Another Ashes Humiliation

I notice that Australia have regained the Ashes in the shortest time possible, thumping England once again to take an unassailable 3-0 win in the series. I haven’t been following this series for two reasons. Firstly, the rights were bought by BT Sport which I don’t have (splitting sports between Sky and BT is stupid; you end up having to pay two providers for comprehensive sports coverage, even for the same competition in the case of the EPL). Secondly, and more importantly, I was massively put off when the ECB decided to exclude Ben Stokes from the squad after he was involved in a brawl outside a nightclub in September.

The decision to suspend Stokes on full pay was made before the police had charged Stokes with anything, and indeed they still haven’t:

Team supremo Strauss said: “We’ve had no information from the police. We’re waiting for them to make a charging decision and, until that happens, nothing has changed. We’re in the same situation as we have been for quite a long time now.

So why is Plod dragging its feet? Do they really need two months to decide whether to charge someone? Or are they doing it on purpose, to make themselves feel superior? You can be sure that if it were a politician involved or someone else with connections, this would have been closed out in double-quick time. And what the hell is the ECB doing? I get it has an image to protect, but if Stokes hasn’t even been charged, let alone found guilty of a crime, why is he being suspended? What happened to innocent until proven guilty? And this leaves aside the possibility that Stokes intervened on behalf of someone else who was being attacked.

Now I might be a little biassed here in that had David Warner (say) been caught parking on double-yellows I would be calling for his immediate execution, but the decision to suspend Stokes still pisses me off. He is an exciting all-rounder with considerable talents and would be an asset in most (if not all) international teams. Moreover, he has in spades what the England team has lacked for years: balls and aggression. Notably, he was the only player to make a hundred in that disastrous Ashes tour of 2013/14 and one of the few who came home with his reputation intact. He is one of the most exciting players to watch and very popular with the fans, upon whom the game depends. But he’s rough and tattooed and aggressive, and what the ECB really wants is a team full of fresh-faced goody-two-shoes in blazers who granny would like tea with. The fact that they can’t bat for shit doesn’t seem to matter; preserving the squeaky-clean image of the ECB is apparently their top priority.

They might have got away with this had England not been trounced Down Under, but now they have questions will be asked. It’s glaringly obvious that an absence of Ben Stokes isn’t the main issue and his inclusion wouldn’t have changed much, but it is indicative of how the ECB is focusing on all the wrong stuff. The fans don’t care that Stokes filled in some scallies outside a club, but they care very much that England’s batsmen can’t handle fast bowling. Alistair Cook has failed miserably, and hasn’t had a run of decent scores for years; Joe Root has done what all England captains do and forgot how to bat, which might not be so bad if he looked like he could captain; England’s bowlers are 10mph slower than their Aussie counterparts, and our spinner – though very likeable – has been outclassed by Nathan Lyon. The newcomers to the side –  Stoneman, Vince, and Malan – have done pretty well but the story with England has been the same for years now: the openers fail to provide a decent platform, and the middle-order have to fight like hell to reach a respectable score. Until we get a decent top order that can regularly get us to 150+ for 2 or 3, our bowling attack doesn’t really matter. If we could also get a player with such remarkable consistency as Stephen Smith – who also has the burden of captaincy on his shoulders – that would be mighty fine too. Joe Root showed extraordinary promise early in his career, whereas Smith was a bits-and-pieces player for several season before he settled into the side. Root should be where Smith is now, but instead he’s floundering at the crease and all at sea in the field. But who else is there? Well, Stokes, now you mention it.

Attempts will be made to explain away this defeat by pointing to the trend of home teams winning series. Last time the Australians came to England they got whipped, although not as badly as England are now, and complained bitterly that the ball was “swinging too much”. People mentioned at the time that Australians no longer play much county cricket as they used to leaving them exposed when it came to English conditions; I am now hearing that rubbish pitches and congested schedules leave English batsmen woefully short of experience facing genuine quick bowling. The home/away factor will certainly play a part here, but nothing should detract from the fact that aside from a few cameos by the newcomers and middle-order, England have barely shown up.

Someone at the ECB needs to pay the price for this, and his replacement needs to adjust priorities such that sending a decent, prepared side into a test series ranks higher than virtue-signalling. Where this leaves Trevor Bayliss I don’t know. 3-0 is pretty damning; 5-0 will be worse.

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29 thoughts on “Another Ashes Humiliation

  1. Broad is missing in action too. What has he done all series?

    Oh and Steve Smith is my greatest ever example of a bad call, in 2013 I thought he wasnt even a test class spinner, let alone a batsman.

    How wrong was I, could be second to Bradman the way he is going.

  2. Oh and Steve Smith is my greatest ever example of a bad call, in 2013 I thought he wasnt even a test class spinner, let alone a batsman.

    Me too. I always liked the guy after watching him play for Pune Warriors years ago, but never thought he’d be as good as he’s become. Good for him.

  3. Craig Overton was a breath of fresh air in the English team, broken rib, diving around the field, facing down the Aussie fasts in the death knell, he was the best of the poms in my books. Jimmy Anderson has been effective so far as well, although it was a bit queer of him to complain about sledging in Adelaide.

    This Ashes tour could well turn out be even more enjoyable than the last absolutely riveting one. If it is to be, then the ECB will need to start expressing confidence in Root, the coach will need to do similar, Broad will confirm that there is a good positive atmosphere in the dressing room, someone will fly back to Blighty overnight after suffering a nervous breakdown and a senior veteran will resign all before the Boxing Day test at the MCG.

  4. Home and Australian conditions are very different and we prepare our wickets to suit our bowlers. To change this so we had faster, bouncier wickets to encourage more outright pace bowling and allow batsmen to develop their skill against pace, would require a sea change in county cricket. Don’t see that happening when that are more focused on T20, vying for home test matches etc.
    Doesn’t guarantee we would win in Aus either!

  5. If Stokes had been a top class striker at the start of the world cup you can be sure that the FA would have had him on a plane sharpish with a note to the CPS to keep everything in a locked drawer until England’s elimination after the first round.

    I think his presence would have made a lot of difference. It would certainly have stiffened the lower order which have been desaparacidos this tour, and the added aggression would have rubbed off on the rest of the team in all aspects of the game.

    The bowling attack would have been significantly more threatening

    Root has been a disappointment of course, Cook probably reached the buffers careerwise – they must try a new opener immediately now the series is lost.

    Anderson seems to have been less effective, and of course he too is getting on.

    All in all a bit of an abortion.

  6. I remember Steve Smith’s first tour to England, where he was absolute dogshit but a trier. I also found him rather likeable and still do even now he’s a star. Which is saying something as grudging respect is normally the best I can do for an Aussie cricketer.

    The ECB has been rather pathetic about Stokes. I would have taken the attitude that if Plod hadn’t charged him by the time he was due to get on the plane he ought to play.

    However, had the ECB taken that attitude, they would have been hit by a pompous, self-righteous shitstorm from all sides, especially the UK media. “Everyone” would agree that it was terrible and bleat about expected standards, role models and won’t someone think of the kiddies. All the usual pathetic shit I have come to loathe about modern Britain.

    The ECB as an organisation is in a position to kick back against this sort of thing but sadly, as a modern British institution, it is full of mealy-mouthed arse-coverers who wouldn’t step out of line to save their own children.

  7. Wasn’t Martin Johnson accused of something before the 2003 but still allowed to play (not criminal but foul play).
    Stokes has not been charged and until he is, he should be allowed to play.

  8. Great minds, Tim!

    Can’t remember anything specific but Martin Johnson was accused of many things prior to the 2003 RWC and was guilty of quite a lot of them! We could do with a bit more of the Johnno spirit in English team sports.

    It shows how much things have changed in the fairly short time since he retired. God alone knows how prissy the world will be in a decade’s time…

  9. I asked someone who knows far more about cricket than I do why England do so badly (usually) in Australia. His opinion is that Aussie bowlers bowl to take wickets whereas English bowlers sling the ball down in the hope of the batsman making an error. Yes, it has something to so with the pitches down under but it is the thinking behind the bowling that is different.

    He may not be right, but this is not the first time I have seen England taken to the cleaners by the Aussies so there has to be something occurring with alarming regularity.

  10. His opinion is that Aussie bowlers bowl to take wickets whereas English bowlers sling the ball down in the hope of the batsman making an error.

    Nah, James Anderson used to lure batsmen into traps all the time. Your mate is talking bollocks, unless he is referring to a particular part of a match: sometimes you do have to resort to waiting for the batsman to make a mistake.

  11. “The fans don’t care that Stokes filled in some scallies outside a club, but they care very much that England’s batsmen can’t handle fast bowling.”

    I think this all comes down to the effect of sponsorship in sport and the sort of people who end up running organisations where a lot of money comes from sponsors. They really want squeaky clean living people showing off their brand, far more than they want victory.

  12. “this is not the first time I have seen England taken to the cleaners by the Aussies so there has to be something occurring with alarming regularity.”

    It’s too early to condemn the poms for their performance in this series, maybe they can get up off their knees and salvage some pride, if not for themselves at least for Queen and Country. If it is yet another whitewash then we can all studiously relish the joyful analysis that will surely follow. Although if you were to take an early view on identifying common areas with their previous routings then it would assist in planning if you were to tick off any of the previous root causes.

    Hubris- menu books, weird preparations, believing in the lyrics of Barmy Army songs about Mitchell Johnson, complaining about sledging when Clarke threatened to break your fucking arm yet it’s okay for an entire stadium to sledge Mitch Johnson. Class misalignment and inconsistencies with those the ECB promotes and holds dear (unlike the Australians starting with Lehmann and working down through Warner, Lyons etc).

    Selection & Teamwork – Cook as Captain, Trott, Swann, in fighting, KP, Piers Morgan, ECB views, twitter, disastrous comments and interviews given by figureheads.

    Leadership- Fear was palpable throughout, they quivered at the sight of his moustache, most lost their bottle after the Gabba, dropping like flies, Yorkers, Golden Ducks, denials and sore losers.

    So, it’s still too early to comment on the English capitulation theory or any common themes with past humiliations. Now that the contest has been decidedly won and the Ashes secured most Australian cricket fans would prefer the rest of series to be a tighter fought affair.

    Although when I saw that haunting image of a slumped and forlorn Root in his pulled-up English hoodie inspecting the grounds at the WACA, I found it hard to see for a fleeting moment who among the English would have the wherewithal to summon up the required fighting spirit of Agincourt proportions that will be necessary to at least make this Ashes series not just another surrender of Singapore.

    But stranger things have happened.

  13. According to CricViz, England’s pace bowlers have clocked an average of 135.37kph over the series, a long way short of Australia’s 141.44kph, but not exactly 10mph! It is the lengths they bowl and the variety in the attack rather than outright pace. Fast medium bowlers can do well in Australia cf Asif, Philander, Alderman, Walker going back to Bedser, Tate and Barnes but you need more variety than 4 right arm swing bowlers

  14. Graeme, spot on. When I was at high school in Johannesburg we were coached by the same bloke who also coached Clive Rice. Every single lesson was “line and length, boys. Line and length.”

  15. There is very little to be read into the results. This is not a great surprise bearing in mind that England aren’t that good and Australia have actually got all their very good fast bowlers fit and firing at the same time.

    I’m all for rolling heads but there is not that much talent in England at the mo.

    It is also unwise to believe – as the Australian press and fans are inclined to do – that the results give some insight into the character of the team, or the nation.

  16. They really want squeaky clean living people showing off their brand, far more than they want victory.

    Indeed, and if the sponsorship money (and hence pay cheques) is guaranteed more by a clean image than winning, is it surprising that few of the players seem interested in doing so?

  17. I will treasure that. Thanks, sir.

    Sorry, it came across a bit harsh. I’m sure your mate is a good egg.

  18. The reason Stokes was left out was to spare him the humiliation of a thrashing, so mental scars didn’t form. 🙂

    >Broad is missing in action too. What has he done all series?

    Broad has been mediocre for years. Whenever the selectors start wondering whether they should drop him he takes a big bag of wickets and then he’s safe for another 2-3 years. But his luck may soon be running out.

  19. “Sorry, it came across a bit harsh. I’m sure your mate is a good egg.”

    I think he is, but as I said I am no expert on cricket. Someone once said about all sport that other than the result, everything else is opinion. I have no doubt however that even the most lame of England bowlers would shatter my wicket first ball, and while that’s my opinion I am too scared to ask to face them 🙂

  20. So far so good with the English squad’s behaviour following their Ashes defeat, this is a good sign, the phoenix may yet rise from the ashes.

    Level heads are prevailing with some myths being rightly dispelled, they didn’t sack their Kiwi fast bowling consultant following the test at the WACA, apparently it was before the game and they had never planned to retain him for the entire series anyway nor did it have anything to do with Andersons comments in his column that their coaches had not provided any direction on what lengths to bowl. Thankfully, Anderson has been cleared for the next test at the MCG following his concussion scare from the hard nock he received from Cummins and it was also confirmed that this was not some kind of pay back to Anderson for his complaint about dangerous bowling in Adelaide. Unfortunately, Overton isn’t doing as well and may not play at the MCG, if he is judged unfit then this will be a major disappointment to the series as he certainly stood out as an Englishmen with some ticker and took his rib injury sustained from Cummins in a sporting manner, again it is good to see that England are holding their composure at this critical juncture.

    The risks now are that someone from the team or the ECB does or says something unhelpful to their approach to the rest of the series, I hope that Anderson doesn’t write anything in his column until the series is over. Then there is the loutish off field behaviour that has plagued them this trip, can they hold it together and stay away from public bars during this heatwave that is scorching the southern states, let’s hope so for the games sake. If they can manage to keep a low profile with their WAG’s and take a well-deserved break then the boxing day test at the G is shaping up as a sporting contest not to be missed.

  21. Another days passes with the team and the ECB staying on message, and off the grog, it looks like the poms are regrouping. The Aussies continue to ignore the serial whingers that seem to think that apologizing for poor performance is somehow a winning strategy.

    “It’s a tactic Atherton believes is illegal under Law 41.6.1 of cricket: “The bowling of short-pitched deliveries is dangerous if the bowler’s end umpire considers that, taking into consideration the skill of the striker, by their speed, length, height and direction, they are likely to inflict physical injury on him/her. The fact that the striker is wearing protective equipment shall be disregarded.”

    Anyhow back on the game and winning it, check out the top ten wickets of the last Ashes down under, some Christmas crackers there alright that should help you get in the mood for the big one.

  22. Everyone weighing into the Law 41.6.1 debate now. Will it be invoked to protect the demoralised poms or will Broad and others test career be destined to end abruptly with them ducking and diving for cover at what is shaping up to be an Australian victory parade at the MCG next week?

    No one is talking about spin bowling anymore, for those in Blighty that can’t afford to watch this series, this free video below should brighten up your mid-winter day.

  23. Theresa May needs to let down her hair a bit, don a slim fit white Fred Perry shirt and stand up and spur the English cricket team out of their morass and she needs to point to an English fighter as an example, could Andy Murray be the game changer?

    “While we sat in the rooms after that loss, listening to the Poms next door carrying on, we watched Pat Cash play amazingly well to come back from two sets down against Mikael Pernfors to win the Davis Cup for Australia. Prime Minister Bob Hawke declared at Kooyong: “If only we had 11 Pat Cashs at the MCG we might have won the Ashes!” We were so furious we refused the PM entry into our rooms a month later. But the Hawke sledge was what we all needed to get us out of our negative mindset.”

    Looks like Stokes definitely won’t make any of the Ashes test following his departure from the NZ.

    “Ben has been great around the club, the team and the staff. We can’t fault his attitude or his all-round contribution in his time with us and we are sorry that he couldn’t stay with us for longer but Ben knows that he will always find a welcome here should the opportunity arise for him to return” said Canterbury CEO Jez Curwin.

    Canterbury’s statement included comment from Stokes who said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed training and playing with Canterbury. “Everyone here has gone out of their way to make me feel at home. It’s a wonderful club and I couldn’t have asked for any more from my time here.”

    He enjoyed mixed fortunes playing for Canterbury in their 50-over and 20-over competitions – bowled for two on his club debut and run out having faced just one ball in another dig – but also found some touch, smashing 93 off 47 balls in a T20 match.

  24. The MCG pitch has been dropped in, the transformation is complete and the groundsman is satisfied with the wicket condition for what is expected to be a world record attendance on Tuesday. The only remaining question being about Root’s captaincy and whether or not he can he transform the English team, many doubters are speaking up against him now. Great to see that he is remaining on message and staying out of this discussion, the only side show being the difference of opinion between Bairstow and Anderson on whether the Aussies lack bowling depth particularly now that Starc has been ruled out for the MCG test. Bairstow seems to be their spokesman now and he is talking about winning the next two tests as well. Go England!

    “The MCG is invariably in pristine condition for the cricket. The ground’s “drop-in” wicket — first used in 1999 — has encouraged a pacier, more consistent bounce. More batsmen are dismissed caught behind than trapped lbw as once was the case in the early ‘80s when Australia’s captain Greg Chappell complained that the pitch was spoiling the cricket and should be dug up.

    The MCG is now a showpiece and while the wicket is not as fast as Brisbane or Perth, the bounce is consistently true and those who can bat through into the middle sessions tend to cash in under the afternoon sun.

    Melbourne is a result wicket. Only one of the past 19 MCG Tests has been drawn.”

  25. Pommy attack on form this morning, Curran gets Smith (unlucky not to get Warner yesterday), Broad on form again, Aussie batting collapse, what’s not to like.

    Game on!

  26. What a day for England, Cook 244 Not Out, Broad got 56, the phoenix has risen, Barmy Army going mental, the whitewash now not looking good at all.

  27. Great day of cricket at the Sydney Cricket Ground today. The Barmy Army stripped to the waist and taking in the last of the rays, hankies tied over their heads in the fifty degree heat, the last hoorah before they go back to their cold and damp two up two down terrace homes and working on the factory floor, lets hope the sun tan holds out for their efforts.

    Brothers Sean and Mitch Marsh each getting centuries, in partnership, in the Ashes, the Australian selectors will be given each other high fives on their efforts this series.

    Technically its not over yet, England could in theory hold out for a draw but that seems very unlikely. I got to say that Root was stoic today, he and his team have had some bad luck and he showed immense ticker out there in the cauldron holding his own copping some and and all with a badly injured hand. I like him but I don’t think he is captain material but it was a ballsy effort today and hopefully tomorrow for him and he will salvage some pride. Lets hope we get to see more of him Overton, Curran and Crane down here next time.

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