Bloody Groundhogs: Day One at Sydney

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. England win the toss, Vince and Stoneman get starts but can’t go on, Cook can’t make it to 50 either, and neither (obviously) can Joe Root. England therefore look like they’re going to do well, but ultimately screw it up. The only slight surprise was that it took until the final two overs to screw the pooch this time. Normally the futility of our efforts becomes apparent much sooner.

Unfortunately I think we know how the next chapter reads too: England’s lower order collapses – so we go from the relativel strength of 228-3 to a pitiful 280 all out – and then Australia amass 500, with Steve Smith making 450 of them. Nathan Lyon then bowls Australia to an innings victory on day 4. In doing so he takes more wickets in one spell than Moeen Ali has all series.

Despite losing the series 0-4 – with a whitewash only avoided due to a poor MCG pitch that enabled Cook to score runs for once – Tom Harrison declares that everything is well and no review is needed because we might win the upcoming ODIs. He then disbands the county championship entirely in favour of a new T10 ‘champions cup’ involving the top eight teams from the new city based T20.

Sorry … I got a little ahead of myself then. Much like England’s batsmen seem to do on a regular basis. What on earth was Root thinking when he chipped the ball to square leg with five minutes left? Did anyone else spontaneously combust at this moment? I didn’t so much kick the cat as incinerate it.

And then there was Jonny Bairstow’s decision to turn down a nightwatchman. Yes it’s all very well man-ing up and taking responsibility JB, but have you not been paying attention this series? If you give fate an opportunity to kick you in the gonads it will clearly do so. Arrrgghhh.

Anyway, it’s not all doom and gloom just yet. We’re only almost certainly doomed rather than definitely doomed. The reasons for my slight optimism are twofold: (a) the pitch should be reasonable for batting tomorrow and Starc clearly isn’t 100% fit (therefore the tail might not get bounced out so decisively), and (b) I had a dream last night that Moeen Ali scored a century!

Although I fully appreciate that cricket bloggers’ dreams aren’t always reliable harbingers of success – the test was being played in the middle of the Vietnam War and the rest of the England team were old schoolmates of mine – reasons for optimism have been thin on the ground this winter. Therefore I see this dream as a viable straw. And I’m going to clutch at it like an alcoholic clutching the last bottle of absinthe in the shop.

The other talking points from day one were Root’s decision to bat first – which was probably a 50/50 call considering that Jimmy Anderson might have got the ball to swing a lot in the first session – and Dawid Malan’s continued success.

Given that we’ve picked two spinners, I think batting first was probably the right move. However, if Mo and Malan can’t get a partnership going tomorrow, then we’re facing the prospect of Australia batting big on days 2 & 3 when the pitch will probably be at its truest. I guess Joe was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t after the Adelaide debacle.

What a shame that Stokes is unavailable and Woakes is injured. England’s strength over the last four years has been our middle-lower order batting. The team we’ve fielded in this game reminds me of the dark days of Fraser, Giddins, Tufnell and Malcolm. One imagines the series result (0-4) will be very similar too.

James Morgan

2018-01-04T12:20:48+00:00 January 4th, 2018|Ashes 17/18|64 Comments

64 Comments

  1. Tom January 4, 2018 at 12:23 pm - Reply

    What has Woakes done this series?

    • James Morgan January 4, 2018 at 12:41 pm - Reply

      Cook had done nothing this series until the MCG. And nor had Warner. Woakes is a very capable batsman.

      • Tom January 4, 2018 at 12:50 pm - Reply

        And you wonder why I give you a hard time about being tepid when it comes to attributing responsibility to the established players.

        If Woakes had been dropped for Sydney, it would have been justified. Averaging 16 with the bat and 49 with the ball.

        Woakes simply hasn’t been worth his spot in the team this series. But gee whizz, such a shame he got injured. Really? He’s been dead weight so far. He should be among those hauled in to account and apologise for his performance – alongside Cook, Root, Ali and Broad (dead rubbers aside).

      • SimonH January 4, 2018 at 12:51 pm - Reply

        Warner’s match-winning 87* in Brisbane was something!

        • James Morgan January 4, 2018 at 2:33 pm - Reply

          Match winning? They were chasing a small total and England had basically thrown in the towel. Even Bancroft got runs in that innings!

      • Tom January 4, 2018 at 12:51 pm - Reply

        And, for the record, Warner averaged 49 in the first three Tests.

    • Doug January 4, 2018 at 12:43 pm - Reply

      The same as Cook, Root, Ali, Broad and all of the 3rd seamers (Ball, Overton, Curran) – sweet FA!

      • Tom January 4, 2018 at 12:52 pm - Reply

        I thought Overton was pretty impressive.

  2. Dave January 4, 2018 at 12:47 pm - Reply

    I’m with Kimber and Dobell on the nightwatchman issue: England currently don’t possess a lower order batsman to fill the role.

    It may only have been a couple of overs or so for Crane (highest fc score of under 30) to last, but given the way Aus has bowled to England’s tail, they might have needed 2 or 3 nightwatchmen!

    This issue was only precipitated by England’s best batsman, the captain, failing to recognise the state of the game and continuing to play expansively with just minutes to the end of the day.

    On a different note, I liked Malan’s attitude in his interview with BT Sport. Recognising that he wasn’t playing fluently, he said that he decided to ‘grit it out’ so as to not throw his wicket away – a lesson for the rest of the side?

    • Hungerpang January 4, 2018 at 1:36 pm - Reply

      It’s true that we don’t have a batsman capable of fulfilling the role as a rule, but in this case there was 5 mins left. Send out Curran as a sacrificial lamb. Tell him to wander out very slowly. Take a minute to take guard and assess the field. Step away when Starc’s halfway through his run. He’s got 3 balls to survive. If he’s out, so what?

      • jennyah46 January 4, 2018 at 5:57 pm - Reply

        He could also do a Stuart Broad and need to re-tie his boot laces. Both of them, slowly.

        Having not considered those tactics I was with JB coming in to bat. Australia could have whittled out the entire tail in 16 balls. If JB couldn’t cope with the new ball in those conditions it would be too much to expect of Jimmy.

        • Hungerpang January 4, 2018 at 9:47 pm - Reply

          Anderson should never had done the nightwatchman job in my view. He wasn’t sufficiently competent. I think England were very lucky he never suffered a significant injury doing it.

  3. Kevin January 4, 2018 at 12:51 pm - Reply

    James, your probably right, as we’ve avoided the 5-0, Harrison & Strauss will celebrate the success.
    Which means they can cancel the Country Championship, and free up more time for T20 franchise & the new
    T10 knock out cup, sponsored by Mickey Mouse.

  4. Silk January 4, 2018 at 12:52 pm - Reply

    Tend to agree with Tom. Woakes has done chuff all this series, with bat or ball, to suggest he should have been picked even if fit.

    If Joe Root is serious about building the number 1 Test side in the World from this point onwards, then I think he has to do it without Woakes (who, I believe, will never cut it overseas), Ali (who, IMHO, doesn’t fit into a team with Stokes in it) and Vince (for obvious reasons).

    The main issue, as flagged elsewhere, is the lack of an obvious pipeline of top quality bowlers is an issue. Lawrence, Livingston, Hameed, maybe even Browne or Gubbins could come in as batsmen. Stokes returns and can bat. Playing focus would allow Bairstow to go up to 4 or 5, and Joe Clarke is a serious batsman too. Plus Robson shouldn’t be written off. A lot of ‘maybes’ there, but at least some talent.

    Bowling? Garton is just a random name plucked from a hat. He’s barely FC ready. Wood is never fit, and when he is his Test career so far is unpromising. TRJ and Overton have done enough to suggest they deserve another crack, but neither is particularly quick. Sure, Woakes will pick up lots of wickets in England, if he stays fit, but like Sidebottom that isn’t enough.

    Will be interesting to see how Crane does. With Leach, Rashid, Crane, Parkinson or Dawson (;-)) in the wings, we at least have some spinners to try.

    • Tom January 4, 2018 at 12:56 pm - Reply

      Ali is the most problematic, for mine.

      In England’s best XI, you have Stokes and Bairstow at 6 and 7, then four bowlers. Ali might be useful batting at 8 but with that balance he has to be picked on the strength of his bowling as he’d be one of the four front-liners, rather than a handy fifth options who bats a bit too. Is he the best spinner in the country? England should hope not.

      • James January 4, 2018 at 1:25 pm - Reply

        Tom, believe it or not, the problem here is the organisation of the Championship. If spinners aren’t given a proper chance in FC cricket (because its timing means it’s played on green seaming wickets), they don’t really develop. This is the issue we have been highlighting about the ECB.

        • Tom January 4, 2018 at 1:40 pm - Reply

          That’s pretty self-serving.

          The poor performances of senior players have repeatedly been pinned on the ECB. That’s the “issue” that’s been “highlighted” here over the past month or so. And it’s complete rubbish.

          However, if you want to make the more narrow point about the way spinners are developed or not developed, then so be it. But don’t claim there’s any measure of vindication in blaming the ECB for established players going MIA. To conflate the two points and pretend they’re equally legitimate is fudging it.

          Do you remember what happened to Australia after Warne retired? Do you remember how many spinners they tried and discarded? I think it was more than 10. But now Australia has Lyon. Do you think this sequence of events was because Australia did something at FC level to produce Warne, then stopped doing it, then started doing it again to produce Lyon? Or maybe it’s just hard to produce Test-class spinners? Maybe there’s no magic bullet to produce them? Maybe that’s not actually peculiar to England and the ECB?

          • James Morgan January 4, 2018 at 2:39 pm - Reply

            “The performances of senior players have been repeatedly pinned on the ECB”.

            No they haven’t. The ECB failings and senior players underperforming are completely separate issues. And both have been discussed. At length.

            • Tom January 4, 2018 at 2:47 pm - Reply

              There has been undue emphasis on one when the result would more accurately be explained by the other.

              • Mike Chaffin January 4, 2018 at 5:14 pm

                Simply wrong.

                England could have put out a very competitive side for this Ashes series.

                That we took front foot batsmen like Vince and Woakes was clueless. That we took a part time finger spinner equally so. That we didn’t appear to realise that pace was an asset a glaring and unforgivable one.

                You may whinge and moan in your pedestrian way but the end result has been an awful series almost devoid of entertainment or competition.

                You’ve been told all this repeatedly by a lot of people who know an awful lot more about English cricket than you do.

      • Silk January 4, 2018 at 2:48 pm - Reply

        Right now Adil Rashid is the best Test spinner in the country. But the captain doesn’t rate him…

        • Cricketcricketcricket January 4, 2018 at 8:02 pm - Reply

          Hahahahaha.. you can’t be serious !!

          • Silk January 4, 2018 at 8:44 pm - Reply

            Go on the Einstein…

          • Silk January 4, 2018 at 8:44 pm - Reply

            Tell me who is…

    • Pembroke Dock January 4, 2018 at 1:39 pm - Reply

      How about Footitt and Gleeson to inject some pace?

    • Pete Cresswell January 4, 2018 at 2:34 pm - Reply

      Overall (and one suspects this is unlikely to change over the coming days) if you look at head-to head match ups in terms of runs/wickets/averages it’s not pretty reading for England.

      Batting-wise,
      Warner has edged Cook (the gap was more pronounced over the 1st 3 tests)
      Bancroft has roughly drawn with Stoneman
      Khawaja has roughly drawn with Vince
      Smith has nearly double Root’s runs (though he has dropped his last 3 catching chances, that’s 60 koalas not adopted for charity by the startup company he part-owns!)
      S.Marsh is slightly ahead of Malan, though it’s close
      M. Marsh/Hanscombe have out-batted Moeen
      Bairstow is slightly up on Paine though you’d probably call S. Marsh+Paine vs Malan+YJB a 1-1 draw

      Bowling wise
      Starc/Bird beat Broad
      Hazlewood vs Anderson is close to a draw –
      Cummins is well ahead of Woakes
      Lyon smashes Moeen
      While M. Marsh vs Overton/Ball/Curran is an awful comparison to have to make – the latter have some (expensive) wickets, but have bowled 5 times as many overs as Marsh. If you make up a combined all-rounder out of Marsh & Lyon vs Moeen & Overton/Ball/Curran it stays a comfortable Aussie win

      Effectively that’s 6 wins to Aus and 5 draws. And as Tom points out, England’s seniors don’t fare well

      • Tom January 4, 2018 at 2:51 pm - Reply

        Such a lengthy breakdown is unnecessary.

        Australia’s best players have been significantly better than England’s. There’s only one possible result when you put it like that.

        • Pete Cresswell January 4, 2018 at 3:09 pm - Reply

          The breakdown was definitely neccesary – my work’s server connections were down for a whole blinking hour earlier meaning I had internet but no access to any work drives or data, so doing the analysis saved me a ton of boredom!

          If the outage had been any longer and I’d have had to start gloating to you lot about NZ being top of the ICC T20 rankings with Colin Munro top batsman & Ish Sodhi top bowler after the West Indies’ capitulation over the past week. And no-one needs that 😉

          • Nigel downunder January 4, 2018 at 11:04 pm - Reply

            Comparing the performance of the batsmen between the 2 sides is difficult for me due to the wide gap between the performance of the bowlers.
            Australia have 4, top quality, penetrative bowlers, all in top form.
            Any one of them would stroll into the current England team.
            I doubt Smith would have made as many runs if he was facing the Aussie bowling attack.
            The Aussie system always seems to produce at least 1 or 2 top quality bowlers.

            It seems to me the English have shown more starch with the batting this time than on the last tour.
            There is some hope on the batting front.

            The bowling future however, seems bleak.

            • James January 5, 2018 at 11:40 am - Reply

              Nigel, I think you may underestimate the incompetence of the England selectors.

  5. "IronBalls" McGinty January 4, 2018 at 1:17 pm - Reply

    Who’s for a game of ECB Bingo?
    Transition
    Rebuilding
    Young side
    Captain learning the ropes
    Immense in the dressing room
    Good environment
    Fabulous dressing room
    Positive outlook
    How many more soundbites before we call “House” ?

    • Tom January 4, 2018 at 2:17 pm - Reply

      Would you prefer they sacked a bunch of players? If so, which ones?

      England are in a tricky situation. They’ve got a bunch of players who remain first-choice but who haven’t delivered when it mattered in Australia. And then they’ve got a few guys picked on hunches who’ve more or less pulled their weight. So what do you do with that?

      Australia, on the other hand, know their best 6-7 players and they’ve performed. So they can afford to tinker with the other spots. England are in the opposite situation: perversely they might even have fewer spots up for grabs.

      I reckon you could swap Stokes for Ali, Woakes for Curran and it would still be England’s best side, assuming Crane is the best available spinner (?). Is that controversial?

      If you want to make more sweeping changes than that, you should prepare for the possibility of getting worse before you get better. And presumably you want to win the home Ashes next year?

      It’s easy to sack players. Much harder to replace them with better ones.

      • Silk January 4, 2018 at 4:28 pm - Reply

        We spend millions on player development. We don’t develop good players. That is annoying.

        Nobody thinks James Vince deserved to be on the tour, barring the selectors and Michael Vaughan. Nobody. He averaged 33 in County Cricket this year.

        Adil Rashid has played 10 Tests. In those 10 Tests he outbowled Ali. (38 wickets to 30). He’s clearly got something about him but the captain doesn’t rate him and the coach appears to have no interest in developing a Test side. So he’s not even selected. Crane was a joke pick. They were never going to give him a short in a live rubber.

        Curran’s a joke pick. He’s bowling slower than Mitch Marsh, and does less with the ball. OK, England have a lot of bowlers injured, but they could have gone with Jordan, say, who at least has Test experience and a bit of pace. Or Footitt or Helm who offer some genuine pace. Or bloody Plunkett, who is rapid.

        In a 5 man attack, Plunkett could bowl 3 5 over spells a day without trouble. It might make the difference. Picking a 4th medium pacer sure as hell won’t.

      • Silk January 4, 2018 at 4:31 pm - Reply

        Ashes Squad (before the Ashes started, mind)

        Robson, Stoneman, Cook, Root, Lawrence, Bairstow(+), Ali, Livingson, Davies(+), Broad, Rashid, Leach, Plunkett, Anderson, Finn (replaced by Woakes)

        OK, so I wouldn’t have picked Malan. I’m no genius. And I didn’t think Broad would go as badly as he did in the first 3 tests. But a proper spinner might have helped, and Cook would, IMHO, have done better at 3.

        • Mike Chaffin January 4, 2018 at 8:01 pm - Reply

          How could the ECB not know that Broad was down on his pace? Either they knew and didn’t care or didn’t know and should have done.

          They’ve done this before. Was delighted to see Tremlett back on a previous tour till I saw he was now only bowling in the low 80s.

          If only we had a facility where centrally contracted player’s performance could be monitored. A University maybe?

          • Silk January 4, 2018 at 8:45 pm - Reply

            You’re Bluffing. (Geddit?)

    • Hungerpang January 4, 2018 at 2:18 pm - Reply

      Take the positives
      Great learning experience
      Closer than the score suggests

      • Tom January 4, 2018 at 2:54 pm - Reply

        It doesn’t feel like 3-0 (4-0?).

        Feelings are what matter.

  6. James January 4, 2018 at 1:33 pm - Reply

    Well, clearly, if you want batsmen to “dig in” for the close, you don’t ask a Yorkshireman. Had Woakes been playing, he would have made a sensible nightwatchman, but …

    Unfortunately, James, I fear you’re likely to be right in your predictions. As Martin Johnson once put it: “there was nothing at that stage to suggest that England’s batting would collapse. Other than the fact that it had done so before.” Quite.

    I do think Malan deserves some praise. He was clearly not moving very well (in the sense of not being in prime form), but he gutsed it out, and didn’t give his wicket away. He definitely looks like one to keep in the side for a while.

  7. Hungerpang January 4, 2018 at 2:13 pm - Reply

    Caddick, Giddins, Tufnell and Mullally is my all time favourite tail (1999 v NZ?). You reckon we’ll make 280 do you James? 260 is my shout.

    I spontaneously combusted in front of the iPad this morning. My wife, who is poorly, was thrilled to be woken to the shout of “Square leg! Fucking square leg!”, and that was before I’d spotted Johnny had gone after him and banged the back of my head too hard on the headboard when I saw “Vince c Paine 25”. I suppose that’s the thing about Test cricket : not all passages of play are equal. England almost certainly lost the match in 10 balls this evening. Mind you, I’m sure Harrison and Strauss will be thrilled. This is right “on brand” (as Harrison would doubtless say). We had 3 overs to survive (2, as it turned out) and turned it into a mini highlights package! 3 fours (one in classic 20-20 under-edge style), 2 wickets and a close review on a leg before. Great scores on the ECB’s customer valuometer metric and smug pats on the back all round as that puts us ahead of the curve on driving successful change in 2018, chaps! Doubtless there’s a “perfect storm” on the way, too, probably hiding behind an 8-ball.

    One other point. How many other people feel that the way the review system is applied nowadays detracts from the game? Remember when it was supposed to be about eliminating the howler? It’s gone completely the other way. I don’t want to see batsmen being fired out like Cook was today. It was a borderline call and the system should be slanted so those calls stay with the umpire’s decision, in my view.

    • Tom January 4, 2018 at 2:41 pm - Reply

      Cook was out. Fair and square.

    • Silk January 4, 2018 at 3:24 pm - Reply

      I completely disagree. Everything is stacked in batsman’s favour these days. DRS keeps bowlers in the game. He was out.

      • Hungerpang January 4, 2018 at 4:36 pm - Reply

        My point’s not really about this particular dismissal. It’s about whether there’s enough margin in the borderline reviews. This can apply either way, in the favour of batsman or bowler.

        • Cricketcricketcricket January 4, 2018 at 8:06 pm - Reply

          Umm, he was out. What’s your problem ?

          • Hungerpang January 4, 2018 at 9:49 pm - Reply

            Oh god. Never mind.

  8. BigKev67 January 4, 2018 at 3:33 pm - Reply

    I don’t have a cat, but if I did, I’m not sure it would have survived Joe Root getting out.
    Once again our captain and best player tosses away his wicket with a soft shot, displaying a lack of game sense that a ten year old would get a bollocking for. Although from what I’ve seen of Bayliss he appears to be too comatose to give a bollocking to anyone….
    Root annoyed me before the series started by refusing to bat at three when the team clearly needs him to. Sending out a rookie fighting for his career to do something that he wasn’t prepared to do himself didn’t sit well with me – and still doesn’t. Ricky Ponting was spot on – Joe Root is a boy doing a man’s job right now, and he needs to harden up. Pronto.
    If he needs an example to follow he can look no further than his opposing captain. What would be the odds that Steve Smith plays that shot and gets out in that fashion? Millions to one. Smith has shown a single minded ruthlessness when it comes to his batting that Root can only dream of. He’s played the conditions and the match situation, adapting his game as required.
    The captain is the exemplar of the side. England have talent but no killer instinct because their captain has talent but no killer instinct. Today was just another example of it.

    • James Morgan January 4, 2018 at 5:22 pm - Reply

      Completely agree, Kev. Just one little point though. Root’s poor conversion rate suggests he should be batting lower in the order not higher. His 50s would be most welcome from a No.6 😉

      Yes I’m being facetious (of course Root shouldn’t bat 6) but it’s an interesting point. You want your number 3 to score big match winning hundreds not pretty 60s and 70s.

      • Mike Chaffin January 4, 2018 at 7:55 pm - Reply

        Have you considered that he isn’t that sort of a player?

        You can average above 50 by scoring huge hundreds and failing a lot of the rest of the time, or by scoring lots and lots of 50’s. Root does the latter, which does mean he contributes in most matches.

        Root is a good enough player to build a side around. Though that side shouldn’t be pretty boys competing with him for style points. Who could?

        With a dependable 3 Root’s style would be fine. I still think Cook would be ideal. Just a question of doing what the opposition would least like to see and bagging an opener after 25 overs only to see 32 test centuries walk to the crease would epitomise this I feel.

        We grow opening batsmen on trees, exposing our best player to the new ball when he has a tendency to score gritty and big if he gets past it is doolally. Root isn’t the problem unless you want to turn him into something awful like Nasser. Having a three who is thick as mince is.

        • Tom January 5, 2018 at 1:29 am - Reply

          Surely there’s some explanation for Root not scoring more runs that implicates the ECB?

          It can’t simply be a matter of senior players not getting the job done.

    • Cricketcricketcricket January 4, 2018 at 8:10 pm - Reply

      Not correct At all.

      Our captain and ‘best’ player is talented but he is mentally and to a degree technically compromised by having grown up, And been developed to play white ball/limited over cricket. This means that naturally (and you can spin a PR phrase however you like positive/attacking/stroke maker/destructive) he is very liable to rays shots, not digging in and making silly errors. The difference between smith and root isn’t technical (if it was smith loses)..it’s mental.. Smith is able and willing to bat time.. he’s mentally disciplined etc etc

      Root and most of our players and county cricket simply isn’t.. it’s develooed players who are simply white ball players (ali, hales, Roy, stokes, Vince etc) who then try to play red ball…

      Shock horror… they have some great days and purple patches but they simply aren’t consistent .. they aren’t able to regulatory guts it out when it’s tough etc

      • BigKev67 January 5, 2018 at 8:12 am - Reply

        I’d have a little more time for this argument except for one fatal flaw. Smith and Kohli (to name the two most obvious comparisons) play just as much short form cricket as Root, if not more.
        But they go big, consistently in Test cricket whereas Root does not. They have the discipline to play match-defining innings whereas Root (at least right now) does not.
        It’s not a talent thing. It’s a mental thing. Kohli and Smith are ruthless.

        • Cricketcricketcricket January 5, 2018 at 6:36 pm - Reply

          Sigh. The difference is simple. V v v few are able to adapt their skills and mentalities between red and white ball. This is a more pronounced difference as the white ball game has eveolved over the last 5seasons.

          Meh, if you want to continue to believe the PR drivel about us being a good side but just a bit of luck and actually we have all these great players then feel free..

          It’s deluded but it’s your prerogative

  9. Doug January 4, 2018 at 4:18 pm - Reply

    And Vince isn’t a Test number 3 is he. It’s all very well looking good for 25 but one innings aside he gets out to silly shots, probably caused by too much T20. Players just seem to slip into this mode consciously or unconsciously. I don’t really blame them because it’s the policy of the dire ECB to promote t20 above all else. But I ask what does Loughborough actually do? I don’t see any likely Test players coming out of it for all the money they spend.
    I presume Moen will bat 7, personally I’d send Curran in next but either way its a loooooong tail.

    • Mike Chaffin January 4, 2018 at 6:14 pm - Reply

      When they aren’t analysing the actions of 20 elite fast bowlers, who turn out to be 78mph trundlers? Or distilling the art of spin bowling into having a strong base and repeatable action? I’m guessing Ken Oathcarn is rather proud of Moeen.

  10. Mike Chaffin January 4, 2018 at 5:56 pm - Reply

    Thought my dreams of a Crane 10 fer were outlandish.

    I suggest you bottle and sell it, would be far superior to the supine and predictable fare served up down under. I blame myself really, should have given my bats a coat of oil yesterday in anticipation of a rage inducing collapse such that I could at least put my new mallet to good use. Neighbours be damned.

    Or bought myself a punching bag ready to go.. Would have been on it as soon as our ginger hero manned up and walked out to bat with shadows on the pitch, a new ball swinging round corners and their fastest bowler pawing the ground.

    Course I would have come back to see the review and then left the room in search of the punch bag as soon as he manned up and stole a single to take strike from the chap who had been there for about 150 balls. A number 11 would get dropped from a 4th Little Piddle on the Wold XI for such an obvious mistake.

  11. SaxophoneAlex January 4, 2018 at 6:06 pm - Reply

    Well done to Malan, who has shown plenty of fight at times in this series. Now he will have to marshal the tail, which includes Moeen at present given the latter’s atrocious form on this tour. Root should have been blocking out that over with the new ball, he does seem to throw his wicket away at times. Given Woakes injury, there wasn’t really a nightwatchmen who could have been sent in ahead of Bairstow, although I get the point another writer on here made where they said Curran should have been sent out and told to waste a bit of time. Given that the ball is still new, it could get ugly and England could be blasted out for under 250. Can Malan guide Moeen through and try to build a partnership, or will Moeen play the sort of frantic “cameo” that he did at the MCG?
    I would expect very little from Curran downwards. Let’s hope I am proved wrong and that James is a psychic with his dream of Moeen making a 100.
    It’s going to need Anderson at his very best to keep England in this game.

  12. Marc Evans January 4, 2018 at 6:44 pm - Reply

    What you need is Pollyanna to make your dreams come true. Close your eyes and I’ll wave my magic wand so you can see clear as day Moin breaking Lara’s record and Crane Laker’s to bring us a historic victory with a day to spare. Harrison will abandon his 20-20 scheme and retire, making way for our Geoffrey to restore ‘proper crikit’ to its rightful place. Once more we will just have to call down the mines for a gaggle of Larwoods to restore England to her rightful place lording it over our cricketing empire for eternity. However, reality may have to return from holiday at some point.
    You can bet if Goughie was playing there would be no hint of negativity allowed in the dressing room. Where are the strong personalities now? This applies in sport generally. Everyone seems subservient to authority these days. Put a microphone in front of any of these players and you get the same insipid promises to try harder. Get angry for god’s sake!!!
    I know where you’re coming from James, but at some point we have to stop the rot, don’t we?

    • Mike Chaffin January 4, 2018 at 7:38 pm - Reply

      Aye we do.

      Trouble is we are detached in general. Either viewers or players who assume that the unseen wheels and cogs of our game are well greased and engineered. We assume it is someone’s job to look after the game in all sorts of little ways.

      When was the last time you saw a youngster with something about him? Now when is the last time you saw a scout at your club? Admittedly if you play for a big club you might assume that someone else looks after such things. If you’re 3rd change bowler for Liddle Piddle on the Wold then are we to assume that there is someone somewhere combing the scorecards of the 7th division for stand out performances?

      Do you honestly think that if the ECB sell the television rights for increasingly large sums yet the test side get defeated that the management think their job is not done? Say England lost the next 8 series home and away consecutively, do you think anything would change? Or would we merely hear how everyone is working terribly hard and taking the positives?

      Do you think our £600,000 a year overlords regard this abject tour as a failure? Or does it depend upon the TV viewing figures, the corporate sponsorships attracted?

      Maybe our whingeing little antipodean cupcake is right, maybe we should blame ourselves.

      If so how do we put it right?

      • Cricketcricketcricket January 4, 2018 at 8:13 pm - Reply

        They don’t care about the test series.. all about the white ball stuff and I’m sure I’ll read pl nth of you guys on here crow about how great the white ball game is when a few of the hitters come off in the coming months. All will be forgotten

      • Marc Evans January 4, 2018 at 11:28 pm - Reply

        I don’t think we’re that bad. Before x’mas William Hill and Ladbrokes were still making us favourites to beat India next summer. We’ve got ourselves into decent positions in every test so far, but can’t convert, so that’s something to build on, as long as we accept a change of culture is needed to re-establish a more ruthless determination, where players are read the riot act if they show piss poor cricketing application. Root should be hauled over the coals for his dismissal, to such effect that he never does the same thing again. But who will do that, Bayliss, ho ho!!
        As a Warwickshire man I watched my team play under Dermot Reeve for a few seasons. Now there was a strong character. He made few friends, as he indulged in a fair amount of gamesmanship, but his mantra was, ‘every ball is an event’. He never seemed to let his concentration drop and was constantly on at players if they did. If he felt a bowler was under performing he’d take the ball off them and bowl himself. If you walked into the ground not knowing who was captain, you’d be in no doubt after a few balls. As a result an average county team was at least competitive most of the time.

  13. Steve Ditchburn January 4, 2018 at 7:59 pm - Reply

    hate to tell you this but Root did get to 50, what match were you watching

    • Hungerpang January 4, 2018 at 9:52 pm - Reply

      I think he missed the words “get to 100” because he had to rush to the vet.

  14. JackieL January 5, 2018 at 12:16 pm - Reply

    Not sure why no mention of captaincy and fielding which has been poor. Woakes has suffered from dropped catches. Otherwise his wicket tally would be higher. Root has no confidence in his bowlers. But batting has been just as weak. Malan deserves more praise but overlooked. A bit of praise from his egocentric captain? A lot of trouble with the side is the Bayliss-Harrison entertainment blarney beforehand. It doesn’t matter losing if you lose in the right way. Why isn’t the media reminding us? Hardly prep for Ashes cricket. I feel Root has forgotten how to build a long innings. Can Strauss come out to fans and explain Root is hitting the ball well so all bodes well for Brand England?

  15. Cricket-Now January 7, 2018 at 11:21 am - Reply

    England gave it away from a commanding position yet again, story of the Ashes!

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