Specialism or dilution? Questions for this latest month of Australia v England matches

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On the face of it, there should be plenty to say about the fifth one-day international, but shortly after watching it we didn’t feel moved to write anything. A day later, we’re left with one abiding truth: we should feel a little more strongly than ‘peeved’ when England throw away any match against Australia.

It’s over half a year since either team played anyone else. We were momentarily elated when James Tredwell edged to the keeper, giving Australia the win, because we thought it was all over. Then we remembered the Twenty20 internationals. There are three of them. They finish in February and at that point it will be 17 months until the Ashes.

We’re beginning to live through what we saw on the horizon back when we got rather irate about them scheduling 10 Ashes Tests in a row. It’s becoming a weird, philosophical exercise, more than a series of cricket matches. We’re starting to ask ourself questions like: if you replace all of the components of something, is it still the same thing? Is a team with Nathan Coulter-Nile and without Mitchell Johnson still ‘Australia’ if it wears the right clothes? What about a team with Danny Briggs, Alex Hales and Luke Wright in it? Is that still England? They call them specialists, but is this specialism or dilution?

And why is it that we find ourself asking such questions specifically now, in the aftermath of an ostensibly compelling match?


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. Definitely agree – even without the horrendous results, I’ve definitely been less ‘into’ this Ashes series than any of the last 5 or 6 (including the last 5-0 humiliation).

    Too much of a Good Thing is still Too Much. We all need a little time to recover…

    As for whether it ‘still counts’ as England vs Australia – that’s very subjective but personally I find the legitimacy of the match depends very much on the result.

  2. I think if it had been just the Tests, they may have gotten away with it. But 10 ODIs in 4 or 5 months, mostly with the teams barely at half strength, have made it feel like its just one long miserable journey.

    A few factors have added to that – the only good Tests out of 10 were probably the Nottingham and the Chester-Le-Street ones and both teams were pretty abject away from home.

    Australia have played India in that time. What would have almost made it almost bearable would have been if when the Tests had finished in England, Australia went to India for their series and England played someone else in the ODIs. Then flip reverse it and have the ODIs before the Tests in Australia. It would still have been awful, but maybe slightly more paletable.

    1. We knew we’d forgotten a series – the India one.

      And England won’t actually have played 25 consecutive international fixtures against Australia because there was that match against Ireland somewhere in the middle of it all.

  3. Having meta-cricket thoughts is a sure sign of fatigue. I feel like I have been wading in treacle. And; if we are tired I should think the team is on it’s mental knees. I am interested to hear what Swann says on ‘Not just cricket’ tonight.

    1. Actually, I thought of the Vietnam War era B-52s “still in service”, yet containing no original parts.

  4. Well with the new cricket takeover, get ready for more of this crap. England v Australia v India for all eternity. Sigh.

    1. How will we be able to tell when the system swaps over and we start playing Australia all the time?

    2. One day, you’ll be thinking to yourself: “It kind of feels like we should be playing a one-off fixture against Scotland or Ireland or someone this week,” and then you’ll realise.

    1. I didn’t realise that our lot had been playing at all this winter.

      Granted, I have observed them turning up and hanging around antipodean cricket pitches a fair bit. But “playing”?

    2. Good point. Are you lot still being paid an obscene amount of cash to faf about like a bunch of surly teenagers, while occasionally holding with sporting equipment?

  5. This is like some bizarre purgatory where the giants of West Brom are forced to play Titans of Norwich FC (making them both appear normal size) in an unending series of return legs.

    Even the players cant be arsed.

    Worse, in the pub last night, this bloke said we were playing Australia again this year in another ODI series? Can this be true?

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