England do their bit for Comic Relief

With England tottering at 25 for seven in Jamaica and  the home supporters carnivaling like it’s 2009, the Sky cameras switched to the man leading the new era, Andrew Strauss, on the team balcony. Alongside, fellow opener Alistair Cook, he was laughing. A few minutes later, Flintoff and Ryan Sidebottom met in mid-pitch for a between-overs conference, and also seemed to be sharing a joke.

Had I missed something? Was something funny happening? Yes, that was it, England were obviously batting for Comic Relief. But no. I was quickly assured that isn’t until March 13 and none of the players had pre-recorded an appeal for starving children in Africa.

OK, so had I pressed the wrong numbers on my remote and hit Richard Hammond in the middle of Total Wipeout. But no, it wasn’t that either.

It was reality; the same sort of reality that descended on Port-of-Spain in 1994, Adelaide in 2006 and, probably, Sydney, in January 1887 when England plummeted to what remains their lowest score in Test cricket: 45.

Yet, if you look at the scorecard for that Test at the SCG, you discover something quite remarkable, and which puts the 51 that they cobbled together in the 33.2 overs of  their second innings today, into an even worse light: they won that game.

Shocking as this defeat was, I was filled with one moment of clarity: while this was dreadful for England, this was great for cricket. We can pull apart the England batting, Cook’s inability to get properly forward to an innocuous full length ball – I won’t remind the Reverse Sweep regular reader that I’ve been going on about this technical fault in the Essex opener’s batting for more than three years – Pietersen trying to push an off-side  yorker through the leg side, Matthew Prior failing to read a slower ball cutter, and public enemy No1 Ian Bell’s inability to execute a straightforward square cut two balls before lunch.

No, I’d rather concentrate on the joy outpouring from Sabina Park at a destructive spell from Jerome Taylor, excellent probing from Sulieman Benn and the sensible batting from their tail as well as their top order, and pray that it spreads throughout the Caribbean and gives the game the kind of impetus that many thought the Stanford Millions win would bring.

Certainly, England can still win the series, but the bowling attack perhaps more than the batting needs a kick up the backside. Steve Harmison can no longer continue to perform in one game – as he did when brought back against South Africa at the Oval for the final Test last summer – and then return to his mediocre self for the next several matches.

Monty Panesar needs to develop an arm ball, but more pertinently, the skill of tossing the ball up above the eye line which still dips enough to be testing to the batsman pressing on to the front foot. And Sidebottom needs to get fitter.

But the main trouble with England, as Nasser Hussain pointed out almost in a throwaway remark during the lunch interval, is that nobody in the team is improving, perhaps except KP, and he doesn’t need to improve too much.

Now I’m off to read the opinions on the rest of the blogosphere before the fury coming from no doubt angry and humiliated English authors sends it into meltdown.

ANYONE wishing to read a view of the Adelaide debacle should go and buy this http://www.amazon.co.uk/Was-Raining-Palaces-Dunny-Door/dp/1905411081/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1234038239&sr=1-1

ANYONE wishing to read about England’s worst collapses, including Trinidad in 1994 should go and buy this http://www.amazon.co.uk/Worst-Cricket-Sport/dp/1905411235/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1234038239&sr=1-3



Filed under Uncategorized

4 responses to “England do their bit for Comic Relief

  1. John Mc

    Well done to the West Indies indeed. You think maybe Stanford would have taught the England players not to take them lightly. They were capable of giving South Africa a tough time last year. Speaking of complacency – how about the make-up of the England squad. In the not entirely unlikely scenario in which Andrew Flintoff misses a Test all six batsmen play – where’s the competition for places. And with that lack of competition why are the likes of Bell and Collingwood always batting to rescue their places in the team – isn’t it about time the batsmen played to win matches not to save their own skin.
    And even a fully fit Sidebottom is only a good county bowler incapable of troubling top quality Test batsman – so he should be safe in the side for the next year or so

  2. walter

    The most sobering thing from an England perspective, as I am sure our revered blogmeister will agree, is that top six is the very same that we witnessed take us to the 5-0 whitewash in Sydney. I don’t recollect you being a happy bunny then so it is good to see you taking a wider view. How much time will I be spending on the beach in Antigua then?

  3. Yes and it also struck me yesterday that while I do rate our esteemed new captain as a batsman, it is about a year ago that he was scratching about desperately trying to save his international career in New Zealand. Since they claim to have 365 beaches in Antigua, you could probably do with another West Indies canter if you hope to see all of them! Taking a wider view is quite easy in this situation since the West Indies need a boost; Australia didn’t. But the Ashes is already beginning to look like a series of also-rans, with us slightly the worse also-runs than the Aussies. Still, at least the Dons are six points clear!

  4. Brennan

    First blog I read after wakeup from sleep today!

    Mind Blowing!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s