July 24, 2014

A checklist for England's fans

"Ishant Sharma can't even bowl". And other pearls you need to be spouting right about now

Every knowledgeable England fan on social media knows that the people wearing white in this picture need to be binned asap © Getty Images

As I trawl through social media with a haunted, soulless look on my face, it strikes me that not every England fan is massively overreacting to the second-Test defeat to India. Believe it or not, there are people out there who are taking time to form a considered opinion, who refuse to jump on bandwagons or diminish the opposition's achievements. They're a very small minority, but even so, it's troubling.

Considered opinion and even-handedness are not what social media is all about. With that in mind, here's a checklist as to what you, as an England supporter, should be saying right now.

1. Ishant Sharma can't even bowl
It's simply not enough to insult your own team. You need to do it while slagging off the opposition, giving them no credit whatsoever for achieving a memorable result. Why say that Ishant Sharma bowled well when you could just as easily say that he normally bowls ineffectively? By saying the latter, you can make England's efforts look even worse.

2. MS Dhoni can't even captain
Same principle as above. Belittle your team by discrediting the opposition. Dhoni may have won pretty much everything going, but that was because of the players. Anyone could captain India and win World Cups and whatnot with the talent he has at his disposal.

3. Alastair Cook can't even captain
It's nothing to do with the players. It's something more fundamental than that. It's Cook's captaincy. A poor captain never won anything.

4. Make Joe Root captain
Root is one of the few England players who's doing well at the minute. It is for that reason that he should be made captain. It worked the last time the best-performing batsman was made captain, didn't it? When someone's playing well, you really need to make the most of their inherent successfulness by making them do as much as possible. The pressure won't break him.

5. Drop at least one senior player
The team failed in the winter and it's failing now. Common denominators must be excised. Ian Bell is 32. He's had it. Bin him. James Anderson is tired and is letting the team down by not being their best bowler by a greater margin. Bin him.

6. Drop at least one newcomer
Remember when Ben Stokes was the only real positive to come out of the Ashes? Of course you don't. Bin him. That Sam Robson's clearly not the ideal opening partner for Alastair Cook. Bin him. And bin Cook too, obviously. That goes without saying.

7. Drop the spinner
What exactly is Moeen Ali bringing to the bowling attack, aside from wickets? England's second-highest wicket-taker in the series concedes far too many runs to be in any way effective. He's averaging almost as much as Broad and Plunkett in this series. Unforgivable. Bin him.

8. Drop the wicketkeeper
What's that? Matt Prior has dropped himself? Well, drop Jos Buttler then. Drop him pre-emptively before he loses England the next Test.

9. Identify a secret county genius
It's all well and good calling for everyone to be dropped/binned, but you also have to suggest alternatives. Everyone's got a favourite county player who they know - just know - would transform into the greatest player ever were they given a run in the Test team. If you're not sure who to get behind, try and look for someone who has absolutely no chance whatsoever of ever being selected. That way, your theory can never be tested and you can keep going on about the player in question ad nauseam, safe in the knowledge that you can never be proven wrong.

10. Sack the coach
Peter Moores is clearly holding England back. Unarguably, everything would be fine without him, just like it was immediately before he arrived, when England were a very, very successful team.

Alex Bowden blogs at King Cricket