Ignominy has been the word of the weekend. But I’m not using it to bash the Australians today. Instead I’m using it in reference to England’s latest pathetic result away from home in test cricket: a defeat by an innings inside three days to New Zealand.

I haven’t got the stat book in front of me but of our current run of form outside England must be the worst in our history: a somewhat embarrassing draw in Bangladesh, a 0-4 defeat in India, a 0-4 defeat in Australia, and now a possible defeat to the Kiwis too. Ignominy means ‘pubic shame and disgrace’. England haven’t cheated but they’ve pretty much done everything else to embarrass and humiliate themselves and us long-suffering supporters.

No doubt some will take heart from the way we batted in spells today. The players did belatedly show some fight – the prospect of being roasted in the media kind of does that to people – but there’s no disguising the ultimate result. This current England test team is perhaps the worst we’ve had in quite a while. The fact it contains, on paper at least, England’s leading ever run scorer and wicket-taker is food for thought indeed.

We’ve discussed the reasons for England’s malaise many times before so I don’t see the need to repeat myself ad nauseam. However, I do think it’s instructive that seven of our batsmen reached at least 20 but failed to convert their starts into a meaningful score that might have influenced the outcome of the match. When so many players switch off and surrender their wicket mid-innings, this suggests that mental fatigue is playing its part. Either that or, of course, the team now has a white ball mentality and simply can’t build innings any more. Perhaps it’s a combination of both factors?

There are very few positives to take out of this performance. Alastair Cook still looks shot to me. Some will argue that he was unfortunate to get caught down the leg-side, but if you play outside the line of your pad this kind of thing is bound to happen. It happened to me on my debut for Worcs U17 many years ago and I got no sympathy whatsoever from the coach.

The other so called established players are also stuck in a rut. Joe Root continues to make 50s not 100s; Dawid Malan doesn’t look anywhere near the same player when the pitches aren’t flat and true; Jonny Bairstow is still playing silly shots; Moeen Ali looks like a luxury player at best; and as for the bowling attack heaven knows why our selectors and management think four right-arm medium-fast seamers is going to cut it at test level.

Jack Leach simply must play in the next game, and Mark Wood should play too. If the latter isn’t fully fit and able to bowl fast then he shouldn’t be in the squad. The only encouraging signs in this game were Mark Stonemans’ second innings half-century (which he then promptly gave away), Chris Woakes spirited batting today (just a shame about his bowling), and Ben Stokes’ encouraging knock.

Talking of Ben Stokes, it’s being reported that he aggravated his back injury in this game and he might now miss the second test. There were also reports that he had an injection to get through this game in the first place. Why oh why are we gambling with the fitness of such a key player. We’ve only just got Stokes back. So why risk his long-term health?

James Morgan

2018-03-26T10:00:48+00:00March 26th, 2018|NZ v England 2018, Test Cricket|39 Comments


  1. Antony March 26, 2018 at 10:17 am - Reply

    “Ignominy means ‘pubic shame and disgrace'”

    Pubic shame – it’s not that bad is it?

    • James Morgan March 26, 2018 at 10:38 am - Reply

      I think our current run is shameful. So yes! 🙂

    • dlpthomas March 27, 2018 at 12:23 am - Reply

      Pubic shame is what Bancroft got after he shoved that tape down his jocks.

  2. Andrew Cheese March 26, 2018 at 10:25 am - Reply

    Maybe it’s time to back to basics and pick a team made up of county cricketers who haven’t been tainted by the IPL or Big Bash but who enjoy batting for more than a single session. I hope the new ECB scout system and North-South series pays dividends.

    • AndyB March 26, 2018 at 1:42 pm - Reply

      Other than Hameed (who I would love to see in the team) I am having difficulty thinking of suitable candidates.

  3. Pete Cresswell March 26, 2018 at 10:28 am - Reply

    March 26, 2013, Auckland. England lost their seventh wicket, Ian Bell to the last ball of the penultimate session. Caught Tim Southee, bowled Neil Wagner. England hung on for a draw thanks to a heroic rearguard by Prior, Broad & Panesaar.

    March 26, 2018, Auckland. England lost their seventh wicket, Ben Stokes, to the last ball of the penultimate session. Caught Southee, bowled Wagner. But New Zealand triumphed this time, overcoming two days of play lost to rain and another dogged England rearguard to complete an innings win under lights at Eden Park.

    Deja vu with the right outcome this time 😉

    As a Kiwi I’m feeling pretty happy – some very good bowling, some excellent fielding (after standards slipped a bit in the ODIs) and some solid batting. Henry Nichols seems to be laying a marker down as #5 nicely – I don’t really like having Watling at 6, but de Grandhomme isn’t any better than a 7. At least Santner (when fit) gives us 3 #7s at 6/7/8). And Blundell is looming as a keeper/#6 option for the long term.

    Today was largely down to Wagner’s ability to maintain high intensity over long spells – he bounced out Woakes in his 12th over on the trot (granted 4 or 5 of them were before the Dinner break). 39 of Neil Wagner’s 147 test wickets have come from short-pitched deliveries. Since Wagner’s debut in 2012 no bowler has taken more wickets in Tests off short balls than Wagner himself: Wagner – 39, Rabada – 24, Morkel – 21

    England’s form in their last 12 away Tests is tough reading at the moment: LDLLLLLLLDLL – and there have been some heavy losses in those Ls.

    • James Morgan March 26, 2018 at 10:40 am - Reply

      I like Wagner as a bowler. He’s not quick so it’s quite impressive that he gets so many wickets with short balls. Always gives 100%.

  4. James March 26, 2018 at 10:30 am - Reply

    For the record, England have lost 10 and drawn 2 of their last 12 away tests. The fact of the matter is that we lost that game by lunchtime on the first day as a result of an utterly spineless batting “performance”, and any other result would have been a travesty. Only 2 days of rain made the match remotely interesting (as a test match). Definition of insanity: keep picking 4 right arm medium fast seamers away from home and expect it to work. Most of the wickets we did take were to Anderson and Broad, which suggests there could be even worse to come.
    Yes, England did bat better in their second innings (which doesn’t set the bar very high), but Root, Stoneman, Stokes and Woakes all made 50’s, and none got to 70 (I’ll exempt Woakes from that criticism on the basis that he’s supposed to be a bowler; but that brings other criticism). Stoneman, Root, Bairstow, Stokes and Woakes all undone by short balls (so Neil Wagner will stop bowling them out of consideration – yeah right). England seem to be Donald Trump in disguise: going on the pull at totally inappropriate times.

    • Cricketcricketcricket March 27, 2018 at 9:17 pm - Reply

      I’ll say it again.. stoneman has a reputation of getting out a lot when trying to be attacking. He’s an opener so needs to learn how to just plod along.. sadly, he’s had more than enough time now to prove he can’t cut it

  5. Marc Evans March 26, 2018 at 10:36 am - Reply

    Stokes is too important psychologically to the side to leave out unless a cripple. You only have to hear the way Root talks about him. He is our only potential matchwinner at the moment.
    As I said in my last post the ludicrous length of this tour has produced an inevitable burn out. When you are physically tired, just like the England Rugby squad, you don’t have the mental strength to make the right decisions, so you screw up. Stokes is one of the few members of this squad this doesn’t apply to. The players are always the last to admit this, so there’s no point going on about them. What happened today was as inevitable as snow at Easter. It’s the ECB that should be hauled over the coals for their itinerary. Will anything be learnt from this? Your guess is as good as mine. Whatever happens on the rest of this tour is as irrelevant as international sport can get. It means nothing anymore.

  6. SimonH March 26, 2018 at 10:52 am - Reply

    “I haven’t got the stat book in front of me but of our current run of form outside England must be the worst in our history”.

    It’s the worst run of away results without a win since either side of WW2 apparently.

    Anyway, obviously this is all the fault of county cricket. Can’t we have more centralisation of power under the wise, benevolent all-seeing eye of the ECB please?

  7. Gav March 26, 2018 at 10:55 am - Reply

    The batting is beyond mediocre now. Cook is looking like he’s had enough of test cricket, and 150 test matches will do that to you. Root cannot buy a score, and after them you have a bunch of cavalier boozy lads thinking they can just play shots in any situation. There’s a reason that England don’t produce any partnerships anymore, and it is down to the fact they’re prepared to play at just about anything – this is fine in ODI’s when you have fielding restrictions and limited overs, but at test match it will get you into trouble 9 times out of 10 – or in England’s case – 10 times out of 12

    The bowling is just odd, all pretty much the same style bowlers backed up by a not-spinner batsman. The ECB should have made bowling a priority from the previous ashes 5-0, and I cannot see how anything is going to be different for the next 5 years. Once Anderson and Broad are gone, England will be right back into the 90s, potentially the worst England side I’ll ever see.

    The worst thing has been the media all covering up for the succession of gutless performances and failures. Trying to reassure everyone that “things will get better, these players are just too talented, arguably potentially some of the best who have ever played for England”. Complete and utter nonsense – you will never consistently make big scores at test level if you throw your bat at everything. That’s not down to just giving it time, it needs the player to hold their own hand up and adapt to the situation. AB de Villiers is one of the most attacking batsmen I’ve ever seen play, but he can play innings that they wouldn’t show to inmates in Gunatanamo

    • Dave Larder March 26, 2018 at 11:49 am - Reply

      Didn’t Joe Root just get a hundred and a fifty?

      I’m sorry, but as a POM who is also a paper Aussie, I’m not about to put the boot in to players who lose playing fairly.

      What will Strauss do next is the question to be asked. Maybe his days are numbered, because that losing streak has pretty much been on his watch.

      • Gav March 26, 2018 at 12:42 pm - Reply

        Sorry but this “at least we lose fairly” is completely irrelevant. The events of South Africa v Aust have absolutely nothing to do with the dismal test results of England over the last 3 years, where it is a 35% win rate for test matches and near 100% loss rate for the last 2 years of away tests. Utterly dismal

        The players deserve the boot because they believe their own made up press and throw a strop when anyone in the media dares call a spade a spade and say their performances and approach to test matches simply isn’t up to test standard.

      • Gav March 26, 2018 at 12:45 pm - Reply

        As for Joe Root – look at his scores, mostly 50s. Simply not enough conversions when you’re getting in as regularly as he is – and that is all down to playing at far too many deliveries, he is giving his wicket away too much and has to improve on that. It is typical of the England approach right now, and it is wrong, it’s why there seems to be a collapse every other innings because all the players approach it in the same way – if it’s there to be hit, hit it.

  8. Elaine Simpson-Long March 26, 2018 at 12:13 pm - Reply

    I did feel they made a bit of a fight of it at the end but still not good enough

  9. Comte March 26, 2018 at 12:46 pm - Reply

    I would use ‘impotence’ rather than ‘ignominy’. We got a good thrashing. Against decent bowlers our first innings batting was pathetic. Our bowling was feeble and lacks depth and variety. As usual the bowlers as the guys singled out for criticism.
    Did I say our batting was pathetic? It was much worse that that JIm. It hurts me to say that Mo has to go. Can’t bowl, can’t bat. I look forward to seeing him more of him at New Road during the summer. Perhaps he will recover his form.
    Cook must also go. His mind is on farming.
    I would bring in Livingstone and Leach. And probably Wood to replace Overton.
    I’m unhappy that Stokes’s future is being jeopardised.

    To cheer myself up I’ve been looking at some of the teams we were putting out in the 80s. Gee whizz, there was some dross.

    • AB March 26, 2018 at 4:09 pm - Reply

      The 80s were certainly a lot worse than the 90s.

      • James March 27, 2018 at 8:40 am - Reply

        Are you sure about that? The early 80’s teams were pretty good, possibly the second best in the world (a long way behind the West Indies, obviously).

      • Vashtar March 27, 2018 at 2:41 pm - Reply

        Not sure about that! I reckon it started going downhill around 1989. The 1990s were alot worse.

        • Silk March 27, 2018 at 7:54 pm - Reply

          We had some Ashes victories in the 80s, but Aus were weak. Our overall record was awful.

    • oreston March 26, 2018 at 6:29 pm - Reply

      “I’m unhappy that Stokes’s future is being jeopardised.” I know what you mean (re. his injury management) but it’s not as though he hasn’t done anything to jeopardise his own future (!)

  10. AndyB March 26, 2018 at 1:37 pm - Reply

    There is an obvious question about the bowling (and the captaincy); when Woakes can open the bowling in the ODI’s and remove at least one NZ opener every time in his first spell with the new ball ……….. why give the new ball to Stuart Broad when he looks like a medium pacer in all but rare short bursts and then complain when Woakes cannot work the same magic with a scuffed up old ball? (The other obvious question in this match is ‘how many times does Stokes have to give away his wicket when it matters before we realise he is the test equivalent of a club bat who goes out and plays by numbers – block, block, swing?).

    • Pete Cresswell March 27, 2018 at 10:17 am - Reply

      The team have only taken 20 wickets twice in the last 12 (or 11?) away tests. Which speaks volumes for
      (a) the sameness of the seam attack – I think Woakes would perform better as an opening bowler once one of Anderson/Broad go, which still leaves space for a new 3rd seamer (preferably left arm for variety)
      (b) Moeen being a part-time spinner at best

  11. maggie March 26, 2018 at 4:48 pm - Reply

    I haven’t watched any of this test or listened very much either so if I am talking rubbish, forgive me. But I an fed up of reading that a wicket has fallen in the last over before lunch/tea/close of play, and I did hear Stoneman I think hitting a boundary and then being out next ball trying to do the same thing and just top edging it. And that seems to happen a lot.
    If I was the England batting coach I think I would have a rule that 1) if you hit a boundary, you must block the next ball, however tempting. And 2) if it’s the last over before an interval (or for that matter the first one after) it must be a maiden. If you get out to an unplayable ball, so be it, you are excused. Heavy penalties for transgressing these rules! Might just instil a bit of concentration into our batsmen and stop them making totally stupid decisions at the wrong time.

  12. SimonH March 26, 2018 at 5:23 pm - Reply

    Fan: That Trent Boult seems quite good, I’d like to watch some of him.

    ECB: Pipe down, you’re getting another five Tests of Ishant Sharma.

    • oreston March 26, 2018 at 6:32 pm - Reply

      Filthy lucre, innit?

  13. Doug M March 26, 2018 at 6:55 pm - Reply

    Need to completely rebuild the test team, management and ECB. I don’t go with the view that there isn’t anyone else in county cricket who can’t replace some in this closed shop of a side. What about Hameed, Livingstone, Burns, Sam Curran (left armer!), Leach, Porter who took nearly 80 wickets last year, Meaker who us genuinly quick. There’s others I could add but:
    Cook, Broad, Moen, Woakes, Overton, Vince need to go. Cook may well retire from International cricket, Woakes isn’t a good enough bowler or bat, Moen needs to go back to Worcester for the season. Wood has lost pace and his fitness record is awful. Broad has taken about 3 tests to get 1 wicket and is just a medium pacer. Anderson towers above any of the current bowlers but is nearly 36.
    Time for major change in thinking.

    • AndyB March 26, 2018 at 9:14 pm - Reply

      The Currans are rank medium pacers who would not worry any test bat. Meaker is one of the most unlikely cases ever to represent England. I play in Surrey and have heard the Normandy guys comment that he was not even the best bowler in the club. Porter is a good county bowler who is doing the job Woakes did 6-7 years ago (but bowling 2-3 mph slower than Woakes was then and not getting as much movement). No doubt the idiot coaches would insist he needs to add 5 mph – or was that just the excuse to avoid picking Woakes when he was bowling like an English Philander? Hameed I agree with you. Leach deserves a try. The others are a desperate stab in the dark on the principle of try enough bangers and one will come off. England lack test bats because coaches have prioritised white ball over technique (apart from Hameed who seems immune to such silliness). There are some young genuine quickies (Stone, Barber, Mahmood), all of whom should be played ahead of Meaker.

      • Silk March 27, 2018 at 9:25 am - Reply

        We desperately need about 5 new players. No idea who, though.

        Hameed, Robson, Lawrence, Leach, no idea about quicks.

  14. Silk March 26, 2018 at 7:20 pm - Reply

    The length of the tour is a pointless excuse. We were shit from the moment we landed in Australia, and barely any better the previous winter.

    Woakes, Ali, Vince, Cook all have to go, Wood (I fear) isn’t close to good enough, Overton (I fear) is an honest county pro, not a test player, and Broad may be done. Jury definitely out on Stoneman and Malan.

    So basically it’s Root, a half fit Stokes, and a 35 year old Anderson.

    Young Livi could be the second coming of Compton, and Leach could bowl like Deadly, and we’d still be screwed…

    • Doug M March 26, 2018 at 8:02 pm - Reply

      Yep agree. Length of tour is more of a bore from the spectators point of view than the players. Give me their salary and I’d be delighted to play cricket in Aus and NZ for 6 months if I were good enough. Troublevis few of this lot are. They did it years ago and went by boat. They’ve hardly had a heavy workload have they. If they don’t like the job let someone else have it. These guys don’t know what hard work is.

      • AndyB March 27, 2018 at 7:48 am - Reply

        It is less an issue of hard work and more one of avoiding injury. I trained hard in my 20s (for athletics) and still do 4 gym sessions a week. I know that the more physically tuned you are the narrower the tightrope you walk in terms of injury, especially muscle/ligament injury. Years ago players thought a pack of ciggies and a few pints comprised a training regime, and they got breaks between matches (and nets) due to the sea and overland travelling. Today, even if they are not playing, there are long nets with no travel breaks. It is worst for particular players. Those, like Woakes, who have played tests and white ball, have played non-stop for 5 months and maintained high fitness levels in the gym at the same time. It is no surprise this leads to niggles and physical burn out.
        However, if you think the regime needed to develop and maintain the fitness level of a modern cricketer is not hard work I can only assume you have never trained seriously. At 63, and after years of physical fitness, I still find myself exhausted after an hour in the gym.

        • Silk March 27, 2018 at 8:08 am - Reply

          Problem is, Woakes isn’t bowling any worse now than he did at Brisbane.

          I think they work very hard. Perhaps not smart, but certainly hard. But they aren’t very good.

  15. SimonH March 27, 2018 at 3:46 pm - Reply

    In all the kerfuffle about Australia, yesterday’s county chairmen meeting seems to have been rather fogotten (which is just how the ECB would like it).

    I suppose we can safely assume it wasn’t exactly the Peasants’ Revolt or we’d have heard something.

  16. SimonH March 27, 2018 at 9:12 pm - Reply

    “how gravely this was being treated where other countries have shrugged off ball-tampering episodes as minor disciplinary infractions or even causes to rally behind the player involved”.

    I guess Geoff Lemon didn’t see that Dan Liebke tweet.

  17. Cricketcricketcricket March 27, 2018 at 9:22 pm - Reply

    The simple truth is our coaching and system is geared to producing white ball players. This means we are not producing test quality players anymore.

    Until that’s fixed we will continue to decline and the only way it’ll look good is when oppos are also crap (WI, SL, Bang etc)

  18. Cricket-Now April 4, 2018 at 4:56 pm - Reply

    England team are in absolute shambles! I bet KP can still bat better than most of them…

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