Technically, Shane Watson won this particular duel by surviving, going on to hit the winning runs. But if it really was a victory, it was one characterised by looking like a complete div for a prolonged period.
Wahab Riaz’s mistake was that he left himself reliant on the woeful catching ability of his team-mates. Waqar Younis never made that mistake. He focused on the stumps. Fewer links in the chain, you see. If you hit them, you don’t even need the umpire.
But for all that it was ultimately unproductive, Wahab’s spell was memorable. We’ve documented it and some other stuff from that match for the Mumbai Mirror.1 Appeal
The players, the coaches, the fans and the media told England that they needed to be making 350-plus scores to do well in this tournament. The 2015 World Cup wasn’t just going to be about run-scoring; it was going to be about phenomenal, unimaginable run-scoring. Look at what India are doing! Batsmen are making double hundreds EVERY DAY.
India, for what it’s worth, have reached the semi-finals of the tournament despite a top score of 307. None of their batsmen rank particularly highly in the list of top run-scorers. However, they have bowled out the opposition in each of their seven matches and they have won every game.
India, of course, have conviction. They don’t mimic other nations. They do what they feel they need to do to win one-day cricket matches. More on this as well as a valuation of the damnation of tinkers over at the Mumbai Mirror.16 Appeals
This and other insights in our latest piece for the Mumbai Mirror which is about the South African team, why it’s good and why it’s bad.
For all that the Saffers have some great batsmen and a strong pace attack, there’s also another version of the side that’s fragile with the bat and wins games with spin. We should probably have mentioned the lack of a lower-order fast-medium all-rounder as well being as we were in the business of picking apart stereotypes.12 Appeals
It’s always faintly harrowing when England select a leg-spinner. The way they’re treated tends to be geared towards absolute decimation of their confidence. Adil Rashid himself has benefited from this once before.
Eight years ago, we promised Rashid that we’d always be nice to him – even if he got bowled by an Andrew Hall straight one – and we’ve stuck by that promise, selecting him as ‘one to watch’ pretty much every year since. We therefore deem today’s Test call-up ‘a good thing’.
Even though there’s every chance the scrutiny and unfair expectations will ruin him for another four years, we have to hope that this time Rashid will overcome barren growing conditions and reveal himself to be a resilient and hugely valuable cricketer. Have to, you hear. Have to.
Trotty’s back too. That is also ace.19 Appeals
A proper journalist would have crunched the numbers. We didn’t because it would have been really boring and the results might have disproven our theory that more batsmen are being clean bowled at this World Cup.
The Mumbai Mirror have called the piece Bowled and beautiful back in fashion, which is a pretty good title. We tried to match them in titling this post, but we think we may have failed.2 Appeals
We’ve written about just what a monumental achievement it was for England to get knocked out in the group stages. The more we think about it, the more we’re impressed at how they managed to prevent even one cylinder from firing.
There is talk that Paul Downton may get the boot. We’re inclined to say that he had the greatest negative influence of anyone involved. It wasn’t the sacking of a player that was the issue per se, but the ramifications of that on the team.
The situation led to Downton making a series of preposterous pronouncements on behalf of Alastair Cook and Peter Moores. Intended as props to support them at a difficult time, these statements instead became sticks with which to beat them. The Test captain and coach have been tarred by association, perceived as beneficiaries of some weird quasi-nepotistic approach to man management that defines England’s failing ‘new era’.
This is Downton’s fault – primarily, at least. As the public face of the management team, he has shown laughable aptitude for public relations and this alone means he isn’t really qualified for the job. It’s almost as if he’s spent the last 20 years ‘outside cricket’, working in a bank.
It will be interesting to see how national selector James Whitaker comes out of this as well. The word is he will keep his job and while it’s simplistic to blame a selector for the ills of the national side, we’re struck that he took over following an Ashes victory and immediately before an Ashes defeat and has now overseen two humiliating tournament exits in little more than a year.
Selectors are hard to appraise. It’s partly about picking the right players and it’s partly about timely selection and omission and the impact this has on the individuals in question as well as the team as a whole. Good selections have certainly been made, but England’s choice of pace bowlers for the 2013-14 Ashes was bizarre and ill-informed while few could argue that booting the one-day captain a few months before the World Cup was optimal – particularly as it resulted in further slicing and dicing of the team off the back of that.
Hindsight is of course a great tool when looking back on these things, but Whitaker’s predecessor as national selector, Geoff Miller, seemed to have a happy knack for predicting what would eventually be seen through its lens.21 Appeals
Our latest column for the Mumbai Mirror is about the unextinguishable rage of Ireland captain, Will Porterfield. You may notice that the column is titled ‘Bowzzzat!’ and they used the same line when flagging our piece on yesterday’s front page.
For clarity, our name is Bowden as in ‘bow tie’ and not as in ‘bow down’ so that title doesn’t really work. It’s too late now though. It’s out there.
For anyone skipping these pieces in the assumption that they’re ‘proper journalism’ – don’t worry, they’re not. They’re pretty much the same stuff we’d write here, only longer.10 Appeals
The Mumbai Mirror – formerly the Bombay Bathroom Mirror – stuck our picture on the front page this morning. And not even for some sort of crime. Out of merit. Or out of perceived merit at any rate. It’s all rather unnerving.
Today’s piece is about Eden Park and how India v Zimbabwe didn’t turn into the record-breaking runfest that many were expecting. You can read it here.15 Appeals
We appear to write a column for the Mumbai Mirror. We heard that this might happen as long ago as yesterday, so you’re not much behind with this.
Here’s our first piece for them. It’s about how England will go about developing a template for success at the 2019 World Cup. (Warning: that tired-eyed photo of our face from the All Out Cricket site is again used, but slightly bigger).5 Appeals
Guardian writer Toby Chasseaud provided us with a shocking revelation the other day. In 1987-88, of the 13 players who represented England on a tour of Pakistan, only one had attended a private school.
Did that really happen? Was that really the way things once were?
We don’t want to get all class war about this. It’s not that there’s any real difference between the two types of person. We know both normal, state-educated citizens and overprivileged public school toffs who’ve had everything handed to them on a plate, and we get along perfectly well with both groups. Just because the latter swan about above and disconnected from any sort of meritocracy doesn’t mean there isn’t a tiny shred of decency deep within the blackened souls of at least a handful of them.
It’s not about that. It’s about balance. It’s about having a representative England cricket team, which means having both groups playing alongside the kind of hard-working immigrant who is also a major part of the English (and Welsh) society in which we live. If nothing else, diversity makes for a better team.
People see the England team and they increasingly believe that cricket is a sport that’s only ever been played in public schools. (For the benefit of overseas readers: public = private in England – go figure.) The effect is compounded by the bizarre obsessions of the equally public school cricket media, who are forever referring to so-and-so’s upbringing at such-and-such-a-school as if that means the faintest bloody thing to any of us.
Not so long ago, we played a game with Special Correspondent Dad ‘name an English state school international cricketer’. We came up with Ravi Bopara.
We initially thought that Alex Hales was another (almost solely on the basis that he’s a bit laddish on Twitter), but he’s not. Jimmy Anderson was someone we inexplicably overlooked and we’ve just checked and James Tredwell is another. You can probably come up with others, but there aren’t many.
The simple reason for this is that there isn’t really any state school cricket any more. Nor is there much cricket on telly. What was once a brutal sport for everyone is fast becoming little more than a genteel pastime for the upper classes, like opera.
For those of us who already like cricket but move in circles where it is entirely unacceptable to like opera, this is a very worrying development indeed. It’s striking to think that once upon a time the situation was different and that perhaps, just perhaps, things needn’t be this way.56 Appeals