Eng v NZ, 2nd Investec Test, Headingley, 4th day

England know what's best for England

Too slow, too negative, too defensive, England are not interested in anyone else's opinion and know their own plans bring success

Jarrod Kimber at Headingley

May 27, 2013

Comments: 25 | Text size: A | A

Jonathan Trott flicks through the leg side, England v New Zealand, 2nd Investec Test, Headingley, 4th day, May 27, 2013
England knew that Jonathan Trott's strike rate was all part of the masterplan © Getty Images
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"Get on with it," shouted the angry cricket journalist. This was before play. But during play, at breaks, as people ate lunch or went about folding clothes, many people said the same thing. Why won't England get on with it? Or declare? Or both? And why didn't they enforce the follow-on yesterday? Why, why?

England have, as of yet, decided not to run their cricketing decisions through a committee of media and fans. The media and fans may have suggested that not enforcing the follow-on when you've only taken 43.4 overs to bowl a side out is a defensive option. Team England may suggest that they could see how flat the pitch was and that their best chance of bowling New Zealand out again would be a Graeme Swann fourth and fifth day attack.

The media and fans could point to the fact that England scored at 3.77-an-over when pushing for a declaration, which was only slightly quicker than their first innings total, and slower than New Zealand's first innings. Team England could answer that this is their last Test before the Ashes, and they had a chance to get a couple of players back into form.

The media and fans might wonder if the added gate receipts of a fourth or fifth day could have persuaded England to bat on and on. Team England might ask which ECB employee would tell Andy Flower that he has to base his and Alastair Cook's decisions on financial concerns.

The media and fans will probably say that no matter what reasons you think 468 is a good total to chase, it's still 19 more runs than New Zealand have scored in the entire series. Team England will probably say better to be safe than sorry.

The media and fans have been looking at the weather updates for days wondering why England haven't rushed things along. Team England have never trusted two day forecasts.

England probably should have enforced the follow-on. Nick Compton and Jonathan Trott shouldn't have batted like Han Solo in carbonite and batting on beyond lunch was an odd decision, if you're being nice.

But Team England hasn't been overtaken by an alien life form. This is a conservative team. Replacing Andrew Strauss with Cook wasn't going to upset the careful, careful, softly, softly approach that once made England the No. 1 Test team on earth.

 
 
England will continue to play the way that they believe is best for them and continue to make their own cricket decisions
 

England weren't going to declare 300 in front, or 400 in front, they were going to bat until any total was notional. Not notional for people sitting in the press box, or on a couch, who seem to think every single declaration is too late, but notional for cricketers who understand how the pitch is playing. 468 for a team with batsmen as out of form as New Zealand is quite notional.

But even with this mythical chase being set, England kept being conservative. Despite some variable bounce, Hamish Rutherford was given a deep point. A run-saving position when runs just couldn't have mattered less.

Yet England would say that Rutherford is a confidence batsman. And that statistically he scores the majority of his runs where they put their man. They were trying to drain his mojo but Rutherford still scored quicker than the England batsmen even with a sweeper out. His eventual wicket was to a bat-pad.

Later on, Brendon McCullum faced the penetrating spin of Joe Root. New Zealand had lost six wickets by this stage. They needed more than 300 runs to win. The over started with Cook having three men on the boundary. England would point out that McCullum is more likely to be caught by a deep set fielder than anyone in the circle as their statistical analysis can prove.

While some seem to see events like this as momentary lapse in judgment, it is really a deep seated ideology. It may not be one that is popular with fans, but it is one that this team truly believe in.

A running joke in this series is how attacking McCullum can be with his fields. His slips cordons are filled with bodies even when his team is not doing well. McCullum's field this morning often had as many catching fielders as some of those from Cook in the afternoon.

Drawing this Test will not be the end of the world for England. They've won the series. This Test means very little in the larger picture. Even if by ignoring weather forecasts they've not left themselves the 30 to 120 minutes they will probably need tomorrow, it's not a massive problem.

What a full day's rain might mean is that in future England slightly change their outlook to a more aggressive way of thinking the next time a similar match plays out.

What is more likely is that England win this series 2-0 and they continue to play the way that they believe is best for them. I would also assume that England will continue to make their own cricket decisions and not be swayed too much by the opinions of the media and fans.

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

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Posted by JG2704 on (May 28, 2013, 19:33 GMT)

@WhoCaresAboutIPL on (May 28, 2013, 15:27 GMT) Aus/Eng was a sporting declaration whereby that was thee only way of Aus winning the match. Ok they lost but the odds were still probably stacked in their favour.

Posted by JG2704 on (May 28, 2013, 19:32 GMT)

@Deuce03 - It's not missing the point at all. You're giving different scenarios and I'm asking you and others to give recent examples of when these sort of things have happened and the silence is deafening.There could well have been ZERO play today had the weather have been as bad as was forecasted yesterday. As it happens Cook was lucky that they got the overs in. Had they not it would surely have undone all the bowlers good work. Sure NZ could have dug in but this was a team who was dismissed for 170 on a similarly flat pitch in the 1st inns , so do you really think it was more likely NZ would score 350+ and Eng be dismissed for less than 170+ than the weather not washing out the game? And you say about Eng bowlers killing themselves ... - How many overs between them did they bowl in the 1st inns? There's something seriously wrong if they can't bowl for more than a session without worrying about workloads.

Posted by WhoCaresAboutIPL on (May 28, 2013, 15:27 GMT)

I am surprised no one has mentioned 2001 - Gilly (subbing as Captain) asked England to make 315 on the last day after declaring at - guess where - Headingley. Thanks to mark Butcher's innings of a lifetime, even with (from memory) Messrs Warne and McGrath they made the runs to win by 6 wickets. I also remember the Sri Lanka Lords match in 2006 - Flintoff was certainly never 100% fit again... I too was slightly surprised at the non-follow on decision, but am happy to trust the England brains trust.

Posted by   on (May 28, 2013, 14:20 GMT)

@andrew-schulz - thank you for pointing out the follow on being enforced I will admit I couldn't remember any except for the India 2001 match which he lost, hence the use of the word "think". But then again like I said before having Warne and Mcgrath in your team does change things.

As for the other two test matches (out of 50+ he captained) I should check out I am not sure you can call leaving the West Indies 408 to chase sporting? As for the New Zealand game it was Stephen Fleming who threw the gauntlet down first and Steve Waugh responded by leaving the 290ish to chase off 50 overs yeah very sporting? - even if you call that a sorting declaration that was one out of 50+ doesnt make him an aggressive captain.

Posted by Deuce03 on (May 28, 2013, 13:50 GMT)

To argue that teams hardly ever lose after enforcing the follow-on (never, if they're not Australian) is to miss the point, I think. There were two real dangers here. The first is that New Zealand dug in for a second innings on a relatively flat pitch and ended up drawing the game. The second is that, especially if the first came to pass, England's bowlers could have ended up killing themselves trying to get them out - with particular regard to Swann who looks as good as ever but is only just back from surgery after all. That would be a disaster for the future of the team, for the sake of a win that doesn't really matter in the scheme of things. It also gave England the chance to give some time in the middle to Compton, Root and Bairstow, whereas a declaration wouldn't have done. The time to look back and query the follow-on/declaration decisions is after the result is known, not now while a win is still very much on the cards.

Posted by JG2704 on (May 28, 2013, 13:09 GMT)

@hettypie on (May 27, 2013, 19:37 GMT) You have to take into consideration the talents AC has at his disposal compared to what BM has at his. If Spain played Scotland in football and Spain had Benitez as coach and Scotland had Ferguson as coach and Spain won 3-0 - would that make Benitez a better coach than Ferguson?

@Notgayorowt on (May 28, 2013, 10:40 GMT) You're absolutely spot on. You have to weigh up the percentages. Also we're talking about a NZ side who have been skittled out for around 250 in 2 inns combined and on a pitch which is supposed to be harder to bat on in the 4th inns

Posted by JG2704 on (May 28, 2013, 12:59 GMT)

@Front-Foot-Lunge on (May 27, 2013, 18:48 GMT) That was a T20 style 100? T20 compared to Trott and Compton - in fact T5 compared to Trott and Compton but hardly T20. They might well be lucky enough to squeeze enough time to finish of this poor form NZ batting line up but it's not a full day is it?

Posted by JG2704 on (May 28, 2013, 12:56 GMT)

Again , re those who support the idea of not enforcing the follow on - please give me recent examples of sides enforcing the follow on and ending up losing the game? I have given 2 very recent examples where a team deciding to bat again did not force a nailed on win so please give me something to back up your arguments?

the bowlers needing a rest - what after a session or so of bowling?

As for the batsmen needing more practice ,they could have had more practice for their county sides pre this series but Eng decided (which I disagree with) that rest was the best policy.

As proven in UAE - Eng stick with their rigid formulas even if it is obvious to everyone that the tried/tested methods aren't working. To me (despite what they say in interviews) they are a side who are more concerned about staying ahead of Aus and India than they are of trying to close the gap on SA and are more likely to come unstuck there if they risk letting nailed on wins become draws

Posted by andrew-schulz on (May 28, 2013, 12:32 GMT)

Keith Waters, you are absolutely wrong too. (Featured comment). Never and always are very strong words. Why don't you check Brisbane 2001 against NZ and Port of Spain 2003, among others. And he enforced the follow on exactly 7 times out of 7 opportunities, once losing the game.

Posted by TATTUs on (May 28, 2013, 11:03 GMT)

England will have to face a good team to come down to earth again. The problem is there arent many good teams around!

Posted by Notgayorowt on (May 28, 2013, 10:40 GMT)

So what Jarrod Kimber is saying, is that Team England think it is more likely that New Zealand will score 450+ in the fourth innings, than it is that the weather forecast is correct?

Posted by Harlequin. on (May 28, 2013, 8:59 GMT)

Just to clarify my point about Waugh a little - I was thinking a little more holistically than just this declaration, I was talking about trying to create an aura about the team. Waughs team definitely had an aura about them, and sure that was in part created by the skill of the players, but the aura and fear contributed to their success - it is a synergy. If England want to be great (given the talent in some of the players, they have the potential to be) then they need to create an aura and a fear in the opposition which I don't think they will acheive by consistently negative tactics.

Dont get me wrong though, I think they are a decent test team, but not a great one.

Posted by landl47 on (May 28, 2013, 3:23 GMT)

@Ramski1: you're absolutely 100% right. England has built a dominant position and yet people want them to do something different. Check out Botham's record as a captain to see how well his approach worked.

Posted by wgtnpom on (May 27, 2013, 22:14 GMT)

In fact I think Waugh may have been even less likely to impose the follow on than Cook...

Posted by Herbet on (May 27, 2013, 21:10 GMT)

Cook does appear to be a very conservative captain, but that is what you will get when you make someone with no captaincy experience your captain. Having said that, there is no point at all 'asking what Steve Waugh would have done'. Steve Waugh had Glen McGrath and Shane Warne, he could have done whatever he wanted, and still would have won. He could have probably declared most first innings at 50-0 and still won. A captain is only as good as the tools at his disposal, and Waugh had the best tools anyone ever had.

Posted by Ramski1 on (May 27, 2013, 20:27 GMT)

The pundits always complain about declarations its boring. I have no issue with Englands decision to bat again. 1. Bowlers get a rest 2. Pitch gets worn further 3. England get to score easy 3rd innings runs instead of potentially tricky 4th innings runs on a turning wicket on a rain affected 5th day. 4. Vice versa for NZ 5. Englands batsmen get a little extra batting practice (another chance to look at Compton) 6. England dont actually need to win. 7. As a rule of thumb what ever Botham says - do the opposite!

Posted by   on (May 27, 2013, 20:19 GMT)

The problem with statistics is that they don't take account of the match situation which a good captain does. Alastair Cook is proving to be even more formulaic than his predecesor: extraordinarily unimaginative, no feel for the situation or conditions at all. It takes so much interest out of the game and is not effective.

Posted by Harlequin. on (May 27, 2013, 20:09 GMT)

Harjinder, I'm glad you made that point about Waugh, because that is my thinking as well. When England were talking about legacies 18 months ago, that is the sort of attitude they needed to have. The Aussies of Waugh won most of their tests before the game had been played because the opposition feared them, the defensive mindset England have has made them into a good test team sure, but it will never make them great. Neither will it draw in any crowds.

Posted by 22many on (May 27, 2013, 19:37 GMT)

McCullum having attacking fields....which team finished with the most runs....isnt that what cricket is all about...whoever finishes with the most runs wins!

Posted by   on (May 27, 2013, 19:34 GMT)

@front-Foot-Lounge Would give the article a re-read if i were you mate

Posted by   on (May 27, 2013, 19:33 GMT)

The motivation to not enforce the follow on was probably motivated by two things (a) with the 'all important' ashes series around the corner, England needed to give Compton, Trott and Bell the wicket time. Interestingly that second innings probably answered one question very clearly, Compton probably won't open when KP returns.... (b) the wicket has been playing fine. Maybe, just maybe if England got 400 in front (quickly mind you!) the wicket might deteriorate that bit further.

However, the golden question always is - what would Steve Waugh the captain of the great ozzie team have done..... He would most likely have enforced the follow on, or at worst, declared at 375 in front knowing that he could set aggressive fields and command the control of play.

Now as it happens, Captain Cook will be hoping for at least two hours play tomorrow...

Posted by   on (May 27, 2013, 18:51 GMT)

Spot on. There are reasons why the men on and off the field are in the England set-up and there are reasons why those shouting 'get on with it' aren't. Unbelievably, Flower, Cook and co know a damn site more than the average fan about what works for this team and today was a classic example of the England think tank being proven entirely right.

Posted by   on (May 27, 2013, 18:50 GMT)

Nobody listens to the weather forecast because it's quite often wrong. Monday was supposed to be awful 2 days ago and we pretty much got a whole day's play in. When England were batting the track looked pretty flat so 450+ in 160 overs was probably fair enough. Extra insurance in case somebody got going but enough time to bowl NZ out. Since tomorrow seems to be improving England should be ok if they get a session of play.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (May 27, 2013, 18:48 GMT)

Jarrod, you're completely missing the point. With this being only a two test series and the last before the Ashes, Cook did a great thing by scoring T20 style hundred then, despite Compton not taking the opportunity yesterday, giving the top 6 a chance to get get some practice in before the Ashes. There's an entire day left in the test with only 4 wickets to get. Trott's batting last night was a little baffling sure, but the likes of the talented Bairstow needed time in the middle, and he got that. The fact that this is even being debated is a bit ridiculous. Another superb day for England.

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