England’s batsmen roll onto thorny hedge cuttings

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Good bowling exacerbates uncertainty. This is a very inexperienced England batting line-up and it therefore has good cause for self-doubt – particularly in unfamiliar conditions. When confronted with the contrasting threats of Wahab Riaz and Yasir Shah, it was no surprise that it collapsed in on itself like a cheap bike tyre punctured by a thorn.

We floated the possibility that an England batting collapse might happen as long ago as yesterday – and not for no reason. Here are England’s batting averages for the last 12 months. You can see that Alastair Cook and Joe Root have scored roughly twice as many runs at twice the average of the third most successful batsman, Ben Stokes. Beneath him, England possess a whole slew of number eight batsmen, it would seem.

This isn’t entirely an unfair assessment. As has been pointed out, very few of England’s batsmen are actually specialists. Maybe the modern thirst for three-dimensionality has ushered us into the era of the jack-of-all-trades cricketer. Perhaps one or two might like to remove strings from their bows and instead focus their efforts on just one aspect of the game. It worked for Bradman.


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. Root continues to make AB de Villiers look a bit shit.

    Well, by “a bit shit” I mean “slightly less than a demigod, in the longest format at least”.

  2. I was a little concerned yesterday that England might chase 491 and win. Clearly, this would have been awful. 418 is the record, and we most definitely DO NOT want records like that broken. If anything, it is too high already.

    English captains are naturally conservative. Mrs Cook once served Alastair FIVE roast potatoes with his Sunday lunch instead of the usual four, and he was bedridden for a week with the shock. They have the number 418 in their heads as a benchmark for declaring. The official procedure for setting their opponents a target is:

    1. Recall the record 4th innings chase of 418
    2. As that’s been done, assume it can and will happen again, today
    3. Add a comfort margin just to be safe, say 30
    4. Start to sweat a bit, imagining the headlines if they achieve it
    5. Add another 30, just to be safe
    6. Round this up to 480
    7. Get to a 480 lead, wait for any batsmen to complete personal milestones
    8. Have a biscuit
    9. Declare

    This results in leads of around the 500 mark. But just imagine if the record run chase were 491! This would obviously force the lead to be 73 more, just by simple arithmetic. But it’s worse than that. Firstly, Step 2 becomes a statement of fact, leading to increases in Steps 3, 4 and 5. Secondly, this new total of just over 600 makes the rounding of Step 6 take it to 700. This in turn leads to a lot more batsmen getting closer to personal milestones, so Step 7 will mean that we are looking at a lead of 800 or so before an English captain will even consider selecting his pre-declaration biscuit.

    We would never win a test match again. So well done the lads for working so hard to avoid this happening.

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