine if the Ashes was getting the same terrestrial TV coverage as Wimbledon…
What a bunch of miseries we have on here today. Such a shame you could not all simply enjoy a good game of test cricket, a great win and leave history and politics at the door.
The past will not change. Get over it, look to the future, or bow out if you find that to be an impossibility. The management are not the team. The problem lies with those who cannot divorce the two.
How exactly are we meant to enjoy a good game of cricket when its not on the tv?
None of my juniors enjoyed a good game of cricket, I asked them today and none of them had seen a single ball.
Win, lose, draw, its all completely irrelevant. No-one is able to watch.
Some of the team were very much responsible for what happened over the past few years. And they will NEVER be forgiven by me. I couldn´t give a toss if we win 5-0.
I wonder how folks on here would react if, say, Root had received the umpiring decisions that Watson did. The one in the first innings was a real shocker – the umpire who gave that out originally should be sent for instant eye-testing. The one in the second innings was marginally better but was still less out than an unsuccesful call against Lyth in the England second innings. Watto might just have been umpired out of Test cricket. I don’t see why it is so necessary to victimise him in this way or gloat over it.
I find it unpleasant the way it’s seen by both commenters and journalists as OK to slag off Watson and characterise him as some kind of vain oaf. The fact that he’s made quite a bit of money out of playing cricket seems to be connected with it.
He always seems all right when he’s interviewed. Players get cast in a role, though, as we know. Someone on the G linked to this article, which is worth a read: http://www.thecricketmonthly.com/story/824155/pretty-hate-machine
Thanks for the link. Thought-provoking article.
Not sure what you are getting at. If we buy into the ball tracking technology (ie think that it is as accurate as it can be) then what was wrong with Watson’s dismissal? Clipping the top of off stump? If he had been bowled, and the ball just clipped the bail would you be objecting?…or should we just take away all the technology stuff and rely on the umpire’s decision? That’s what I grew up with, and of course as TV got better we could see the mistakes that were made. It’s the same for all!
So what was wrong with the Lyth case? The ball would have smashed leg stump and did not noticeably pitch outside.
The first one was borderline I’ll grant but the ball tracking was indicating it was possibly out then I don’t see what the problem is. Yes Lyth got lucky it happens sometimes, I’m sure that Watson has had a not out before that was Umpire’s call. You don’t get world records for LBW decisions by simply bad umpiring, you do it by playing in a way that consistently creates those chances.
Sadly Watson is a player who at test level has never quite lived up to his talent.
Well done to the ECB. Has taken a few months longer but the rebuilding of the test side since the nadir of the last Ashes series is taking shape. Vindicated for sticking with Cook’s grit so far, and not listening to the dissenting voices and caving into the casual adrenaline junkies who wanted Pietersen back in the side. The youth set-up is paying dividend it would seem, and things look pretty well set with Strauss in the director role.
Pietersen has been completely and utterly vindicated by this result. This is EXACTLY how he had been trying to get England to play for the past 2 years.
Chap goes in at 43/3 in overcast conditions against a rampant Australian attack..flays a run-a-ball century and completely reshapes the game.
Yeah, that’s got Cook written all over it. ;)
Good win for England. Set up I think by Aus bowling erratically in the first two sessions. With the amount of movement all the Aussie seamers were getting early with some consistent bowling they should have taken 4 in the first session without having to have Lyon come on and take cook as second wicket. Haddin taking a catch might have helped also. I really think they squandered a chance to get England out for < 250 then and meant they were chasing the game from then on it only took the fact that none of the middle order went on after making a start first innings to have them in a world of trouble.
I expect Watson has played his last test barring injury to Mitch marsh. Haddin will get another outing but mores drops and no runs next test will probably see his end also. If Starc can't play next test it will be a blow.
From England's side I think the batting at 1-4 is still shaky but there is huge strength at 5-8 to make up for it (although 7 we haven't seen yet). Wood is looking to be a great third seam option.
I still think Aus will retain the ashes but less confident of a series win than a week a go.
I think we’re starting to see signs that Australia miscalculated with a couple of older players amid the euphoria of the win in 2013-14.
That was such a spectacular victory that they backed the players (apart from George Bailey) to carry on and have another go at England. That appeal of one last glorious hurrah was too much to resist.
After this series, regardless of the result, all considerations will shift to the question of what kind of side Steve Smith inherits and how Australia shape up against South Africa next year and in the home Ashes in 2017. Perhaps Australia should have taken a couple more steps down that road before this series. Perhaps that 2013-14 win should the been the glorious last hurrah for a few, with some younger players pushed through a little more boldly.
Admittedly, Australia felt that going again with those older players gave them the best chance and that’s fair enough to an extent. I’m certainly not suggesting that Australia should have prioritised ‘development’ over trying to win this series.
But we’ve already seen that Harris couldn’t last – and the back-up is Cummins, who has no FC form whatsoever. That has to count as a mistake. And I think, at the end of this series, we may all conclude that Haddin and Watson should have been cut loose earlier. There are readymade replacements for both players but they’ve held their spots despite ordinary form. That was at its heart a strategic decision to stick with experience. By all means stick with Rogers, Clarke and Johnson – and Voges also deserved the nod. But I think a couple of new faces in other spots might actually have improved this Australian side, while also laying the groundwork for whatever comes next.
Might Australia have been better off pressing on with Mitch Marsh over Watson, Nevill over Haddin and maybe someone like Jackson Bird as a back-up quick? Instead, Australia went all-in on those experienced players and there are more than a few signs that it hasn’t worked out.
Yes quite agree. I think both Mitchell Marsh and Nevill should have been blooded in WI before the Ashes. Bird is playing CC isn’t he so they may be thinking him of an on hand reserve anyway.
It saddens me that there is no cricket on terrestial TV. This is our national summer sport for God’s sake. Ten years ago, the gripping 2005 series was the last one to be aired on terrestial TV and I can remember seeing quite a few youngsters playing cricket on the local football field near where I live. Ever since then, it’s become rare to see any games of cricket in the park. I rely on the excellent TMS coverage and the Channel 5 highlights package. This latter is a reasonably good one hour broadcast, although Mark Nicholas is
annoying. I wish it could be a two hour highlights programme, but that’s never going to happen. When you think of the anodyne, mindless drivel that BBC and Channel 4 do broadcast during the day – all of it eminently missable – it saddens me to think no one has the will to broadcast the cricket. They could still fit in a news broadcast at 1pm and elderly followers of the game would no doubt be glued to it. I used to enjoy the BBC coverage of domestic one day competitions years ago too, you could come home from work in the summer and still see an exciting climax to a 50 or 60 overs game. But, no, it’s more important to show Bargain Hunt or A Place in the Sun type programmes. I can’t afford a Sky subscription, many people can’t, and though most houses in the UK are adorned with satellite dishes, the vast majority of these households probably have Sky for other reasons than its cricket coverage.
I was delighted with England’s unexpected win, the challenge now is to keep up the good work at Lord’s, where we don’t have a good record. I was pleased to see that all bar one catch were taken by the England fielders. Root, at just 24, has already made himself England’s key batsmen and it was great to see him making Haddin pay for that drop. Moeen Ali may never be as good as Swann, but he has a knack of taking important wickets at key moments and his batting is a joy to watch. Broad’s bowling looked excellent throughout and Wood, who plays with a smile on his face, seems to be a far better third seamer option than Jordan, Woakes etc. He even looks quite good with the bat. Stokes made useful runs in both innings, but he does really leak runs when he bowls and lacks control. It was pleasing to see Bell find some form again, but Ballance is not convincing me as a number three batsmen, his foot movement is non existent at times. Cook took some good catches but missed out with the bat, having got himself out both times. As someone else said, I’d rather he play more defensively and let others like Bell and Root be more aggressive. I’m quite happy for him to drop anchor at one end, it was horrible the way he got out to Lyon in the first innings.
Overall, a fine performance by England, but they need to keep it up from now on, because Australia are bound to come back at them strongly.