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Who is in charge?

Just how professional are our professional cricketers?. Maybe not as professional as they think they are? We have fast bowlers who do not swing the ball and waste the new ball by not making the batsmen play. Spin bowlers who rotate rather than “spin” the ball. Batsmen who play some shots well but others rank badly. Bowlers who seem satisfied to bowl a maiden without a single ball straight or full enough to hit the stumps. I could go on.
Not all of this is really new. In my five years with responsibility for the England Test team, I would count the balls that might have hit the stumps in the first 10 overs. I never reached ten, I handed on my inspired piece of research to the dressing room but nothing ever changed.
All this in the light of a sobering Test defeat by New Zealand not so long after the Stokes miracle innings against Australia and a tense Series drawing victory at the Oval.
I wonder how many people get to have a say at the post match discussions. Do the batting and bowling and fielding coaches all sit in with the manager and the Captain ~ and the Vice-Captain? If so it may be a case of management by Committee resulting in no clear path forward. Commitee decisions usually have a blurred imprint in my experience.
Most to worry about is Joe Root’s lack of runs. Even when he does get a few, it is a stuttering process with no rhythm. He is taking twice as long as before to score. I think he knows what is wrong but is finding it difficult to put it right. His clean cut footwork used to be the key. Now there is an impression of him running around with many movements going nowhere. He used to be one of those rare batsmen who put 20 or 30 on the board without you noticing. No longer.
A really flat pitch when he can stay long enough to sort things out may be the best medicine. But the last pitch was about a friendly as you could wish for in the first innings but that opportunity was missed.
I would recommend practising the seldom discussed art of “waiting”. It is completely counter-intuitive but there is a long established observation that the longer you wait, the more time you appear to have. Maybe it is because you only have time to make a single movement coupled with the obvious advantage of knowing exactly where the ball is.
I have seen slow motion film of Gary Sobers playing Dennis Lillee at Melbourne when he made a double hundred. Don Bradman thought it the best bit of batting he had ever seen, The 80~90 mph ball was over a third the way down the pitch before Gary even twitched.
Root apart, there were so many other unnecessary batting errors. Stokes running down the pitch first ball after a self induced break in play when he called for new gloves. Pope slashing flat batted at a wide good length ball, not once but twice.
I wonder who takes him to task or does he just get a cuddle and a few sweet nothings. Thinking back, I think myself lucky to have played when the Captain was boss at every level. If I played a rash stroke, I did not need to look toward the dressing room to know that Peter May would be shaking a clenched fist in my direction.


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