Cricket, Opinions

The Summer Game


https://i0.wp.com/news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/72100000/jpg/_72100418_england_getty.jpg
Expect more of these poses. Image courtesy: http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/72100000/jpg/_72100418_england_getty.jpg

<This article first appeared in sloword.wordpress.com. Given the abject surrender by England yesterday, I thought it may be pertinent to read what I had written almost a year ago. You can read the original here>

I read this article by Jonathan Agnew and was struck by it’s smarmy tone. As an apology for Peter Moores‘s reinstatement it fails convincingly. About the only thing the article does is re-iterate the infantile regurgitations of team, team player and togetherness. It has all the hallmarks of those independent car / audiophile equipment reviews that manage to sound suspiciously like marketing material.

Of all the nonsensical decisions made by the ECB over the years (and there have been plenty), this current refusal to face reality has to rank among the worst. The ECB’s muddled policies are taking English cricket back to the dark ages of the 80s and 90s. Can anyone explain the following situations?

  • The selection of three tall fast bowlers for the Australian tour. The only one of the lot who had showed any signs of actual effectiveness was Steven Finn – more on him later. Tremlett and Rankin were frankly lucky to be there at the expense of Onions. I’m not sure what the ECB expected the Australians to do? Keel over in shock at the sight of Tremlett 6 foot 7 inch frame trundling along at a speed that Boycott’s granny would laugh at?
  • Joe Root is a batsman looking for a team, it seems. What is he exactly? Opener? Future #3? #5? #6? An offspinner who bats?
  • Jonathan Trott – given the previous experience of Trescothick and Yardy?
  • What really induced Swann to retire midway?
  • Continuation of the failed and failing captaincy methods from Cook
  • Johnny Bairstow as a Test-level wicket keeper / batsman. He continues to fail to convince as a batsman and the less said about his wicketkeeping, even in these days when keeping is secondary to scoring runs, the better.
  •  The dropping of Compton just as he was settling in with Cook at the top. Possibly the ECB leadership, thanks to it’s well-documented business background, took the “disruption” thing too seriously. Corollary to that the inclusion of Carberry and no other opener in sight, except for the found-out Root.
  • Kerrigan, Panesar, Tredwell, Borthwick. If anything boggles the mind more than Tremlett and Rankin, it’s this lot.
  • Coaching – Here I include not just the coaching system for established players, but also younger entrants, emerging talent and also captaincy and leadership. This will have to be dealt with this in a post of it’s own. It’s too overwhelming to cover here.
  • Management – This topic can easily become a case study for a management course. If you wish to learn how to destroy a team look no further.
  • And then, of course ( you thought I’d forgotten this, did you?) Kevin Pietersen

Meanwhile, in a manner reminiscent of straightening the deck chairs on the Titanic, the ECB is busy in the appeasement of the BCCI, which is a dangerous policy. Unfortunately for England, this Imperial policy, a favorite of Ye Olde Englishe Monarchy, cannot quite be considered a success. Ask any Indian, Pakistani, Israeli, Palestinian, Iranian, Iraqi etc. But we know now that England do not learn their lessons well. They still believe they are masters of the game they invented. But the summer game that Cardus wrote about in such poetic form no longer belongs to them and it does not, in fact, exist. Cricket wears red and blue and orange and pink and host of other colours, there are cheerleaders to let the ignorant crowd know when to cheer. “It’s not cricket” has no meaning as a phrase. If “a sticky wicket” existed still, England would be batting on it against Derek Underwood’s bowling.

Their brief summer at the top is over. For England, the summer won’t be back for a long time.

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