Jos Buttler and Joe Root get the message

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England v Sri Lanka Royal London One-Day Series 2014

Why, England, why? Why do you only now bat with no fear of consequences in this inconsequential one-day game? Why couldn’t you bat with no fear of consequences in the World Cup, back when there were consequences?

That’s only partly jaded cynicism

It’s mainly just our way of saying that England’s performance in the first one-day international against New Zealand was a welcome change rather than proof of the fundamental rightness of this side and the equally comprehensive wrongness of the World Cup team. A large proportion of the problems that afflict England’s one-day cricket won’t actually be tested again for quite some time. They may be latent. But never mind, there’s still much to be lauded for now.

For all that this is ‘an exciting young side,’ one thing that struck us is that the two players who made the biggest contributions with the bat – Joe Root and Jos Buttler – would have been playing even if England hadn’t made a single change. They’re top players anyway, but they appeared to go up a notch.

Let’s develop a blind spot to the point made at the start of this article and try and identify some other cause for this.

Show, don’t tell

In fiction, it’s generally accepted that if you have to explicitly state how a character is feeling, you’re not writing well and your story will be weak. Events and reactions should let the reader know what’s going on without the author having to explain things.

Similarly, you can tell a batsman to play freely, but he’s not necessarily going to buy that unless you can somehow show him that’s what you really want.

We’re basically in ‘actions speak louder than words’ territory here. Telling a batsman one thing and then dropping him or shifting him in the order for the next match might mean a coach is sending mixed messages. You could also argue that making no changes whatsoever might conflict with a verbal message of positivity if the side as a whole doesn’t really seem all that positive.

What we mean by that is that the constitution of the side sends a message to each of the players who comprise it. Sam Billings made three and Jason Roy was out first ball, but their very presence spoke of positive intent. Root and Buttler accepted that this truly was the philosophy of this remodelled England team and played accordingly.

You can’t just say ‘play positively’ – you have to commit to it.

What else?

No ending with a pithy-yet-throwaway line that makes little sense in isolation today. We’ve got more to say. Specifically, we want to say ‘Adil Rashid’.

It is nine years since we first became unjustifiably excited about Adil Rashid and we still feel much the same and for almost exactly the same reasons. Watching tail-enders miss hard-spun googlies by a foot isn’t going to make that feeling go away.


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  1. It sends out a message to James Taylor that they’re going to continue to mess him around, mind.

    Also, I miss Ian Bell.

  2. It was a pleasure watching Rashid finally show the potential he undoubtedly processes. A few years ago I wondered if he would fade away – a talent not realised as he struggled to get in the Yorkshire side.. Hopefully we’ll see more batsman confounded by his googlies and a good run in the side.. He will bowl dross but he’ll also bowl rip-snorting jaffers too. Legspin – it’s a delight to watch.

  3. If you believe the process stuff, the fact that Rashid did well was a direct result of him not playing in the West Indies. Not playing cricket makes you a better player.

    1. So we know two things:

      1) Not playing cricket makes you a better player.

      2) Based on this performance, making massive changes = wins.


      All of yesterday’s team should be immediately dropped, and an all-debutant team should be picked for the 2nd ODI.

      Following the 2nd match (which England will presumably win by 300 runs), the team for the 3rd match should be made up of elderly people who have NEVER played cricket – just think how much cricket they haven’t played.

      The logical conclusion of this will be during the next World Cup, when England’s team of 100-year old debutants will lose to India’s team of 110-year old debutants in a low scoring final.

    2. I’ve not played any form of cricket (tests, ODIs, corridor, beach, back-yard throw-down-blocking) in at least ten years. Do any of you have any idea how good I must be after a lay-off like that?

    1. We thought having two Mitchells would be enough, it worked for Australia after all.

  4. It was hard to put my finger on it this morning. Everything seemed normal, but something was odd. I just had that weird sense that something fundamental had changed. I wasn’t alone either – the man at the petrol station was very distracted, and work colleagues carried an air of puzzlement. Grass was still green, water was still wet, fire was still hot, the sky was still flashing purple and orange stripes… nothing seemed out of place. In the end I had to conclude that it was England scoring more than 400 runs in an ODI that was strange.

    1. Are you sure it wasn’t your use of the term ‘work colleagues’ that was bothering you?

    2. No, I don’t think that was it. Given its etymology from the Latin co- (together) and -legere (to gather), my clarification of the specific nature of those who had gathered together seemed not unreasonable.

      Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to quickly meet with some people which have drove over to see me, a few less than I thought as one of there car’s is broke.

    3. I stand by my view that work colleagues is not a tautology. One can have colleagues in different walks of life. Volunteering, for example.

  5. england hit 400+ in a ODI and i missed it… shit!

    i will try and tune in for the next one (just in time to see the kiwis get their revenge no doubt)

  6. Rashid is sort of that guy, like the Indian medium/fast-medium pacer who tends to take wickets at the expense of Varun Aaron. They might well have benefitted from the lack of cricket, in a sense they rarely seem to improve from the playing of it.

    1. I’ve only one word in response to this, and that word is


      Imagine how good his agricultural traditional-number-eleven batting has become now without having played test cricket in going on a year.

  7. Loving the Sarah Ansell watermark.

    Things are getting a bit professional round here.

    I’ve changed my mind. I don’t like it.

    1. If “they” are going to play four guys named Mitch…

      …then we should play five guys named Mo.

      I thank you.

      Yet, still, I’d go Adil ahead of Mo for the Ashes. It was a dreadful strategic error not to play Adil in those Windy Warmups.

    2. They’re both batsmen who can bowl a bit. Neither should be at number eight. Mo would offer more control with the ball.

  8. I loved Stokes in the Tests, he can’t quite empty the bars as Botham could in his prime but perhaps he will get there. I would play him through the entire Ashes series whether it’s good or bad.

    As a number 5 batsman in ODI perhaps just look back at his record so far

    Played 25, runs 292, ave 15.36, SR 78

    I don’t think Rashid will ever become a Shane Warne but it was a lot more fun than watching Tredwell or Ali.

    Drop Stokes from ODI just as they have dropped Cook, Bell, Ballance, Anderson, Broad and Ali and let them concentrate on the Ashes

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