Ian Bell, James Anderson and doing a bit better when things aren’t in your favour

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Ian Bell can probably get quite a lot out of the experience of buying a shed these days

It’s always tempting to judge players on their best days, but with anything long-term – a cricket career, a relationship, an overnight stint watching the Ashes on TV – a better form of evaluation is to look at what happens when things aren’t in your favour.

You learn a lot about a person when everything’s gone to shit. Score 220 not out or take 6-40 and you’ve done something that will probably win a Test match, but those days are few and far between. That’s not what life’s like.

Life’s not chocolate and rainbows. Life’s a long, hard, unremitting slog where everyone’s out to get you and nothing goes right. Life’s mostly about turning bowled for a duck into caught at slip for 62. It’s about turning 0-120 into 2-60.

Sure, making the most of the high points is part of it, but in the grand scheme of things, every moment counts. Waiting at the airport is part of the holiday. That’s your lot. Make the most of it.

Ian Bell

The hundred today isn’t the best example, because when he came out to bat, he joined a batsman who was already into treble figures, but generally, over the last year or so, Ian Bell’s improvement has been about being better on his bad days.

Last winter in South Africa, Bell started doing the job. It wasn’t beautiful shots and a flawless hundred that won people over, it was a five-hour 78 to help save a Test.

James Anderson

James Anderson’s swing bowling will still claim its fair share of headlines, but that’s not the measure of the man. The reason why he’s now one of the best bowlers in the world isn’t because of that, it’s because he’s flattened out the troughs.

Where once it was a few overs of swing and then ball retrieval from the wrong side of the ropes, now reverse swing and containment are the fallbacks.

With both these players, the focus remains the same, but the picture as a whole has changed.


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  1. love cricketing analogies in life. can’t get enough of them.

    the other day my colleague made a mistake at work at my boss said “that’s a dropped catch”.

    i laughed through my nose.

  2. My wife – who isn’t a cricket fan – was grumbling one day about being hungry just before lunch.

    She explained that she had “played and missed at breakfast”.

  3. These are excellent additions to the cricket metaphor bag. The standards – batting on a sticky wicket, hit for six, googlies and all that – need to be discarded. Among my friends the phrase “I’ll need to refer that one upstairs” has taken over from “speak to the Finance Director” for all those times when permission is needed for a big night out (which is all those times). I also think that “vacant midwicket area” has tremendous euphemism potential.

  4. the issue of form is fertile ground.

    i firmly believe one can be in or out of form in general life.

    this week i attempted to hit myself back into form by working hard.

    it sort of worked but now i am sleepy.

  5. Meanwhile, over in the only-test-match-that-we-all-should-be-watching-despite-not-following-either-of-the-two-teams, TENDULKAR HAS TAKEN A CRUCIAL WICKET.

    I demand a LMCoG recount.

  6. Speaking of Cape Town, Kallis is on 99*, batting with the tail on a difficult track while constanly grimacing in pain.

    Why are we all not watching this?

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