England v India, 2nd Investec Test, Lord's, 4th day July 20, 2014

Farbrace defends senior players


Paul Farbrace insisted England's senior players could not be praised highly enough despite recent results at the close of play on the fourth day of the second Investec Test at Lord's.

Farbrace, the England assistant coach, pledged full support for beleaguered captain, Alastair Cook, and said the "contribution" of other senior players had been "fantastic."

Farbrace has only been in the job a few months so it would be understandable if he felt he was not in a position to criticise his players. But his comments are sure to raise eye-brows after another disappointing day saw England facing a fight to avoid defeat against India.

Of particular surprise will be Farbrace's suggestion that the coaching team "can't praise the senior players highly enough" despite evidence that suggests they are the cause of the team's difficulties.

For while Cook has not scored a Test century for 27 innings and Ian Bell not for 17 innings, Matt Prior has conceded the equal most byes by an England keeper in a home Test since 1934. Stuart Broad looks far from fit while James Anderson has not taken a five-wicket haul since the Trent Bridge Test of 2013 and, in the 13 games since, has taken his wickets at an average of 35.59.

But Farbrace remains supportive and believes that the worth of such players cannot be rated by their on-field contributions.

"The great thing with all of our senior players is that their contribution in and around the dressing room, in and around practice, has been fantastic," Farbrace said. "It's been massive. We can't praise them highly enough.

"They're helping young players that we're trying to develop and we are trying to develop a squad and a team and trying to take it forward. Yes, we want to win games, but we're also trying to develop players at the same time as winning games of cricket."

While that does raise the question of the role of the coaches - you might think it was their role to help with the development of younger players - Farbrace did accept that the bowlers had failed to maintain the requisite lengths in India second innings and that Cook needed to produce more runs.

"They're not machines," Farbrace said. "They are trying hard to get the ball in the right places and sometimes it doesn't work.

"Absolutely, Alastair is aware that he needs to score some runs. He wants to do well for the team. He wants to score runs for them.

"He doesn't need telling. He's well aware of what he needs to do, and his commitment to the team is fantastic."

In truth, Farbrace's comments probably illustrate the absurdity of the post-play media conferences more than they do anything else. While he expressed his resolute support for Cook as captain, there really was nothing else he could be expected to say in the circumstances. The fourth day of a Test is hardly the time to suggest it is time for a change of captaincy.

"Nothing has changed whatsoever," Farbrace said. "Absolutely nothing has changed. We all want him to score runs and I think you saw today that everybody in the ground wanted him to score runs. We're all very much behind him. Everyone in the team is.

"He's feeling that a score is close, and you saw today that he fought and scrapped and worked as hard as he possibly could. There is absolutely no question that he is our leader. He's a very unflappable character and he's working very hard. His thoughts are very much on the team and the team doing well."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Derek on July 21, 2014, 12:34 GMT

    Why does anybody take any notice of what coaches say about their players. Farbrace is not going to give anything away about any of his players because his job is to support them not criticise to the media.Australia were in a similar position to what England are in now unto twelve months before the last Ashes. England are rebuilding and they will come out of this sooner or later particularly if they say good by to players who are past it and not unto their role.

  • Nero on July 21, 2014, 9:15 GMT

    So gettable target. England will win it today.

  • Richard on July 21, 2014, 8:42 GMT

    In the days before England Cricket Team ( squad) was a closed shop, and virtually making players "unsackable" (sic), if you performed badly or you were thought to be past it (Bell?, Anderson?,Broad, Prior, even Cook?) you got sacked. Once your performances started going slowly( or even rapidly) downhill you were sent back to your county. Yes.. you could make a comeback, but only based on performances. Nowadays, we are given a complete load of bland , whitewash nonsense in a press conference, and they all carry on as normal. All in their little bubble. All being paid handsomely to play. They don't even look as though they want to be there half the time. How refreshing to see people like Jadeja, Khumar, and even Binny, etc playing as though they enjoy it, and not with a permanent scowl. I don't know the answer, because frankly their doesn'r appear to be much in the way of obvious replacements.. maybe we will win today and sweep it all under the carpet!! Hmm.. then again perhaps not !

  • Cam on July 21, 2014, 8:40 GMT

    @codandchips, lol. Good summary. As Warnie said, one option was for everyone to stick their head in the sand and pretend everything is hunky dory. Let's see how that looks when the Indians are celebrating their first away victory in a while later today. If the management and coaching staff are too stupid to drop out of form players then they should go too. It's low times being am English fan at the moment.

  • Dummy4 on July 21, 2014, 8:18 GMT

    Match is still wide open. Root,Moeen ali & Matt prior should be dismissed before lunch or before 220Runs. Otherwise It will be any body's game. Waiting for the 5th day's play to start.

  • G on July 21, 2014, 7:34 GMT

    Cook has never been a tactically good captain nor does he show any signs of growing in to one. the problem is his batting, I guess he is still suffering from the Gooch effect. Moores, not Farbrace, is the real problem. they had a chance to sack Saker after the Ashes but missed. I hope they don't commit the same mistake after this series. Downton, Whitaker.. I get a sinking feeling. next Ashes is not too far away, Aussies must be licking their lips watching this.

  • Paulo on July 21, 2014, 6:57 GMT

    It's obvious why Farbrace defended them.

    Cook and Bell have obviously led from the front by scoring runs. Cook has obviously set some excellent fields, and Bell had taken responsibility by helping him in doing so, because Bell always takes responsibility. Prior has been imperious behind the stumps this summer and has scored runs also.

    Anderson and Broad have obviously bowled brilliantly. It's clear that they've led by example and taken a lot of wickets this summer.

    Oh, wait....

  • Dummy4 on July 21, 2014, 5:55 GMT

    Well princenag25, England already have the biggest supporting staff of any team and so may not be able to justify adding more names to the 'coaching' ranks.. hence the decision to just play them :-)

  • Aditya on July 21, 2014, 4:11 GMT

    Though the match is open, albeit India favourites, i do not understand the role of So called Seniors in the England Team. If they are there only to help out Youngsters rather than performing on the pitch hire them as Coaches not Players.

  • Steven on July 21, 2014, 4:06 GMT

    Farbrace shouldn't have said anything cos what he said was rubbish I'm sure the senior players are helping off the field but that don't matter cos they are not helping on the field England still should win this test but that should hide the fact the Anderson isn't at his best broads not completely fit priors form with bat and gloves and his fitness are not good bell and cook are out of form to plus cooks captaincy not up to it even if they do win that's only going paper over the cracks and issues that they still have as ateam selection for the next test will be interesting whatever happens

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