We’ve written about just what a monumental achievement it was for England to get knocked out in the group stages. The more we think about it, the more we’re impressed at how they managed to prevent even one cylinder from firing.
There is talk that Paul Downton may get the boot. We’re inclined to say that he had the greatest negative influence of anyone involved. It wasn’t the sacking of a player that was the issue per se, but the ramifications of that on the team.
The situation led to Downton making a series of preposterous pronouncements on behalf of Alastair Cook and Peter Moores. Intended as props to support them at a difficult time, these statements instead became sticks with which to beat them. The Test captain and coach have been tarred by association, perceived as beneficiaries of some weird quasi-nepotistic approach to man management that defines England’s failing ‘new era’.
This is Downton’s fault – primarily, at least. As the public face of the management team, he has shown laughable aptitude for public relations and this alone means he isn’t really qualified for the job. It’s almost as if he’s spent the last 20 years ‘outside cricket’, working in a bank.
It will be interesting to see how national selector James Whitaker comes out of this as well. The word is he will keep his job and while it’s simplistic to blame a selector for the ills of the national side, we’re struck that he took over following an Ashes victory and immediately before an Ashes defeat and has now overseen two humiliating tournament exits in little more than a year.
Selectors are hard to appraise. It’s partly about picking the right players and it’s partly about timely selection and omission and the impact this has on the individuals in question as well as the team as a whole. Good selections have certainly been made, but England’s choice of pace bowlers for the 2013-14 Ashes was bizarre and ill-informed while few could argue that booting the one-day captain a few months before the World Cup was optimal – particularly as it resulted in further slicing and dicing of the team off the back of that.
Hindsight is of course a great tool when looking back on these things, but Whitaker’s predecessor as national selector, Geoff Miller, seemed to have a happy knack for predicting what would eventually be seen through its lens.