What did they think was going to happen?

When the ECB decided to diminish the county championship by moving most games to April, May, and September, what did they think was going to happen?

When the ECB appointed Ed Smith, a man whose philosophy is to pack the side with all-rounders and pluck players from white ball cricket, what did they think was going to happen?

When the ECB’s chief executive officer asks the team to play attacking cricket and be prepared to lose a few games in the pursuit of exciting victories, what did they think was going to happen?

And when the ECB declared that a lucrative new competition called The Hundred would take centre-stage in the English cricketing calendar, thus turning the heads of all young English players, what did they think was going to happen?

I think you can see where this one is going. The ECB are reaping what they sowed. They planted a bunch of flamboyant swashbuckling cricketers into an XI – not that they had much choice because our domestic system simply doesn’t produce good red ball players anymore – and now we’ve got the most brittle, one might say outright pathetic, top 6 in the history of the England test side.

And this assertion is surely correct, isn’t it? The current England top 6 is THE WORST in the team’s long history. I can’t think of a worse one. Can you?

We used to laugh about the England test side in the 1990s but that top six was head and shoulders above the current one. How we’d kill for an Alec Stewart, a Mike Atherton, a Nasser Hussain, or a Graham Thorpe now. Personally I’d kill for someone like a Mark Butcher too. He’d walk into one of our vacant openers spots and be an immediate upgrade.

I know I’m in severe danger of repeating myself ad nauseam here. I’ve been banging on about the erosion of the county championship for years, and warning about the consequences of Ed Smith’s selection strategies for months, and there’s no easy way to say “I told you so” without sounding like an obnoxious know it all.

All I can say is that I take no pleasure whatsoever in being proved right. Many of us saw the writing on the wall long before the team walked into it and broke its nose. If you foster a system that’s all about producing attacking players, and even your captain ends up talking a load of bollocks like ‘we’re not necessarily going to pick our best players’ and ‘you only win test matches by being positive and putting runs on the board’, then it shouldn’t come as a surprise when the batting unit can’t occupy the crease and shows about as much backbone under duress as a baby jellyfish floundering on dry land.

But this is where English cricket is at. We can win at home on green tops when the opposition are underprepared and medium pace trundlers can take wickets with a swinging Duke ball, but as soon as we go away from home we’re screwed. And to be honest I think the ECB are probably quite happy with the current state of affairs. As long as we keep winning at home they can pretend that everything in the garden is rosy and they’re doing a good job – whilst surreptitiously focusing on profits not cricket.

It seems apparent to me that the ECB have no ambitions whatsoever to make England a better test side abroad. They might say they do, but we all know you should judge a person or organisation by its actions not its propaganda. And everything the ECB have done in recent years suggests they’ve prioritised the white ball teams and put first class cricket at the bottom of the agenda.

How is this going to help our test side produce proper batsmen capable of knuckling down and playing proper test innings?

And how does playing white ball cricket (almost exclusively) at the height of summer help us to produce good spinners for example?

Adil Rashid isn’t my favourite cricketer but one can see why he turned his back on the red ball game not long ago. Who wants to be a leg-spinner in Yorkshire in April or September?

In fact, what young player coming through the system wants to score 1,000 runs in the championship when they can make a lot more money in a hell of a lot less time by prostituting themselves to a shiny new Hundred franchise from next summer onwards?

The whole situation stinks to high heaven. The fact our test team and ODI teams are now very similar speaks volumes. When England were successful under Andrew Strauss’s captaincy our top 3 of Cook, Strauss and Trott were very much test specialists. And scoring runs in test cricket was their priority.

The ODI side had a very different vibe and the personnel was quite different too. Thanks to the madcap philosophies of Ed Smith, and the fact there are so few proper cricketers coming through the system, our test and ODI batting line-ups are now very similar. We rely on the same engine-room of Root, Bairstow, Buttler, Stokes and Moeen. And we keep hearing that the next opener England are going to try in test cricket is Jason Roy!

It won’t be long before these guys are completely worn-out. And even the jewel in our crown Joe Root, who is our only genuinely world class test player, has started to struggle since he decided to play Big Bash cricket rather than focusing on what he’s best at. I can hardly blame Joe, as he needs money to support his family and secure his long-term financial future, but it doesn’t do the England team any good whatsoever.

What grates is the way people like Ed Smith pretend that it’s good for England that Root and his colleagues are playing in big T20 events. They pretend that T20 cricket is great, that it’s the only future, and that the switch hits and reverse sweeps our cricketers refine in white ball leagues around the world hones their skills and increases their chances of success in test cricket. Indeed they even celebrate how T20 skills have brought more excitement to test cricket in general.

They’re talking bollocks.

And this lamentable defeat to a likeable but limited West Indies team – the 8th ranked nation in the world that had actually just lost 0-2 to the 9th ranked nation before England arrived in the Caribbean – proves it.

Stokes, Bairstow and Buttler etc can all play switch-hits, ramp shots, and reverse sweeps like demons. But collectively they’re struggling to bat for as little as two sessions in a test match. They’re not test batsmen. And they probably never will be. Until we can find some red ball specialists to complement them our batting order will always be inconsistent.

But where are these players going to come from? I’ll tell you where. Nowhere. They’re not going to emerge. Because the ECB have seemingly given up on the system that once produced decent test players. And until that changes we’ll have to put up with humiliating defeats like the one we’ve just suffered in Antigua.

And when will this change? I doubt it ever will. Not while the likes of Graves and Harrison are ruling the roost. They seem too busy dreaming up new bastardisations of white ball cricket that they can trademark and eventually flog to other countries around the world. At least that’s how it looks.

Maybe I’ve got them all wrong? Maybe I’m completely wrong? I’m no mindreader after all. Maybe the ECB do care about first class cricket? Maybe they’re good men doing their best to try and modernise the game and keep it relevant? It’s possible I guess.

But I just don’t see any evidence that this is the case. After all, name me one thing – just one thing – they’ve done to help the county championship and create a more effective production line of quality red ball players.

And then name all the things they’ve done to help our white ball sides.

See what I mean?

James Morgan


  • I seriously don’t understand where people’s infatuation with Roy comes from. He doesn’t bat up the order for Surrey, unless he’s changed recently he’s a hit out and get out player, and he struggles in ODIs when the pitch isn’t flat.

    • Surrey put him up the order for a bit last season and he scored century (albeit against a struggling Essex attack on a featherbed). But you’re right. He’s not really an opener. But then neither in Denly. At least not these days.

      • He got his century at 3, in the 2nd innings, after we’d bowled them out for 67 on the 1st morning.
        An enjoyable game, with Essex’s 1 wicket win, against the new champions.

      • Mmmm – are you all saying that Roy (and Hales, for that matter) would be less successful as openers than Jennings/Burns/Denly? I don’t think so.
        I would have given Stoneman more chances – I think he has the mental strrength, if, possibly, not the technique. It’s a great pity that Hameed has lost the ability to bat.

        • Doesn’t matter.. it’s not solving the issue just replacing the guy scoring quick 30’s in test cricket

          • I doubt if anyone will see this, but a quick 30 would surely be better than a slow 8?

            (Sorry, I clicked “report” rather than ” “reply” first)

  • I love the NFL and American Football and will be staying up tonight to watch the Superbowl.

    But being objective, it’s not great when an American sport is shown more on terrestrial TV than cricket. Realistically there just isn’t interest in the sport to produce enough good players for a test team and a one day.

    I hear more people talking about the NFL than cricket. Again I love the NFL so aren’t too unhappy about it but if there isn’t a serious change (and a couple of 2020 games isn’t a serious change) then maybe we have to move on and accept its a dying sport.

    • I’m with you Mike. However, I’m not quite ready to accept that cricket is dying. Not yet.

      Ps love NFL too!

    • I hear no more than 4 people talk about NFL.. I’d say NFL is becoming that ‘thing’ people think is cool

      • The NFL manage to sell out Wembley a couple of times a year. I doubt they’re putting a team into London any time soon, but they’re definitely grabbing attention.

        • Hi Pete. They sold out Wembley 3 times last year. And the year before they sold out Wembley twice and Twickenham twice within the space of a month i.e. 4 games.

  • Totally agree with James Morgan. A breath of fresh air. We’ve reduced cricket to a version of American baseball!! Bang wallop☹️😢.

    All the batting techniques have gone. Noone is interested in batting for prolonged periods ior playing for the team. Sixes are the order of the day. I suspect it’ll take a generation to realise the mistakes bring made. Money talks and the poor beggars have to play seven days a week; resulting in total exhaustion. Lord help us and help the players.

  • “England announced themselves as a team not only destined to soon return to the top of the world Test rankings but one that will do it with a swagger”. (Paul Newman 18/11/18)

    England will be fifth in the rankings if Australia win their current Test against SL. Even if England win the forthcoming Third Test and go on to win the Ashes 5-0, they’ll only be third (unless SL can somehow win their series in SA).

    Destroying a properly sceptical press and replacing it with a group of pom-pom girls is one reason we are where we are.

    • At least the guys on Sky were complaining about the marginalisation of the championship yesterday i.e. we’re not producing a good top 3 because first class games are being played in April, May, Sept. They didn’t mention the “ECB” but there was talk of the “authorities” getting it wrong.

      • Before the first test or during an early break, they had a chat about cricket in England in which Nasser Hussain basically said everything is fine, the only problem is that the girls want to play in women’s teams these days instead of just making up the numbers in boys’ teams. He seems to have changed his mind over the last few days.

        • Yet again, he’s a PR monkey. He won’t rock the boat and so will never seriously attack any of the players or the ECB. His job relies on being pally pally

      • Jonathan Agnew has also complained about the marginalising of the Championship and its effect on the test team.

        I do think we’re in danger of not giving credit where it’s due. I have been very impressed with West Indies over the last two tests. Jason Holder is probably the best captain they have had since Clive Lloyd. The bowlers have shown real fire and the batting has shown proper application. Good signs.

        All of this might be less decisive if England had done the same. As it is you wouldn’t bet against 3-0.

        • I’m trying not to forget to mention the brilliant performances from these West Indies quicks, they’ve really battered the England batsmen but I would love to see the batsmen try to compete with them and make it difficult. You think about “what’s their plan to get him out, what weaknesses are they exploiting” – with England, the batsmen are making the fielding side’s mind up for them and giving them weaknesses on a plate

    • Every single media outlet and pundit jumps on the bandwagon of stokes, Bairstow, Curran and of when it comes off.. they are all guilty of being ECB PR spoon fed and not rocking the boat.

      Dobell is the closest to rocking the boat but he rarely now says anything more than ‘englsnd had a bad day, oh well’.. then will laud them as awesome a day later when one hitter happens to come off

      • He doesn’t really raise anything new though. It’s all the same, not too damming and quick to hype up curran and co when hitting comes off…

        Like most media, it’s soemthing now which literlaly can’t be listened to or relied on to be truthful or impartial

    • Bored of hearing about test rankings, they’ve become absolutely meaningless with the number 1 test side (take your pick recently) usually getting hammered away from home. It was only cooked up as a limp way of adding extra value to test series

  • Even all those batsmen that were brought in but quickly discarded in the 1980s like Rob Bailey, Maythew Maynard, Kim Barnett, Roland Butcher, Martin Moxon. They were quickly replaced because there were so many replacements to choose from in the county championship. Those were better days. Today there are no obvious replacements, so players get whole series to prove their shortcomings. I’m sure Denly was only brought in for this test so that Ed Smith can make a point about the cupboard being bare and justify Curran and Ali strolling out to open in the Ashes.

  • What has been refreshing and positive in a general consideration of test cricket is the application of the West Indies. Written off, mocked, accused of only interested in T20 they seem to have a group of guys who speak of their love of test cricket as the ultimate game who then went out to try and play it. Whatever one thinks of their level of ability one thing was for sure, they showed the English team how test cricket should be played and buckled down to the task, no matter what the conditions threw up. Long may it last…

  • Yes, James, you are indeed repeating yourself, but the points you make are worthy of repetition.

  • People of my generation are often derided when we say that packing the top and middle order with dashers or stroke players will end in tears. Well the obvious happens all to often and its no comfort to point at a series win in Sri Lanka as evidence that not all is gloomy. Truth is that even when we beat good sides there’s generally a rescue or rear guard action involved to get us over the line. Yesterday when the commentators were excited that Eng were going to finish WI efficiently, I predicted to my wife that England would be bowled out before the close of play; I bet I wouldn’t have got worthwhile odds on that from a bookie! The likes of Michael Vaughan, who not long ago were calling for the introduction of players like Hales, are now bemoaning England’s lack of top order runs but Ed Smith continues to paddle his canoe up the creek.

  • Agree entirely James. County cricket has been massively diminished,there was a time when most counties had a world class quick for county batters to cut their teeth on..even Glamorgan had Winston Davis. Now county cricket is very ordinary and to get loads of runs isnt difficult. Test cricket is still very difficult to bat in though and these blokes just dont have the ability to succeed. This West Indies side reminds me of the side they had before their period of dominance..they had Vanburn Holder,Keith Boyce,Bernard Julien etc good players but not great.Against them we had Boycott,Edrich,Grieg,Lloyd etc not great but a sight better than what we turn out now.

    • It was not just the overseas quickies that offered good practice. I remember facing Daren Foster when he was at Somerset, in a club game against Taunton Deane. Despite being only the Somerset back up opening bowler he was still genuinely quick (compared with top club and MC opening bowlers). So many counties (and clubs) now seem to prefer swing to pace which means genuine pace can come as a shock (especially on a helpful wicket).

      • yep true i was a fast bowling hopeful from souh London that enjoyed some success in the Surrey Championship however there lots of ex pro batters that smashed it. Old chap.

  • Entirely predictable alas. For all the reasons stated by James. To quote Alan Bennet – the sky was black with the wings of chickens coming home to roost.

  • The thing I find most depressing are the after match interviews with Root. When he was first appointed I was prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt as it’s not his fault he was inexperienced in the captaincy stakes and there was no realistic alternative who was a guaranteed pick. Now I am becoming really annoyed with his attempts to brush our inadequacies uunder the carpet, brushing realities aside with cliches like ‘the next match is an opportunity to put things right’, when there is no cricket in the interim and new new players to select. Positive thinking is a brain dead attitude when applied indiscriminately, an import from the brain dead USA who believe you can do anything if you try, whatever the circumstances. When Trevor Bayliss is interviewed a different story emerges, of things said behind closed doors which have not been taken on board. I get the impression he is becoming increasingly disillusioned with this bunch, who’s continued lack of judgment when it comes to shot selection and attitude is reflected in Root. With the Ashes and World Cup being at home this summer I feel this tour will be brushed under the carpet as a one off aberration and the same players will be trusted to ‘put things right’, which they may well do, but it doesn’t address the problem this side and the selectors have coming to terms with their errors in constructive manner.

  • My question: Who is coaching FC batters in this country? And how do they keep their jobs?

    • They keep their jobs as it’s jobs for the boys and they demand ECB coaching quals which are essentially worthless but basiclaly keep you in the ECB fold and way of thinking

  • Get rid of all these allrounders e.g. Stokes, Butler, Curran, Bairstow, etc. What we need are specialist batsmen and specialist bowlers plus a keeper. This is the root of the problem. Speaking of roots then does Joe Root merit a place in the side anymore as his batting is atrocious.

  • I didn’t mean to report this comment, just clicked that instead of reply so ignore please. Hurray for trying Doug M. Over and over again (and not this site particularly) people are saying get rid of all these all rounders but never offering alternatives. Thanks for doing so. Slight problem for me is that I don’t think Hildreth opens does he?

    • No I don’t think so, but Denly hasn’t opened for Kent for years to my knowledge. The thing is Hildreth averaged 42 in Div 1 and Denny in the 30’s in Div 2 last year. I’m going to add Woakes to my squad instead of Livingstone and Archer if Stone is unfit. We must have some pace. If Jimmy retires then either Porter or Tom Curran. I put Sam Curran in because he is a player of the future but it’s no good playing him at no 9 with the tail, hence he’s my no 7. Christ the lads won two tests for England with his batting alone!

  • That’s that, then!

    Didn’t help that over the two tests 35 of England’s batsmen didn’t score more than 20 and only 3 more than 50.

  • Burns

    Top three told to simply bat time and simply get fast bowlers to their 3rd spells.

    There is literally only two players that even try to bat time and one is old and one is out of form but sod it.. is ratyer they give them a go than even remotely consider Roy, hales, stoneman Etc Etc

    • Trouble is Hameed can’t get a run for Lancs since someone said he was the new Boycott. Hopelessly out of form for over a year. Got to get in some pace like J Overton, Archer or Stone all of whom are quicker than Woakes (I’d keep) or Broad (getting passed his sell by date).The problem is they’re all injury prone apart from Broad!

      • So we can’t bat and your solution is to change the bowling z?. Anderson and broad will be gone within 12-18 months (maybe this summer for Anderson) so Woakes will literally need to lead the attack. There is nothing coming hrough.

        Batting is the issue but as we se, people still seem to think these bits and pieces and middle order hitters are great… we have a load of 6/7’s.. bugger all 1/2/3/5’s

        And no, not one player in the lions is upto it.. yet more white ball hitters

        • No not just the bowling. See my earlier team suggestion which virtually completely changes the batting from shuffling 5 no 7’s like a pack of cards into positions not suited to them. And their are bowlers coming through with a bit of pace surely worth a try?

        • I am a great Woakes supporter and would have him in the team ahead of Broad, Stokes, Curran and all the others, but I am not sure you are right about Anderson. He seems to be as good now as 10 years ago and rarely gets injured. I could see him going to 40.

      • Agree Hameed can’t buy a run but I’d still throw him in as there is no one else.. literally name another batsmen willing to bat time ??

        Lyth.. nope
        Robson.. nope
        Stoneman.. nope
        Roy.. hahahahahhaha
        Hales… hahahahahahaha
        Duckett.. hahahahahahaha
        Denly.. hahahahahahaha

        Literally no one wo why not.. literlaly it can not be worse as Jennings avg 18 vs pace.. even avg 18 for Hameed is no worse

        • I was hopeful of Andy Umeed after he scored the slowest championship century since WW1 in 2017 – but Warwickshire released him at the end of last season. :)

    • Bringing in Hameed is hilarious. The bloke is complete crap. He’s barely county 2nd XI standard. You might as well nominate yourself.

      • Just as hilarious as Curran.. Roy.. hales.. duckett.. Etc Etc.. literally at least he showed willingness to bat time rather than just attack attack attack

  • I appreciate what I’m about to say has all the verisimilitude of an England press release, but I wonder if there might be some revival among England’s Afro-Caribbean community if the Windies are on the up again. Back in 2000 Channel 4 tried its best to hype up the Windies series, at a time when the Windies still had some legends (Lara, Walsh, Ambrose) although the decline was well and truly under way. Instead there was very little interest and by the time of the last series on terrestrial television, the legendary 2005 Ashes, the England team was wholly monocultural as were the crowds in London. Players like Malcolm, Lewis, DeFreitas, Ramprakash etc all belonged to another era. (All in contrast to the British Asian community, which has retained its interest and has players in the team of course.)

    Or is it that the Windies aren’t on the way up; England are just crashing downwards …

    • Who knows about the WI being on their way up. What they have done is played test cricket and England have bene caught out trying to play one day brand of cricket on a non road. In SL they played on flat decks so it worked and SL were dire.. here, WI have produced result wickets and England can’t cope as all they want to do is attack attack attacks

      • Sadly the current Sri Lanka outfit are really dire which has been really apparent in Aus having seen the contrast between India where Aus were ground into the home turf, and Sri Lanka where runs and wickets flowed freely.

  • I’d love to believe this series marks the start of a genuine West Indies’ revival – but isn’t it more in the pattern of loaded home advantage and the benefit of winning the toss that we’ve been seeing across world cricket?

    WI may well be a better team than SL currently but the main difference was that England won three tosses before Christmas and have lost two tosses here.

    • The toss may be a small element, but the fact that England batting has failed both before and after the West Indies have set decent batting numbers suggests it is more than just the toss.

  • It is not just that proper cricketers are not coming through (as James says), it is that when they do they are being deliberately coached to become white ball bats, even when their original technique is better for red ball. The best example is Sam Hain, who came into the Warwickshire side as an 18 year old, scored a double ton and ton………and has done nothing since in red ball. Everyone who has watched him at Edgbaston will have noticed the change in his technique, becoming more wristy and seeking to work the ball where he would previously present a textbook defensive shot. This can only be because he has been coached to change. And it has worked – he is a great success in white ball …… but at the price of losing all his form in red ball.

    • I should have added that I was surprised when Hain was included in the Lions red ball squad. Of the Warwickshire players Will Rhodes looks the better red ball prospect and is an opener. I guess his slow but steady approach disqualified him.

  • In the 2011 World Cup England played, Strauss, Pietersen, Trott, Collingwood, Bell, and Prior as the specialist batsmen (I just checked the 2011 World Cup game against India). Who incidentally were also Test regulars (Collingwood had just retired). England played ODIs then as shortened Tests (as several other sides did as well), now they are playing Tests as elongated ODIs.

    I really don’t get why money is the problem. After all, the ECB with the Big 3 stitch up were only too happy that South African, West Indian, Sri Lankan, Pakistani and New Zealand cricket players had to whore themselves out to make a living. Fact is that Steven Finn, supposedly unselectable (when he was on a central contract) made more money not playing, than Kane Williamson did when playing on his New Zealand central contract.

    Also the complaint rings extremely hollow considering how the opposition (West Indies)had been decimated for years by the same financial doping that England enjoyed, and still enjoy, including the poaching of West Indian talent on sporting scholarships. Needless to say, that has meant for years that England had the advantage of playing opposition whose techniques and temperaments had been decimated if not destroyed by the hit and giggle. And now you are complaining that the hit and giggle is destroying England batsmen’s techniques and temperaments too? A decade too late James.

    As for the marginalisation of the County championship, at least your Test calendar has no fixtures in the middle of the winter. Unlike West Indies, South Africa, and New Zealand, or in the middle of monsoon season like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

  • James Vince and Tom Curran have been awesome in the BBL you should try them in the test side again.

  • I’m desperately sorry that Holder has been banned for the next Test. I would have loved to see him leading his team to another convincing win over an England team in order to make it abundantly clear that most of our players and virtually all the management are dross, undeserving of support.

    • It is utterly ludicrous. The problem is not in the application of the rules but in the rules themselves. Holder gets a one match suspension for failing to hurry up his bowlers (which deserves some penalty) whilst Chamdimal got the same ban in the West Indies in 2018 for ball tampering. Does anyone think these offences are equivalent and deserve the same penalty?

      • There was a reason that people continue to tamper. Weak penalties and real benefit from doing so.

        Smith was given a 1 game penalty for ball tampering, Bancroft 3 demerit points and Warner nothing – By the ICC that is.
        That is why CA had to step in even if they did go a bit over the top in the end. Since the Chandimal incident they can now do up to six games which seems a more appropriate length. (Than 1 game or 1 year including 1st class cricket)

    • What is even worse, if West Indies had bowled Chase for three overs or so, they would have been okay. And it really would have changed the result of the game, I am sure.

      Yet, the ICC sees no problem at all with asking for gloves and bats after every over, a la Monty and Jimmy in 2009.

      • Gloves should only be changed at drinks or fall of wicket. Anything else is a waste of time and should be punished as such

  • Quotes from “An England recovery plan” by Rob Smyth:

    “It would do serious damage to Root’s ego to become the first England captain to be sacked because of Test results since David Gower in 1989, but the ECB is not running a wellness centre”.

    Can anyone link any article in the UK press that said anything remotely like this in 2014? All I can remember is “he’s still learning” when the captain then had 30+ Tests in charge (Root currently has 24). The press were also happy to relate leaked take-downs of potential captaincy rivals (like Bell being supposedly embarrassing on one of Flower’s leadership exercises being shared on CWOTV). Smyth also doesn’t bother with who his better alternative is – perhaps because we all know it’s Buttler but he knows Buttler’s credentials don’t stand up to any examination.

    “In the last couple of years, there has been too much treading on eggshells, and from afar it feels like merit has not always been the only consideration”.

    The last couple of years? What, since 2017? “Merit” was “the only consideration” 2014-17!?!…. (and I don’t just mean “him” but Compton, Rashid, Finn, Bell, Carberry, Robson and others who were briefed against).

    FTR I’m not saying Root is a great captain. He isn’t – and almost nobody could be under the current regime. However the bleating about him not setting five slips in the last Test was laughable. How many runs did he have to play with? Perhaps the senior bowlers might look at why they only got one bowled/LBW and the opposition got nine? It might have something to do with bowling fuller and straighter, something Anderson and Broad have failed to do for years. Still, they’re getting a free pass from a media who think it’s all just “luck”. The bowlers can’t want an extra cover and five slips at the same time or they’re failing into the Botham/Holding trap of forgetting there are only nine fielders. Holder/Roach got it right by putting a mid-wicket in so the bowler could bowl straight and had some protection.

  • The most glaring problem with England’s batsmen is that none of them know how to defend. They play one way on every pitch, rotating the strike, 2-3 runs here and there doesn’t happen watching this lot. They feel like they have to batter every ball. You can get away with this if you’re as talented as Kevin Pietersen but apart from that, you just end up with embarrassing totals more often than not.

    I think even the media now are waking up to the reality that England collapses are getting worse and worse and happen almost every other test now. The manner of these capitulations is unforgivable, with some of the most ridiculous shots you will ever see when you consider the state of the match at the time they attempt them. 5 day matches, and they’re blasting the ball around when they’ve faced 4 or 5 delivers – just who do they think they are that they think they can consistently play like that and deliver big totals?

    The whole England batting line up is definitely worse than the 90s. I never remember so many capitulations like this, we’re talking 10 wickets in a single session, 5-0 ashes defeats, 40 overs for an innings every other innings. It’s woeful, embarrassing test cricket

    • Since the start of 2018, England have scored over 400 once. They’ve been bowled out for under 80 twice. Their average innings score in West indies is 158. That’s not how you win test matches.

      • Being a rather sad individual, I just had a quick look at England’s batting since the start of 2018. In 28 innings (excluding declarations under 300), they’ve got past 300 13 times (so have been bowled out for 300 or less 15 times). 8 of those were for under 200, which is a clearly inadequate score for test matches.

        • ha, I have been tempted to go through Bayliss entire time (from 2015) and try and see if there’s any downward trend in both people coming into the side (and going out of it again) and performances as a whole. I think 2015-2018 is not much better, there’s been a few all out in 1 session innings and some enormous defeats (like 350 – 400 run defeats). I wonder how many times England have batted for more than 4 sessions

          Questions that require some serious stat trawling

  • James, I am afraid this is an ignorant and knee-jerk anaylsis of yours.
    Even when the county championship wasn’t being ‘marginalised’, England never won in the WI. They won once in 1960s, then in 2004.. that’s it !
    Contrast that with India who have won their 2006, 2011 and 2016 WI tours despite all the t20 jamboree they have been involved in the last decade with the rise of IPL.

    • Our batting has been historically bad for about 3 years. Look it up. It’s not just about this Windies tour. How many times have we been 80-4 or 100-5. Look it up.

  • ^ I agree with Liam. Poms simply refuse to perform on conditions that they aren’t comfortable in (aka home conditions). That has always been their mantra, regardless of county season experience.

    • there’s performing and then there are the capitulations we have seen over the last couple of years especially. Yes, it’s always been difficult away from home, but it is the nature of the defeats. And even at home, while plenty of success, when England find themselves behind in the game they are blown away and are on the end of a 400 run defeat. There was more fight in the 90s (against some of the best bowlers in cricket history)

  • Can we start an ECBexit campaign and leave the ECB? They want it all and ignore red ball cricket – they say they dont. Tests generate still huge amounts of money and for the people who have forked out to watch England in the West Indies they have had value for money. ECB seem to think like accountants – its only us old gits go to the county championship matches – cheap membership – push it to one side, to the margins of the season. You get test match players playing in test match conditions at the right time of the year. Early season seaming pitches dont produce fast bowlers or batsmen who can play against that. The values and benefits of the county championship are not promoted. There are groups of people who have made lasting friendships and enjoy a leisurely day out – if its not freezing in April.

  • a bit of conflict in what you say James…haven’t you (Im Aussie) just, pre W I tour, won seven of the last eight tests v the best team in the world, India, and away v Sri Lanka? For mine that’s a pretty formidable achievement. Now the same set of players aren’t up to it, after only two failings? And whereas you refer to the 100 and “prostitution”, at the same time its ok for Joe Root to support his family as he needs. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Test man through and through (have been since 1964) and am right now done with the Big Bash here. But it pays the bills, gives plenty of middling players their ten minutes of fame and the punters like it. My greater fear is next year my 10 y o grandson, who I have modestly earmarked to, yes, be a leg spinning all rounder for Australia in 2030, will want the attend Big Bash games.

    • Hi Mick. The article is concerned with England’s top 6 more than the team as a whole. If you look back at the series with India (and even Sri Lanka to some extent) our top order failed consistently and our MO is to get bailed out by the tail. In fact, top order failures have been a problem for about 3 years. It’s historically bad.

      The wins against India at home (we always beat India at home) and Sri Lanka away (an unexpected success) were good achievements but they weren’t a result of good top order batting. What’s more, as Stuart Broad has admitted, the win against India wasn’t as comprehensive as the scoreline might suggest to an outsider. It was rather flattering. It’s also worth pointing out that we won all 8 tosses in those series combined. The toss is a huge deal in SL in particular, and it’s now clear that SL are a very poor side in transition.

      In terms of batting averages, England’s top 6/7 at Antigua were as follows:

      Burns 26
      Denly 12
      Bairstow 37
      Root 49
      Buttler 34
      Stokes 33
      Moeen 30

      If one considers that the benchmark for a decent test specialist batsman is 40 these days, we only have one player who cuts the mustard. But the bigger problem is that we really don’t have anyone coming through to replace these guys. Oli Pope is a very talented young player but he’s still a little green. Joe Clarke also has some talent. But otherwise the cupboard is bare. And when it comes to openers it’s completely barren. There has never been such a dearth of options available sadly.

      Re: ‘prostitution’ I have no problem with players going to the Big Bash etc and it’s a short career and they should be free to maximise their earnings. But The Hundred is slightly different. It’s a complete monstrosity of a competition. It’s a bastardised form of cricket that also undermines the counties (many believe it will threaten their existence) and also directly challenges our precious county championship by pushing it ever further to the fringes of the season. It’s a pretty indefensible proposition, especially as we already have a perfectly good and very popular T20 competition called The Blast. Yes the players should be free to play in it, but I won’t necessarily be applauding those who do.

  • Four DM writers (Newman, Lloyd, Hussain, Gibson) pick their teams for the Third Test:

    1) Four have Buttler at No.4
    2) Four have Stokes at No.5

    What’s the point of paying for four opinions if they all think exactly the same? Some will say this is just an example of group-think and it might well be – but I’d also point out these two are the ECB’s most marketable cricketers in India and I don’t think that’s a coincidence why they seem so above reproach. For example, stats clearly show Buttler has dropped more catches than any other England player swince his recall but they seem duty-bound to keep saying what a good fielder he is.


copywriter copywriting