First of all, we’d like to apologise for our failure to write anything about the last two ODIs. We just couldn’t bear it really, and to be honest there’s nothing new we can say. This tour goes on far too long and nobody cares about the ODIs anyway.
Why the limited overs matches can’t be an interesting precursor to the test series, when teams are sizing each other up and trying to seize a psychological advantage, is beyond me. The Texaco Trophy (remember those heady days?) used to be entertaining and fascinating. Why did they change a winning formula?
I wonder how Alastair Cook feels. He’s totally out of form, absolutely knackered, and half the test team has already gone home. Yet Cook, the man who’s had most on his plate in the last few months, has to suck it up and soldier on. The poor sod.
Is it any wonder he’s thinking about resigning the ODI captaincy? I can hardly blame him. His bosses, the ECB, don’t give two hoots about his physical and psychological wellbeing, so why shouldn’t he throw in the towel? All they seem to care about is scheduling as many matches as possible to boost their coffers.
Eveyone’s favourite Yorkshireman, Geoff Boycott, suggested recently that England’s ODI XI should be totally different to the test team; in other words, you play one format or the other. At the time I scoffed, as every player surely wants to be part of a cricket World Cup, but the more I think about it the more it seems inevitable – unless, of course, the powers that be revisit the schedules (which seems unlikely).
The bottom line is that it’s unfair to ask our best cricketers to spend approximately two hundred and fifty nights a year in hotel beds. Is it really any surprise that the away team lost the poorly conceived back-to-back Ashes series 0-5? Is it any surprise, at all, that our cricketers look burned out by the age of thirty? Cook clearly shouldn’t be in Australia at the moment. He should be back in Blighty resting his weary limbs and thinking about his impending fatherhood.
The fact remains that England’s top cricketers play far too much cricket. Brad Haddin is five years older than most of our team, yet he was the player of the series in the Ashes. He looked fresher and hungrier. It’s pretty obvious why.
So how do we sort out the current mess? My gut feeling is that Cook shouldn’t rush into resigning the ODI captaincy. If he feels he’s the wrong man for the job – and has come to accept his limitations as a tactician – then yes, he should go. However, if this is his reasoning, then he should relinquish the test captaincy too.
But now is not the time for big decisions. He cannot be thinking clearly at the moment. He’s battered, bruised and fatigued. The mind cannot assess anything with clarity when it’s running on empty. It would be nice, in a way, if the ECB simply made the decision for him. However, they’ll probably shirk this decision too.
Cook is just a soldier. Or should that be servant? He does the ECB’s bidding – abandoning his pregnant wife and friends for long periods in the process – and all they do is increase his workload and place further pressures on his young mind and body. If Cook was a dead horse, the ECB wouldn’t stop flogging him.
Anyway, enough about Cook for a minute. I want to finish this piece by defending David Warner. Yes, you heard me, I want to defend the bête noire of English cricket; the man we often portray as a puss filled boil on posterior of sporting humanity.
Before Sunday night, I genuinely thought that David Warner was as bad as it gets: he was a bad loser, who punched little boys when he didn’t get his way, and an even worse winner. Who can forget him celebrating like a feral dog in Matt Prior’s face?
However, I was wrong. David Warner isn’t that bad. Compared to this bloke he’s a true gent …
This man is Richard Sherman. He’s a cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL. The above clip is his reaction to beating the San Francisco 49ers, and in particular his nemesis Michael Crabtree, in the NFC championship game (a very close encounter that eventually saw Seattle book their place in the Superbowl). Nice fella, isn’t he.
Thank heavens we don’t have pillocks like this in cricket.