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

England seem to have forgotten about personality

They have to see a glass that is half-full, and play the game as if it is just that, a game; and an opportunity
72

What happened at Lord's on Monday was a shock. Have you ever seen such a change of emphasis from one session to the next? Not sure I have. At 12.59pm, England were close to an even-money bet. Barely more than a soccer match later, India were celebrating a monumental win that confounded the odds offered once the toss had been decided on Thursday morning. After Trent Bridge, MS Dhoni said he didn't think much of playing on boring pitches and would much prefer to be confronted by traditional English conditions. He did not go so far as say he would win on them too but he might well have thought so.

Dhoni brushes aside India's disastrous last tour of England, citing critical injuries and the start of the changing of the guard as the reason for the drubbing. He acknowledges that England were twice the side then and is privately dumbfounded at things such as the Pietersen business this time. He is such a dude. I mean, Ishant Sharma's short-pitched attack after lunch seemed an absurd tactic until England fell for it. And how those batsmen fell for it! It was a spectacular cop-out, inexplicable and inexcusable.

For two hours before lunch Joe Root and Moeen Ali batted pretty much as well as man can bat. The loss of Moeen on the stroke of lunch was unfortunate but hardly terminal. After lunch the lunatics took over the asylum. The Forbes 100 list has Dhoni ranked the 22nd richest sportsman in the world and India's second Test match victory at Lord's will surely enhance that share price. He could hardly believe his luck. Neither could he help but be pleased for the endlessly game Ishant. There is something immensely appealing about Ishant's personality. Ian Botham used to take wickets with his personality. Shane Warne too. Ishant did just that at Lord's. At the moment, it appears that England have forgotten about personality.

After such a numbing defeat, the selectors need to make some changes. Alastair Cook wants to stay on. (At least, he says he does. He mentioned that he was in it for the long haul until he feels a tap on the shoulder, almost as if it would be a merciful thing. But I'm probably imagining that.) The management have backed him so conspicuously that there is no likelihood of a tapping yet. It is a long time - Mike Brearley I think - since England picked a captain first and then the team: as against a captain chosen from the best 11 players. But that, incredibly, is what is now happening. Cook's batting does not warrant selection but harping on about it gets us nowhere. We know he can bat but he has a fundamental flaw to fix and has five days to do it. He is in.

I fear Sam Robson should be out, which is so cruel. But there is no personality in his batting. Which raises a point about players fitting into a team ethic. Apparently, Nick Compton was high maintenance. Moody, contrary and then so insular that no one could see the good in his ambition. The fact is, he wanted success as an England batsman so much that it hurt. That is no bad thing thing but it takes understanding and managing, particularly when the pain becomes obvious and weighs on others.

Michael Carberry had a dig at some of the senior staff. Oh, and he spoke in favour of Kevin Pietersen. Goodnight nurse. It is a pity that the modern player lives in a straitjacket. The dangers of social media play their part in this, along with an ongoing ideological pursuit of team spirit. Freedom of expression matters and tends to encourage a greater sense of self-worth.

Pietersen was the highest maintenance, worth it for nine years, but then he became unmanageable - and his texts to the South Africans two years ago are the downside of free thinking. He dug his own hole back then and, in retrospect, was never likely to fill it for as long as the team retained its core players.

Paul Downton is a thoroughly good man but he cannot possibly have known what he was getting into. He might now wish he had had a good sniff around for six months and made some conclusions of his own before taking drastic and irreversible actions. Reasonably enough he acted on the opinion of other, well-respected people. Assumptions were made and, typically, they mother many a cock-up.

Carberry and Compton remain good options to replace Robson, though dropping Robson hardly seems fair given Cook retains his place. Gary Ballance, Root and Ali are safe. Root is a heck of a batsman, playing one heck of an innings. When he followed general suit and slapped one down deep square leg's throat, he almost swallowed his bat in embarrassment and disgust.

Ian Bell should bat at 3. Ballance would be fine at 5. It is a small thing but Bell needs to become more accountable otherwise he will be accused of a softness that betrays his ability. With Cook, Robson and Ballance in the top three, England have no enforcer. It is an easy group to bowl at because each has limitations. There is an art to knowing the geography of your off stump but part of the art is scoring in that area, not simply watching the world go by.

Matt Prior was not fit. Either that or he has lost the speed of reaction in his eye. It happens to everyone at some stage, most at around the age of 33 or 34, some younger. You pick up the ball a fraction of a second later. It is not discernible thing, it creeps up on you. The short ball is getting him out too often for it to be a coincidence. When he dives to take catches, he is having to move across and down rather than just across, on a horizontal plane. These problems may signal a dying of the light and were enough to convince him to stand down.

Two summers ago, Ted Dexter told me that during his many years playing for and watching England, Prior was the cricketer who had improved most from the day he was first picked to the point at which he had conclusively cemented his place in the side. It was a mighty compliment. Immediately after the match, Cook was quick to stand by his friend, which was fair enough. Prior, sensing the worst, was less forgiving of himself. Jos Buttler's time has come.

Chris Jordan has personality and should be recalled. It was a daft to decision to jettison one so exciting. He does stuff others do not. There is no obvious reason for this, except desire. In fact, this is a nagging question that faces the selectors: do the senior players still have that desire? The I-want-it-so-much-it-hurts thing that is a minimum requirement for international sport. The selectors may think of leaving one of them out. Perhaps Stuart Broad, who seems oddly off-colour.

Because Ben Stokes looks lost at sea when he comes to bat, his status as an allrounder must be reviewed in the immediate future. His bowling has strength, pace and energy but it does not have the happy knack of picking up wickets when others cannot. Chris Woakes is a nice all-round cricketer but hardly smothered in the "p" word. Jordan can adequately fill the Stokes shoes, for now, while Stokes himself can return to the shires and rekindle the flame that burned so bright in Australia.

A spinning allrounder would be handy. The pitches this summer are so dry. Let's return to the pursuit of personality then. Here is one: Samit Patel. The roly-polys were not Andy Flower's cup of tea and doubtless are not Peter Moores' either. But there should never be a template for a cricketer. The brilliance and beauty of the game is that it provides for all shapes and sizes. Samit should be in the XII for Southampton.

James Anderson remains a given because he so obviously cares for the greater good. Whatever he said, and did or did not do in the Trent Bridge pavilion corridor, he should apologise. Humility would placate the Indians. In turn, Ravindra Jadeja should do the same. Nothing worthwhile can come of charge and counter-charge, and anyway the row is a distraction affecting England more than India. Cricket is dependent on respect - for oneself, for one's opponent and for the game itself. Give it due respect and the rewards are irresistible. Treat cricket with disdain and it will keep biting back, until there is little of you left.

Liam Plunkett stays after a tremendous return from the wilderness. He has shown immense character and provides an example and inspiration to anyone who falls upon hard times. On that note, if Steve Finn is anywhere near, bring him home, bring him home. Angus Fraser, a selector these days, should be able to turn his right thumb to heaven or hell on that one. Middlesex have much in order and Fraser will be across the extent of the progress. Finn brings great enthusiasm to his task and, better still, remains the most feared opponent in the county game.

So that is 17 players in the mix, without mentioning the silky touch and timing that belongs to James Vince. Yes, he is a Hampshire lad but it is the umpires who give him an unconditional rap.

Selection is a hard job because the great unknown is a man's temperament in the face of the brutal scrutiny that now accompanies international sportsmen every step of their way. It was a master stroke to leave Ballance well alone after his night on the tiles. This is not to say he got it right, rather to say that getting it wrong need not be the end of the world. England have to see a glass that is half-full. They have to play the game as if it is just that, a game. And an opportunity. Of course, no one will sleep easier tonight than MS Dhoni but there are enough good cricketers in England to sneak up on him in the dark and spring a Southampton surprise.

Mark Nicholas, the former Hampshire captain, presents the cricket on Channel 9 in Australia and Channel 5 in the UK

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on July 22, 2014, 6:20 GMT

    I think the main difference between two sides was the captaining of the sides. Dhoni in this tour clearly leading from the front. His plots may't have worked sometimes and may look stupid when it does't work. But no denying fact that he is thinking and planning all the time. He maynot be able to explain in so many words how he felt and made changes to the field or change in bowling or batting order, but his ability to read the opposition and plan their downfall is astounding, all the same. He may stand away from the wicket for a spinner, which looks foolish to us but for him its perfectly ok. He felt its only way to counter uneven bounce of the crazy pitch..

    He is a original thinker. Who would have thought bouncing out the English cricketers is the best way ? We always assume these guys are used to short pitched deliveries but he felt nothing wrong in trying and he got the result. Ishant Sharma obeyed his command and turned the game around for India.

  • on July 22, 2014, 5:11 GMT

    Sport is about dominating the opposition and making them do what you want them to do - taking them out of their comfort zone. England don't have anybody capable of this with the blade. They have too many accumulators (except that they aren't even managing that at the moment!) and nobody you would cross the street to watch. I'm not sure there are replacements available who are any better. Individually, Cook is a classic 'just because you area good player doesn't make you a good captain' type. I wouldn't drop him but I would take the captaincy from him, bringing Morgan on board. I don't know who would go to facilitate this. The bowling looks OK though I think Broad is due a breather and the lack of spinner is not sustainable. Moeen isn't the answer. Credit to Prior for the courage to stand down. I'm not convinced about Butler (too much Stokes about him!) and would go for an outright 'good 'un' with the gloves. We are still bearing the scars of Mitchell Johnson. Poor.

  • JG2704 on July 26, 2014, 7:58 GMT

    Got to love Mark Nicholas - It was only recently he was saying (with the same side) that there were signs they'd turned the corner. I guess they have - just happens to be the wrong corner

  • VillageBlacksmith on July 25, 2014, 8:54 GMT

    @patchmaster… & Land147… agree mostly… Jordan for Stokes, Robson does not set the world on fire but possibly needs more time… I would not drop Cook at the moment, but I would definitely get Lyth in, @ No4 and push out the most underachieving senior player IR Bell… I am also a fan of Vince, so things are looking up for Eng… And possibly there is ''room'' for SR Patel if it's such a dry summer… I also understand that ARC Fraser will not let ST Finn return until a certain Eng bowling coach is no longer there to ruin him again… Finn had one of the best strike rates going around…. 90 wkts @ 29 with a strike rate of 48… In 23 tests… These are serious figures at the start of a career and this guy needs to be in the Eng side. And with the way Anderson & Broad (nearly 650 test wkts between them) are now bowling something is wrong… Time for a new bowling coach and welcome back ST Finn….

  • on July 23, 2014, 18:16 GMT

    It's just one defeat and English people are being very harsh on their team. Let india win the odd game too, remember we gave England a whitewash last time?!?

  • harshthakor on July 23, 2014, 17:13 GMT

    Mark Nicholas puts it beautifully.Before lunch it looked like seeing a storm the previous day settle and a sea at it's calmest.After lunch it was total contrast like all the candles on a cake blown away at once..I have seen very few games of test cricket on the final day with such a contrast between sessions like a plot changing in a novel.

    Sadly the England collapse cost the world of cricket an epic game of test cricket.Before the fall of Moin Ali and Matt Prior it looked as though we wee witnessing a classic.

    More than anything India's mental attitude won the day who proved that cricket is very much about positive approach and not only about talent..England lost the game when they conceded about 11 runs more in the 1st innings to India and let the Indian tail wag in the 2nd innings.They just could not hit the final nails in the coffin and often became lack lackadaisical.

    Above all it was not the effort of one individual but a team effort that won the match for India.

  • Warlingham-hasbeen on July 23, 2014, 14:10 GMT

    How is it that England players that are very BIG on " team culture " have been playing with "serious" injuries in matches that England have been thumped in. Swann, Trott, Prior, and its so blindingly obvious, Broad.

    Are going to see Broad take a long break to recover after the next test match from injuries ( already known ) that need attending to suddenly if England lose.

    Why is there not another opener/ No4 not joining up with the squad , just to let Cook/Bell know the repercussions of further failure and to allow that new member to get used to the dressing room. ECB thinks the public are clueless, look at the empty seats on Monday of a gripping test match, which England had a chance to win. The answer is there .

  • Warlingham-hasbeen on July 23, 2014, 13:36 GMT

    Samit Patel should have been playing since last year when he again was 2nd mvp over a season. The MVP table has Samit Patel at 2 in the county champioship NOW.

    This guy has been treated so unfairly. He was told to perform and not speak last year, he did , this year he is doing the same AGAIN. Why is it he does not get an extended run or a run at all ???? All the dressing clique are now leaving like rats on a sinking ship, Flower, Swann fit , yet unfit after a hammering leaves mid tour, Trott ( exhaustion/ stress ) , KP sacked, now Prior( fit , yet unfit after a loss ). Utter shambles and shows why so many cant stand the current regime, coaching set up and dressing room clique of untouchable seniors players who write their own ticket despite poor, poor form. "I have inner steel " said Cook of HIMSELF !!!, thats for others to say it is not !! Deluded and in denial.

  • landl47 on July 23, 2014, 12:25 GMT

    I've tried and I can't put together a side from the 17 Mark has chosen, given his self-imposed limitation that Root, Ballance, Ali and Plunkett are safe and Jordan should replace Stokes. Carberry/Compton, Cook, Bell, Root, Ballance, Ali, Buttler, Patel, Jordan, Plunkett, Anderson? Who does all the work among the seamers? Jordan and Plunkett are strike bowlers, not stock trundlers. How many overs would Anderson have to bowl? Are we seriously going to play a test with two part-time spinners with FC averages near 40? If Finn's in the side, whom does he replace? Economy isn't his strong suit.

    Dropping a 24-year old (Robson) for either of two 30+ players after Robson has a hundred and a 50 in his first 4 tests sends a terrible message to me. I've seen nothing to indicate Robson doesn't care about the game.

    I just don't understand the logic behind your selections, Mark. It's as if you just put down names as they occurred to you without thinking about what sort of a side they would make.

  • Patchmaster on July 23, 2014, 9:28 GMT

    Drop Bell, Cook and Broad. replace with Lyth, Gale and Jordan. Unfortunately the ECB would never ever be so 'common sense like'......so we're stuck with underperforming 'regulars'

  • on July 22, 2014, 6:20 GMT

    I think the main difference between two sides was the captaining of the sides. Dhoni in this tour clearly leading from the front. His plots may't have worked sometimes and may look stupid when it does't work. But no denying fact that he is thinking and planning all the time. He maynot be able to explain in so many words how he felt and made changes to the field or change in bowling or batting order, but his ability to read the opposition and plan their downfall is astounding, all the same. He may stand away from the wicket for a spinner, which looks foolish to us but for him its perfectly ok. He felt its only way to counter uneven bounce of the crazy pitch..

    He is a original thinker. Who would have thought bouncing out the English cricketers is the best way ? We always assume these guys are used to short pitched deliveries but he felt nothing wrong in trying and he got the result. Ishant Sharma obeyed his command and turned the game around for India.

  • on July 22, 2014, 5:11 GMT

    Sport is about dominating the opposition and making them do what you want them to do - taking them out of their comfort zone. England don't have anybody capable of this with the blade. They have too many accumulators (except that they aren't even managing that at the moment!) and nobody you would cross the street to watch. I'm not sure there are replacements available who are any better. Individually, Cook is a classic 'just because you area good player doesn't make you a good captain' type. I wouldn't drop him but I would take the captaincy from him, bringing Morgan on board. I don't know who would go to facilitate this. The bowling looks OK though I think Broad is due a breather and the lack of spinner is not sustainable. Moeen isn't the answer. Credit to Prior for the courage to stand down. I'm not convinced about Butler (too much Stokes about him!) and would go for an outright 'good 'un' with the gloves. We are still bearing the scars of Mitchell Johnson. Poor.

  • JG2704 on July 26, 2014, 7:58 GMT

    Got to love Mark Nicholas - It was only recently he was saying (with the same side) that there were signs they'd turned the corner. I guess they have - just happens to be the wrong corner

  • VillageBlacksmith on July 25, 2014, 8:54 GMT

    @patchmaster… & Land147… agree mostly… Jordan for Stokes, Robson does not set the world on fire but possibly needs more time… I would not drop Cook at the moment, but I would definitely get Lyth in, @ No4 and push out the most underachieving senior player IR Bell… I am also a fan of Vince, so things are looking up for Eng… And possibly there is ''room'' for SR Patel if it's such a dry summer… I also understand that ARC Fraser will not let ST Finn return until a certain Eng bowling coach is no longer there to ruin him again… Finn had one of the best strike rates going around…. 90 wkts @ 29 with a strike rate of 48… In 23 tests… These are serious figures at the start of a career and this guy needs to be in the Eng side. And with the way Anderson & Broad (nearly 650 test wkts between them) are now bowling something is wrong… Time for a new bowling coach and welcome back ST Finn….

  • on July 23, 2014, 18:16 GMT

    It's just one defeat and English people are being very harsh on their team. Let india win the odd game too, remember we gave England a whitewash last time?!?

  • harshthakor on July 23, 2014, 17:13 GMT

    Mark Nicholas puts it beautifully.Before lunch it looked like seeing a storm the previous day settle and a sea at it's calmest.After lunch it was total contrast like all the candles on a cake blown away at once..I have seen very few games of test cricket on the final day with such a contrast between sessions like a plot changing in a novel.

    Sadly the England collapse cost the world of cricket an epic game of test cricket.Before the fall of Moin Ali and Matt Prior it looked as though we wee witnessing a classic.

    More than anything India's mental attitude won the day who proved that cricket is very much about positive approach and not only about talent..England lost the game when they conceded about 11 runs more in the 1st innings to India and let the Indian tail wag in the 2nd innings.They just could not hit the final nails in the coffin and often became lack lackadaisical.

    Above all it was not the effort of one individual but a team effort that won the match for India.

  • Warlingham-hasbeen on July 23, 2014, 14:10 GMT

    How is it that England players that are very BIG on " team culture " have been playing with "serious" injuries in matches that England have been thumped in. Swann, Trott, Prior, and its so blindingly obvious, Broad.

    Are going to see Broad take a long break to recover after the next test match from injuries ( already known ) that need attending to suddenly if England lose.

    Why is there not another opener/ No4 not joining up with the squad , just to let Cook/Bell know the repercussions of further failure and to allow that new member to get used to the dressing room. ECB thinks the public are clueless, look at the empty seats on Monday of a gripping test match, which England had a chance to win. The answer is there .

  • Warlingham-hasbeen on July 23, 2014, 13:36 GMT

    Samit Patel should have been playing since last year when he again was 2nd mvp over a season. The MVP table has Samit Patel at 2 in the county champioship NOW.

    This guy has been treated so unfairly. He was told to perform and not speak last year, he did , this year he is doing the same AGAIN. Why is it he does not get an extended run or a run at all ???? All the dressing clique are now leaving like rats on a sinking ship, Flower, Swann fit , yet unfit after a hammering leaves mid tour, Trott ( exhaustion/ stress ) , KP sacked, now Prior( fit , yet unfit after a loss ). Utter shambles and shows why so many cant stand the current regime, coaching set up and dressing room clique of untouchable seniors players who write their own ticket despite poor, poor form. "I have inner steel " said Cook of HIMSELF !!!, thats for others to say it is not !! Deluded and in denial.

  • landl47 on July 23, 2014, 12:25 GMT

    I've tried and I can't put together a side from the 17 Mark has chosen, given his self-imposed limitation that Root, Ballance, Ali and Plunkett are safe and Jordan should replace Stokes. Carberry/Compton, Cook, Bell, Root, Ballance, Ali, Buttler, Patel, Jordan, Plunkett, Anderson? Who does all the work among the seamers? Jordan and Plunkett are strike bowlers, not stock trundlers. How many overs would Anderson have to bowl? Are we seriously going to play a test with two part-time spinners with FC averages near 40? If Finn's in the side, whom does he replace? Economy isn't his strong suit.

    Dropping a 24-year old (Robson) for either of two 30+ players after Robson has a hundred and a 50 in his first 4 tests sends a terrible message to me. I've seen nothing to indicate Robson doesn't care about the game.

    I just don't understand the logic behind your selections, Mark. It's as if you just put down names as they occurred to you without thinking about what sort of a side they would make.

  • Patchmaster on July 23, 2014, 9:28 GMT

    Drop Bell, Cook and Broad. replace with Lyth, Gale and Jordan. Unfortunately the ECB would never ever be so 'common sense like'......so we're stuck with underperforming 'regulars'

  • vatsap on July 23, 2014, 4:36 GMT

    It was a Test match which was lost. People didn't die. Too much is being made out of this. England is rebuilding and needs time. This could happen to any team.

    Typical of media and fans, maintain your faith in your team.

  • dunger.bob on July 23, 2014, 0:38 GMT

    I would put Harbijan Singh down as another player who got a few wickets with his personality. At least against Australia, not sure when he was playing someone else. He was super effective at getting under our players skins and goading them into mistakes. A handy trait if you've got it.

  • crockit on July 22, 2014, 20:02 GMT

    The main point about Cook is that watching his captaincy in Aus was like watching the start of a slow car crash. And the crash keeps on going but the selectors refuse to recognise and address it. They should have made Bell captain by now or else picked Foster or Read as captain/keeper rather that go premurely to Buttler who may not be a quality keeper for a few years yet

  • on July 22, 2014, 20:00 GMT

    very nice article mr nicholas think you summed up in a nutshell the situation with england at the moment. Whatever they are doing at the moment it isn't working they have lost virtualy ever test match since last summer. If they want to stick with cook (and we know what a fantastic player he can be) why not keep him in the side but give someone else the captaincy for the rest of the series. See if he can recapture some confidence and form

  • Diaz54 on July 22, 2014, 17:33 GMT

    Interesting assessment. No way England cricket team would play Mooen, Carberry, Jordan and Patel! Not in this century.

  • itischandu on July 22, 2014, 16:52 GMT

    I respect the opinion of the author and like his BOLD style of writing. But , this time around he ended the article with a bit of over enthusiastic optimism . There are certainly no good enough cricketers in country right now , who can bring a Southampton surprise , right away . India has got it's nose ahead in this series;If something can be done , it needs to come from the existing English squad . I highly doubt any additional re enforcement at this stage could force a change in the fate of this series !!

  • on July 22, 2014, 16:41 GMT

    ROOT FOR CAPTAIN. Drop Cook. Bring Carberry back. Stick with Robson for now. I think he's ok, but being exposed by the weakness of his senior opening partner. Someone needs to warn Bell to buck up his ideas and start making contributions again. He seems to be living off his reputation, but has been useless since his brilliant summer in 2013.

    Why do people keep mentioning Collingwood? He's as useless with the bat as Cook. Thats why he retired.

  • Stos on July 22, 2014, 15:20 GMT

    All thought is free, the only issue is that Pietersen doesn't think much and so people who conflate personality with impulse find their being placed into the role of mediocrity (in the Kierkegaardian sense) endearing and wish that everybody else would do that.

  • EdwinD on July 22, 2014, 15:03 GMT

    'It is a long time - Mike Brearley I think - since England picked a captain first and then the team'

    Chris Cowdrey, England v. West Indies, 1988?

  • kmravi on July 22, 2014, 13:57 GMT

    as usual good analysis by MN. The difference is their brain work ( captaincy) &the similarity is their foot work.

  • Robster1 on July 22, 2014, 13:54 GMT

    As everyone knows, Cook is simply not a natural captain, but he is a quality test batsman. Perhaps return Cook to Essex for the summer, but most importantly make either Collingwood the skipper for the remainder of the summer of give the armband to Morgan. England desperately need some cricketers who will take the challenge to the opposition. They seem a weak, anodyne bunch right now.

  • Flaaffy on July 22, 2014, 13:54 GMT

    @ barryrichardsfan, I think that is a great team, Carberry, Patel & Jordan should play, no questions asked. Carberry is one of England's best current batsmen, Patel for his allrounder abilities & Jordan is definitely a great for the future (just needs game time). I also think Root could be a great captain for the future!

  • on July 22, 2014, 13:27 GMT

    The quality of England team is very poor on the other side Indians played very well and set challenging target to England score 319 runs and win the match. The way England played second innings they were looking like novice. Ultimately the better team on final morning won the match. On the whole England team looking and playing like third rate team

  • B.R.K.R on July 22, 2014, 13:18 GMT

    also it wasn't a really bad loss of say an innings and 180 runs or something, they actually stood a good chance of winning when about 100 were needed with 6 wickets in hand, had moeen and root continued patiently and won, all this talk about cook, prior, spinner etc etc would have been forgotten in the celebrations, anyhow i guess only one change is required that of buttler for prior, hope england do not forget that they actually played well in this match expect for the last hour !

  • mikeindex on July 22, 2014, 13:18 GMT

    Like so many Cricinfo articles, some good stuff but an over-emphasis on one focal point.

    Sure there are cricketers who can influence a game by sheer force of personality - Botham, Gough, Cork, Richards, Warne etc - but only sometimes, and only at their best; actually talent and application are pretty useful too. Botham's personality didn't do him or England much good once his neglect of physical fitness started to take its toll. Viv Richards' skill was awesome, and his personality undoubtedly intimidating - but it didn't actually make him better than George Headley.

    Are Tendulkar's and Dravid's Test records down to 'personality' or skill and hard work? Gavaskar? Boycott? John Edrich? Mark Taylor? McGrath? Fraser? Collingwood? Misbah? Langer?

    Just a thought.

  • Sameer-hbk on July 22, 2014, 13:17 GMT

    I think the article is spot on and while Mark Nicholas talks about the current English side, it actually is the case with English sport in general. There seems to be a general lack of any personality of 'flair'. English sport loves the bland, run-of-the-mill player who fits in with the system and depends almost entirely on the coaching system. Somehow the same seems to be the case with English football as well. In last decade or two, Flintoff and KP are probably the only 2 English cricketers who come to mind whom global fans find exciting or watchable. Contrast this will other cricketing nations and you see the difference. Even before that, maybe Ian Botham and David Gower were the lone exceptions. Maybe it just something ingrained in the coaching system at the lower level.

  • on July 22, 2014, 13:07 GMT

    Brilliant analysis as always. However, there is one player that Mark Nicholas has failed to notice and that is Lancashire's Tom Smith. During Lancashire's disastrous start to their come-back season, he stood firm and put a very high price on his wicket when the likes of Prince and Horton repeatedly failed. This far, he has scored 605 runs with six 50s from number seven at 31.84 (SR 44.00). In addition he has 48 wickets at 18.62 with a SR of 38. More importantly, on occasions when Chapple, Hogg and Kerrigan have been less than penetrative, Tom Smith has stepped up and taken the wickets. He should take Stokes spot as he is what England require right now, a thorough professional who takes pride in his cricket.

  • B.R.K.R on July 22, 2014, 12:56 GMT

    i think if a senior member of the national team is out of form send him to play county cricket to regain it immediately and not regain form while playing for the country ! the selectors need to be ruthless here and say if a guy does not perform in 5 matches consecutively he needs to earn it again through county cricket and give new guys chances frequently

  • mani86 on July 22, 2014, 12:34 GMT

    Good article, except for the part about Jadeja - why on earth should Jadeja apologize? For allowing Anderson to sledge him on-camera, and then push him off-camera?

  • barryrichardsfan on July 22, 2014, 11:09 GMT

    One of the over-rated agenda in modern times has been the thought of building a team for the future. Fair enough. But such approach may not always yield the best 11. The 11 best men should play on a given day and with such a vast county structure, I bet there is no dearth of them. Cook Carberry Bell Bopara Root (c) Moeen Buttler Patel Jordan Anderson Onions. Cook, the captain, is hopeless. Cook, the batsman, has done enough to be persisted for few more matches. Root has fire and a bit of M.Clarke in him. Greame Smith did it, so can he.

  • on July 22, 2014, 10:52 GMT

    Watching Mark Nicholas's interview with Alaistair Cook after the match, what I found disappointing was Cook saying that it wasn't his job to criticise other batsmen for playing poor shots. Whose job is it then? It is hardly surprising that performances have been poor if the England team is a critique free environment. Strauss and Flower had a policy of team responsibility where people were free to point out mistakes.

  • MrPud on July 22, 2014, 10:38 GMT

    To win a Test match, you must take 20 wickets. Anderson is dangerous in overcast conditions and Broad occasionally bends his back to get results. At the moment the rest look like military medium trundlers hoping to keep an end quiet. England need to play an extra wicket taking bowler rather than someone who bats a bit. Finn in form would be ideal, whatever happened to Onions? He has a good seam position to nibble it about. If a team is relying on numbers eight and nine to build a score then the top order is the problem. Bell is crucial, now the most experienced batsman in the team. They need an attacking batsman or two; not just accumulators. The team looks too robotic with bowlers trying not to concede runs and batsmen trying not to get out. No doubt that any individual flair has been coached out of the players upon national selection.

  • northumbriannomad on July 22, 2014, 10:29 GMT

    Very wise article with some good ideas. Why do I expect them to make no changes except bringing in Buttler for Prior?

  • whoster on July 22, 2014, 10:14 GMT

    The whole culture of the England set-up is sterile, and reeks of a 'job for life' mentality for those whose faces fit. Yes, cricket is a team game, but it's also a game where different and difficult personalities have to be accommodated. It speaks volumes that Prior (to his credit) had to drop himself, and that's because the selectors lacked the courage to do it themselves - despite his obvious lack of fitness.

    If the likes of Botham and Boycott were around today, would they have fitted into this closed shop ethic of blind obedience that drives English cricket? I doubt whether they'd have won a Test cap between them.

    As for Cook, all England fans desperately want him to get back to being the world class batsmen we know he is. He should be given a complete break from the game for his own mental welfare, but with this complete lack of empathy England have for the human element of the game, the selectors will continue to believe nothing's wrong.

  • lancs-lion on July 22, 2014, 9:01 GMT

    A lot of the blame must fall on the "behind the scenes" management. England have some of the best players in the world but when the bowlers are all over the place in terms of knowing the best length and the top order batsmen are getting out the same way every time, then bring in better bowling and batting coaches. Yes, Matt Prior WAS the world's best wicket keeper / batsman....past tense. I would rather put my money on Jos Buttler getting you out of a hole nowadays and he is a potential match winner, as he has shown in the one day forum. Morgan has also shown he has more nouce as a captain when given a chance. So, let's not wait until the end of another lost series...going to test matches is expensive and I didn't go to Lords today as I knew if it got down to Prior, Stokes, Broad etc then we were going to lose. I also have to say that Mark's interview with Cook on channel 5 was very revealing. I would like to see someone within the management asking similar questions.

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

    Disagree about Jordan. he's exciting with the bat, but that's not what he's picked for. His performance with the ball has been below Stokes (5 wickets in the match; how much more do you demand from your bowling all-rounder?! (Ans: Some runs!!)). I would include in the mix Mark Footitt. He was an England prospect a year or two ago, lost his way but now is picking up wickets for fun. Has pace, movement and is a left-armer to boot.

  • ullasjp on July 22, 2014, 8:26 GMT

    Cook is the best batsmen England have got irrespective of conditions, so relieve him from captaincy & let him enjoy his batting. My team for 3rd test.. 1.Cook 2.Bell 3.Ballance 4.Root 5.Morgan(capt) 6.Stokes 7.Buttler 8.spinner 9.Broad 10 plunket 11.Jimmy.. Allow cook and bell to take charge. Morgan is aggressive he can be a good captain in all the formats. England badly need a spinner bring Monty back or find a spinner. I luv one statement made by dhoni yesterday " We should make use of what we have got and don't think about what you dont have."

  • Vaughanographic on July 22, 2014, 7:50 GMT

    After watching Ali's dismissals against the short ball I'm not convinced he can continue to bat at this level until he sorts his technique out. I'm a huge Patel fan and think he should get a go - plus he is in awesome form.

    My other concern with England is the lack of zip. It seems plunkett and jordan both lost pace once in the England set up. And Woakes, once released, has gone back to Warwickshire and bowled dross in the recent game. What is happening to the bowlers when they get into the England camp?

  • SurlyCynic on July 22, 2014, 7:45 GMT

    Cheer up fellows, it's just a game after all. At times like this it's best to dig up Mark's old "Fortress England" article which is guaranteed to raise the spirits.

  • afzal501 on July 22, 2014, 7:40 GMT

    Iam not surprised that England have lost, I said this even before the series started. Congrats to India for a marvellous team play, Iam a Pakistani fan and I just look at the batting line up India has got its mouth watering. We don't have any batsmen like that at moment. Now getting back to England How come no one has pointed finger at the management, moores and the selection team, they have left out potential winners out of the team the likes of Finn, Carbierry monty , Jordon and even Samit Patel and not to forget Peiterson what a joke he can walk into any team and be selected. After the ashes tour England has lost confidence and also common sense there is no planning getting caught out at boundary with short balls Ishant bowl well but he not Jonson the way England batted made him looked faster than he is. England should have made big changes after Srilanka beat them but they didn't. At the moment looks like Asian teams are having good time in England.

  • danishsyed88 on July 22, 2014, 7:10 GMT

    An excellent analysis of the team, I think. I agree with all the changes, except maybe Buttler. I think he is too inconsistent, and not reliable, both in batting and wicketkeeping. Surely there must be better wicketkeeper-batsmen in county cricket.

    And I am all for Finn making it to the team. Coming back to the side can bring his confidence back and his tall stature and pace can surely come in handy, especially in wiping out the late order.

    Samit Patel should definitely be included. He is a good player of spin and is one of the leading scorers in the domestic arena. Plus he's a more useful spinner than Ali (though I think Moeen is capable of being a future star)

  • on July 22, 2014, 6:41 GMT

    it's time to get perspective on pietersen. He's 34, injury prone, he has scored 1 fifty in his last 20 t20 matches this year. he averaged under 30 for Delhi and captained them to bottom place. He is averaging under 20 for Surrey. He was brilliant for England at his best. It ended badly for him. But if he were out on the pitch in this series, there is no evidence to suggest he would be playing any better than the other struggling senior players, or that popular opinion would be any kinder. It's time for youth. Add Hales name to the conversation.

  • on July 22, 2014, 6:40 GMT

    Just on the spinning conundrum. Replacing Ali with Patel as an all round spinner. Why? See Moeen's bowling in the second innings? More turn, more revs, more loop and a couple of wickets at the best average and best strike rate. First innings was pretty good as well. I've no idea what Samit Patel could bring that would better that. Having seen Samit bowl many times... I've seen nothing to say he is even a remotely better bowler than Moeen, quite the opposite in fact, and Ali is getting better with every spell. If England need a specialist spinner, and they probably do, swapping one improving part timer with one not quite as good, and no longer improving.. Well I'll ask again. Why?

  • MarinManiac on July 22, 2014, 5:39 GMT

    Can someone explain why Adam Lyth isn't included in the mix? Or are there too many Yorkshiremen already in the team? Same for Onions -- has his form gone downhill so far that he isn't even considered for the 12/13 (in the last couple of years all he had to do was be the most prolific bowler in the country just to make 12th man - and yet was snubbed for the Ashes tour.) England continues to rue the loss of Kevin Pietersen (and I use the word "loss" to mean a careless discarding rather than something forced on them), but most of all they no longer have Graeme Swann, whose value to the team was not only as a world class spinner, but as a personality in the dressing room capable of keeping everyone in good cheer. (Just listen to him on TMS!) As well as being able to catch in the slips. Next keeper -- bring in Buttler for sure, but don't count out someone like Foster. He's younger than Brad Haddin, and look what a success that was for Australia -- the unsung hero of the last Ashes.

  • LAKINGSFAN on July 22, 2014, 5:33 GMT

    Great writing Mark. Thoroughly enjoyed it. My take is either change the captain and don't make changes in the remaining or change the remaining and don't change the captain. This captain with this set of people are not gonna achieve anything against India.

  • TheOnlyEmperor on July 22, 2014, 5:31 GMT

    Play fast paced chin music to the English to see them bundled out! The Indians have been a bit slow to learn what the Aussies figured out quite some time back.

  • haqster499 on July 22, 2014, 5:31 GMT

    My team (I like Mark's analysis...)

    Compton, Cook, Bell, Root, Ballance, Ali, Patel, Plunkett, Read, Jordan, Anderson

    Broad looked shattered. Needs a rest. Compton has a century against India and will have the confidence. Jordan and Patel will bring fighting qualities to England -- which is what England needs most.

    You need 2 spinners and Patel and Ali though not great turners, are intelligent bowlers who can give the pacers a rest and play a containment role. India tired England's pacers in the last 2 tests. This is a key learning.

    I think Moeen Ali is a great find for England both as a spinner and a bat and should be persisted with.

  • DaisonGarvasis on July 22, 2014, 5:20 GMT

    That collapse on the final day was unfortunate for England and gave India the fair share of test win in test they played well. If England decides to stop "self destructing" - with collapses during the game and with EGOs even before the game is started - and bring the best 11 players available in the country, they got a good chance to turn it around. They need to forget all the differences and all the past wrong doings and wrong decisions and start fresh. The English fans are now on two sides Pro-KP and Anti-KP. Bring that man back, he has served the team for 9 years, treat him with respect for all what he achieved as respect is not reserved for your favorites, it's for talent and achievement. If Cook has scored 8000 run so has KP and if Cook is the Captain, KP was Captain before Cook. If Cook deserves to be pampered and protected to this extent, KP deserves minimum respect. Forget the past, bring the best 11 players together and put up a fight.

  • Vindaliew on July 22, 2014, 5:11 GMT

    You can't compare Brearley with Cook for captains picked as captain first - Brearley was known as a strong tactical captain who knew how to get the best out of his players, and even if he failed the increased returns from the rest of his team would make up for it. Cook has not shown that kind of inspiration at all and stayed in the team purely through weight of runs. To be fair, Dhoni hadn't really inspired with his on-field captaincy skills either prior to this match (although he managed his men much better), so perhaps Cook will surprise us.

    And Mark.. "soccer"? Really? :)

  • on July 22, 2014, 5:04 GMT

    Dhoni is at his best with youngsters as he can inspire and get best out of them. His 2011 defeats were also because of the kind of players he had (Lots of past sell by date players).

  • GAMAGE on July 22, 2014, 4:36 GMT

    If you look closely this English team is the mirror image of the Indian team that last toured England. England squandered the opportunity of winning the match when Cook lost his head where India was 145/7. Why the hell he got Moin Ali to ball at that time? No English seamer was penetrative or accurate after that. Look at how Kumar bowls and how Sharma rediscovered himself.

    England should play attacking cricket - not hitting 6s or 4s but rotate strike. Look what Jadeja and Kumar did. Engalnd team is very negative and this team cannot win or level the series. They will go down probably 2-0. They should get players like Morgan, Butler, Jordan to play. It is not late yet. Such players will not be able to win the series but they will stop the rot at least.

    hats off to India. They have finally found a young team that will probably sustain winning.

  • maddy20 on July 22, 2014, 4:21 GMT

    This article reminds me of how many epic players who orchestrated the test series win in INdia are missing. Nick Compton, KP are two one of a kind players. KP walking in at 4 would have made us Indians tremble and my 2 cents that the match would have ended differently. Sure they may are or may not have won but sure there would been a better fight. When things get bad, you need someone to take the fight to the opposition. Jadeja had done it for India. KP could have done it for England. Nick Compton is the other side of that coin. The dig in and reinforce type. Johnny Bairstow is one more good batsman who took the fight to the Saffas when they toured England. But it seems the English selectors too(like the Batsmen) have taken a collective leave of their senses. They say the sides that make less mistakes in a test mach wins. ECB had made 3 even before the match even started . India made one(Binny)

  • jimbond on July 22, 2014, 4:18 GMT

    Carberry and Compton need to be in the team. Cook has to go for the time being. And as a 'bowling' allrounder I would go for Patel than Ali. Finn against Indians is a good ploy, or at the least bring in Jordan. Prior is currently out of form, otherwise I always rate him far better than Butler. For India, the decisions are far simpler- Gambhir for Dhawan and Sharma for Binny are easy decisions.

  • here2rock on July 22, 2014, 3:53 GMT

    English supporters want KP but he is history and won't be back, it was wrong to drop him in the first place and even worst to pick him again.

  • Vishal_07 on July 22, 2014, 3:51 GMT

    An interesting piece of information: back in 2011 MSD was in this nice, passive mode and had called back Ian Bell after he was run out. Now in 2014, he is going against his Board and going all for disciplinary action against Anderson.

  • DC75 on July 22, 2014, 3:44 GMT

    I still cannot understand what Compton did to deserve the axe, anybody who had watched the India series will remember that along with Cook it was Compton who provided excellent starts. I don't remember him playing badly to get dropped and then you go and experiment with Carberry, Robson, with Cook who is woefully out of form. Human beings have personalities, some of them are extremely moody, reserved or irritable but thats nature, you dont expect elite sportsmen to be robots, and above that you go ahead and drop KP on similar grounds!!! Who gets to drop the management that cannot handle different personalities;

  • on July 22, 2014, 3:27 GMT

    It would be interesting to see what would happen if English brought back KP as captain and simply replaced Prior with a specialist keeper like Read or Foster. It won't happen, but if it did I bet we wouldn't lose the series.

  • on July 22, 2014, 2:46 GMT

    If Samit Patel is the answer then God help us all.

  • king_raj646 on July 22, 2014, 2:46 GMT

    English just need two changes, One bing back KP, Two a captain who can handle KP.... they will find their winning ways... At this point there is not a single layer who can tun the match and give the killer punch to opposition.. With KP in the side opposition team strategists have more to think, but now for Indians its either bowl in line or short...ECB please reconsider and get back KP

  • Test_Match_Fan on July 22, 2014, 2:29 GMT

    Nicely written Mark. England selectors: Read this prior to your meeting! Mark, England's bowling is ok for the most part. They need a spinner, I say bring Monty back instead of Broad. India need to make one change: Bring in Ashwin for Kohli. Bring Rohit Sharma for Binny.

  • AnanRam on July 22, 2014, 2:12 GMT

    Drop Robson, Ali, Prior and Stokes Bring back Pietersen, Compton or Carbury, Another WK (not Bairstow or Butler) and Finn. Also Penesar should be in the team at the expense of one of the fast bowlers.

  • on July 22, 2014, 2:06 GMT

    lyrical piece of writing. Always a pleasure to know your opinion of the game and gamesmen. Its sad that Carberry and Morgan are left out of the English squad specially when they need personalities that can motivate.

  • on July 22, 2014, 2:03 GMT

    Spot on as far as I'm concerned, except James Foster instead of Jos Buttler

  • amitgarg78 on July 22, 2014, 1:55 GMT

    Mark, You are usually one of my favorite writers here but here you do get it wrong on Downton. To most people outside the England setup, the hypocrisy in KP affair was mind numbing. New boss takes over, sacks the best player because the existing management couldn't handle him? And to make it worse, slags him in public? Repeatedly? Is that to be expected from a thoroughly good man, as you describe him? KP was described as selfish while there's nothing except praise for Prior for just as daft a stroke? You've nailed most of the points on mistreatment of players. Yet you fall short of pinning some of this on AF, on whose door it ultimately lies. It was his inability to manage and develop talent (and he may have been a great character too) that leaves England in the state they are. His dominating personality has resulted in a group of folks unable to think for themselves and evolve. The old guard of Prior / broad / Anderson / Cook now needs to give way to a new one with new approach.

  • mensan on July 22, 2014, 1:55 GMT

    Good that Prior has stepped down. I don't rule out a comeback for him later. England needs a better keeper-batsman than a batsman-keeper; so I think they should go for Foster. Bell at 3 is also needed. It is cruel to put Ballance at 3. Look at Australia; they always put a new guy a 5 or 6.

    I prefer Compton over Carberry. I never found Carberry international class.

    I would say rest Anderson and play Jordan. He may be banned anyway by ICC for 1-2 matches.

    Stokes has failed so miserably with the bat. He should be brought out of this misery. Play Woakes or Samit Patel instead.

    Where are the guys like Morgan, James Taylor, etc.?

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

    Why on earth should jadeja apologise. And to whom? What was his mistake - not nicking the ball? And for that you have to hear expletives form a bowler?

  • on July 22, 2014, 1:31 GMT

    "Cricket is dependent on respect - for oneself, for one's opponent and for the game itself."

    Precisely. And that is why the Anderson-Jadeja fracas demands that an appropriate price be paid. Otherwise respect for the game, one's opponent and oneself will remain elusive.

  • Sexysteven on July 22, 2014, 1:28 GMT

    I think the openers get another chance bell has to bat at three root four balance five Ali six buttler seven Samit Patel gas to be worth ago instead of Kerrigan at eight followed by plunkett Jordan Anderson or Finn for me broad needs to get his injuries sorted out and stokes needs to sort his batting out at lower level that would be the way I would go

  • KeepitHonest on July 22, 2014, 1:21 GMT

    All of those are smart recommendations I agree with. As a Indian cricket enthusiast, I find it hard to understand why so many English players who have proven themselves commendably in the past like Finn and Compton get lost in the wilderness. Finn had the numbers of many Indian batsmen, that too on India's flat-tracks - he would definitely have added to the psychological edge. Sorry to see Compton getting dropped inexplicably after working so hard to score some tall numbers consistently before the axe.

  • undercut on July 22, 2014, 1:17 GMT

    How can you say Ali is safe, when he has no technique to cope with short bowling? What do you think Johnson, Pattinson, Steyn etc will do to him if he does not sort it out? Not a Test batsman.

  • it_happened_last_in_2001. on July 22, 2014, 1:16 GMT

    There seems to be a smug comfort amongst elements of this team that however terrible they play, their futures are assured. Only Root seemed in the slightest bit concerned that he had thrown his wicket away. Prior has, not before time, opted out - probably for good. There needs to be competition for places. My changes would be .... Stokes - an all rounder who has more ducks than the Serpentine - replaced by Jordan, Broad - replaced by Onions. Robson is a more tricky one - he's not good enough but the thought of Compton or Carberry fills me with dread. I agree with Mark that Bell needs to stand up and bat 3. Both he & the captain need to be told not to make too many plans for the winter dependant on the next 3 tests. If we are going to lose test matches so be it, but the players must also lose their sense of a divine right to selection.

  • dravidrox on July 22, 2014, 0:56 GMT

    Beautiful piece..Great writing Mark Nicholas..

  • dravidrox on July 22, 2014, 0:56 GMT

    Beautiful piece..Great writing Mark Nicholas..

  • it_happened_last_in_2001. on July 22, 2014, 1:16 GMT

    There seems to be a smug comfort amongst elements of this team that however terrible they play, their futures are assured. Only Root seemed in the slightest bit concerned that he had thrown his wicket away. Prior has, not before time, opted out - probably for good. There needs to be competition for places. My changes would be .... Stokes - an all rounder who has more ducks than the Serpentine - replaced by Jordan, Broad - replaced by Onions. Robson is a more tricky one - he's not good enough but the thought of Compton or Carberry fills me with dread. I agree with Mark that Bell needs to stand up and bat 3. Both he & the captain need to be told not to make too many plans for the winter dependant on the next 3 tests. If we are going to lose test matches so be it, but the players must also lose their sense of a divine right to selection.

  • undercut on July 22, 2014, 1:17 GMT

    How can you say Ali is safe, when he has no technique to cope with short bowling? What do you think Johnson, Pattinson, Steyn etc will do to him if he does not sort it out? Not a Test batsman.

  • KeepitHonest on July 22, 2014, 1:21 GMT

    All of those are smart recommendations I agree with. As a Indian cricket enthusiast, I find it hard to understand why so many English players who have proven themselves commendably in the past like Finn and Compton get lost in the wilderness. Finn had the numbers of many Indian batsmen, that too on India's flat-tracks - he would definitely have added to the psychological edge. Sorry to see Compton getting dropped inexplicably after working so hard to score some tall numbers consistently before the axe.

  • Sexysteven on July 22, 2014, 1:28 GMT

    I think the openers get another chance bell has to bat at three root four balance five Ali six buttler seven Samit Patel gas to be worth ago instead of Kerrigan at eight followed by plunkett Jordan Anderson or Finn for me broad needs to get his injuries sorted out and stokes needs to sort his batting out at lower level that would be the way I would go

  • on July 22, 2014, 1:31 GMT

    "Cricket is dependent on respect - for oneself, for one's opponent and for the game itself."

    Precisely. And that is why the Anderson-Jadeja fracas demands that an appropriate price be paid. Otherwise respect for the game, one's opponent and oneself will remain elusive.

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

    Why on earth should jadeja apologise. And to whom? What was his mistake - not nicking the ball? And for that you have to hear expletives form a bowler?

  • mensan on July 22, 2014, 1:55 GMT

    Good that Prior has stepped down. I don't rule out a comeback for him later. England needs a better keeper-batsman than a batsman-keeper; so I think they should go for Foster. Bell at 3 is also needed. It is cruel to put Ballance at 3. Look at Australia; they always put a new guy a 5 or 6.

    I prefer Compton over Carberry. I never found Carberry international class.

    I would say rest Anderson and play Jordan. He may be banned anyway by ICC for 1-2 matches.

    Stokes has failed so miserably with the bat. He should be brought out of this misery. Play Woakes or Samit Patel instead.

    Where are the guys like Morgan, James Taylor, etc.?

  • amitgarg78 on July 22, 2014, 1:55 GMT

    Mark, You are usually one of my favorite writers here but here you do get it wrong on Downton. To most people outside the England setup, the hypocrisy in KP affair was mind numbing. New boss takes over, sacks the best player because the existing management couldn't handle him? And to make it worse, slags him in public? Repeatedly? Is that to be expected from a thoroughly good man, as you describe him? KP was described as selfish while there's nothing except praise for Prior for just as daft a stroke? You've nailed most of the points on mistreatment of players. Yet you fall short of pinning some of this on AF, on whose door it ultimately lies. It was his inability to manage and develop talent (and he may have been a great character too) that leaves England in the state they are. His dominating personality has resulted in a group of folks unable to think for themselves and evolve. The old guard of Prior / broad / Anderson / Cook now needs to give way to a new one with new approach.

  • on July 22, 2014, 2:03 GMT

    Spot on as far as I'm concerned, except James Foster instead of Jos Buttler