Steve Smith was due. Famously, he’s barely scored a run these last few months. Definitely due.
As you all know, whether or not a batsman’s ‘due’ is a watertight method of predicting who will and won’t perform. This morning we gave the denizens of Mumbai the benefit of our expertise on this subject.
Or, in other words, the semi-final report we promised you yesterday.
It’s also worth noting the contribution made by Dan Vettori. Thanks Dan for being one of the few players to keep his side of the bargain after being named one of our World Cup cricketers to watch. Shame on half of the rest of you for not playing much, if at all.
We know what you guys are like. The last thing you want to hear about after a fantastic semi-final is that fantastic semi-final. You’d rather wait at least 24 hours to hear what we have to say on the subject, until a point at which the emotion’s faded and you’re now more interested in the other semi-final.
We know what you’re going to say. You’re going to say: “No, it’s okay. You can write about New Zealand v South Africa if you want. We’ll tolerate it.” But it’s okay. We won’t inflict that on you. We’ll instead deliver the tonally-inappropriate offering you crave – a bleak piece about the pseudo-death that is a cricketer’s retirement.
That’s what we’ve written about for the Mumbai Mirror. It’s not just about Dhoni though. It’s also about conviction in general and how an epidemic of uncertainty can sweep through a side at a major tournament.
In other words, it’s yet another piece about stuff England did wrong masquerading as something broader and more inclusive.
But it seemed to come out as a Dan Vettori piece.
Big beardy Dan. Back from retirement. Keeping it tight like one-day cricket hasn’t changed at all in the last decade and leaping about like a man roughly the same age but not quite so decrepit.
The players, the coaches, the fans and the media told England that they needed to be making 350-plus scores to do well in this tournament. The 2015 World Cup wasn’t just going to be about run-scoring; it was going to be about phenomenal, unimaginable run-scoring. Look at what India are doing! Batsmen are making double hundreds EVERY DAY.
India, for what it’s worth, have reached the semi-finals of the tournament despite a top score of 307. None of their batsmen rank particularly highly in the list of top run-scorers. However, they have bowled out the opposition in each of their seven matches and they have won every game.
India, of course, have conviction. They don’t mimic other nations. They do what they feel they need to do to win one-day cricket matches. More on this as well as a valuation of the damnation of tinkers over at the Mumbai Mirror.
This and other insights in our latest piece for the Mumbai Mirror which is about the South African team, why it’s good and why it’s bad.
For all that the Saffers have some great batsmen and a strong pace attack, there’s also another version of the side that’s fragile with the bat and wins games with spin. We should probably have mentioned the lack of a lower-order fast-medium all-rounder as well being as we were in the business of picking apart stereotypes.
A proper journalist would have crunched the numbers. We didn’t because it would have been really boring and the results might have disproven our theory that more batsmen are being clean bowled at this World Cup.
The Mumbai Mirror have called the piece Bowled and beautiful back in fashion, which is a pretty good title. We tried to match them in titling this post, but we think we may have failed.
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.
Our latest column for the Mumbai Mirror is about the unextinguishable rage of Ireland captain, Will Porterfield. You may notice that the column is titled ‘Bowzzzat!’ and they used the same line when flagging our piece on yesterday’s front page.
For clarity, our name is Bowden as in ‘bow tie’ and not as in ‘bow down’ so that title doesn’t really work. It’s too late now though. It’s out there.
For anyone skipping these pieces in the assumption that they’re ‘proper journalism’ – don’t worry, they’re not. They’re pretty much the same stuff we’d write here, only longer.