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  #1  
Old 07-06-2017, 01:43 PM
Teuton Teuton is offline
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Cricket: South Africa in England, 2017

First day of Joe Root's Test captaincy, and it's looking remarkably like Cook's captaincy so far. 49/3, 90/4 and then a recovery up to the close at 357/5. It would have been a different day if they'd caught Root with either of their chances. Or not overstepped on the two occasions they took wickets with no balls.

Good position though, eventually. And still some batting to come to hopefully get past 450!
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  #2  
Old 07-07-2017, 05:35 AM
Stanislaus Stanislaus is offline
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Not so hot this morning - Root out early, and Dawson in the same over. (And SA could have had Broad if they'd appealed, apparently). A classic case of "add two wickets to the score and see how good it looks then".

Starting the next day after a big score seems to be tough for England captains. I remember reading that Strauss had a particularly bad record there. I imagine it's generally tough - a certain amount of expectation, the break in your rhythm and reading of the pitch, the tension between needing to get your eye back in vs kicking on, the bowlers that bit fresher than they were at the end of the first day - anyone got any stats on this?

Hopes of getting well over 450 have faded somewhat, but while Ali's in England can be hoping for around that, I think.

From yesterday, still questions over England's top order. It's been an issue for a long time now.
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  #3  
Old 07-07-2017, 06:12 AM
Stanislaus Stanislaus is offline
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Originally Posted by Stanislaus View Post
Hopes of getting well over 450 have faded somewhat, but while Ali's in England can be hoping for around that, I think.
Why do I even say these things?
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  #4  
Old 07-07-2017, 06:23 AM
Cumbrian Cumbrian is offline
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A bit of an Eric Morecambe innings this one - about the right number of runs, just not necessarily in the right order.

We continue to look very frail in the top order. Weight of runs in the SCC demanded Ballance's inclusion, but he has been tried twice and continues to have weaknesses against Test match quality bowlers. Jennings is right at the beginning of his career, so the jury has to be out on him until he's played a bit more. But if you've got two question marks and the opposition can get Cook and/or Root cheaply, we're back to what has been the case for some time - the middle and lower middle order bailing out the top order.

I read somewhere that, in 2016, the top run producing wicket for England was the 6th or 7th. Essentially when Mo comes in and one of the middle order is set. We must find top order batsmen, if we're going to make progress.
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  #5  
Old 07-07-2017, 06:33 AM
Stanislaus Stanislaus is offline
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Originally Posted by Cumbrian View Post
A bit of an Eric Morecambe innings this one - about the right number of runs, just not necessarily in the right order.

We continue to look very frail in the top order. Weight of runs in the SCC demanded Ballance's inclusion, but he has been tried twice and continues to have weaknesses against Test match quality bowlers. Jennings is right at the beginning of his career, so the jury has to be out on him until he's played a bit more. But if you've got two question marks and the opposition can get Cook and/or Root cheaply, we're back to what has been the case for some time - the middle and lower middle order bailing out the top order.

I read somewhere that, in 2016, the top run producing wicket for England was the 6th or 7th. Essentially when Mo comes in and one of the middle order is set. We must find top order batsmen, if we're going to make progress.
Yeah. It was a shame to see Cook go early when he'd been in form, but you're going to lose an opener cheaply every so often. That's why number 3 is such a tough role, and why Ballance isn't a safe bet for it. Dunno who though. Hameed looked good in India but has had a pretty shocking county season - don't know if that's a wobble, or if greater scrutiny has highlighted a weakness he needs to fix.
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  #6  
Old 07-07-2017, 06:57 AM
Cumbrian Cumbrian is offline
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I think if Hameed had shown any sort of form in SCC, Ballance wouldn't be in the side and Jennings would be at 3. Going back to the well on Ballance smacks of desperation.

I have seen Hameed, very briefly, a couple of times this year. He looks very tentative outside off stump and every county has had a look at him last year, so they've got more developed plans. He's also still got a plate in his hand from the winter that needs to come out at some point, so he might be having trouble with his grip.

In general, this is an interesting time for England. I think we're in transition - especially with the bowling stocks, given the rate at which we're accumulating injuries and the age of Anderson - and we need to blood the right players soon. 2 and 3 in the order are also key positions we have just not got right and I think Mo has shown himself to be more capable than a number 7 (I'd consider playing a different wicketkeeper at 7 - someone like Ben Foakes maybe - taking the gloves off Bairstow and pushing him further up the order).

Got 450 in the end. Like I said, all the right runs, just not necessarily in the right order.
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  #7  
Old 07-07-2017, 07:00 AM
Teuton Teuton is offline
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Bit of last wicket hitting, and Broad's first half century for years, gets us over 450.

I personally think the answer to our top order batting lies in our frequent savior - Moeen Ali. Bairstow at 3,Root at 4, Ali at 5,and bring Buttler in to 7 below Stokes.
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  #8  
Old 07-07-2017, 07:09 AM
Cumbrian Cumbrian is offline
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I really wouldn't be against that - I think Mo is a 5, has always been a 5, and is the second spinner. Buttler is an interesting one. Bags of talent and a lower pressure position where he can come in and try and bash (especially when Woakes is at 8 as a bit of extra protection) might kick start his red ball career. He's in danger of being shuffled off to be a white ball specialist otherwise. We've got a lot of decent wicket keeper bats knocking around in the SCC too, so it would be easy to tell him to concentrate on LOIs and bring someone else in, which might be a waste of his ability.
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  #9  
Old 07-07-2017, 07:33 AM
Novelty Bobble Novelty Bobble is offline
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I like the thought of an "Eric Morecambe" innings Cumbrian, I'm stealing that one.

Thoroughly entertaining both yesterday and this morning. There were a couple Moeen Ali cover drives yesterday that were worth the admission price alone, I think I may have actually "purred" in appreciation.
Root was lucky on a couple of occasions but his consistency means he keeps putting himself in high scoring situations in order to take advantage of that luck, it was a lovely knock overall. The one thing I think he has as a batsman is an instinctive feeling for when to push and how much to push. It'll be interesting if he can translate that talent to the team in general.

Steady start by the sithifricins before lunch, I think our bowlers will be able to extract movement late this PM and early tomorrow. If Broad has his tail up after his 50 then he could be due another crazy session.

Last edited by Novelty Bobble; 07-07-2017 at 07:33 AM..
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  #10  
Old 07-08-2017, 09:39 AM
Teuton Teuton is offline
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Good day for England so far. Hundred run lead, Philander of off the attack and the openers currently resisting the pressure.

They showed the incident that Rabada got his 3 demerit points for previous to this game ,that add up to four thanks to his send off of Stokes on Thursday, and frankly that should never have been an issue, never mind one that gets you 75% of the way to a suspension.
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  #11  
Old 07-09-2017, 10:09 AM
Teuton Teuton is offline
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South Africa 28/4 chasing 331 to win, and the loss of Amla puts paid to any remote hope they may have had.

England's collapse earlier in the day has actually turned into a positive, as it has taken the draw out of the equation.
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  #12  
Old 07-15-2017, 02:45 AM
Teuton Teuton is offline
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Honours even after the first day of the second test, with a lot depending on this next session. England will want to be batting by lunch, and with fresh bowlers and a ball that's still new they'll like their chances. But these two batted well yesterday, and if South Africa can bat beyond lunch and another 100/150, they'll think they've got the better of it, especially after that afternoon session yesterday.
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  #13  
Old 07-17-2017, 09:47 AM
Stanislaus Stanislaus is offline
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Originally Posted by Teuton View Post
Honours even after the first day of the second test, with a lot depending on this next session. England will want to be batting by lunch, and with fresh bowlers and a ball that's still new they'll like their chances. But these two batted well yesterday, and if South Africa can bat beyond lunch and another 100/150, they'll think they've got the better of it, especially after that afternoon session yesterday.
Narrator: South Africa got the better of it.

340 run victory, a result of good (but largely not unbeatable) South African bowling and some pretty inept England batting, in both innings. We open weak (Cook is fading and Jennings and Ballance just aren't strong enough) and have a middle order which can dash runs out fine but can't grind them out. And sometimes in Test cricket, grinding out is what you need to do. Reading the over-by-over of the collapse, it felt like Bairstow, Stokes, Ali and Broad were getting out because they literally didn't know what else to do. "Play your natural game" is fine as far as it goes, but if your natural game doesn't include making 33 from 220 balls then you're going to need an artificial game you can bring out in situations like this.

Last edited by Stanislaus; 07-17-2017 at 09:48 AM..
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  #14  
Old 07-17-2017, 11:53 AM
Dead Cat Dead Cat is offline
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That was some first test for du Plessis (following your link), wasn't it?! And yes, great example of a usually explosive batsman (de Villiers) reining it in when required.

Most of England's players today (Cook and Root excepted) batted like Root had said to them this morning something like: "Look, if we lose a couple of wickets early, we've no chance in this match, so just go out and smash it if you want, we'll have the day off tomorrow then come back and try again next time." Do you think there's a chance that was in fact the case? I don't know much about Root's mindset but I think it's possible. Or perhaps the batsmen just worked it out for themselves. Disappointing for the fans, though, especially any who fancied watching tomorrow. It's also a missed opportunity to practice that sort of batting for when you really need it, like when there are (say) 30 overs to survive rather than 180.

It was also some poor batting in their first innings that put England in trouble in the first place. In fact, they're more culpable for that than their second innings performance, when two good balls did for Root and Cook, their best batsmen at the moment.
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  #15  
Old 07-17-2017, 12:29 PM
Cumbrian Cumbrian is offline
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One day, a side in Test cricket will chase north of 450 to win a Test match. In order to do it, they'll need to have a pitch that, though wearing, isn't misbehaving too much (this one had a bit of low bounce but was otherwise reasonable), plenty of time to get the runs (England had a touch over 2 days to get this total) and conditions that suit batting rather than bowling (it was warm today and is forecast to be warm and sunny tomorrow, so less chance of swing and potentially sapping for the seam up bowlers). That's what makes this folding so abject. It would have been damn difficult to win this match but if you're going to chase a total that big, this was the situation to do it in. And they failed utterly.

Prior to lunch SA bowled brilliantly, helped by Jennings and Ballance continuing to exhibit technical frailties. The ball that got Cook was a snorting bouncer that surprised him (he's had down times before, I'm not ready to write him off) and Root got an absolute ripsnorter.

After lunch, we batted like absolute twats. Bairstow, Stokes and Mo all gave it away (I am a big defender of Mo - since the start of last summer, he averages 44.7 with the bat and 37.6 with the ball in 16 Tests - good figures - but that wicket was him at his worst, just brainless). The lower order weren't going to do much - maybe they could have put a respectable face on it, but they looked like they wanted to put their feet up. It was terrible.

Overall, this was a team failure though. SA should not have scored as many on Day 1 when the overhead conditions were in England's favour. Drying up the scoring rate would have been very useful but Wood and Stokes were very expensive (the latter took a couple of wickets but his econ rate was terrible; Wood, I think we should get into our heads, doesn't have a body that can play two back to back Tests and bowl at maximum lick in the second one - they probably should have rotated him). Dawson can't bottle an end up, so going to the spinner was not an option. It appears Root only remembered Mo bowls after Amla got out in the SA second innings. That first innings was Jimmy and Broad versus SA and you aren't going to get far that way. Then we batted poorly twice. The SA second innings doesn't warrant much analysis - the horse was already out of the stable door by that point.

We've been carrying at least two empty shirts in our batting line up and have had no settled front line spinner for the last two years at least. They must find solutions. Ballance does not have the technique for Test cricket, has been found out and needs getting shot of. They might even do it. I can't see Jennings going before the end of the series - but he must be on thin ice. Selection/management/coaching cannot be absolved either. England very rarely back a win up with another win at Test level these days. Invariably, if they win, the next result is a loss (Ashes 2015, Pakistan 2016, Bangladesh 2016). Preparation, consistency and selection. Everyone needs to do better.
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  #16  
Old 07-17-2017, 12:56 PM
Teuton Teuton is offline
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It's the problems highlighted in the first test (and have, in fact, been highlighted in these threads and everywhere else for the past few years) come home to roost. The batting today was appalling, but the batting in the first innings wasn't much better - I actually thought we'd done quite well in limiting South Africa's total to below 350 in the first innings, but responding to that with 200 meant they were never going to get back into the game.

There's a video on cricinfo of cuts from the post game press conference, where Root says he "can't believe" Michael Vaughan's criticism of his team's batting. I'm not sure what he was expecting.

EDIT: Gary Ballance is having a scan for a broken finger. If he misses the next test through injury, I doubt he'll be back.

Last edited by Teuton; 07-17-2017 at 12:58 PM..
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  #17  
Old 07-17-2017, 01:56 PM
Cumbrian Cumbrian is offline
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Originally Posted by Teuton View Post
EDIT: Gary Ballance is having a scan for a broken finger. If he misses the next test through injury, I doubt he'll be back.
I can imagine it now - like the scene from "Escape To Victory" where they break the goalkeeper's arm for the good of the plan.

Knowing the ECB though, I fully expect them to follow through on this and have Sly Stallone batting at 3 for us at The Oval.
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  #18  
Old 07-17-2017, 04:07 PM
Teuton Teuton is offline
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Here is Nasser Hussain on England's recent selection policies.
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  #19  
Old 07-18-2017, 03:24 AM
Stanislaus Stanislaus is offline
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Cumbrian, I'm going to take this opportunity to say that it's always a pleasure to read you on cricket, and thanks for another insightful post. You're point that the conditions were there for a successful or at least close run chase is well taken - certainly getting to Day 5 was well within our reach.

It's no coincidence that Root and Cook fell to great balls. That's what it took to get them out. They were coping with good bowling just fine. But everyone else just seems to lack...I'm not sure if it's vision or confidence or willpower. But if you say to e.g. Stokes: "Go in there, bat for hours and score 250", then he's your man. If you say: "Go in there, bat for hours, score 40" then he'll not just fail. He (and the rest of the middle order) won't even know how to try. Sooner or later they get bored and try to go at 12 an over - with inevitable results. I don't know how to solve that, but we need to produce and select batsmen who have shown they can bat all day to save a match.

This is just another expression of England's big problem, which can be summed as "Yes, but who would you pick instead?"
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  #20  
Old 07-20-2017, 09:55 PM
penultima thule penultima thule is offline
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Originally Posted by Stanislaus View Post
but we need to produce and select batsmen who have shown they can bat all day to save a match.
Give 'em fair due.
How many instances in recent county cricket can you recall that a batsmen had an opportunity to 1) learn such skills or 2) demonstrate that they possessed them?
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  #21  
Old 07-21-2017, 07:39 AM
Cumbrian Cumbrian is offline
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Give 'em fair due.
How many instances in recent county cricket can you recall that a batsmen had an opportunity to 1) learn such skills or 2) demonstrate that they possessed them?
It's not super frequent but it happens more often than you might think. In only the last round of SCC Div 1 matches, Middlesex won by one wicket on the final evening chasing 240 odd (not quite to save the game but still a run chase that went to a late pressured stage) and Surrey conceded 650 against Hampshire and then had to bat for a little over 2 days to save the game (Rory Burns carried his bat in the first innings, went straight back out for the follow on and batted for all but the final half hour pf play to see Surrey safe). Essex have also given some teams some fearful batterings in the opening half of the season, so plenty of opportunities to bat and save the game over long periods against them (the major problem being, no one has done it - Essex have won by an innings a few times this year).

In short, I'm not sure it's lack of match situations that allow this to come up (though the rain is obviously more of a factor than in Australia or India, where you might suppose that you have to do the batting rather than hope the elements come to your rescue). I think it's the players can't do it.

Stanislaus - thanks for your kind words. I quite like coming here to discuss cricket to be honest. Generally more thoughtful and less full of dicks than most other places (even The Guardian's international cricket comment sections have become infected by it over the last 18 months - the last haven on that site is the County Cricket Live blog, where everyone is a cricket tragic and no one wants to wind anyone else up).

Last edited by Cumbrian; 07-21-2017 at 07:40 AM..
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  #22  
Old 07-21-2017, 09:17 AM
Teuton Teuton is offline
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Tom Westley of Essex has been named in the squad ahead of the injured Ballance, and have also brought in Dawid Malan, who got some runs for us in a T20 game earlier this year.

Westley is certainly due his go, but I admit to being a puzzled by the selectors ignoring of Stoneman, whose name has been knocking around for a while now and has a good year in the Championship (average 58, high score 197).

My suspicion is that Westley will come in at 3 as a direct replacement for Ballance, and they may well drop Liam Dawson to bring Malan in. As has been said above, though, I think a culture change rather than just a player change is needed to get consistency from the team.
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  #23  
Old 07-21-2017, 09:59 AM
Cumbrian Cumbrian is offline
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As has been said above, though, I think a culture change rather than just a player change is needed to get consistency from the team.
This is probably the crux of it. There's been a lot of hand-wringing about the effect that the (re?)emphasis on LOIs and T20 in particular is having on the development of players to play Test match style innings - England aren't necessarily the only country to worry about this either.

I can see, in the medium to long run, a much more marked split between the LOI team and the Test team. From an England point of view, there will inevitably be some that play both (like Root, Stokes, Moeen) but I think we should be looking for a set of players that don't have the game for T20, won't ever go to the IPL and shouldn't be playing LOIs, to make up the bulk of the Test side. We're kind of on the way there already to be honest - Anderson and Broad don't play short form cricket anymore, neither does Cook, Jennings has no chance of playing short form, and the people moaning that Bairstow isn't playing LOIs should put it away and moan about the fact he's not playing enough SCC to be the most prepared for Test cricket that he can be (as he isn't going to usurp Buttler, and possibly Billings, any time soon). It's a shame Hameed has had a bad year - there's another player who shouldn't play much short form cricket, if it can be helped.

The added benefit of such a split is that those players going off to IPL and Big Bash, to get LOI experience in good competitions, can be happily let go, safe in the knowledge that it won't knacker whatever tour England's Test side deal with at the same time.

Westley looks pretty decent for my money but there's any number of players we have pushed up into the Test side recently who looked decent at county level only to fail at Test match level. He deserves his chance and hopefully, for all England fans' sakes, the weak law of large numbers is going to kick in and he'll actually be a player of substance. I'd consider Stoneman to be a touch unlucky - but he's the one I would be looking at for Jennings place, rather than filling the hole at 3 (not that there's currently much difference in England's current situation).
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  #24  
Old Yesterday, 03:53 AM
Stanislaus Stanislaus is offline
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Took the family to Lords for the WWC final yesterday, oh boy.

We didn't quite manage to engage the five year old. Which was always a risk, and the pace of the England innings - never really getting going, even and especially at the end - cemented that. The music and flares and the waving of the 4/6 cards for boundaries are a great way of getting attention, and if the boundaries are coming quickly then you can get her watching every (or almost every) ball. But they weren't. The batting powerplay was a particular disappointment in that regard, and we doubted they'd done enough. Overall, India did a great job of restricting the scoring.

So we said farewell to mum and daughter at about 3.30, and the 8-year-old and I settled in for what looked for a long time like a reasonably straightforward chase. When India needed 64 from 72 I was pretty despondent, and treated son's suggestions that all we needed was to take the remaining 7 wickets with amused tolerance for the naive optimism of the young. And then...

It was a fantastic atmosphere - the noisiest I've ever heard Lord's - and the final flurry of wickets had us all on our feet roaring. Credit for the atmosphere goes to the Indian fans, because they weren't shy about chanting and that got the English fans - who might otherwise have restricted themselves to polite clapping - chanting in turn. All of it thoroughly good-natured and family-friendly to boot.

So a great day out, a breathtaking finale, and if my daughter didn't get her head utterly turned, there's time yet. I have to say they've really committed to using this event to attract families - every under 16 at the match was offered a starter bat/ball/stumps set, for example - and it paid off brilliantly.
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  #25  
Old Yesterday, 07:19 AM
Dead Cat Dead Cat is offline
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That's great to hear. I attend live matches extremely rarely, but I genuinely enjoyed a day at Cardiff in June (just with a friend rather than family - I don't think bringing my 3-year-old would be a rewarding experience for anyone). Despite England being soundly thrashed by Pakistan, it was a good day out, and I agree the Pakistan supporters in the crowd (I would guess in a slight majority by numbers, and a vast majority by noise level) really made it. The atmosphere was so much nicer than football or even rugby.
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