England in West Indies, 2008-09 February 9, 2009

England's 24-carat debacle

Oops
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Oops. From an England perspective, that Test match was, at best, a blooper. A joyous occasion for a resurgent West Indies, and thus for world cricket as a whole, but, for England, a 24-carat debacle; a pure, unadulterated fiasco sandwich with lashings of farce. Even the most riotously optimistic England supporter would struggle to find more than the most lukewarm of positives to snuggle up to on these cold winter nights. And as an England fan, it is hard for me to find much humour in a situation so cricketingly bleak, especially when the rest of the cricket world is already laughing its head off.

Two days after the event, English cricket is still stumbling around in a state of catatonic shock, this fresh embarrassment heaped upon its recent upheaval, which possibly explains coach Andy Flower’s almost outlandish suggestion that it is now “best to stay calm and not to have knee-jerk reactions on selection”.

While I accept that it may be necessary after such a humiliation to allow sufficient time for the investigating authorities to bag and label all the evidence, I would argue that neither staying calm nor artificially fixing the selectorial knee in a rigid brace is now a sensible course of action. The selectors’ response to England’s prolonged stagnation over the last two years suggests that the knee in question is monumentally arthritic in any case – any sign that it retains some capacity at least for bending, if not full jerking, would now be welcome. If Owais Shah does not play in the second Test, he would be fully justified in rifling through Ian Bell’s bag to see if Edgy from Edgbaston possesses incriminating photographs of the selectors dressed up like Douglas Jardine and the Nawab of Pataudi at a Bodyline-themed orgy.

I have detailed England’s batsmen’s diminishing returns in previous pieces. In the illusory name of loyalty, England have accepted and indulged adequacy for too long from too many, and their obstinate refusal to contemplate shuffling their batting pack from time to time has left them in the avoidably idiotic position of having a swathe of players in career slumps but no-one with more than fleeting Test experience to replace them.

Bell and Cook have both shown sufficient qualities to suggest that they will be good Test players for some time, but surely both would benefit from a spell ironing out the technical and mental quirks of their games away from the pressure of international cricket, to relearn the art of building an innings in less demanding surroundings (Bell’s 199 at Lord’s against South Africa immediately followed a double century for Warwickshire). The Australian teams of recent vintage suggest that many if not most batsmen peak in their late 20s and early-to-mid 30s. For England to obsessively retain their younger players may even be to their long-term detriment.

Without nostalgically longing for a return to the breakneck selectorial speed-dating of the 1980s (when attending a Test match had the added frisson that most of the spectators could entertain realistic hopes of playing in the following game), being dropped should not be a cataclysmic event. Ideally, England should reach a situation where they effectively have a squad of 16 or 17 players who can make up the match XI according to form and fitness, rather than according to from whom the ECB feels it needs to its their central contract’s money’s worth.

The two most disturbing aspects of England’s performance were the familiarity of the failings – the visual and statistical evidence is clearly of a team which is not only failing to learn its lessons, but is skiving school altogether – and the increasingly disturbing dependence on Pietersen.

The Hampshire Hammer is the only batsman scoring hundreds regularly (9 in his last 23 Tests, plus two 90s; by comparison, Strauss has 4 centuries in his last 26 matches, Cook 1 in 20, Bell 2 in 22, Collingwood 2 in 18, and Flintoff 1 in 35). He is also currently the only frontline batsman who is both willing and able to attack to the opposition (even Flintoff is striking less than 50 per 100 balls since his return last summer). England urgently need at least one more aggressor – too often a couple of wickets leads to a near-total scoreboard paralysis.

Pietersen’s wicket is therefore now worth too much to both England and their opponents. If Alfred Hitchcock were directing the television coverage of England’s Tests, whenever Pietersen is out in a tight situation, he would cut straight to close-up shots of the widening eyes of the rest of the team, accompanied by three dramatic, discordant violin chords. (One also assumes that Hitchcock would put an end to the irritatingly excessive use of the zoom whilst the ball is in flight between bowler and batsman.)

Nevertheless, from a broader cricketing perspective, this was an inspirational match in many ways, with Benn providing their best slow bowling since Gibbs, and Taylor their best spell of fast bowling since the retirements of Walsh and Ambrose ended the forty-year lineage of great Caribbean pacemen. As new dawns go, this promises to be far less false than any of recent vintage.

England, however, are a team with serious, long-standing problems. So, for my second Ashes prediction, I now confidently revise my previous 2-2 forecast to a disgruntling 3-1 Australian win. The Aussies may be declining, but they can be confident that England are getting worse faster.

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • blogs.espncricinfo.com on May 26, 2011, 19:55 GMT

    Englands_24carat_debacle.. Retweeted it :)

  • VJ on February 12, 2009, 3:50 GMT

    While I am not a keen follower of English cricket, I have followed their recent form, they having played India recently and I am seriously wondering where the one win that you have predicted for England will come from. While Pietersen is definitely worth a bet to score big and maybe a flash in the pan for one or two of the to also score in the same innings, I cannot for the love of God see them being able to 20 wickets in a test to win it. There is no match winning bowler good enough in the squad apart from Flintoff (who needs to go back to his golden days to really get the wickets required) for England to win a test sooner. They definitely need someone else to also shoulder the burden of bowling the team to victory. While this might still happen in the next 5 tests vs the Windies, I cannot see that happening against and Aussie team that would be chomping at the bit to regain supremacy in the world (and maybe the rankings as well, assuming they don't get it back when they are in SA)

  • Jay on February 11, 2009, 23:33 GMT

    A well-written piece, but I feel England will bounce back as they did after the loss of the first test in the 2005 Ashes series. Remember, this West Indies team is notorious for monumental batting collapses.

  • Masud Vorajee on February 11, 2009, 19:16 GMT

    I've seen couple of English selectors taking a flight to South Africa! Ehhh, trying to find another KP?

    Anyways, back to the game - its time to give Shah a good run! 3 tests atleast...give him a chance to prove us right or wrong!

  • JA on February 11, 2009, 15:34 GMT

    I would like to know your take on Panesar & Vaughan...

  • DJ on February 11, 2009, 10:10 GMT

    whatever happened to ronnie irani? Didn't he play a few ODIs and T20 matches? I seem to recall he was an all rounder. Does he still play cricket? DJ

  • Satya on February 10, 2009, 17:39 GMT

    You can abuse me all you want but the truth is that England and its fans should get over their obsession with the Ashes! Deal with it when it comes, and you might do well in your next match! Half of the comments I see above could not help mention the Ashes (even as an afterthought)! It will perhaps help to think that when the Oz hit their lowest point against Saffas earlier this year, the last thing on their mind was the Ashes, while all of Eng, its press and the fans could think of were Ashes predictions! It looked to me like Eng are already under pressure to beat the depleted and wounded Aussies, and that pressure seems to be creeping into their other games! For god's sake forget about Ashes, the rest will follow!

  • Rasheed Awan on February 10, 2009, 15:53 GMT

    Look I like English cricket and I want England to win eventhough I am a Pakistani. Over the years I have observed that, England is not really playing cricket according to what's needed. When they playing ODIs, they really playing test cricket and during test cricket, they are too defensive rather then attacking apart from KP. Englang needs to start playing 21 century style cricket and stop this 80s style cricket. Monty needs to learn the variations. Cook is too defensive and Flintoff needs to play like a bowler.

  • Marius Potgieter on February 10, 2009, 14:59 GMT

    Michael Holding was quoted as saying that Windies cricket is over and done with and that he only performs his function as commentator. He has no hope for Windies cricket. Along come England and show how alow a team can actually go. Holding is 100% correct. Windies cricket has been hopeless for so long that most cricketers don't expect too much of them. How is it then possible that a cricket giant like England can come and loose in such a brutal way? Perhaps Holding was wrong? For me it is more an example of 2 cricketing nations in turmoil and that neither England or Windies deserve to be top rated. I am glad the Windies can get some inspiration and hopefully become strong enough to challenge teams like India, SA, Aussies again. England has to grow up, and teach their players that they are no rock stars. Practice, be patient and perform under pressure. Stop the infighting and focus on cricket. I would hate for England to give the Aussies opportunity to learn how to win again!!

  • Grant on February 10, 2009, 14:09 GMT

    What about Strauss, he is still not in form why did they make him Captain, I would choose him over KP as Captain material but not while he is not in form. He has that to worry about and now he has to worry about being a Captain too. They should have left KP in until after the ashes and then used the ashes loss to make the change, O yes it will be a loss unless England can work a miracle.

  • blogs.espncricinfo.com on May 26, 2011, 19:55 GMT

    Englands_24carat_debacle.. Retweeted it :)

  • VJ on February 12, 2009, 3:50 GMT

    While I am not a keen follower of English cricket, I have followed their recent form, they having played India recently and I am seriously wondering where the one win that you have predicted for England will come from. While Pietersen is definitely worth a bet to score big and maybe a flash in the pan for one or two of the to also score in the same innings, I cannot for the love of God see them being able to 20 wickets in a test to win it. There is no match winning bowler good enough in the squad apart from Flintoff (who needs to go back to his golden days to really get the wickets required) for England to win a test sooner. They definitely need someone else to also shoulder the burden of bowling the team to victory. While this might still happen in the next 5 tests vs the Windies, I cannot see that happening against and Aussie team that would be chomping at the bit to regain supremacy in the world (and maybe the rankings as well, assuming they don't get it back when they are in SA)

  • Jay on February 11, 2009, 23:33 GMT

    A well-written piece, but I feel England will bounce back as they did after the loss of the first test in the 2005 Ashes series. Remember, this West Indies team is notorious for monumental batting collapses.

  • Masud Vorajee on February 11, 2009, 19:16 GMT

    I've seen couple of English selectors taking a flight to South Africa! Ehhh, trying to find another KP?

    Anyways, back to the game - its time to give Shah a good run! 3 tests atleast...give him a chance to prove us right or wrong!

  • JA on February 11, 2009, 15:34 GMT

    I would like to know your take on Panesar & Vaughan...

  • DJ on February 11, 2009, 10:10 GMT

    whatever happened to ronnie irani? Didn't he play a few ODIs and T20 matches? I seem to recall he was an all rounder. Does he still play cricket? DJ

  • Satya on February 10, 2009, 17:39 GMT

    You can abuse me all you want but the truth is that England and its fans should get over their obsession with the Ashes! Deal with it when it comes, and you might do well in your next match! Half of the comments I see above could not help mention the Ashes (even as an afterthought)! It will perhaps help to think that when the Oz hit their lowest point against Saffas earlier this year, the last thing on their mind was the Ashes, while all of Eng, its press and the fans could think of were Ashes predictions! It looked to me like Eng are already under pressure to beat the depleted and wounded Aussies, and that pressure seems to be creeping into their other games! For god's sake forget about Ashes, the rest will follow!

  • Rasheed Awan on February 10, 2009, 15:53 GMT

    Look I like English cricket and I want England to win eventhough I am a Pakistani. Over the years I have observed that, England is not really playing cricket according to what's needed. When they playing ODIs, they really playing test cricket and during test cricket, they are too defensive rather then attacking apart from KP. Englang needs to start playing 21 century style cricket and stop this 80s style cricket. Monty needs to learn the variations. Cook is too defensive and Flintoff needs to play like a bowler.

  • Marius Potgieter on February 10, 2009, 14:59 GMT

    Michael Holding was quoted as saying that Windies cricket is over and done with and that he only performs his function as commentator. He has no hope for Windies cricket. Along come England and show how alow a team can actually go. Holding is 100% correct. Windies cricket has been hopeless for so long that most cricketers don't expect too much of them. How is it then possible that a cricket giant like England can come and loose in such a brutal way? Perhaps Holding was wrong? For me it is more an example of 2 cricketing nations in turmoil and that neither England or Windies deserve to be top rated. I am glad the Windies can get some inspiration and hopefully become strong enough to challenge teams like India, SA, Aussies again. England has to grow up, and teach their players that they are no rock stars. Practice, be patient and perform under pressure. Stop the infighting and focus on cricket. I would hate for England to give the Aussies opportunity to learn how to win again!!

  • Grant on February 10, 2009, 14:09 GMT

    What about Strauss, he is still not in form why did they make him Captain, I would choose him over KP as Captain material but not while he is not in form. He has that to worry about and now he has to worry about being a Captain too. They should have left KP in until after the ashes and then used the ashes loss to make the change, O yes it will be a loss unless England can work a miracle.

  • St.Clair on February 10, 2009, 13:05 GMT

    It seems to me that the only cricket that is played is betwwe England and Australia.Even when there is a series between Enland and any one of the other teams,all you hear about is the next Ashes series. The West Indies can feel great about the humiliation meted out to England since they came to the Caribbean expecting match practice for the Ashes.As a West Indian, it is hoped that they will get much match practice but defeats as well.To offer West Indies two tests in Enland in the summer says it all.We once would have had many matches there and would have been well accepted by all in the summer.At the same time, while the ECB has kept out our players from the county scene, we have struggled to perform as professionals and as a result have failed to behave like professionals.We will get back our rythm and the world will want us around at every cricketing even once again. It is clear that England's attack is good for many runs as was shown by the A team. Poor Monty.

  • mike on February 10, 2009, 12:45 GMT

    How can the English be so disrespectful to W/Indies? Yes, we are less than we were in our heydays but our pride is not! Chris Gayle has said it that W/Indies feel as though they are being disrespected because all talk is about the ashes. They forget that they're playing the W/Indies at home and we're a very proud people. Englans have a BIG fight on their hands in the remaining tests.

  • Donovan on February 10, 2009, 12:28 GMT

    Bell is not a number three. At best he is a number five or six batsman. And in my opinion, the little I have seen of Owais Shah on TV, in one day matches, he is also at best a number five or six (so is Ravi Bopara). I could not believe that Bell or Shah (when chosen) are expected to bat at three. It exposes that English haven't really worked out what they want. You should bring back Vaughn and he opens, Strauss bats at three. Drop Harmison (replaced by Anderson) and Panesar (replaced by other spinner in the squad). And Shah bats at five, at the expense of Collingwood. South Africa made the same mistake with AB de Villiers, trying to make him an opener, when he was an attacking number six or five, who could handle the new ball. He is a fielding allrounder. So is Shah and Bell, they are not number three's or opening batsmen.

  • StJohn on February 10, 2009, 12:20 GMT

    The batting lacks depth. Who else can we now feasibly call on but Shah or Vaughan? We'll have to get Gower or Athers out of the commentary box at this rate. Compare that with the choices the Aussies have: their cricketing pantry is more full than the Generation Game conveyor belt. The bowling attack is good but not great. It lacks the mystery, the cutting-edge, needed to take 20 wkts regularly in unhelpful conditions. If you can't get 'em off the pitch, you have to deceive them in the air. But if the ball isn't swinging conventionally, then we only have Flintoff & Simon Jones (where the heck is he? Peru? Antarctica? An X-File - abducted by UFO?) who can offer world-class reverse swing. Panesar looks as lethal as a soggy lettuce these days. For heaven's sake, doesn't he even want to try and bowl an arm ball? Go on Monty, be a devil, throw caution to the wind and give us an arm ball! You know you want to really! You never know, you might even get an lbw!

  • Russell Winterburn on February 10, 2009, 9:59 GMT

    the fact of the matter is that these batsmen have been given too many chances and the batting has gone very stale - whereas if bowlers have a few dodgy games they get turfed out. Its time to bring in some new faces when WI come to our shores. We need a Trescothick like player to open that can get the innings off to a flyer. Maybe Vaughan if he regains his form. Then we need more characters like Rob Key and Shah in the middle (not the lifeless Bell, Collingwood and Cook) and then we can give the Aussies a team that will be aggressive enough to give them a good fight. That it is another thing we lack, fight. As for the bowlers, Flintoff is not good enough to bat at 6 so we need to go with 4 bowlers. Broad, Fred, Rashid or Swann (let Monty get his mojo back) and someone of Harmison's pace and ability of 4 years ago (he has had his time).

  • pom on February 10, 2009, 9:52 GMT

    Dude ! "Taylor their best spell of fast bowling since the retirements of Walsh and Ambrose ended the forty-year lineage of great Caribbean pacemen." You forgot a guy called Jermaine Lawson, whom columnists and cricketing pundits conveniently like to forget. 4-57 and 6-3 were his best figures.

  • Bucky on February 10, 2009, 9:34 GMT

    I'm really annoyed having to listen English media and fans pretend as if they are not in a real series against a real team. First I had to endure our childish bickering over everything that surrounded the Stanford match(totally killing the fun for everybody), never mind that our team was dumped on by half-a-West Indies team. Now in the middle of a Test series in which you just lost the first game by an innings and 23 runs, I read more about how you plan to DRAW the Ashes this year, than how you plan to win this series.You English are special!!! Well I hope we can help you prepare for accepting your imminent 3-0 Ashes defeat by handing you a 3-0 Caribbean beating. Some advise:Shah has to be in(has potential to be a more attacking Chanderpaul- that's a huge compliment). Monty doesn't bother our batters- Gayle,Sarwan,Shiv 7 Nash will take him for loads of runs. Bowling Flintoff at the top is a mistake- takes away the element of surprise plus Harmison needs the brand new ball.

  • Squeezy on February 10, 2009, 8:57 GMT

    Colin Croft was the one who said that England is an overrated team. It is what no-one wanted to hear. However, it is the plain and simple truth. They are now paying for the disrespect that they are showing the WI team for looking past this and the following series towards The Ashes. Instead of concentrating one winning one series at a time, everything in English cricket is centered around The Ashes. The team in the current form and state of mind cannot even muster a challenge for The Ashes even in Australia's current state of disarray.

  • Muralidaran on February 10, 2009, 8:44 GMT

    The need for England at the moment (and for years now) is flair. They do not have a Shewag or a Shane warne or a Chris Gayle to give that little magic required. I mean for how long can methodical run grafters keep a cricket team winning. Gooch was good but boring, and so was Mike gating. England desperetely needs a Botham or a Gower. Tell me one English cricketeer worth travelling miles to watch (other than Kevin). All other teams in World cricket have atleast 4 of them. Think!!

  • Amit on February 10, 2009, 8:36 GMT

    Dont be too harsh on England - yet. Remember India got bundled out for 76 last year at home just before IPL. Too much money is distracting. Expect england to come back strong in remaining tests - unfortunately :-)

  • Rohan on February 10, 2009, 7:34 GMT

    This has hardly come as a surprize to anyone pragmatic cricket follower. England has never been a strong test team. At best they have been good and otherwise they have been average. The problem with English cricket lies in obsession with Ashes. This is strange particularly when you look at the performance of English team in Ashes over the year. For 2 years they will talk about preparing for Ashes and then they will loose 5-0. Which other cricket team looses a test series by a margin of 5-0 ?? Not even Bangladesh, even they manage to draw 1 out of 5. Australia the other protagonist in Ashes have openly said that series against SA and India are more important than Ashes for even they now realize that defeating England is not an accomplishment. England hav lost all the 3 recent subcontinent test series, they lost to SA in SA and Eng, lost to India in India and Eng. Now its windies turn to defeat them and i m not surprized at all

  • dinker on February 10, 2009, 7:34 GMT

    Jogesh--you are spot on...no effigy burning,no flak at the players when they lose...and that is precisely the reason they keep on losing and do not even even once in a while.Take for instance their latest 2 defeats...A target of 387 would have been defended by any other team..And the just concluded match seeemed to be heading for a draw when WI tailenders made merry in the pre-lunch session on fourth day.what happened when English batsmen came out has been history.still English selectors and supporters just not accept teh lack of skill and ineptitude of their cricketers and come out with theories like IPL,lack of focus(is it a lens we are talking about??),Overconfidence(what a joke..)and everything else except non performance of the players..How in the world will they win..

  • Phil on February 10, 2009, 6:08 GMT

    How wonderful, that as the cricket world piles the pressure on an undermanned and underperforming Australia, England agian manages to put our minds at ease with a performance worthy of the Salesian Old Boys 5th 11. The Ashes cannot begin soon enough...

  • Preshant on February 10, 2009, 5:12 GMT

    I think Andy Flower himself must come and bat for the Poms.Seriously Bell failed to impress even in the docile Indian Pitches which are usually a bowler's nightmare.I seriously can't understand why Pietersen was sacked.If there was any one who could lead the team it was him.Strauss doesn't seem to have as much strength and toughness as KP. But anyhow glory to the WEST INDIES...(It's true that they are almost everyone's second favorite team.)

  • coolangel on February 10, 2009, 4:33 GMT

    hi Andy. Nice piece albiet less humorous then earlier ones and understandably so. When India had a captain-coach-selector situation with ganguly-chappel-more it was a satirist delight with leaked emails, backstabbing etc. However i never could understand how such greats could commit harakiri (variation- each stabbing a person next to them) and thus injure indian cricket. Same is going around in England at the moment. Also i dont understand this English political correctness- if IPL, Stanford, MONEY is root of all this evil why not play as amateurs. May be that is going too far. The problem with England is that they are too complacent. Thare are too many good players without the one truly great enforcer who can keep them on their toes. Out of the two who can do this, one drinks too much and ends on a pedalo, and the other England love only when scoring runs but hate his non english ways the moment he tries doing it his way. Wake up England, focus on one thing- CRICKET.

  • Nick on February 10, 2009, 4:03 GMT

    It was like watching a car crash. You know you shouldn't stare but you just can't draw your eyes away. As it unfolded it go more and more bloody and worse than anyone could believe. There was some cleaver bowling though. However, no cricket fan could find this funny and I feel you pain.

    What does it mean for Ashes? Both us Ozzies and you Poms can look forward to a series of hard fought, close but mediocre games with the series result now wide open as both teams try to re-build and settle on core line-ups.

    Hope things get back on track (for both teams) for the Ashes.

    Yours Sincerely in Being Australian. Nick

  • jogesh99 on February 10, 2009, 3:02 GMT

    Alack, no jokeys? Dood, the aftermath of an English loss is so predictible. No eligy burning, no stone throwing, no debates in parliament, just an almost imperceptible stiffening of the weak upper lip (an evolutionary advantage no doubt, if one were to apply another much over-rated English 'theory').

  • Hari on February 10, 2009, 2:47 GMT

    I didnt laugh after reading this one, may be i missed the humor part. Seriously if England are to be a good team they have to pick the right players. Its better to drop Cook and Bell so that they can get some time off and correct their batting. Flintoff should play as a bowler who can bat, not as an all rounder in Tests. What about some new players? Luke Wright as 20-20 captain? Remember the circumstances when MSD was made Indian captain two years back, it was first for 20-20, then one-day and finally tests.

  • Manash on February 10, 2009, 2:25 GMT

    It is very surprizing that the IPL teams paid so much for KP, Flintoff. None of the English players deserve more than 300,000 max

  • Colvin on February 10, 2009, 1:46 GMT

    Panesar should have been more effective on a pitch that offered as much assistance as Sabina Park's. His place in the side needs review. 2 spinners, however, should play in Antigua. There is nothing there for pacers. Harmison place in the first test had more to do with 2004 than 2009. He should not play on Friday. Bell will be dropped to make way for Shah. England was just not in right frame of mind for the test. There is much work ahead of the 2nd test for Messrs Strauss and Flower. All is not lost.

  • R Sivasubramaniam on February 9, 2009, 23:45 GMT

    I hope the England team selectors concentrate on beating the West Indies instead of thinking about the Ashes. Shah for Bell is inevitable but what of Monty - the man who promised a lot but has become something of a metronome - no variety. Siva from Singapore

  • Tyrone on February 9, 2009, 23:36 GMT

    The truth is that Collingwood, Bell and Cook should not play in the test in Antigua on Friday, but who are you guys going to replace them with? Who is the next English star that is going set the world on fire? It would stand you Pommes good to start looking at some fresh talent, because these guys you have here in the Caribbean except for KP and Freddie, all SUCK!!! My Ashes prediction: Australia 5 England Nil

  • Gaurav on February 9, 2009, 22:38 GMT

    When will bell start ringing and make some runs!!! they say class is perm and form is temp, Bell is one player who has class they say but yet see the form!!!! shah may not be the stylist player like bell but he score runs which is more important and i also think it's time for cook to find some good recipe to score runs… and it also time to give the home sick boy HARMI a break and look for any others. Will this happen before the ASHES???? As punter said enjoy the ride I hope strauss don’t say the same words.

  • raju on February 9, 2009, 22:24 GMT

    For some reason, people do not seem to like collingwood, I think he makes a very good no. 3, and will give KP good anchor. Bell should open, given that he is rooted on the crease against spin and shah should come in at 5; well I suppose that leaves cook out in the cold...

  • Ed Smythe on February 9, 2009, 22:00 GMT

    Haydn, really? The best you can some up with is Trescothick? The same guy who was so homethick anytime he left the sodden shores, or so think with dethpair that he thought of thuithide? Come on, my grandmother's poolboy lover could play better cricket, and he's Spanith.

  • Ed Smythe on February 9, 2009, 22:00 GMT

    Haydn, really? The best you can some up with is Trescothick? The same guy who was so homethick anytime he left the sodden shores, or so think with dethpair that he thought of thuithide? Come on, my grandmother's poolboy lover could play better cricket), and he's Spanith.

  • bala on February 9, 2009, 21:57 GMT

    Anybody who saw Benn bowl would not select Panesar for the next test.Andrew Flintoff might have made a few runs but he is the most ridiculous choice for a number 6 .He has to be 8th or 7th at best.As for bell, nuff said. Sending an sos to Vaughan cannot help the team,he is no Ricky Ponting.

  • Kurt on February 9, 2009, 21:02 GMT

    Kudos should be given to West Indies they out performed England in all aspects of that Game. I am still amazed changing the point a little that steve harminson has the nerve to say that he is not a fan of the review system when he got a wicket due to poor umpiring when he got powell out the review system was pegged those silly mistakes. Little did he know his desires for ineptidue would bring about the 3rd lowest total. I think he should now stop saying silly remarks and focus on actually bowling and perhaps stop begging for wickets he simply does not deserve.

  • Nick Saunders on February 9, 2009, 20:42 GMT

    here we go again. Have you nothing more interesting to say. England were crap but their specialism is in underperforming at the beginning of an overseas test series ie.india,nz,aus and so on. Since we only have 1 other batsman in Shah, I'm sure he'll get a runout next test. Probably of more concern is a spinner unable to get anyone out on a turning wicket. Monty has no other abilities but bowling and that's looking a bit ropey as well. Swann can at least bat and might cause some problems to the windies lefties. Sidebottom shouldn't play unless the ball is certain to swing and anderson is the better man for the conditions or even rashid if the england's batting is that bad and the wickets that slow. That's the constructive stuff that england can do. Most of your article seems to have focused on stats and how doomed england are, instead of looking for reasoned solutions. 3-1 to the aussies, based on what? Losing to India, SA and even NZ at the moment. Sounds like an even series to me!

  • ric on February 9, 2009, 20:41 GMT

    It's way too early to be writing off England for the Ashes. For a start, like most modern Test series, there is inadequate preparation by the visiting team before the Ist Test. England will be much tougher to beat at home. The time to start making realistic predictions is still several months away.

  • Jack on February 9, 2009, 20:35 GMT

    England is suffering from Moores Mania. That bozo was useless and England declined under him. A top coach would have sorted out Cook's rashness and Bell's diffidence long ago. Morris should also go. What he's doing in the WI is impossible to imagine? He was the one who stabbed KP in the back by trumping up false stories of player unhappiness. England management better learn from this. You dont need an MD who is personal friends with the coach. It will always lead to distortions when the coach is fired.

  • naveen on February 9, 2009, 20:27 GMT

    I sell think that there are too many supporting staff then players. We should let them grow and think by them self. That is one of the big reasons y england can't handle a situation which is not according to a play. One thing i hate or dont like them saying is "we are learning" after every defeat. when in reality they are not learning any thing. Spoon feeding stuff in England team is worse then grids in an Indian primary school.

  • Haydn Oakley on February 9, 2009, 19:29 GMT

    What a thoroughly depressing article! As an avid England fan, the truth of what you have written hurts. I want the Ashes back, but on current form we're in trouble.

    Can the selectors not persuade Trescothick to return to th fold? Even at his worst, he was reliable enough to know his own game and play to his own strengths. Failing that, someone fly Ravi Bopara out to Antigua so the established batsmen realise just how serious this situation is. He's an IPL star now isn't he?

    Why is it that the Aussie's seem to be uneartihng big-hitting batsmen (Ferguson, Warner) even when they're losing to New Zealand while we refuse to play a professional, gifted batsman worth US$275,000 in India? Someone just give Shah a chance. PLEASE!

  • Akil Kapasi on February 9, 2009, 19:23 GMT

    Drop Bell, Panesar, Collingwood. Bring in Key, Shah, and Rashid. Once we get back home, I would up for letting Marcus Trescothick playing just in the Ashes and World 20/20. At least we'll have half a chance with his experiance and undoubted class as one of England best ever openers! I'm dreaming, yes. But at the moment, we couldn't do much worse!

  • Baseer on February 9, 2009, 19:22 GMT

    Trying out Vaughan hardly makes sense when he was in the team just 3 tests ago and doing nothing, Rex. Its not as if he hasn't had his chances and he hasn't done anything for Yorkshire since so doesn't merit a recall yet either.

    As far as I am concerned, Bell should never have been in the squad and we should have had 2 reserve batsmen in maybe Paul Horton (opener) and Samit Patel (middle-order) with Owais Shah starting the first test. Now if we need to replace Cook, there isn't even an option!

    This could have been done by just picking 2 spinners which would have made sense since England would pick only one for the tests except maybe Antigua where 2 maybe required. And given that Adil Rashid is unlikely to play any of the 4 tests, he would have been better off going to the Lions tour.

    It just shows how muddled the thinking by the selectors has been. I won't be surprised if still no changes are made to the batting order. If anything, we'll probably just drop a couple of bowlers!

  • Irfan on February 9, 2009, 19:22 GMT

    We should give the credit to Windies team for their wonderful performance, it seems that Windies are very near to find a good combination of spin and fast bowling after a long long time. If their batsmen keep on going how they did in the last test, the will be an excellen chance for them to revive their fate in test cricket after a long time. From England's point for view, they will certainly come back hard in the coming test match. So much have been written about some of the changes they need badly for the next test match, no doubt shah deserve a test call for this time. And England also need a good partnership at the top of the order from Struass and Cook, as latter being due for a big score now. From the bowling perspective, if we eliminate the performace of Flintoff... All of other fast bowlers seems to be lacking the fire power and confidence. Panesar need to make a huge contribution in the next test match, if England wants to make good impression in the next test match,

  • Rishabh on February 9, 2009, 18:58 GMT

    Quite right, Andy. Almost to emphasize that last point, the day after England lost, Australia coughed up a win to end their losing streak. England did amazingly well to lose a match that was already being called a one-innings match. They can't go lower... can they?

  • JK on February 9, 2009, 18:43 GMT

    Great to see the WI doing so well..Kudos to gayle..seems like he is the only captain in the post lloyd era who has managed to gain the confidence of all the players.....As for Eng, they have to look beyond Bell and Collingwood for sure...Even their bowling, Flintoff and Broad excepted, was toothless..Time to try out a few things before the Ashes..But given how Aus are going, it may actually be a good series!

  • Vineet77 on February 9, 2009, 18:14 GMT

    Knee jerk selecion would further destabilize the team suffering from a Captain Coach debacle in the recent past. Though the position of Ian Bell and Monty Panesar should be assessed. Bell needs to make way for Shah and Panesar needs to go back to county cricket to figure out more variations. He seems to bowl the same ball six times in an over. Whatever happened to the Arm ball which is a weapon of the left arm orthodox. Harmison seems well past his prime and looks more like a passenger in the team. Sidebottom hasnt looked so great since his return from injury. Lot of worries in a Ashes year. The selectors would have to take some tough decisions if England are to come remotely close to winning the Ashes. This series might spark a minor Windies revival, which is long overdue, and would be heartwarming. Jerome Taylor's wicket of KP reminded one of a screaming Joel Garner yorker. Hope this win will bring back the past glory of Windies cricket.

  • Rex on February 9, 2009, 17:57 GMT

    This was the post with the least humor of them all, and understandably so. This was in-your-face, serious stuff and it had some interesting points too. No cricket fan likes to see his team perform like that and I offer my consolations. Even this will pass. As for the post itself, I was surprised that you didn't talk about trying out Vaughan. Why not give him a chance, along with Shah? I was eagerly awaiting your take on the former England captain and I hope you oblige in your next post. I thank you again for a fine article.

  • Alfred Moore on February 9, 2009, 17:45 GMT

    What this piece lacks in satire and whimsy it more than makes up for in being right. I know it's right because it's exactly what I've been telling my wife and anyone else who'll listen for the last three years. You're right, we can't open the innings with two anchors. It hands the initiative to the bowlers, and lets people like O'Brien and Taylor settle down and bowl their best. Our openers make good bowlers look great. You're right about Bell, too, but since everyone in both the real and virtual worlds has been sticking the knife it's not really worth adding one more cut. But you're most right about the crazy cosseting of our mediocracy - four of the top five have trouble getting the ball off the square and have been part of a weak batting unit for three years, yet we still have no idea whether Key and Shah (and whatever 21-year-old flavour of the month you fancy) would really be any better. 3-1 to the Aussies is also right. Well done.

  • ashok r on February 9, 2009, 17:21 GMT

    Zaltzman, this is very poor writing. what a waste of words! ->"If Owais Shah does not play in the second Test, he would be fully justified in rifling through Ian Bell’s bag to see if Edgy from Edgbaston possesses incriminating photographs of the selectors dressed up like Douglas Jardine and the Nawab of Pataudi at a Bodyline-themed orgy. "

  • Barry Tom Yew on February 9, 2009, 17:09 GMT

    I couldn't agree with you more. I enjoy reading your publications.

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  • Barry Tom Yew on February 9, 2009, 17:09 GMT

    I couldn't agree with you more. I enjoy reading your publications.

  • ashok r on February 9, 2009, 17:21 GMT

    Zaltzman, this is very poor writing. what a waste of words! ->"If Owais Shah does not play in the second Test, he would be fully justified in rifling through Ian Bell’s bag to see if Edgy from Edgbaston possesses incriminating photographs of the selectors dressed up like Douglas Jardine and the Nawab of Pataudi at a Bodyline-themed orgy. "

  • Alfred Moore on February 9, 2009, 17:45 GMT

    What this piece lacks in satire and whimsy it more than makes up for in being right. I know it's right because it's exactly what I've been telling my wife and anyone else who'll listen for the last three years. You're right, we can't open the innings with two anchors. It hands the initiative to the bowlers, and lets people like O'Brien and Taylor settle down and bowl their best. Our openers make good bowlers look great. You're right about Bell, too, but since everyone in both the real and virtual worlds has been sticking the knife it's not really worth adding one more cut. But you're most right about the crazy cosseting of our mediocracy - four of the top five have trouble getting the ball off the square and have been part of a weak batting unit for three years, yet we still have no idea whether Key and Shah (and whatever 21-year-old flavour of the month you fancy) would really be any better. 3-1 to the Aussies is also right. Well done.

  • Rex on February 9, 2009, 17:57 GMT

    This was the post with the least humor of them all, and understandably so. This was in-your-face, serious stuff and it had some interesting points too. No cricket fan likes to see his team perform like that and I offer my consolations. Even this will pass. As for the post itself, I was surprised that you didn't talk about trying out Vaughan. Why not give him a chance, along with Shah? I was eagerly awaiting your take on the former England captain and I hope you oblige in your next post. I thank you again for a fine article.

  • Vineet77 on February 9, 2009, 18:14 GMT

    Knee jerk selecion would further destabilize the team suffering from a Captain Coach debacle in the recent past. Though the position of Ian Bell and Monty Panesar should be assessed. Bell needs to make way for Shah and Panesar needs to go back to county cricket to figure out more variations. He seems to bowl the same ball six times in an over. Whatever happened to the Arm ball which is a weapon of the left arm orthodox. Harmison seems well past his prime and looks more like a passenger in the team. Sidebottom hasnt looked so great since his return from injury. Lot of worries in a Ashes year. The selectors would have to take some tough decisions if England are to come remotely close to winning the Ashes. This series might spark a minor Windies revival, which is long overdue, and would be heartwarming. Jerome Taylor's wicket of KP reminded one of a screaming Joel Garner yorker. Hope this win will bring back the past glory of Windies cricket.

  • JK on February 9, 2009, 18:43 GMT

    Great to see the WI doing so well..Kudos to gayle..seems like he is the only captain in the post lloyd era who has managed to gain the confidence of all the players.....As for Eng, they have to look beyond Bell and Collingwood for sure...Even their bowling, Flintoff and Broad excepted, was toothless..Time to try out a few things before the Ashes..But given how Aus are going, it may actually be a good series!

  • Rishabh on February 9, 2009, 18:58 GMT

    Quite right, Andy. Almost to emphasize that last point, the day after England lost, Australia coughed up a win to end their losing streak. England did amazingly well to lose a match that was already being called a one-innings match. They can't go lower... can they?

  • Irfan on February 9, 2009, 19:22 GMT

    We should give the credit to Windies team for their wonderful performance, it seems that Windies are very near to find a good combination of spin and fast bowling after a long long time. If their batsmen keep on going how they did in the last test, the will be an excellen chance for them to revive their fate in test cricket after a long time. From England's point for view, they will certainly come back hard in the coming test match. So much have been written about some of the changes they need badly for the next test match, no doubt shah deserve a test call for this time. And England also need a good partnership at the top of the order from Struass and Cook, as latter being due for a big score now. From the bowling perspective, if we eliminate the performace of Flintoff... All of other fast bowlers seems to be lacking the fire power and confidence. Panesar need to make a huge contribution in the next test match, if England wants to make good impression in the next test match,

  • Baseer on February 9, 2009, 19:22 GMT

    Trying out Vaughan hardly makes sense when he was in the team just 3 tests ago and doing nothing, Rex. Its not as if he hasn't had his chances and he hasn't done anything for Yorkshire since so doesn't merit a recall yet either.

    As far as I am concerned, Bell should never have been in the squad and we should have had 2 reserve batsmen in maybe Paul Horton (opener) and Samit Patel (middle-order) with Owais Shah starting the first test. Now if we need to replace Cook, there isn't even an option!

    This could have been done by just picking 2 spinners which would have made sense since England would pick only one for the tests except maybe Antigua where 2 maybe required. And given that Adil Rashid is unlikely to play any of the 4 tests, he would have been better off going to the Lions tour.

    It just shows how muddled the thinking by the selectors has been. I won't be surprised if still no changes are made to the batting order. If anything, we'll probably just drop a couple of bowlers!

  • Akil Kapasi on February 9, 2009, 19:23 GMT

    Drop Bell, Panesar, Collingwood. Bring in Key, Shah, and Rashid. Once we get back home, I would up for letting Marcus Trescothick playing just in the Ashes and World 20/20. At least we'll have half a chance with his experiance and undoubted class as one of England best ever openers! I'm dreaming, yes. But at the moment, we couldn't do much worse!