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How to solve a problem like the England test side? (mainly the batting and spinners)

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Post by Good Golly I'm Olly Tue 18 Jan 2022, 6:57 pm

First topic message reminder :

Thought I would make a new post/thread on this, so as to not clog up the winter tours one...and give it it's own space to breathe! Now the dust is settling on the most recent English batting/Ashes shambles, and there is seeming appetite for looking at what needs fixing...I'm going to run through some #thoughts on what I'd do.
I would also recommend listening/watching Sky's discussion on this - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HOErX8ponw
I don't agree with all points of view in there, but it is a good discussion I think.

Right...onto the issue at hand here - we can produce good seamers, I think that much is evident. Managing them is a seperate issue, but the talent is there. JDizzle's man Robinson looks a hell of a talent if he can get that body into test shape, and while we are soon to be losing Anderson and Broad, which will obviously hurt...I think there is good players there and coming through (Sonny Baker szn will soon be upon us!)

Batting - we haven't produced a test level batsmen who has developed in the test setup since Joe Root came into the side in 2012. I think there is a two fold reason for this...one being the standard of county cricket, the second being the coaching/development once in the side.

Spin bowling - we seem to either actively try to ruin (Bess) or destroy the confidence of (Leach) any spinner who shows promise, and really have struggled to produce a reliable spinner since Swann now (not even a Panesar type has come along really). I think this probably comes back to the standard of country cricket again...

Now before I head into some suggestions, and calm has descended and I have come down to reality...it's not all bad. We do have one of the best white ball sides possibly ever (certainly our best ever one), and in the not too distant past we were the #1 test side in the world. That did all happen with 18 counties...so I am standing down from my "cull half of them" stance. I think if we were starting from scratch there is no way we'd have 18, but the ECB isn't going to get rid of any (not the will or balls too) and turkeys don't vote for christmas in terms of them disappearing off their own back. So we're going to need to work in the framework of 18 counties (which isn't necessarily a bad thing!).

There also needs to be realism about where red ball/long form cricket is on the global stage - I think Atherton talks about this well on the Sky piece, it is not about one format being "better" than another, it is about realising that they all need to compliment each other, and acceptance of the reality that mainly the t20 game is likely to fund a lot of the sport going forward around the world. The days of kids coming through with the only goal being a test cricketer are pretty much over...which again can be fine, so long as we work with this!

And finally, I and I am sure many here had hoped that cricket might have used the pandemic to reflect on the ridiculous schedules that international teams play these days. Unfortunately it seems to have used the pandemic to try and cram in *more* cricket (an ICC white ball event every year forever!)...this really isn't changing anytime soon either. Again, not a death knell, just schedulers are going to need to be smarter about how they do things.

All that is said to say, I think some evolution not revolution is needed...so I'd probably like to see the below from what suggestions I've read/heard so far...

Short term
1. Rejig the English cricketing summer schedule
Atherton has been championing this stance since the summer I believe, and it does look to me to be the best realistic idea out there at the moment. For clarity it is

Royal London One Day Cup to run from April to Mid May
County Championship to run from Mid May to late July, with potentially a final round of games or two in September
The Hundred to run from late July to mid August
T20 blast to run throughout the year as before (ie. occasional Friday night games), but with the bulk of games in mid August-early September

I think this makes the most sense, and would likely be the most realistic option to get voted through.
The one day cup should stay as a competition, but it is the least attended of the English comps and as such really shouldn't get priority in terms of weather/isn't so effected by weather as early championship games because white balls don't do what the red dukes does.
The Hundred isn't going anywhere - and I think it can be used as a great tool for getting people into the sport. Maybe just needs a little tightening up schedule wise.
T20 Blast - county chairman are going to want those Friday night blast games in early summer, which is fine...but the majority of the comp (maybe just over half) can be played in late august and September...and lets not have finals day in October.

The County Championship then gets a massive chunk of the summer, with ideally very good weather (and mixed, in mid may there should still be some spicy wickets but by late July you should be getting spin more into it). Now this isn't the only thing that needs doing with the county championship...

2. Revamp the county championship format (including making the games 5, not 4 days)
For starters - I have never really understood beyond finances, why we play a four day red ball format at domestic level when tests are five days. If that can be rectified...it should.

I think Rob Key nailed this on the Sky cricket podcast - there is currently too many county championship games played, of too little quality. Playing more red ball games does not automatically = better red ball players.
His suggestion for two top divisions of six (basically a 1a and 1b) with a division of six below I think is a good suggestion. The two top divisions play 10 games (5 home and away) for the chance to get to a final (winner of each division), and one from each division gets relegated to the bottom division, with two coming up from that division.

That way in theory, you've got the "best" sides playing each other more often in the top divisions, but you are also offering good incentive for those in the bottom division to make getting promoted a reality (whilst also making sure no teams in the top divisions become too comfy).

It also chops off some games from the calendar - which I have less of an opinion on...but it might not be the worst thing.

It's probably not an ideal suggestion, but it does seem to me to offer incentive to pretty much all counties to make a good fist of red ball cricket. In the current structure, if you're someone like Derbyshire (who have done this in recent years) why would you pour resources into red ball cricket for a 2 in 10 chance of promotion, when you can focus and make good headway focusing on just the white ball stuff?

3. Split the head coaching roles
I know there is often a lot of debate around this, and there are definite pros and cons for sure to having one coach, or split coaches...but with the current international schedules only going one way, I think this is just going to need to be what happens.
I am noted as not a fan of Chris Silverwood, but how can we possibly expect a man to be on top of his game as a coach, and to be able to plan/prepare teams properly when one week he's at a T20 World Cup and then a week later joining up with a Test side for a week or two before a series? Heck the Ashes just finished, and there is t20's on Sunday!
It's just unfathomable to think one man can do this job any true justice or really get any proper development/coaching done...and the point made on the podcast about it limiting your pool of potential coaching candidates is also true. Taking on a job, as it currently stands, where you barely get any time with your family at home isn't exactly appealing to many when you can coach in the IPL for 6 weeks and probably make more money, for less stress and you know actually see your family and do things outside cricket.

Splitting the coaching role with one focused on red ball/test side, and one for the white ball sides makes sense to me. But obviously that throws up the selection issue which leads me into...

4. Reintroduce a chairman of selectors/Director of Cricket and selection panel
I posted this at the time when Ed Smith was sacked and they added yet more to the Head Coach's plate...but for me it was absolutely ludicrous to expect the man who is the bloody full time coach to also be able to do the job of selecting players, I appreciate there are some "scouts" around, but a selector should always see a player before selecting them and there is just no way the coach can do this.

Bring in a Director of Cricket/chairman of selectors type, who will oversee selections for the red ball and white ball squads alongside the coaches, and a selection panel. They may not always get it right, but there is a reason this method has been done for decades and continues to be done for the majority of cricketing nations!

In the current constraints of what cricket is, I think these suggestions will help us get some better outcomes in terms of producing players (better arrangement and hopefully quality of red ball cricket from the schedule) and then developing them (splitting the coaching workload). Obviously these are all short term solutions, and there really does need to be a bigger review by the ECB into the sport of cricket and is accessibility which leads me onto some longer term suggestions

Long term
1. Make a concerted effort to reintroduce the sport to state schools and try to make the sport cheaper!
A pretty simple idea, maybe less easy in reality...but currently cricket is pretty much almost exclusively a private school educated only sport, and is falling more and more off the radar/curriculum in state schools. Obviously a lot of work would need to be done on this, but basically the sport cuts off a large swath of the population by never getting it's interest...and those who it does gain the interest of, you need to have some seriously dedicated parents who have a fair bit of ££££ to be able to afford to play academy cricket for a county.
You basically make the sport accessible for like 1-2% of the population before they even become late teenagers/adults. I appreciate cricket is never going to be the main sport of the public in England, but at least give yourselves a chance of attracting some of the talent pool of kids, especially those from minority/disadvantaged backgrounds!

2. What is the role of the England Lions?
Think this is something that needs to be reviewed...is this a proper developmental side, or is this merely a team of fringe players who will play the odd game together?
I realise covid has been happening recently which complicates things massively, but I am fairly sure I read that India A have played double the amount of games the Lions have over the last half decade...which doesn't seem right to me.
Having them play in a crowded English summer schedule would be tough admittedly, but how about we sort out some proper tours for the Lions and give our young players some true tests and feel for playing a three match first class series in the subcontinent, or down in Australia etc?
At the moment it is neither really serving the purpose of giving gametime to players needing form, or giving a good step up in development for promising young players...it's kinda just there.

I've rabbited on long enough there, but hopefully it can be a good discussion starter and if people have other thoughts or ideas do throw them out there. Maybe we can get Guildford to collate all the best ones and present them to Stewie to pass on... Smile Very Happy
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Post by JDizzle Fri 04 Feb 2022, 5:03 pm

Afro wrote:
Dolphin Ziggler wrote:
Strauss wants to split ODI and Test roles

I think this is crucial for success across all formats, they are different skill sets required for each, they should be managed separately, with only links in place to manage player welfare

I appreciate its not quite the same, but its a bit like Gareth Southgate managing the England 6 a side team as well!

Silverwood made some big gaffes and England are rightly moving on, but someone summed it up best on Twitter where they said something big has gone wrong that Silverwood is going to be replaced by three men! A red ball coach, a white ball coach and a selector!

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Post by Gooseberry Fri 04 Feb 2022, 5:06 pm

king_carlos wrote:
sirfredperry wrote:Silverwood's utterly bonkers decision to leave Anderson AND Broad out at Brisbane should have been enough on its own to get him sacked.

There have been some barmy selection decisions over the years, but doubt if there have been many (any?) worse than that.
That's one of the selections I defended at the time and still do due to how Anderson and Broad's bodies need managing these days. Due to the weather after arriving in Australia they had basically no overs even in the nets. The lack of practice, let alone match practice, was ludicrous and so badly hampered by the weather.

Had either been picked short of practice at their age and pulled up lame the setup would have then been absolutely lambasted for the opposite thing they are now lambasted for anyway.

If we still want Jimmy and Broad in the Test setup, which I definitely do, it is important to remember that they can no longer be treated like most other fast-medium seamers when it comes to their preparation. We've basically got two mid-80mph swing and seam bowlers who need looking after like most 90+mph thoroughbreds do.

Whilst they both add an absolutely huge amount when fully fit how we get/keep two seamers with that many miles on the clock fit is clearly a real challenge rather than an unnecessarily conjured problem of Silverwood and Giles creation. Especially with the ludicrous schedules England now have. We played 15 Tests in 2021, it would have been 16 if not for the cancelled T5 against India in the summer.


Im on a similar page to this and didnt quite get the outrage when a similar thing happened at the start of the summer. The coaches do deserve some credit for having at least tried to develop alternative opening bowlers and attempting to do some succession planning. Noone could have been banking on them being at this Ashes at all, the fact that both actually produced commendable figures , and neither broke down is frankly outstanding. There has been an element of trying to recreate the dropping of Harmisson and Hoggard which gave that pair their real start, just this time its looked dumb (although the coaches got hammered for picking Broad Anderson at the time)

The fact is this Ashes was a tour noone really wanted, bad timing all round. So there can be some sympathy for all involved. But what it did do was lay bare the decline that had been evident since the unexpected SA win, and make it no longer ignorable. In the bigger picture having this disaster tour my have been what England needed to clean the decks and start again, including changing the domestic set up.



On the mention of Gillespie, not sure on the timings but how much hes caught up in the Azeem Rafiq affair could hamper his chances.

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Post by Gooseberry Fri 04 Feb 2022, 5:08 pm

JDizzle wrote:
Afro wrote:
Dolphin Ziggler wrote:
Strauss wants to split ODI and Test roles

I think this is crucial for success across all formats, they are different skill sets required for each, they should be managed separately, with only links in place to manage player welfare

I appreciate its not quite the same, but its a bit like Gareth Southgate managing the England 6 a side team as well!

Silverwood made some big gaffes and England are rightly moving on, but someone summed it up best on Twitter where they said something big has gone wrong that Silverwood is going to be replaced by three men! A red ball coach, a white ball coach and a selector!

Yeah but he sacked the selector partly for not picking Broad Anderson in the first test of the summer 2020 then did the same thing himself in the ashes.

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Post by James100 Fri 04 Feb 2022, 8:09 pm

Gooseberry wrote:
On the mention of Gillespie, not sure on the timings but how much hes caught up in the Azeem Rafiq affair could hamper his chances.

I believe Rafiq's testimony cited the time that Gillespie and Lees were in charge at Yorkshire as the time that he enjoyed playing there and didn't feel under attack in the dressing room

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Post by Dolphin Ziggler Sat 05 Feb 2022, 1:15 am

Reports that Langer has resigned

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Post by Gooseberry Sat 05 Feb 2022, 9:08 am

Dolphin Ziggler wrote:Reports that Langer has resigned

Yeah just seen this, does suggest he's positioning himself to be allowed to talk to the ECB openly.

Its interesting how things have fallen into place if he is Strauss's number one target. If it hadn't been for Painegate he would most likely already be in talks to have his CA contract extended further. Still feels a touch ironic he might get bought into England to turn them into fierce competitors after being employed to clean up Australia's attitude and make them all Zampa clones.

He does tick all the boxes though. Has the natural authority as a world class player and top level coach, even Broad will have to respect him a bit more than he did Ed Smith. Known for leading cultural changes in teams (Western Aus and Aus) and cutting out the booze cruise tour culture. Big on fitness and intensity in training , things England apparently lacked under Silverwoods "player first" soft approach.


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Post by Good Golly I'm Olly Sat 05 Feb 2022, 10:27 am

I’d sincerely hope it’s not bloody Justin Langer, and I would imagine he’s probably got his eye on one of the new IPL openings rather than England personally.

There’s a reason there was numerous reports from leaked by Aussie players and Cricket Australia that they wanted him fired, that came out earlier this year. He’s crap and a prick
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Post by Gooseberry Sat 05 Feb 2022, 2:11 pm

From what Ive seen the rumblings are not dissimilar to some of the flak Eddie Jones got with the English rugby team (hes had a lot of coaches / backroom staff walk, and a few discarded players mouth off) because of his temper and high expectations. Hes certainly not universally disliked by the Aussie set up, and in some cases theres personal issues around the handling of Paine and the way he got the job in the first place, some peoples egos still not having got over that cheating wasn't OK. When you have personalities like Warner in the dressing room it shouldnt be any surprise things arent always rosy. And its certainly nothing on the scale of Mickey Arthur, although again some of that was big egos not liking an expectation that they actually get fit.

Fact is though hes delivered good results for them and driven standards up at a time they appeared to be really lacking in a talent pipeline and with morale and image in tatters. Its not the first time hes overseen such a change from a troubled dressing room either.

And England really need someone who can come in and be willing to upset the big egos, not sack his selector because someone didn't agree with being left out then do exactly the same himself. Theres just as numerous reports of the England camp being too cosy and easy and too much focus on giving players what they want rather than telling them whats needed to succeed. Root too gives the impression of being a nice lad, someone to balance him off in the leadership surely has some merit?

Its a competitive sports team, not a popularity contest. The likes of Broad whos famously grumpy should at least recognise that and allow it in a leader.


Obviously theres limits on that and coaches/leaders can do perfectly well with a calm style. I would also expect Strauss et al to be looking carefully, and directly question him, on the stories floating around to make sure they don't end up with the kind of stories that dogged british cycling a few years back.

My hope is he, or whoever gets the job, is on the right side of the line and drives standards and belief up.

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Post by alfie Sat 05 Feb 2022, 3:48 pm

Some of Langer's qualities would be a plus for England at the moment. (Though I am not sure he'd want to take it on anyway). I do have some concerns similar to what Olly flagged. I would prefer Gillespie if you are looking to Australian possibles but again I suspect he might not be keen to commit to the role - though perhaps a "red ball only " role could attract him ?

West Indies tour first with the interim set up and things might get a bit clearer after that.

Australia might well appoint Bayliss so we could conceivably see a complete swap ...

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Post by alfie Sat 05 Feb 2022, 3:54 pm

And if this is where we post the U19 WC stuff I am watching a spirited recovery effort by England after a total meltdown against India in the final. First six gone for 63 and they're now on 164/7 with the impressive James Rew on 83 from 108. Eleven overs left and you'd think they'll need a fair few more to have a proper chance but it's been a great fightback ...with Sales who bowled that unfortunate disastrous death over the other day doing his bit with the bat here on 25...

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Post by Gooseberry Sat 05 Feb 2022, 4:03 pm

Under 19s England is the collective description for our test batting averages

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Post by Good Golly I'm Olly Fri 11 Feb 2022, 6:25 pm

https://twitter.com/georgedobell1/status/1492198770762780682?s=21

This is good news
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Post by guildfordbat Fri 11 Feb 2022, 7:41 pm

Good Golly I'm Olly wrote:https://twitter.com/georgedobell1/status/1492198770762780682?s=21

This is good news

Cheers, Olly. Yes, it would be good news to be shot of Harrison sooner than later. Thompson - mentioned in the article - is a good guy although, as Dobell suggests, I doubt he would want the role. The ECB might be wary too, he resigned from one of their committees a couple of years ago or so after, I think, a bust up with Graves.

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Post by Gooseberry Fri 11 Feb 2022, 10:37 pm

I see Yorkshire have been further punished by being put back on the list of possible venues for England to play at

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