England Again The International Laughing Stock

It really does not surprise me that England have been knocked out of the World Cup. They have been poor in ODI cricket for a very long time now. The blame for this has to be with the England selectors, the first mistake was to appoint Alister Cook as captain of the ODI side. At the time of his appointment as the limited overs skipper he was not even in the side.

The decision to make Cook the ODI captain was taken in a boardroom some where, a decision to please the old toffs that run the game in this country. Cook is a man that ticks all the boxes for the selectors.  He is bright and articulate, he fits in with the social cricketing elite but quite frankly he is not the fit ODI cricket.

The second mistake was to replace Cook so late. He played all summer and the majority of the Sri Lanka tour as captain only to be replaced. It is not Eoin Morgan’s fault that he got thrusted into the role, especially when he was really off form. The pressure on him increased when he took on the burden.

The other issue that England have faced is the style of play. They prefer to have nudgers and needlers in the side, Cook, Bell and Balance. The squad was pretty consistent throughout the four years in between world cups and then all of a sudden Balance is thrust in. Bopper having been one of the most consistent players did not even get a game at the world cup. They need a total overhaul of English cricket. It has been left way behind all the other test playing nations when it comes to ODI and T20 cricket.

Selectors taking England back to the 90’s?

A bug bear of mine is the way the English selectors work. The problems of the late 80’s and early 90’s looked to be over with has returned.  This being the constant chopping and changing of squads.

 

As a child I remember watching Greame Hick and Mark Ramprakash play every other test series. They are just of a few of the unfortunate players who the ECB ruined. These were two of the most talented batsmen that England have ever produced. This is evident in the stats not only in county cricket, but their international record is much better than what people think. They had good games but one or two bad games would see them dropped. Others on this list could be Rob Key, Jack Russell, Adam Hollioake and lately Ravi Bopara just to name a few. Rob Key’s last match for England included an Ashes double century. Ravi Bopara scored an impressive 3 centuries in his 13 test matches that he played, but one bad series saw him never return to test cricket.

The problem that troubled English cricket for so many years went away under the stewardship of Hussain and Fletcher. It was with great work behind the scenes and strong management that this was allowed to happen. This set up the basis of the great Ashes winning side under Michael Vaughn and later the dominant side that Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower built. Its no surprise that this was best period in England’s cricket history since World War 2.

There were times when a young Andrew Flintoff was not performing regularly, he seemed over weight and constantly injured. If he were 6/7 years older I am sure that the English selectors would have quickly disposed of him. Under the management at the time they stuck with him. Look at the Michael Vaughn that won the Ashes they used a minimal 12 players for the whole series.

My point is that if the selectors pick a player he should be given time to make the position his own or time to show that he is not capable of doing the job. Poor Nick Compton played in 9 tests  scoring 2 hundreds and 1 fifty in that, he was dropped not on form just to make space for someone more exciting. There is nothing wrong in that but the next time that England needed an opener in the side he was overlooked for Carbury.

The Hampshire opener (Carbury) himself has been mistreated by England. He was portrayed as one of the two scape goats with KP for the failed Ashes series. Talking of openers how did the selectors see fit to promote Sam Robson ahead of Varun Chopra? The former Essex man has been overlooked too many times now. Saying all this Robson is a good player and I hope England do not drop him now until they know for sure that he is good or not.

The English selectors need to be more consistent in their selection process, this should also produce more consistent results on the pitch.

 

England show how to self combust in one tour of Australia

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The last few months have seen an amazing turn of events for the England cricket team. The media had built up the side to levels that they probably were not. Statements were branded about by former pundits without really looking at the facts. This included things such as Botham stating over a long period of time that Prior was the best wicket keeper batsman in world cricket. One tour has seen the heart of the side ripped apart. This shows the media were wrong in their assessment of the side, they are both mentally weak and lack any real quality to win under pressure.

1. Kevin Pietersen:

It is clear he has been made the scapegoat for the poor series. All this despite being England’s leading scorer in the series. I am very sure that his axing from the side is to take pressure off captain Alistair Cook. The selectors took the easy root in announcing that they wanted to rebuild the side with younger players. It is hard to argue their point. If KP has been dropped why hasn’t Bell, Cook or Prior been dropped in the same way?

2. Andy Flower:

Before the series many people in England stated that he was the best coach in international cricket. This title seemed very odd to me because he has not achieved half the things that either Gary Kirsten or Duncan Fletcher has. He was a good coach who had his own ways, in some senses he seemed ideal for England. Yet again one bad series and he has left his post.

3. Swann/Prior/Trott and Anderson:

For so many years these players have been the backbone of English cricket. Before the series started these were all players who were considered by the English media as the best in their positions. They all did not perform, it is just more evidence that the media over hyped all these players. Prior was dropped, Swann retired in an undignified, Trott has his deamons and the old Jimmy Anderson returned.

Once again English cricket has shown its self to be a shambles. There is no coach, the best batsman has been forced out the side, the leading spinner and wicket keeper have retired or been dropped respectively. Whats more odd is that they took the KP decision without even asking a potential candidate to replace Flower. The shambles with the ECJ makes them the laughing stock of world cricket.

The Ashes Player ratings

So the much anticipated Ashes series down under has now finished, with Australia winning every battle. England went into the series having a very settled team but their experience players all let them down. Australia on the other hand only used 11 players. Here are my player ratings for each player:

Australia:

David Warner: Demoralised the English players on and off the pitch. His comments about Jonathan Trott after the first test may have been a little unsportsman like but he backed up his words on the pitch. His aggressive batting was the last thing the English needed after being battered around by the Aussie bowlers. He seems to have re-captured some of the form he showed 3/4 years ago. 7.5

Chris Rogers: A player who came to international cricket late in his career that is making the most of his chance. He is a real battler who probably benefited from Graham Swann’s poor form and subsequent retirement. His two centuries in the last two games showed how important he has become for Australia. He is the opener that Australia had been searching for since Langer retired. Given his age I am not sure how many more series he has got in his legs, so if he were not to play again he can retire proudly. 7.5

Shane Watson: As always Watson showed his value with the ball plugging away with his accurate bowling. Holding up an end for the others to rip through England. His batting was good smashing a fast century at Perth and two half centuries, but batting up number three he has the chance to convert more of these half centuries into big scores. The Perth innings was probably the tipping point for the English bowlers, where lost all confidence in their abilities. 7

Michael Clarke: His batting was good but he scores higher because of his excellent captaincy. He did score two centuries in the series and I feel he has turned the public’s perception of him. It was obvious that if Australia had lost the series he would again be made the scapegoat, another factor increasing his rating. This was pressure he strived on, his creative field positions and aggressiveness signalled  a change in the Australian mind set. 8.5

Steve Smith: Batting at number five for Australia is a tough job, it seems that they have finally found their long term man in Smith. He was good in the Ashes series in England but got even better in this one. Smith went passed 50 on only two occasions but converted these both into centuries. His partnerships with Haddin saved Australia on a few occasions. The only down side to Smith is that he does not bowl at all any more, surely he could be used sparingly sometimes? 7.5

George Bailey: The only Australian who may fear for his place in the side. He was disappointing with the bat but will go down in history for equalling the record for the most runs scored in an over. This was smashing the so called best bowler in the world (Anderson – Says Botham) for 28 runs. He brings leadership and good fielding skills to the side which may give him first opportunity against South Africa. 6

Brad Haddin: Definitely the best batsman in the whole series. Batted well under pressure with the tail enders guiding Australia to huge scores when they were in sometimes struggling positions. His wicketkeeping showed why I consider him to be up there with DeVilliars as the best in the world. A close second for man of the series. Having suffered many Ashes loses it was clear Haddin didn’t want another loss to his name. 9.5

Mitchell Johnson: Man of the Series. He was absolutely immense with the bat and ball. He played a vital role on day one of the first test  rescuing Australia with Haddin’s help. His bowling was unplayable, so much so that all the England players looked scared every time they stepped up. 10

Ryan Harris: If Johnson was not playing he probably would have finished with more wickets to his name. Still he bowled quick and cleverly to cause England major problems. He has shown the world what he could have been if he stayed injury free. A fit Ryan Harris is as good as any other bowler in world cricket, unfortunately for England he did not break down. 9

Peter Siddle: Probably the most under valued player in the Australian side, his good economy rate may have been a reason why the other bowlers got bags of wickets. He has been the only constant in the Australian bowling over the worst period of the last few years. His value is now shinning through. 8

Nathan Lyon: Proved many doubters wrong, bowled with good control. He was rightly praised by his skipper after the series. Lyon will now look to push on and establish himself up there with the top spinners in world cricket. 8

England:

Alistair Cook: A series that will make the England captain sick every time someone mentions it. Pressure of captaincy got to him and affected his batting. He was called out by Shane Warne prior to the series as being a captain who doesnt know how to set attacking aggressive fields, this proved to be correct. In the first test Prior was moving fielders without the consent of Cook. This shows real issues of leadership. It did not help Cook that all his senior players all deserted him. Basic mistakes by Cook have caused speculation that his captaincy could be cut short. 4

Michael Carberry: This probably will be his last series as England’s test opener. He started off well but seemed to give his wicket away every innings. He does have the talent to succeed but age is not on his side, especially because England will want to rebuild with youngsters. 5

Jonathan Trott: We all wish him a speedy recovery in his battle against his mental demons. The cricket he did play was very off character. 2

Joe Root: Dropped surprisingly for the last test, his reputation for being England’s best young player has been slightly tainted. In my opinion he has to be put back to the top of the order and given the chances offered to others. Root did no worse than any other batsman. He will come back better for this tour. 5

Kevin Pietersen: It was evident that he tried hard to change his game for the situations. For a player of his experience he should have performed far better. Johnson and co must have really annoyed him. This disappointment will have to be put right. 5.5

Ian Bell: Did a similar to job to what Haddin did in the English series, but failed to do anything noteworthy in this series. Not the worst batsman in the England side but not the best either. Could be in line to take over the captaincy if Cook is axed. 5

Gary Balance: Showed that he can be someone for the future for England. His cameo in the last game showed promise that he will look to develop over the next few years. Cant blame him for anything as he is only young and played only one match. 5.5

Ben Stokes: England best player through the series. They seemed to have unearthed a real gem. He reminds me of a potential Flintoff type figure in the way he bats and bowls all out. He is England’s future, so they will need to wrap him cotton wool and nurture him well. Already taken a five wicket haul and a century in his first series. 8

Matt Prior: It seems the pressure of captaincy also affected Prior. He was the official vice captain at the start of the series, but no one told him he was not the captain. His usual batting and wicket-keeping was poor. He was later dropped in the series .I feel we have seen the last of Prior for England as they will stick with the younger Bairstow. 4

Johnny Bairstow: He started the series as a contender to play as a pure batsman and ended the series playing as a wicketkeeper. Having been overtaken in the batting line up by both Balance and Stokes. Its unfair to criticise him for little mistakes keeping in his first few matches, improved his keeping as the series went on. Needs to work on his batting again. 5.5

Stuart Broad: He was up there as England’s best bowler and also made a few handy runs while batting. Broad got booed everywhere he went, the press also hammered him. He showed a bit of fight which the other bowlers did not show. 6

Scott Borthwick: One match is too early to judge Borthwick, he seems to have the ability and personality to replace Swann. He wasn’t great in the match that he played but showed enough to suggest that England can work with him. Maybe he has been drafted in a few series too early but he will learn at the deep end. 5.5

Tim Bresnan: There was a time when England didn’t lose when he played. That all changed after one loss, he was injured to start off the series and didn’t do much when he came in. He was no worse than any other bowler. 5

Graham Swann: Was this a case of Swann retiring before he was pushed out? His display in the games he did play suggested he was to be dropped. Not a great way to go out. I did not like the fact that he left a sinking ship half way through. 3

James Anderson: Went into the series touted as one of the worlds best. His legacy in the world game will almost certainly be that he is only good in favourable conditions. Not helped out by the batsman, always bowling under pressure. When the times were tough he did not perform to his high standards. He was not terrible but England expected more. 5

Monty Panasar: As always Monty did nothing wrong. He bowled well but not to the standards of Lyon. He was overlooked by Cook for Root, this signals the end for Monty. If only he fielded and batted better then he would have been a mainstay in England’s squad. Borthwick is the long term option, Monty is a backup now. 5.5

Chris Tremlett: Bowled no where to the standards of the last Australian tour. Unfortunately he clearly was not up to the job. 5

Boyd Rankin: How did he even get in the squad? Preferred to Onions in the squad and preferred to Finn in the last test. I guess we will never know if he got cramp or strained a hamstring. Whatever it was he will be remembered more for going to hospital and coming back to bowl and going off again. 5