Wednesday, August 25, 2010

England water-treading batsman

It’s so easy to dislike English batsman. English conditions breed cautious, accumulators that seek to defend their wicket and poke the singles. A well-fought four-hour 32 is a significant achievement. A ten-minute 32 is “airy”. The net effect, of course, is the same, but somehow, in England, longevity has a gravitas denied to quick, if effective innings. This is why Marcus Tresocothick, arguably England’s best batsman of modern times, dipped below the radar.

So, anyway. We have a number of grinders. Alastair Cook, Paul Collingwood, Jonathan Trott and even Andrew Strauss. They all scratch away and their places are perennially under question. However, they are all still class, god dammit, and have an infuriating habit of scoring a century just on the cusp of being dropped. This buys them a few more opportunities to nurdle out a string of painful 20s.

England’s “consistency” approach allows for these sort of players to exploit a failing in the system. The principles of England enlightened selection policy is to pick on the basis of long-term performance, not immediate flashes in the pain. Players positions are awarded on the basis of performance over a number of games, allowing occasional failures in return of significant contributions elsewhere.

But, this is not so. When a player comes under threat, we take a long term approach, but, when he’s scored runs, and specially scored one more run than 99, then we take a short-term approach, and all before is forgotten.

So, players that consistently under-perform, but will occasionally produce runs, will be secured of a long-term position in the team. Half of England’s top-order have averaged under 40 during 2010. Yet, they just about do enough to stay in.

I agree with the consistency policy, but perhaps it should be shaken up once in a little while?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

International standard of cricket about to plummet

John Buchanan, he of Cricket Australia fame, has said:

England will dominant the world of cricket in 3-4 years time.

This can only mean that a nuclear war between Australia, India, South Africa and Afghanistan will wipe out all the competition.

In an interesting aside, the ECB suggested that it didn't have the budget to employ the most successful manager in history. It's probably going on "grass-roots" cricket, but which we mean, of course, costly architectural statements in provincial grounds.