England mistakes that we too would have made

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Being as so many people seem to have very clear ideas about what England did wrong in the West Indies, we thought it might be nice to list some of the mistakes that England made that we too would have made – a kind of wilful spurning of hindsight, if you will.

We’d have selected Jonathan Trott

We like to believe that psychological problems can be overcome in the same way that technical problems can be overcome and that the correct response isn’t necessarily to automatically consign that player to the bin for evermore.

Trott made county runs last season, he made a double hundred on an A tour and the general feeling was that he seemed in decent physical and mental shape. He’s been one of the best batsmen England have had in recent years, England needed an opener and it didn’t seem so much of a stretch for a number three to open. So yes, we’d have picked him.

We’d have continued picking Jonathan Trott

Two Tests ain’t a lot of evidence on which to reject someone. Almost all batsmen are nervy at the start of their innings and Trott had at least managed a fifty in one of his four innings. We also wouldn’t have felt too great about bringing Adam Lyth in with an implicit message that he might only get four innings to prove himself. So yes, we’d have picked Trott for the third Test.

We’d have picked Moeen Ali

He’s been England’s main Test spinner and overall he’s done well. He was fit, he’d played some cricket; James Tredwell had done okay, but he only ever seemed like a stopgap. So yes, we’d have picked Moeen Ali and thinking about it, we’d probably make that mistake again. It still seems unlikely that he’d bowl so badly in the West Indies’ third Test run chase.

And what else?

We’d also have made a bunch of terrible decisions that England didn’t make, only we sadly can’t prove the stupidity of them because they never played out in real life.

We wouldn’t have played Gary Ballance at number three, for example, because we wouldn’t have put him that high last summer.

We’d have left Stuart Broad out of the first Test team and he doubtless wouldn’t have returned to take 4-61 in the second.

We’d have picked Rob Key.

We’d have had fielders in ridiculous attacking positions and conceded shitloads of runs.

We’d have brought Jimmy back on when it wasn’t the time to bring Jimmy back on.

We’d have bowled Trott in every innings.

We’d have bowled Ballance in every innings.

We’d have burst into tears when Nasser Hussain interviewed us.

We’d have eaten too much at breakfast and been unable to concentrate properly during the match.

We’d have bollocked/not bollocked/encouraged/challenged/ignored Jimmy Anderson before his second Test clinching spell. We’re not sure which worked, or even if anybody did anything. But whatever someone did or didn’t do, make no mistake, we wouldn’t or would have done it. Plus we’d have done and not done a bunch of other critical things, undermining England’s chances.

Without the benefit of hindsight, it’s important that we face up to our mistakes.


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. I think you’ve accidentally claimed that picking Rob Key could somehow be a mistake.

  2. I’d have picked Kevin Pietersen and sent him out to bat with “suck it, Giles Clarke” written in felt-tip on the back of his shirt.

    I may also have seized control of the PA system and played Walk with me in Hell by Lamb of God every time an England player got out cheaply, even though there would not have been time in that last match for the song to finish before I had to start it again.

  3. I’d like to admit that I would have picked currently without a county leg-spinner Tom Craddock for England immediately after he took a five-for in that game that became a non-game before the 2013 Ashes.

    I also would have picked Adil Rashid however badly he was bowling, and told Scott Borthwick that he would not get a Test debut until he told Durham to give him more than four overs an innings, or moved counties.

    I’m pretty sure that all these decisions would be wrong, but I’m comfortable with my level of delusion about any half-decent leggie.

  4. I would have “rested” Broad in favour of Liam Plunkett, chosen the cheesecake last night instead of the excellent sorbet my wife convinced me to have, and I’m pretty sure I’d have landed the allied expeditionary force in the Pas de Calais region.

  5. I would have invaded Russia, declared war on the USA and attacked pearl Harbour.

    I would have sent the light brigade in up front.

    I would have taken on Hannibal at Cannae.

    I would have bowled part-timers against Rohan Kanhai.

  6. But…

    …he says in the cold light of a sober new morning…

    …no-one pays me to direct/captain cricket or drive a military empire.

    Were I actually engaged to do such things and were I then to make poor decisions (be they unlucky, incompetent or both) I would not be surprised if I were…like Carthage…comprehensively sacked.

    1. But this, we suppose, is our point. Were the terrible decisions made by the England coaching team really so terrible and were there really so many of them?

      Most choices are neither definitively right nor wrong and in this instance surely even those that were a wronger shade aren’t actually sackably bad?

      England didn’t win a Test in Australia last year. They didn’t win one in New Zealand the year before. They haven’t been a strong side away from home. They won a Test, stumbled in another and drew a series.

      Accuse us of having low expectations by all means, but considering they had three batsmen and two bowlers who’d played more than 25 Tests, it doesn’t seem that bad a result to us.

    2. My point would be that this situation is one they brought entirely on themselves. They’ve gone from convincingly winning series in Australia and India to this in a period of two years, not through accidents or force majeure, but through the management of both the team and the game in general – a litany of catastrophically stupid decisions made by catastrophically stupid people.

      I don’t include Andy Flower in this description, by the way. He brought both bad and good to the team. But if the roles of Team Manager or Managing Director have any purpose at all, it is surely to take an overview of the situation with one and a half eyes on the future. As Flower’s methods started to do more harm than good, the job of the team management was to identify this and mitigate it. Instead they chose to compound it. To quote someone about something or other, they were either incompetent or asleep at the wheel.

      Maybe a crap team full of inexperienced players should feel some satisfaction with a test win overseas. But why should the fans be satisfied that England is a crap team full of inexperienced players?

    3. They shouldn’t. But by this point, much of what’s done is done. If anything, we’d argue that Moores at least is now taking a long-term view but is being judged in the short-term.

    4. The worries I have about Moores is that as an international coach his record is poor to middling, especially overseas. He also came with a hearty endorsement from the chief moron among the ECB’s senior moron committee. Returning to a coach whose only overseas test success is a 2-1 win in New Zealand always seemed a bit of an odd decision. If it turns out to be the right decision, it will improve the ECB’s correct-recent-decision-making ratio to not zero.

    5. While we’re by no means keen to found and sponsor Team Moores, we would say that his record as coach has to be seen in the light of the fact that he’s been the recipient of two – what’s worse than a hospital pass? – mortuary passes?

      First time around, he arrived after the 2006/07 Ashes and 2007 World Cup and this time after the 2013/14 Ashes and Pietersen sacking.

      Anyway, there may be more on this subject tomorrow and it’s not really a picking sides argument we’re intending to make.

    6. Not picking sides? What the hell’s wrong with you man. This is the internet, you are required BY LAW to pick sides on everything.

      Moores Out!
      Isn’t that new baby lovely
      Only if they’re lined with silk
      Cheese and onion, otherwise you’re an idiot
      Isn’t that new baby ugly
      I’d shoot the lot of them
      Chas and Dave

    7. Yeh, I was just trolling with that one. As you say, it’s pretty obvious that it’s Chas.

    8. We once knew someone who preferred Dave, but then they also preferred Cannon, so they were hardly a good judge.

    9. I’m going to stick up for Worcestershire Sauce flavour crisps. Although tasty, they live up to their name, in that they always seem to be fighting off relegation from the league of “proper crisps”.

    10. Chas ‘n’ Dave should always come in a blue packet, Salt-N-Pepa in a green one. Obviously.

  7. Difficult to argue with much of that, although I would’ve allowed Moeen to get some overs under his belt with Worcestershire rather than rushing him back, and I had doubts at the time about Trott as an opener, if only because square pegs rarely fit into round holes.

    1. And yet so many people seem convinced that Hales could do the job, yet he bats at 3 for Notts.

  8. But would you have picked Rushworth and Harris? Their performance on green seaming wickets in the UK more or less guarantees that they’d have destroyed the WIndies in the WIndies.

    1. Should either or both of these guys (or Plunkett) come in for Jordan and/or Moeen/Stokes for the NZ test? Will they put Moeen up to open again or bring in Lyth? Do we bat far enough down, after all we were bowled out for 123?

    2. They should all play. All of them. Plus a load of other exciting young players with the right attitude. They should all be given the chance to prove themselves alongside established names in the playing XXXIV.

    3. I really hope they stick with Stokes. I think he has the capacity to be a really good international player. Look how long it took Flintoff to get going – Stokes is already ahead of him.

    4. A Durham fan (so, has seen him in action, but biased) actually made a reasonably persuasive case for Rushworth the other day. Sounds like he bowls good line, good length, keeps plugging away, like a British Peter Siddle in his heyday.

      He’s rfm, of course, but then we don’t have a lot of bowlers who aren’t to choose from, and that’s precisely because rfms work well in England. Would anyone take a chance on him for the Ashes squad?

    5. Rushworth is certainly in good form and his game clearly suits the current prevailing conditions, but who would he replace? I can only see it being Jordan, as I agree with the view on Stokes above, and can’t see any other player being discarded – there seemingly isn’t the flexibility to change selection strategy. Harsh on Jordan especially considering his stronger all-round game but we need something else in the bowling dept.

  9. It’s good that they’ve picked Trott for this series. He would have had to be tried again at some point due to his recent county and A exploits. At least, the selectors and everyone else know now that he wasn’t up to it. They can move on.

  10. I’m just glad that someone else out there isn’t taking the simple view towards Lyth. It seems like he’ll inevitably get in now, so what if he fails against NZ? What if he does okay against NZ and then gets flattened by Australia? I say this because I know all too well how terrible the foresight was from Australia going into the 10/11 Ashes.

    Failing in a 5-Test series is an often fatal move. Playing a greater variety of opponents gives you a chance to play one who you can beat, but a long series gives your opponent a good chance to figure you out and keep hammering the advantage.

    He may well prosper, but the greater number of possibilities suggest he is fucked, just like Compton, Carberry and Robson. Being new and untested doesn’t mean you’re a genius. It usually means the opposite. England also need to find the will to stick with a new opener for more than a couple of series.

    There was much more to be gained from attempting to un-fuck Trott, a player with a proven record, particularly against Australia.

  11. England mistakes that we wouldn’t have made: re-electing David Cameron.

    Sorry, but I had to. To shock Daneel, if nothing else.

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