Shall we all just agree to blame James Vince for absolutely everything forever?

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James Vince bowled (via ICC video)

2019 Cricket World Cup, Game 32, Australia v England

You know what it’s like. It’s been a long day, you’ve made a lot of decisions and you don’t really have any left in you. You’re not going to change TV channel. If there’s some leftovers on a plate in the fridge, you’re just going to push them directly into your face and call it tea.

In this sort of a state, you can’t be expected to come up with reasons or explanations or even opinions. You just want the easy option. You want to point at something and say that it was at fault and then let that be the end of things.

In this specific England v Australia instance, you could say it was Aaron Finch’s fault for his plod of a hundred, or you could say it was Mitchell Starc’s fault for Wasim Akramming Ben Stokes.

Maybe you’d blame this bloke.

That would be wrong – but you’d certainly be well within your rights to strongly not like this bloke.

These are one-match things though. You can’t blame them for England’s whole non-firing tournament so far.

Maybe you could say that England are a side built for flat pitches with weaknesses that stem from that, but that kind of feels like you’d have to think about it a little bit and maybe someone would confront you with some stats and argue against you and that is really not what you want right now.

What you want is a particular player to focus on; a player to moan about without being challenged. What you want is James Vince.

What happened today was that Jason Behrendorff, a man whose shrug-inducing bowling is exactly as sensible as his sensible haircut and sensible face, bowled a ball to James Vince that James Vince did not hit. The ball then carried on past James Vince and hit James Vince’s stumps and you do not need to know a whole lot about cricket to know that that is not a great way to start to an innings.


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  1. Still think we’ll qualify.

    But this is a home World Cup – if our team is built for flat pitches, why haven’t we made any? Are the ground staff directed by the ICC rather than the hosts?

    1. Correct. Would love to know how the ICC decide – are they aiming for close contests, trying to neutralise the advantage of certain teams? You might have thought they’d try to encourage runfests in the belief that people want to watch fours and sixes and I’m glad they haven’t gone down that route but simultaneously increasingly not glad…

      1. You think England will qualify..? I reckon there is now a really good chance of their losing to India, and (given the morale-sapping defeat they just suffered) a pretty good chance of losing to NZ as well, which leaves the ball firmly in Bangladesh’s court does it not? Wish I had your optimism on this one :-S

        … and it’s very tempting to make a scapegoat out of Vince, especially today, but would it not make more sense to blame whichever genius picked him for the ODI squad in the first place?

        As they say, it’s the hope that kills you… Head knew that Aus were basically guaranteed to win today, but at times it looked as if England might just pull it off, and heart got suckered in

    2. It’s a tournament, and there’s been a lot of rain. Curators haven’t had time to go out there and bake the pitches.

      This has been good for the quality of the close contests (even though most matches have still been uncompetitive).

      1. It’s hardly James Vince’s fault that he got selected to do Ian Bell’s job in 2015.

        If anyone deserves criticism, it’s the selectors for thinking that the job required was Ian Bell’s from 2015

  2. We could also blame Alex Hales for James Vince’s presence in the England side, that’s another option.

    I think the most annoying thing about James Vince is that the worst case scenario is we’re a wicket down in the first over, while the best case is we’re a wicket down somewhere else in the first ten overs. Literally anyone else you feel “could” get a score, whereas with Vince it feels so inevitable that he won’t. With someone like Moeen Ali you at least get the hope that he might thrash a rapid 60 or 70 before he gets out slogging for less than 20. With Vince it’s just a matter of waiting to see how early Joe Root is going to have to come in.

    1. Oh God. Even the blaming of James Vince is nuanced. We didn’t foresee that.

  3. I find this all tremendously amusing.

    Good job England on focusing on ODIs to the detriment of the Test team for years on end, then ballsing it up royally when it matters.

    Still, I look forward to James Vince opening in the Ashes.

  4. It’s not about individuals. I’ve always felt that match awareness doesn’t come naturally to English cricketers. There seems to be always an English “template” especially for ODI cricket. Sides of the past weren’t aggressive enough, so the template changed to one of aggression. It did fantastically well for England in the past 2 years, but ultimately it is one dimensional and too black-and-white. Pitches change, attacks change, every situation is different. There’s no one way to play cricket — most of the aggressive/defensive talk that seems to dominate English cricket especially is bullshit. The answer is always “it depends on the situation”.

    Even the new “aggressive” New Zealand side that people were talking about since 2015 have players like Williamson who play the situation beautifully. In this game, literally all they needed to do was keep wickets in hand in the first 10 overs when the ball was swinging around and Starc/Behrendorff we’re bowling well. If they had been 40/0 after 10 overs, with their depth and talent this score would have been a cakewalk. Australia don’t have the skills to pick up wickets in the middle overs, they could have scored most of the runs against Stoinis.

    The problem is cricket is actually not part of the English upbringing and psyche like it is to some other teams. Match awareness skills, and delivering in pressure situations are something you pick up by playing lots and lots of competitive cricket in your formative years. No amount of academies, coaching and centers of excellence can train that.

    1. We’d agree that they’re a little one dimensional, but we’d disagree that there’s a template.

      We’d say they’ve successfully addressed the most glaring weakness and then used that as the foundation and tried to become more adaptable. They’re just not there yet.

      You have to remember that four years ago, they were starting from further back than all the other sides. They needed to know they could make big scores first before trying to become more rounded.

      We think they’ve come a long way and we’d argue it’s better to fall short with the capacity to win than it is to fall short when you feel like you can’t.

      1. All valid observations KC, but it really feels as if Deets has a strong point too. There has been a horrible inevitability about all this (where “all this” = two avoidable defeats, Roy getting injured, Vince getting stuck in a role he’s blatantly not suited for, and more generally the imminent ignominy of failing to perform in a tournament for which they were favourites… losing to Australia in a World Cup is so crashingly obvious that it belongs in a class of its own). Whatever the reasons may be, England teams just don’t seem to be capable of rising to the big occasion.

        In other words, yes they have made loads of progress (… from the side which insisted on opening with Alastair Cook), but however much progress they make, it doesn’t feel as if it would ever be enough to, say, win a World Cup. That seems to require a particular level of belief which the England players just seem to lack; India have acquired it, which proves it can be acquired (Aussies are born with it, which is why so many of us love to watch them fail).

        I am more pessimistic than usual today, cos of what befell Somerset earlier on (shudder). But for all that “winning DNA” sounds like (and is) a load of bollocks, all such talk may nevertheless be pointing to a truth

    2. It’s tempting to think there’s a template being followed, but really, England’s approach isn’t a whole lot different from other sides. A really good opening partnership, anchor man and strike rotation specialist Root (and previously Morgan, if needed), followed by hitters in Buttler, Stokes and Ali.

      If you break that opening partnership and get Root early, the rest of the batting line up struggles with strike rotation when the pitch is tricky, or the match situation is tense. It’s the same story if you get Kohli or Williamson early. Trouble is, getting any of them out early is difficult because they’re that good.

      Credit has to go to Starc today, two unplayable balls to Root, and Stokes, the best England batsman on the day.

      1. If England’s batting line up can be looked at in terms if geology, Stokes can be seen as a seam of iron ore running through the middle.

  5. Oh well, shit happens…and that.

    What I find quite odd is that we’re constantly told that the English top order can bat freely because of the strength of the lower order. Every time, however, they’re asked to close out a game when the top order have dropped them in the shite needing 9 an over in the last 10, they fold as quickly as Mullally, Fraser, Malcolm & Tufnell.

    Maybe it’d be worth reversing the batting order to allow the ‘not superstars’ a crack at the top of the innings. Rashid and Woakes probably have developed techniques, in the county game, that would allow them to knock it about and build and innings after we’ve had a bit of weather, and the deck isn’t a road.

    I dunno, probably talking bollocks, but it just feels like we’re tossing a coin for good England/bad England.

    Maybe they should call for the Mongoose in the middle overs, or perhaps drink more gin.

  6. Super Over alert!

    Zimbabwe thereby won their first match on this tour. They lost 2-0 in the ODIs, and this levelled the T20Is 1-1… not totally sure why they play a Super Over in a multi-match series, rather than a knock-out tournament, isn’t a tied match exciting enough?

    The 20th over of the Zimbabwe reply sounds like great fun. Needed 12 to tie, 13 to win, with three wickets left, Chigumbura on strike having reached 17 off 14 balls, Kyle Jarvis at the other end.

    19.1 Roelof van der Merwe to Elton Chigumbura: SIX

    19.2 Roelof van der Merwe to Elton Chigumbura: SIX

    19.3 Roelof van der Merwe to Elton Chigumbura: DOT

    19.4 Roelof van der Merwe to Elton Chigumbura: WICKET (bowled)

    19.5 Roelof van der Merwe to Chris Mpofu: WICKET (bowled)

    19.6 Roelof van der Merwe to Chris Mpofu: WICKET (run out, Seelaar/van der Merwe)

    Think I’d rather have been in Rotterdam than Lord’s…

    1. How did Chris Mpofu face ball 6, if he was bowled ball 5?

      Are there two Chris Mpofus?

      1. Ball 19.6 has already been corrected on the commentary: “TL Chatara run out (Seelaar/van der Merwe)”

        What a pity. I preferred the “two Chris Mpofus” theory.

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