Giving up on the old boys

Kevin Pietersen aims for a fielder's hands

There’s a lot of talk of it being the end of an era for England; how many of the familiar faces won’t be around for the next Ashes in 2015. It’s not surprising many of us want to throw all our old toys away and buy new ones, but you only have to look at Australia to see that bad sides show ill-advised haste in changing the guard.

You may not read Australian sports pages…

And if you’re English, we’d advise you don’t start at this exact moment, but before the last Ashes series you would have got the impression that Australia had the greatest attack in the world. That doesn’t seem an entirely ludicrous claim right now with three utterly relentless and complementary quick bowlers supported by a decent spinner and an all-rounder who doesn’t let the run-rate rise one iota.

Thing is, they were talking about an almost entirely different bowling attack earlier in the year. The widespread belief was that Australia had found young quick bowlers who would smoosh the Poms without breaking sweat. James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc and Jackson Bird were the chosen ones. Many thought that Peter Siddle should make way for one of them and hardly anyone wanted Mitchell Johnson within a thousand miles of the squad.

The future had arrived. Everyone was in a bloody great rush to get on with it.

The future’s still in the future

Pattinson didn’t tend to look too threatening in that series and averaged 43.85. Mitchell Starc’s form oscillated as wildly as his place in the side and he somehow averaged 32.45. Jackson Bird looked nice and steady in the one match he played, but only took two wickets for 125.

And who’s ripped through the England batting line-up in the return series? Knackered-up old Ryan Harris who will apparently remain precisely five minutes away from a career-ending injury for the rest of time; boring old Peter Siddle; and Mitchell Johnson, a man who’d previously spent a large proportion of his Ashes career crying in dressing rooms.

Throw in a desperation stakes recall for Brad Haddin and you’re halfway to an indomitable Test team.

Making changes

We always talk about who to drop and who to replace them with because that’s the most obvious form of change, but it’s not always the players so much as the way they are prepared and motivated. This stuff’s invisible to us watching from the stands or on TV. However, the most obvious changes aren’t always the best ones.

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17 Appeals

  1. Good piece, KC, you are the voice of common sense.

    In my book, you have redeemed yourself, even for an offence as serious as starting a sentence with a redundant “Look”.

  2. Right now I don’t much care about what is sensible or right. I want retribution. I want players and coaches punished. I want careers ended.

  3. The flip side of this argument is that it is also easy to overestimate the prowess of a winning side. Indomitable test team Australia are not. They just happen to be playing against a team that steadfastly refuses to take advantage of the opponents’ failings.

    • I don’t there is any chance of a pom ever overestimating the prowess of the opposition. Giving credence to the non-English in any field of endeavour, be it sport, war or flower shows, not in your DNA. Never has been.

    • We’ve been more than happy to compliment the Saffers recently, and haven’t been shy to do the same with the Aussie team of a decade ago. I seem to recall a distinct unease with our own 3-0 win over the summer as well. Maybe we’re just a bit discerning when it comes to handing out wild praise. This current Australian team is OK, some players have been brilliant, but if you think they’re somehow world beaters after this series I’d prepare for disappointment if I were you.

      Still, at least we’re still here commenting and laughing despite it all. That’s the thing about sport – if you can’t take the losses with humour, nobody will take you seriously when your team is winning. It’s like all those humourless Man U fans – try to find them on blog sites when their team is losing. Their long periods of absence tell you all you need to know about how much they actually understand sport.

    • Rusty – I am neither English nor Aussie. I am simply stating what I think is the truth.

    • Whereas Australians are famously magnanimous?

    • I don’t think any Australian would say that this team is as good as the 06/07 team.

      But this is still quite a good Test team that has ended this England team as a force for the time being.

      Winning 5-0 is not merely the result of good fortune, of just ‘happening’ to play against the right team. 5-0 is an absolute thrashing, and it takes a genuinely good team to do it.

      Unfortunately for Australia, their next opponent is a team that has all the makings of a great team.

    • This Aussie side should be reasonably competitive against that (Kallis-free) Saffer side, even in Safferland.

      Should be a good match up and at least it should be a fascinating series to follow.

      The thing that has really stuck in the craw this winter is how uncompetitive and therefore uninteresting the matches have been.

      I don’t like supporting the losing team but I absolutely hate it when England are so bad that I don’t even get to see half-decent matches.

  4. Deep Cover, the bowling is ok, even if the batting is a bit rubbish.

    Agree with KC about the nonsense written about Aus young bowlers. Why would anyone in their right mind want a completely novice attack for English conditions? We saw how that worked out in 2009! The Aus media is obsessed with hyping players before they have done anything at all. Very tedious habit.

  5. There is a chance that I might be crucified for this but I seriously can’t figure out any reason for the persistent short bowling yesterday apart from some fixing. I really can’t. I mean, the alternative is that the entire bowling management team, the captain, and the entire bowling staff (apart from Anderson)are exceptionally thick and are incapable of taking lessons worth 5 tests (at the very least) on board.

  6. Well said, KC. But if you stick with the ‘old boys’, including the current coach and captain, how do things improve? Who decides what went wrong and how it can be fixed?

  7. It’s quite simple. Australia dominate and everyone praises Lehmann for the turnaround. Including the Australian players themselves.

    England look like a set of chumps and it’s entirely down to the players. The management, we are told, ‘must be disappointed’ at these events and the people who formulate these battle plans are free from any finger pointing.

    Well the nottom line is that they have the responsibility for making sure everything has been prepared to the best standard. This happens in any other form of management, not only in sport but in any profession.

    Football teams sack managers and all of a sudden the teams are transformed, with the same players. I believe Tottenham have just gone from chumps to beating the champs in the space of weeks.

    Does england need new players, maybe a couple, and a couple need a kick up the arris. Does England need new management? Maybe not entirely, but that management has to assume responsibility and think about creating a more tactically proactive team. Maybe Flower should read up on some of the ‘funky fielding’ he seems to despise so much too.

    • I agree with the sentiment wholeheartedly even if I shudder at the phrase “creating a more tactically proactive team”.
      The feedback on Darren Lehmann is that he put a big focus on players having “fun” in order to play at their best. The corollary is that no-one enjoys playing against arseholes, and if you are arseholes your opponents will not perform at their best. Whether it’s encouraging the crowd to be hostile towards the opposition in the hope that they will “cry and go home”, leaking catering documents to invite ridicule or formulating a plan of intimidatory bowling which could be argued is in contravention of the spirit of the game if not the rules Boof has led from the front.

  8. Well, that was fun.

    Same time next week?

  9. Tests are over with. Now we have how many one dayers? The real cricket starts now. We’ll have tredders and buttler, Morgan and Ravi. All going to show the aussies we are not a spent force. Its the build up to the world cup. But then again Cook is ODI captain isn’t he?

  10. Thanks KC and good one Sakuraba. Someone please tell Michael Vaughan how ugly and destructively negative he sounds. And SMUG.

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