Mop-up of the day – Batting collapses don’t just come against spin, apparently

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A true collapse comes after a start. Throwing a load of Lego bricks over the floor is just a mess; putting them together to build some sort of tower before watching it keel over – that’s a collapse.

Like England last week, Australia took the time to set the scene. A 158-run opening partnership is more than just foundations, which was just as well because they then lost 10 wickets for 86.

At least two of the culprits were predictable – Usman Khawaja and Mitchell Marsh.

Khawaja felt that he’d been made a ‘scapegoat’ after being dropped in Sri Lanka following a series of scores that read 26, 18, 11 and nought. He clearly thought he’d bottomed out and was on the way back up. This view has been entirely vindicated as he was dismissed for four on his return to the side.

As for Marsh, we haven’t seen any of today’s play, but over on Cricinfo, Brydon Coverdale said of his dismissal that “the biggest worry was the distance by which he missed the ball.”

Australia love the idea of having a seam-bowling all-rounder and they do tend to give them plenty of rope.

On the plus side…

At least they won’t have to face quite so many bowlers in the second innings. Dale Steyn has been ruled out of the series with a fractured shoulder.

Steyn seems caught in a perpetual recuperation cycle of late and one wonders what we’ll see of him in years to come. Bowlers evolve, but Steyn has always been an adrenal sort of player and if he’s unable to force his body to physical extremes, you can’t help but feel he’ll be blunted.

It says it all that his departure isn’t the body blow for South Africa it might once have been. They’d sooner have him than not, but the relentless rehab means they’re uncertain what they’ll get from him while they have solid replacements in reserve.

From what we saw, Steyn spent much of the first innings trying to bounce the shit out of David Warner and Shaun Marsh, even though the soundtrack of every Waca Test ever has been some sage old Aussie telling everyone how bowlers always get carried away bouncing the shit out of the batsmen when in reality the best approach is to pitch it up.

Back to collapses

Australia against Sri Lanka and England against Bangladesh were spin-induced collapses. With England embarking on a tour of India, many people are predicting a few more.

If you’d like some further reading, this piece on Graeme Swann’s comments about the culture of English cricket and its view of spin bowling is well worth a look. You could also watch the video if you’d for some reason like to encourage the notion that video clips are a better way of presenting information on the web than easy-to-scan text.

We agree with much of what Swann says. If spin is fundamentally something of an afterthought, there’s little point getting angry at the tweakers selected when spin bowling does come to the fore. Nor can you realistically expect a specialist coach to swan in, click his fingers, and teach the bowlers how to reliably and accurately click theirs in little more than a fortnight.

He also expresses our recurring point that English batsmen have a lot of catching up to do and that it is again because of the environment in which they develop.


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. The main problem with the web these days is that people who don’t understand the web are now in charge of much of it.

      1. It’s not like the old days. You knew where you were with MSN Messenger and the Encarta Encyclopedia.

      2. I’ve got fond memories of Encarta ’95 – copying and pasting from Encarta was the copying and pasting from Wikipedia of its day.

      3. See, I don’t think it’s a matter of them not understanding the web, I think it’s more that they just don’t care about the end user.

        Video is a terrible medium for presenting information on the web for any number of reasons that everyone already knows, but what it’s not at all terrible for is advertising. Video, in fact, is the ideal medium for advertisers, since ads that incorporate sound, image and motion have been shown time and again to be the most effective.

        That means advertisers are willing to pay more money to get video ads in front of your eyes than they are for static image ads. But in order to get that sweet video ad money, web publishers have to have video content, regardless of whether anyone wants it or it’s any good.

        Then they’ll embed videos at the top of every article and make them play automatically, so that their ad sales teams can say that their video content is in front of a million people’s eyes every day, and wouldn’t you love it if those million people were looking at a 15-second spot for your product? They don’t mention that two-thirds of those people immediately pause the video, and half the rest are in offices with their speakers muted and are completely ignoring the video. They can say a million people saw it, and they can make money off that. A lot more than they can make from things like “doing good journalism.”

      4. Well the last line is very true and speaking as someone who makes his living exclusively from writing for the web, thank the Lord for people overpaying for pointless videos.

        But removing our threadbare seen-better-days having-to-make-a-living hat, it is possible to use video well. All publishers need to do is ask themselves whether a video is a quicker and more direct form of communication in any given instance.

        Take for instance, a particular delivery in cricket. Sometimes it’s nice to spend three paragraphs describing what happened. Sometimes it’s better to embed a three second video in which the stumps get flattened. It’s more visceral. You can have text before and after, but why not make the delivery you’re discussing visual if you have that option?

        But the rest of the article needs to be scannable. That’s how we navigate the web. No-one wants to sit there with an itchy mouse finger listening to some clown laboriously reading something out loud as if we’re all frigging illiterate.

      5. That’s entirely true, and it’s a technique some of the internet’s best basketball writers make frequent use of, but such actually useful applications of video are perniciously difficult to monetize. Much easier to monetize are two and a half minute clips of press conferences that automatically play when a page loads. Which is why we’re inundated with the latter and have precious little of the former.

      6. Ideally slightly shorter videos, but yeah, basically that. The best tools to get the story across, whichever they are.

      7. Coming at it from a baseball angle is an interesting approach. You’d think that someone who could find interest in something as tedious and stupid as baseball would have no problem adjusting to the delicacies and intrigue of test cricket. But no. My American sports-loving Scottish colleague refuses to appreciate cricket in the slightest, saying that nothing ever happens. I tried to convince him by pointing out that you can hit the bal anywhere in cricket, making it 4x better than the 90-degree arc permitted in baseball, but to no avail.

        In other news, how’s Prince Prefab’s back these days, King?

      8. Good point. He must be due to endure another bout of questioning by now. We’ll get on it.

    2. Good stuff Sam. Most of us read stuff like this at work – either in our lunch breaks, or more clandestinely during the day. Either way, the whole office doesn’t need to hear Graeme Swann’s ‘dulcet’ tones.

  1. Why doesn’t Graeme Swann put his money where his mouth is and instead of shouting about what a shit state English spin is he should go to India and start cracking on and working with these spin bowlers we have. Wants to criticise but doesn’t want to be a part of the solution. Too many $$$ at BT sport.

    1. His point is that there isn’t a full-time job there for him or anyone else to take.

      Saqlain Mushtaq is spin bowling consultant for this tour and he has been contracted for a fortnight.

    2. I’m sure if he went up to Strauss and explained to him where English spin is going wrong and he’s there to help with whatever is necessary to get our spinners in order Strauss wouldn’t turn him down. It’s very well writing articles about how shit it all is but he’s probably the only person in a decent enough position to deliver as a spin bowling coach.
      I know Saqlain is there but is a fortnight enough?
      Swann mentions there’s no one doing it when he could be the solution instead of highlighting the problem.

      1. A fortnight is not long enough – that’s the point. And the fact that he’s only there for a fortnight is not Saqlain’s decision.

        Swann’s saying that England don’t want a full-time spin bowling coach. You could argue that he’s actually touting for such a job with these comments. Unfortunately, that job doesn’t exist and he can’t make it exist.

      2. If he’s touting for a job surely the best thing to do would be to talk to Strauss discretely and offer his valuable services instead of writing derogatory articles, it can’t be good for our current spinners to read that (if they read that, but I imagine it’s hard to ignore) and it can’t have a positive effect telling everyone what we already know.

  2. I am an Indian fan . Right now after there is a war like situation between Indian and Pakistan and recently there have been few attacks from Pakistan . So in this situation it’s hard to get Indian visa for a Pakistani national. Saqlain only got a visa for 15 day for special reasons . So ECB is not at fault for hiring him only for 15 days.

    1. Yes, that’s true – but if they were committed they’d surely have made use of him BEFORE they arrived in India.

      Even when Mushtaq Ahmed performed a similar role in years gone by, he would only be about for short periods. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that this is the way they want things to be spin-wise.

  3. After watching Steyn leaving the field like that. Do you think Anderson should be playing the third test against India?

    1. Are we in the future?

      How did the first two go? Was it as bad as Britons expected it to be?

      1. You weren’t in the future then, but you are in the future now, KC.

        Could the first two possibly have gone worse than expected?

  4. Trouble is, England can win most Tests without quality spinners. Every couple of years we go to thto subcontinent, lose, and everybody gets in a state. Then we beat West Indies with swing and it’s all ok again.

    1. Remember that one time Swann and Panesar took 19 wickets in a match though and England won?

      We’ve always have that one time

  5. Earlier today one of the Channel 9 team claimed that Australia would be confident in a big run chase because many of their batsmen are due some runs. So there.

    1. South Africa 388 ahead with four wickets remaining on a cracked pitch with two days left.

      Greg James: “Who’s going to win?”
      Graeme Swann: “Australia.”

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