Not so long ago, we were in a public house with a friend when his neighbour turned up. This neighbour had been to watch Manchester City win five-nil earlier that day. She said it hadn’t been a good game; that City had seemingly lost interest in the second half.
How times have changed. Once upon a time, we went and stood in the Kippax (yes, stood – we’re that old) with our dad and felt positively elated that City had managed four goals against Barnet in the League Cup. During subsequent years, there were times when a 0-0 draw in a top flight fixture would have justified punching the air as if it were a street ragamuffin and we were Batman. In fact there were times when even a resounding defeat in a top flight fixture was many, many years away.
So a five-nil win? Not so bad, you’d have thought.
Where are you going with this?
This strange loss of perspective came to mind while watching the post-match analysis of England’s one-day defeat to Pakistan when a number of pundits took issue with the one-dimensionality of England’s attack. To outline the nature of this one-dimensional attack, it comprised two left-arm pace bowlers, a right-arm pace bowler, an off-spinner and a leg-spinner. Again, how times have changed.
The dimension that was lacking was of course pace – and this is indeed a fair criticism – but to call the England one-day attack ‘samey’ is merely to showcase your acute memory loss.
Also, no matter what its shortcomings, it’s hard to fairly assess a one-day bowling ‘unit’ which has been asked (perhaps ‘sentenced’ would be a better verb) to defend 216 on a flat pitch. All you can really conclude after it fails is that it’s not miraculously good. A few more runs, a few more risks taken, and like Sliding Doors without that Yank bint and with a lot more cricket, things could pan out very differently.
Nick Knight has improved as a commentator and interviewer, but like his batting, there are still times when you’d prefer that he didn’t employ an open face. One such moment came when he suggested to Eoin Morgan that we had seen ‘a familiar problem’ with England’s batting.
The problem, according to Knight, is a tendency to collapse at the top of the order and then again lower down. He rather implied that if England could somehow address this one small flaw, they’d be a decent side in both Tests and one-dayers.
If you collapse at the top of the order and again lower down, those aren’t aberrations – that’s the norm. In those circumstances, the weird bit’s what happens in between, when there’s a partnership in which runs are scored. England fielded ten competent batsmen and basically managed one decent partnership.
So where are we with England’s one-day side?
How are we supposed to feel about them at the minute? On Twitter yesterday, we asked whether people were still going with ‘brave new world’ optimism or whether we were all back to jaded cynicism now.
Two people answered. Both went with ‘jaded optimism’.