The opposition are allowed to play well

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Is anyone else starting to find this kind of thing grating?

“Sometimes you just have to put your hands up and say the opposition were better than us with the bat.”

So said Alastair Cook after the fourth one-day international. There’s been an awful lot of ‘accepting that the opposition were better than us on the day’ recently. It’s not always ‘on the day’ either. Sometimes it’s ‘in this Test’ or ‘over the winter’. Pretty soon it’ll be ‘for the last decade or so’.

To be honest, this whole ‘being magnanimous in defeat’ act is really starting to get on our nerves. It’s not that we expect England cricketers to be bad losers. It’s that the subtext seems to be that they played really well and that sometimes the opposition are slightly better and there is NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT WHEN THAT HAPPENS.

Similarly, who has ever suggested that the opposition aren’t allowed to play well? No-one. Yet ‘the opposition are allowed to play well’ is a phrase we hear again and again in response to defeat.

Let’s make this simple. When someone says ‘the opposition are allowed to play well,’ or ‘they were better than us on the day,’ that person is trying to tell you that this is some mystical phenomenon that’s beyond anyone’s control. Don’t believe them.

Why? Because the person who’s says these things is invariably someone whose job it is to prevent the opposition from playing well and being better than them on the day.


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  1. Bit concerned at this news out of Madrid – is Ashley Giles no longer the King of Spain?

  2. It’s just another example of saying something while saying nothing. They have to speak to the media after the match, and they get trained in how to deliver meaningless platitudes.

  3. But maybe the opposition will not be as good if the mystery spinner is playing under a cloud. And why does the world need to be told some people think he has a dodgy action. Why not keep it all secret until the tests are carried out.

    1. Also, why didn’t the umpires just no-ball him if they thought he was throwing it?

    2. It will be interesting to see what happens. The argument has often been put that biomechanical tests show whether a bowlers “basic” action is legal or not, but say nothing about his effort ball, his high-spin doosra, his mystery ball. So will a bowler under scrutiny try any of these things, or will he just bowl ordinary off-spin?

      I can imagine Senanayake being under-used, carefully controlled, maybe even not playing. Perhaps the English batsmen can add to the pressure by using that old tale of asking the umpire if he’s been bowled or run out if Senanayake hits the stumps.

      On this subject, I was listening to Michael Vaughan discussing with Bumble whether (specifically English) off-spinners should be trained to use 14.5 of the 15 degrees they are allowed. His conclusion was “No, not as such, but if a bowler was doing it anyway it shouldn’t be trained out of him.” Very dangerous ground, that.

    3. I don’t think the umpires are allowed to no-ball someone in internationals any more are they – all they can do is report the bowler as they have done.

    4. Bert, which of the two said that? It is, as you say, very iffy ground.

      I heard MP Vaughan rallying the troops in support of Jos Buttler’s push for test selection on his radio show with Tufnell last night. Vaughan’s willingness to discard both Buttler’s wicketkeeping skills and his batting in four day cricket was the kind of myopic broadcasting that makes him (Vaughan) quite so dislikeable these days.

    5. If he’s under a cloud he’d be better off trying to bowl a bit of swing. Depends on the size and type of the cloud though I suppose. Not too big and dark though, or they’d have to go off for the light. I suppose that’s the problem with bowlers playing under clouds.

  4. Well he can hardly say – our top order batting was dire and I really shouldn’t be playing 50 over cricket – can he.

    1. It would but there is not a chance. Unlike Andrew Gale of Yorkshire who dropped himself for a match to play in the 2nds and get back into form.

  5. Some important questions:

    Why do you have to put your hands up when you say something nice about the opposition? Is it invalid if you say it with your arms crossed? Does Alastair Cook think he’s a surrendering Jerry from a war film, or being asked for his heart by Ottowan? Do you still have to do it if you are beaten hands down?

    1. It is indeed the “put your hand up” bit of the quote that is especially grating.

      Accepting that the opposition played exceptionally well, rather than your team playing particularly badly, is fair, possibly even wise analysis.

      But the quote in the main text is a vacuous statement masquerading as wisdom/magnanimity.

    2. We gonna make this our night,
      Let’s keep it going till sunlight.
      They try to stop us, we gonna fight.
      Let’s do it all the way wrong till it’s all the way right.

      It’s a song about Socrates singing to Io. So, you know, inter-captain dialogue. You only have to win once if you do it right @kingsandthieves.

      Kumar Sangakkara, by contrast, is a wannabe boy band. There’s probably some deeper meaning to that, who knows.

  6. On train home from work. But the buttler run out is it worth the booing? Is is dodgy reported action man getting his own back.

    1. But it does put the Bert statement from yesterday in to a prophetic category reserved usually for Ged:

      “asking the umpire if he’s been bowled or run out if Senanayake hits the stumps”

    2. Just like when I predicted that Stuart Broad hat-trick about two hours before it happened.

      Next prediction – England will win a match.

      (I’m not saying when)

    3. Can someone please explain to me why it is somehow considered acceptable for the non striker to advance a metre down the pitch before the ball is released?
      It’s not like the ICC law change explicitly allowing a ‘mankad’ is a recent occurance.

  7. I can’t believe Buttler asked if he had been bowled but Bert must have a crystal ball

  8. Bloody hell Nostra-BERT-damus!

    That was an eerie prediction.

    Senanayake is part of the dodgy action, long sleeve wearing, spin bowling brigade.
    Ashwin & Ajmal; I’m looking at y’all!

    new nickname for Cook the ODI batsman – The Anchor

  9. I played school & club cricket in Australia, we were taught that there isn’t anything wrong with Mankading a batsman at the non-strikers end… and we didn’t give no warnings.

    Can’t understand the English getting their panties in a twist… they’ve been at the cutting edge of ball tampering
    – Broad: foot on ball
    – Atherthon: dirt
    – Trescothick: mints
    – special mention to guys who did it on the domestic circuit, Key (sandpaper) & Bopara (in New Zealand)
    – 2013 Champions Trophy was the last instance & it was against the chucking Lankans

    1. Same here. Even in the under-11s we were taught that backing up too much can get you run out. I’ve no sympathy for him.

    2. i have no sympathy for buttler either, and i think that the eng camp should just have stopped moaning about it right away. no-one would have given a toss, if they hadn’t lost the match.

      just to be a pedant, though… how would you mankad a batsman *not* at the non-striker’s end..? (by definition… etc)

      (while i’m at it – and this doesn’t just apply to food terroirist – why is the participle not rendered with a double “d”..?)

      of course, the reason why the aussies are so comfortable with mankadding (sic) that they coach it at school level is cos they were on the receiving end of the original dose. they must have said to themselves “right, fuck it, we’re doing that every chance we get from now on”…

  10. “I thought it was disappointing,” Cook said. “There’s a line and that line was crossed here.”

    Do you think he can see the irony in what he is saying?

  11. Mahela’s comments 2 years ago about Mankading not “being in the spirit of the game” seem pretty hypocritical now.

    p.s. love Sehwag’s quote “we woz soft”

    Sehwag was asked if it was not soft to let the batsman off even after the warning. “It’s soft, but that’s the way we are,” he said.

  12. It’s interesting to contrast with baseball, where being Caught Stealing is a thing. They try it all the time, blatantly, and if they’re out, they’re out. No whining.

    If Buttler was really warned, this is nonsense. Hell, it is even if he wasn’t. He was out, end of.

    I was Mankaded once in a similarly high profile game (Birmingham Parks league). I was backing up, not trying to steal anything, just walking out with the bowler. Except one time he decided to stop in his delivery stride and get me. Seemed pretty poor form without any warning, particularly given my batting ability. Never liked that guy.

  13. btw KC, if you’re wondering why there are still no appeals on your latest post… try clicking the button and see where it gets you :-S

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