England v Australia will sap our enthusiasm

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Full of fans full of enthusiasm

We’re doing far too much moaning about this kind of crap and frankly we’re sick of reading about it elsewhere as well, even if we agree with much of what’s being said. This post is an attempt to purge some of our ill-feeling, because the negativity is spreading like a cancer, infecting every other update.

England v Australia, 2012

We don’t give a toss, even though we’re actually attending one of the matches. Worse than that, the damn series is going to draw some of our attention whether we like it or not, sapping our enthusiasm for what follows.

Most significantly in the long-term, this one-day series will sap our Ashes enthusiasm, which is unforgivable. However, it will sap our enthusiasm for the South Africa Test series which follows later in the summer as well. We will have seen cricket; we will have seen international cricket; and we will have seen it almost daily.

It’s not our bloody fault. Sit us down for a meal and we will look forward to the food, but cover the table with a million different nibbles and we will eat them. We’ll still eat the main meal afterwards, but it won’t be nearly so satisfying.

Even if we were remotely capable of self-control, that isn’t the point. Restaurateurs don’t actively encourage you to sate your appetite before they bring out their finest food because they’re not greedy idiots who have no comprehension of the fact that a man’s appetites are finite.

In simple terms

You know, you don’t even need to know anything about cricket to see that its cartilage is being eroded by overuse. In fact, if you know next to nothing about the sport, it’s pretty much the only thing you can see. That can’t be good for the health of the game.

We have a friend who regularly asks us ‘does it never end?’ Our answer is, unavoidably, ‘no’. We are dreading speaking to this person during the next few Ashes series. How can we explain to him that any given match matters when England are playing Australia seemingly daily?

As far as he’s concerned, England played Australia last year, they’re playing them this year, they’re playing them next year, they’re playing them the year after. One-dayers, Tests – it’s just England v Australia to him. Whether it’s officially ‘the Ashes’ or not is of no real concern.

Trapped in this stupid, insular world, most people don’t seem to recognise that fact. Every match, no matter what the format, has an impact on every other match. It’s all cricket.


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. Fair points. I am also attending one of the matches, and I’m trying to console myself that while the match is going on, nobody is actually going to be thinking about the wider context. They will just be enjoying the game.

    1. Attending a one-day match is a day out, entirely removed from sporting context. Most people don’t even really watch in our experience.

    1. So the only reason/excuse for playing too many Ashes series – to get them in different years from the World Cup – only makes sense for one tournament?

      Great. Fat chance this post is going to purge the negativity, as we intended it to.

    1. As we wrote on Twitter: Ever made a judgment about a player who’s better than you? Flintoff thinks you’re a prick. Basically, he only likes Garry Sobers.

    2. Was he pissed? Interesting that they asked him if he wanted it to be “off the record” and he said no. Must have been absolutely badgered.

    3. A little disappointing, that article, given what the URL suggested it might be. But it made me think two things:

      1. Flintoff is indeed a cock.

      2. Atherton is also a cock (or a prick, to use Flintoff’s entirely accurate phrase). He captained England through the single worst phase of their entire history, and that wasn’t a coincidence. In his autobiography, he freely admits that he couldn’t have cared less about the results, he was just enjoying the ride. For nine years he guided England through thin and thinner, winning two series against NZ and one against India AND F ALL ELSE. During this period he at least managed to keep England alive with his superb batti… OH NO, HE DIDN’T EVEN DO THAT BECAUSE HE AVERAGED 37 AND MOST OF THOSE RUNS WERE AGAINST BLOODY NEW ZEALAND. England’s turnaround started when Hussain took over.

      Anyway, in summary, here is Atherton’s quotation about Flintoff from the linked article, slightly modified in wording, completely unaltered in accuracy:

      “The only positive benefit of the injury to ATHERTON may be the end of his immediate captaincy ambitions. I don’t subscribe to the view that England’s underperformance against EVERYBODY EXCEPT NEW ZEALAND was entirely down to ATHERTON’s captaincy but equally I have never subscribed to the view that he is the man for the job.”

    4. Didn’t a Hussain-helmed England lose to BLOODY NEW ZEALAND?

      Atherton gets a free pass forever for Johannesburg.

    5. 7,000 runs in that decade is a lot, and he scored over 1,500 of them in victories (10 over, to be precise).

      To be fair, I know he was a good batsman, and I know it wasn’t easy, and at the time I quite liked him. But since then he has consistently criticised players who do that thing that he didn’t do (win anything), and has effectively said that he didn’t care about not winning stuff. While that might be OK for a batsman, it is NOT NOT NOT NOT OK for a captain.

      As regards him and Flintoff being Lancastrians, they’re no Glen Chapple.

    6. Looking at daneel’s comment, I was shocked to learn that Atherton scored more in 10 years of test cricket than Lara and Tendulkar. Then I discovered it is because of the small matter of him having played seventy (sixty) more innings than Sachin (Lara).

      I am still schocked though.

    7. Bert, I can’t believe you have the gall to criticise Athers for criticising people who are better at winning cricket matches than him.

      At least Athers won a few matches as captain, whereas the Bert era of England Test Captaincy, if I remember correctly, was a disaster from start to finish.

    8. I think Atherton has a fair point about Flintoff’s captaincy. Link time again!


      Atherton managed to win a pretty rubbish 24% of his test matches as captain, but this is fairly comparable to Stewart’s 27% and Gooch’s 29%. This is indicative that throughout that period England were not very good. Hussain didn’t win too much either but he did make England much harder to beat.

      Flintoff, on the other hand, only won 18% and lost more than 60% of his matches as captain. By comparison, all of Vaughan, Strauss and Trescothick won at least 50% of their tests as skipper. Even Peter May and Len Hutton didn’t manage that.

      Flintoff was captain of a strong side and uniquely failed to get them to perform. He was a piss poor captain and Atherton was quite right to criticize him.

      I think we need to recall Brian Close after Strauss retires, though.

    9. Well fair enough, Other Ed et al. You’ve found me out for my hypocrisy. So in order to clarify (i.e. change position massively), I don’t think he was a bad batsman. I don’t think he doesn’t have the right to criticise other players. I don’t think he isn’t a decent journalist most of the time. And also, England’s results in the 90s were due to many factors, not just his captaincy.

      But, his captaincy was a big part of it. He was a very, very bad captain. His ONLY qualification was that he was a 3 on King Cricket’s Chart of Who Can Be England Captain, and there were no better 1s and 2s at the time.


      There is an air of untouchability around the ex-player journalists that must rile the current players. Being criticised by Derek Pringle for a lack of aggression. Being told by Geoff Boycott you’re not playing for the team. And being told you are a poor captain by Mike Atherton. The message might be true in all cases, but if it’s so obvious, how come they couldn’t apply it to themselves.

      (BTW, look down the comments on that link. You’ll see me change my mind completely and Other Ed be deeply critical of my hastily thrown together opinion. Plus ca change…)

    10. Bert, apologies – even now I am still hanging my head in shame about my wrongness in that previous thread.

      Also, as I was a relative nipper at the time, all I really remember about Atherton’s playing career is a kind of blurring of his 185* and 98* against South Africa, which my mind has melded into one super-innings. I don’t remember a thing about his captaincy, so I probably rate him much higher than he deserves.

    11. Atherton is banterful and interesting as a pundit. Good bat and a decent bloke. Some times it may seem like he has a commitment to the truth, but that should be applauded not derided. Flintoff I like too, but I suspect in an intellectual dust up with Athers, he’d come out second best.

  2. This post reminds me of those endless India-Sri Lanka one day series a few years ago. Shudder.

  3. It’s raining at Leeds, BTW, and will do all day. So where is today’s Cricket Player Name Pun Game? What are we going to do otherwise? Work?

    What I wish would happen when in hospital (Seymour Nurse, WI batsman of the 1960s)?

    1. Occupationally named cricketers like Seymour Nurse?

      Alastair Cook
      Dale Steyn removal
      Nick Knight
      Dirk Nanny(es)
      Michael Clerk
      Mike Hussy

      Mine are average at best, I’m expecting more from the rest of you?

    2. We particularly like ‘Knight’ as an occupation. That’s our aspiration.

    3. Not to be an Ashwell PRINCE then?

      As an Allan Border Reiver up here in the far northern reaches of England, my aspirations are somewhat more grounded.

      A Peter Forrester?
      A Michael Beer Taster?

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