England are nicking all your best ideas and parroting them back to you

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Many people – women in particular – will be familiar with that guy at work who ignores your great idea before repeating it back to you some weeks later as if it’s his own. There’s a bit of that about the England cricket team.

How many years has everyone been saying that the batsmen need to leave better and see the shine off the ball? England disagreed. They wanted to be positive. Then in New Zealand late last year they announced they’d come up with this mad new plan where they’d try and ‘bat long’.

The best teams are adaptable teams, but they’ll still tend to have a default way of playing. For many years England were essentially a conservative team and they tried to expand from that base. This worked quite well in Test cricket, but not very well in limited overs where they consistently fell short of tall targets.

England won the World Cup by consciously doing the opposite. They set out to become the ultimate flat pitch one-day side and then gradually learned to rein themselves in a bit when circumstances demanded.

Whether deliberately or not, they seemed to take the same mentality into Test cricket. There was a lot of talk of being positive and ‘taking the game on’ but it didn’t generally work too well.

Now they’re back to trying to score 400 in the first innings, no matter how long it takes.

We tried to work out at what point they forgot this was the normal way of doing things and then wrote about it for Cricket 365. You can find the article here.


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


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  1. My younger son’s rugby team has had a guest coach recently, a young lad who’s playing for some U20s team or something. He has taken it on himself to teach the U13s a series of complicated moves, all given fancy code words and variants. Anything that mentions food is a kick, with the direction being given by the first letter of the second word and its relation to the club initials (TMV). X is a scissors, X-squared is a dummy scissors followed by a real scissors, Thursday is a wing play, and so on and so on.

    The upshot of all this has been that the U13s now call a move at every opportunity, irrespective of what their opponents are doing. And then they carry out the move, also irrespective of what their opponents are doing. The opposition could all have sat down in a circle to read a book together, it wouldn’t matter. If a move had been called, that would be that. Most hilariously is when they call a blind-side move and find themselves two-against-four, having just turned down the option of the four-against-two on the open side.

    Anyway, we’ve sacked him. Which is a shame, because he would have been exactly the sort of person to get things across to a bunch of 13-year-olds. The problem is that he has no sense of playing the game as it unfolds in front of him. A rugby player needs a few basic concepts – how to draw a defender out of position, how to run a confusing line, how to time a supporting run. And then they should play what’s in front of them, because what works best at any given moment depends on nothing but that.

    International players, test batsmen in particular, shouldn’t need a strategy.

    1. If Cook had dropped down to 3, that could have helped England find 2 new openers, but England had to go with Moeen Ali at 3

  2. Sri Lanka also looking to occupy the crease… from cricinfo on Kusal Pererra being dropped.

    “Yes, Kusal can make 150s, but we needed someone who can occupy the crease, which is why we chose Thirimanne,” de Mel said. “Thirimanne can also bat in the top order or as an opener.” Thirimanne’s batting average, however, is 22.64 after 68 innings.

    1. I walked past Manchester’s Dancehouse Theatre the other day to be confronted with this poster.

      It seems Graham Fellows is a fan of the “x’s back” joke, and/or possibly a reader of this website….

      1. Can never decide between Austin Ambassador Y-Reg and Two Margarines On The Go as our favourite John Shirley Shuttleworth song.

      2. ‘Two Margarines On The Go/It’s a Nightmare Scenario’ is up there with anything Half Man Half Biscuit managed as a rhyming couplet, and there’s not much higher praise than that.

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