England v New Zealand, 1st Test, Lord's May 11, 2013

England warned over repeat failings


Geoff Miller, England's national selector, has given the strongest suggestion yet that there was an element of complacency in the series against New Zealand and that the same mistakes from that tour will not be tolerated when the return series starts at Lord's next week.

In the aftermath of the recent tour, where England only escaped with a 0-0 draw after outstanding innings from Matt Prior and Ian Bell on the final day, the players have been adamant that there was no element of taking the task lightly after the high of winning in India or being lulled by pre-series talk of only needing to turn up to whitewash New Zealand.

While Miller, who has not been known for particularly strong public statements during his six years in the main job, did not to use words such as 'complacent' or 'underestimated' there was a clear indication that a repeat of the performances in New Zealand will have significant ramifications at the beginning of an Ashes year.

"It keeps your feet on the ground. It makes you realise you can't just go into a game and go through the motions and win the game because, on paper, you are supposedly superior. It doesn't work like that. These boys know they have to perform," he said after announcing England's first Test squad of the summer. "It was very disappointing and we talked about that but they are capable of playing far, far better than that - and know that - and hopefully, I'm quietly confident, they'll show they are a better side."

The selectors have shown faith in the players on duty in New Zealand - Monty Panesar has been dropped, but that is to accommodate Graeme Swann's return - and continuity, a hallmark of Miller's tenure, was at the forefront of his mind, as well as avoiding knee-jerk reactions to one disappointing series.

"All right, they under-performed there, but they're capable of playing better than that and you don't just discard somebody because they have had a bad time as a unit," he said. "You just say 'right, not good enough, improve'. That's exactly the message they have been given.

"New Zealand are a good side, they have shown what they are capable of doing. Maybe we were forced to under-perform but we didn't play to the capabilities they have shown in the past so that has got to be rectified."

If the first part of the year had fitted England's perfect script, they may have eyed this series as a chance to rest a senior bowler or two but after the significantly below-part display in New Zealand it made it virtually impossible for the selectors to name anything other than a full-strength side for this series, even though opportunities to give players a break are now few and far between.

Alongside Swann's return, Tim Bresnan has also been brought back into the squad following his recovery from the elbow problem that hampered him last year, which means there are two players in the 12 who have recently been on the operating table but Miller insisted there was no risk attached.

"They have gone through the process with their counties, showing there was no reaction to it," he said. "They have both been very, very positive, and there has been nothing at all. The reason for the operations was to get rid of the pain which they were showing and disability as such, which wasn't allowing them to perform to their best. Now they're pain free and bowling like they were before they had the problems."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on May 14, 2013, 8:53 GMT

    @RedRoseMan on (May 13, 2013, 19:15 GMT) Yeah , see your points. But we're really going on one series vs India in terms of performances. Hussey could be a big loss (full time) and in India they had little spin threat but that will not matter so much over here. Also the inclusion of Rodgers who has consistently played well in England could make a huge difference, As I have said , we have seen teams inc Eng look brilliant one series , then awful the next and vice versa. I think Aus will not be as easy a nut to crack.

  • Tim on May 13, 2013, 19:15 GMT

    @JG2704 on (May 13, 2013, 13:46 GMT). I wouldn't argue that either NZ has improved dramatically, nor that Aus has declined dramatically, but looking purely at the names on the teamsheets I do think the point stands. An Australian line-up without Ponting and Hussey looks weaker than with them - at least with the current crop of replacements. The NZ seam attack looks pretty useful to me if they are all fit and the batting line-up looks more solid than it did do. Australia has some genuinely exciting young quick bowlers, but the chances of them staying fit for two Tests in succession seems evens at best. You know with both Aus and NZ that they will not roll over and die without a fight (though Aus in India came as close to that as I have ever seen), but I think Long-Leg may well have a point in questioning which will provide the greater Test for England this summer.

  • David on May 13, 2013, 15:18 GMT

    Anyone else think that NZ will be England's toughest test this summer?

  • John on May 13, 2013, 13:46 GMT

    @RedRoseMan on (May 13, 2013, 12:14 GMT) I'm not sure you can say NZ have drastically improved since the Aus series or that Aus have dramatically declined.

    If we look at each side NZ have since drawn vs SL which I suppose may show signs of improvement but lost 2-0 in WI, Ind and 3-0 in SA

    Aus have beaten Ind 4-0 , WI (away) 2-0 and lost to SA at home 1-0 and Ind (away) 4-0.

    Only the last India result shows any real signs of decline and I'm not sure whether that was because they missed Hussey , are weak in the spin dept or just had a bad series? Vs SA they were on top in the 1st 2 tests and had time allowed conclusions they could well have been 2-0 up going into the 3rd test.

    I certainly would not write them off. So many sides have had a decent series followed by a bad series - Pak vs Eng then vs SL , Eng vs India then vs Pak , Ind vs Eng then vs Aus so I'd say the same in reverse too

  • Tim on May 13, 2013, 12:14 GMT

    I think the implicit warning about complacency is well-founded. This NZ side are not a bad side at all. They drew with Australia in Australia in 2011, albeit perhaps a little fortuitously, but I think NZ has improved markedly since 2011 and that is not something that you would say about Australia. They have a good seam bowling line-up (though they will miss Southee if he is out) which ought to do well in English conditions and a respectable batting unit - Taylor may be the only proven class batsman, but Rutherford and Williamson look good prospects and McCullum is a seriously dangerous player. Like Australia they are seriously missing a quality spinner, but that may not be a major factor in England in May.

    In my opinion England is correctly ranked no 2 behind SA at the moment. They are bringing new blood into the batting line-up and there are some question marks around the bowling unit, but they still ought to be too good for NZ and for Aus.

  • John on May 12, 2013, 16:48 GMT

    @Mr.CrickCheat - think it's often hard to spot complacency.Players may be doing the same training etc but without the intensity.Since the beginning of 2012 I've thought that Eng are too afraid to drop their established players when they are underperforming (for whatever reason). To me that must be disheartening if you're an outsider looking to get into the set up and are playing well and confident that you could bowl/bat better than certain players who are keeping their places because of past form and all along the team are not getting the results expected of them. It's like Eng see dropping players on a parallel to ending a marriage - no way back etc. Guys like Strauss,Monty and Bell have been dropped and come back stronger.Surely it's more character building to drop an underperformer and make him work to get back in the side than it is to keep them in the side and say "there there , we'll stand by you , no matter how badly you/the team performs"

  • John on May 12, 2013, 16:44 GMT

    @64blip / jmcilhinney- I wouldn't necessarily say England didn't put as much effort into the NZ tour , but I think you can still put physical effort in but be a little complacent at the same time. There may well have been no real fear factor of anything going wrong like there was pre India and without that you might do exactly the same training etc but maybe the intensity aint there. I have always been a big boxing fan too and Joe Calzaghe (best UK fighter in last 30 years and best UK SM ever) looked stale in so many fights , like he was slipping and might get beat by someone with far less ability. He then faced a guy called Jeff Lacy (an unbeaten American) who was the next big thing and most people thought he would finish Joe. Turned out Joe effectively ended his career and probably all those fights where Joe looked like he was slipping , he was probably lacking the fear factor.

  • John on May 12, 2013, 16:16 GMT

    @Landl- Yeah , maybe I'm being a bit harsh on Finn and maybe I'm expecting too much from him due to the hype he seems to get , but having said that in NZ (which was his most recent test series) - Yes he took that 6 for but 4 of those wickets were of the tail and even with those figures his series stats weren't impressive. His pace seemed to be down and while often strike bowlers are not the most economical he prob looked the least threatening of our pacers. I know it's hard to judge on 1 performance but when Onions and Finn bowled together Onions took 4-88 and Finn 3-109. Re Bres , he had by and large a woeful 2012. Yes he may have been injured but then surely Eng selectors should be lambasted for playing a bowler whose form is affected by injury. It's not just a case of Eng bowling unit ripping through the opposition every time but in the last year or so our pacers have looked alot less penetrative

  • Sean on May 12, 2013, 15:38 GMT

    Where's the evidence they gave less than 100% in NZ? They didn't beat little NZ, QED? They were drained, physically and emotionally, or in Onion's and Bairstow's case had played no cricket for months. Everyone made them overwhelming favourites so they were on a hiding to nothing and NZ played well on home turf. I think they gave 100% of what they had to give and to look back on the winter and focus on what went wrong, rather than what went right is self defeating and poor management. FWIW I think England will tonk NZ in this series (weather permitting) but it will have nothing to do with having "learnt lessons" and everything to do with feeling fresh and reinvigorated and playing at home.

  • Dummy4 on May 12, 2013, 15:02 GMT

    It's funny you know, a warning from the selectors to not be complacent! This has been the perpetual millstone around English cricket's neck. Win the odd game have a good series and you're the best! South Africa are streets ahead, India have revamped, New Zealand just proved their equal and Australia licking their lips in anticipation. Sad when you look at the state of English cricket without the use of rose coloured glasses

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