Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How Much Clearer Does it Need to Be?

James Corrigan of the ‘Testing Times’ campaign draws some parallels between England’s first day and his own life experience.

Like all armchair commentators with the benefit of not actually having to pull on the aertex and run like the clappers in the desert sun, I always like to think I have a unique and valuable insight to offer the team that’s currently redefining for the T20 generation that lovely Noel Coward observation about ‘mad dogs and Englishmen’.

But this time I really may have a point. Seeing the rash of avoidable errors and poor choices from England’s first innings reminded me of my own children getting ready for school of a morning.

What I try to instil in them is a sense of the immovable obstacles to be addressed: we dribble breakfast down our pyjamas; not down our carefully ironed shirts, we clean our teeth BEFORE we put on our jumpers, we have to be out of the door by 8.30am or we WILL be late. All simple, easy to remember rules; and all written on a piece of paper stuck to the kitchen door for those short of focus, memory or cooperation skills. Yet still, every morning, it descends into farce and conflict as none of them seems able to remember the simple drill of breakfast, teeth, dressed and out of the door by half-past-eight.

I’m sure Andy Flower does the same for the England lads: keep your eye on the ball, play yourself in before you start slogging like your IPL contract depended on it and don’t ever play daft sweep shots to Ajmal when you’ve only just arrived at the wicket, Stuart Broad! EVER!

And I’m sure that the team all answer him with a world-weary “Yes, Dad…” just like my bunch of tousled, toothpaste-flecked urchins do as they tumble out on to the street squabbling at 8.45am every day.

But while there is still time for primary school children to learn how to meet the demands of delivering themselves to school before the bell and to spare the premature aging of their parents, time has run out for the England team to learn these basic lessons. They are already “number one test team” and, as such, are the ones now setting the standard for others to follow.

The extravagant collapse to 43/5 before lunch on the first day after winning the toss and choosing to bat on a pitch that would have best been described as “unremarkable” in England would have had the coach tearing out his hair back in the pavilion and repeatedly slapping that piece of paper blu-tacked to the dressing room door with the flat palm of his hand.

“Look! For goodness’ sake! It’s not hard!” he’d bluster at the procession of sweating batsmen dragging their state-of-the-art bats and state-of-the-ark techniques back up the steps. “Shall I get a thicker pen and a bigger sheet of paper?”

“Why are you cross at us, Dad?” they’ll reply with big doe eyes. “It’s tough going out there. That Ajmal boy was being mean to us…”

“That…” says Father Flower, “is entirely beside the point. I don’t pay all that money for you to have those private lessons for you to go blubbing at the first doosra you see!”

On the other hand, the children of the Pakistan family lined up for the day according to the instructions given to them by their dad, who stressed the importance of conduct on the field as much as the quality of the cricket they played. One clearly had an effect on the other as a clinical and watchful fifth of England’s meagre 192 all out was also systematically cancelled out before close of play. And like the end of most school days, I looked at the composed Pakistanis and muttered almost inaudibly a desire for my bunch of Herberts to be more like them at times.

Back in the pavilion, Dad is giving his charges a stern talking to. “OK, it’s my fault. I needed to be clearer in my expectations, so I’ll explain it simply” he begins. “Mr Ajmal can spin the ball. He’s called a “spinner”…”

One player sticks up his hand at the back. “Not now, Graeme. For once, this isn’t all about you…”

Clearly not.


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  1. my question is that y english media always weeps nd they point out only our players...whey they cant play us they start using these type of weapons...

  2. Farcical English performance, damn near pre-Indian tour Australian-style performances. A slightly more spinner friendly pitch and that 47 would have been liable to be matched.

  3. Very weird analogies but they do suit the context. However, it would be stupid to rule out a team like England on the first day of the test. There have been occasions when this English side has come back into a test out of nowhere and I see no reason why it shouldn't happen again. The immediate incidents that I'm able to recall are

    GABBA - 2010-11
    Trent Bridge - 2011

    I'm looking forward to a very interesting test match where all the FIVE DAYS would be used.

  4. Do they even do five-day tests anymore? Its been so long since I've seen one that I've forgotten. :)

  5. yeah it will be interesting bt sportsman spirit required from english side they shouldn't use thier traditional ways to bring the player underpressure by different blames...the question is when ICC has cleared ajmal then who r u 2 ask...simpl asy that grapes are sour...

  6. Cook will get a daddy ton in the 2nd inns and England will get back in it the knives always come out prematurely in England coulda done with bopara his bowling woulda been a good weapon for England