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England's Winter of Cricket 2023/24

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Good Golly I'm Olly
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Post by king_carlos Sat 17 Feb 2024, 3:22 pm

First topic message reminder :

I haven't seen a ball from today. Not sure I want to seeing the scorecard.

I woke up early for work, checked the score, saw the collapse, felt sad. Then didn't look again until after close.

It all looked so promising for a moment.

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Post by Duty281 Sat 09 Mar 2024, 12:20 pm

Dear me that was pathetic. The most arrogant team in world cricket, plus the luckiest, given a sound cricketing lesson from a team of actual quality. I just hope and pray this is the wake up call.

No, Stokes/McCullum, you're nothing special just because you beat the likes of Pakistan and South Africa. You're not the most unique team, haven't reinvented the wheel, or anywhere near the best. England are, at most, the 3rd best team in test cricket. Levels behind Australia and India. No better than three years ago. Maybe, actually, worse. It was certainly a worse tour than three years ago, against an Indian side with plenty of absences.

What was troubling here was the complete lack of fight and pride in themselves. The final score is 1-4. Maybe that's fair. But I think 0-5 would have been more reflective. Two extreme outliers from Pope and Hartley saved it from 0-5. The series was hardly competitive. India had big, and I mean big, first innings leads in four of the five games, which demonstrates the gulf. England were soundly destroyed in three games. The other two were closer.

Will the Bazball cult relent? I highly doubt it. They'll still delude themselves that England are better off under this regime, which manifestly isn't so. I'm even seeing in The Telegraph talk about Bazball 2.0. So let's draw a line under everything. As soon as England start beating middling teams in the summer again, we can go back to the Stokes/Brearley comparisons.

Got some player ratings of my own:

Crawley 7/10 - Gave England a start more often than not, and scored more runs than any other English player. Unfortunately failed to kick on and put in the really big scores, like Jaiswal did, that win games. Averaged over 40. Two good series with the bat, might finally be turning a corner?

Future? Secure for now and healthier than ever.

Duckett 6/10 - Got a start nearly every time, but failed to push beyond 50 except for the one occasion where he drove in 153 runs. A series of frustration.

Future? OK for now, but needs a good summer I reckon.

Pope 4/10 - Tough time rating this guy. One innings he played was possibly the greatest ever away knock by an Englishman, setting up an extraordinary comeback win. Every other time he batted like a tailender. 119 runs in 9 innings. 196 runs in 1 innings. Astonishing.

Future? Under pressure. Another poor summer and the vultures will be circling.

Root 3/10 - Only one innings above 30 all series when it mattered, the 122* in the fourth test which put England in a winning position. Struggled apart from that. Mindset looked all wrong the majority of the time. Also a costly drop against Rohit in one test. Tough winter overall. Was massively overbowled, so I'm not knocking him for that.

Future? It's Joe Root. You don't need to ask that.

Stokes 1/10 - Weighed down by the captaincy. Started the series with a decent 70, then fell away in miserable fashion, averaging below 20. Captaincy was poor for the most part, the biggest error overbowling Root....especially when he gave Root the ball first up trying to defend a low target. Madness. Proved he's no better a captain than Root.

Future? Needs to learn some harsh lessons in captaincy. His place in the team is obviously secure, but questions will start to be asked if he has more poor returns with the bat in the summer.

Foakes 2.5/10 - Keeping was solid. Struggled with the bat, averaging in the low 20s, but offered key support in England's only two century stands of the series, which gives him a little bump up.

Future? Batting like Geraint Jones won't endear him in a side where he sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb. Difficult to see a future.

Bairstow 1/10 - Hopefully the end for the worst ever test cricketer to reach 100 tests. Barely averaged above 20, didn't get a 50 all series. Absolutely nothing of note.

Future? One of the Bazball lads, so if he doesn't retire he'll still be in the team.

Hartley 6/10 - Extremely limited bowler, but did manage a very unlikely 7/62 in England's only win. As much of an outlier as Pope's knock. Was England's leading wicket taker, due to the amount he bowled more than anything else. Little to suggest he'll be anything better than a 35 average test bowler.

Future? Well, England are short of spin options...

Wood 1/10 - Gets a 1 for the one decent spell he bowled. Even that's generous. Went wicketless in 4 of his 5 innings, and averaged nearly 80. A horrific winter and questions have to be asked about his future.

Future? Likely saved because he offers a pace that no other English bowler currently can, but this was a winter from hell for Wood.

Rehan 2/10 - Struggled immensely. 11 wickets @ 44, economy over 4, and did nothing with the bat. Some sympathies because Stokes clearly didn't want him in the team. Root was usually given the ball before Rehan. Left in mysterious circumstances.

Future? Test future clearly in doubt, like Rashid's test career under Root.

Bashir 5/10 - Got a 5 wicket haul, then bizarrely wasn't backed by the captain to lead the defence of the low target. Otherwise struggled. Like Hartley, very limited, but ended up with a respectable haul of wickets.

Future? Might have squeezed ahead in the Bashir/Hartley/Rehan battle, so if Leach isn't fit for the first test of the summer, I think we'll see Bashir.

Anderson 4/10 - Father time closes in. Just 10 wickets @ 33.5, and his economy (though the best of England's regular bowlers) went above 3 as his fabled control mostly vanished. But superb to see him reach 700.

Future? Maybe one more summer?

Leach Unrated - Barely played.

Robinson 0/10 - A disgrace. And his podcast was s**t.

Future? I hope not.

India (in spoilers because they spoiled England's winter)

Spoiler:

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Post by guildfordbat Sat 09 Mar 2024, 4:59 pm

Thanks for your ratings, Duty. I'll review more and reply properly asap but upon initial reading they seem very thorough.

Btw, apologies for forgetting you had also done ratings in the past. No snub intended by only flagging Olly in my last post.


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Post by Duty281 Sun 10 Mar 2024, 1:40 am

You just can't take your eyes off these blokes.

When you think they might finally go quietly into the night, they pour another drink. Next thing you know, there's a full-on rave going on in your front room.

Perhaps we should be used to England challenging our perceptions. They have spent almost two years under Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum subverting the genre of Test cricket.

Nothing can match this. Not just beating an India team who are almost unbeatable at home, but doing so with one spinner on one leg, one spinner who won't be first choice at his county next season, another who is not old enough to qualify for the national minimum wage and one more who wasn't even allowed into the country.

These are not empty words. Belief, positivity and putting a shift in are non-negotiables. When England make a move, it is it with the utmost certainty it will pay off. And if it doesn't pay off, they keep going until it does. Often they have had to roll with the punches, but every time they fall into a bucket of manure, they come up smelling of roses.


Not sure anything has aged worse than Shelmit's words after the first test. Clearly high on the first test win, he seemed to think England were on their way to 5-0. I'm eagerly awaiting his final review/summary of the test series.

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Post by king_carlos Sun 10 Mar 2024, 2:15 am

A good point I heard on a podcast today that I hadn't twigged before. India basically haven't lost a home series since Jadeja and Ashwin came together as a partnership. Jadeja debuted in the drawn final Test of that 2012 series win by England. Since then, India have won every series they've played at home. It really is an astonishing record.

Obviously more has gone into that than those two. India's seam bowlers in that period improved out of sight and they've had many fantastic batters. Having two world class spinners who can bat in Indian conditions has made them as close to unbeatable at home as I can remember a team being though. They have consistently ensured that India pretty much always have a better spin attack, better bowling depth and better batting depth than their opponents going into every Test. It's been happening for so long now that we've come to just accept it as normal. It really isn't though. They are both remarkable cricketers and have complemented one another so well for over a decade now.

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Post by VTR Sun 10 Mar 2024, 8:40 am

Yeah, the batting depth that Jadeja and Ashwin bring just makes them ridiculously hard to get past, there's barely any cheap wickets on offer, and they are relentless with the ball.

Re S Shemlit, does any of his writing age well? The hideous pop culture references are bad enough, but it's always reactionary drivel anyway. A terrible writer who must be holding blackmail photos of someone senior at the BBC

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Post by msp83 Sun 10 Mar 2024, 9:29 am

KP_fan wrote:4-1 it is.
Glass 20% full positive view for Eng would be, they pulled one in their favor and had moments in T2 snd T4 where they were ahead and India on the ground
The glass 80% empty view is somewhere at the mid point of series they got muddled in whether to live to their reputational definition of Bazbal or be seen as taking a backward step and play normal cricket aligned to thr situation.

From that point Eng ended up doing neither correctly.
Last 3 innings were 148, 218 and 195 confirming the effect of muddled thinking.
Not discussed enuf but a significant factor was Eng outbowled by India in seam deptt.

Going forward the test of character will be if Stokes & Mccullum remain in denial and try to fluff their way out with Wordsmithy..
We entertained, we taught them bazbal, DRS killed us , we will still chase down 600 etc...

It's not easy to make a U Turn on a proudly touted principle, and they don't have to do it now and they don't even have to announce it.
Eng need to imbibe the lessons in their tests going forward that it cannot be just one gear machine.
And clear the cobwebs of muddled thinking  they develoed by trying to change approach mid series.

Bashir, Hartley, Crawley are positives.
Root & Duckett go back in balance
Remaining Eng players disappointed.

For India Patidar,  Mukesh, Iyer, Bharat , axar were disappointments.
Jurel, jaiswal, Gill, sarafaraz, Padikal, akashdeep, Rohit, kuldeep were positives ie going with reputation enhanced.
Remaining did OK.

Rohit grew as a captain and coming out of shackles of Dravid's clerical, methodical bookkeeping type approach.

Eng's test season will start sooner and they will have to rethink Bairstow, Foakes, Anderson and Pope's places.
India will write off Axar, Bharat, Patidar for good and Mukesh from home games.
Healthy headaches when Kohli, KL and Pant are back

KPF, in that list, Bumrah is one bowler who's performance couldn't have been classed just OK. He was brilliant throughout the series, even when he at times didn't have too many wickets to show for his efforts. Best seamer across both sides by a country mile. Even chipped in with the bat at crucial points. Had it not been for Jaiswal's absolutely outstanding series, Bumrah would have been my player of the series. Think even Jadeja, can be considered OK, only by his very high standards. Had a pretty decent series for an all-rounder.

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Post by msp83 Sun 10 Mar 2024, 9:42 am

Another fine series win for India, they outclassed, and outlasted England, despite missing key players.
There is great batting hope for the future in Jaiswal, Gill, Padikkal and Sarfaraz. Dhruv Jurel's emergence has made us miss Rishabh Pant just that little less, and now we can forget and move on from both KS Bharat and Ishan Kishan. Kuldeep Yadav's reemergance is a great sign for the future as Ashwin and Jadeja aren't going to be around for ever. And after Mohammad Siraj's test debut 3 years ago, we have at last a quick to hope for and invest in Akash Deep. So not only the scoreline, but a lot more gains for India at the end of it all.

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Post by msp83 Sun 10 Mar 2024, 9:50 am

But there are questions and situations they need to plan for too.
R Ashwin, despite getting back to his wickettaking form, hasn't looked at his best consistently. Even with Jadeja, the body isn't in full agreement mode. Axar Patel is never going to be their replacement. With Kuldeep, there is 1 option for the future beyond the Ash/RJ era. But they'll have to work a lot more with Washi Sundar as the balance that Jadeja can offer with the bat is just unmatched and very hard to find. So more game time for Washington and Shams Mulani with India A. Think Washi should have his IPL moments, but beyond that, for the next couple of years, they should focus on the red ball for him.
Even in the batting department, with Kohli returning, there will be space only for one of KL Rahul/Sarfaraz/Padikkal. The former shouldn't be an automatic pick, and the latter 2 should have more India A opportunities particularly in away games. Hopefully after IPL, they could look for a county opportunity, as both aren't likely to be immediate white ball selections. We may have some tough times for them when they are exposed to SENA countries, but there is enough to invest beyond possible initial frustrations I feel.

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Post by Duty281 Sun 10 Mar 2024, 2:42 pm

https://www.espncricinfo.com/story/ind-vs-eng-brendon-mccullum-when-you-are-exposed-you-know-you-have-to-get-better-1424372
https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/68528077

Encouraging to see McCullum recognise that England were exposed and refinement is required.

Otherwise a lot of non-committal on future squad selection. Atkinson and Potts being talked up as the potential future options that McCullum really likes, and the BBC hinting that Woakes may be overlooked for the summer as England build to the future. I'd hope Woakes isn't overlooked as I think he's arguably the best England have got in England and he can play a part in the 2025 summer v India.

Four months exactly until the start of the home summer. Then it'll be 12 tests spread across five months. England have currently lost 7 out of their last 12 tests and pressure is beginning to build on the leadership for the first time. England should get back to winning ways at home to the West Indies, but if they don't win that series...goodness!

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Post by king_carlos Sun 10 Mar 2024, 3:08 pm

I genuinely think England have recognised when change needs to made as a group. Stokes massively shifted his own batting approach in the Ashes. They became far more willing to bowl dry for periods when needed as that series went on I felt as well. Whilst they obviously moved to Woakes and Wood getting the ball at the most important moments later in the Ashes, moving away from Jimmy and Broad at times.

They lost to a much better team in conditions where they never lose. I don't think it's reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

I'd definitely pick Woakes at home. Even if its, dun dun dun, at the expense of Jimmy. Generally, I like the pace option on the Test wickets England are favouring at home. So if Wood plays then I'd consider trying to get Potts overs. If Atkinson gets chances then pairing him with Woakes and Jimmy seems fairly ideal.

The Windies series should be a comfortable win but that's largely due to their batting. The Windies bowling attack is strong though. Shamar looks like a gem. Roach is a quality seamer. Holder may well play that series given it doesn't coincide with the big T20 franchises. Alzarri Joseph has become a useful supporting act. If Kyle Mayers plays then he's pretty much guaranteed a fifer.

It should be a reasonable test for the batting. I'm still curious about Stokes as a number 3 if Pope's slump continues. Top order options are low on the ground and mostly have far worse F-C numbers than Pope anyway. Bohannon has the next best record by a distance.

Lower middle order options are more interesting and like usual with England, they mostly keep wicket to some extent. I rate Jamie Smith highly and Rew is clearly a talent.

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Post by KP_fan Sun 10 Mar 2024, 4:39 pm

msp83 wrote:But there are questions and situations they need to plan for too.
R Ashwin, despite getting back to his wickettaking form, hasn't looked at his best consistently. Even with Jadeja, the body isn't in full agreement mode. Axar Patel is never going to be their replacement. With Kuldeep, there is 1 option for the future beyond the Ash/RJ era. But they'll have to work a lot more with Washi Sundar as the balance that Jadeja can offer with the bat is just unmatched and very hard to find. So more game time for Washington and Shams Mulani with India A. Think Washi should have his IPL moments, but beyond that, for the next couple of years, they should focus on the red ball for him.
Even in the batting department, with Kohli returning, there will be space only for one of KL Rahul/Sarfaraz/Padikkal. The former shouldn't be an automatic pick, and the latter 2 should have more India A opportunities particularly in away games. Hopefully after IPL, they could look for a county opportunity, as both aren't likely to be immediate white ball selections. We may have some tough times for them when they are exposed to SENA countries, but there is enough to invest beyond possible initial frustrations I feel.

msp, i do note your comment on Bumrah's excellence & agree....was an oversight to omit him from the list of top performers from India
I think on the seam front, Shami should be back by the time we play next tests vs BD, then NZ and then travel to Aus.
Siraj is a blow hot, blow cold bowler.....when cold, he is quite ordinary.......when hot he can blow away oppositions both with new ball and old.
Akashdeep will be the 4th bowler...and Shardul the 5th seamer on tour to Aus
Shardul is having an excellent Ranji final after having cracked a 100 and four wickets in semis.
He made 75 with the bat in a total of 220 on a seaming pitch and has 1 out of 3 fallen wickets.
Dravid will try to squeeze in Mukesh....but I would rather prefer a bowler from the fast bowling contract handed out...between Yash Dayal and one of Karnataka duo

I don't think Indians should carry Ashwin on tours to SENA anymore......it's gotta be jadeja, Washington and Kuldeep.
I do agree with you, they've gotta make Washington play more red ball cricket, esp on A tours.

Finally Jaiswal, Sarfaraz, Padikal , Jurel all will be tested when touring Aus.
I think Padikal has best technique of all of these....a left handed version of KL Rahul I think.
Pant should be played as a specialist batter even if getting back to WK is taking some time.

If Ind fail to win the world cup,I think Dravid will be removed as coach and in any case whether win or lose, this is last world cup for Rohot and Kohli.
So no Dravid means , pathetic choices like Mukesh & Bharat cannot be pushed in just because they have sequential entries in Dravid's book of clerical records



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Post by msp83 Sun 10 Mar 2024, 7:55 pm

Dravid gave a shout out to the selection committee led by Ajit Agarkar. Think that is a fine call indeed from the coach. The selectors often get the stick over here and elsewherem but they've done a pretty decent job overall. Upendra Yadav has been the India A regular wicketkeeper in the last few years with Jurel just getting a look in only now. The selectors though, didn't go by conventional pecking order and instead went for Jurel that proved to be a very fine call. Even when Kohli had to pull out in the last moment and then KL and then Jadeja got injured, and even though he was in the middle of a decent Ranji campaign, the selectors didn't go back to Cheteshwar Pujara, or even Ajinkya Rahane, who in any case didn't help himself. They took the tough call with Shreyas Iyer and rightfully didn't factor in his recent white ball form. Calling up Akash Deep was another good call, I'd have looked at Unadkat or Umesh or Shardul... Sarfaraz selection was forced by the man himself and circumstances, Padikkal's was well timed I felt. Considering all that, and the appearance of a decent backfoot game makes me believe Patidar may not be quite done yet, though it will be upon him to get back to the front of the queue now...

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Post by Good Golly I'm Olly Sun 10 Mar 2024, 10:18 pm

My winners and losers of this series piece will drop tomorrow
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Post by KP_fan Mon 11 Mar 2024, 8:03 am

msp83 wrote:Dravid gave a shout out to the selection committee led by Ajit Agarkar. Think that is a fine call indeed from the coach. The selectors often get the stick over here and elsewherem but they've done a pretty decent job overall. Upendra Yadav has been the India A regular wicketkeeper in the last few years with Jurel just getting a look in only now. The selectors though, didn't go by conventional pecking order and instead went for Jurel that proved to be a very fine call. Even when Kohli had to pull out in the last moment and then KL and then Jadeja got injured, and even though he was in the middle of a decent Ranji campaign, the selectors didn't go back to Cheteshwar Pujara, or even Ajinkya Rahane, who in any case didn't help himself. They took the tough call with Shreyas Iyer and rightfully didn't factor in his recent white ball form. Calling up Akash Deep was another good call, I'd have looked at Unadkat or Umesh or Shardul... Sarfaraz selection was forced by the man himself and circumstances, Padikkal's was well timed I felt. Considering all that, and the appearance of a decent backfoot game makes me believe Patidar may not be quite  done yet, though it will be upon him to get back to the front of the queue now...

Jurel was in India-A vs Lions as was Akashdeep against all of Lions ganmes
Dravid's clerical handbook of procedures, sequences mannerisms make him more suited to being Ind-A coach , NCA head or batting coach.
His mental framework is too rigid and bureaucratic to adapt to situation or talent based judgement calls.
Every other debutant showed what Patodar is lacking i.e temperament at top level, he freezes.

Dravid still tried to sneak him in as he did him for one test too many and Bharat-the-useless too tests too many
I think Rohit becoming increasingly confident and game aware as captain in tests overuled Dravid.

Dravid will survive only if India make it to the finals at least of the world cup.
Else in Dravid's book of clerical procedures, VVSL who he probably deems his junior, a bit less than himself but a "good chap" as the next name penned in to be the India coach as he has done Ind-A and NCA

VVSL will be more of same as Dravid I fear.
I hope Shastri could be brought back until the next world cup
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Post by Good Golly I'm Olly Mon 11 Mar 2024, 11:59 am

Good Golly I'm Olly wrote:My winners and losers of this series piece will drop tomorrow

Main winner: Duty281 - finally getting the opportunity to drop those pre written anti McCullum/Stokes posts.
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Post by Duty281 Mon 11 Mar 2024, 12:50 pm

Good Golly I'm Olly wrote:
Good Golly I'm Olly wrote:My winners and losers of this series piece will drop tomorrow

Main winner: Duty281 - finally getting the opportunity to drop those pre written anti McCullum/Stokes posts.

A fantastic honour. I choose my victory song to be an AI rendition of Jeremy Clarkson singing Angels, to embrace the modern world in which we find ourselves in.

Spoiler:

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Post by Duty281 Mon 11 Mar 2024, 12:54 pm

VTR wrote:Yeah, the batting depth that Jadeja and Ashwin bring just makes them ridiculously hard to get past, there's barely any cheap wickets on offer, and they are relentless with the ball.

Re S Shemlit, does any of his writing age well? The hideous pop culture references are bad enough, but it's always reactionary drivel anyway. A terrible writer who must be holding blackmail photos of someone senior at the BBC

He must have read this, because his latest piece has references to The Lion King, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Friends, The Office, Sherlock, and Line of Duty.

I've heard of getting paid by the word. He seems to get paid by the reference.

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Post by VTR Mon 11 Mar 2024, 1:31 pm

Ha, I saw that and didn't get past the first paragraph, which was a new low

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Post by alfie Wed 13 Mar 2024, 6:16 am

Almost glad to have been away for the later part of that Test Match...and definitely happy not to have read Duty's predictable gloating pile of manure tipped on the team in the immediate aftermath of the game Smile : keeping injury and insult some time apart gives at least some relief in a time of extreme disappointment.
Will however have something to say in response to some of his more outrageous overstatements when I get around to it.

Honestly , KP_fan  : I can assure you and anyone else wondering that my advance congrats were sincere and not an attempted jinx : I am not averse to trying the old Trebell tactic ; but on this occasion I was under no illusions where the game was heading . I can recognize very reliably when a team is broken ; and it was obvious on Thursday night that England had finally lost all belief. . Not that they were going to stop trying - I saw from reports that they actually put up a bit of a battle with the ball on day two - but the mental resilience they have generally shown over the past couple of years was gone and so the eventual result was indeed written in stone.
But in any case I should further congratulate your fellows for their excellent performance over these five matches . They didn't allow the surprise defeat in Hyderabad or the absence of some senior players to get them down ; and their efforts to wrest back that 4th Test from a very difficult position late on the second day were quite outstanding. This last match might have been a bit more like shooting fish in a barrel but they'd earned that by the relentless manner in which they had ground England down over previous weeks. Is that 17 straight wins in home series now ? Expect more to follow thumbsup


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Post by alfie Wed 13 Mar 2024, 7:12 am

Better get right to answering Duty's bucket of slops (among which I do willingly concede there were some sensible points )

But :

"Most arrogant team " ?  Nothing arrogant from Stokes or McCullum about it : they freely admit they've been outplayed by a better team. In fact I'd challenge you to find anything Stokes has said that displays arrogance : confidence , belief , yes. But that is quite a different thing. Of course if you want to take the nonsense remarks of Ben Duckett seriously (why do they let him loose at a press conference ?!) then I can sort of see where you are coming from Smile

Luckiest ?  Well I guess you can selectively pick bits out of games and find evidence that England have enjoyed some breaks of good fortune which contributed to favourable results. But you could probably say that of any team if you want to look hard enough : cricket is a sport in which very tiny moments can have a huge impact on the overall outcome. And since we can never say with complete certainty what "would have happened if" it is impossible to be sure whether any single incident would have changed a result...
Oh , actually there was one clear case : in that second NZ Test . Had the umpire called Wagner's penultimate delivery "wide" (as most observers and the video strongly indicate he should have done ) the match would have finished in no worse than a tie so England would have won the series. (Not suggesting that this means they are "unlucky" : just there for some balance Whistle

Did Stokes , or McCullum , or anyone on here , ever suggest that England were the best team around at the moment ? If they did I must have missed it. They had plenty to be proud about with their success over the home summer of '22 and the Pakistan tour ; but the next aims were to win back the Ashes - which they failed to do , even if their come back from 2 down was an impressive demonstration of resilience - and then to mix it with India on their home grounds. And obviously they again came up short - rather more definitively this time. And no-one is denying that  - certainly not the coach and the skipper.

As for your final "straw man " : there is no "Bazball Cult" . The media created the term and we are stuck with it as an almost unavoidable shorthand ; but the change brought about in this England outfit was essentially one of focusing primarily on the process rather than the result of each action : removing fear of failure and allowing players to express themselves through playing to their own individual strengths. Now obviously this approach has to allow room for adjustments in order to progress - and it is fair to say that they have not always made the necessary such adjustments at important moments. So not perfect : but again , no one said it was. Whatever you want to call "it" , the term "work in progress" is apt and I think most inside and outside the camp recognize that perfectly well.

As to the suggestion that the team has (a) not improved since Stokes etc took over ; and (b) "might have actually regressed " : I  think I will just present the facts :

23 matches Stokes/McCullum to date  :  won 14 lost 8 drawn 1
23 matches ending similarly with the final game in India 2021 under the previous regime :  won 11 lost 8 drawn 4.

So the new group is 3 wins ahead in the only measure that isn't subject to interpretation.

But the more important matter is that , unfortunately , that Indian series caused Joe Root's side to slip into a death spiral that led to the next 14 games bringing just 1 win , 8 defeats and 5 draws. If you are really going to suggest the current situation is akin to that there is not much I can say...

Of course , it is possible that the shock of this desperately disappointing finish to a tour that began with such high hopes after the initial surprise success will cause this team also to fall off a cliff and go backwards fast. In which case you could fairly claim the last laugh ...  But I don't think it will happen and I suspect you don't either. Guess we will have to wait until at least July , no ?

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Post by alfie Wed 13 Mar 2024, 7:29 am

Had to get that lot off my chest before getting to any further comments on the recently concluded series and the prospects for the future. I do wish to stress that I have no quarrel with Duty's right to express his (typically forthright !) opinions : but I can't stand by and let some of those go unchallenged ! I don't expect we will be agreeing on any of the above matters anytime soon...
Spoiler warning : will have another sizeable bone to pick on some related comments shortly but I've done enough ranting for one day.

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Post by Duty281 Wed 13 Mar 2024, 9:29 am

alfie wrote:Better get right to answering Duty's bucket of slops (among which I do willingly concede there were some sensible points )

But :

"Most arrogant team " ?  Nothing arrogant from Stokes or McCullum about it : they freely admit they've been outplayed by a better team. In fact I'd challenge you to find anything Stokes has said that displays arrogance : confidence , belief , yes. But that is quite a different thing. Of course if you want to take the nonsense remarks of Ben Duckett seriously (why do they let him loose at a press conference ?!) then I can sort of see where you are coming from Smile

Luckiest ?  Well I guess you can selectively pick bits out of games and find evidence that England have enjoyed some breaks of good fortune which contributed to favourable results. But you could probably say that of any team if you want to look hard enough : cricket is a sport in which very tiny moments can have a huge impact on the overall outcome. And since we can never say with complete certainty what "would have happened if" it is impossible to be sure whether any single incident would have changed a result...
Oh , actually there was one clear case : in that second NZ Test . Had the umpire called Wagner's penultimate delivery "wide" (as most observers and the video strongly indicate he should have done ) the match would have finished in no worse than a tie so England would have won the series. (Not suggesting that this means they are "unlucky" : just there for some balance  Whistle

Did Stokes , or McCullum , or anyone on here , ever suggest that England were the best team around at the moment ? If they did I must have missed it. They had plenty to be proud about with their success over the home summer of '22 and the Pakistan tour ; but the next aims were to win back the Ashes - which they failed to do , even if their come back from 2 down was an impressive demonstration of resilience - and then to mix it with India on their home grounds. And obviously they again came up short - rather more definitively this time. And no-one is denying that  - certainly not the coach and the skipper.

As for your final "straw man " : there is no "Bazball Cult" . The media created the term and we are stuck with it as an almost unavoidable shorthand ; but the change brought about in this England outfit was essentially one of focusing primarily on the process rather than the result of each action : removing fear of failure and allowing players to express themselves through playing to their own individual strengths. Now obviously this approach has to allow room for adjustments in order to progress - and it is fair to say that they have not always made the necessary such adjustments at important moments. So not perfect : but again , no one said it was. Whatever you want to call "it" , the term "work in progress" is apt and I think most inside and outside the camp recognize that perfectly well.

As to the suggestion that the team has (a) not improved since Stokes etc took over ; and (b) "might have actually regressed " : I  think I will just present the facts :

23 matches Stokes/McCullum to date  :  won 14 lost 8 drawn 1
23 matches ending similarly with the final game in India 2021 under the previous regime :  won 11 lost 8 drawn 4.

So the new group is 3 wins ahead in the only measure that isn't subject to interpretation.

But the more important matter is that , unfortunately , that Indian series caused Joe Root's side to slip into a death spiral that led to the next 14 games bringing just 1 win , 8 defeats and 5 draws. If you are really going to suggest the current situation is akin to that there is not much I can say...

Of course , it is possible that the shock of this desperately disappointing finish to a tour that began with such high hopes after the initial surprise success will cause this team also to fall off a cliff and go backwards fast. In which case you could fairly claim the last laugh ...  But I don't think it will happen and I suspect you don't either. Guess we will have to wait until at least July , no ?

I said arrogant team as a whole, not Stokes as an individual, though Stokes has probably said arrogant things and he obviously endorses the arrogant nonsense trotted out at interview. Whether that's Trescothick laughably claiming that England won't study India too much, because England are 'a very unique side'; Crawley claiming England would win by 150 runs at Lord's and then getting smashed; or Duckett's line of the more they make the better, as England lost by a record-breaking margin. Sheer arrogance from a team that, with six losses in their last ten, and needing a wealth of opposition absentees to even have a record that good, are nothing special.

Luckiest - absolutely. Whether it's De Grandhomme or Jamieson breaking down mid way through tests, or Lyon getting a freakish injury and saving England from a series loss, or facing an India side missing several key players.

There is absolutely a Bazball cult. These are the people, whether fans or journalists, who reinvent history to make England of today seem better than they are, ignore context, won't stand to hear criticism of the new regime, and believe the new regime has made England better off (which manifestly isn't so).

Your comparison is from the 3rd Ashes test of 2019 to the end of India 2021, I think. That's another interpretative measure, because team strengths aren't the same and such. Also, two of those games against Pakistan were rained off, with England in good positions in both, so it might have been 13 wins.

Here's a much simpler comparison:

England 2-2 Australia in 2019; 2-2 in 2023. England 1-3 India in 2021; 1-4 in 2024 (one extra test played). No amount of hiding can cover that one up. Add in Australia and India being weaker entities in the latter series due to injury.

The India series didn't cause Root's side to slip into a death spiral. The fixture list did. Right after that, England had to play NZ (when they were the best) and then India again, before touring Australia, the toughest place in the world. What Root didn't get after India was a chance to pad the record with a nice home series against the West Indies and then Sri Lanka. I'm sure he would have loved that.

I'm not sure what you mean by 'the last laugh'. As I've said, my main point is that Stokes/McCullum haven't brought the team forward (so far). This means I still think England are feasibly the 'best of the rest', but outside the top table, as demonstrated by losing six out of ten v the top table, which is where they've been for most of the past decade. I expect England to beat West Indies and Sri Lanka in the home series coming up. If they don't win both series then it's a catastrophe (barring successive weather interruptions forcing draws).

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Post by king_carlos Wed 13 Mar 2024, 3:12 pm

I find Bazball one of the most fascinating examples of, "build 'em, tear 'em down", by the British media.

The team themselves hate the term. So many of the quotes used against the team feel taken out of context too. I've heard quite a few journalists in India state that Duckett seems very tongue in cheek with his comments this tour, but they don't then translate that into writing as presenting it as intended seriously creates easy copy. Sad, but it is the case.

Then there is of course the fact that many professional sportsmen simply aren't that bright. Robinson basically being a sentient statue to stupidity for instance. Sportsman saying dumb things isn't a new phenomenon under this coaching setup. It just feels that dissecting it so much is. Crawley's, "win by 150 runs", bit was dumb but really no dumber than McGrath's 5-0 schtick before every series that got boring a couple of decades ago. Steve Waugh's, "mental disintegration", bulls**t was just a pompous way of justifying a team packed with players often behaved like prime s****bags. Sportsman saying dumb stuff is as old as sport. There's just become an odd fascination with it around this side.

Like with the Stokes, "saving Test cricket", line. Which in context seemed like a prominent player acknowledging that Test cricket was struggling in many parts of the world and that having more variety in how teams approached the game might engage some folk who weren't engaged or had drifted away. Which I liked. I think it's an interesting discussion in a sport that last 5 days. I love this game but it is an anachronism of bygone time. As diehard fans I sometimes think we can trick ourselves into connecting results with the game being engaging when we look back. The Flower-Strauss era was wildly successful but there were series in there that I certainly don't remember family members being that engaged in. Back when they were cleaning up Ashes series at home we had a Sky subscription but my father, who's love of game brought me to it, would often just follow intermittently via text updates. Batting time, bowling dry, then striking when things perfectly favour it is mightily effective but it isn't as engaging for many. By contrast, my dad was glued to the latest Ashes once again despite not having Sky. He followed it avidly via radio, highlights and written reports. Several friends who were only occasional bystanders to the sport were glued in this summer too. That doesn't mean that all teams should play as they are. Nor that no teams should play like Flower-Strauss' side. I do think it's an interesting discussion about our odd sport. It initially thrived in no small part as punters could occupy days at a time with a single hobby. As the world has changed, that is completely at odds with how most now live. As with most things now it was presented in a polarising manner though. You were with it or against it. It's a cult. Then many of the same people who presented it that way are feasting off the polarisation.

So much of the dialogue around this side feels like it was created by media hyperbole, then the same writers got incredibly angry about their own creation. I imagine the next stage will be those writers getting angry about the anger at their creation. Having encouraged people to get overexcited, then told them to angry at the overexcitement. Very much, "look at the consequence of our own actions, who's fault might that be", on the part of many in cricket media.

It's selective to refer to teams as better or worse as well. Australia lost Lyon to injury. Khawaja and Head are massively improved performers compared to 2019 though. Khawaja has been the best opener in Tests since his recall. Head has gone from unable to play seam around the wicket and lost against all spin to an absolute gun who has scored match winning knocks in the WTC final, successive Ashes and the CWC final. Their batting was far better than 2019. Paine was a passenger then. Marnus yet to debut.

England also had Stokes able to bowl (huge) and Jof available in 2019. They lost Leach and Pope mid-series. Whilst bowlers have suffered mid-Test injuries under Stokes that England weathered well. Yet the bad luck they've had under McCullum is very conveniently ignored in your summaries whilst the good luck is highlighted, Duty.

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Post by GSC Wed 13 Mar 2024, 3:36 pm

I think equating 2-2 across the two series is rather generous too. Even in tone, England generally outplayed in 2021 before rescuing a draw in a dead rubber. 2023 was much more competitive with I think on paper probably a worse team (against a newly crowned world champion Aussie team no less)
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Post by Duty281 Wed 13 Mar 2024, 3:50 pm

GSC wrote:I think equating 2-2 across the two series is rather generous too. Even in tone, England generally outplayed in 2021 before rescuing a draw in a dead rubber. 2023 was much more competitive with I think on paper probably a worse team (against a newly crowned world champion Aussie team no less)

England rescued a series draw in 2023 in a dead rubber, the same as 2019. 2023 only became competitive because of Lyon's injury, otherwise England were heading for a hammering. In 2019, England should have been 2-1 up after three, but for weather.

I really don't think, also, that the 2023 team was worse than 2019 on paper.

2019 Ashes 1st test team - Burns, Roy, Root, Denly, Buttler, Stokes, Bairstow, Moeen, Woakes, Broad, Anderson.
2023 - Crawley, Duckett, Pope, Root, Brook, Stokes, Bairstow, Moeen, Broad, Robinson, Anderson.

I'm taking that 2023 top seven every day of the week over the 2019 vintage. Not much difference in the bowling. Just goes to show Root working with inferior resources, yet still managing the same results as Stokes.

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Post by Duty281 Wed 13 Mar 2024, 3:59 pm

king_carlos wrote:I find Bazball one of the most fascinating examples of, "build 'em, tear 'em down", by the British media.

The team themselves hate the term. So many of the quotes used against the team feel taken out of context too. I've heard quite a few journalists in India state that Duckett seems very tongue in cheek with his comments this tour, but they don't then translate that into writing as presenting it as intended seriously creates easy copy. Sad, but it is the case.

Then there is of course the fact that many professional sportsmen simply aren't that bright. Robinson basically being a sentient statue to stupidity for instance. Sportsman saying dumb things isn't a new phenomenon under this coaching setup. It just feels that dissecting it so much is. Crawley's, "win by 150 runs", bit was dumb but really no dumber than McGrath's 5-0 schtick before every series that got boring a couple of decades ago. Steve Waugh's, "mental disintegration", bulls**t was just a pompous way of justifying a team packed with players often behaved like prime s****bags. Sportsman saying dumb stuff is as old as sport. There's just become an odd fascination with it around this side.

Like with the Stokes, "saving Test cricket", line. Which in context seemed like a prominent player acknowledging that Test cricket was struggling in many parts of the world and that having more variety in how teams approached the game might engage some folk who weren't engaged or had drifted away. Which I liked. I think it's an interesting discussion in a sport that last 5 days. I love this game but it is an anachronism of bygone time. As diehard fans I sometimes think we can trick ourselves into connecting results with the game being engaging when we look back. The Flower-Strauss era was wildly successful but there were series in there that I certainly don't remember family members being that engaged in. Back when they were cleaning up Ashes series at home we had a Sky subscription but my father, who's love of game brought me to it, would often just follow intermittently via text updates. Batting time, bowling dry, then striking when things perfectly favour it is mightily effective but it isn't as engaging for many. By contrast, my dad was glued to the latest Ashes once again despite not having Sky. He followed it avidly via radio, highlights and written reports. Several friends who were only occasional bystanders to the sport were glued in this summer too. That doesn't mean that all teams should play as they are. Nor that no teams should play like Flower-Strauss' side. I do think it's an interesting discussion about our odd sport. It initially thrived in no small part as punters could occupy days at a time with a single hobby. As the world has changed, that is completely at odds with how most now live. As with most things now it was presented in a polarising manner though. You were with it or against it. It's a cult. Then many of the same people who presented it that way are feasting off the polarisation.

So much of the dialogue around this side feels like it was created by media hyperbole, then the same writers got incredibly angry about their own creation. I imagine the next stage will be those writers getting angry about the anger at their creation. Having encouraged people to get overexcited, then told them to angry at the overexcitement. Very much, "look at the consequence of our own actions, who's fault might that be", on the part of many in cricket media.

It's selective to refer to teams as better or worse as well. Australia lost Lyon to injury. Khawaja and Head are massively improved performers compared to 2019 though. Khawaja has been the best opener in Tests since his recall. Head has gone from unable to play seam around the wicket and lost against all spin to an absolute gun who has scored match winning knocks in the WTC final, successive Ashes and the CWC final. Their batting was far better than 2019. Paine was a passenger then. Marnus yet to debut.

England also had Stokes able to bowl (huge) and Jof available in 2019. They lost Leach and Pope mid-series. Whilst bowlers have suffered mid-Test injuries under Stokes that England weathered well. Yet the bad luck they've had under McCullum is very conveniently ignored in your summaries whilst the good luck is highlighted, Duty.

Steve Waugh's mental disintegration stuff was clever though, and it was a fair comment because he was in the most dominant team at the time.

I haven't seen many writers angry at the England team. They all seem to believe in the Bazball cult. They keep reiterating the same line, of definite improvements under Stokes/McCullum. If they keep saying it they might believe it!

I've said with regards to Australia that it's all arguable. I think Australia were weaker in 2023 after Lyon's injury, but there's room for disagreement on this front. No such room with regards to India.

Agree there's room for all styles. Bazball brings in more viewers than Flowerball, that's undeniable.

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Post by Good Golly I'm Olly Wed 13 Mar 2024, 4:37 pm

Very sad news that Harry Brook's grandmother (by sounds of it, one of if not the most influential family member of his upbringing) passed away - the reason Brook left the tour to be with her in her dying days, and the reason he has since pulled out the IPL to mourn her passing with his family.

Hope he can be left in piece by the media, and be in a good place again to play come the English summer.
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Post by king_carlos Wed 13 Mar 2024, 5:10 pm

Duty281 wrote:Steve Waugh's mental disintegration stuff was clever though, and it was a fair comment because he was in the most dominant team at the time.

I haven't seen many writers angry at the England team. They all seem to believe in the Bazball cult. They keep reiterating the same line, of definite improvements under Stokes/McCullum. If they keep saying it they might believe it!

I've said with regards to Australia that it's all arguable. I think Australia were weaker in 2023 after Lyon's injury, but there's room for disagreement on this front. No such room with regards to India.

Agree there's room for all styles. Bazball brings in more viewers than Flowerball, that's undeniable.
We must be reading and listening to different folk then. Dobell has been extremely critical of this side, especially McCullum as a coach. Barney Ronay coined the cult thing I believe. Scyld Berry went full weather gauge with his, "worst shot in history of English cricket", bit. The TGC boys have spent about a year now feasting on jokes about being told this team are great whilst half of them average just over 30. Geoff Lemon repeatedly went in on elements of their strategies throughout the Ashes.

There have been things that have definitely improved though. They are getting more out of extremely flawed batting options. Lest we forget extras being our second best batter. They've been getting far more from their spinners. I think this team is much better at chipping away with regular wickets when conditions aren't favouring them. They've made multiple 4th innings totals that the previous setup would've w***ed off a leper to have in the 1st innings.

There are clear elements of improvement. Drawing the Ashes against a good Aussie side whilst having a dominant position rained off and losing to a team who are basically unbeatable at home doesn't extinguish that. Other teams are allowed to be good. Neither should other teams being good excuse mistakes that can be learnt from. Which I'm hoping to see over the coming summer and winter when there should be a natural evolution away from guys that are aging out.

On the mental disintegration stuff. I really don't think it was that clever. It was mainly guys hurling personal insults at the opposition and most in the game turning a blind eye to it because they were very good at cricket. Being dominant doesn't make McGrath saying things like, "How does Brian Lara's d**k taste?", to young Windies players clever. It's just as dumb as anything England have come out with recently. McGrath was just really good at bowling, so it was overlooked.

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Post by KP_fan Thu 14 Mar 2024, 6:33 am

Good Golly I'm Olly wrote:Very sad news that Harry Brook's grandmother (by sounds of it, one of if not the most influential family member of his upbringing) passed away - the reason Brook left the tour to be with her in her dying days, and the reason he has since pulled out the IPL to mourn her passing with his family.

Hope he can be left in piece by the media, and be in a good place again to play come the English summer.

I read the statement and was surprised by the elaborate length of it and timing.
Perhaps his media / commercial managers advised him to issue.
I wish he gets closure over this sad incident and is able to move on to playing cricket when English FC season starts
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Post by Duty281 Thu 14 Mar 2024, 10:56 am

king_carlos wrote:
Duty281 wrote:Steve Waugh's mental disintegration stuff was clever though, and it was a fair comment because he was in the most dominant team at the time.

I haven't seen many writers angry at the England team. They all seem to believe in the Bazball cult. They keep reiterating the same line, of definite improvements under Stokes/McCullum. If they keep saying it they might believe it!

I've said with regards to Australia that it's all arguable. I think Australia were weaker in 2023 after Lyon's injury, but there's room for disagreement on this front. No such room with regards to India.

Agree there's room for all styles. Bazball brings in more viewers than Flowerball, that's undeniable.
We must be reading and listening to different folk then. Dobell has been extremely critical of this side, especially McCullum as a coach. Barney Ronay coined the cult thing I believe. Scyld Berry went full weather gauge with his, "worst shot in history of English cricket", bit. The TGC boys have spent about a year now feasting on jokes about being told this team are great whilst half of them average just over 30. Geoff Lemon repeatedly went in on elements of their strategies throughout the Ashes.

There have been things that have definitely improved though. They are getting more out of extremely flawed batting options. Lest we forget extras being our second best batter. They've been getting far more from their spinners. I think this team is much better at chipping away with regular wickets when conditions aren't favouring them. They've made multiple 4th innings totals that the previous setup would've w***ed off a leper to have in the 1st innings.

There are clear elements of improvement. Drawing the Ashes against a good Aussie side whilst having a dominant position rained off and losing to a team who are basically unbeatable at home doesn't extinguish that. Other teams are allowed to be good. Neither should other teams being good excuse mistakes that can be learnt from. Which I'm hoping to see over the coming summer and winter when there should be a natural evolution away from guys that are aging out.

On the mental disintegration stuff. I really don't think it was that clever. It was mainly guys hurling personal insults at the opposition and most in the game turning a blind eye to it because they were very good at cricket. Being dominant doesn't make McGrath saying things like, "How does Brian Lara's d**k taste?", to young Windies players clever. It's just as dumb as anything England have come out with recently. McGrath was just really good at bowling, so it was overlooked.

Which two series are you describing? Because that's a summary of the 2019 Ashes and 2021 tour to India, as well as the 2023 Ashes and 2024 tour to India!

Although, as we know, the 2024 tour to India was worse than the 2021 tour to India. India this year with a lot of absentees, but still managed to destroy England, and England were unable to thrash India by 200+ runs, as they did in 2021.

Was unaware that Dobell had criticised England to that extent, good stuff from him. Berry, after the series defeat, has still lauded Stokes as level with Brearley in the captaincy stakes.

England are, on the face of it, getting more out of their batting options. But it must be remembered that the pitches have been flattened at home since 2022, plus the Dukes balls have been duds for the last couple of years, as well as the flat wickets England have played on in NZ, Pak and recently in India (with no spinning lottery pitches present). So batting conditions have been certainly easier for England in recent times.

Have England been getting more from their spinners? Leach's bowling average has gone up 7 under Stokes. A nearly 30 average bowler under Root is now a nearly 40 average bowler under Stokes. This is related to those better batting conditions, of course, but I'm not sure it accounts for all of a 7 run increase.

They've made some good chases, certainly, but usually on flat wickets, against dud Dukes balls and (sometimes) with the opposition a man down. England under Root also made some top quality chases.

I think McGrath's sledge - either a crude insult or a genuine expression of bi-curiosity - isn't the best example of mental disintegration. Besides, it was met with a brilliant riposte. Here's a better example:

The first of those monster knocks came in England’s final warm-up before the Gabba Test — while Love was playing for Queensland.

Boasting an experienced batting line-up, the Bulls piled on the runs for two days as Vaughan and his England teammates wilted under a hot Queensland sun.

And then Steve Waugh, and the rest of the Australian team, emerged at the boundary rope and sat down to watch Vaughan and his team fumble their way around Allan Border Field — with no solution to their Love problem.

Vaughan’s heart sank at the sight of his opposing skipper doing laps of the ground with his team.

“And I remember being out in the field — they’d kept us out in the field for a day and a half — and Steve Waugh decided to bring his Australian team to the ground to have their press conference,” Vaughan said on his BBC 5Live podcast with former England teammate Phil Tufnell.

“We were out there, mid-afternoon on the second day and Steve just walked his team the whole way around the boundary as if to say ‘if you’re spending a day and a half in the field against that lot, just look what you’re going to be playing against next week’.

“I’ve never seen an England team with frightened eyes like it.”

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Post by Pal Joey Thu 14 Mar 2024, 11:56 am

That sounds like torture, Duty. Smile

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Post by king_carlos Thu 14 Mar 2024, 5:01 pm

I was describing the recent two series there.

India had absentees but England had Stokes able to bowl and Jof available in the last India series. This one also had Bumrah producing possibly the best fast bowling I've seen in India and Kuldeep 2.0 who was absolutely fantastic. Plus Jaiswal is an absolute gun. It's a fantastic side at home.

In 2021, England weren't in the three Tests after their win. Whereas here they had genuine chances in T2 and T4. If we disregard that and purely take results, then I guess 2021 was marginally better. It feels like a simplification. I was certainly more engaged here and felt like it was a series England were competing in more often.

It's splitting hairs. No one expected England to do well on either tour.

Some pitches have been flat during Bazball but England bowl on the same decks and repeatedly took 20 wickets on them. I struggle to see the previous batting unit and approach forcing wins in some of those conditions.

It doesn't have to be a black and white line of this side or the previous, with the cult or against the cult. It's so tedious. It's possible for the tactics to have improved some areas but improvement still be needed in others. There can be shades of grey. I think that the impact of covid on the Silverwood-Root setup is frequently understated for instance. It isn't popular to sympathise with millionaire sportsman, but the amount of time some of the England players spent in bubbles for the sole purpose of upholding broadcast deals was grim. I also think they played some really abysmal cricket whilst that was impacting them. It can be both. It doesn't have to be with or against.

Under the previous regime, spin was very much an, "if we have to", aspect. I think this setup has been far better at utilising spinners, yes. 5-fers from Rehan, Hartley, Bashir and Jacks in that time. Plus Leach getting better when conditions weren't with him. I think they've been better at getting the most from limited resources in that regard.

Back to the more distant past. That's a fun and well trod story, but it's also nothing to do with the Australia side then winning the Ashes. They won because they were the best or second best cricket team ever, against an England team with far less talent who infamously had a setup at the time that was hilariously amateur. Then the mental disintegration nonsense gets looked back on as clever and part of the success because they won a lot. They won because they were good at cricket.

Similar but in reverse here. England haven't lost because Ben Duckett says silly things tongue in cheek. They lost because if you had to design a F-C system that wouldn't create many spinners or batters that can play spin, it would basically be the one we have. Then they travelled to a country where spin decides games to play 5 Tests against a team who never lose. They got hammered because they weren't as good at cricket. Then the silly quotes get obsessed over as part of the reason. When it really isn't. It isn't when teams are good and it isn't when they are bad. It's just fluff. It's meaningless.

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Post by alfie Fri 15 Mar 2024, 7:35 am

Ah well I said I didn't expect Duty to agree with me Smile

Think KC has already provided effective counters to most of the arguments that Duty puts up in order to somehow bolster his highly subjective assertions. So not much need for me to repeat myself. It does sometimes seem that Duty's apparent regard for Donald Trump - see the politics thread - has led him into the belief that stating anything emphatically and often somehow turns it into a Fact : I think what we are really seeing here is very different opinions...and that is fine by me . Each to his own...

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Post by alfie Fri 15 Mar 2024, 8:36 am

Will have to start another minor war though (just to clear up some stuff before getting round to discussing team prospects for the future - plenty of time for that before the next Test !)

OK :  I don't largely disagree with any of Duty's player ratings for this series (I never take much notice of numerical ratings as they are too blunt an instrument and too dependant on the prejudices of the observer) because as comparisons one with another they seem reasonable enough ; and the attached comments mostly seem fair - or at least not too unfair.

But : Included in this was about the third reference to Bairstow as "the worst cricketer to reach 100 Tests" - along with a repeated hope that this was his last Test. Now I know Duty has little regard for Jonny so perhaps shouldn't be surprised . And obviously , he is just coming off a thoroughly disappointing series with the bat - which may well see him struggling to keep his spot in the Test side. Which is slightly ironic coming after previous seasons averaging over 60 and the a post-injury 40 in an Ashes series - but that's the way it goes sometimes. As an aside : I honestly find it odd that quite a large number of England supporters seem to actively dislike him ? Not sure why but he gets more online crap than anyone since Ian Bell - with the possible exception of Moeen ; who was coincidentally another of Duty's regular targets . If Jonny really does pack it in , Pope better watch his step as he will probably be next in the gun Smile

Anyway I would have let an initial post , suggesting that unlike Ashwin and the Kiwi pair , Jonny didn't really deserve to be in such exalted company , pass without comment. Though it seemed a rather snarky remark to make on the occasion of a player reaching a significant milestone : a bit like describing someone as "the least deserving Olympic Medallist " ; or "the most untalented Tennis player to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals"  Smile

It was the repetition that annoyed me. So I did a bit of digging...

80 players have now reached the 100 test mark. A lot of them are certainly ATGs ; and no one is suggesting YJB is in that category. But "certainly worst " ?

Carl Hooper (WI) averages almost exactly the same as Bairstow with the bat.(36.4). He also bowled , of course. Took 114 wickets : but they cost him 49.5 each...
Among England players there are some wonderful records : Cook , Pietersen , Root , Bell just among those the younger fans on here will remember. But also Mike Atherton (who I rather admired ; but averaged 37.7 . Didn't keep wicket.)

Probably should look at wicket keepers (apples with apples , eh ? Well Sangakkara stands supreme , for sure. But looking at others  : Ian Healy , highly regarded in Australia for good reason , averaged 27. Rod Marsh didn't quite make 100 tests but averaged less anyway. SA icon Mark Boucher averaged 30. Indian star MS Dhoni with 38 only a fraction more than Bairstow's average (when playing as keeper) of 37.6.

And that average is also surpassed by only two other keepers in English history , by the way. (Matt Prior and Les Ames - both 40) Which means Alec Stewart - another hundred club man - has an inferior batting record as keeper (34.9) Also , to my surprise , I found Stewart , while having an overall average of 39.5 , actually has inferior figures to Bairstow's in Ashes cricket , both home and away...

Now does this all mean Jonny is better in some way than a lot of these other fellows ? Of course not. There are a host of variables which we can use to weigh up individual players and decide for ourselves - if we want to split hairs - some kind of pecking order. I prefer to simply appreciate players for what they offer but others may be more attracted to comparisons.

But what it all does suggest is that Bairstow is entitled to a damn sight more respect than he is shown in some quarters...

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Post by king_carlos Fri 15 Mar 2024, 9:21 am

Ah, Stewie. As young keeper-batter (rubbish at both mind) he was one of my heroes along with Gilly and Punter. It broke my heart slightly when I got obsessed by the numbers and realised that he should've been one of England's best openers of the covered pitch era. Rather than a makeshift 'all-rounder' trying to balance a side without the personnel to achieve balance.

Boucher is an interesting one. Graeme Smith adored him, coaches always quoted his leadership skills and importance to the group. I never really considered him a keeper on par with many specialists though. He certainly wasn't in the Prasana Jayawardene, Russell, Foakes, Ian Healy, etc bracket from what I saw. He didn't stand up to much in terms of spin. Whilst the bulk of his batting was done in one of the easiest two batting eras Tests have seen, in a batting spot that usually flatters averages and usually batting after a decent top and middle order. His average is modest for that. I don't think he's a poor cricketer. I do find it curious that he played nearly 150 Tests though.

"The worst player to play 100 Tests", just translates to, "A really f***ing good cricketer", when you actually look at it though!

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Post by Duty281 Fri 15 Mar 2024, 10:56 am

alfie wrote:Ah well I said I didn't expect Duty to agree with me Smile

Think KC has already provided effective counters to most of the arguments that Duty puts up in order to somehow bolster his highly subjective assertions. So not much need for me to repeat myself. It does sometimes seem that Duty's apparent regard for Donald Trump - see the politics thread - has led him into the belief that stating anything emphatically and often somehow turns it into a Fact : I think what we are really seeing here is very different opinions...and that is fine by me . Each to his own...

As far as I'm aware, you're the only one out of the two of us who has stated their assertion to be fact, when it is just opinion.

alfie wrote:But that doesn't negate the fact that they're a better team now than they were three years ago.

Pointing out Trump is in a good polling position isn't a regard for him, anymore than pointing out Labour's good polling position is a regard for them. As I've said, I think Trump is unfit to be President.

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Post by Duty281 Fri 15 Mar 2024, 11:10 am

alfie wrote:Will have to start another minor war though (just to clear up some stuff before getting round to discussing team prospects for the future - plenty of time for that before the next Test !)

OK :  I don't largely disagree with any of Duty's player ratings for this series (I never take much notice of numerical ratings as they are too blunt an instrument and too dependant on the prejudices of the observer) because as comparisons one with another they seem reasonable enough ; and the attached comments mostly seem fair - or at least not too unfair.

But : Included in this was about the third reference to Bairstow as "the worst cricketer to reach 100 Tests" - along with a repeated hope that this was his last Test. Now I know Duty has little regard for Jonny so perhaps shouldn't be surprised . And obviously , he is just coming off a thoroughly disappointing series with the bat - which may well see him struggling to keep his spot in the Test side. Which is slightly ironic coming after previous seasons averaging over 60 and the a post-injury 40 in an Ashes series - but that's the way it goes sometimes.  As an aside : I honestly find it odd that quite a large number of England supporters seem to actively dislike him ? Not sure why but he gets more online crap than anyone since Ian Bell - with the possible exception of Moeen ; who was coincidentally another of Duty's regular targets . If Jonny really does pack it in , Pope better watch his step as he will probably be next in the gun Smile

Anyway I would have let an initial post , suggesting that unlike Ashwin and the Kiwi pair , Jonny didn't really deserve to be in such exalted company , pass without comment. Though it seemed a rather snarky remark to make on the occasion of a player reaching a significant milestone : a bit like describing someone as "the least deserving Olympic Medallist " ; or "the most untalented Tennis player to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals"  Smile

It was the repetition that annoyed me. So I did a bit of digging...

80 players have now reached the 100 test mark. A lot of them are certainly ATGs ; and no one is suggesting YJB is in that category. But "certainly worst " ?

Carl Hooper (WI) averages almost exactly the same as Bairstow with the bat.(36.4). He also bowled , of course. Took 114 wickets : but they cost him 49.5 each...
Among England players there are some wonderful records : Cook , Pietersen , Root , Bell just among those the younger fans on here will remember. But also Mike Atherton (who I rather admired ; but averaged 37.7 . Didn't keep wicket.)

Probably should look at wicket keepers (apples with apples , eh ? Well Sangakkara stands supreme , for sure. But looking at others  : Ian Healy , highly regarded in Australia for good reason , averaged 27. Rod Marsh didn't quite make 100 tests but averaged less anyway. SA icon Mark Boucher averaged 30. Indian star MS Dhoni with 38 only a fraction more than Bairstow's average (when playing as keeper) of 37.6.

And that average is also surpassed by only two other keepers in English history , by the way. (Matt Prior and Les Ames - both 40) Which means Alec Stewart - another hundred club man - has an inferior batting record as keeper (34.9) Also , to my surprise , I found Stewart , while having an overall average of 39.5 , actually has inferior figures to Bairstow's in Ashes cricket , both home and away...

Now does this all mean Jonny is better in some way than a lot of these other fellows ? Of course not. There are a host of variables which we can use to weigh up individual players and decide for ourselves - if we want to split hairs - some kind of pecking order. I prefer to simply appreciate players for what they offer but others may be more attracted to comparisons.

But what it all does suggest is that Bairstow is entitled to a damn sight more respect than he is shown in some quarters...

As I've previously mentioned, for the vast majority of Bairstow's career, his batting quality has been a similar level to Woakes or Moeen. But whereas Woakes and Moeen provide something with their bowling, Bairstow is a specialist bat, so there can be no excuse. Bairstow's had two good years in the test set up, and ten bad ones. Very lucky to reach 100 tests.

'Regular targets'. Deary me. I criticise players who I think are doing badly. I praise players who do well. It's not rocket science. There is no prejudice or agenda here. I love Jimmy Anderson a great deal, for instance, but I have been critical of him recently. I'm not a great fan of Crawley, but I have praised him in the last two series, and will keep praising if he keeps doing well.

Not sure that Bairstow is much disliked? I think he's very popular, as is Moeen.

Bairstow's the worst to reach 100 tests, I don't see much argument. Bairstow's only kept 55% of the time, so can't compare him to out and out full-time keepers, like Healy and Boucher who both averaged lower, or other English keepers.

Respect? Well he got to 100 tests, isn't that enough? He's obviously a popular, likeable lad, probably plays golf, so no wonder he got 100 tests.

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Post by Duty281 Fri 15 Mar 2024, 11:11 am

king_carlos wrote:Ah, Stewie. As young keeper-batter (rubbish at both mind) he was one of my heroes along with Gilly and Punter. It broke my heart slightly when I got obsessed by the numbers and realised that he should've been one of England's best openers of the covered pitch era. Rather than a makeshift 'all-rounder' trying to balance a side without the personnel to achieve balance.

Boucher is an interesting one. Graeme Smith adored him, coaches always quoted his leadership skills and importance to the group. I never really considered him a keeper on par with many specialists though. He certainly wasn't in the Prasana Jayawardene, Russell, Foakes, Ian Healy, etc bracket from what I saw. He didn't stand up to much in terms of spin. Whilst the bulk of his batting was done in one of the easiest two batting eras Tests have seen, in a batting spot that usually flatters averages and usually batting after a decent top and middle order. His average is modest for that. I don't think he's a poor cricketer. I do find it curious that he played nearly 150 Tests though.

"The worst player to play 100 Tests", just translates to, "A really f***ing good cricketer", when you actually look at it though!

Test batting average of 36. Really f***ing good, isn't it?

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Post by Duty281 Fri 15 Mar 2024, 11:21 am

king_carlos wrote:I was describing the recent two series there.

India had absentees but England had Stokes able to bowl and Jof available in the last India series. This one also had Bumrah producing possibly the best fast bowling I've seen in India and Kuldeep 2.0 who was absolutely fantastic. Plus Jaiswal is an absolute gun. It's a fantastic side at home.

In 2021, England weren't in the three Tests after their win. Whereas here they had genuine chances in T2 and T4. If we disregard that and purely take results, then I guess 2021 was marginally better. It feels like a simplification. I was certainly more engaged here and felt like it was a series England were competing in more often.

It's splitting hairs. No one expected England to do well on either tour.

Some pitches have been flat during Bazball but England bowl on the same decks and repeatedly took 20 wickets on them. I struggle to see the previous batting unit and approach forcing wins in some of those conditions.

It doesn't have to be a black and white line of this side or the previous, with the cult or against the cult. It's so tedious. It's possible for the tactics to have improved some areas but improvement still be needed in others. There can be shades of grey. I think that the impact of covid on the Silverwood-Root setup is frequently understated for instance. It isn't popular to sympathise with millionaire sportsman, but the amount of time some of the England players spent in bubbles for the sole purpose of upholding broadcast deals was grim. I also think they played some really abysmal cricket whilst that was impacting them. It can be both. It doesn't have to be with or against.

Under the previous regime, spin was very much an, "if we have to", aspect. I think this setup has been far better at utilising spinners, yes. 5-fers from Rehan, Hartley, Bashir and Jacks in that time. Plus Leach getting better when conditions weren't with him. I think they've been better at getting the most from limited resources in that regard.

Back to the more distant past. That's a fun and well trod story, but it's also nothing to do with the Australia side then winning the Ashes. They won because they were the best or second best cricket team ever, against an England team with far less talent who infamously had a setup at the time that was hilariously amateur. Then the mental disintegration nonsense gets looked back on as clever and part of the success because they won a lot. They won because they were good at cricket.

Similar but in reverse here. England haven't lost because Ben Duckett says silly things tongue in cheek. They lost because if you had to design a F-C system that wouldn't create many spinners or batters that can play spin, it would basically be the one we have. Then they travelled to a country where spin decides games to play 5 Tests against a team who never lose. They got hammered because they weren't as good at cricket. Then the silly quotes get obsessed over as part of the reason. When it really isn't. It isn't when teams are good and it isn't when they are bad. It's just fluff. It's meaningless.

It is a fantastic side, but it's a fantastic side missing Pant, Kohli, Rahul and Shami. Such absences weren't so in 2021.

I disagree that England weren't in the games after the win in 2021. Second test, true enough, got hammered. But the third test India only had a first innings lead of about 30, and the fourth test India were 146/6 in reply to England's 205, before Pant's superb century took the game out of England's reach.

Psychology is important in elite sport. The differences at the top are very minute. Australia were one of the best teams ever, but part of that was the psychological advantage they held. Many teams, including England, were mentally beaten before they even took the field. It's something you see more in individual sport, Taylor/Hendry etc., but team sport as well.

England didn't lose because of the idiotic comments, but the idiotic comments are indicative of the mindset that England holds under the current regime.

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Post by guildfordbat Fri 15 Mar 2024, 12:52 pm

Duty281 wrote:
...

Got some player ratings of my own:

Crawley 7/10 - Gave England a start more often than not, and scored more runs than any other English player. Unfortunately failed to kick on and put in the really big scores, like Jaiswal did, that win games. Averaged over 40. Two good series with the bat, might finally be turning a corner?

Future? Secure for now and healthier than ever.

Duckett 6/10 - Got a start nearly every time, but failed to push beyond 50 except for the one occasion where he drove in 153 runs. A series of frustration.

Future? OK for now, but needs a good summer I reckon.

...


Hello chaps - not been around for a few days so just following up now with a fairly quick and brief assessment of the series from my England viewpoint.

A failure (the series score line surely puts any argument there to bed) but along with some encouragement and frustration. A few of both below.

Encouraging
* We won a Test. When we set out, I did fear it could well end up 5-0 to the home side.

* The young and inexperienced spinners. I had originally doubted whether Bashir and Hartley would get any game time. Yet they performed creditably sending down a mountainous amount of overs in a combined total of 8 Tests and emerging with 39 wickets. I liked and appreciated Duty's ratings but thought he was a bit stingy with a 5 for Bash.

* The opening bats regularly gave us starts. Five half-century stands and two more of 40+. Before this series, I had wondered if it was a law change that Root was required to walk to the wicket with the scoreboard reading 20/2.

* Stokes bowling in the final Test. If he is able resume (some) work with the ball on an ongoing basis, that will give us a much better balance.

Frustrating
* The flip side of the penultimate point above. The batters just didn't go on enough or, like Bairstow, flopped completely. Duty is bang on the money with his comments about Crawley and Duckett. Despite their promising starts, they never made a century partnership. Several good scores from Duckett but never a match winning one. Also, England made 17 partnerships of 50 or more but converted only 3 to three figures and even then the highest was just 113. Furthermore, 7 of those 17 partnerships ended between 50 and 59.

* Allied to not scoring enough runs, we didn't bat long enough which meant our bowlers didn't have sufficient time with their feet up before having to go out and bowl a second time.

* Lack of game awareness. We had opportunities which we too often failed to take. Sometimes that was due to India's skill. However, there were occasions when individually and as a team we blew it. Pope being stumped when ludicrously down the wicket on the stroke of lunch especially comes to mind. Also, Ashwin being unavailable for a day's bowling gave us an ideal chance to make hay in the final session when their remaining frontline bowlers  would have been tired and/or replaced by part-timers but we denied ourselves that opportunity by unnecessarily charging from the off and quickly folding as a consequence.

* Foakes. Silky and impressive glovework but his being clueless with reviews and incapable of batting with the tail makes his position untenable.


I deliberately don't use the term 'Bazball' at all above. I suspect - and hope - that's mainly a term and invention of the media. As always for me, we need to play smart and good cricket which doesn't need any new name. That may involve creating a situation in the game or reacting to one; under the current management, I do believe we need to recognise the latter better and improve at it.

Finally, I notice that the word ''luck'' has been used a bit in recent posts, particularly referring to incidents in earlier series. Although this is clearly a generalisation, I don't think you tend to win because of you having luck but you are more likely to win when your opponents have bad luck and you are able make them suffer for it. That is a skill in itself. As referred to above, Ashwin and India had that type of bad luck when he went missing for a day but we weren't skilful or savvy enough to benefit from it.

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Post by king_carlos Fri 15 Mar 2024, 1:42 pm

Duty281 wrote:
king_carlos wrote:Ah, Stewie. As young keeper-batter (rubbish at both mind) he was one of my heroes along with Gilly and Punter. It broke my heart slightly when I got obsessed by the numbers and realised that he should've been one of England's best openers of the covered pitch era. Rather than a makeshift 'all-rounder' trying to balance a side without the personnel to achieve balance.

Boucher is an interesting one. Graeme Smith adored him, coaches always quoted his leadership skills and importance to the group. I never really considered him a keeper on par with many specialists though. He certainly wasn't in the Prasana Jayawardene, Russell, Foakes, Ian Healy, etc bracket from what I saw. He didn't stand up to much in terms of spin. Whilst the bulk of his batting was done in one of the easiest two batting eras Tests have seen, in a batting spot that usually flatters averages and usually batting after a decent top and middle order. His average is modest for that. I don't think he's a poor cricketer. I do find it curious that he played nearly 150 Tests though.

"The worst player to play 100 Tests", just translates to, "A really f***ing good cricketer", when you actually look at it though!

Test batting average of 36. Really f***ing good, isn't it?

Yeah, it is good. Rahane ended up averaging 38. He was good as well. Not great. Not era defining. Not the best in their teams even. But really good.

Thinking about averages got so trapped in round numbers that cricket has a poor interpretation of what is 'good' IMO. 40 good, 45 very good, 50 great. That's so often the thought process. When in reality, average over 40 across a long career span is rare.

Especially once you factor in eras batters played in. A lot of batters in the Noughties averaged over 40 but there was plenty in their favour then. Whereas Bairstow played through the era when batting averages plummeted after DRS and the resulting analysis changed how seamers bowled. They shifted a metre fuller, straighter and moved from swing to the wobble seam. It changed the sport. The corridor of uncertainty moved from back of length, outside off stump, to hitting the top of the stumps and seaming either way at random. It was a hell of a tough period to be a batter.

Bairstow really struggled with that but his overall average is good. It's been feast and famine, he's had big technical weaknesses and he's always been a lower middle order batter who shouldn't have shifted up higher. He is most certainly really good though. Not more than that, but, still good.

Cricket is a sport where being experienced but only good is often maligned though. Most cricket cultures only really accept players getting lots of Tests if they are what actually amounts to great. If a player is good, the temptation is the try the next thing that might be great, even if they could be bad. Often they are bad. I find Bairstow an interesting example of that. Most the time that he's been dropped or there's talk of dropping him, it's been for someone with an incomparable F-C record. His CC numbers were always excellent. He has nearly 8000 F-C runs at 50.

I ran some numbers on it a bit back as it interested me. There's been around 600 cricketers who have scored over 1000 runs, around 200 averaged over 40. That's in the history of Tests. Bairstow sits bang in the middle of players with over 1000 runs. Filtering for 5 tons, he's in the bottom half but that's just below Carl Hooper and above Allan Lamb. Good players. He's been good.

I would move on from him now. England generally need 5 bowlers IMO. If Stokes can bowl then he bats 6, I'd prefer someone else keeping at 7 and I don't want YJB up the order. It doesn't suit his strengths or flaws. If Stokes can't bowl, then I'd look at moving him to 3, having the keeper at 6. That still wouldn't be Bairstow since the leg break for me though. I'd be looking at Smith or Rew. Maybe even, this might not be popular, Pope at 6 with the gloves...? I think the position would suit his batting better than 3 and he isn't a bad keeper from what I've seen of him. Certainly better than Prior was when I first saw him with the gloves.

So, I'd be going another way to Bairstow for this coming Test summer. His record is still good though. He got to 100 Tests because he was good. If you're in the discussion for the worst player to play 100 Tests then you are definitely f***ing good. It's a list of very good cricketers.

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Post by king_carlos Fri 15 Mar 2024, 1:58 pm

Duty281 wrote:
Respect? Well he got to 100 tests, isn't that enough? He's obviously a popular, likeable lad, probably plays golf, so no wonder he got 100 tests.

Dobell had an interesting take on that which mirrors what I've heard from friends - I went to a school near Jonny, played against him growing up and knew a fair few in the academy at the same time as him. Bairstow isn't, "one of the lads". He really isn't.

The story that Dobell told was around his leg break. There was briefly a rumour among journalists that it happened on the golf course but from Stokes jumping on Bairstow back, the two of them mucking around after a few beers. A few journalists contacted England's PR man to check. His response was, he doesn't have the full story yet, but is almost certain Stokes wouldn't be involved as, "Jonny and Ben wouldn't be golfing together in their spare time".

Just because they have similar career spans and both like golf doesn't mean he's best mates with the skipper. From what I've heard, they are about as contrasting personalities as you can get off the field and really aren't a pair to be down the pub together.

From early doors, YJB has been anything but a likable lad. His character was heavily moulded by his troubled youth. He was frankly renowned for being a cocky little s**t when I played against him in age grade. He was the best there by a mile, even better than Root as a junior, but he knew it. He's always been known as a combustive character as a pro too. He's hardly a laid back, low maintenance bloke who goes for strolls along the beach with McCullum whilst whistling their worries away!

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Post by GSC Fri 15 Mar 2024, 3:53 pm

I think the knives have mostly been out since the leg break and Jonny being picked to keep after recovering. Whether he was the best keeper before he'd understandably lost something after and it cost England quite visibly in that ashes series.

Think his average is fine for a lower order counter punching bat but as KC says, not sure England can accommodate that if Stokes isn't a genuine bowling option
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Post by guildfordbat Fri 15 Mar 2024, 4:09 pm

JuliusHMarx wrote:Surely the point of Stokes/McCullum was to firstly stop the rot that had set in with players lacking confidence, the team lacking direction and results dropping off a cliff. Winning six in a row in the subcontinent had become a long time ago (metaphorically) and the path was only going downhill.

As Joe Root put it this week - "It has 100% been a mindset shift that has got the best out of players that have been in and around this team for more than the time Baz and Stokesy have been involved as coach and captain."

I don't see what more can be done than getting the best out of players. If the players at their best still aren't good enough (which against India, in India, they aren't) then that is simply the nature of sport.

The Bazball 'cult' is simply a media invention that some people think equates to bashing the ball around, and is not 'proper' cricket. Both of those assumptions are incorrect. Liverpool teenager Bobby Clark said this of Jurgen Klopp after the cup final - "Klopp fills you with confidence, gives you freedom, really lets you do your thing.". That is effectively what Bazball is - the cricket equivalent of Kloppball. And surely everyone can see that it has the most potential to lead to great success, whatever sport it is applied in.

Again from Joe Root, on his reverse sweep dismissal - "It's not just 'oh, I fancy it', a careless un-thought-out decision in a split second. You're looking at how it's going to really affect the scenario of the game. People will look at this dismissal and think it was arrogant or stupid, but I'm trying to play how I think is the best way to score runs against a very good team. I didn't execute it well enough on that occasion. That's how it goes sometimes. I could have dragged on trying to drive through extra cover and it wouldn't have been a media storm, would it?"

It's not just hit and hope.

Comments this week from Woking FC manager Michael Doyle acted as a reminder for me to return to this post from Jules and the quote from Bobby Clark about Jurgen Klopp.

I don't disagree at all with the benefits a player and his team can gain from confidence being shown in him by the management. Perhaps interesting to wonder how Simon Kerrigan's Test career might have developed had Stokes been his captain rather than Cook. Whistle

Anyway, and I like to think Klopp would go along with this, you still also need to have an understanding of the opposition's strengths and plan and play accordingly. You can't always just do your own thing as you want.

This is what Doyle said following Woking's somewhat unexpected win at Altrincham (you may have missed it - the game got less national attention than the EFL Cup Final) and picking Dion Kelly-Evans as his man of the match for what the local rag referred to as his selfless man marking of the home side's danger man Chris Conn-Clarke:
''He was absolutely brilliant and he goes unnoticed, but for me he was man of the match today because he sacrificed himself for the team .''

Just maybe at times England's batters needed to put away or sacrifice some of their confidence and show more awareness of the ability of India's bowlers.

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Post by Duty281 Sun 17 Mar 2024, 1:41 pm

king_carlos wrote:
Duty281 wrote:
king_carlos wrote:Ah, Stewie. As young keeper-batter (rubbish at both mind) he was one of my heroes along with Gilly and Punter. It broke my heart slightly when I got obsessed by the numbers and realised that he should've been one of England's best openers of the covered pitch era. Rather than a makeshift 'all-rounder' trying to balance a side without the personnel to achieve balance.

Boucher is an interesting one. Graeme Smith adored him, coaches always quoted his leadership skills and importance to the group. I never really considered him a keeper on par with many specialists though. He certainly wasn't in the Prasana Jayawardene, Russell, Foakes, Ian Healy, etc bracket from what I saw. He didn't stand up to much in terms of spin. Whilst the bulk of his batting was done in one of the easiest two batting eras Tests have seen, in a batting spot that usually flatters averages and usually batting after a decent top and middle order. His average is modest for that. I don't think he's a poor cricketer. I do find it curious that he played nearly 150 Tests though.

"The worst player to play 100 Tests", just translates to, "A really f***ing good cricketer", when you actually look at it though!

Test batting average of 36. Really f***ing good, isn't it?

Yeah, it is good. Rahane ended up averaging 38. He was good as well. Not great. Not era defining. Not the best in their teams even. But really good.

Thinking about averages got so trapped in round numbers that cricket has a poor interpretation of what is 'good' IMO. 40 good, 45 very good, 50 great. That's so often the thought process. When in reality, average over 40 across a long career span is rare.

Especially once you factor in eras batters played in. A lot of batters in the Noughties averaged over 40 but there was plenty in their favour then. Whereas Bairstow played through the era when batting averages plummeted after DRS and the resulting analysis changed how seamers bowled. They shifted a metre fuller, straighter and moved from swing to the wobble seam. It changed the sport. The corridor of uncertainty moved from back of length, outside off stump, to hitting the top of the stumps and seaming either way at random. It was a hell of a tough period to be a batter.

Bairstow really struggled with that but his overall average is good. It's been feast and famine, he's had big technical weaknesses and he's always been a lower middle order batter who shouldn't have shifted up higher. He is most certainly really good though. Not more than that, but, still good.

Cricket is a sport where being experienced but only good is often maligned though. Most cricket cultures only really accept players getting lots of Tests if they are what actually amounts to great. If a player is good, the temptation is the try the next thing that might be great, even if they could be bad. Often they are bad. I find Bairstow an interesting example of that. Most the time that he's been dropped or there's talk of dropping him, it's been for someone with an incomparable F-C record. His CC numbers were always excellent. He has nearly 8000 F-C runs at 50.

I ran some numbers on it a bit back as it interested me. There's been around 600 cricketers who have scored over 1000 runs, around 200 averaged over 40. That's in the history of Tests. Bairstow sits bang in the middle of players with over 1000 runs. Filtering for 5 tons, he's in the bottom half but that's just below Carl Hooper and above Allan Lamb. Good players. He's been good.

I would move on from him now. England generally need 5 bowlers IMO. If Stokes can bowl then he bats 6, I'd prefer someone else keeping at 7 and I don't want YJB up the order. It doesn't suit his strengths or flaws. If Stokes can't bowl, then I'd look at moving him to 3, having the keeper at 6. That still wouldn't be Bairstow since the leg break for me though. I'd be looking at Smith or Rew. Maybe even, this might not be popular, Pope at 6 with the gloves...? I think the position would suit his batting better than 3 and he isn't a bad keeper from what I've seen of him. Certainly better than Prior was when I first saw him with the gloves.

So, I'd be going another way to Bairstow for this coming Test summer. His record is still good though. He got to 100 Tests because he was good. If you're in the discussion for the worst player to play 100 Tests then you are definitely f***ing good. It's a list of very good cricketers.

Yeah, but Rahane averages that low because he was still picked when he was past his best. He was consistently a 40-45 average player, before the disappointing end. His average undersells him. Not the same with Bairstow, who's barely flirted with the 40 average, and just had a long career of rubbish, peppered with two brilliant years. I suppose if you spin the slot machine often enough, you'll eventually hit the jackpot.

Saying batting averages plummeted after DRS is a bit strong. It's more that they returned to a usual level. 1984-2000 saw an average of 31.9 runs per wickets, June 2000-2011 saw a sharp rise to 34.62, and then Aug 2011-2023 it returned to 31.89.

I'm not sure Rew is going to cut it. His FC SR is lower than Foakes', and Foakes gets a rough ride for his pace of scoring. I'm not sure either about Pope with the gloves. He's currently on a slump with the bat, and giving him the gloves isn't exactly going to aid that. It'll probably be Smith.

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Post by Duty281 Fri 22 Mar 2024, 4:02 pm

Interview part one:

interview part two:

Interesting interview with Key in The Telegraph. Key (haha) points:

- Key wants England to have at least five fast bowlers for the Ashes, so is urging county bowlers to be able to sustain 85mph+ pace.
- There is no chance of Archer playing red ball cricket this year. The plan is for him to play white ball only, and hopefully return to the red ball in the 2025 summer for the India series.
- Robinson needs to take responsibility for his career.
- Tongue, Potts, Carse and Atkinson will all get test experience this summer, with Fisher and Turner* also in contention. As well as Mahmood if he regains fitness. Key also likes the look of 19 year old Josh Hull at Leicestershire, a 6 foot 7 left arm fast bowler.
- England's spinners will be taken for away days in the summer, so they can spend all day bowling at the academy, and working with coaches and specialists.
- Key is happy with the batting as it is, saying that was the main focus of the first two years, but now he wants to focus on the quick bowling.
- England need to tone down their overly confident public statements.
- The T20 World Cup is likely to be job defining for Mott, after a poor ODI World Cup.
- Flintoff will be considered for the head coach role of the limited overs side when it becomes available.

*Turner has barely played FC cricket, or indeed much cricket at all recently, due to injury.

Sounds like a summer of transition, with Key wanting to move away from the traditional 78-82mph seamer who nibbles it away, and into an arsenal of quicks, emulating what Australia do. This makes sense with the new approach of flat wickets at home, plus the Ashes (Rolling Eyes ) coming up in just over 18 months time.

So this summer could be quite experimental, and I wonder if the likes of Anderson and Woakes will fit into this new world. Certainly sounds like make or break time for Robinson. Archer, we've obviously heard it all before, and I don't think we'll see him play red ball again. Wood is currently 34, and it could be touch and go if he makes it to Australia, but certainly his fitness in the last year has been the best it's ever been...even if his form tailed off after the summer.

Could end up with Potts leading the attack in Australia. Of the eight names listed in point four, Potts is probably the best currently, but the others are mainly potential at this stage, and it'll be interesting to see which ones make it and which ones don't.

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Post by guildfordbat Fri 22 Mar 2024, 6:26 pm

Thanks for posting Rob Key's interview, Duty.

Good and sensible stuff from Key although, as I'm sure he would acknowledge, the proof will ultimately be in the performance on the pitch.

''The idea is that to score runs you have to understand when to put bowlers under pressure and when to soak it up. Batting is understanding when those moments are.''

That particularly caught my eye. Not least because it's right and because we haven't always properly recognised when to soak it up. That's what I was getting at in my last post above from a week ago where I was saying you can't always just do your own thing as you want.

I also noticed that there was no mention by Key of the wicket keeping position. Maybe he just wasn't asked but hardly a ringing endorsement of Foakes.

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Post by Good Golly I'm Olly Fri 22 Mar 2024, 10:14 pm

Lot to digest there, lot of it seems to make logical sense?

Going to focus on the comment re: Matthew Mott. Very glad to see this - think he handled the ODI World Cup horrendously, I've heard some terrible rumours of lack of prep from the coaching staff on conditions and stadia. Rightly on the hot seat.
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Post by Jetty Fri 22 Mar 2024, 11:24 pm

Duty281 wrote:
Interview part one:

interview part two:

Interesting interview with Key in The Telegraph. Key (haha) points:

- Key wants England to have at least five fast bowlers for the Ashes, so is urging county bowlers to be able to sustain 85mph+ pace.
- There is no chance of Archer playing red ball cricket this year. The plan is for him to play white ball only, and hopefully return to the red ball in the 2025 summer for the India series.
- Robinson needs to take responsibility for his career.
- Tongue, Potts, Carse and Atkinson will all get test experience this summer, with Fisher and Turner* also in contention. As well as Mahmood if he regains fitness. Key also likes the look of 19 year old Josh Hull at Leicestershire, a 6 foot 7 left arm fast bowler.
- England's spinners will be taken for away days in the summer, so they can spend all day bowling at the academy, and working with coaches and specialists.
- Key is happy with the batting as it is, saying that was the main focus of the first two years, but now he wants to focus on the quick bowling.
- England need to tone down their overly confident public statements.
- The T20 World Cup is likely to be job defining for Mott, after a poor ODI World Cup.
- Flintoff will be considered for the head coach role of the limited overs side when it becomes available.

*Turner has barely played FC cricket, or indeed much cricket at all recently, due to injury.

Sounds like a summer of transition, with Key wanting to move away from the traditional 78-82mph seamer who nibbles it away, and into an arsenal of quicks, emulating what Australia do. This makes sense with the new approach of flat wickets at home, plus the Ashes (Rolling Eyes ) coming up in just over 18 months time.

So this summer could be quite experimental, and I wonder if the likes of Anderson and Woakes will fit into this new world. Certainly sounds like make or break time for Robinson. Archer, we've obviously heard it all before, and I don't think we'll see him play red ball again. Wood is currently 34, and it could be touch and go if he makes it to Australia, but certainly his fitness in the last year has been the best it's ever been...even if his form tailed off after the summer.

Could end up with Potts leading the attack in Australia. Of the eight names listed in point four, Potts is probably the best currently, but the others are mainly potential at this stage, and it'll be interesting to see which ones make it and which ones don't.

Pace didn't help Wood in India, 3 matches 4 wickets at 77.75. Anderson will probably finish this summer. I can see Tongue, Potts, Archer and Stokes going to Australia. Probably Lawes and Mahmood making up the 6 fast bowlers.

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Post by Duty281 Sat 23 Mar 2024, 12:25 pm

guildfordbat wrote:Thanks for posting Rob Key's interview, Duty.

Good and sensible stuff from Key although, as I'm sure he would acknowledge, the proof will ultimately be in the performance on the pitch.

''The idea is that to score runs you have to understand when to put bowlers under pressure and when to soak it up. Batting is understanding when those moments are.''  

That particularly caught my eye. Not least because it's right and because we haven't always properly recognised when to soak it up. That's what I was getting at in my last post above from a week ago where I was saying you can't always just do your own thing as you want.

I also noticed that there was no mention by Key of the wicket keeping position. Maybe he just wasn't asked but hardly a ringing endorsement of Foakes.

Yes, he specifically mentioned the top six from India, and Brook, but no mention of Foakes. I'm nowhere near as convinced of the strength of England's batting as Key is. The opening partnership has shown to be decent in recent times, but nowhere near world-class. Crawley has averaged 46 in the last ten tests, and I'm really hoping he can kick on from there, but I'm concerned that that represents the very top end of his form, and he'll soon drop down again. And in that 46 average, he has only conjured up one century in 19 innings, which doesn't win tests.

Duckett, Pope, Bairstow and Stokes have all averaged under 35 in the last ten tests, which simply isn't good enough to win test series against the best. Lot of question marks.

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