England v India, 2nd Investec Test, Lord's 5th day July 21, 2014

Hapless England victims of failing system

Previous England inadequacies were masked by a handful of excellent players but now the national side are showing the results of an environment too cosy for those whose faces fit and one that ostracises the rest
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Play 05:13
#politeenquiries: Is Mitchell Johnson to blame?

It was probably fitting that defeat should be sealed with a run-out: it summed up a hapless, helpless display from an England side full of panic and littered with self-harm and basic errors. Every time it seems they have reached a new low, they find a pot-hole to fall down. England are now winless in their last 10 Tests and have lost seven of the last nine. The plummet, the pain, seem endless.

There are times in sport when a team can be simply outclassed by a superior rival. And that is no disgrace. The England side that was thrashed by West Indies in 1984 found themselves in a battle between men and superheroes. They could not win.

That is not the case here. England, not for the first time this summer, have been outplayed in their own back yard by a side from the subcontinent. A side who had not won a Test away from home for more than three years.

But India's bowlers utilised the conditions better; their batsmen left the ball better. England were bounced out by an Indian seamer - as they were at Headingley by a Sri Lankan seamer - for perhaps the first time in history. An Indian bowler who came into the game with a Test bowling average of 37.79. And it happened on a tailor-made green pitch when they won the toss.

It used to be said that a player never recovers from a disappointing Ashes. And it is true that history is littered with examples of players who, once exposed in Australia, have never been quite the same again.

It looks increasingly as if that is the case now. The majority of those - Joe Root is perhaps the only exception - who were thrashed in Australia have struggled to recover (Jonathan Trott, Boyd Rankin and Steven Finn might be even better examples of players damaged by the tour), with a weakness against the short ball having developed like an epidemic within the team. Call it shellshock, call it post-traumatic stress, but to lose one batsman to a reckless pull stroke might be considered unfortunate, as Oscar Wilde so almost said, but to lose three? To lose five batsmen to short deliveries within an hour? England are in denial if they fail to accept they have a problem.

In truth, they are in denial on several issues. It might be the only way Peter Moores and co. can face getting up in the morning. For Moores was not dealt a handful of aces when he was appointed England coach. Indeed, had it been a hand in a game of poker, he might have folded.

Moores inherited a beaten, broken, mentally exhausted side. He has inherited a failing system whose inadequacies had been masked by the performances of a handful of excellent players and he has inherited an environment too cosy for those whose faces fit and one that ostracises the rest.

How else to explain the post-match support for Matt Prior? Prior has undoubtedly been a fine player for England but, after equalling the record for the most byes conceded by an English keeper in a home Test for 80 years, he fell to a pull shot for the second time in the game as obligingly as if providing catching practice.

This is in stark contrast to the criticism of Kevin Pietersen following his dismissals in the Ashes. Whereas Pietersen was labelled selfish, Prior was informed by Alastair Cook that it was "up to him" if he wanted to continue playing. There is more than a sniff of hypocrisy about such inequitable treatment. But whereas "Matty" is one of the boys, Pietersen was an outsider. Merit hardly comes into the equation. The decision to dispense with Pietersen, England's highest runscorer in the Ashes, remember, remains weak and damaging.

Moores might also reflect on how it has come to pass that, in a nation with 18 first-class counties, all with well-financed academies, a Lions team and age-group teams at county and national level, that there are so few realistic options for an alternative captain, spinner or wicketkeeper.

He might reflect on the lack of leaders in his side, the lack of tactical awareness of his bowlers and the lack of flexibility he is allowed to make to the captaincy in a system in which the ECB's chairman and the England team managing director have backed Cook so resolutely that to sack him might be politically impossible.

And he might reflect on why it is that several of those who have come into the side and held their own - Gary Ballance and Sam Robson - developed, at least in part, in other countries. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the English system is not producing in the quality or quantity it should be.

Moores has done little to suggest he is the man to turn the tide but it is mistakes made long before his time that are harming England now. The decision to squeeze the first half of the County Championship season into April and May - a decision made largely to make time for a T20 window that no longer exists - limited the opportunities for spin bowlers, while the emergence of free-thinking leaders was stunted by a system that seems to view such characters as trouble.

It was, after all, in a team meeting in Australia in which the problems with Pietersen came to a head. Pietersen, asked for his opinions on the failings of the team, gave them only to find they were unpalatable to the sensitivities of some of those around him. And in English cricket, rocking the boat is a far worse sin than losing. Nick Compton was dropped as much due to the fact that a coterie of senior players did not like him as anything to do with his form; senior players who did nothing to make new faces feel comfortable and increased their fear of failure.

So it was that few of the current side developed the leadership skills they might have done. They learned long ago that they would progress more smoothly if they kept their mouths shut. The dominance of Andy Flower stunted the development of several in the England dressing room and instead of players learning to think for themselves, the relationship became prescriptive. More like teacher-pupil or parent-child. There is no place for free-thinkers like Pietersen or Compton.

Equally, England have developed a generation of coaches who distrust flair and who prefer reliability to genius. Coaches who look smart in blazers, fill in spreadsheets attentively and never threaten the positions of those above them. Any player who emerges through the academy in England does so in spite of it, not because of it. Why else would it be that fast bowlers involved in the England set-up drop pace by the month - just look at Steven Finn or Liam Plunkett - or that batsmen fresh to the team are out-performing those who have been established for years?

With three Tests remaining in the series, England have a chance to turn things around. But to do so they will have to defeat not just an improved India side, but their own history, their own tired bodies, jaded minds and broken system.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on July 23, 2014, 21:13 GMT

    bring back Kevin Pietersen! he's got class, style and skills all of which England's batting lacks at the moment

  • markatnotts on July 23, 2014, 20:36 GMT

    @VillageBlacksmith, very well put. The delusion around KP, mainly from non England fans even extended to him being the main reason we won the 2005 Ashes. My down to earth opinion is a certain Lancastrian all rounder and some quality pace bowling had much more of an impact over all 5 Tests.

  • VillageBlacksmith on July 23, 2014, 15:18 GMT

    @Land147… Totally agree, there are some great new prospects coming through (Lyth, Lees, Vince, Jordan to name a few) and the recent new players in to the Eng test team have outperformed the senior players, and that's a scoreboard fact George. The preoccupation with KP is strange, he led his IPL team to last and his test average was plummeting, plus he hardly ever played short form cricket any more as Eng bent over backwards to be nice to him, even after textgate…. It really is time to move on from old has-beens with such a promising crop of youngsters coming through and to focus on… It would be slightly more interesting to read about what possible solutions there are and the exciting new players coming through rather than eternal doom and gloom and kp testimonials!!

  • Nampally on July 23, 2014, 14:30 GMT

    Yes, with 3 Tests remaining England still have a chance to turn things around. At the same time these Tests are on spin friendly pitches of Southampton, The Oval & Old Trafford. The first 2 were supposed to be Pace friendly.India will go for 2 spinners in the rest of the 3 Tests. In addition, as we progress to the 5th test, the fatigue & endurance become a factor. How good are the bench strengths of the 2 teams - an issue. India has players like Ashwin, Rohit Sharma, Aaron & Gambhir on the bench. England needs to find their bench strengths as well to replace some of the tiring bodies like Anderson+Broad. Age & Fitness also need to be considered. Both he teams are young so fitness, Fatigue & endurance come to the fore. This is the first time in history that 5 Tests have been scheduled in 42 days. The team that has paced itself well will be ahead. England can still pull up some of the guys who have been shelved & gain some inspiration thru them. So it is a wide open series!

  • YorkshirePudding on July 23, 2014, 12:17 GMT

    @Andrew Jon Dodds, I agree about KP is not as if hes scored mountains of runs in the CC this year to even justify a re-call. At best you might recall him for T20 but that's it.

    In terms of Buttler agree his not nearly developed enough. Bairstow is the better gloveman of the two. However loathed though I am to suggest it Read at Notts might have been a better solution, as he has captaincy experience and is a very good gloveman.

    The main concern is a lack of SPIN options being looked at. Moeen is a good batsman but poor spinner at international level, if you want occasional spin then look at Rashid/Borthwick who can both bat, or Danny Briggs who did well at Sydney.

  • on July 23, 2014, 9:27 GMT

    I'd be very worried about bringing KP back now, never mind the practical question of who goes to make way in the middle order.

    On the other hand there are plenty of potential replacement openers, most of whom could average more than 20.

    Bell as captain - may inspire his batting a bit as well. Broad needs a break, replace with Finn?

    I actually worry about bringing Buttler in right now. A possibly toxic environment, a few low scores and we could end up shattering his confidence.

  • on July 23, 2014, 1:27 GMT

    Some how agree with the writer. One needs to resolve the problem rather than sacking a player. I didn't understand why Compton was dropped. He had a sound temperament of an opener. Just because other players didn't like him? I don't understand why Moores is back? Why not looking for a new coach? What are reasons behind not hiring coaches that help to develop not only the tactics but also the basic skills and temperament. I read Finn's interview on the other day, he was so low. He admitted that there was no one to help him develop the skills rather than tactics. He had the problem and should have been worked out in the first place. Such a promising young fast bowler and struggling to get back to his best.

  • markatnotts on July 22, 2014, 21:07 GMT

    @Yevghenny, it wasn't merely KP's disruption that I was getting at but his actual cricket form coupled with his long standing well documented knee problems and constant complaining about too much cricket unless it was IPL time. I am the first to admit the current England regime is a mess, but as I alluded to in my unposted comment adding one more non performing senior player in KP to the mess alongside the current lot would have denied one of the new batsmen a test place and would have compounded the problem even more.

  • on July 22, 2014, 18:48 GMT

    Why this obsession with kp as the messiah? He captained and batted badly in the IPL remember ? And he hasn't batted well for Surrey. He was a very good player but he is past his best as well. He is not the future. dobell and other one eyed kp fans look at the realities please. Even he describes himself as a clubbie now.

  • cloudmess on July 22, 2014, 18:48 GMT

    Agree with George Dobell, and I blame the administrators much more than the players. It is tragic how many personal and self-serving agendas got in the way of picking a new coach, so that we were then left with the inadequate Peter Moores again. We tinker and we over-complicate and we find so many ways to destroy any possibility of sustained success in the English team. The reason Australia have been so good since Darren Lehmann took over was not down to any great tactical genius - it was simply that he identified the best 11 players in Australia, and gradually got them into his side, irrespective of perceived difficulties in their personality or fragilities in their confidence. He then did what a manager is meant to do - he managed them. He dropped Cowan, a very good team man, and resurrected the careers of the far less amenable Warner and Johnson; the current England regime would have done the exact opposite.

  • on July 23, 2014, 21:13 GMT

    bring back Kevin Pietersen! he's got class, style and skills all of which England's batting lacks at the moment

  • markatnotts on July 23, 2014, 20:36 GMT

    @VillageBlacksmith, very well put. The delusion around KP, mainly from non England fans even extended to him being the main reason we won the 2005 Ashes. My down to earth opinion is a certain Lancastrian all rounder and some quality pace bowling had much more of an impact over all 5 Tests.

  • VillageBlacksmith on July 23, 2014, 15:18 GMT

    @Land147… Totally agree, there are some great new prospects coming through (Lyth, Lees, Vince, Jordan to name a few) and the recent new players in to the Eng test team have outperformed the senior players, and that's a scoreboard fact George. The preoccupation with KP is strange, he led his IPL team to last and his test average was plummeting, plus he hardly ever played short form cricket any more as Eng bent over backwards to be nice to him, even after textgate…. It really is time to move on from old has-beens with such a promising crop of youngsters coming through and to focus on… It would be slightly more interesting to read about what possible solutions there are and the exciting new players coming through rather than eternal doom and gloom and kp testimonials!!

  • Nampally on July 23, 2014, 14:30 GMT

    Yes, with 3 Tests remaining England still have a chance to turn things around. At the same time these Tests are on spin friendly pitches of Southampton, The Oval & Old Trafford. The first 2 were supposed to be Pace friendly.India will go for 2 spinners in the rest of the 3 Tests. In addition, as we progress to the 5th test, the fatigue & endurance become a factor. How good are the bench strengths of the 2 teams - an issue. India has players like Ashwin, Rohit Sharma, Aaron & Gambhir on the bench. England needs to find their bench strengths as well to replace some of the tiring bodies like Anderson+Broad. Age & Fitness also need to be considered. Both he teams are young so fitness, Fatigue & endurance come to the fore. This is the first time in history that 5 Tests have been scheduled in 42 days. The team that has paced itself well will be ahead. England can still pull up some of the guys who have been shelved & gain some inspiration thru them. So it is a wide open series!

  • YorkshirePudding on July 23, 2014, 12:17 GMT

    @Andrew Jon Dodds, I agree about KP is not as if hes scored mountains of runs in the CC this year to even justify a re-call. At best you might recall him for T20 but that's it.

    In terms of Buttler agree his not nearly developed enough. Bairstow is the better gloveman of the two. However loathed though I am to suggest it Read at Notts might have been a better solution, as he has captaincy experience and is a very good gloveman.

    The main concern is a lack of SPIN options being looked at. Moeen is a good batsman but poor spinner at international level, if you want occasional spin then look at Rashid/Borthwick who can both bat, or Danny Briggs who did well at Sydney.

  • on July 23, 2014, 9:27 GMT

    I'd be very worried about bringing KP back now, never mind the practical question of who goes to make way in the middle order.

    On the other hand there are plenty of potential replacement openers, most of whom could average more than 20.

    Bell as captain - may inspire his batting a bit as well. Broad needs a break, replace with Finn?

    I actually worry about bringing Buttler in right now. A possibly toxic environment, a few low scores and we could end up shattering his confidence.

  • on July 23, 2014, 1:27 GMT

    Some how agree with the writer. One needs to resolve the problem rather than sacking a player. I didn't understand why Compton was dropped. He had a sound temperament of an opener. Just because other players didn't like him? I don't understand why Moores is back? Why not looking for a new coach? What are reasons behind not hiring coaches that help to develop not only the tactics but also the basic skills and temperament. I read Finn's interview on the other day, he was so low. He admitted that there was no one to help him develop the skills rather than tactics. He had the problem and should have been worked out in the first place. Such a promising young fast bowler and struggling to get back to his best.

  • markatnotts on July 22, 2014, 21:07 GMT

    @Yevghenny, it wasn't merely KP's disruption that I was getting at but his actual cricket form coupled with his long standing well documented knee problems and constant complaining about too much cricket unless it was IPL time. I am the first to admit the current England regime is a mess, but as I alluded to in my unposted comment adding one more non performing senior player in KP to the mess alongside the current lot would have denied one of the new batsmen a test place and would have compounded the problem even more.

  • on July 22, 2014, 18:48 GMT

    Why this obsession with kp as the messiah? He captained and batted badly in the IPL remember ? And he hasn't batted well for Surrey. He was a very good player but he is past his best as well. He is not the future. dobell and other one eyed kp fans look at the realities please. Even he describes himself as a clubbie now.

  • cloudmess on July 22, 2014, 18:48 GMT

    Agree with George Dobell, and I blame the administrators much more than the players. It is tragic how many personal and self-serving agendas got in the way of picking a new coach, so that we were then left with the inadequate Peter Moores again. We tinker and we over-complicate and we find so many ways to destroy any possibility of sustained success in the English team. The reason Australia have been so good since Darren Lehmann took over was not down to any great tactical genius - it was simply that he identified the best 11 players in Australia, and gradually got them into his side, irrespective of perceived difficulties in their personality or fragilities in their confidence. He then did what a manager is meant to do - he managed them. He dropped Cowan, a very good team man, and resurrected the careers of the far less amenable Warner and Johnson; the current England regime would have done the exact opposite.

  • balajik2505 on July 22, 2014, 17:48 GMT

    England still seems to be using the old Duncan Fletcher formula even now. Though the people in charge have changed; the template still exists and was quite successful. It gave England good results for quite some time. However, everything ends sometime, and the Fletcher formula has run its course. England need to look for new ideas. Peter Moores is just old wine in an old bottle. England could still turn this series around, but the need for change is glaringly obvious.

  • on July 22, 2014, 17:11 GMT

    Completely agree with sweetspot. A lot of credit should go to the IPL (which the English cricketing establishment and cricket-writers still routinely denigrate) - rubbing shoulders with international stars, and used to facing the likes of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Mitchell Johnson in high-pressure situations, the current generation of Indian cricketers have no fear. For an old-timer like me who has spent decades watching Indian batsmen demonstrate their frailty against short-pitched bowling, it was great to see Vijay and others elegantly swaying to avoid the bouncers from Anderson & co in textbook fashion - in stark contrast to the incompetence of their English counterparts when given a taste of their own medicine by Ishant!

  • Warlingham-hasbeen on July 22, 2014, 14:58 GMT

    Prashant and Cricstaah , a couple of excellent posts.

    Why does the ECB, all the counties and the cricket press deny the fact that the system of failure will stay in English cricket as long as there is no individuality allowed, open mindedness and a fairer selection policy based on wether someone plays cricket very, very well,rather than wether they are over weight ( while still leading or near the top of the most valuable player list used by the ECB themselves) or speak their mind in a team meeting designed for that very purpose. Coaches coach , selecters select. Also allowing a coach to virtually select sides and squads himself( Flower ) is a very dangerous road to travel when that coach cannot help himself from becoming involved emotionally in petty disputes with the players themselves. Also , Cook was not a problem , he has been made into one by Downton and Giles absurd backing at all costs.

  • StJohn on July 22, 2014, 14:48 GMT

    Bring back KP as captain.

  • Twinkie on July 22, 2014, 14:44 GMT

    Quick! Come play some tests in the West Indies! The way this lot is playing we might be able to beat them! Seriously, your cricket seems to be in the same self-destructing mess as ours.

  • sweetspot on July 22, 2014, 13:56 GMT

    Quietly, in the supposedly slow world of Test cricket, India has recorded a commendable win over rivals who hold the game in high respect and regard. But this new attitude from India is precisely what England lacks. I dare say the IPL is paramount to the game going forward, as far as attitude is concerned. Look at Jadeja - a clear product of the IPL generation. He has no fear, and has been in pressure cooker situations many times in the so called slam bang format of the game. He has also the security that no matter what, he can still shine in the IPL, and as much as pride may play a role in playing for the nation, being financially secure does free one's mind. Young Indian minds are free because of the IPL, and they don't overly respect oppositions.

    English players, not surprisingly, seem to treat the IPL as some sort of pox, and the only person who is a star there is the only person who can apparently turn things around for England. What irony!

  • CricStaah on July 22, 2014, 13:56 GMT

    Key points here: In England we still have a very pompous and stuck up approach to the game. availability to the working classes is almost non existent now costs an arm and a leg in order to put ur child through a club as mentioned above there is a general reluctance to promote innovations like ur Dil scoops or ur swtich hits or mystery spin doosras etc. Having come throught the county age groups myself i found these sorts of players were mocked and ridiculed rather than pushed to be better. Indaviduality rather than the text book has been forced onto this country and now they have no choice but to try and catch up which they are failing miserably at the schedule for the team has been a complete joke and we may end up in a situation where anderson and co will take early retirement. county standard is poor keep blaming Moeen Ali for not being fit for purpose as a spinner. Its not his fault pick a spinner! KP looks like the only guy who is a world beater from that crop

  • on July 22, 2014, 12:19 GMT

    Again George you are spot on! The problem is systemic! at grass roots. No cricket in most state schools. No cricket on free to air tv. No opportunities to see the great players. Not enough opportunities for the Juiniors to play learn enjoy and aspire to perfect their game. In india, Australia, or South africa, from a young age boys watch their Idols on tv and then go out to play cricket in the streets. In Australia you hear about boys playing backyard ashes. Then they get older join an academy and work hours a day on their game. There is talent out there. Go out and scout it. Counties are also to blame. They don't go out and scout players, they wait for players to come to them. Most Parents of talented cricketers don't even know the route to representitive cricket, or feel its out of their reach, due to the air of elitism. Take cricket to the masses and they will give you back the future stars of english cricket.

  • aby_97 on July 22, 2014, 11:51 GMT

    The flaw was in England's selection itself.It looked like they were afraid of getting knocked cheaply.Hence, the selection of All rounder like Ben Stokes at No.9 with Stuart Broad at No.10 with a good batting prowess.

    They should keep the same batting line up and bring in Jos Butler in place of Matt Prior.

    While in place of Ben Stokes, Chris Jordan or Chris Tremlett would be a better option.

  • mikeindex on July 22, 2014, 11:51 GMT

    Fine article, though the 'several' (Ballance, Robson) GD cites as having learned their cricket overseas are kind of balanced by the several (Root, Ali) who didn't. There are of course two perfectly credible alternatives as WK if it weren't for the modern rule that no-one is allowed to keep wicket at international level if he's too good at it. Cook cannot possibly be retained any longer, for his own sake as much as anything else. Bell would have been my choice as captain if his own batting in this series hadn't been - in a completely different way from Cook's - so woeful. Compton for Cook. One more chance, and only one, for Bell to use his clearly good nick to some better effect than a pretty 20. Foster for WK and (caretaker) captain. Finn for Plunkett, or maybe even Broad. Spinner is tricky as Kerrigan hasn't been having a great season, Riley is surely not ready yet, Monty is shot to bits and no-one else is remotely good enough. I'd say, very tentatively, Kerrigan for Stokes.

  • nakshatrika on July 22, 2014, 11:36 GMT

    Where is that No.4, who put fear in bowlers irrespective of runs or not ? There is no fun in watching feared batters. Especially when it starts with No.1.

  • Yevghenny on July 22, 2014, 11:27 GMT

    markatnotts - whatever you may think of the so called damage Pietersen inflicted on the dressing room - it doesn't compare to the damage the ECB, Moores and Cook are inflicting at the moment. Absolute dross.

    Downton was quick to comment on how disinterested he thought pietersen was and how abject that sydney test performance was, I wonder what his opinion of this test match just gone at Lords was. Or indeed, any test match from this summer...

    Perhaps Pietersen was unpopular with some players because he wasn't willing to bury his head in the sand - Isn't that exactly what a dressing room needs? Flower oversaw and did nothing about the falling confidence levels in Finn, failed to notice Tremlett was past it, done nothing about falling batting standards where 400+ wasn't carded for 18 months. And yet, the ECB, Cook, Flower put this all squarely on KP's shoulders and now here we are, it's an abysmal state of affairs at this moment in time

  • luggang on July 22, 2014, 10:59 GMT

    yes the team England experiment should now end, it seems the senior players don't fear being dropped and newcomers are treated warily, Compton, carberry, onions all deserved more caps whilst messrs root, Anderson, broad and prior are deemed undroppable - I think we need to scrap centralised contracts and tell them all to play county cricket and merit their selectuons

  • YorkshirePudding on July 22, 2014, 10:46 GMT

    In part the CC system is to blame but, then there are more games played than 20 years ago, even with when we had the B&H and Natwest Tophey which both used the Knockout principle, where as the replacement for the later uses the 'league' system to appease sponsors, so rather than playing say 9 games to get to final they play 18-20 games. go back to the knockout format and you will free up time for the CC to be run May-Aug as it once did.

  • adensfield on July 22, 2014, 10:16 GMT

    Cook should be dropped, undoubtedly. As to a replacement, there is nothing to be gained at the moment from looking longterm. The selectors should be looking at the here and now. Pick a captain for just the next 3 tests. Who has proved himself a good captain? Who can keep wicket? Answer: Chris Read.

    He would talk to his bowlers on the field, make things happen, above all be a leader on the field. Even if he failed to conribute more as a player than Matt Prior he woud stlll be worth his place as a captain.

  • on July 22, 2014, 10:06 GMT

    The collapse of English Cricket is incredible, not just because of their terrible losing streak, even Australia lost 7 out 10 tests recently, but because so many quality players have either retired from the team prematurely (Trott and Swann), loss form (Cook, Prior and Bell) and then there is KP. The entire team has been gutted of quality and confidence in less then a year. In the face of their losing streak Cricket Australia made a harsh decision to axe the coach and bring on Lehmann and it turned it around. Is there anyone strong and bold enough in the ECB to make such bold and important decisions? It doesn't seem like it. Cook, Downton and Moore seem to standing on the Titanic claiming that its not sinking and sticking to the status quo. They are well under water now.

  • markatnotts on July 22, 2014, 9:57 GMT

    I am absolutely astonished at some of the drivel being published here with regards "bring back KP" and everything will be alright. Particularly given my earlier more articulate comment pointing out some home truths about KP was ignored.

    Anyway if there is "no talent" left in England can anyone explain to me why it is the younger players who are outperforming the seniors?

  • RandyOZ on July 22, 2014, 9:36 GMT

    There is literally no talent left in England, that is their main problem. That's why these old old players keep getting selected.

  • gnat9 on July 22, 2014, 8:49 GMT

    Those who are asking for Cook to be dropped will do well to suggest a replacement. There, that is the difficult bit. Who else can captain England right now? Root? Too young and inexperienced; Bell? out of form just like Cook; Anderson? Don't expect the English to break with tradition and make a fast bowler captain; Broad? Not experienced enough to be the captain of a test side against a quality opposition. So that rules out pretty much everyone and it is best that Cook continues. He has experience, has captained the side to victories before, and as everyone loves to say, is just one big innings away from returning to form.

  • MasterBlaster100 on July 22, 2014, 8:47 GMT

    A 'batsman' is always in control of themselves and chooses low risk options for the wicket and oppo. England were too influenced by Jadeja's cameo and decided to copy him. Also worth remembering the 1st test at Brisbane last year. Michael Clarke was peppered with short balls and hooked his way to a century. When England came out 2nd innings they had a go at emulating Clarke and perished cheaply. Compulsive hooking is high risk and whether it works for one of the oppo or not it is not the way to go in 5 day cricket. Selective hooking is fine. Selective means if there are 3 men back YOU DONT DO IT!!!

  • on July 22, 2014, 8:41 GMT

    Of a failing system? Was the same said 2 years ago when Strauss and Flower were in charge? They won virtually everywhere. Why did they have to go back to Peter Moores again? Or where are teh established players and those who had prior test experience ? Monty, Finn, Morgan, Bairstow etc? A couple of changes with common sense should do the trick, rather than sweeping changes. And please now dont ask them to bring back Pietersen. It all started there in South africa series.

  • on July 22, 2014, 8:38 GMT

    dunger.bob, point taken though England don't have players of the calibre of Hayden, Warne, McGrath or Gilly. What upsets me (as an England supporter) is the way the team tries the same failed tactics again and again. 10 major batting collapses in 9 tests. Bowling short wide rubbish at the opposition tail (3 last wicket century stands in 2 years). The last 3 wickets shouldn't double your score, but this happens all too often against England. Slow, dull, attritional batting, which doesn't result in big scores, alternating with a lemming-like rush to the cliff edge (yesterday's morning and afternoon sessions illustrate this point perfectly).

  • on July 22, 2014, 8:38 GMT

    England needs: Kevin Pietersen - the captain / batsman Alastair Cook - the batsman (back in form) Ian Bell - the batsman (back in form) Joe Root - vice captain / batsman (He should replace KP as captain after KP calls it a day) Monty Panesar - KP can get the best out of Monty as captain. Moeen Ali, and Robson are good enough to continue.

    To me, this looks like a team in re-building phase with a long term plan.

  • on July 22, 2014, 8:29 GMT

    Management is supposed to manage. The clue is in the job title. You pick the best players and then MANAGE them.

    What you DON'T do is not pick the best players because you feel unable to manage them. That is a failure of MANAGEMENT not failure of the players.

    Moores should never in a million years have been given back a job he's already failed at once.

  • on July 22, 2014, 8:24 GMT

    Even as an Indian, I must say that England is paying the price for discarding their only dominating batsman, one who can instill fear in every opposition's mind, one for whom spectators shall always walk a mile to watch him play, the KP. All other batsmen in the side are accumulator, and you need to have an enforcer in the side, even in Tests. See the demoralizing effect that Jadeja's quick fire 68 had on England, compared to Vijay's composed and technically much more superior 95.

  • LoveCric1975 on July 22, 2014, 8:18 GMT

    So Ballance, Robson, Bell, Root, Ali, Roy, Read, Jordan, Plunkett, Broad, Anderson, to go for it. And standby Bresnan, Vince, Carberry and Monty.

  • LoveCric1975 on July 22, 2014, 8:16 GMT

    Plunkett has done no harm to himself and stays in at 9. 10&11 is a conundrum. ideally, Eng needs a left arm fast quick like a M Johnson or Akram but sadly none around. Mills and Barker are not good enough. I would trust Broad and Anderson to deliver and they would surely be my respective 10 and 11s. Lets face it they are the best among all the rest. Now the million dollar man, the guy who needs to get up and grab the game by the scruff, the leader of the pack, he has to emerge from this 11. I would expect Ian Bell, at this crunch time in the English game, to step forward and show his class. I would back Bell to lead from the front with the bat, pick Read's brains and melt all his 102 test experience into a boiling cooking pot.

  • Rally_Windies on July 22, 2014, 8:11 GMT

    George, can you say Moore should be given some slack because he was dealt a bad hand?

    But can he be blamed for his bad hand because he was the one who chucked away his aces?

    Will he ever HAVE a good team? If he is incapable of working with the best players available to him ?

    Can getting rid of Moore and Downton, result in better selections ?

  • on July 22, 2014, 8:10 GMT

    Kevin Pietersen has atleast 4 years of Test cricket left in him. England needs atleast one senior batsman to score runs. Kevin would do that, and additionally he would also put the team in winnable positions.

    Kevin in the England team would make a lot of difference!

    This is international sport, a national team. The ego of a selector, a coach, and a captain shouldn't take the centre stage.

  • haq33 on July 22, 2014, 8:09 GMT

    Stunningly spot on. Just plain stupid man management. Eng are a laughing stock because they have perfected the art of deriding any player who brings an element of unpredictability. They still inhibit usage of the doosra due to such a mentality. The best skippers just say to their player - go do ure thing - and they respond. They are so stifled now that any upset to the gameplan, e.g. short balls, which are by no means revolutionary as a tactic, and pandemonium ensues. Pieterson, where are u??? I seriously think the door is open for him - permanently get rid of Cook and Broad, get KP back, make him skipper. Players with flair will benefit and u will see the likes of Ballance, Ali, Butler and Root become matchwinners. At the very least England will be fun to watch again unlike this current miserable lot under captain takes it personally.

  • DirkL on July 22, 2014, 8:00 GMT

    Nobody can write like George Dobell when England lose badly, He does twist the knife so. And gets plenty of opportunities lately. One thing he failed to stress this time, though, is the utter idiocy of back-to-back Ashes series when you're going to be the team who plays away last. If you win your home series, as, let's not forget, did England, you have just a month or two of adulation (which George does very well, too) before you tackle the wounded beast in its lair. When you lose that, nobody is going to bring up the previous series.

  • DaisonGarvasis on July 22, 2014, 7:56 GMT

    So what happens with the Anderson-Jadeja saga? It would be icing on the cake if Anderson gets the ban for the rest of the series provided the allegations are proved. If he did what he is accused of, he deserve to sit out for a few games!!! Cricket is played with bat and ball - not with tongue and fist. If Anderson thinks otherwise, he is in the wrong sports.

  • ruester on July 22, 2014, 7:39 GMT

    Here is one for the selectors. Drop. Cook and bring in Daryl Mitchell from. Worcestershire. he is an opening batsman, successful captain and has scored plenty of runs this season. The argument would be is that he plays second division......oh wait....so does Alistair Cook.

  • on July 22, 2014, 7:37 GMT

    It was interesting to see the English batsmen going after the short balls, trying to take the attack to the opposition.. (Just that they failed)

    I believe, Kevin Pietersen was sacked for doing the same very successfully, throughout his career!!

  • thamboo on July 22, 2014, 7:06 GMT

    If Cook starts scoring; things would be different. Indians got this victory just because of hardwork. Indian Players went all guns blazing with a barrage of short balls and the English batsmen took the bait, after all; attacking was the only option left with Dhoni and Co as Moeen and Joe were cruising the English Team to victory. Common sense would have saved them from defeat. Nothing to take away from the Indian Team as they dominated almost 75-80% of the match. Short Ball was their Coup de Grace and that was the only weird option left with them. Anyways it worked

  • on July 22, 2014, 6:26 GMT

    The problem isn't the youth, Lions County system. It's producing top class cricketers. It's the boys only, face fits England selectors. Why was Eoin Morgan selected above Hildeth despite being Lions captain? Why can't Onions get back in the side. What exactly have Compton and Carberrby done wrong? What did KP do exactly apart from be best batsman on a terrible tour?

    It's been like this forever but I've never seen players positions become this untenable and not be dropped.

    Hildreth will always be the prime example banging on the door for close to two years. Superior to everyone else in the County system. Yet he was inexplicably looked over whenever a spot came up. Is it any wonder since then he almost appears to have given up trying? There are lots of other discarded players this way but sadly it appears who you are and who you play for.

  • dunger.bob on July 22, 2014, 6:21 GMT

    @ Baiju Joseph: "The idea of instant results after an axe is flawed. There is no immediate solution for this as the Indians found. Yet persisting with a set of young players might pay rich results in future as rebuilding requires faith from the selectors and persistence over a long period of time." .. I can't for the life of me see how I could possibly agree with that any more than I already do. We've seen it time and time again haven't we. You cited the Indian experience as a good example so I'll mention the Aussies. It's 7 years since we lost Hayden, Warne, McGrath and Gilchrist in very quick succession. .. have we recovered to the point where most aussie fans are now happy with our side? .. Not on your life mate. It's been 7 years of pain and most of us, deep down, know it's not finished yet. It takes time and patience. Englands problems have maybe only just started.

  • shanks1967 on July 22, 2014, 5:57 GMT

    A team is a group of individuals working towards a common goal. You hold team meetings to discuss how to reach this common objective. There will be different opinions and differences of opinion. If the leadership is stunted, does not have imagination, does not think outside the box, does not appreciate the rebels, you are trying to build a world class building with just masons. The architects like Kevin Peterson who with his sheer presence can command respect from opposing teams and more often than not provided series defining innings many a time for the England. The Mumbai master innings set the tone for their series win in India. The way Ashwin and Ojha were taken to the cleaners provides a glimpse into the great batsman's ways. Thanks England for keeping him out. But ALL THIS DOES NOT TAKE ANYTHING AWAY FROM THE INDIAN VICTORY. WE DOMINATED THIS MATCH RIGHT THROUGH AND WON THE IMPORTANT SESSIONS. Period.

  • dunger.bob on July 22, 2014, 5:53 GMT

    I don't know enough about the English system to make any sort of informed judgement on it's current health. I feel I can say this much though. The young players you've brought into the team have all done a good job. Robson, Ali and Ballance haven't let anyone down. The system seems to be working all right as far as selecting the young guys is concerned and to mind mind that's a big, big thing.

    Where you seem to be having trouble is letting go, but to be perfectly honest I can understand that. The slide has been so quick I don't think you've quite caught up yet. It was practically only yesterday that Jimmy, Stuey and Swanny were shooting the lights out all over the place. .. I think those days are over (obviously with Swann) and England won't start to truly recover until the bowling unit is completely refreshed. If you get my drift.

  • on July 22, 2014, 5:49 GMT

    Look I guess as Indians we have seen and done all this team bashing before... Remember the time when we were whitewashed in England and Australia ? the amount of criticism that the players faced was very high... Dravid and Laxman were pushed to retirement, big question marks were levied on Tendulkar, Sehwag, Raina and Gambhir were ostracised for their failings against the short ball, Ishant, Yadav and Zaheer were branded clueless bowlers at the best. Stones were pelted, effigies were burnt, the clamour for Dhoni's head was high. Yet India persisted with Dhoni and better sense prevailed. after that, Dhoni led the team to the champions trophy, World T20 finals, a better than expected show in SA and now this. The idea of instant results after an axe is flawed. There is no immediate solution for this as the Indians found. Yet persisting with a set of young players might pay rich results in future as rebuilding requires faith from the selectors and persistence over a long period of time.

  • on July 22, 2014, 5:40 GMT

    spot on analysis. the only point over which I wish to digress is that this current indian team is only 3 series old in overseas conditions. they're bearing the baggage of non-performance iver the past 3 years, are aware of it, yet performing to make it right.. england would be in the same situation if they make the bold moves of blodding in the youngsters now. Therefore, if the facts mentioned about the broken system are even marginally true, then the english youngsters would have to make the herculean effort of dispelling the past baggage and strive ahead.. lets see how it goes. however, it would be prudent to give conducive environment to the 'free-thinkeing' players mentioned in the article.

  • BradmanBestEver on July 22, 2014, 5:18 GMT

    Spot on George - you are absolutely right mate

  • St.John on July 22, 2014, 4:56 GMT

    How true about Moores inheriting a beaten, broken, mentally exhausted side. (I would add a non-performing side too) Dig deeper and Moores should never have been re-appointed at all! He failed once, caused KP's exit and never did anything remarkable for England. A real fresh start would have been a new name as coach and a new captain. Cook has done some really good things (India & Ashes wins) but he has become a losing captain, a failing batsmen and a distinct liability. True about English coaches who distrust flair and who prefer reliability to genius too. Remedy that by going for strong characters like Tom Moody or another Australian (Why not Shane Warne who seems to have strong views of what's ailing the English team)

  • chmkrishna on July 22, 2014, 4:33 GMT

    To say team that hasn't won a test outside subcontinent in 3 years is a harsh statement as this is young side is in it's 6th test outside subcontinent except ishant,dhoni. We r in good position to win in 3 test matches before this but as young bowling side experience wasn't enough to close d games, both in wellington,johannesburg and we almost chased down target in auckland

  • on July 22, 2014, 4:27 GMT

    The Top 4 need to score more runs. Thats all. Nothing wrong with the England side. They were outplayed by a team wich played better cricket.

  • dunger.bob on July 22, 2014, 3:50 GMT

    First of all, you should have given some credit to Sharma here George. Even though his plan was blindingly obvious and your batters were wrong to fall for it, he still had to execute well to take the wickets. That over he bowled right on the stroke of lunch (the one where Ali was bounced out last ball of the session) was an inspired piece of bowling. Especially when you consider his previous over went for 14 or so. .. Ishant is a far better bowler than most people give him credit for. Particularly Indian's for some reason.

    Next of all, as others have already said, it was only 12 months ago you were writing articles about just how damn good the English system was. There was talk of legacies and breaking our run of 8 consecutive Ashes series.

  • on July 22, 2014, 3:49 GMT

    Why is is that when England fails that one of the reasons cited is the tired bodies? If anybody should be tired it should be the Indians. They landed in England after the 10 week IPL circus while most of the English had a nice rest after the T20 World cup. Folks like Stokes, Anderson and Cook were well rested. They did not even play the T20 WC. Broad and Bell played in B'desh but England lost early enough that they too had extended rest. Unless England look themselves in the mirror and stop denying this ship will never turn around. This fake mateship because of which this is more less the team of old boys should be discarded immediately.

  • on July 22, 2014, 2:58 GMT

    You build a team around world class players. You do not dispense with them because they do not fit a "working class" system. England has always had problems with geniuses - Gower, Botham, Flintoff, Pietersen. The list is quite long.

  • Ross_Co on July 22, 2014, 2:41 GMT

    What's all the complaining about? When 'England' had their 15 mins of fame as #1, Anderson banged on about 'legacy building'....well, here's the legacy.

  • Juiceoftheapple on July 22, 2014, 1:32 GMT

    I dont feel the youth system in England is failing, I think it is the only thing (together with poaching African's with Bristish parentage) that keeps us anywhere near the top table. Jos Buttler was whisked away from my state school and village club to develop at Taunton presumably with a scholarship at Kings college. Look at the lack of cricket in schools and citys and towns, price of kit, lack of public nets and pitches, rubbish weather, parent working hours. Most children cant hold a bat. Theres no cricket on TV. Contrast the dusty parks in India rammed with hundrends of thousands playing. We cling to the top tier because of our system not inspite of it. But everyone is catching up, fielding is better, fast bowling better, skills are better, because our pool of players is tiny. And as in football where our speed, fitness, strength is matched by all now, our skills see us dwindle due to a terrible youth system, and in cricket a lack of participation strangles our future success

  • on July 22, 2014, 1:29 GMT

    What a brilliant article. Bamg on.

  • on July 22, 2014, 1:18 GMT

    It's about time somebody stood up and said what has needed to be said in the cricketing press for far too long, that England selection has been dominated by the establishment only accepting players whose "faces fit", not the best, most talented, most able players to play in any given position. A perfect example is Monty, the best spinner in the country, yet can't get a game. Mark Ramprakash, one of the best English batsmen of his generation, never played anywhere nears as much as he should. And the double standards over Pietersen perfectly sum up the ECB's attitude, and the business over Compton is quite frankly shocking. Until England sort out their system at the top level, they will continue to fail...though as an India fan, i can live with that scenario.

  • Juiceoftheapple on July 22, 2014, 1:11 GMT

    Oh to have had Onions control in the tests, to probe off stump and keep the scoring down. Or a leftie to try a different approach. (Onions/Sidebum dumped) Swann was our most important player, with Trott second. By some miracle we have found Ballance. But no spinner. I hate the 'he's a good cricketer' angle ala Stokes for selection. Panesar is a terrible cricketer but has been in far more winning England teams. Pick the 6 best batsman (which to be fair the ECB are just about managing), and the 3 best seamers, and if they cant bowl to strategy drop them. Plus the best spinner in the country. Where was Cook demanding Broad and Anderson bowl full and straight on the first morning. So shouldnt Jimmy (whose ego is outside the team) face the same threats as KP? Cook appears to want to make history, and his outward decency belies a selfishness to try to write it. Someone needs to take the wheel, not say Matty, Jimmy etc. you're great. But to stamp control. To do a Lehman. Instead we'll drift.

  • Sexysteven on July 22, 2014, 1:10 GMT

    Yea I think England need to sort out the attitudes of the senior players sounds like they are the probs off and on the field cos they are letting the younger players down badly and cook isn't tough enough to get hard and nasty to them they seem to be able to walk all over Cook to me he just doesn't seem to stand up to them which is aprob for England captaincy isn't for nice people you have to be ruthless to be agood captain sadly for England Cook isn't ruthless enough

  • on July 22, 2014, 0:56 GMT

    Yet another master piece by Dobell, its sheer joy to read this fella

  • dravidrox on July 22, 2014, 0:46 GMT

    I think the media and the experts are trashing this England squad prematurely. They are in the building phase. Give them some time. I agree with George on the Pieterson issue though. Get him in even if you don't like him. He might win you a match just to prove a point to the ECB. On a side note, I love Polite Enquiries. Dobell and Kimber - Keep it up. You guys are awesome..

  • LoveCric1975 on July 22, 2014, 0:23 GMT

    With so many young guns, we now need an old head with hands as safe as houses.C Read and J Foster spring to mind. Foster with 50 and Read with 47 dismissals this season are ranked 1st and 3rd this year so far but Read averages 45 with bat to Foster's 38. For me it's Read who pips Foster to 7 primarily because he has guided Notts more effectively over many recent seasons as compared to Foster at Essex. Stokes at its lowest ebb makes room for Jordan at 8 who brings with him a great heart and will to perform.

  • LoveCric1975 on July 22, 2014, 0:22 GMT

    This guy has 5 scores of 50+ including 2 tons in his last 6 championship knocks and has already set the T20 blast alight with his fearless hitting and tremendous skills. If we can't have KP we atleast deserve his understudy; the Surrey Slasher Jason Roy. Like a certain Nathan Astle who once tormented England as a young prodigy, Roy has flair in abundance and he can dominate and press the opposition into submission.

  • LoveCric1975 on July 22, 2014, 0:19 GMT

    England needs a quick and timely reshuffle and it should start right at the top and Cook needs to be rested. Balance has shown solidity and composure and at times looked a bit like Graeme Smith; not very easy on the eye but effective in run making. Lets push him up the order to open with Robson. Bell is England's best (if KP stays out of picture) and should slot in at 3 and should for once hold his hand up and take the game from the scruff of its neck as Ponting used to. Root and Moeen Ali have both shown enough fight and grit. Both have shown composure and can withstand pressure with cool calm heads and hence should be pencilled in at 4 and 5. Coming up next at 6 is the most daring and charismatic part of the reshuffle.

  • on July 22, 2014, 0:15 GMT

    Calling spade a spade! Very well written article indeed. The only consolation which England can have at the moment is that things change very quickly at the international level. Only a couple of seasons ago, England beat India in India on pitches which were tailored for Indian spinners. But England outbowled and outbatted India. Admittedly, form has deserted Cook, and some of his senior personnel have either left the scene or have been told to leave the scene. But the new crop has shown resilience and talent. Now they need to tweak their bowling a bit, and give players like Bell a tap on their shoulder. Things will change again. Until they do, we Indian fans can enjoy our day in the sun!

  • on July 22, 2014, 0:05 GMT

    A well reasoned damning indictment.

  • landl47 on July 21, 2014, 23:59 GMT

    I'm sorry, but I don't agree with the premise of this article. In order for it to make sense, the experienced players would have to be carrying the new faces, because England's system wasn't producing good young cricketers. Instead, it's the opposite; the new boys have performed well. Root has batted very well with 2 big hundreds and a 50, Ballance has 2 hundreds, Moeen and Robson one apiece, Stokes' batting is a cause for concern, but his bowling in this match was excellent, 5 wickets at a decent average and economy rate and the fastest bowler on display. Plunkett has made valuable contributions, too.

    It's the experienced players who, except for Anderson, have been struggling. Cook, Bell and Prior haven't had a decent score between them in the Indian tests, Broad's bowling has been ordinary and Prior hasn't kept well.

    England has some great young players. There are several coming along- Jordan, Woakes, Buttler, Taylor, Vince, Lees, Topley. Maybe more of them should be in the side.

  • on July 21, 2014, 23:52 GMT

    Another prescient article Mr Dobell. Regarding Steven Finn, I find it amusing how he has fallen foul of the national team set up despite having a bowling average that is better than Anderson's or Broad's after only 23 tests. surely mercurial Tashkent should be encouraged and left to it's own devices? If Steven Finn goes for 4 an over but takes wickets for less runs than the senior bowlers, what exactly is the problem? For years now I feel that England's captaincy and leadership have been suppressing more than trusting. And without trust, what is there? Just ask Simon Kerrigan or Moeen Ali.

  • cricmatters on July 21, 2014, 23:34 GMT

    There is politics, behind the scenes manoeuvring, clique of senior players controlling the selections etc. in all national sides. However when teams are winning, such differences are ignored and everyone puts up a show of unity, denying any rumours of rift between players. However when teams start losing, the blame game begins and everyone starts looking for a scapegoat to blame for every conceivable ill. Changing captain in the middle of the series is not going to help England. They should persist with Cook at least till the end of this series but put other non-performing senior players on notice and be prepared to replace them if they don't improve. England should also find a way to either get Swann or Monty Panesar back in the team. Strong resilient teams always bounce back and England has the advantage of playing in home conditions.

  • UndertheGrill on July 21, 2014, 23:33 GMT

    When England lost in Australia, their solution was to further entrench the 'qualities' that had led them to be whitewashed (aside from Australia playing very well). Strauss not leaving on a high after defeating India in 2011 has also arguably hindered the development of Cook as a captain, and the natural renewal of the team as a whole, and they have only enjoyed isolated successes since. I don't see this changing until those at the top recognise the reasons they find themselves in this position. After this summer, their next 5 series are away to WI, home to NZ, home to Aus, away to Pak, and away to SA. It could get worse before it gets better.

  • Sigismund on July 21, 2014, 23:04 GMT

    This all seems a little rash. Obviously there are concerns and frustrations for the England fan, but it would be a mistake to conflate team spirit with 'cosyness': that would lead us back to the revolving door. Since when was Compo a 'free thinker'? He certainly doesn't bat like one. Looks now like Cook made that response to a question about Prior in the knowledge that he was about to hand in his badge: a decent response, I'd say.

  • on July 21, 2014, 22:55 GMT

    an excellent column on England's problem. england is a country which has produced quality cricketers through a system not like asian sides where u can try young raw talent.. but due to few hypocrites in England's dressing room tables are turning quite rapidly and the sysfem of english cricket is reaching its climax.. Well all I can hipe is tahat they appoint KP as captain and let him build his side. .

  • Madpashcrickers on July 21, 2014, 22:53 GMT

    "...an environment too cosy for those whose faces fit and one that ostracises the rest. "

    Spot on George - only cosiness could explain why a player like Anderson who has underperformed for at least ten straight tests in a row if not more could still be an automatic selection. In the past year or so he has been absolutely taken apart numerous times including by Ashton Agar a kid literally straight out of club cricket, George Bailey, Angelo Matthews, Ravi Jadeja and Bhuvi Kumar.

  • on July 21, 2014, 22:49 GMT

    I still think removing Peterson was the biggest mistake of England cricket.. Everyone knows Ashes was total failure from the whole team not just Peterson.. Agreed that he's got bit of attitude problem and bit egoistic as well.. But he is still a lot better player than anyone playing in this side currently.. He brings fearness to the opposing side.. I go for team India and u see the amount of years India stuck with the senior players despite of their failures..

  • Chris_P on July 21, 2014, 22:40 GMT

    It's a tough call, but the right one. Prior is way below the standards he was setting himself & with England faltering around him, simply cannot be carried any longer. I hope people remember the way he played most of his career rather than to judge him on his last few tests.

  • Twenny-Twenny-Knight on July 21, 2014, 22:08 GMT

    England under the current regime are doomed; Cook appears to be a nice bloke (at least he did when he visited my boys' school recently), but despite being a great batsman he isn't a natural captain. The management are a mess, from Downton down; Moores is already proven to be as ineffectual as before when Pietersen refused to work with him. The guy has never played international cricket and therefore isn't qualified to do the job. He has no idea what's going on, because he's never been there in an equivalent situation.

    They'll destroy Cook and in the meantime the public will lose interest, but hey they don't care, their big fat undeserved salaries will still be paid...

  • Uticensis on July 21, 2014, 22:03 GMT

    What magnificent ire: a fantastically controlled piece of wrath and indignation. Raising the old KP spectre again, though, is a gratuitous bid for social media applause. I agree: KP wasn't the problem (or not the only one). But was/is he really the solution? Look at his ex-England form, and you get the impression that a whole group of England players hit the buffers together, KP included.

    Possibly England face burn-out and systemic collapse not because of "culture" - which is a wonderful word/idea, of little real meaning, for the commentariat to use and abuse in whatever way they like - but because they're the only international team who play during the Northern hemisphere summer.

  • jb633 on July 21, 2014, 22:02 GMT

    Great article and it can't be overstated how bad things are atm. George is good with his punishing remarks of our system. All I can say is well done India, you deservedly stuffed the worst side going round the international circuit. Am I the only English fan utterly dreading next year's ashes? Please say i am not alone haha

  • on July 21, 2014, 22:01 GMT

    Bang on the money. Couldn't agree more.

  • satchander on July 21, 2014, 21:58 GMT

    "captaincy in a system in which the ECB's chairman and the England team managing director have backed Cook so resolutely that to sack him might be politically impossible" - Don't worry George, England is not alone, India's BCCI president has been doing this to Dhoni for the past 3 years. I think you just need to patient. If Dhoni can script a win finally after failing to do so in 15 overseas tests, why cannot Cook do the same ?

  • on July 21, 2014, 21:57 GMT

    If we compare cook to prior, true prio is the best batsman and the wicket keeperccurrently England got.

  • on July 21, 2014, 21:54 GMT

    Huge fan of Mr. Dobell's writing. Take a bow Sir!!

  • Westmorlandia on July 21, 2014, 21:45 GMT

    It's easy to look at a run of results and make a sweeping conclusion about the whole system. Possibly those conclusions are right. On the other hand, it is the same system that, in 2011, was being lauded to the skies as a successful re-engineering of the parlous state of English cricket in the 1990s, with central contracts and so on. As usual, both extremes are probably wrong.

    We should improve things where we need to and can, but let's not get carried away and imagine that we need to rip everything down, sack everyone and end up doing ourselves more damage than good. There are some key things to fix, so let's just focus on those.

  • stumpedlloyd on July 21, 2014, 21:44 GMT

    Just listened to the BBC post-match podcast. Peter Moores says of the batsmen out hooking, "They set a trap for us and we fell for it." Did it ever not occur to Moores to possibly send out a message, "Hey, lads, there are three guys out on the legside boundary. Trying ducking?" And the fact that Cook said Prior, who has now removed himself from selection, should be picked on previous record speaks volumes. Using that logic, shouldn't we bring back Mike Gatting, Ian Botham and Alan Knott? Talk about having blinders on. And Moores has the audacity to say, "We lost some good players" and then names KP! There's a quick way to solve that problem, you know.

  • SwamyCricketAnanda on July 21, 2014, 21:44 GMT

    What about Carberry apart from Compton and KP? Some players are simply dropped and forgotten and now they say no alternative to Cook or Prior or Broad.

  • on July 21, 2014, 21:43 GMT

    Goodness I thought I was back in Oz for teh Ashes watching another Englsand debacle at Lords. Talking of Oz if this was Australia & not cozy palsy walsy England who would be booted out Moores. Sorry coach the England team is worse than when you came. Cook. Was a good batsman now a lousy batsman & very mediocre Captain. Anderson. Long past his sell date incapable now of exploiting the new ball. Broad. Mediocre bowling except for cameo at Trent Bridges no runs. Prior Physical wreck drops catches misses stumpings no recent good score Stokes Reasonable bowling appalling batting not an all rounder as touted.

    Chance of that happening. Zero. LOL. England desiined to lose the series comfortably to India. .

  • Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on July 21, 2014, 21:35 GMT

    George is right, again...

  • on July 21, 2014, 21:27 GMT

    England's FC system is a joke and need changing, too many games and the standards differ greatly, need to look at Australia and South Africa's FC comps for the answer.

  • FieryFerg on July 21, 2014, 21:20 GMT

    Excellent article. Perhaps time to get rid of the last of the 'coterie of senior players' as Anderson and Broad have contributed little this year, other than to prove just how over-rated they are.

  • Nampally on July 21, 2014, 21:17 GMT

    The real problem with England is they still have their feet in the past with dominant control from the "establishment". When politics enters the selection of the team, it is not the best XI on the field. KP & Compton are left out of this England team based on politics. With Bell & Cook out of form there is no sheet anchor in batting except may be Root. At Trent Bridge the 2 bowlers Broad & Anderson saved England batting & possibly the match. At Lords Dhoni had a plan B which he put into action in desperation after frustrating pre-Lunch session. Fortunately short pitched bowling via Ishant worked perfectly because England used wrong tactics to counter it. Hooking & Pulling on a pitch with variable bounce was suicidal. England were caught wrong footed & needed Plan B - leave those balls well alone like India did perfectly to frustrate England pace bowlers. Even Kumar @#9 scored 3 x 50's! This Young Indian team can fight back & surprise many with a winning record in England & Australia!

  • realcricketfan on July 21, 2014, 21:16 GMT

    So Captain Cook thinks he should have another three tests to turn this around. If he had any backbone he would "front up" and recognise that he has no ability as a captain and let someone else turn this series around. This is a similar situation to Ricky Ponting in that when the great players in the team all left his lack of ability as a captain was exposed. The fact that the establishment were backing Cook yesterday before todays play even started sums up what is wrong with the way cricket is run in this country. When Ian Botham was left high and dry in 1981 by the Bedsers it was obviously because he was not one of the establishment unlike Cook who has been through the public school, cricket set up and is clearly the image they want to portray. Apparently an image of someone who is out of his depth but went to the right school and looks good in a photograph is what we need and so what if the Ashes are already lost. I look forward to us ending the summer even further down the rankings

  • neo-galactico on July 21, 2014, 21:09 GMT

    The worst thing that could happen is for Eng to somehow win the series because it'll delay the necessary steps of removing some dead-weight (Prior) and relieving Cook of the captaincy. The ECB has invested so much on Cook that removing him would be an admittance that they made a mistake. The Sky commentators were practically calling for Cook's tenure to come to an end. But as Cook said unless he gets a "tab on the shoulder" he's not moving. England need Cook the batsman not the captain, he's proving the old adage, "Pride comes before a fall" with his pigheadedness.

  • JaranNirsi on July 21, 2014, 21:08 GMT

    George Dobell: I do hope that the men who run English cricket take heed of your beautifully summarized indictment of the system that is responsible for its current woes, a piece as succinct in its prose and grammar as it is sweeping in its scope. I have only this observation: when has English cricket been any different? Otherwise, would not JB Hobbs been England's first captain, when he was still only Jack, and not the Sir John Berry that he became, decades after retirement? Wouldn't PGH Fender, greatest of county captains of the period become captain of England? Would Hammond have had to turn amateur? English cricket has always been an Old Boy's club, and done extremely well, more often than not. English cricket would seem to have flowered all along despite the system that runs it, not because of it. Hopefully, it will continue to do so, despite its present travails, which you have so effectively documented.

  • ruester on July 21, 2014, 21:04 GMT

    In can barely believe how low the England cricket team has fallen so fast. How on earth have we lost to India on a green seamer? I would like to ask the following people a simple question. Cook, Downton, Flower, Clarke how have you managed to destroy our National side so comprehensively? I know the answer, you are all incompetent or to arrogant to accept responsibility. KP saw this coming and spoke up, you sacked him! don't you think the most successful batsman we ever had, might of learnt a few things over the years. I'm sorry you think that he was no longer required by our national team, your little cotery are the only group in the country that does. Alistair Cook has led this side and performed badly for too long. I am struggling to agree with his argument that he is the man to lead us out of the mess he led us into.

  • on July 21, 2014, 20:53 GMT

    Look what happended to Aus when they dropped all the greats prematurely ..................It has taken them 5 years to redevelop.

    Same for WI & they r yet to develop

    Eng dropped everyone post Ashes & now they cannot win even at home

  • TheKeeper on July 21, 2014, 20:51 GMT

    The biggest issue is that there is no junior cricket at public school level. If you want the kids to play cricket there are only expensive clubs and coaching camps, or even more expensive private schools. It's the same story with other sports too.

    Is it any surprise that there are so many other nationalities playing for England? No, because in all other cricketing nations the kids start playing at school - starting at the U12 (under 12) level. England's grassroots cricket strategy is a total farce - it's just a commercialised mechanism designed to squeeze every penny out of English cricket. Just look at the Club Cricket Conference website for all the evidence.

  • on July 21, 2014, 20:50 GMT

    U cannot obviously sack, chop & cheese proven players all the time. The main thing to is work on your strategies as players & as captain. e.g Ishant being the tallest was most appropriate person to bowl bouncers , he did & succeeded on a variable bouncing pitch. Ishant did same to faukner in INd and he scored 30 runs in 1 over off him & in next match a 60 ball 100. Conclusion? Faulkner had perfected pull & hook in nets & was applying it on good pitch. English batters hadn't & yet they were trying it on a variable bounce pitch, a plan bound to fail.

  • shot274 on July 21, 2014, 20:50 GMT

    Very well summed up. Downton, Moores and co may well have considered this summers tourists as relatively feeble opposition which would enable positive results and all those with short term memories would forget Pietersen , the Ashes and every distasteful aspect of adminstrative and managerial hypocrisy which has made English cricket so unpalatable. Lets face it ;neither SL or India are world beaters. Infact this must rank as the weakest indian or SL bowling attack to have toured in the last couple of decades. But they have won desevedly and exposed deficiencies within the English team which has surprised very few. Some personnel may change for the next test but not the culture! You cannot compete in an international sport if its run by an institution which is simply a big boys club.

  • vivkr on July 21, 2014, 20:43 GMT

    All well and fine about England's weaknesses and their need to work out their problems, but honestly, aren't you overdoing it? I mean, they have young players like Moeen Ali and Joe Root that are going to come good. They were in with a chance until their batsmen collapsed to reckless shots against the short ball in a manner that reminds me of our Indian batsmen on many a tour outside. You can't just start sacking one and all. There are 3 Tests still to come.

    By the way, I would take strong exception to the generous glossing over of the English surrender to the mighty WI in 1984. True, the Windies were a league apart, but the manner in which Gower's England surrendered back then was unforgivable. I still see Trevor Bailey's withering criticism "Surrender! It made me cringe..."

  • on July 21, 2014, 20:40 GMT

    The English management should accept their mistakes and take bold dicisions inorder to make the team better. They made a big mistake by sacking KP and is paying the price for it now...

  • Batmanian on July 21, 2014, 20:39 GMT

    For Cook to say he won't quit was the right thing to say. And for the ECB to sack him is the right thing for them to do.

  • on July 21, 2014, 20:37 GMT

    What i find funny is on these self same articles we were subject to hundreds of comments talking about Englands depth and the lack of depth in other countries. People used to randomly shout out names and call that depth

  • pom_don on July 21, 2014, 20:36 GMT

    I read only one thing wrong here, it is NOT a failing system it IS a failed system, just too cosy all round! Cook, Prior, Stokes should go, Jimmy should be rested & Broad is so-so but certainly not firing, I think the rest of the youngsters show promise, time will tell. Finn & Jorden in for the next test would make sense & Buttler could do no worse but one of the 'old stagers' mind you Foster or Read would be good & add a lot of knowledge in the short term to a young team.

  • Cpt.Meanster on July 21, 2014, 20:33 GMT

    There is this corny way of saying how cricket is a team game and this match clearly demonstrates why. If you look at both teams, the main difference has been the attitude. India were there to WIN, England were there to NOT lose. England were more reliant on the conditions which were completely to their liking. I mean.. it doesn't get any more English than a green Lord's pitch, winning the toss and putting an Asian team in expecting them to fold for less than 200 which was actually on the cards given India were 7 down for 140 odd. England let them off the hook as this young Indian team fought hard to secure a good 1st innings total. To me, the first day of this match decided the game itself. India will only get stronger from here and their confidence will be sky high. England have a lot of questions to answer and plenty of problems. Cook's issue is only the tip of the iceberg here.

  • mooreic on July 21, 2014, 20:23 GMT

    The Nick Compton vignette is telling.

    Combined with your trenchant - and completely credible - comments yesterday about a strong captain and dressing room not tolerating the "great" (forgive me whilst I laugh far more than I did at last night's Python show) Anderson's childish imbecility, it really does point to something being very rotten.

  • on July 21, 2014, 20:21 GMT

    Hmm. Not sure the problems with the England team are not due to the dropping of Kevin Pietersen. It was a failure of England's management not to get rid of Pietersen after the text gate scandal. After that act of outright treachery he was always going to be a ticking time bomb waiting to go off and his unprofessional behaviour has continued now he has been dropped. Publicly calling for former team mated to be dropped etc.

    The problem with England is they are simply asked to play far too many test matches, much more than any other team. Also unlike other teams they play in the Northern Hemisphere Summer and so they don't get a regular off season like everyone else. Finally in a short period of time England have had to find replacements for a host of quality senior players. Strauss Pietersen Trott Prior and most importantly Swann. Any side would struggle to replace those quality of players. Plus it is pretty obvious Cook isn't a natural leader or tactician.

  • sidban4 on July 21, 2014, 20:21 GMT

    Excellent article, but I doubt anyone from the England management would be thinking on these lines. To find a solution for a problem, there has got to be an acknowledgement that there was a problem in the first place. But England just don't seem to cut it. Or, now that they've backed certain players to the hilt, they think that it would look foolish on their part to accept their mistake and go about setting things right from scratch. How else, otherwise, could the backing of Cook as captain be explained? Or Cook stating that it was up to Prior to decide if wanted to continue - all these years I thought it was always upon the selectors to decide, barring Tendulkar of course, whether they deemed someone fit or not. Or the unceremonious sacking of Pietersen, the explanation and details of which were never made public as was promised? The whole system needs a shake-up or England would continue churning mechanical cricketers without them ever being world-beaters.

  • on July 21, 2014, 20:19 GMT

    It's bias.. Matt can play the irresponsible pull shot n get out instead of saving the test with Joe Root and yet he gets the backing from cook n Moores. KP got crucified for the pull shot during the last Ashes.

  • on July 21, 2014, 20:15 GMT

    It's bias.. Matt can pull the ball n get out instead of saving the test with Joe Root and yet he gets the backing from cook n Moores. KP got crucified for the pull shot during the last Ashes.

  • MasterBlaster100 on July 21, 2014, 20:13 GMT

    Fair comments. Prior looks bulkier than normal, Broad looks exhausted. Everyone else (senior) is just playing badly. We have all played under larger than life skippers at any level of the game who simply would not tolerate you getting out hooking with 3 men back. Clearly Cook is not like that. For the rose bowl I suggest rest Broad and Cook. Play Carberry on his home ground. Series still alive and no need to blood youngsters, already got plenty out there! Consider playing 40 yo Glen Chapple as skipper for one off test. Get Kerrigan in for Old Trafford and put Prior out to grass no pun intended.

  • Nutcutlet on July 21, 2014, 20:12 GMT

    How honest of Matt Prior to admit to his lack of fitness and stand down for the rest of the summer. He should be showing Stuart Broad the way it's done, because he isn't fit either. Unfortunately, SB has previous on this one - he will hang on to his place, even though he knows in his heart of hearts that he's... what? 60%. That's how he appeared at Lord's to me, at any rate. I am of course, referring to Ahmedabad in Nov. 2012, another match England lost easily. And that leads me to my major point here: dominant characters. SB is certainly one, Jimmy is another and that's why England's bowling changes/tactics are not orchestrated by the captain.The senior bowlers have far too much of a say. They set their fields, not AC. Cook doesn't lead; he does things by committee, or he may start off being the boss, but when it gets late in the day (or inns) he lets these two effectively take over. Cook is no captain - and right now he's been let down by his veteran players who've taken over anyway.

  • Manush on July 21, 2014, 20:09 GMT

    It is a shame that Cook continues as a Captain and talking big. Somebody from England Board should ask him to go immediately to avoid further embarrassment. He is not a leader and he lost his golden touch some ages back thus not fit to find a place in the team. India deserve victory scripted by a bunch of young players, despite some poor catching and fielding. England is now at the rock bottom, thanks to politics.

  • crindo77 on July 21, 2014, 20:09 GMT

    Thanks George Dobell !!! Waxing eloquent about Andy Flower's "legacy" and the cricketing dynasty he might have created when England ascended the rankings in 2011, and the Ashes win preceding that, had been the norm. That fact that the victories were against perhaps the worst Oz test team of the century, and a jaded ageing Indian team recovering from a World Cup win and exhausting IPL, which was further hit by a record injuries and their lead bowler out after 12 overs, were conveniently overlooked. The signs kept on coming, 0-3 to Pak, losing to Bangladesh and Holland in the WC, the desperate draw against NZ, and then SA; the one team which was at least as strong, romped home. Ashes 2013 again a rebuilding Oz side, and Broad saved face. However, Oz 2014 tore the side inside out. The coterie of Swann, Bell, Broad and Jimmy destroyed. KP was a convienient scapegoat, but now, quo vadis? Flowers legacy is a poisoned chalice.

  • on July 21, 2014, 20:06 GMT

    The truth will out. England succeeded because of Pietersen. They fed off his arrogance and domination. This they will never acknowledge. Pietersen also was never afraid to voice his opinion-in otherwords to challenge. This was totally unacceptable to management. It created an 'unharmonious dressing room' The reality was the truth was unpalatable. Never mind, there is harmony now and a happy dressing room is the be all and end all.

  • on July 21, 2014, 19:57 GMT

    Best article ever! Brilliantly written George, let's hope those behind this broken England system read it!

  • pvwadekar on July 21, 2014, 19:57 GMT

    An interesting article.. even if half of what is written is true then there is no hope for England.. they will win a few test matches here and there .. but if they are unwilling to accept the true genius players like KP instead of the current lot it seems that they are on their way down to hang with Zim and Bangladesh. On the other hand, New Zealand and West Indies are playing positive cricket. Basic problem is this clique of Cook,Bell,Prior, Anderson, Broad who are helping each other and backing each other and the management while the rest of the players are left to fend for themselves. When KP or Compton or Carberry go against the flow, then they are discarded.

  • real_gone_gadd on July 21, 2014, 19:54 GMT

    "Nick Compton was dropped as much due to the fact that a coterie of senior players did not like him as anything to do with his form" - is there a single shred of evidence, anywhere, to back this up George?

  • prashnottz on July 21, 2014, 19:50 GMT

    The current Indian XI had 11,600 runs in aggregate to their names, Bangladesh's last XI had 10,800. The aggregate runs scored by all 11 Indians and aggregate wickets taken by them are both lower than the runs and wickets scored by Kallis. Nobody apart from Sharma and Dhoni had more than 25 tests to their credit, and 6 of them had not even played 10 tests. That's how inexperienced team this is. England on the other hand had 5 players who had played 70 or more test matches. This is nothing short of a glorious upset, an upset of a decaying once-vaguely-superior team by a batch of eager, hungry, young and energetic group. What's Dhoni's mojo with inexperienced youngsters? He won the T20 WC with younglings, he won the Champions Trophy 2013 with a similar set, and now Lords with a rookie bunch. Hats off India, and England - tough look, and time for introspection

  • Manxmuppet on July 21, 2014, 19:47 GMT

    A brilliant article, well written. Can't help but think the "new era" needs to be properly new, as opposed to "a bit new". This is as bad as I can remember in 30 years of following England.

    And I'm a Northants supporter to boot!!!

  • on July 21, 2014, 19:46 GMT

    This is too harsh. India despite being a cricket crazy nation, did not go this far even when we losing and drawing test outside India that could have been won for 3 long years!!

  • Tiptop32 on July 21, 2014, 19:44 GMT

    Time to reinstate KP. Eng team management and Cook have to shed their ego and work on a amicable solution for bringing back KP. Without KP, Eng is a minnow team.

  • on July 21, 2014, 19:43 GMT

    Pietersen and Compton are not natives, and where they come from, its encouraged, not stifled, to speak ones mind, after all, ' Quality Circles/ Japanese Management' was a well taught American strategy to give honest feedback and improvement possibilities

    Cook is the ideal follower, he is sticking to not resigning, at his own peril, because the powers that be, are trying to save egg from their face, he should step down and rejuvenate, never take a leadership role again-far better players, Sashin, Lara, have done so and batted better afterwards.

    Cook needs to be a batsman only [in test cricket] but he may have been worked out now [amazed that it took 8000+ runs to do so !!] and like prior a spent force

    KP should be laughing, as he was a scapegoat for saying Cook ain't no captain

  • on July 21, 2014, 19:36 GMT

    Bring Nick Compton back. Plus they got to have a regular spinner in the side. Monty did so well in India last time around. Why not give him a go and drop stokes

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  • on July 21, 2014, 19:36 GMT

    Bring Nick Compton back. Plus they got to have a regular spinner in the side. Monty did so well in India last time around. Why not give him a go and drop stokes

  • on July 21, 2014, 19:43 GMT

    Pietersen and Compton are not natives, and where they come from, its encouraged, not stifled, to speak ones mind, after all, ' Quality Circles/ Japanese Management' was a well taught American strategy to give honest feedback and improvement possibilities

    Cook is the ideal follower, he is sticking to not resigning, at his own peril, because the powers that be, are trying to save egg from their face, he should step down and rejuvenate, never take a leadership role again-far better players, Sashin, Lara, have done so and batted better afterwards.

    Cook needs to be a batsman only [in test cricket] but he may have been worked out now [amazed that it took 8000+ runs to do so !!] and like prior a spent force

    KP should be laughing, as he was a scapegoat for saying Cook ain't no captain

  • Tiptop32 on July 21, 2014, 19:44 GMT

    Time to reinstate KP. Eng team management and Cook have to shed their ego and work on a amicable solution for bringing back KP. Without KP, Eng is a minnow team.

  • on July 21, 2014, 19:46 GMT

    This is too harsh. India despite being a cricket crazy nation, did not go this far even when we losing and drawing test outside India that could have been won for 3 long years!!

  • Manxmuppet on July 21, 2014, 19:47 GMT

    A brilliant article, well written. Can't help but think the "new era" needs to be properly new, as opposed to "a bit new". This is as bad as I can remember in 30 years of following England.

    And I'm a Northants supporter to boot!!!

  • prashnottz on July 21, 2014, 19:50 GMT

    The current Indian XI had 11,600 runs in aggregate to their names, Bangladesh's last XI had 10,800. The aggregate runs scored by all 11 Indians and aggregate wickets taken by them are both lower than the runs and wickets scored by Kallis. Nobody apart from Sharma and Dhoni had more than 25 tests to their credit, and 6 of them had not even played 10 tests. That's how inexperienced team this is. England on the other hand had 5 players who had played 70 or more test matches. This is nothing short of a glorious upset, an upset of a decaying once-vaguely-superior team by a batch of eager, hungry, young and energetic group. What's Dhoni's mojo with inexperienced youngsters? He won the T20 WC with younglings, he won the Champions Trophy 2013 with a similar set, and now Lords with a rookie bunch. Hats off India, and England - tough look, and time for introspection

  • real_gone_gadd on July 21, 2014, 19:54 GMT

    "Nick Compton was dropped as much due to the fact that a coterie of senior players did not like him as anything to do with his form" - is there a single shred of evidence, anywhere, to back this up George?

  • pvwadekar on July 21, 2014, 19:57 GMT

    An interesting article.. even if half of what is written is true then there is no hope for England.. they will win a few test matches here and there .. but if they are unwilling to accept the true genius players like KP instead of the current lot it seems that they are on their way down to hang with Zim and Bangladesh. On the other hand, New Zealand and West Indies are playing positive cricket. Basic problem is this clique of Cook,Bell,Prior, Anderson, Broad who are helping each other and backing each other and the management while the rest of the players are left to fend for themselves. When KP or Compton or Carberry go against the flow, then they are discarded.

  • on July 21, 2014, 19:57 GMT

    Best article ever! Brilliantly written George, let's hope those behind this broken England system read it!

  • on July 21, 2014, 20:06 GMT

    The truth will out. England succeeded because of Pietersen. They fed off his arrogance and domination. This they will never acknowledge. Pietersen also was never afraid to voice his opinion-in otherwords to challenge. This was totally unacceptable to management. It created an 'unharmonious dressing room' The reality was the truth was unpalatable. Never mind, there is harmony now and a happy dressing room is the be all and end all.