July 23, 2014

Together they fall

England rose to No. 1 in the rankings with a machine-like efficiency but the signs of an impending breakdown were quickly apparent
25

A low ebb can typically be found in any city in the world at 3am on a Saturday morning. It's someone lying in their own sick, urine and faeces. The night started with such high hopes.

In cricket, a low ebb is when you get the exact pitch you have ordered for a Test, you win the toss, and then you lose against a team which hasn't won away from home in three years. The Test started with such high hopes.

****

The ECB has a blueprint for its perfect kind of cricketer.

An English cricketer should be someone who has come through the English set-up in some way. County cricket form is less important. They need to have impressed at academies, on Lions tours, been through the testing systems, be easy to handle, aggressive but defend first, respectful of authority, and young.

The bowlers should be tall and fast, bowl long spells. The spinners should be orthodox and consistent. The body shapes should be slim, muscular and fit for purpose. And in leadership they should be from the right kind of family.

****

A fresh-looking Stuart Broad bounces through to deliver a full and swinging ball to MS Dhoni. Dhoni plays an aggressive waft that looks designed largely to get an edge. India lead by 52.

Harbhajan Singh walks in at No. 8. Broad goes full and straight with this newish ball. It is given out lbw. Despite the obvious deflection. Broad is on a hat-trick. DRS schadenfreude takes full effect. India lead by 52.

Praveen Kumar faces the next ball. Broad is on a good length this time. Praveen's bat seems to be operated by an invisible goblin that won't allow it to move properly and the stumps fly. Broad flies past him into the arms of his ecstatic, hat-trick-happy team-mates. They bounce with joy. They are a team. They are as one. The fans raise their beers in triumph. Ian Botham applauds like a loving dad from the balcony.

It is July 30, 2011. Before Broad's intervention, India were 52 runs ahead with five wickets in hand. They would move that lead to 67. They would lose by 319 runs. India go down 2-0. Then 3-0, 4-0.

England are No. 1.

****

Every kind of spin not in the MCC coaching manual is mystery spin when described in the UK. There is a whisper that Pippa Middleton's former beau, Alex Loudon, had a doosra. But he's now working in the city, meaning that one day he'll end up back in cricket as a managing director.

The thing is, to the rest of the world, a delivery perfected in the '90s and around since the '60s, is not a mystery. It's a delivery. It's like a googly being called a mystery in the 1920s.

When England toured the UAE in 2012, Ajantha Mendis had been bowling the carrom ball for almost four years. Rangana Herath had bowled it more than 12 years ago. Jack Iverson played in 1950 with his carrom-like ball. Yet England were defeated by the mystery of a doosra in the UAE.

It was like dying from swine flu in four years' time. Or still collecting beanie babies.

Saeed Ajmal used this "mystery" ball to torment England. And there is no problem going out to him. Players the world over have done it. But saying it's a mystery, that's the odd part.

Ajmal is obviously a genius. His hands should be saved for future generations. He will end up in working in Vegas. But Abdur Rehman is just a spinner. Not in a bad way. But he's a normal human spinner to Ajmal's alien-lizard-spin-god spinner. Yet Rehman took almost as many wickets against the newly crowned No. 1 team. That was the real mystery. Not that Rehman took wickets, but that he destroyed England. That they continued to play him like he was bowling cryptic crossword grenades. Rehman averages 27.75 in his career; 30.47 in the UAE; and 16.73 in that series.

Then there is Mohammad Hafeez, who took another five wickets. The three of them took 48 wickets in three Tests. Pakistan won 3-0. England had been No. 1 for a few months and their first series back they'd been smashed by a genius of modern conventional offspin, a quickish left-arm orthodox and a part-timer taking all but 12 of the wickets available to them.

England swept , stood and theorised as Pakistan won all three Tests. In the second Test in Abu Dhabi, they needed 145 to win. They nearly got halfway there. Not a mystery, more a horror.

****

Ashton Agar was, had Australia named it as such, a flirt with a new era. The search for the magical teenager who could transport them back to the top. Agar was dropped after only two Tests. Now he's a Big Bash novelty marketing item who may one day come back.

To England he is much more. He was a major sign that thinking on their feet wasn't their strong point.

When England toured Australia, their menu made the media. It included superfoods like kale. Because when England do a team menu, they aren't talking food groups to look out for, or general cuisines their players might like. They are giving chefs every single food they want, how it should be cooked, what it should be served with. Other than a cutlery preference, there is almost nothing left to chance.

At the time, you could fit into two camps, the "look at these morons thinking quinoa will help them bowl" camp. Or those who said: "Well, it's a professional set-up, of course they monitor what their players eat, but do they have to be so extreme?" There is, of course, a third way of looking at it: that if England have taken away personal choices for players on meals to such an extent, what else is not in the player's hands? What other decisions that normal human beings make do English cricketers not have to make?

We know their strategies are devised for them. We know they are based on cricket sabermetrics that most of us will never understand. Video crunched into meta data and then fed to them on specially designed Swiss-chard forks. This is the data, now implement the code, bowling unit.

David Saker is not a coach of technique, he is a coach of tactics. The beer-swilling bogan outswinger with a bad temper who could have been something with the ball, but instead is something with a bowling attack. But David Saker and the analysts didn't have the data on young Ashton. He was at No. 11. He was a teenager. It was as if he had scrubbed all his private information from cricket's Google and was just a naked virginal elfin boy in front of them.

It took England all of 98 runs to work him out: 98 carefree runs. Every single one of them was a giggle for him and pure frustration for them. They had no plans, they had to bowl to him like you would in club cricket. Work him out just from how he batted. They could not. England's finest cricketers could not work him out and it almost cost them a Test match.

The Agar moment wasn't a one-off. There is no English fan that hasn't screamed at a ground, TV or radio for England to pitch it up. While attacks around the world have been bowling fuller and fuller, England have seemingly gone the other way. They've missed the good-length revolution and they continue with the lengths that just don't seem to work. It's hard to remember the last time they bowled fuller than their opposition.

Paul Farbrace said their plan to Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ravindra Jadeja after lunch at Lord's on the fourth day was to pitch it up. But their bowlers bowled short. With no analysis, they are no good. With analysis they are no good. And sometimes they decide not even to listen to the analysis and are just as bad. Clearly their food is not super enough.

****

Graham Gooch was the perfect man to talk about an epic innings. "To score runs like that you need attitude, you need good technique, you need knowledge and you need spot-on concentration." The innings was Hashim Amla's at The Oval.

In the past, England players had played innings like that. Jonathan Trott, Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen had all done it. But in the first innings of that Test, Cook made a hundred but then didn't get to the pitch of a drive. Trott played a lazy drive on 71. And KP was out-thought by Jacques Kallis the over before the new ball. It felt like an aberration. This was not how England had played to get to No. 1.

They would surely fix it and come back strong from their innings-and-12-run loss. But it didn't happen. Andrew Strauss' form had already been free-falling, now it was free-falling into an inescapable black hole. Cook didn't pass 50 again in the series. Trott made one more fifty. And KP played his innings at Headingley, then went to the after-match press conference and said it was "tough being me".

Steven Finn had been through every system, test, seminar, counselling session and analysis that England could come up with. And they'd taken him back to a state of a skinny, confused teenager

Pietersen did this press conference without his captain by his side. Which is very rare for an end-of-match press conference. It then turned out why when he was dropped for calling Strauss a "doos" on a text message to Morne Morkel. It was then whispered that KP had been unforgivably hard about James Taylor, England's debutant at Headingley. The dressing room had become an open book, a tacky romance novel. You could all but see the long-suffering Strauss being brutishly handled by the bare-chested Pietersen on the cover.

That all of this came in the series in which Hashim Amla made 482 serene, England-like runs just made it all the worse. England were upset with themselves. They were losing. And they weren't making big daddy hundreds. They were also no longer No. 1.

****

There should be no other emotion other than pure joy watching Tino Best bat. It's like a puppy with a squeaky ball. At Edgbaston there were lofted off drives, edges that went past hands, cover drives off the spinner, a straight six off the sightscreen and the odd wondrous hoick to wherever the ball wanted to go. At one stage he told Denesh Ramdin to bat for him.

Eventually Graham Onions took his wicket. But not before Best had made 95. Steven Finn, Tim Bresnan and Onions had been hailed as the great back-ups that proved that England were producing quality cricketers who could continue to move them forward when Broad and James Anderson retired. The machine was what worked, the cricketers were just fresh products for ongoing domination. Two years later Onions is being ignored, Bresnan has never got back to his best after his injury and Finn, well, Finn...

Finn wasn't ruined by Best. Despite the rumours, Finn wasn't ruined by any one thing. But he was in ruins.

Graeme Smith played a part. Middlesex may have done so too.

But none of them were in Australia during the Ashes. None of them were there while one of the most naturally talented fast bowlers on earth was decomposing. None of them were in control of him, or up against him, as he bowled for England against a collection of 2nd XI players in Alice Springs. Finn's bowling in Alice Springs was not first-class quality bowling.

It was as if Finn had done a brain swap with Simon Mackin. Mackin was a young, tall Aussie quick who had played not one first-class game at the time. He bowled the quick, hostile, clever spell, while Finn produced the spasmodic, random bowling of a club bowler who is not quite good enough. This was Finn who had been through every system, test, seminar, counselling session and analysis that England could come up with. And they'd taken him back to a state of a skinny, confused teenager. A skinny teenager with 90 Test wickets.

****

When Andrew Strauss was asked in a sweaty Galle catering room whether he was nearing the end of his career, it made everyone there feel very uncomfortable.

"Andrew, all of us in this room respect what you've done for England, but that is now four successive defeats. Have you taken this team as far as you can?"

You could hear each sticky intake of breath.

Strauss' team had become No. 1 only four Tests earlier. But England had lost all four and Strauss had made one hundred in his last 23 Tests. Strauss was respected as an Ashes winner, and as a batsman, but his batting had gone and his team was losing. The question shouldn't have been ridiculed or gasped over. It should have been the question that was being asked by England. They could have quite clearly decided that he should stay, but they had to ask the question.

Instead, Strauss would play for seven more Tests, make two hundreds, lose, win and draw a series, and lose the No. 1 ranking. Then he would leave.

There was always a saying that it was harder to get out of the Australia team than get into it. England could never be accused of that. But at the heart of their team, that special group of people who all get along so well, it is not easy to get dropped.

If we are to believe what the gossip and insiders tell us, Pietersen is the single-worst human being to put his pads on. Now, that may or may not be true, but Pietersen played over 100 Tests. Trott was an emotional wreck at the Gabba but, had he wanted to, he would have played in Adelaide. Matt Prior must have suffered one of the biggest form slumps in the history of wicketkeeping during the Ashes. He missed two Tests before he was straight back in like it was all a bad dream.

And now Cook. He is averaging 14.33 this year. His team has not won a Test in their last ten. Cook has said he wants to keep fighting and that he is not a quitter. He also said Matt Prior could go on as long as he liked minutes before it was decided otherwise.

England refuse to be honest with reality. They have built a team ethic, and they are desperate to keep it. So instead of one man going off a cliff, they all jump holding hands.

Read part two here

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on July 24, 2014, 16:11 GMT

    An absence of pride, common sense and fun. A surfeit of management-speak, empty excuses and defending long-term under-achievement. This is true not only of our cricket team, but our football one too... It is an honour (or at least it should be) to represent your country. So why is there so little motivation? We have forgotten how to adapt, to improvise, to go with gut because it doesn't fit with a computer-generated analysis, a strict adherence to a set plan, and a denial of imagination, genius or individuality. It should be fun to play for your country - the time of a player's life, so why are they so miserable? When we learn how to positively motivate individuals, treat them as adults and allow them to have fun, then success will start to return. Picking players who want to play for England, rather than those for whom it has become everyday might help Reduce the number of Tests with proper time gaps between them, so that what has become a treadmill is once again an event.

  • John-Price on July 24, 2014, 15:10 GMT

    @M0se: sorry, no. Cook scored 217 runs in the first test of the series, Pieterson 19. It was Cook who led the way.

  • Jelanichem on July 24, 2014, 10:56 GMT

    @M0se: Dont forget Cook was making those runs based on Kevin Pieterson demoralizing the Indian bowling with his onslaught aginst them. Pretty much the way other batsmen had it easier when Richards was in his prime. He just simple knock all confidence out of the bowlers. England no longer has a batsman who is capable of doing that. So without good leadership and good players that can play as a team, they will be having another drought similar to the eighties.

  • m0se on July 24, 2014, 1:27 GMT

    This is just cherry picking all the bad days. What about England in India when Cook was scoring centuries every test match. England won the Ashes where Agar did his thing. SA were rubbish against Australia, Australia were rubbish in India, India were rubbish in New Zealand, New Zealand were rubbish in Bangladesh. The current England mood is glum and we're only remembering the bad times and forgetting the good stuff.

  • GB75 on July 23, 2014, 23:23 GMT

    Great article, both style and substance. Could you not write one on India as well? I am India and would love to see the dysfunction in India described this way. You'd need part 3, 4 and more for that but it would be a great read/education. Unless perhaps its hard to see India the way you would see England.

  • on July 23, 2014, 20:49 GMT

    Loved this Jarred. You must have been hurting whilst writing.;-) looking forward to the second instalment. .

  • on July 23, 2014, 20:40 GMT

    I wanted to stand up and applaud as soon as I finished reading this article.

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on July 23, 2014, 19:00 GMT

    Good old England, sure are good at wasting talent. I can't think of anyone in the English test side that we'd (Australia) want in ours, but I can think of a few guys in the county championship that could fit right in, or at least make the 15 man squad.

  • Triple_A on July 23, 2014, 18:18 GMT

    Awesome piece. This style of writing is really working for Kimber. It is blunt and to the point. Also, he isnt afraid to abruptly move ahead in the timeline. A joy to read since Kimber gives the facts and not his personal opinions - I am sure readers would much rather see such to-the-point articles than repetitive ones where the bulk essence of the story has been copied over, with spelling and grammatical mistakes, from previous articles. Mind you, Kimber's articles are long, but they really give the factual story, and one can see from the comments that people are loving this style.

  • on July 23, 2014, 17:40 GMT

    excellent piece. ive seen very good spin bowlers in the last 7 years in junior county set ups leggies offies left right handed. how many are being helped by the first class counties to improve and challenge for a first class contract. very few unless u go to the right school or live in the right area. this piece shows all we want are of the shelf players not organic ones. tell me what is better for us?

  • on July 24, 2014, 16:11 GMT

    An absence of pride, common sense and fun. A surfeit of management-speak, empty excuses and defending long-term under-achievement. This is true not only of our cricket team, but our football one too... It is an honour (or at least it should be) to represent your country. So why is there so little motivation? We have forgotten how to adapt, to improvise, to go with gut because it doesn't fit with a computer-generated analysis, a strict adherence to a set plan, and a denial of imagination, genius or individuality. It should be fun to play for your country - the time of a player's life, so why are they so miserable? When we learn how to positively motivate individuals, treat them as adults and allow them to have fun, then success will start to return. Picking players who want to play for England, rather than those for whom it has become everyday might help Reduce the number of Tests with proper time gaps between them, so that what has become a treadmill is once again an event.

  • John-Price on July 24, 2014, 15:10 GMT

    @M0se: sorry, no. Cook scored 217 runs in the first test of the series, Pieterson 19. It was Cook who led the way.

  • Jelanichem on July 24, 2014, 10:56 GMT

    @M0se: Dont forget Cook was making those runs based on Kevin Pieterson demoralizing the Indian bowling with his onslaught aginst them. Pretty much the way other batsmen had it easier when Richards was in his prime. He just simple knock all confidence out of the bowlers. England no longer has a batsman who is capable of doing that. So without good leadership and good players that can play as a team, they will be having another drought similar to the eighties.

  • m0se on July 24, 2014, 1:27 GMT

    This is just cherry picking all the bad days. What about England in India when Cook was scoring centuries every test match. England won the Ashes where Agar did his thing. SA were rubbish against Australia, Australia were rubbish in India, India were rubbish in New Zealand, New Zealand were rubbish in Bangladesh. The current England mood is glum and we're only remembering the bad times and forgetting the good stuff.

  • GB75 on July 23, 2014, 23:23 GMT

    Great article, both style and substance. Could you not write one on India as well? I am India and would love to see the dysfunction in India described this way. You'd need part 3, 4 and more for that but it would be a great read/education. Unless perhaps its hard to see India the way you would see England.

  • on July 23, 2014, 20:49 GMT

    Loved this Jarred. You must have been hurting whilst writing.;-) looking forward to the second instalment. .

  • on July 23, 2014, 20:40 GMT

    I wanted to stand up and applaud as soon as I finished reading this article.

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on July 23, 2014, 19:00 GMT

    Good old England, sure are good at wasting talent. I can't think of anyone in the English test side that we'd (Australia) want in ours, but I can think of a few guys in the county championship that could fit right in, or at least make the 15 man squad.

  • Triple_A on July 23, 2014, 18:18 GMT

    Awesome piece. This style of writing is really working for Kimber. It is blunt and to the point. Also, he isnt afraid to abruptly move ahead in the timeline. A joy to read since Kimber gives the facts and not his personal opinions - I am sure readers would much rather see such to-the-point articles than repetitive ones where the bulk essence of the story has been copied over, with spelling and grammatical mistakes, from previous articles. Mind you, Kimber's articles are long, but they really give the factual story, and one can see from the comments that people are loving this style.

  • on July 23, 2014, 17:40 GMT

    excellent piece. ive seen very good spin bowlers in the last 7 years in junior county set ups leggies offies left right handed. how many are being helped by the first class counties to improve and challenge for a first class contract. very few unless u go to the right school or live in the right area. this piece shows all we want are of the shelf players not organic ones. tell me what is better for us?

  • on July 23, 2014, 16:27 GMT

    The England team seems a closed shop to anyone not already making their way through academies and Lions tours at the age of 21. Some of the best cricketers don't blossom until later, when they've had a chance to gain experience and learned to think for themselves. Other teams aren't afraid to yank a more mature player out of the county circuit for a spot in the national team, why are England?

  • on July 23, 2014, 16:18 GMT

    And you didn't even mention the Tour Down Under, except in passing regarding KP.

  • thePakistanian on July 23, 2014, 16:17 GMT

    I think it's fair to say that AJMAL & JOHNSON sank the Titanic of England Test Team after summer 2011!

  • Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on July 23, 2014, 15:17 GMT

    Jarrod's last sentence sums it up. What is the point of persevering with Cook, win or lose he's not captain material so why waste time?

  • on July 23, 2014, 14:44 GMT

    Brilliant article. Of course the ECB won't acknowledge it exists, just as they will not acknowledge the fundamental problems with their setup, the lack of a spinner, the failure to embrace the unorthodox, or the fact that they picked both the wrong captain and the wrong coach.

  • JaranNirsi on July 23, 2014, 14:31 GMT

    @Ignatius Arulsamy Vijay: perfectly put. Individuals together colesce into a living, evolving team. The other way around, you get something like the current England team: superficially a homogenous outfit, but simply unable to win, or even perform. I wonder how long characters like Joe Root (the best long-term prospect for captain) will survive, because he is hardly robotic. England still has some pretty good individuals, who, with the freedom to perform, will.

  • Jelanichem on July 23, 2014, 12:18 GMT

    A great article, that clearly indicates the problems besetting English cricket. Anyone with intelligence can see that the problem with this bunch of cricketers is not a lack of ability, but the inability to think for themselves. Created by mediocre management, which have a problem with players who are independent thinkers and who are not afraid to speak their minds. I hear people talking about the greatness of Cook, but I can say without apaology, no great man in life was a yes man, just one of the boys. Cook was just the better of a Group of average mediocre cricketers playing over the last couple of years. This weakling career would have totally been nonexistent if he had been around to play the WI in the summer of 1984. I keep saying how unlucky Hick was, when I see all these mediocre players making runs.

  • liz1558 on July 23, 2014, 11:59 GMT

    @afzal501 - Agreed - Peter Moores is proving once again that he is out of his depth at international level. He has a good eye for a player, but lacks the ability to function in the number 1 role. He would be a good second. Someone stronger would've put Cook out of his misery by now. Losing to India is a bigger deal than the long term future of English cricket. What Mr Kimber has failed to point out though, is that Australia's recent success has been achieved as much by going back as looking forward. Rogers, Haddin, Johnson, Harris, even Clarke himself, are hardly investments for a glorious 10 years. Yet they have been the most important performers for Aus.

  • Mandar_007_01 on July 23, 2014, 10:22 GMT

    Seems like English team is in the state of Lock in...Lock in occurs whenever a past decision radically constraints the possibility for the present and then the future.

    English Team needs a CHANGE..big time...obviously a change in the leadership, planning / strategizing and more importantly executing their plans..

  • dunger.bob on July 23, 2014, 9:12 GMT

    @ Ignatius Arul Vijay: " You cannot create a team ethic and ask different personalities to fit into, it should be rather other way round." .. Very true. Having it the other way round reminds me of a 19th century workshop for some reason. Teams are dynamic things and require flexible management to get the best out of them. Prescribing absolutely everything, right down to the food preparation, sounds more like an aged care home than a cricket team.

  • aus_trad on July 23, 2014, 8:48 GMT

    Interesting how these cycles go: 12 months ago Aus had been hammered at Lord's, 2 down after 2, and there was little light at the end of the tunnel. Now they are (officially, though not actually) no. 1 again, and England have gone swirling down the plughole. Something that always interests me is the fact that England seem unable to stay on top for very long, once they have got there. Take the Ashes, for instance: about the longest England have managed to hold the Ashes is 5 years or so. To find a longer period of dominance I suspect one would have to go back to the 1920's, or maybe even earlier (in fact, I'm not sure they have EVER held them for much more than that). Aus, on the other hand, seem to find it easier to build "dynasties" of Ashes dominance: think 1934-1953 (includes WWII, admittedly), 1959-1971, 1989-2005. There seems to be something in the English system which isn't conducive to producing consecutive generations of fine players, but I really don't know what is is...

  • on July 23, 2014, 8:06 GMT

    Haha Tino Best... "At one stage he told Denesh Ramdin to bat for him".. I think the last couple of lines said it all. You cannot create a team ethic and ask different personalities to fit into, it should be rather other way round.

  • afzal501 on July 23, 2014, 7:06 GMT

    Peter Moores is a county coach, when England choose him they went back. Having a good coach is important just look at the Aussis they were losing to everyone before Leahman took over suddenly team started to perform. Peter moores against Duncan Fletcher is no contest when it comes to planning and tactics. Sometimes players are very selfish they put themselves before the team and the country , and that's the case with Cook, he is holding on to the captaincy even they end up losing this series and then he might decide to go. England should have gone for a coach from overseas.

  • on July 23, 2014, 5:47 GMT

    As soon as cook is removed as captain England will be fine. Anderson has been bowling well without being exceptional but has been let down by cooks tactics. I am sure he would have more wickets if cook was not such an awful captain. The performance of the younger batsmen have been very good especially root and ballance but have been let down by the senior batsmen especially bell and cook. Cook needs a rest and should sit the rest of the series out. Once cook comes back into form i am confident that England will start winning again.

  • Rufus_Fuddleduck on July 23, 2014, 4:37 GMT

    The last time England emerged victorious from a scrap was in 2005. The Australian team had talent, bottle, nous and no desire to give anything away. Subsequent victories (2009 and onwards) have been against sides performing below the bar for a variety of reasons. And yes in that period there have been any number of instances of players tweaking the England nose on and off whenever they raised their individual game. It's not such a bad performance when one sees the twenty-year average. Though the management approach is making it difficult for the next caterpillar bunch to emerge and improve the landscape.

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  • Rufus_Fuddleduck on July 23, 2014, 4:37 GMT

    The last time England emerged victorious from a scrap was in 2005. The Australian team had talent, bottle, nous and no desire to give anything away. Subsequent victories (2009 and onwards) have been against sides performing below the bar for a variety of reasons. And yes in that period there have been any number of instances of players tweaking the England nose on and off whenever they raised their individual game. It's not such a bad performance when one sees the twenty-year average. Though the management approach is making it difficult for the next caterpillar bunch to emerge and improve the landscape.

  • on July 23, 2014, 5:47 GMT

    As soon as cook is removed as captain England will be fine. Anderson has been bowling well without being exceptional but has been let down by cooks tactics. I am sure he would have more wickets if cook was not such an awful captain. The performance of the younger batsmen have been very good especially root and ballance but have been let down by the senior batsmen especially bell and cook. Cook needs a rest and should sit the rest of the series out. Once cook comes back into form i am confident that England will start winning again.

  • afzal501 on July 23, 2014, 7:06 GMT

    Peter Moores is a county coach, when England choose him they went back. Having a good coach is important just look at the Aussis they were losing to everyone before Leahman took over suddenly team started to perform. Peter moores against Duncan Fletcher is no contest when it comes to planning and tactics. Sometimes players are very selfish they put themselves before the team and the country , and that's the case with Cook, he is holding on to the captaincy even they end up losing this series and then he might decide to go. England should have gone for a coach from overseas.

  • on July 23, 2014, 8:06 GMT

    Haha Tino Best... "At one stage he told Denesh Ramdin to bat for him".. I think the last couple of lines said it all. You cannot create a team ethic and ask different personalities to fit into, it should be rather other way round.

  • aus_trad on July 23, 2014, 8:48 GMT

    Interesting how these cycles go: 12 months ago Aus had been hammered at Lord's, 2 down after 2, and there was little light at the end of the tunnel. Now they are (officially, though not actually) no. 1 again, and England have gone swirling down the plughole. Something that always interests me is the fact that England seem unable to stay on top for very long, once they have got there. Take the Ashes, for instance: about the longest England have managed to hold the Ashes is 5 years or so. To find a longer period of dominance I suspect one would have to go back to the 1920's, or maybe even earlier (in fact, I'm not sure they have EVER held them for much more than that). Aus, on the other hand, seem to find it easier to build "dynasties" of Ashes dominance: think 1934-1953 (includes WWII, admittedly), 1959-1971, 1989-2005. There seems to be something in the English system which isn't conducive to producing consecutive generations of fine players, but I really don't know what is is...

  • dunger.bob on July 23, 2014, 9:12 GMT

    @ Ignatius Arul Vijay: " You cannot create a team ethic and ask different personalities to fit into, it should be rather other way round." .. Very true. Having it the other way round reminds me of a 19th century workshop for some reason. Teams are dynamic things and require flexible management to get the best out of them. Prescribing absolutely everything, right down to the food preparation, sounds more like an aged care home than a cricket team.

  • Mandar_007_01 on July 23, 2014, 10:22 GMT

    Seems like English team is in the state of Lock in...Lock in occurs whenever a past decision radically constraints the possibility for the present and then the future.

    English Team needs a CHANGE..big time...obviously a change in the leadership, planning / strategizing and more importantly executing their plans..

  • liz1558 on July 23, 2014, 11:59 GMT

    @afzal501 - Agreed - Peter Moores is proving once again that he is out of his depth at international level. He has a good eye for a player, but lacks the ability to function in the number 1 role. He would be a good second. Someone stronger would've put Cook out of his misery by now. Losing to India is a bigger deal than the long term future of English cricket. What Mr Kimber has failed to point out though, is that Australia's recent success has been achieved as much by going back as looking forward. Rogers, Haddin, Johnson, Harris, even Clarke himself, are hardly investments for a glorious 10 years. Yet they have been the most important performers for Aus.

  • Jelanichem on July 23, 2014, 12:18 GMT

    A great article, that clearly indicates the problems besetting English cricket. Anyone with intelligence can see that the problem with this bunch of cricketers is not a lack of ability, but the inability to think for themselves. Created by mediocre management, which have a problem with players who are independent thinkers and who are not afraid to speak their minds. I hear people talking about the greatness of Cook, but I can say without apaology, no great man in life was a yes man, just one of the boys. Cook was just the better of a Group of average mediocre cricketers playing over the last couple of years. This weakling career would have totally been nonexistent if he had been around to play the WI in the summer of 1984. I keep saying how unlucky Hick was, when I see all these mediocre players making runs.

  • JaranNirsi on July 23, 2014, 14:31 GMT

    @Ignatius Arulsamy Vijay: perfectly put. Individuals together colesce into a living, evolving team. The other way around, you get something like the current England team: superficially a homogenous outfit, but simply unable to win, or even perform. I wonder how long characters like Joe Root (the best long-term prospect for captain) will survive, because he is hardly robotic. England still has some pretty good individuals, who, with the freedom to perform, will.