What can you say when you’ve just been flayed to all parts by a No.8 and No.7 batsman? Two guys who barely average 30 in test cricket. Sure they’re good players – most cricketers are talented at test level – but this wasn’t Adam Gilchrist destroying our ‘attack’. It was the captain and wicket keeper of a team that usually can’t buy a win in test cricket; a team that lost its last test (against Bangladesh) in an innings.
I don’t want to take anything away from the admirable and likeable Jason Holder. The bloke is a dude. And Dowrich is good to watch too. But yesterday’s embarrassment was really worrying. It’s a reminder, yet again, that England are completely toothless on flat pitches. It took us right back to our 0-4 defeat in Australia a year ago.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You need genuine pace and top quality spin to take wickets on lifeless surfaces. And England don’t have such a thing. All-rounders – some might say bits and pieces cricketers – get exposed. It’s quality that counts. So why England left out their best pure spinner and tallest seamer makes no sense. Leach and Broad might not have made ALL the difference but they surely would’ve had some impact, and bowled a damn sight better than Curran and Rashid.
But I’ve said all this before. We’ve all said it all before. England have had years to produce and identify some proper specialist batsmen and some quality bowlers capable of producing magic moments, but we’ve failed. Our system has failed. Our selectors have failed. And what’s more the ECB know it. But they’re happy to tolerate humiliation abroad so long as we keep winning our lion’s share of test matches on English greentops or against very weak opposition overseas. If the ECB have ambitions greater than that, then what are they doing to attain these objectives? We have to judge authorities by their actions not glib words.
With England needing the best part of 600 (!) to win this test I imagine defeat is inevitable. However, the one glimmer of hope is that this pitch now looks flatter than Colin Graves thinks the world is. Perhaps we’ll salvage some pride by making the Windies toil for their wickets? It will surely work to our advantage that the opposition don’t have a specialist spinner.
Tune in tomorrow when Keaton Jennings has made 450 not out and we’ve won by ten wickets. We live in a surreal post-fiction universe, in which bullshit is real and reality is bullshit, so why not?