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Ignominy at Lord’s

It was another awful performance and yet another dispiriting defeat. I might as well have just cut and pasted a report from the Ashes. Is this English cricket’s lowest ebb? Obviously we’ve had worse defeats in the past, and this particular test probably isn’t a watershed, but it’s hard to think of a time when the future has looked so bleak. This team can’t win away and now we can’t win in conditions that are supposed to suit us. So when exactly are we going to be competitive? Nine wickets is an absolute shellacking.

With Anderson, Broad, and Cook unlikely to be around in a couple of years’ time, the team is basically going to be Stokes, Bairstow, plus nine other misfits making up the numbers. And worse still, the ECB don’t seem to give a toss. Well, they probably give a bit of a toss, but not as much as they should, and clearly nowhere near as much as they care about making more and more money from stupid white ball vanity projects.

I’m afraid I can’t comment on the specifics of days 3 and 4 with any authority because I’ve been away all weekend. I was hoping to catch up and watch the game’s conclusion when I returned home at lunchtime on Sunday, but obviously the game was already over. Buttler and Bess were unable to sustain their heroics from the previous evening with the Pakistan attack rested and a new ball in their hands.

It was a shame but not entirely unexpected I suppose. Sometimes it’s easy to make runs when the game’s already up and you’ve got nothing to lose. It’s only when the lead begins to build, and there’s a contest once again, that the pressure reappears. Still, at least they averted an innings defeat. I guess we should be grateful for small mercies.

I’m really not sure where England go from here. The team is riddled with inadequacies – particularly in the batting department. No doubt Ed Smith will be hailed as a genius because Bess and Buttler did well in the second innings, but the truth remains that he did little to change the side – other than mess around with a batting order that was already in a muddle. The result? We’ve been hammered at home. And that’s even more depressing than being hammered away.

Chris from BOC pointed out that If we lose this series 0-2 then we’ll drop to 7th in the world rankings – thus making us effectively the worst test team of all the major nations. If that’s not a low ebb then I don’t know what is. How did it come to this? The ECB has huge resources compared to other boards yet we’re continually humiliated.

There are problems with the England side from top to bottom. I read today that the Cook / Stoneman opening partnership is now statistically the worst in England’s history (for combinations that have played ten games or so). I’ve also read that Jonny Bairstow only averages 32 in the last twelve months. He’s supposed to be one of our best players!

Meanwhile, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that the captaincy is affecting Root’s batting. He’s still getting fifties but doesn’t seem to have the mental reserves to make big runs anymore. Say what you like about Cook’s captaincy credentials but at least carrying the burden of captaincy didn’t seem to diminish his ability to score hundreds. Perhaps we should tell Mike Brearley to gets his whites out of the attic as we could do worse than pick a specialist captain at 7. I’m obviously being a bit facetious but you catch my drift.

The overwhelming feeling out there is that England’s batting is too white-ball orientated. We’ve got lots of talented individuals but they neither have the technique nor temperament to play long innings. Harebrained Harrison asked them to be bold and risk losing to win. I wonder if he feels the same way now after watching yet another catastrophic collapse today? This team needs some gold old fashioned gumption and fast. I don’t care how flashy our players are.

I guess if we’re looking for positives – not that they are many when you’ve been hammered at home by a team you were supposed to beat – we can point to a few things. The biggest one for me was Alastair Cook’s first innings performance, which proved (to me anyway) that he’s still a good player. The next is definitely the performances of Buttler and Bess on Saturday afternoon. I was unable to watch but by all accounts they played very sensibly. Plenty of people are saying that Bess looks like a keeper … as in someone you want to keep around. Much as the idea of picking three wicket-keepers fascinates me, I don’t think it would necessarily be rational!

Finally, and I guess I can’t avoid this after getting so worked up about his selection, I should say a few things about Jos. Apparently he played well yesterday so fair play to the bloke. Obviously my Twitter feed was full of people saying “eat some humble pie, chump”. I guess it comes with the territory when you put some strong opinions out there. Although I have to say these people seemed very quiet after the first innings 😉

My response to Jos’s half-century is twofold: (a) nothing would please me more than Buttler emerging as a world-class test batsmen as first and foremost I want England to win, and (b) one innings doesn’t make a career. The time to judge Jos will be next September after the Ashes when there’s a substantial body of evidence and he’s come up against the same Aussie attack that overwhelmed him in 2015. One innings really doesn’t tell us anything (whether that’s a duck or a fifty).

England have had plenty of false dawns before in their search for proper batsmen. Sam Robson, Adam Lyth both made test hundreds before the selectors figured out that they weren’t the answer. James Vince looked great at times too. Even Mark Stoneman has made a 50. And then there’s Moeen Ali. He scored 5 test hundreds and 12 fifties before the selectors figured out he wasn’t consistent enough (or frankly quite good enough) to play as a frontline batsman in test cricket. My worry with Jos is that he’ll be just like Mooen – great to watch and a brilliant counter-attacker – but without the additional value of picking up wickets.

My perspective is that England desperately need to find two or three frontline batsmen; therefore I’d much rather invest in someone like Joe Clarke, Liam Livingstone, or even a prodigious young player like Ollie Pope at No.7 who might in time become our next batting super star. There’s not a lot of pressure down the order at fifth drop, so it strikes me as the ideal spot from which to nurture a young player.

My other beef is that Ed Smith and the ECB don’t seem to care about players doing the hard yards in the championship anymore. And as someone who’s deeply concerned about the health of our first class game I think that sets a worrying precedent. That’s why I felt so passionately about Jos’s selection. It’s nothing personal, as he seems like a really good guy, but I agree completely with Andrew Flintoff when he said that Jos was “lucky” to be recalled and that he hadn’t “earned his spot”. I really pisses me off when the championship is basically treated as an irrelevance these days.

Those who have followed this blog over the years will know that my main issue is the ECB’s love-affair with white ball cricket – not the specific players who seem to represent this bias. After all, it’s the ECB’s white ball priorities that have led to England’s embarrassing performances of late. My fear is that runs for Jos will make the ECB feel vindicated in their “attack, attack” or “modern” approach – even though the team itself remains deeply flawed because of their neglect of first class cricket. In other words, Buttler heroics might obscure the big issue and paper over the cracks.

Anyway, I think that’s a good spot to leave things. This stream of consciousness has now come full circle. England have lost this test because they were underprepared, out-of-form, and because the board simply don’t prioritise test cricket – no matter how much they pretend they do. A few years ago we were the No.1 test team in the world but way down the rankings in ODIs. Now it’s the other way around – even though most cricket fans care a lot more about test cricket and the Ashes than the endless sequence of ODIs that come afterwards.

A quick word about Pakistan too. Well played guys. Congrats. Pakistan have now beaten England 8 times in their last 11 tests, despite only having a fraction of our resources. Missing out on the IPL obviously has a silver lining after all! It’s impossible not to feel chuffed for them. They seem like a really likeable lot, and Mickey Arthur is clearly doing a very good job.

I wonder if Mickey feels like swapping jobs with our Trev? I bet he’d get a nice pay rise.

James Morgan

2018-05-27T15:36:32+00:00 May 27th, 2018|Eng v Pak 2018, Test Cricket|54 Comments

54 Comments

  1. Elaine Simpson-Long May 27, 2018 at 3:37 pm - Reply

    In an interview on Sky Bayliss stressed that England had enjoyed “three tremendous days in the nets before the match” but otherwise professed himself unsure as to what could be done about the batting.

    Anyone remember Peterr Moores saying Cook was magnificent in the dressing room?

    And we thoughtnthat was a stupid remark too!

    • Paul May 29, 2018 at 11:29 am - Reply

      Not sure how Bayliss is still the coach of this shambles. Keep him as a coach for white ball cricket, but find someone else for red ball cricket because he clearly couldn’t give a damn about it.

  2. Gav May 27, 2018 at 3:52 pm - Reply

    The worst thing about this England side is the denial and ignorance that seems to surround the camp (and the media that have been sucked into the inner circle). It won’t be long until this is just written off as “one of those days” but it’s been 3 years of massive defeats. On the morning of the first day, to a man, every pundit was predicting a comfortable win – this was a good opportunity for a little confidence boost for “new era” England. Media are on constant damage control, do they have mates in the England side they want to protect, are they worried about losing access? Does nobody seem to care about the endless away defeats coupled with the poor home form? It’s surreal

    Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow have got to be 2 of the most overrated players I’ve ever seen play for England. Don’t get me wrong, they have the ability that people say they have, but they barely deliver – and yet never get called out on it. “Oh Ben can’t believe he’s done that, he was looking great on 20 as well. Unlucky stokesey and jonny, looking so good too” It’s precisely this attitude that has led to so many big defeats – media and players thinking a pretty 60/70 with some big hits is a top class test match innings. They’ve collectively lost the plot and seem to have completely forgotten about the previous decades they’ve spent watching test cricket, drunk on the thrashball of limited overs and entertainment

    And for the love of all that is holy, can these players start putting together some kind of partnerships? Not just all line up to throw their wicket away one after the other whenever it gets a bit sticky? It’s at a stage now I’m actually worried playing for England will damage any young players the counties are producing to the point they sink out of the game.

  3. Giles Falconer May 27, 2018 at 3:57 pm - Reply

    What does Trevor Bayliss actually do? I don’t think it is much, but whatever it is, it doesn’t seem to be working, does it?

    • James May 29, 2018 at 9:57 am - Reply

      Bayliss was hired to improve white ball cricket. He’s done well at that.

  4. SimonH May 27, 2018 at 4:02 pm - Reply

    At least it was all over before the mums and the eight year olds got bored….

    Much more seriously, these allegations about match-fixing need some serious looking into.

    • Spinflight May 27, 2018 at 5:21 pm - Reply

      You mean like a rampant Pakistan attack unable to knock over our last partnership, therefore requiring another days cricket and champagne sales?

    • Simon H May 27, 2018 at 5:29 pm - Reply

      Ha! No, I meant the al-Jazeera programme which everyone should watch.

      • Spinflight May 28, 2018 at 3:27 am - Reply

        Quite…

        I just did and as you say rather eye opening.

      • oreston May 28, 2018 at 5:23 pm - Reply

        If a national Board, as opposed to a betting syndicate,requests ground staff prepare a particular kind of wicket (say, a green seamer) in order to assist their team in a test match is that OK? I know money isn’t changing hands in that scenario and it isn’t a corruption issue as such, but where do you draw the line and decide what is fair or unfair manipulation of the playing conditions?

  5. Max Sawyer May 27, 2018 at 4:15 pm - Reply

    And that’s that.

    Eng. 2nd. innings – 8 batsmen scored 35 between them.

    How much does ECB spend on the test side? Apart from the players, how many hangers-on are there?

    Time to:
    Scrap central contracts
    Sack the Director and all the coaches, advisors, dieticians, statisticians and God knows what else
    Sack the selectors
    Tell the players to get stuck into the County Championship
    Recruit a team of Boycotts to spend the Summer watching county cricket (1st. & 2nd. division), meeting (could be by video link) the weekend before a test to select the team based on the players they have seen
    Make it plain to the players that there are no sinecures and “face fits” is at an end.

    Bonus – no more need for any ECB involvement in the playing side of test cricket.

    My point is that I genuinely do not believe that the best XI is being selected, through a combination of favouritism, selectors not seeing county players in action, an obsession with fitness over ability, “sinecureism”, a fear of choosing players with minds of their own (aka their face doesn’t fit) and an absolute refusal to admit to selectorial mistakes. All compounded by the blather and excuses from ECB and its acolytes every time England are thrashed out of sight. If they were woeful – and they were – then for goodness’ sake say so. As an interim measure, why not select the team for the next test by referring to the county averages (Div.1 & Div.2), starting with who has scored most runs and who has taken most wickets.

  6. Ian May 27, 2018 at 4:22 pm - Reply

    It seems pretty straightforward to me that England are short of three test class batsmen to join Cook and Root in the top five. The middle order of Stokes, Bairstow and Moeen was a good group of attacking all rounders and they should have stayed where they were. We then had a choice of good bowlers (Anderson, Broad, Wood, Woakes) to choose from as the tail.

    I don’t pretend to know which three batsmen are the best choices to join the top five but mucking around with the batting order, pushing batsmen too high up the order, and bringing in a second wicket keeper are not the answers!

  7. Doug M May 27, 2018 at 4:32 pm - Reply

    Congratulations s Pakistan, you certainly have done your homework. Superb performance.
    James has said it all really. In nearly 40 years of watching test cricket this has got to be the worst side I have ever seen. And it’s a result of the ECB’s idiotic policies which is now wreaking havoc with the English game. A complete rethink and restructure is needed from the top down otherwise we’ll just be left with white ball slogathons.
    But even saying that this lot never turned up. They sort of won one session in 10 when the Pakistan bowlers were flagging in the heat. I’d ditch half this them and at least try and start rebuilding a side with some keen young blood. Christ half of these will be pensionable soon. Stokes is by far the best of Stokes, Bairstow and Butler by a mile. You don’t need all 3 of them. You cannot keep putting in big hiters and so called “all rounders”. Bess looks a good lower order bat but can’t turn the ball for toffee. Moen Part 2 ish. As James says 7th place is fast approaching if this nonsense goes on.

  8. Cricketcricketcricket May 27, 2018 at 4:41 pm - Reply

    All I’m going to say is this is exactly the outcome that I’ve been talking about for 2-3years. All the players have ability, that isn’t in question .. however, when you grow up having to play lots of white ball you’re technique and crucially mindset becomes compromised. We are witnessing the fruits of the ‘love’ for limited overs.. that’s all.. nothing more, nothing less..

    Changing selectors, coaches etc will do nothing. What county is producing genuine red ball cricketers ? Sure, randomly one might appear but I bet it’s on the back of some lower league limited overs hitting ! Menaing, chances are they are learning to be a hitter first and a detest batter second.

    With so little non limited overs Cricket, where will they eplayers grow up having to scrap a 30 off 100? Maybe fight 100 overs plus for a draw ? Answer.. yeah they don’t.. they just go for broke and go ‘we didn’t play well, always tomorrow ‘

    It’s just the same in the amateur game now, walk out on a Saturday now and it’s a few old guard at the lower levels but mainly just people hitting from the start.. no one is learning to bat time, no one is learning how to adapt to a situation as the situation is the same at all points of a limited overs game..

    Sad times but there is no good end to this. Test cricket will decline in quality ad become jut a series of one day innings

    • James May 29, 2018 at 10:00 am - Reply

      Have a look at George Dobell’s article in Cricinfo saying Lord’s was an accident waiting to happen. He makes many of the same points you do.

  9. Cricketcricketcricket May 27, 2018 at 4:57 pm - Reply

    Simple truths yet again

    Cook – on the decline
    Stoneman – not st any point has he looked good enough. Even if he gets to 50,he then tries to play white ball and gets out !!
    Root – top class. Idle order player.. why do people think someone with an OBVIOUS flaw against the moving ball should bat 3/2/1!! Jesus
    Malan – again, just never looks good enough., too flashy
    Bairstow – over rated. He’s a good batsmen but is aggressive and goes hard at the ball.. this match again showed his technique and mentality up.. he’s a 6/7 (he’s done nothing wrong so WK is fine )
    Stokes – again, over rated. He played a fantastic one day knock vs SA (flat track) and one top rearguard action vs bang.. apart from those isolated innings… he’s just yet another white ball inconsistent player in our middle order. Again, he’s a 7
    Rest.. don care as they are there to bowl so any that can bat is a bonus

    I don’t care I’d England pick stokes and Bairstow at 6=7 really IF they had a top 4 of cook, A N Other , A N Other and root.. the two spots for me need to be test specialists.. players who are happy to bat looooong and care not for accelerating .l leave that for 5/6/7 . Sadly, other than hameed (who wa told to go away and expand his game and that’s ruined him) there is literally no one coming though that isn’t , if peoooe are honest, just yet another middle order stoke maker

  10. AndyB May 27, 2018 at 5:01 pm - Reply

    There should be no disagreement with your criticism of Buttler’s selection. Once again in this test he showed why he is a T20 player and not a test bat. He goes hard at the ball and plays shots when he should be grafting. Make him a fixture in the T20 team, but we need someone at 7 with test technique, especially if they are being selected as a pure bat, with no other role. And there is no way we can afford a long tail when the top and middle order are as flakey as they have been for some time. Anderson is a true no11 and Broad, ever since he was hit, is the same. Mark Wood may be a number 10, but no better. So we need Woakes back, not just for his bowling in these conditions, but also because he is a more consistent bat than Buttler or Stokes (and streets ahead of Wood. He is a bit wasted at no9, but if needs must….. As for Bess; he deserves great credit for his half century, but he is in the team primarily as a specialist spinner and in that role he looked utterly lost. Perhaps it is too early for him (or perhaps he has been overhyped) but the loss of Leach looks as though it is one of the bigger losses.

    Finally, a comment on the “Stokes and Bairstow plus 9 other misfits” line. If there has ever been a more overhyped test cricketer than Stokes I cannot recall them. He can play great innings, but then goes awol for several games. That is not a test bat. And, while his bowling was better in this test than of late, it is obvious that his bowling has gone backwards in recent times. He has lost 2-3 mph and not replaced it with the guile that has extended Anderson’s career. I would certainly keep him in the team (for lack of alternatives (other than Woakes who should also be playing) but let’s not pretend he is more than a decent all rounder who is best with a white ball.

  11. Simon H May 27, 2018 at 5:43 pm - Reply

    One small point – at one stage Root was fielding on his knees at silly point. This was the method Tres discovered last season but that was during a blackathon and fielding behind the wicket to a spinner.

    Even with modern protective equipment, someone could get seriously hurt by this (which is reason not to do it ever – but with your best batsman to boot?…..). It’s the sort of idea that’s so crazy it could only come out of a dressing room where the decision-making process is grossly dysfunctional.

    • AndyB May 27, 2018 at 5:55 pm - Reply

      I just assumed Root had resorted to prayer as the only option.

  12. Simon H May 27, 2018 at 6:12 pm - Reply

    On the plus side, the match was a great advert for the benefits of playing a Test against Ireland….

    • James May 28, 2018 at 8:13 pm - Reply

      One of the things Aggers has been talking about is the lack of proper preparation for visiting teams. Clearly a tough test against Ireland was great preparation for Pakistan. It was England who were badly undercooked. Players coming back from the IPL. Most of the others “rested” from Championship games. Maybe the ECB and the selectors will learn from this debacle. No, I wouldn’t put money on it either.

  13. Jackie Litherland May 27, 2018 at 6:14 pm - Reply

    Baylis has been poor for a long time. Why hasn’t he been moved on? He hadn’t a clue about Test cricket. He’s no support for Root. Harrison provoked the problem with his inane advice about England Test players playing “attractive” attacking cricket even at the cost of losing. We said it then. There’s nothing attractive about batting with no obvious means of defence. It is idiocy at the level of simpleminded cricket for mums and kids by Strauss. These are our leaders!! Meanwhile Flower who can’t get his Lions to win has taken over!! Our new selector in chief seemed to have learnt nothing from mistakes and ignored the County players “promised” a chance by Bayliss.
    The ECB and management are hopeless at their job. Hubris, arrogance and dodgy dealing behind the scenes. Players deserve better. But the critics back away from blaming them. They might get sued.

  14. Simon H May 27, 2018 at 6:38 pm - Reply

    “Stoneman now looks completely shot and will surely be taken out of the firing line when England name their team for Friday’s second Test – Keaton Jennings is favourite to replace him ahead of Nick Gubbins – but the rest of the team really are pretty much the best England have got” (Paul Newman).

    Jennings looks to a massive weakness against bowlers who pitch it up and move it – so bring him in against Amir and Abbas! Still, somebody loves him and has designated him FEC so let’s not worry about such things. As for the rest, it looks like they’ll be picked whatever they do. If there’s one straw to cling to, the Daily Mail didn’t get the First Test team right so Ed Smith isn’t leaking to them yet. That won’t last….

    At the moment, the Mail are mostly putting the boot iinto Root. Just to give one example, anyone remember how Cook was excused because it wasn’t “his team” and it was still Strauss’s team (even two years after Strass’s retirement). Funny how the same argument doesn’t apply to Root. By the way, it may be my imagination but Anderson is radiating such a “I should be captain, this pipsqueak can’t tell me what to do” vibe he might as well tattoo it on his forehead.

  15. SaxophoneAlex May 27, 2018 at 7:33 pm - Reply

    Another spineless performance from England, one which just underlines what a poor team we are these days. Pakistan, although a young and inexperienced side in many respects, looked well-drilled in all areas of play and their catching was superb. They looked like the home team, used to the conditions and well-prepared. Again, bowling stump to stump was often rewarded, with lots of lbws. Pakistan are well capable of winning at Headingley too, things are only going to get worse for England.
    Cook’s 1st innings knock was a good effort and shows he can still do it, but he is on the decline in general. Stoneman is averaging just 16 so far this season and should be dropped. Could it be time for his Surrey partner Burns to be given a go ?
    Root should stay at 4. The opening partnership is so fragile at the moment, that he’s regularly going to be coming in at 5 for 1 or something, with a new ball that is still doing plenty. Malan is not looking great, his century in Australia has perhaps flattered to deceive. I would leave Bairstow at 7, I think 5 is too high for him. Stokes would stay at 6. The bowlers were let down by poor catching, which is unforgiveable. I shudder to think at how we will cope when Anderson and Broad are gone. Things really will get worse.
    Perhaps Gubbins, Burns and Joe Clarke deserve a chance ? Gubbins and Burns to open, Cook at 3, Root 4, Clarke 5, Stokes 6, Bairstow 7, Bess at 8 for now, Woakes 9, Broad 10, Anderson 11.
    The ECB are a bunch of numpties who are presiding over a huge decline in quality of test and first class cricket in this country. My fear is that we have nowhere near reached the nadir yet.

  16. Benny May 27, 2018 at 8:24 pm - Reply

    “How did it come to this?” I believe it’s because there’s no accountability. The ECB don’t hurt when England do badly. I’d plug their top chaps into the mains every time Englan lose and see if that gets them to change their ways. Also, I’d make Bayliss go and ask Micky Arthur for some tips, if he’s bothered.

  17. Mike May 27, 2018 at 8:54 pm - Reply

    We have one world class batsman so what do we do ? Make him captain. His batting pretty much holds up so what do you do ? Move him up the order to a position he doesnt what to bat.

    If we were overflowing with form bats you could get away with messing about with root. When he is your one decent bat, doing anything possible to ruin his form is pretty dumb.

    Like the others have said we pretty much have to go with 2 new batsmen in the top 3 followed by root, malan, stokes , bairstow.

  18. Marc Evans May 27, 2018 at 9:38 pm - Reply

    What I still don’t understand is why analysis by ex players and journalists doesn’t follow up the questions that are not being answered and confront the encumbents with their own platitudes to force some kind of response and then lay into these. If this was soccer criticism wouldn’t be so half hearted. Those in charge need to be put on the spot. There are so many clear anomalies with what’s being done to the game and how it’s affecting our test prospects that it’s clear to see we’re heading in the wrong direction at speed. I would love to get Smith and his marketing cronies in front of the cameras to have their say so it could be taken apart piece by piece. I cannot remember a time when the red ball game seemed so misunderstood by an embarrassing bunch of intellectual inadequates that would be pushed to survive on the apprentice. The tabloid press, who ironically need no second invitation to do this sort of hatchet job seem to have a blind spot here.
    Rather than harking back to a pathetic comparison with 1981 Nicholas and his channel 5 cronies could have made a program inviting the back room boys to explain themselves and not being respectful of the bullshit.

  19. Doug M May 28, 2018 at 6:42 am - Reply

    7 of the Pakistan side had never played at Lords before! Well you’d never think so would you loo king at our sorry lot. Roots comments were just childish. I’d replace him as captain immediately and put him back at 4. We also need a new top 3. Sorry but Cook needs replacing. Need fresh new young blood.
    It will be interesting to see the line up for Friday. I doubt if there will be much change though so best if we lose again. Maybe, just maybe it will force changes then.

  20. AndyB May 28, 2018 at 7:57 am - Reply

    There are a few comments about replacing Root as captain. I have great sympathy with this position but I am struggling for an alternative. I start from the obvious that a captain should be secure in his place in the side as a player except in very unusual circumstances such as Brearley, where his leadership ability stood out. However, there are no candidates from outside the squad with the Brearley magic. So who would be an option?

    Anderson has been mentioned. As Blackadder once said (but about a German princess); he has the worst personality in world cricket – and that is against world class opposition. It would be asking for trouble.

    Bairstow? I dislike keeper/captains and is his place that secure? Add in that he has no captaincy experience and…….

    Stokes? No no no. I can excuse the Bristol problem, but it follows a raft of past indiscretions. And he may not be available (and certainly will not be in August).

    Broad. Similar issues to Anderson combined with the need to manage his knees meaning he is unlikely to play all games.

    Which leaves the players who are not secure in their places. Of those only Woakes (who led a happy and successful Lions tour) has relevant captaincy experience and, while he should be secure in his place, he obviously has the wrong accent and family for the job.

    Anyone with any other ideas?

    • young.jay@outlook.com May 29, 2018 at 9:10 am - Reply

      Well I suppose they could make Buttler captain as he does have some experience and given their enthusiasm for him as a test player, he will probably stay in the side. A left-field idea that I’ve seen touted is to bring in Morgan for Malan and make him captain. But being a good one-day captain doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be any good at test level, even if he wanted to play test cricket now

  21. Comte May 28, 2018 at 8:21 am - Reply

    Desperately bad defeat which will no doubt be swiftly brushed of by the England Living-in-a-Bubble group. ‘There are no alternatives’ cry people, whether referring to batsmen,bowlers, coaches or captains.
    My view is that there are always alternatives.
    Root looked utterly clueless throughout much of the game and his kneeling towards the end will be rightfully mocked for years to come.
    There are people on the county circuit with backbones – people like Hildreth, Madsen and Mitchell – but there probably don’t laugh at Flower’s jokes (if indeed there are any).
    The future of English Test Match cricket is bleak.

    • AndyB May 28, 2018 at 9:22 am - Reply

      You are right that there are always alternatives, and Daryl Mitchell would be my left field choice if Root is to be replaced as captain (and I doubt Mitchell could do worse as an opener than the alternatives). But you would be picking him on the Brearley principle, and I doubt he is quite in that category. But an interesting possibility.

    • Gav May 28, 2018 at 2:09 pm - Reply

      it’s one of the most confusing defences someone can offer up – “Well who else is there?” Who else is there that could produce a worse testmatch performance than that?

      • AndyB May 28, 2018 at 3:37 pm - Reply

        You need to differentiate between it as a defence (it isn’t) and a reasonable question, especially when posed about the captaincy. Personally I would make Woakes captain, as the only squad member both with successful international captaincy experience and who is not a known member of any of the factions. But he would have to take elocution lessons first.

        • FATBOY FRED May 28, 2018 at 4:53 pm - Reply

          Why would CW need to take elocution lessons?! Because he is from the Midlands? I don’t even think his accent is all that strong to my ear. Don’t know about his captaincy credentials but he does come across well in interviews. And not a lot of options like you’ve said. But don’t think where he’s from or how he sounds would matter as much to the ECB (in an ideal world it shouldn’t matter at all), I know they said that rubbish about Cook, but they’ve also appointed Hussain, Vaughan, Flintoff, Pietersen and even Root, none of whom seem especially posh or privileged!

          • AndyB May 28, 2018 at 7:30 pm - Reply

            I speak as a born and bred Brummie (although I no longer live there). I recall the Giles Clarke quote about Cook having ‘the right family’. I also recall the disparaging comments about Ian Bell and his perceived pleb background (despite coming from a very middle class family). Of the ones you mention; Hussain is from an affluent Anglo-Indian family and went to private school. Pietersen likes to come across as a man of the people but comes from a wealthy SA family and went to what is probably the best private school in SA. I agree Vaughan and Root have ordinary backgrounds, but Vaughan was pushed by Atherton and Hussain as the anointed one and no real alternatives were considered, and it was a similar situation with Root, with alternatives thin on the ground. I agree Flintoff was an aberration – good player, but what were they thinking? But I thank you for your generous comment about Woakes accent. Whilst not impenetrable, like some of my uncles (even to me) – it is stil pretty brummie.

            • FATBOY FRED May 29, 2018 at 3:20 pm - Reply

              Thanks Andy, really interesting to read that, I’m a Southerner but have lived all over the UK so accents aren’t as big a deal to me anymore. Yes I remember the Clarke quote, that was the rubbish that I had alluded to in my first reply… it’s bad enough to think it, let alone say it publicly! Outdated doesn’t even cover it! I didn’t know about the snobbery towards Bell though, was this something on record from the ECB too? And Flintoff certainly was the aberration, maybe that put them off for good!

              Hard to believe they saw Pietersen in the same way though, especially witnessing their subsequent treatment of him. Despite that private education, I think he had a hard enough time convincing them he was English, never mind English and middle class… I wonder what they make of Morgan, who also doesn’t seem cut from the same cloth, especially as he is now spearheading their prioritised limited overs stuff..?

              As a personal aside – Hussain is my favourite captain, because he was the first one I came across when I got into cricket as a teenager. I think Vaughan was probably better, but I just loved Nasser’s passion. He was a bit mad and I liked that too, it’s pretty generalising to say but I don’t think he came across like a silver spooner, more like an Essex scrapper…

  22. Down at Third Man May 28, 2018 at 9:45 am - Reply

    Apart from the Club (MCC) loosing out on a couple of days of bar receipts, this Test was highly satisfactory for We Are England.

    From the decision at the toss onwards (if not from the publication of the team sheet) it gave the viewing native public exactly what they want from a Test Match: – a jolly good moan, a chance to express, with inherent racism, surprise and admiration for their underrated opponents and, at the end of Day Three, a classic rearguard action of glorious futility, which, like the British officer at Arnheim walking across a line of fire carrying an umbrella, did its job in expressing to a tee the national self image: how we enjoy ourselves.

  23. Simon H May 28, 2018 at 10:04 am - Reply

    Jennings recalled and no other changes…. Ed Smith has got the hang of briefing the Daily Mail very quickly.

    Good summary of the match-fixing situation here by Lawrence Booth:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/cricket/article-5777443/Heart-soul-cricket-stake-following-latest-corruption-claims.html

    • AndyB May 28, 2018 at 1:11 pm - Reply

      The ECB have (yet again) shot themselves in the foot. They immediately deny the fixing allegations, and do it so quickly that it is obvious to all that they have done so without any investigation. It may be that the claims are wrong, but you cannot call for other cricket boards to deal with these problems when you are not even prepared to look at allegations against England players. It rather reminds me of the appalling stench from the late 90s, when Chris Lewis reported an approach which involved other England players and was immediately sacrificed and driven out of the FC game. This should now be a police matter to determine the truth since the ECB have demonstrated that they are not fit to look into the matter.

      • Simon H May 28, 2018 at 4:27 pm - Reply

        Agreed – they say themselves that they haven’t seen all the evidence (which has been presented to the ICC, not the ECB) but the allegations are false. How can they possibly know? It reeks of protecting the corporate image above all. I’d add the Don Topley affair to Chris Lewis as examples of past prrof ECB investigations are not to be trusted.

        The credibility of this Chris Eaton and the ICSS is something we need to hear more about.

        James has been saying on Twitter (I’m not on Twitter so can’t reply there) that the sort of fix described in the programme is very difficult to pull off. An excellent American writer on fixing in sports, Brian Tuohy, has pointed out a fix doesn’t have to work every time. The amounts of money that can be made by being right 55% of the time in betting are enormous. It’s also probably easier to pull off low scoring against spinners where there aren’t likely to be many edges going for unintentional runs.

  24. Silk May 28, 2018 at 7:00 pm - Reply

    Bess has the potential to be the next in a long line of English bits n pieces of cricketers who failed utterly at the job they were selected for but scored a few / picked up a few tailenders, and thus deserves to be persisted with beyond logic.

    See Dawson, Liam; Salisbury, Ian; Croft, Robert; Jones, Geriant etc. etc.

  25. Doug May 28, 2018 at 7:05 pm - Reply

    Find a captain that has a strategic mind, understands how to build pressure, read a situation and knows his limitations about his own game (I know, sounds like another Brierley) in county cricket and build from there. Surely there is a smart leader doing the rounds out there????

    Cook churning out partners might mean that Cook is the problem at the top of the order. Get two freshies in there to develop a partnership. If Cook is that valued, will he bat down the order? I don’t know, but not the worse idea.

    No real out and out pace. Wood is wayward and doesn’t frighten any top 6.

    Bess was selected as a spinner and made zero impact. He is not there for his batting, that is a bonus if he can chip in with 30+ And odd 50, as long as he is taking wickets or building pressure from one end, that his job.

    Jos Butler is only a sexy gamble, positive intent, new season etc. etc., so the jury will be out. Coming in at 7 will probably mean a lot of not outs, so be careful when judging his average.

    Broad, a pair and a lot of air play about his “new re-worked action” – we saw how that worked out for him. Next bowler please…..

    Stoneman – bats like his surname.

    Malan- worth keeping.

    Stokes – good for a 30 odd and a few wickets each test, on average, so expect nothing more. If that’s exceptable then so be it and drop him down a spot – he is not a 6.

    Bairstow – got a good pill in the second knock, kept well, worth his place but needs to relax. A bit like that other blood nut last weekend.

    Jimmy – did English cricket’s darling play?

    All this shit should of been sorted out after NZ, so this is the price you pay.

  26. Simon H May 29, 2018 at 7:28 am - Reply

    Shelve all those “they can’t make any radical changes while Strauss is off” ideas….

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/cricket/article-5780579/England-coach-Trevor-Bayliss-one-game-sack.html

    Writer Paul Newman has been generally extremely supportive of Bayliss so this can’t be put down to some journalistic grudge (and even here he manages to put most of the blame on Root). Wait until you read the proposed replacements!

    • oreston May 29, 2018 at 10:52 am - Reply

      Jos Buttler as potential FEC? Well, that would certainly explain a lot. Could Micky Arthur be the man finally to deal with the remnants of the Strauss era dressing room clique, or would his efforts to change the “culture” meet with the same result that they did in Australia? Farbrace would just be the continuity candidate and I can’t see that that’s what’s needed.

      • Simon H May 29, 2018 at 11:34 am - Reply

        The ECB take a thrashing and their first response to think of poaching the other team’s coach…

        • oreston May 29, 2018 at 12:39 pm - Reply

          Yep, just throw money at the problem. That’ll work…

  27. Dave L May 29, 2018 at 1:39 pm - Reply

    Once the hoo ha over Ballgate is over, is it worth getting Darren Lehmann in? Or is he another white ball specialist who just got lucky with the test players at his disposal?

    A point about the Aussies – their national competition has SIX teams in it. Do we need to go to a SIX region Premier League (above the counties), the players for whom are selected from the counties within their geographical boundaries?

    Currently, it seems we have a big problem with players stepping up from County to National level, so an extra layer might just prepare them for greater things.

    • Ab May 30, 2018 at 9:07 am - Reply

      UK and Australia have different populations, no?

      • Dave L May 30, 2018 at 2:43 pm - Reply

        It’s not a case of population, it’s a matter of getting the BEST players at a level where they can compete to play for their country.

        I bet there are more “cricket players” in Oz per 1 million population than there are in England.

        Same with New Zealand.

  28. Simon H May 30, 2018 at 8:13 am - Reply

    Some interesting context on the match-fixing allegations:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/cricket/article-5784073/Just-men-master-minding-crickets-dark-dealings.html

    Some people froth at the mouth at the mention of the DM but their reporting of this is the best around in the UK (The Guardian’s is the pits).

    Eleswhere, the latest ICC meeting has decided to clamp down (whatever that turns out to mean – come back to me when a big Indian player is hit by it) on bad player behaviour. That’s being beastly to each other on the field and ball tampering of course, not anything like match-fixing. They’re not doing anything about anything else that blights the game (although on scrapping the toss that’s probably a good thing).

    • Dave L May 30, 2018 at 4:07 pm - Reply

      This will always be the UK MSM’s MO – if it’s foreign, it’s bad.

      Pity they don’t look at possible links between those same betting syndicates and English football.

      Or the way SOME officials have bias’s towards their local teams.

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