Cut and Paste

This is getting old now. England’s batting ineptitude is almost boring. What more can we say that we haven’t already said ten times before?  The batting order is a complete mess. I pretty much disagree with every move Ed Smith and Bayliss have made, simply cannot understand how two experienced cricketing minds have made such nonsensical decisions, and if I had any hair left I’d definitely pull it out. Fortunately for my hoover it fell out years ago due to the stress Smith’s predecessors exposed me to.

Is it any surprise that the results are so poor when the structure is so unstable? England keep picking two out of form openers (when Rory Burns is a viable alternative); we have our best player at 3 when he’s better at 4; a wicket-keeper batsman playing purely as a batsman at 4 when he’s best at 6 (not to mention injured); an all-rounder who’s a 6 or 7 at 5, and a player who made a double century batting at 3 for his county last week coming in at 7. I understand it’s problematic when you have plenty of attacking batsmen ideally suited to fourth drop in your side, but at some point you’ve just got to leave talented players out and select a balanced XI. At least there would be clarity and sense that way.

Although today was a groundhog horror show, at least some of the individual dismissals were a bit different. Jennings is just embarrassing now. His dismissal reminded me a bit of that time Chris Read ducked a Cairns full toss and was bowled. His England career ended soon afterwards I recall. Meanwhile, Cook played perhaps the most curious shot of his long test career. He basically played a one-day poke it down to third man for a single shot, and completely forgot the occasion. Duh!

Jonny and Root got decent balls, so credit to India’s impressive seamers (who were excellent) there, but Buttler played a horrible shot. In fact he played a horrible innings. He was all hands, no foot movement, and it was no surprise when he drove loosely at a wide(ish) ball with his front foot firmly planted nowhere near the pitch of the ball and got caught behind. It was so disappointing to see Jos regress so much. He played so well at Trent Bridge and I really thought he’d figured things out. Perhaps that judgement was premature?

The fact it was Moeen and Curran who dug England out of their hole summed it up really: two players deemed surplus to requirements at Nottingham were suddenly the crucial lynchpins. I guess nothing reveals the mess England are in, and the muddled selection that’s led to that mess, than this disturbing fact.

A word on Sam Curran before I go off to wallow in my ugly pit of despair. What another impressive innings. His batting immediately caught my eye on debut when he played a cameo that included perhaps the shot of the day – a lovely straight drive down the ground. He’s since shown he can play all around the wicket, with a touch of panache, and possesses a pretty sound defence too.

No England batsman looked more composed or organised than young Sam today. Let’s not forget, however, that’s he’s been picked for his bowling not his batting. And we all know what happened to Dom Bess after he looked so good with the bat against Pakistan earlier this summer.

James Morgan

2018-08-31T08:21:58+00:00August 30th, 2018|Eng v Ind 2018, Test Cricket|37 Comments


  1. Elaine Simpson-Long August 30, 2018 at 11:42 pm - Reply

    Wait till the batting coaches get hold of Curran and wreck him. They will as surely as night follows day

    • James Morgan August 31, 2018 at 8:28 am - Reply

      There’s a rumour that Ramprakash might be off to coach Middlesex.

      • Elaine Simpson-Long August 31, 2018 at 9:09 am - Reply

        Yes I spotted that. Why would anybody want him?

  2. ANDREW CHEESE August 31, 2018 at 8:33 am - Reply

    Cook and Jennings – how on earth do they justify their places. It is beyond me.

    The only short term fix is to play the ODi side. 300 – 400 in 50 overs will do.

    Long term then we need more focus on the county championship. This needs be prioritised if the ECB care about test matches. I want to see the selectors at county games and not at test matches.

    • Simon H August 31, 2018 at 10:04 am - Reply

      INteresting to see Mike Selvey, interviewee for the Selection job, openly stating today he’s never seen Rory Burns bat.

      • James Morgan August 31, 2018 at 10:47 am - Reply

        Well, he has been seemingly invisible to the selectors for a long time.

  3. AB August 31, 2018 at 8:35 am - Reply

    To what extent is Ed Smith an “experienced cricket mind”? What experience of managing or coaching does he actually have? Using long words on the radio does not count as experience.

  4. Giles Falconer August 31, 2018 at 8:38 am - Reply

    India’s fast bowlers have been excellent… Their own batsmen (even Kohli) would have struggled against them. BUT I think we also need to blame as well:

    1. The structure of the season – our batsmen haven’t been playing enough red ball cricket in the middle of the season to keep in form;
    2. Tom Harrison’s comments when Joe Root was appointed that England had to play exciting cricket even if it meant losing; (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/cricket/2017/03/20/joe-root-told-england-must-play-exciting-cricket-even-leads/)
    3. The demands from the top of the ECB for 4 days Tests; and
    5. The coaching staff.

    Otherwise I agree 100% with your comments about selection – this Test I would have played Burns in place of Jennings, Pope in place of Bairstow and Vince (at 3) in place of Moeen, even though he played well.

    On the plus side, I’m going to the 5th Test, so I’m expecting to see a deciding Test. On the negative side it’s Day 3, so the match may be over by then!

  5. James August 31, 2018 at 8:41 am - Reply

    It’s not as if the idea of Moeen batting first drop wasn’t obvious beforehand (if I can work it out, Bayliss and Smith ought to be able to). Apparently the top 4 in this series is averaging the lowest since 1934-5, so (for example) the top 4 did better against 4 of Roberts, Marshall, Holding, Croft and Garner (the 1980 WI bowling attack), which is probably the most fearsome ever put out. Aggers argues that we are playing 4 no 6’s (Bairstow, Stokes, Buttler and Curran), and there is something in that (though Moeen is also arguably a no 6!). This works fine in ODI’s because it allows you a long batting line up, so you can “go hard from ball 1”. It doesn’t work in tests, where players have far more clearly defined roles. India, with Dravid and Tendulkar, and now Pujara and Kohli, understand that far better than we do. No 3 and no 4 have different roles. i can only think of 2 successful attacking no 3’s in my time watching cricket: IVA Richards and RT Ponting. Both were pretty special players.

    A friend of mine suggested Ian Bell as a short term fix at no 3, which shows how desperate we are.

    • Scott Richmond August 31, 2018 at 5:08 pm - Reply

      “No 3 and no 4 have different roles”

      I always thought that the role was to score as many runs as possible?

      The problem with the line up is the openers. Every great Test team has had two world class batsmen opening each inning.

      Time to find two openers that can score runs.

  6. maggie August 31, 2018 at 9:02 am - Reply

    Did anyone hear the interview with Bumrah yesterday when he was asked if anyone had ever tried to alter his somewhat idiosyncratic run-up? No, he said, they’d just told him that they would help him get fitter and stronger but he should stick with what he was doing, or words to that effect. Listen and learn England coaches!

  7. muffin August 31, 2018 at 9:27 am - Reply

    Although I’m not a fan of Jennings, it is fair to say that he got a snorter, and he was trying not to fish outside his off stump as everyone said that he should. Root’s two LBWs were also pretty near unplayable balls.
    Cook – oh dear! He is looking even more like Bambi on ice, and doesn’t inspire any expectation of him playing a long innings.
    Curran looks a class bat. I said some time ago that he was a better batsman than his elder brother.

  8. Vashtar August 31, 2018 at 10:42 am - Reply

    i played against Sam Curran when he was playing for Weybridge 2s. He was 15 and smashed us all round the park! His brother Ben got a few aswell.

    Jennings has to go, he is not Test class. Cook should retire after this series.

    India are a better team and deserve to win the series.

  9. Marc Evans August 31, 2018 at 10:53 am - Reply

    Yes, India’s bowlers were excellent all day, mostly because they sensed blood all day. None of our batsmen move their feet into line except Root and Stokes. They just push up and down the line of off stump half cock, so when they are playing any shot through the off side they are just throwing their hands at it and when they’re playing inswing they just look to force accross the line through midwicket. Flat track batting doesn’t work against a moving ball. This basic technical flaw included Moin and Curran, who were fortunate to bat after lunch when conditions were undoubtedly easier. I find it incredible that a Batsman like Ramps, who spent hours at the crease fighting off the Windies quickies with sound technique, leaving stuff alone and playing straight, can be in charge of this mess. When the likes of Kevin Pieterson bemoans batsmen’s lack of technique the players are truly in trouble.
    Yes, the players are talented, but this does not make them test batsmen. Until they learn to adapt their techniques and have a plan B, when survival is more important than expansive stroke play this will continue.
    Unfortunately with the boneheads in charge at present there is no sign this will happen.
    The sad thing is would the alternatives bat in the same way with static feet. You have to say, probably.
    Have always been a Stoneham fan, being a compact player, so good to see him in the runs. Surely Jennings test career has to be over, even if he scores a few in the 2nd innings. If we lose this match would bring him and Vince in to try and shore up the batting for a one off series decider. Blooding youngsters is too risky.
    Need to use the winter to try new blood away from the glare of domestic publicity.

    • John August 31, 2018 at 12:32 pm - Reply

      You make an interesting point about Stokes getting into line. He and Root are technically our best batsman at a time when our problems are technique and application. In the current circumstances I would play Stokes at 3. I was impressed by his maturity in the partnership with Woakes and he is used to facing the new ball, although not normally the first one. What is there to lose ? Even the selectors must now see that Root should bat 4 and, apart from making selection of 5 – 8/9 easier, Stokes at 3 surely makes more sense than bringing back Vince (or Bell).

      • Marc Evans August 31, 2018 at 11:26 pm - Reply

        The point about Vince is that he’s at home at no3. This is a bonus, even though he’s always displayed similar flaws to the rest of the batting line up. He’s also had enough successes to be a better bet in a one off situation than an untried youngster, and is clearly in good nick.
        Stokes is not a specialist batsman. I can’t recall a genuine all rounder ever batting that high at test level. He would still be likely to face a new ball anyway at 6 if we had a top order of any distinction. I wouldn’t be adverse to Bell either, being a Warwickshire man, as he’s plenty of experience against the new ball. However, as James points out, his selection wouldn’t be ‘funky’ enough for Smith.
        Since Trott cried off there hasn’t been an obvious successor in the ‘occupation of the crease’ stakes.
        We need to look at all the young county talent and organise coaching specifically to address this.
        Let’s get players like Boycott and Atherton involved, though with morons like Harrison this is a non starter, as he seems to prefer entertaining defeats to efficient wins. What wouldn’t your average England cricket fan give for that, or even a boring draw at the moment. I can’t think of any team sport where the fans are overly concerned about entertainment over winning. Losing is always disappointing, winning always a cause for celebration.

    • Down at Third Man August 31, 2018 at 1:11 pm - Reply

      “They just push up and down the line of off stump half cock”

      This of course describes batting against a bowling machine all day.

      • Nigel September 1, 2018 at 11:45 am - Reply

        Boycott on TMS:
        “I don’t think it does the batsmen any good to have people throwing the ball at them in practice or a machine. Get bowlers to bowl and watch the hand….”

  10. Comte August 31, 2018 at 1:15 pm - Reply

    The really important game is taking place at Southport.
    I’m past caring about England. Smith may be able to use multi-syllable words but his selection policy and that of his mates is beyond parody. Jennings was given the ball this morning. Was that an attempt to prove he had some value? Throw Cook the gloves (and then his P45).

    • James Morgan August 31, 2018 at 1:55 pm - Reply

      Could be a tense finish that one! I’ve got the score on my desktop. Come on you Pears!

    • Cricketcricketcricket August 31, 2018 at 3:19 pm - Reply

      Hard not to care when I keep reading

      Stokes is world class (avg Less than 40 does t make you a test 5/6)
      Moeeen to bat top 6… umm he’s wafty and crap
      Root is a 3.. nope, he’s a natural replacement for Bell so 5 or 4 if you’re weak
      Bairstow is world class.. umm, avg is what ?? Stands leg side of the ball.. very white ball dominated now sadly
      Curran.. medium English dobber who is ODI for well when it’s moving.. does anyone really think he can do this in Asia or Aus ?? Screw the fact he’s scored runs.. Jesus he’s there to bowl . What we don’t need is another bits and pieces player
      Spinners.. yeah we don’t have a single one
      Openers.. stoneman is crap, Jennings is crap, Lyth crap.. simple fact is county Cricket is too easy and those batting top order there aren’t good enough

      It’s not just ed Smith at fault.. its the whole system, counties themselves and anyone who subscribed to the ECB coaching or club pathways as it’s all just rubbish.

      • Scott Richmond August 31, 2018 at 5:16 pm - Reply

        Anything positive to say?

        Ali just took 5 wickets against the best Test team in the world right now.

        Stokes won us a test with both bat and ball against the best Test team in the world right now.

        Sam Curran won us a test with both bat and ball against the best Test team in the world right now.

        What annoys me is the Bairstow has a bad finger and is still in the team. Ridiculous!

        Jennings has proven that he is not a good enough opener but who is there to replace him? Bell? His season is based on clobbering Glamorgan on multiple occasions. Who is batting well and doing it regularly against the best bowling attacks in the county circuit?

        I dont care about age or prior service, put the best bats on the pitch!

        • Cricketcricketcricket September 1, 2018 at 7:44 am - Reply

          You’re missing the point. Ali has proven he isn’t a test top six bat and can’t bowl outside the uk so he isn’t good enough even if he takes a few more wickets this series. Stop just taking random performances as the norm.

          Stokes CAN play, he is talented but.. he doesn’t do it consistently and consistent performances is what you want in test cricket. Leave the inconsistent performers to white ball

          Curran.. few good performances but he is slow.. how will he fare when it’s not English conditions ??? Praise him yes, he’s done well. Let’s not pretend he’s the next massiah though like England fans normally do

  11. ian August 31, 2018 at 3:30 pm - Reply

    Don’t have a single spinner, look at what’s happened in current session!!

  12. Paul August 31, 2018 at 8:32 pm - Reply

    Our batting lineup isn’t much better, Only Pujara and Kohli manged to bat today, the rest got skittled out by Moeen, of all people. Seems like the days of playing spin bowling properly are over.

  13. Marc Evans September 1, 2018 at 3:41 am - Reply

    The worrying thing is if a part timer like Moin can toss the ball into those footmarks and get wickets what will Ashwin do? I guess the the plus for us is we do have a few more lefties than they do and the off stump footmarks seem wider that side.

    • Stephen September 1, 2018 at 8:50 pm - Reply

      Not a lot, apparently.

  14. Doug M September 1, 2018 at 6:25 am - Reply

    Surrey are going to win the County Championship! I’m almost past caring about England, even Root is now out of form with sunken eyes, looks a haunted man. It’s all been said above, but cricket needs a massive overhaul in the UK top down. In any other sport the likes of Bayliss and Smith would have been out on their ear months ago.

  15. Nigel September 1, 2018 at 8:13 am - Reply

    Moeen is simply not a test number three, however many runs he score in a county game. Indeed he acknowledges as much himself: “This role is my best, batting [No7] and as a second spinner. It gives me confidence and freedom, and I end up playing better.”

    The plain fact is that we are overendowed with accomplished middle order batsmen and have a decentish bowling attack, but absolutely nothing at 1,2, and 3 now that Cook has gone into terminal decline. One of the reasons our lower order bails is out so often is that 1 through 5 are occupying the crease for about as long as the openers ought to be doing on their own.
    With two competent openers even Root might have a better chance at 3, and we might be a pretty competitive side in the current test game.

    • Nigel September 1, 2018 at 11:28 am - Reply

      And England obligingly proves my point by bringing in the in form Moeen at 3.
      To no avail.

      • Marc Evans September 2, 2018 at 3:30 am - Reply

        Totally agree. I can’t ever remember a regime at test level that messed about with the batting order, almost from innings no to innings, like this one. It just goes to show how unhappy Root is at 3. Surely Vince, merely as the only one in this party happy to bat at 3 must get a recall for the final test. Problem is who do you drop to bring him in? Probably Bairstow if his finger doesn’t allow him to keep. He is clearly no test no 4 and presently is out of sorts, largely because of this messing about. However I have a horrible feeling it will be a straight swap for Jennings as another partner for Cook.
        Even at club level changing batting orders around is not favoured as it rarely works.

  16. Marc Evans September 1, 2018 at 10:40 am - Reply

    Back in the mists of time when bowlers were bowlers and batsmen were batsmen, before the advent of the white ball bits and pieces players, I remember an interview with the late lamented Colin Cowdrey, hardly a boring stonewaller of a no 3. He was asked about how he was coached when a youngster. Below is the gist of some of what he said:
    When you first get to the crease have a deliberate ritual that helps you aclimatize your approach for a long stay, so right from the word go you are playing each ball on it’s merits with a view to initial survival. Play in a ‘V’ between mid on and mid off and leave the rest alone, forcing the bowler to bowl where you want him to. Don’t worry about playing and missing, you are still out there. Only when you have become accustomed to the conditions and feel comfortable at the crease are you safe to start playing more expansively, even then look for quick singles as a priority as you can’t rely on bad balls. Bowlers find that frustrating, as rotation of the strike upsets their rythmm. When any new bowler comes on, take a new guard and give him the benefit of the doubt until you feel his measure, again playing straight in the ‘V’ initially. Remember as a batsman you are in charge of your own destiny, not the bowler. These are the building blocks of an innings.
    There was plenty more, but I don’t have the transcript. These are things that stuck in my mind as relevant to what is happening this series.

  17. Comte September 1, 2018 at 1:02 pm - Reply

    I would like the opportunity to wield the axe. I would not hold back.

  18. Simon H September 2, 2018 at 7:57 am - Reply

    Nice to see Adam Riley taking some CC wickets. Only taken him 4 years to recover from the ECB’s spin “coaching”…

  19. Marc Evans September 2, 2018 at 11:36 am - Reply

    I know it’s fashionable to criticise the present batting line up, and they are an easy target bearing in mind repeated failures of the top order, but if you go back a few decades with a ‘classic’ line up including; Gooch, Atherton, Gatting, Lamb, Gower, Botham and Stewart, how would their techniques have stood up yesterday?
    This present Indian seam attack has to be their best in English conditions. They do almost as much with the ball as we do and at greater pace.
    We have managed over 500 runs against this attack in bowler friendly conditions, so as a team effort, notwithstanding obvious weaknesses on the opening front, this is I think a decent fighting response.

    • Nigel September 2, 2018 at 8:21 pm - Reply

      I’d have chosen Gooch and Atherton over our current opening pair in a heartbeat.

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