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England One-Day Whitewash

Enland One-Day Series Whitewash.

I apologise to those faithful readers for going off the air for some months. An apology is also due to my daughter Genevieve who made me a present of this professionally designed and constructed website. Gen followed and recorded for me the “uptake”, which, gratifyingly followed a gentle upward curve until my laziness intervened.
So to business. There were two main themes emerging from press criticism of the England Cricket Team after the 85 run defeat in Kolkata, the fifth in a row. First were the difficulties and indeed inadequacies of our batsmen against spin bowling. Second was the fractiousness within the England team, normally a happy and cohesive group.
Dealing with the “team spirit” issue, it is hard not to lay fault at the door of the Captain. His comments in interviews on the subject seemed less than constructive, rather on the lines that boys will be boys. With precious little captaincy experience – none at all that I know of – Cook was never very clearly in charge either on or off the field. It is an anomaly of the “squad” system that young players are removed from County cricket before they get a chance to gain Captaincy experience. The result is that they receive sudden promotion from the “ranks” without any grounding in leadership and man management. Would Strauss have sorted things out better? You bet.
Now to the batting. There were FOUR very poor strokes; from Trott, Bopara, Bairstow and Bresnan – three of them trying to drive on a turning pitch without getting to the pitch of the ball. The odd man out was Bopara who committed the cardinal sin of sweeping without getting his leg in the way of a ball which simply carried on to hit leg stump. It was both poor shot selection and poor technique.
Amongst the mayhem of the collapse, not one of the wickets were lost whilst playing off the BACK foot. Indeed. I did not see a properly played back foot stroke either defensive or attacking against any of the four spin bowlers employed by the Indian team. I read a reported comment from team manager Andy Flower saying that there were shortcomings in “picking the length and movement of the feet” which are of course the “sine qua non” of playing slow bowling of any kind at any given time. Without waiting to assess length before moving back or forward there is little hope of success against quality spinners on a turning pitch.
Watching slow motion replays of many current batsmen, with exaggerated early backlifts, flexing of the knees and major foot movements back and forth – BEFORE the ball has even left the bowler's hand makes me wonder how they ever survive at all.
The very best of batsmen against slow bowlers base their whole strategy on playing BACK to every ball unless they can fully reach the ball to drive on the half-volley – and that means getting their foot to the pitch of the ball. I hate to think how far adrift Trott's front foot was from this basic precept. I simply cannot remember the great Gary Sobers ever playing a defensive stroke to a spinner other than back in his crease. His game plan was to force the spinner to bowl quicker and pitch it further up – until he had the chance to drive it safely.
I like to take some credit for the excellent record of Graham Thorpe on turning pitches. On an A Tour to Sri Lanka I saw him lunging forward and struggling on a slow turning pitch. I persuaded him to play back to every ball in a practice session, only looking to score from short of a length balls. He was a very adept pupil and never looked back from that moment on. I recommend this simple lesson in batsmanship to all and sundry – and I hope that our current England players are not too proud or stuck in their ways to give it a try.


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