The obituary – day two

First of all, I must talk about yesterday. Maxie and I usually juggle the daily match reports according to workflow, but yesterday was different. I was unable to write the report because I was, to be blunt, too bloody angry to write anything.

Had I attempted to put fingers to keyboard, all I would’ve managed is an incoherent rant and a succession of swear words. You’ve all put up with the former for years, but the swearing is something we try to tone down.

I won’t go on about this too long, I promise, because it’s nothing the media haven’t already discussed. However, I’d like to add my name to those who were utterly disgusted with Andy Flower’s team selection yesterday morning.

 To turn up at the fastest pitch in the world, devise a plan involving a copious diet of short balls, and then leave out your fastest bowlers goes beyond incompetence. It was pathetic. Andy mate, your time is done. I’m sick of your whole approach.

Anyway, on to today’s play. There’s little we can say that we haven’t already said a million times. England are playing as badly as it’s possible for them to play, while the Aussies are playing commendably for a side that’s been beaten by just about everyone for the last two years.

Well done to them (said through gritted teeth of course!) and well done Steve Smith, who played very well yesterday. Maybe he’ll just about hold his own in test cricket after all.

In the interests of fighting repetition, I have a new angle to share with you re: the levels of England’s incompetence in this series. I hope this will really drill home just how useless we’ve been in all departments.

Despite the public perception that Australia are an improving side, a look back at the players that played in 2010/11 proves otherwise. This current Australia team are, in fact, a significantly worse XI than the lot we hammered three years ago – although, I have to admit, Clarke’s team are playing more to their potential.

Australia chopped a changed a bit in 2010/11, but their starting XI was essentially Katich, Watson, Clarke, Ponting, Hussey, Smith, Haddin, Johnson, Siddle, Harris and Hilfenhaus.

If you compare that to the side playing now, Katich (test average 45), Ponting (52), Hussey (51) and Hilfenhaus ( bowling av 28) have been replaced by Warner (41), Rogers (32), Bailey (first class average 37) and Lyon (33). That’s most definitely a net loss.

One can only assume that if the England team of today met the England team of 2010/11, Strauss’ team would win 5-0 within approximately ten days cricket, with the margin of victory being an innings and six hundred runs in every match (if that were actually possible).

England’s performances haven’t just declined in three years, they’ve fallen off King’s Canyon and been smashed into pieces.

Which brings me back to Andy Flower and the England coaches. The average age of England’s team is about 30. They should be in the prime. Instead, individual performances are regressing alarmingly just at the moment they should be improving (or consolidating at the very least).

Remember, this is a collective failure. We’re not talking about one or two players; we’re talking about the whole side (except Ian Bell). It can’t be coincidence.

If Flower, Gooch and Saker don’t walk at the end of this series, they should be pushed. They are doing an extremely bad job and, India excepted, have been doing a rubbish job for quite some time now – since we were world number one to be precise.

Fresh voices and fresh ideas are needed. Just look what Darren Lehmann has managed to achieve. Unless England’s fortunes miraculously turn around, change should be mandatory.

The only problem is that Ashley Giles is lurking in the background, ready to assume control. And would that actually constitute much of a change? I, for one, don’t think so.

James Morgan


  • How do those sour grapes go with the humble pie? Can you possibly manage to congratulate the Aussies without, in the next breath, insinuating that they’re rubbish? I always thought that an Englishman was supposed to be gracious in defeat, are sure you don’t have some Austrlian ancestry?

    • Of course it isn’t. You’re too busy feeding your own ridiculous delusions. Those crap Aussies hey, giving you an absolute schooling with your lads showing the combined heart the size of a split pea. Just when some empathy starts to kick in we get to read self righteous tosh articles like yours to remind all and sundry why you deserve your international reputation. Muppet.

  • I’m afraid the players have to take the majority of the blame in my eyes but I do hear your point regarding the management. They have been met with an Australian team that is so hungry for success that they are practically snarling when they come onto the field each morning. Although they have been blown away by Mr Movember they have hardly helped the situation by playing like a bunch of half-wits and quite frankly giving their wickets away. Some of the shots have defied belief and I think at least half have been completely avoidable.

    Not many players can play the hook shot effectively when a bowler id bowling 90 mph. Sway out of the way / duck and when he realises that he isnt getting anywhere he will pitch it up when he can be driven / cut and pulled with an element of control.

    My concern with Flower is more about whats coming up rather than what has gone before. If the “undroppables” dont perform again will he have the guts to drop 1 or 2 of them. He says he isn’t afraid to make tough decisions but I have my doubts on that one.

    Rankin should have played!! No doubt it in my eyes

  • This is not a case of “I told you so”, I’m more humble than that, but Steve Smith stood up and answered some questions on Friday. Coming in at 3 for nothing, he held firm, soaked up the pressure and scored a very aggressive hundred, no doubt helped by Haddin’s cavalier 50 – Steve Smith is a very good cricketer and about time people start realizing that.
    In my opinion Cook got found out as a fairly ordinary captain – his captaincy on day one is one of the worse days I think I have seen him as captain. Australia gave him 6 wickets (not one wicket fell to a good ball), and he still didn’t get it. Much has been written and said about the yawning gap in slips that he failed to plug. But when he finally decided that enough runs had poured through, he went safety first and stuck a 3rd man in, no wonder he is in the situation he is in. The other factor was he seemed to of lost control with fieldsman telling other fieldsman where to stand, chatting amongst themselves when they should of been in position – Flower has to take a bit of responsibility as well, because he should be pulling Cook aside and telling him to get control. England’s obvious “player revolt” suggests to me that the players don’t think Cook has it in him. Is there another Mike Brieley in the county ranks? Is Robert Key past it? England needs a strong leader and it ain’t got one – we all know Cook’s batting in the last two series has been pretty ordinary, but he is an outstanding batsmen, so perhaps let him do just that and bat and get a strong leader out there. Forget the 20 somethings that have potential, get a seasoned strong leader to push ahead, to inspire the likes of Root, Hayles, Stokes et al. Seriously, how is Cook going to come out looking if it is 5-0 or 4-1 because he is looking very bad at 3-0 (only a matter of time in Perth). The ECB will have to eat a lot of humble pie if they were to bring in “the old school”, but whatever works right?
    Australia have been playing outstanding cricket which no media, pundit and armchair expert ever thought was possible – the difference is Mitchell Johnston, Brad Haddin, Clarke’s captaincy and each person who has stood up to take responsibility when needed. Every Aust innings, somebody has taken control with the bat when it mattered and when Johnston is not taking wickets, Harris, Siddle and Lyon have, but Johnston is setting them up for them.
    Those who say this is a terrible Australian side should eat some humble pie and give Australia credit for playing exciting, tough cricket, cricket we tragics love to watch, cricket we are happy to pay and see – its high risk cricket, but at 3-0, why not enjoy it whilst it appears to be working? I’m sure other nations are sitting back and enjoying seeing this type of cricket being played. Is Straussy fit?

    • Every thing you say is true, Doug. We’ll probably write something about Australia, and how they’ve played, another day. Nobody is denying this, by the way.

      At the moment, however, we’ve got to concentrate on England. That’s the primary focus of this blog. The basic point we’re trying to make is that in 2007 we were playing a team of legend like Ponting, Gilchrist and Warne. England also had lots of key absences like Vaughan and Trescothick. Flintoff was also carrying a niggle.

      This time there is no excuse. We are not playing a team of legends. That’s why England have no excuse for playing so poorly. That’s not supposed to take anything away from Australia, it’s just an analysis of England’s woes.

    • At 2-0 down, Australia currently 0-97 with a lead of 230 odd on day three, player revolt in the England ranks, Broad out for the match and possibly the series, Trott going home – I think England can be allowed a little bit of whingeing, not too much though……………

      • Granted Doug. But also deriding the Aussies and their performance in the current situation = extremely poor form

        • Err. In what way has this article derided the Aussies? It says they’ve played very well. It also states that before this series, Australia’s record was very poor (which is true!).

          it also states that on paper this Aussie side is weaker than the one in 2010, which is again true. Unless, of course, you really want to argue that Warner / Rogers etc are better than Ponting and Hussey … which would be quite frankly ridiculous.

          The whole point of the article is to criticise England for losing to a side with a poor recent record. It’s spleen venting, nothing more. Would it make you happier if we said “heroic England steamrolled by one of the best sides ever”. That might seem more acceptable to you, but it would also be utterly, utterly false.

          Unless you want to rewrite history, Australia have plummeted down the test rankings in recent years, and with one or two exceptions your players have average career records. The way they’ve played has been nothing short of remarkable, and your players deserve all the plaudits they get. Well done!

          However, the point of this blog is to talk about England, not Australia. And it isn’t supposed to be an objective assessment of the Ashes – you can get that in the newspapers – it’s a fanzine for heaven’s sake; it’s a reflection of the feelings of ordinary England fans. The clue is in the name ‘England Cricket Team Blog, The Full Toss’.

          As for whinging, I suppose you guys were full of praise for England, and constantly elated with the way things were going, during the past 3 Ashes series. Or is it in the Aussie temperament to love losing, accept defeat magnanimously, and applaud the Poms at all times?

  • About as much has gone wrong as went right in 2010/11.

    I have to say both teams top 6 have batted like morons for much of the series. How many catches has there been though out the series so far?

    Neither team seem interested in targeting the stumps either. Bizarre that it’s Johnson with the most LBs and bowleds so far.

    I’d say that Bresnan was picked with the batting in mind, as it’s been so mediocre. Shame though, it would have been interesting to see Rankin get a gig.


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