The Thursday Tartlet

It’s time for our TFT weekly roundup. As always here’s plenty to get our teeth into. And I promise to avoid any ‘I love a good tart’ gags … even though my Dad jokes are getting increasingly hard to resist with age.

First of all it has been confirmed that Keaton Jennings, who was the leading run scored in division one last season, has been called up to replace Prince Haseeb. It’s hard to argue with this selection. Even though I rate Nick Gubbins quite highly it’s your stereotypical ‘it probably doesn’t make a rat’s arse of difference who they pick anyway’ kind of dilemma.

At 24 years of age, and with twelve first class hundreds to his name, the selectors probably feel that Jennings is a more experienced cricketer. Gubbins is just 22 and has only registered four centuries – even though he has a better first class average. It’s just a shame that both players are left-handed. It’s almost like the cricket Gods want Ravi Ashwin to take bucketloads of wickets.

Will Jennings be up to the challenge? I genuinely have no idea. I’ve mostly seen him play in one-day cricket, which has bugger all relevance to test cricket, so I’m not really in a position to judge. Apparently Andy Flower rates him highly so that’s all that matters … apparently.

The more contentious selection, and another one that smells of Flower – did you see what I did there? – is the selection of Liam ‘The Power’ Dawson. Apologies for the darts gag.

Hampshire’s Dawson impressed in his T20 debut for England but has done absolutely nothing in the championship for years. Perhaps he could exchange notes with Jos Buttler? None of this matters though because, as you might guess, he’s an Andy Flower favourite.

One has to assume that Jack Leach’s 65 wickets at 22 – which included a match-winning 6-fer at Headingley against the reigning champions – means nothing if you don’t have ‘strength of character’. Call me an old traditionalist, but I always thought that ‘talent’ was important too.

I don’t want to go on a Flower rant here, as he did an awful lot for English cricket and you can’t argue with his overall record as either a player or a coach, but I just find our selection structure utterly bizarre …

At one point the official selectors (Jim, Gus and Mick) were going to be sacked by Strauss. Then Strauss decided to keep them – with the caveat that he was going to sit in on meetings to keep a modicum of control over them.

Yet now we hear that Andy Flower, who isn’t a selector but coaches the Lions (the team from which players are generally selected anyway) seems to be making big calls. The end result? We end up choosing between two opening batsmen that the coach, Trevor Bayliss, has never seen play.

What other country has a selection system so utterly lacking in logic and accountability?

Anyway, before I sign off I’d like to draw your attention to a petition organised by Durham supporters. They’re asking the ECB to rethink their decision to dock Durham points. Here’s their pitch in full:

We believe that the totality of penalties applied to Durham CCC by the ECB as a punishment for their financial mismanagement is grossly disproportionate to the offences.  The wide ranging nature of the measures imposed mean that the innocent suffer alongside the culpable.  The heaviest burden of punishment falls upon the Durham players and supporters.  The reactions of cricket professionals, commentators, journalists and MP’s is almost universal in condemning the package of punitive measures as “over the top”.

We call upon the ECB to demonstrate its magnanimity by rescinding the penalty points it has imposed upon Durham – in all forms of the game – next season, thereby offering the players and supporters some hope of redemption – a glimmer of hope at the end of a long dark tunnel.

Amen to that! It was the ECB’s ridiculous decision to introduce a bidding system for international matches which largely caused this farce in the first place. Good on Sylvia and Peter Savage for getting themselves organised and doing something about the situation.

You can sign the petition here. I have.

James Morgan


  • I had a bitch fight with Dawson on Twitter at the end of the T20 blast because he was celebrating the defeat of Somerset (I think) in the final game despite coming 8th out of 9 in the group. Apparently I was wrong for wanting more from my county and for slating the players for celebrating a victory!

    Well if that’s his attitude it’s not surprising he was “loaned” out to Essex last season and why I only rate him as a mediocre player and certainly not a Test player!

    • He asked to go to Essex as he wanted to play some first team cricket to prove that he should be playing for Hampshire’s first team rather than just accept 2nd XI cricket at the time. Best thing he ever did as since then he has regained his Hampshire place then gained international recognition. Something I thought was very unlikely 18 months ago.

  • Not sure that, deep down, Flower wants ‘strength of character’. He actually rates ‘compliance’. Strength of character terrifies him. He can smell challenge to his authority from 100 miles off. He’s just a born again MBA enthusiast but actually very hierarchical.

    The great mentor and promoter of the young has been Farbrace – ask Billings and other Kent youngsters. Don’t forget it was Farbrace who saw what was really in Stokes and put him in the right place in the batting order.

    How effective has the Lions route actually been?

  • Flower again! That man has been the most divisive and incidious figure in English cricket…ever. He “engineered” the demise of KP, demonstrating how he preferred compliance against talent, and the elevation of the ever compliant Cook to demi god status. He’s still the chief puppet master and should have his strings cut!!
    Farbrace, on the other hand, the very antithesis of Flower, wonderful in the post Moore’s resurgence….destined to remain assistant coach, as long as Flower’s around….in my opinion.

  • “I don’t want to go on a Flower rant here, as he did an awful lot for English cricket and you can’t argue with his overall record as either a player or a coach”.

    Several points I’d make here:
    1) One area that Flower’s record most definitely can be argued with is finding new talent – and yet that’s exactly what the ECB put him in charge of! How many new players became established under Flower? Root, maybe Bresnan for a time, and…. er…. maybe Stokes right at the end (although he only came in because of Trott’s burn-out)? That’s it – in five years! The key players of Flower’s reign had all been discovered earlier. Several players who’ve gone on to be very good Flower singularly failed to get the best out of (like Bairstow).
    2) Flower’s methods (combined with the ECB schedule) burnt out a very good team before its time. He doesn’t show any sign of being able to admit he’s wrong – or to re-think his methods.
    3) The success of the Flower era was mostly down to the players. Pietersen and Swann were the two key players – how much did they owe to Flower?

    Believe or not, I liked Flower as a player. His 199* against SA was one of the greatest innings I ever saw.

    • I also have reservations about Flower. I didn’t like the attritional / bowl dry strategy we often employed and I’ve always been a 5 bowler not 4 man attack kind of guy. However, I also think he did a decent job with England (we did reach No1 when he was coach) and it seems harsh to bad mouth him too much, even though I disagreed with the way Pietersen’s sacking was handled.

  • I don’t know why Flower is still there, and it’s weird to see him have so much influence over team selection even after no longer being the coach or a selector. Peter moores was an average coach, but he was great at identifying talent, so I think he would be a better fit for the lions.

    Jennings deserves the call up, but he’s going to be dropped right into the cauldron with Ashwin, who adores left handers. Considering that the 5th test will take place on his home ground, I frankly cannot see how Jennings will cope. Hope they don’t dump him if he performs poorly, it’s going be the toughest challenge he has ever faced.

  • I actually think Flower is in the right job now. The man is a technician and an expert in two fields and so he’s one to have on your side when nursing young talent.
    However he should only have a small voice when it comes to promoting players.
    The lions hardly ever seem to play anymore so its barely a breeding ground.
    I’ve spoke before about what I would do, this isn’t a tour for kids.

    As for Durham. The points deduction was an absolute disgrace. I hope they win.

  • The Liam Dawson selection reminds me a little of the bizarre promotion of Darren Pattinson in 2008. Flower was assistant coach at the time and I wonder if he took Peter Moores into a corner and beat him senseless until he agreed to the selection. I also wonder how Flower would have approached matters in the past, such as when Brian Close was brought back in his 40s to face a fearsome West Indies pace attack. On the one hand Close had character in abundance. On the other hand, he would have put the fear of God up Mike Tyson, never mind Andy Flower. That is the real test of selection based on character – when the individual to be selected is a challenge to established authority.

    I suspect Andy Flower sees cricket as a team game above all, disregarding the fact that many of the great players (Botham, Snow, Imran, KP, Boycott and the ultimate example, Sydney Barnes) are selfish individuals which is part of why they are greats. Of course, it can go too far, such as Sylvester Clarke who was believed to prefer to hurt batsmen rather than dismiss them.

  • Serious questions being asked in Parliament about the conduct and lack of transparency of the ECB on the Durham affair!
    We still live in hope!

  • I don’t really rate Flower as a coach at all. He just became head coach of a high quality well-established team at a time when it just so happened that the best group of players in world cricket were English and all other countries were relatively weak. We should have been a fun, likeable team that dominated international cricket for a decade. Instead, he completely ballsed it up.

    His record as a player is irrelevant. I just want him given a dishonourable discharge from any facet of English cricket and very publically told to fuck off.

    • I can just picture the scene now (well I can’t but it’s fun to imagine).

      There’s a live press conference on Sky Sports News. The assembled media await with bated breath for Graves and Harrison to read a pre prepared statement. There’s silence as the suits march in. Harrison looks up, adjusts his tie, and then approaches the microphone with a serious expression:

      “Ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for coming today. Colin will be reading a short statement after which there will be no questions.”

      Harrison sits. Graves takes centre stage. He adjusts the mic and, after a deliberate pause, begins to speak:

      “Andy Flower. Fuck off”.

      He looks at Harrison, they nod at each other, and exit stage right.

  • Does this sound like the leader of a professional organisation ??

    Asked whether the captain would be passing that message on to the team, Bayliss replied: “It will be up to me to play a role there. Probably over the last few series Cooky has taken on more of a role there, which has been great. But I think for the coming couple of Tests it is time I stepped up to the mark to just remind them of how we have played when we have played well.”
    Bayliss also admitted he had never seen Keaton Jennings bat, but will encourage him to play his own way…


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