10 March 2008

Oh dear - psychologist needed urgently

From an England point of view, what a shambles the last Test match was! There's normally something to turn to like dropped catches etc when we lose, that at least gives the optimistic supporter a reason to think things could get better. But this time England's fielding was pretty handy and it's difficult to see where the improvement is going to come from. It seems that Ryan Sidebottom apart, England's bowlers are all struggling and England's batsmen are equally poor all at the same time.

Collingwood would argue that he would have gone on to a century but for a wrong decision in the 1st innings, but it was a painstaking knock - the obvious differences in tactics were quite incredible - New Zealand promoting McCullum to five in their 2nd innings and declaring when 9 down....England content to play for a draw rather than ever play for a win. I wonder if that attitude comes from Peter Moores - I've always liked the way Vaughan controls things in a pragmatic but pretty attacking way, but that attitude seemed to completely leave the whole England side.

It looks like the wicket for the next Test could be a similar one to the 1st Test so perhaps England could consider Swann instead of Harmison? It seems to be Broad or Swann, and Broad is the one the press are speculating about, but if it's a turning wicket then Swann needs to play unless Vaughan bowls himself - he seems amazingly reluctant to do that given that the far weaker option of Pietersen keeps being taken. Apart from that the only other realistic option is Owais Shah in for one of the underperforming batsmen but surely Strauss will get more than one game to try to find his feet.

So it seems that it's all about attitude rather than many personnel changes - the England psychologist Steve Bull has a lot of work to do!


Viswanathan said...

I suggest Broad. His batting will come in handy.

Peter Lamb said...

Broad or Anderson for Harmison and Shah for Pietersen, then Vaughan would have to bowl himself! Yes, I'd drop both the players who gave ridiculous interviews in the middle of the 1st test, Harmison for displaying a general lack of enthusiasm for being there at all and Pietersen for effectively saying in advance that we wouldn't be able to chase any sort of target on that wicket. It wasn't impossible to score at a reasonable rate on that wicket, as Bell showed. Collingwood's innings was a disgrace allowing himself to become completely bogged down and giving the whole initiative to the Kiwis. Gower, probably the most moderate of the commentators, described the whole England innings as "disgraceful": in fact, that description could have been extended to nearly all the team for nearly all the game, Sidebottom's bowling, Bell's batting, Ambrose's keeping and Cook's fielding being the only exceptions.

Viswanathan said...

As an outsider looking in, I feel that English cricketers are a complacent lot.

There is no real threat to their place in the side.

The prime example is Harminson. They should have jettisoned him irrespective of his central contract.

Ed said...

I thought England had the opportunity to jettison Harmison before the Sri Lanka series but they chose to go with him in Tests 2 and 3 and he did relatively ok. So it has appeared that no matter how badly he plays he's in and that can't be right. In terms of batting strength the thought of picking a bowler for their batting worries me, but Swann is perceived - rightly or wrongly - to be the better batsman versus Broad.

There's a tricky balance to find between keeping players at the top of the game and giving them the confidence to know that one bad game doesn't mean the chop - that scenario did us no favours in the 90s. If we can't get it spot on, I think being too loyal is the better way to go. But Bopara got no loyalty and most people seemed to think that Prior was dealt with pretty harshly so Harmison needs to be treated in the same way.

I wouldn't drop Pietersen, no matter what remarks he's made, because he'll then go and play in the IPL and we'd lose our best batsman!

Peter Lamb said...

When did Pietersen last play a match-winning innings? Oval Ashes test. His overblown ego gets in the way of his batting.

Ed said...

he won us the ODI against the West Indies in the World Cup, scored a double hundred in the big Test win v West Indies last summer, and in a low scoring game v Sri Lanka in 2006 he won us that game with 142 in the 1st innings.

He also scored a hundred v Pakistan in 2006 that helped us win (Bell and Strauss also scored hundreds). But for bad weather his hundred in the 3rd innings of the Lords Test v India last summer would have won us that game - the only century of the match. And his century in the last innings at The Oval in the same series prevented an India win.

He may not be everyone's cup of tea and the way he gets himself out more often than not infuriates me, but we still can't jettison people who average 50!