You reap what you sow


The Daily Telegraph, 3rd February:

Of the World Cup, Downton says: “I think people will look at us now and say we’re a bit of a side to be reckoned with.”

Saturday 14th February: England lost to Australia by 111 runs.

Friday 20th February: England lost to New Zealand by eight wickets with 37.4 [sic] overs to spare.

The simple word ‘defeat’ seems barely adequate to describe Friday’s events in Wellington. This was the cricketing version of Dresden: annihilation on an industrial scale.

Although the players must account too for their shortcomings, the principal blame begins and ends at the feet of Peter Moores, the England selectors, and Paul Downton.

Four years of preparation. A butchered test schedule. A ruined Ashes series. And for what? Chaos. Confusion. Muddled thinking of catastrophic proportions.

As Michael Vaughan asked, in a piece already discussed on this site, why was a new captain appointed, in effect, only three weeks before the tournament?

Why did the management cling on to a bankrupt captain for nearly an entire year, squandering the team’s hard-won opportunity to prepare? Why was Gary Ballance thrown into the deep end at the pivotal number three position, to face demanding bowling, after only just returning from injury? And why only now did the coaches realise it might be useful to practise yorkers?

Vaughan also made another telling observation:

“Last week Broad defended England’s bowling at the death by saying South Africa only bowl yorkers 12 percent of the time in the final 10 overs. So what? I’m not interested in that. They are bogged down by stats and not thinking for themselves”.

Broad’s offhand but revealing remark tells you everything you need to know about Moores’s England and their naive disconnection from cricketing reality.

Moores is a deluded geek who thinks cricket matches are won and lost on the basis of mathematical formulae, not instinct and nous. He has confused his players – and addled their minds with over-complication – to the point of cricketing catatonia. They have been so stultified by his idiocy, and so denuded of confidence in their own natural games, that they can no longer perform at all.

Who knew this could happen? Who could have thought Moores wouldn’t be up to the job?

Oh yes, I remember now – he was rubbish the first time he did the job.

England have become an international laughing stock. The other World Cup nations must look at us, scratch their heads, and then split their sides.

Kevin Pietersen, England’s one genuine all-formats heavyweight: dropped for no explicable reason. Michael Carberry and Ben Stokes, who lit up the Big Bash: discarded. Alex Hales, who had such potential: thrown in at the deep end too late, and ruined. James Tredwell, by a margin England’s most economical ODI bowler: dropped.

And for the coach, when England could have hired virtually anyone in the world, they appointed the only person whom they’d already sacked once for incompetence.

Friday’s defeat was a year in the making. Once the ECB resolved to place ego before common sense, and their self-importance before the good of the team, they set the controls for a crash-course to disaster.

Defeat by Scotland tomorrow – and with it almost certain elimination from the tournament – would be the best thing to happen to English cricket for years.

We need something truly, apocalyptically, dreadful to happen – so the management no longer have a hiding place. An event which exposes the sheer moral bankruptcy of the Downton regime to a wider public, and shocks Colin Graves and Tom Harrison (the incoming ECB chair and chief executive) into real change.

If England scrape through to the quarter finals, they’ll fraudulently gloss over everything with a “good comeback by the lads – not too bad in the end”, and an opportunity will be lost.

So far, England have been at the wrong end of the two biggest mismatches of the tournament. For all the debates about reducing the number of teams for 2019, England have yet been outplayed by every associate nation, including Afghanistan, who put in a very creditable performance against Sri Lanka earlier today.

Thanks so much to all of you who commented on James’s piece from Friday. We appreciate every moment you’ve spared, and every word you’ve contributed. The sheer scale of your input reflects the frustration and dismay of the English cricketing public. You deserve better than this.

On a lighter note, our very own Tregaskis has a piece in this month’s Cricketer magazine. It’s the fascinating and macabre tale of Leslie Hylton, a West Indies test cricketer of the 1930s, and his unique fate. The article is in the March edition of the publication, out now.


  • Unfortunately you’re right. It seems the only way forward is for us to lose against Scotland – as the backlash will finally wake up this sleeping giant.

    • KP said as much on Twitter earlier this weekend. Amazingly there still isn’t a Newman article about it yet.

      • Newman is too busy trying to sanitise the failure of England Cricket in a palatable fashion for those “inside” cricket, or those who believe those that are “inside” cricket. Selvey is getting short shrift in the Guardian. Not sure if the posts that are not to his liking have been modded yet.

  • I’d rather England win as I’ve put a bet on BUT I agree that the best thing to happen would be to lose and go out. ECB need a radical.. and i mean radical shake up ( as do all the counties)

  • Sorry Maxie bur you’re wrong. England could not have had anyone that they wanted as their coach. They could only have had anyone prepared to accept that his selection pool would be determined by his employer. That ruled out pretty much everyone other than…..well, the guy who got the job.

    • That’s what I said on the Telegraph thread. I think that is right. Ashley Giles cooked his goose when he said – before the interviews – that he would include KP. The Daily Mirror ran a piece in which it said that Kirsten was approached but insisted on having the right to pick his own players. Allegedly, the ECB said that was a “no no” so Kirsten told them politely to shove the job where squirrels hide their nuts! Is it true? Mirror said so. Interestingly Kirsten never denied it.

      • Here’s the link folks if you want to have a read of the Daily Mirror piece. Jaw dropping quote from Giles Clark – he who must be obeyed – given where we are now nearly a year later!

        Clarke also claimed it was “utter nonsense” to claim English cricket was at a low ebb – despite losing 16 out of 21 international fixtures this winter.

        Someone ought to shove that in his Boat Race!!!

  • I don’t think a defeat to Scotland will make any difference. The ECB run cricket as a private members club. And they have an army of snivelling, fawning, grovelling cricket writers who are loaded up on freebies and conflicts of interest defending them.

    After Friday’s result Selvey, Agnew, Pringle, Brenkley, Newman should have been on their knees begging for forgiveness from the cricket public for the bucket load of shite they have written over the last 12 months. Instead we have heard *crickets*. ……silence.

    And with the extraudunary revelations coming from George Dobell about the leaking of fallse information to smear players. Bizarre coaching techniques of bowlers. Carry on doctor medical procedures of players, and the dark brooding menace of Flower who hangs over this whole giant sewer. As for Moores he was the company man. Cheap and cheerful and owes everything to Flower. Just what the ECB wanted.

    In my view the players need to mutiny like the French in the rugby World Cup. When they just ignored the coach and did it themselves. And they went all the way to the final and were a kick away from beating the All Blacks. Morgan should do what he believes and just extend the giant middle finger to the coach. If the ECB dont like it, well they can sack another captain. They are a laughing stock already.

    I betting on an England win tonight. Come on lads. To it your own way.

  • I have abook blog Random Jottings but write about other things too. Should anybody care to read it my last post was aboutbthe cricketvteam. There are quite a few asteriska in it……

  • I don’t think we’re going to get the apocalypse tonight. Looks like a Rose Bowl is on the cards. Hell, Morgan will probably get dropped on 0 and score 95…

  • Ian Bell: 54 (85), SR 64 – against SCOTLAND.

    When are we going to wake up to the reality that opening in ODIs is not the same as opening in Tests. Players are actually expected to score big enough, FAST enough?

    Get Hales in now, and stick with him, even if it takes him 6 months to come good. Start taking one-day cricket seriously as a sport in its own right, and stop trying to fill vacant spots with Test players.

    • And then – THEN – they send in Gary Ballance to make 10 from 18 balls!

      James Taylor has made 82, 58* and 68 in England’s last three (full) ODI wins, batting at three. He then made 28* at three in a warm-up victory v West Indies. And he was moved to make way for Gary Ballance, who made 57 batting at three in the next warm-up (which we lost). I’m sorry for the language, but regardless of tonight’s result, this remains an absolute fucking disgrace of a decision.

    • So far in this World Cup…

      Ballance has 30 from 57 at a strike rate of 52.6.

      Bell has 98 from 147 at a strike rate of 66.6.

      Root has 52 from 85 at a strike rate of 61.2.

      Morgan has 63 from 89 at a strike rate of 70.8.

      That’s 4 of our top 5, forget everything else, that one reason alone is why England are are going absolutely nowhere in ODI cricket.

    • Thepoetseye, is having an apoplexy on the Selvey’s article defending Bell, bless him or is it a her anyway it’s fun to watch.

  • Maxie,
    I’m all for performance-based accountability – and if Moores, Saker and Downton were sacked tomorrow then I wouldn’t shed any tears for any of them.
    But the day you start advocating that England losing matches is the best way forward is the day that your blog moves from becoming “a voice of the English cricket follower” to something that speaks only for a small minority of English cricket followers.

    • A loss against Scotland (result known by now, England won) would have forced the ECB to address the complaints that Maxie et al have had for the past 12+ months. The win means that the ECB can continue to hide their heads in the sand and carry on as if their is nothing wrong.

    • How do you know that’s it’s a small minority? I myself have been a passionate, fanatical England cricket supporter since at least 1975. I now want ‘them’ to lose and KP back with Flower, Downton, Clarke and Whitaker all out.

      • Rav,
        For a start, I’m not even sure that wanting England to lose would be a majority position on this blog. 50/50 at best I’d say. And given that the mainstream media sites are more mainstream in their views, it wouldn’t be close to a majority on those. And blogs by their nature only attract the most hard core of fans. For the vast majority of non-blogging fans who watch on TV and go to a couple of days international cricket a year? Good luck telling them that you want England to lose.
        And if you still think I’m wrong ask yourself this – can you imagine an Australian ever saying that they didn’t want their team to win?? Ridiculous.

        • We’re not talking about Australians, so that’s a completely straw-man argument. So, to summarise, you surmise that wanting England to fail ‘speaks only for a small minority of English cricket followers’, but you do not know this and nor have you seen any evidence that this is the case.

    • Hi Kev…all of us here who are England supporters – and I certainly count myself as one of those – ultimately have the best interests of England cricket and the England team at heart. Where we’ll disagree is how best to further those interests. My argument is that, sometimes, short term pain is worth it for longer term gain. If England beat Bangladesh and Afghanistan, but then go out in the quarter finals, nothing will have been achieved, except for those responsible for England’s problems wriggling off the hook.

  • I hear all the time (particularly as I live in Renegades territory) how Stokes should have been in the squad. However I can understand his omission – his form over 2014 was utterly dreadful. I appreciate that Moores and co deserve a lot of flak for the current situation but what happened to players taking responsibility for poor form? In my opinion Stokes only has himself to blame for not being in the squad.

    • Agreed that players have to take some blame for their performances but No.8 isn’t the right place for Stokes in the batting order and doesn’t give any player much of a chance to build an innings in an ODI.

      • I think its interesting that despite a couple of truly lamentable performances, Stokes is the only player consistently mentioned as one who should be in the squad but the reality is, even though I personally think he should, he didn’t make an irrefutable case for inclusion. The reality is that this is, given KP’s exclusion, the best we have, apart from a bit of tinkering around the edges, and improved management (Taylor : give me strength!).
        England alas are just not very good at the shorter form of the game, and never have been, and this is becoming more true as other countries put more emphasis on all of the shorter forms. England still play ODIs as thought they were short Test matches, whereas everyone of the major countries now plays them as longer versions of T20. Every one of the major squads has (I suspect for the first time but I haven’t checked) a sprinkling of players – some of which have played match winning roles already – who have never played Test cricket. Some of them never will but I doubt they will end their careers feeling unfulfilled – certainly their bank accounts won’t.
        It is interesting to speculate on how many of the countries involved in this tournament will ever play a 5 match Test series, or even a 3. I think it’s also interesting to speculate, now that T20 is an Olympic sport, how many countries will take part in the Olympics in 2024 never having played Test cricket recently or, possibly never having played in an international ODI tournament !
        I wonder to what extent the ECB (and the M.C.C.) is thinking about how much the international game will change over, say, the next 10 years and the implications for the domestic game. Maybe I do them an injustice, but there’s little sign of it as far as I can see.

    • How many of the players are performing anywhere near their potential? Who’s fault is it that so many are playing so poorly? One or two having a bad run is typical, we have most of the team not showing up.

      There has to be a reason so many are failing.

  • Can’t really blame England for that very conservative performance. After everything that has happened the result was all that mattered. Performance was secondary. It was never going to be about playing with ‘freedom.’ They set out from the start to get a safe score of 270 – 290.

    I don’t know why the ECB and their lackeys like Selvey want to get rid of the Associates countries. They are the only ones we can beat these days.

    • To be fair to Selvey, he is more sympathetic to the presence of the associates than some of the press corps. Vic Marks and Scyld Berry have been particularly unsympathetic.


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