The champagne’s on ice: day four at the Ageas Bowl


Today will be the greatest day in the history of British sport. The England cricket team are poised to win their first test of the summer, at only the fifth attempt.

The impending victory will cap a fine year for the side, in which their record will now read: won one, drawn three, and lost just seven.

Detailed plans are already in place to mark this seminal event, which will take place in front a capacity Ageas Bowl crowd – with some spectators queuing from as early as 10.59am.

At the fall of the final Indian wicket, Derek Pringle and Paul Newman will perform a lap of honour, before the England players themselves will pass through the serried ranks of Waitrose checkout staff and proceed to ceremonially urinate on the outfield in the shape of the St George’s Cross.

A dewey-eyed Paul Downton will then take to the dais, and with great aplomb and due diligence, pay tribute to what he will describe as the “finest test victory of our generation”.

In anticipation of today’s triumph, calls are already growing for the declaration of a national holiday, with organisers expecting tens of thousands of well-wishers to line the streets of Southampton for Friday’s victory parade.

Amid unprecedented scenes of mass public hysteria, Chris Woakes MBE will lead the team aboard the open-topped bus, at which point the newly-knighted Sir Alastair Cook will begin festivities by lighting an effigy of Kevin Pietersen.

An emotional and euphoric day will climax with a spectacular overhead fly past by Giles Clarke and Mike Selvey, who will pilot a Tiger Moth trailing a banner with the words “I told you so” through the azure Hampshire skies.

Mournfully watching the coverage on television in Sydney, a rueful Michael Clarke and Darren Lehmann will then telephone Lord’s to formally concede the 2015 Ashes series in advance.

And in other news, only 4,784 people turned up yesterday.


  • In fairness to Cook I do think there have been signs of improvement in this test match. Sure it helps when you make some runs, but I think his captaincy has been better. More faith in his spinners. No plodding about in the second innings, and a good declaration.

    If he has taken note of some of the criticism that has come his way then that is too his credit Those writers, and critics who have dared to point out the reality of his lacklustre performance, and shortcomings as a captain deserve some praise for giving him a kick up the backside. No such praise and credit can be given to Newman, Pringle, and Selvey. If things had been left to these clowns Cook would not even be aware there were any problems to address. As far as they were concerned Cook could go on failing for a thousand years and they would have had no problem with it.

    One swallow does not make a summer however. Cook will face far better bowling attacks, and It remains to be seen if he can get back to scoring runs on a reliable basis. If the catch he gave on 15 had been held who knows what this test match would look like. India have been very poor in this match and they have let England back into the series. Now up to Cook and England to finish them off.

    • Everything went right for him in this match, but India played much less well than at Lord’s. Perhaps England should be credited for that – sometimes, the opposition only play as well as you let them.

      As I mention in the comments on James’ post-match post, the prime reason for the change in fortunes was Anderson’s performance. When Anderson is good, England are good.

      I know I’m sounding curmudgeonly, but it really will take some time to evaluate whether this was the turning of a corner. Winning one match in five at home against two nations who travel poorly is a minimum requirement, not a triumph, hence my sarcasm above. England were obviously not going to go the entire summer without winning a single test.

  • what a bitter blog post! Quick with the criticism and sarcasm but slow to praise when things go right. This was a good days cricket from England all round with everyone contributing – hopefully a corner has been turned. Yes things have not been great recently – but England deserves better than this summary.

    Lets see what today brings

    • I know what you mean, Dave – but, well, there’s still plenty to be bitter about! I did offer quite a lot of praise for elements of their performance earlier in the match – especially Buttler.

  • At least have the grace to commend England and Cook on a day where he and they did pretty much everything right.

    Cook is a decent lad (nothing to do with his background) who has worked hard at his cricket and his captaincy, and has been going through a very public hell and personal abuse from the Piers Morgan contingent (incidentally, it seems pretty clear to me that Morgan’s twitter antics of stoking the fires of controversy are mainly about generating sales for KP’s book).

    If Cook comes out the other side of this, then he deserves a huge amount of praise. Whatever has gone on further up the ECB ladder, he’s never been anything other than completely straightforward. Cook was not the architect of KP’s problems with the ECB.

    There’s a lot of crap that has gone on, but this continual focus on those cricket journalists that you don’t agree with is detracting from what is a cracking blog. There are crap journalists and journalists with an agenda – let’s get back to talking about the cricket.

    • ” let’s get back to talking about the cricket.”

      like Jimmy’s little spat with Rahane at the end of play even though he’s before the judge tomorrow??? maybe Anderson should go argue with David Haye or someone to ‘prove’ his virility

      • Somebody should explain to Jimmy that his attempts at mean fast bowler are actually coming across as slightly stroppy teenager..

        • He’s always been a little like that – it seems to be an intrinsic part of his game. I wonder how the disciplinary panel will go: the ECB immediately and unambiguously deniedJadeja’s allegations, which suggests Anderson’s in the clear, as they couldn’t have risked sticking their necks out without being sure of what happened.

    • Your post should start with this message. “There now follows a party political broadcast on behalf off the ECB”

      It would seem you want to turn this blog into another Cook loving,ECB eulogising, white wash. Isn’t the vast majority of spineless cricket journalism enough for you? Pringle, Newman, Selvey, Agnew, how many more do you want? We know the ECB tried to censor Shane Warne on Sky from criticising their boy. But does every outlet have to be ECB grovelling mush? The give away line is this

      “this continual focus on those cricket journalists that you don’t agree with is detracting from what is a cracking blog. “.

      Translated into English means…….. if you don’t stop criticising the ECB Cricket Pravda then you won’t be seen as serious. You won’t be in the club. One of the reasons I come to this site is to get way from the crass ECB, Cook love ins that have taken over most of the media.

      As for the journalists who have defended Cook through a year of failure they have failed in their professional duty to acknowledge and report the blatant errors and mistakes Cook has made. They also have accused those people who have pointed out their failings as “idiots, morons “, and the like. It will be difficult not to forget their incompetence, complacency and their lack of professional ethics.

      I am not a Cook fan but I try to give him the benefit of the doubt in this test match as I say above. But if the Cook and ECB lovers think this one match makes Cook Mike Brealey and Geoff Boycott combined then they are even more deluded than I thought.

      • Ed Smith and Michael Vaughan eulogising over England’s great win here. Ed Smith – 3 England caps, privately educated went to Cambridge – an ECB sort of guy – claims England have been the better of the teams throughout the three tests to date. Claims that just because there’s no alternative is the BEST reason to keep Cook and on it goes …. the past can now be forgotten and we can all move on …….. The media – tv, radio and press – has excelled itself since the Ashes debacle and is leaving the impression that nobody else’s opinions matter anyway. I’m hating this set up even more now.

        • You should read some more of Ed Smith’s stuff – he’s an excellent and insightful journalist on more subjects than just cricket.

          To damn somebody’s views purely by where they were educated is a fairly ignorant comment.

      • Mark, I’ll let you into a secret……

        It is possible to respect Cook as an individual and a player without being a fan of the ECB.

        Recognising a player’s qualities in a good performance whilst being aware that it doesn’t make him ‘best ever’ doesn’t automatically endorse the ECB either.

        It’s also quite acceptable to recognise and applaud a team’s turnaround following an abject performance – as a supporter, all I want is the team to react in a positive manner to defeat.

        As for journalists, the simple fact is that I don’t read Paul Newman, John Etheridge, Charlie Sale and others. There are a thousand crap journalists with and without agendas, especially at those papers. But it is possible to think somebody’s a crap journalist without questioning their professional ethics and accusing them of nefarious conspiracies. I find not buying the paper and not reading the online version the most satisfactory

        I detest Giles Clarke as ECB chairman – he and David Collier have been poor and short-sighted administrators of the game, and much of the current team’s problems is down to the crazy scheduling that left Cook scrambled, Broad and Anderson on their last legs and already done for Prior, Swann and Trott.

        As for Cook, his technical limitations and struggles with captaincy are well documented by good and crap journalists alike However, the scorer of 25 test centuries and a man who captained the side to 9 wins and just 1 loss in his first 16 tests does have credit in the bank throughout a lean period. I would suggest the way he ground out his runs on the first day whilst still struggling for form and under pressure shows a fair degree of mental fortitude, which I find admirable. You may have a different opinion.

        As a captain, nobody suggested he was ever going to be Mike Brearley, the scorer of exactly 25 test centuries less than Cook. Yesterday, and throughout this game, he has made positive and less formulaic decisions, and for that he should be given praise.

        • You see, we do agree on some things, Hamish! Re the scheduling, the biggest factor in the disaster in Australia was the decision to schedule back-to-back Ashes series. That was never going to have a happy outcome.

      • Thanks, Mark. As far as I’m concerned, the way some of the press have handled all this is still very much a live issue. Their loyalty to him, and their overt friendship with , is is stark contrast to their hatred of Pietersen – and that has resulted in the ECB getting a very easy ride. Everywhere you turn on blogs, discussion boards, very important questions have been raised which mainstream journalist have not cared to ask.

        What happened with Warne? One minute he was giving his opinions, as commentators are supposed to do, the next he and Cook have spoken on the phone, and he’s shut his trap. How did that happen? Who engineered that phone call? Is it completely ridiculous to think that someone in the ECB leant on someone at Sky?

        If so, then what better example do you need that cricket is a private club, in which decorum between members of that club is more important than plain speaking to the public.

    • Thanks again for all your input, Hamish, and thanks also for your kind comment at the end!

      But on the Cook front, he has acquired far too much negative equity for it to be written off by a 95 and managing to avoid losing the game. As I see it, his role in Pietersen’s sacking was cowardly and dishonourable, which is why I could feel no sympathy for what has happened to him afterwards.

      He appears to have some kind of role in Pietersen’s assasination – he has more or less said so.

      Private hell – well, no one made him become England captain, or forced him to stay in the job. If he was unhappy he could have quit. Every England captain, through history, has come under heavy fire at some point.

      Who are the Piers Morgan contingent? Piers does not corral people into a uniform point of view. Instead, there are a lot of people who share a perspective; he is one of them, but just happens to be much more famous. If critics don’t like him sticking up for his friend Pietersen, then they should just ignore him. By contrast, Swann is acting as Cook’s PR man on TMS, and that’s very different – Swann is supposed to be there to commentate and analyse. Piers is not a cricket commentator and has no obligation to anyone.

  • Thanks for your comments. There’s been a lot of praise for England’s performance on this blog over the last few days, some of which has come from me, and I imagine there will be again tomorrow. I’m not criticising England here; my point is only that we should keep this in proportion. England finally winning a test is the minimum requirement, not the dawn of a new era. Prepare for the secondary figures around the team to be rather self-righteous in tone over the next 72 hours.

    • I always liked the Strauss / Flower attitude of not getting to high with victories and not too reactionary over defeats.

      The fact is that England have played some good cricket this summer (as well as some abysmal stuff) – the two losses so far came down to a brainless couple of sessions against Angelo Matthews and poor bowling on the first morning at Lords where they should have put the game in the bag.

      I’m not saying there are no problems to address, but the main problems were the form of the senior 5 (or rather form of 4 and fitness of Prior) – hopefully they can all kick on after good performances.

      As for the self-righteous stuff, Peter Moores and his team are far too visible for me – always got the sense that Flower would rather have his teeth pulled than be interviewed – Moores a bit too keen to be front and centre.

      • I think England’s faults have been more than just 2 sessions. Cooks refusal to use his spinner for more than 1-2 overs at a time. His total lack of faith in his young spin bowler. He has finally given him some time to bowl in this test and low and behold he has taken a few wickets. (5 in second innings) Even Joe Root has been in on the act. It has only taken till the 6th test match of the summer. (Proving the critics right about his lack of faith in his bowlers.)

        Another young player in Butler has made an encouraging start in this match after Cook said he was not ready for test cricket a month ago. And in addition if Prior had not stood down Butler would not have played.

        Cook batted on way to long at Lords in the over cautious Strauss/Flower mould. And then we have the usual negative fields for most of the matches.

        Cook has shown improvement in this Test match but it is about time. He has had the job for 2 years, and it seems to have taken the threat of losing his job to wake him up.

        But everything went right for England in this test match. They won the toss on a flat pitch in hot weather and against a toothless bowling attack. Cook was even allowed a life when dropped on 15. Bell finally made some runs, although he did score 3hundreds last year against the Aussies. (Unlike Cook.) that allowed the likes of Butler to start with runs already piled up. And with a score on the board England could put some pressure on India’s batsman.

        Time will tell if this is a real light at the end of the tunnel or if it is a false dawn.

  • Well they would be very foolish to be self righteous because they need to back it up over the next few test matches and onto the winter.

    Can’t help thinking their crowing is more about Cook keeping his job than England winning. They certainly did not care less when England were loosing.

  • Take your point Maxie and “One Swallow Doesn’t Make A Summer” etc. but this test has to be judged in the correct context, bringing the winter Ashes series into this doesn’t really have much relevance, unless you’re trying to build a case, you might as well include the 5 wins last year if you’re including last season’s stats.

    If we’re talking purely cricket (and not the conspiracy theory fantasy) England’s turn in fortune in this game is purely down to the senior players scoring runs and bowling well, allied with some promising performances from some good young players I think things certainly look more promising than they did at the start of 2014.

    Credit (where credits due) to the selectors too, I don’t think many would argue with the selection so far this summer… I feel sad you’re unable to enjoy the teams success.

    • I agree that in general the selectors have made the right calls, especially with the batsmen, although I’d have liked to have seen Carberry given another chance.

      • I agree, he played ok in the winter, I imagine he’ll get a chance in the ODI’s opening with Hales (if they rest Cook) although I’m not sure who’d captain.

        Speaking of ODI’s Hales for Robson would be my only change, I think Englands test team could do the business in 50 overs.

        • I actually think Compton was unlucky that they decided to move Root up to open last summer – think he was technically sounder than Carberry.

          Hope to god they do the right thing and get rid of Cook from the One Day team, and give him a complete break from cricket. Better for him and better for the ODI team. I like the idea of Hales and Bell at the top of the order.

  • In my view, this blog is not about every article being balanced. The balance emerges from an editorial policy that invites a diverse range of comments and opinion pieces that reflect the slightly different positions of the two editors.

    In my experience, The Full Toss is a broad church and invites commentators with diverse points of view to put forward their case. It is hardly in the spirit of Voltaire nor of the blog to condemn a piece for not conforming to your particular take on the world. Wait 24 hours and James, I am sure, will post a cracking piece highlighting the many positives to be enjoyed from today’s test win.

    This blog is unique in offering editorial content that covers all sides of the argument and enriches the narrative as a result. I think we should celebrate that.

  • A marvellous win today. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and will raise a pot of good English ale tonight to toast the victory, albeit it’s about bloody time!!
    Now then, the pro Cook/ECB people will undoubtedly be taking a kind of orgasmic pleasure out of it, and trust that humble pie will be eaten in bucketloads by the plebs “outside cricket”….well you’re bloody wrong!!
    It was once said that the triumph of evil is because a few good men did nothing….”moving on” means forget about all the weasely things we’ve done and said and forget about it….wrong again!
    My heart and soul is with Engish cricket, it is not with the ECB and it’s witless cohorts whose only pursuit in life is the acquisition of filthy lucre…at whatever price to the wellbeing of our national game and all the good people that play and work within it!
    While we’re all moving on the ECB will not change one iota in their nefarious dealings and machinations. I for one, can’t wait to see the volte faces, the leaks, the downright bloody lies they will come out with when KP’s book is published, as I think there will be a fair modicum of “the truth” within it? Ah, the truth!, the last thing in the world the ECB wants the plebs to learn….oh well, on to Old Trafford…see what happens eh?

  • Maybe the lack of cricket on terrestrial telly for 10 years is starting to show with the low attendances for some tests?

    The Ageas Bowl is a wonderful ground; but let’s face it is a white elephant. The traditional grounds should always have been used for tests and not been made to bid and make overly expensive redevelopments.

    Tests should be played a the old grounds with cheap prices; Lords should be the social calender test(s) for the poshies.

    England played well, and the new players look promising. But India were a bit poor, especially in the batting even though they packed their side with batting for this test.

    • Quite possibly – the absence of live cricket from terrestrial TV is the biggest problem facing English cricket. Do you think any of us here would have the passion for an interest in the game if we hadn’t grown up with it on TV?

      I suspect the stupid Sunday-Thursday scheduling has had a real effect in this particular match. And overall, the high ticket prices have hardly helped.

      Thanks to all of you for your comments and for taking the time to contribute – we really appreciate it.


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