When England win an ODI by the ridiculously emphatic margin of 186 runs, I guess we should all be happy. Back in the 1980s our batsmen rarely scored 186 across two innings of a test match against the Windies …. well, maybe we weren’t quite that bad, but you get my point.
When England got slaughtered by a Windies pace attack that included the likes of Marshall, Holding, Patterson, Garner etc, our press would often moan about too much short pitch bowling, intimidation and what some perceived as ungentlemanly bullyboy tactics. I suppose we just felt humiliated. And when people feel embarrassed they often look to recovery some dignity by taking the moral high ground.
The real problem, of course, was not the Windies’ tactics (at the end of the day they were just bloody good) but the sequence of horrendous mismatches. It all got a bit boring, unsatisfying, and there wasn’t really much to talk about anymore. Who wants to see one sided matches that amplify the problems one side is having both on and off the field?
The boot is clearly on the other foot these days. Whereas English cricket was a laughing stock in the 80s and early 90s, with captaincy and selection merry-go-rounds, chairmen who couldn’t get player names right – remember Martin McCaddick and Malcolm Devon? – and rebel tours decimating the pool of available players. Nowadays it’s the Windies who lose their best players – not to rebel tours but to the international T20 circus. What’s more, their political and financial problem seem as bad as ever.
Consequently, I don’t really feel like celebrating England’s record win yesterday – which was the Windies’ biggest ever defeat (in terms of runs) at home. As an England fan I’m pleased to see us dominate the opposition so comprehensively. But the general cricket fan inside me is crying. Is this really the best team the once mighty West Indies can muster? Now it look like they’ll have to actually qualify for the next world cup. It’s really, really sad.
None of this will matter much to Alex Hales and Liam Plunkett though. Hales was excellent on his return to the side and it looks like Sam Billings’ brief run will now come to an end. It’s a shame for the young Kentish gent, who obviously has some talent, but Hales is a pretty established ODI player these days and he’s hard to leave out for long.
It was also good to see Plunkett in the wickets. I’ve always had a soft spot for Liam as I think he’s been a little hard done by over the years. I don’t think he’ll pull up many trees for England at this stage of his career but he’s a good bloke to have around the squad. He can bowl fast and hit the ball miles when he’s in the mood – just the kind of cricketer we would’ve killed for back in the 1980s.
I should also mention Joe Root again. Yes he’s quite useful.
Although I don’t think England should have scheduled in this tour – the somewhat two paced wickets in the Caribbean aren’t anything like what we’ll experience in the Champions Trophy – at least we’ve done the job required. A 3-0 win is nothing to be sniffed at, even if it was a bit like taking candy from a baby in Barbados.
And as for the West Indies … well … I’ll let you write your own obituaries in the comments below.