The state of the cricketing nation

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We’ve a growing problem with what might be called the ‘dissection of the nation’s cricket system’ piece. More specifically, we’ve a problem with the increasing readiness to publish such articles.

The state of the cricketing nation piece is when a writer draws far-reaching conclusions about the way the sport is run, based on the results of the national team. Typically, a prolonged run of poor results will lead to a dissection of both the domestic game and the elite system. The writer might also try and look at deeper cultural issues which might somehow be affecting what is being seen at the top level.

It’s a tough article to write, because there are so many factors and so many variables. It works best when you’re damn certain that something is very wrong. It works less well when your team just happens to have lost its last match and hasn’t actually been performing woefully for a prolonged period.

The reason why such pieces currently seem a bit flimsy is because a few months ago, they were being written about Australia and now they’re being written about England. If fortunes can turn that quickly, it probably isn’t down to deep-rooted, fundamental issues with the way the sport is being run in one country or the other.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t things which could be done better. It’s more recognition that the performances of 22 players aren’t the most accurate barometer when readings are taken over a short period. The state of the cricketing nation piece has become a knee-jerk response to a defeat. It’s like the thinking man’s “sack ’em all” diatribe.

All of which is a vague and tangentially-related preamble to a link to our latest Cricinfo piece. It’s about the England team being old and past its best, even though they’re younger than the Aussies. It draws on some of the issues highlighted in state of the cricketing nation pieces, but it isn’t really about that. It’s mostly about little more than the fact that people often form opinions about cricketers based on their age without ever actually checking how old they are. That really irritates us for some reason.


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  1. I with you here, KC. There’s no sudden change going on here. I’m stealing someone else’s idea here, and would pass on credit if I could remember whose it was…

    For a while, England were poor and Australia were shit hot. Let’s say 1990-2001.

    Then England got better, while Australia stayed shit hot. 2002-2005. England won in 2005, in part thanks to Australia’s shit hottest players (McGrath and Warne) missing games, and in part because for that summer they too were shit hot.

    Since then, we’ve had a good England side, and a good Australia side.

    EXCEPT for 2010/11, where England were shit hot once more.

    If you take the 10/11 series out of the equation, since 2002/3 each team has won their home series and lost away. Our expectations were always too high for this series because we based them on the last series down under.

    We’ve reached an equalibrium between the two teams. It has little to do with the grass roots of the sport and more to do with outright talent, and shifts in form.

  2. There’s a lack of understanding about sport in general right now. The fans these days demand instant and continual gratification. Why? This isn’t sex you know, which you can have as much of at the highest quality wherever and whenever you want it. This is sport. Teams win, teams lose, teams have good days and bad days, good series and bad series, good seasons and bad seasons.

    We’ve discussed here at length the state of English cricket in the 90s. That was something that cried out for action, which was done and which worked. We’ve discussed the Australians in those few years either side of 2000. That was exceptional, and dull. It seems to me that the combination of these things has infected the fans with a strange sense that success is only real success if it lasts for 10 years with no breaks, and that there is always something that can be done about something. Neither of these things is true. And anyway, as String points out, by any proper measure the state of English Cricket right now is pretty decent.

    1. Also, philosophically speaking, English cricket in the Nineties was a great investment for fans. You need to lose in order to truly feel the wins.

      It should be noted here that the Nineties represented sufficient investment for us to appreciate a great many more England wins. The emotional well is far from dry, so if they could get their act together for the third Test, that would be just grand.

    2. I think the only question about the third test is how many we will win by. Personally I will be quite disappointed with anything less than an innings.

    3. English cricket is probably my best 90s investment. It’s certainly better than a load of cassettes by crap indie/grunge bands and an arse load of lumberjack shirts.

      Again, 2010 is the aberration in the list below, which is English bowling attacks in Perth. We actually picked a decent attack in 2010, though we still lost.

      1998: Gough, Cork, Tudor, Mullally
      2002: Silverwood, Tudor, Harmison, White & Richard Dawson
      2006: Hoggard, Flintoff (the broken version), Harmison (the uselss version), Panesar, Mahmood
      2010: Anderson, Tremlett, Finn, Swann

    4. 1995: DeFreitas, Malcolm, Fraser, Lewis. Pretty decent attack, lost because of an atrocious batting collapse in the second innings.

      1998: lost because of two atrocious batting performances. Again, decent bowling.

      2002: everything was atrocious. The batting was marginally worse.

      2006: yeah, that one was the bowlers’ fault

      2010: more shitbox batting

      In summary, it makes no difference who we pick to bowl, England don’t have a clue how to bat in Perth.

    5. More shit batting in 1991, too. In hindsight, perhaps DeFreitas wasn’t a test #7…

      ’86 went okay.

    1. The similarities are too few to number. To give just one example, that’s a good article.

  3. Can we have a thirties-forties club for this site’s readers? It’s time we started being exclusive.

  4. I just wonder if maybe the problem is that we have two teams whose administrators have pursued a policy of grinding them into the dust via the medium of massive, big money series with little or no respite.

    England’s winter this year should be 4 tests in the West Indies or a back to back tour of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Leave some of the old hands at home (Bell, Swann and Jimmy) and give some younger players a chance to prove themselves away from the glare of Ashes hysteria.

    The problem is that cricket’s administration thinks not of the bottom line but only of next year’s bottom line. The idea that improving relations with smaller sides may yield benefits in years to come never seems to occur to them.

  5. England haven’t won a test in Perth since 1978.
    Is this their longest wait for a win at a ground?

    How many other major Test Match grounds are there that England haven’t won at during Sam’s entire life?

    1. They got close though, eh?

      Anyway, I said major. I was wondering about their worst grounds in India, SA and WI, I guess.

    2. Yay for Statsguru.

      England last won in Kanpur in 1952, but have never lost there, and haven’t played there since 1985.

      They haven’t won in Delhi since 1984 (but haven’t played there since and again, have never lost there), or Chennai since 1985 (Sam might remember that game – notable for double centuries for Foxy Fowler and Fat Gatt).

      West Indies:
      They’re worse in the West Indies. England have NEVER won a test match in Antigua. They haven’t won in Guyana since 1954. They’ve played plenty of games at both.

      South Africa:
      They haven’t won in Cape Town since 1957. Even with 23 years off they’ve still had plenty of opportunities since.

      England have only ever won 2 test matches in Pakistan (in fairness, they’ve only lost 4); they haven’t won in Lahore since 1961, and have never won in Multan, Faisalabad or Hyderabad.

      In summary, England are pretty hopeless tourists everywhere.

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