John Stern
John Stern John SternRSS FeedFeeds  | Archives
Editor, The Wisden Cricketer

Stern Words

The other Schofield

John Stern feels Ken Schofield's appointment to review one whitewash won't produce another whitewash

John Stern

January 18, 2007

Text size: A | A



It's time for introspection yet again, and it's not just England's sorry one-day form © Getty Images
Enlarge

The last time a man called Schofield was involved with the England cricket team, they were clutching at straws searching vainly for a winning formula.

Six years ago, Chris Schofield, a novice legspinner and a 'Pommie Shane Warne', we were told, was handed a central contract, picked for a couple of Tests and has barely been heard of again.

What's in a name? Ken Schofield, no relation, is a hot-shot golf administrator hired by the England Cricket Board (ECB) to rake over the Ashes. Unlike his wrist-spinning namesake, he looks pretty well qualified for the task at hand. He turned the European golf tour from a 17-event fairground attraction with £430,000 worth of prize money into a £71m circus with almost three times the number of tournaments. He knows and loves his cricket and is involved with the Surrey Youth Trust.

He also knows how to make money. But making money is not the issue, though how money is spent might come under the remit of his review team, which also comprises Nasser Hussain, Mike Atherton and Angus Fraser.

English cricket loves nothing better than a crisis or even the sense of impending crisis. You can see it on people's faces, hear it in the tone of their voices. Comedians, starved for a good few years of jokes at English cricket's expense, are rejoicing that a 5-0 Ashes roasting gives them the right to sneer again. Normal service has resumed. It's sad.

Sports fans are not much good at perspective and British fans are worse than most. And we're really bad at self-loathing (or is that good at self-loathing? I'm not sure.) But now is the time for a bit of perspective. Stephen Fleming had it right when he said the answer to getting over being thrashed by Australia was to "play another team". He might conceivably have been suggesting that England select another team but we'll give him the benefit of the doubt that he was talking about facing a different opposition.

Comedians, starved for a good few years of jokes at English cricket's expense, are rejoicing that a 5-0 Ashes roasting gives them the right to sneer again

The ECB's announcement - before the Ashes had even finished - that they were setting up this review group had a whiff of spin doctoring about it, responding swiftly to the something-must-be-done frenzy. Being charitable, one can say they were being proactive and decisive, not adjectives often associated with English cricket administrators. But also it gives off the vibe that the game is in crisis when it patently isn't.

Admittedly, the mission statement of the review group is targeted solely at the way the England team is run and interestingly states winning a global one-day event as a specific goal. That is a shift in emphasis. Previous ECB mission statements have specified only Test No. 1 status as the goal.

And there you have it. It has become increasingly and embarrassingly obvious that England don't take one-dayers seriously enough and that includes media and supporters too. The ECB knows it. They don't need consultants to tell them that.

David Collier, the ECB's chief executive, is a smart man. His post-Ashes comments about learning lessons indicate that he has a pretty clear idea that a bucketful of mistakes were made. There is a management debrief after every England tour. You'd figure that all the issues about preparation and methods of selection could be dealt with there.

Maybe Collier worries that nothing would change. Maybe Duncan Fletcher has been invested with so much power at the ECB that he wouldn't be challenged from within. Or maybe it is the players who can't be challenged internally. Hence, the desire for external consultants.

Whatever Ken Schofield and his group do come up with, we can assume it won't be a whitewash. Once is enough for one winter.

John Stern is editor of The Wisden Cricketer

RSS Feeds: John Stern

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

FeedbackTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print
John SternClose
John Stern John Stern is editor of the Wisden Cricketer, the world's largest selling cricket magazine. Having cut his journalistic teeth at the legendary Reg Hayter's sports-writing academy in Fleet Street, he spent four years on the county treadmill for the London Times. He joined Wisden in 2001 and was deputy editor of Wisden Cricket Monthly at the time of its merger with the Cricketer in 2003 to form TWC.
Related Links
News : Ken Schofield to head Ashes review
Players/Officials: Chris Schofield
Series/Tournaments: The Ashes, 2006/07
Teams: England

    'Lara v McGrath was a great battle of our generation'

Dravid and Manjrekar discuss Brian Lara's adaptability

    'Bailey should lead Australia in the World Cup'

Bowl at Boycs: Geoff Boycott on why keepers don't make good captains

    A good time to invest in Smith stock

Mark Nicholas: Australia's new captain has shown more responsibility in his batting without shedding his youthful bravado

    'Why I was dropped is still an unsolved mystery'

Former India opener Madhav Apte talks about his short-lived Test career, and touring the West Indies

Was it right to play the fourth ODI?

Ahmer Naqvi: Why there really is no point in the PCB trying to get international cricket back to Pakistan

News | Features Last 7 days

The terrifying bouncer

When Mitchell Johnson hit Virat Kohli on the helmet with a bouncer, Australian fielders came from everywhere. Mental disintegration had gone, replaced by the cricket unity. Two teams, one family.

Johnson and Kohli fight their demons

From the bouncer that struck him on the badge of his helmet to the bouncer that dismissed him, Virat Kohli's century, and his duel with Mitchell Johnson, made for compelling human drama

The perfect Test

After the tragedy of Phillip Hughes' death, this match showed that cricket and life will continue to go on. This time Test cricket dug in and got through to tea.

Kohli attains batting nirvana

Virat Kohli's innings on the final day transcended the conditions, the bowlers and his batting partners, and when it was all in vain, he displayed remarkable grace in defeat

Australia in good hands under proactive Smith

The new stand-in captain has the makings of a long-term leader, given his ability to stay ahead of the game

News | Features Last 7 days