The Index

Want lists? We've got them

There is always a threat. Be that threat

Revealed: the secret project that was responsible for England winning the Cardiff Test

Alex Bowden

Comments: 8 | Text size: A | A
Stuart Broad addresses the media, Chittagong, March 8, 2011
"… And when they weren't looking, I threw all my Enid Blyton hardback omnibus editions at their heads" © Getty Images
Enlarge
Related Links

England's unexpected innings victory over Sri Lanka was no fluke. The team had spent the early part of the season covertly learning how to snatch wins when they're least expected. The project even had a slogan: "Never relax. There is always a threat. Be that threat." There were two main goals. Firstly, to condition the players to always be on their guard, and secondly, to surprise opponents precisely when they felt most safe. To that end, the England coaching team instructed the players to come up with ways to threaten their team-mates when it was least expected. Here are some of the tactics they came up with.

Jonathan Trott: Connect 4
Trott's scheme was to lull someone into complacency via an interminable game of Connect 4. Roping Eoin Morgan in for a best-of-five match, Trott deliberately engineered a series of dull stalemates. Morgan started to lose interest when one game climaxed without so much as a "connect 3", but as he prepared to slide the last piece into the board to complete yet another two-in-a-row, Trott leapt to his feet and flung a tennis ball into Morgan's forehead with all his might.

Ian Bell: night threats
Bell hired a friend to make phone calls to his team-mates' rooms in the middle of the night. Relaxed to the extent that they were asleep, players would wake with a start at the ringing of the phone, and upon answering would be greeted by vicious death threats.

Graeme Swann: crazy golf
Many of the England players like to relax with a round of golf. The open air and relaxed pace gets them away from the pressures of the game, but to Graeme Swann it means they are also at their most vulnerable. As several players were ambling down the fairway one glorious late spring morning, they were surprised to hear the sound of a helicopter approaching and even more taken aback when it bore down on them on an attack trajectory. As they bolted for the relative safety of the trees, Swann peppered their retreating forms with ball bearings fired from a gun, as he hung out of the side of the chopper.

Stuart Broad: aquatic meditation
Broad invited the entire England squad to participate in a session of aquatic meditation, run by himself. The players gently bobbed about in a swimming pool while tranquil sounds played through a public address system. Broad stood on the edge of the pool calmly telling them to relax. As heart rates slowed, Broad reached over and flicked a switch, changing the soundtrack to death metal and triggering frantic strobe lights. He then hurled a bucket full of sea snakes into the pool and began screaming. "Never relax! Never relax!" he cried, dancing around the edge of the pool, pushing his terrified team-mates back into the water. As the screams rang out, Broad's demented screeching became higher and higher-pitched and ever more unhinged: "There is always a threat! There is always a threat! I am that threat! I AM THAT THREAT!"

RSS FeedAlex Bowden blogs at King Cricket. The "facts" in this article are all made up (but you already knew that, didn't you?)

Tell us what you think. Send us your feedback

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Comments: 8 
Posted by Jim1207 on (June 4, 2011, 0:45 GMT)

landl47, India has already proved in England and they are already no.1. England are the one who are 13 points bereft of becoming no.1 position and with ICC ranking system it must take a while to reach the top unless India loses badly to England this year, let us see.

Posted by esesbee on (June 3, 2011, 15:24 GMT)

Boring and unfunny, by your standards.

Somo

Posted by landl47 on (June 3, 2011, 13:53 GMT)

@ Imtiaz Ahmed: by the same logic, the sub-continent teams have to win in England to be close to number 1. We'll see how Sri Lanka and India get on this year.

Posted by   on (June 3, 2011, 13:49 GMT)

What i don't understand is england is said to be sooo powerful in test cricket. But not in ODI's. Normally good sides do better in both types.Well this applies to SL too. But they have faced few set backs,no murali,malinga and all,and i'm not sure now how would they do in odi's. But england, questionable.

Posted by   on (June 3, 2011, 13:17 GMT)

Last test eng v/s s,lanka was sare luck i dont thing england that good was pitch was complitly wet ball fliing left right and center, england has to prove home ground in continant.by r. pancholi

Posted by   on (June 3, 2011, 11:03 GMT)

over praised! i think it's fluke

Posted by   on (June 3, 2011, 10:14 GMT)

England are playing good cricket for last year or so, but they need to win in sub-continent to be close to No 1.

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (June 3, 2011, 8:54 GMT)

I don't think England are that good. Not as good as this article implies.

Comments have now been closed for this article

Email this page to a friend Email Feedback Feedback Print Print
More in The Index
RSS FeedAll
  • Late highs fail to mask wretched year
    2014 in review: Save for the rout of Zimbabwe, 2014 was a year of suspensions and demoralising defeats for Bangladesh
  • Enough with the on-field chatter
    Ian Chappell: One of these days there's going to be an ugly altercation between players on the field
  • Walking up the down escalator
    2014 in review: Player strikes, defeats against fellow minnows, and mountains of debt for the board marked another grim year for Zimbabwe
  • The first Boxing Day classic
    Ashley Mallett: Nearly 150 years ago, the MCG saw the start of a much-loved tradition, with a match starring Aboriginal players
  • Hangovers and headaches
    2014 in review: Embarrassing defeats, a beleaguered captain, a bitter former star, alienating administrators - England's year was gloomy. By George Dobell
  • ESPN
  • ESPNF1
  • Scrum
  • Soccernet