Let me reassure Peter and other readers that Gadaffi is alive and well. For the benefit of those who haven’t followed the saga I hasten to explain that the mad Colonel has not sought political asylum on the allotments. We are referring to our bullying hen. She is now in splendid isolation and has the added punishment of being in Albert’s care. My old pal is not in a good mood and this morning alternated between muttering about the mindless thugs who attacked policemen in London, and the inept performance of the England cricketers who were hammered into the ground by Sri Lanka.
In fact so poor was the bowling and fielding performance that Messrs Tharanga and Dilshan were able to knock off the required runs with ten overs to spare.Without doubt this Sri Lankan team is an excellent one but, with the honourable exceptions of Trott and Morgan, England lacked guile, energy and just about everything else.
With England on the plane home it is clearly time for a post mortem, for one-day cricket is important and we seem incapable of producing a winning team. One wonders if there is a mental block on the part of the selectors and cricket authorities since we continue to treat the shortened version of the game as being a minor distraction. All of our efforts are devoted to the Test arena which would be fine if that was the general view of world cricket. But it isn’t. Support for Test cricket is falling almost everywhere and, with the exception of the Ashes, the number one priority in every major cricket-playing country is the 50 over game, laced with some Twenty20 excitement. Cricket purists like me may regret that but the reality has to be faced.
One only has to study the lack of preparation for what has become cricket’s major tournament to find support for this argument. Our players followed a hectic summer with a five match Ashes series in Australia. Not surprisingly some of the players such as Jimmy Anderson were by then showing signs of wear and tear. What did our authorities agree to then? Seven one-day internationals and two Twenty20 games that’s what! By the time that the squad flew home after a gruelling four month tour, they had just three days at home before flying out for the World Cup. The same applied to Australia you may retort, I can only reply by asking what happened to them? Like us they received the order of the boot.
The earlier games in the tournament did not all go well. We lost to Ireland and Bangledash as one player after another had to head for home with an array of stress related problems, damaged backs, torn hamstrings and assorted other problems. By the time we face Sri Lanka we had players on the field who were either not up to this level or were simply mentally exhausted.
How else would on explain the fact that in the first 25 overs of the Sri Lnakan innings, not one slower ball was attempted by any of the England seamers? On benign pitches such as Colombo, bowlers have to conjure up wickets against good players. On low, slow surfaces for one-day matches, bowlers need an extra ingredient. They found none, and clearly learned nothing from having faced an attack that maintained nagging accuracy and deployed regular ‘yorkers’ into the blockhole. Our batsmen were rooted to the crease and rarely used their feet against the Sri Lankan spinners. Once Morgan was out at 186 for four the England batsmen froze in the face of balls speared into their feet, slower balls looped teasingly, and skiddy bouncers. It really looked like men against boys, yet just a month or so ago we were Test heroes.
The sad fact is that we still prioritise Test cricket in our coaching, team selection and most other things. In fact we don’t even play 50-over cricket in this country. A few years ago I would have sighed and said well it doesn’t matter, supremacy in cricket means winning Test series. Like it or not, those days are disappearing fast.
If we want to be a top cricketing nation in tomorrow’s world we have to change our priorities. It sounds like blasphemy but we will have to focus our coaching on bowling to contain and batting to score quickly. We will have to be prepared to rest from Test series those players crucial to our one-day success. We will have to play less cricket of the long-form and reintroduce 50 over matches at County level. If we don’t we will be in danger of being champions only in the one form of cricket that the punters across the world have deserted.
The only thing to be said in defence of Strauss and his weary warriors is that they maintained a decent standard of sporting behaviour. They never descended into the level of boorish behaviour shown in the New Zealand defeat of South Africa. And they most certainly didn’t behave like the 300 or so yobs who in London yesterday attacked bobbies, who themselves are subject to cuts and redundancy.
Given a fresh focus and resolve there is still hope for the England cricketers. There is none for spotty-faced thugs who believe that hurling missiles into crowds containing small children is acceptable!
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY; THE KISS ” A kiss is an application on the top floor for a job in the basement”…..Brian Johnson “I feel great and I kiss even better”…..Emo Philips “it takes a lot of experience for a girl to kiss like a beginner”…..Jaon Rivers “Kissing Marilyn Monroe was like kissing Hitler”….Tony Curtis “With lips like those Mick Jagger could French-kiss a moose”…..Joan Rivers “Buy me a Mercedes and I’ll make your neck look like a relief map of the Andes”…….Roz Doyle “Kissing Edwina Currie was like kissing a can opener”…..Godfrey Barker “People who throw kisses are mighty hopelessly lazy”….Bob Hope “I wasn’t kissing her. I was just whispering into her mouth”……Chico Marx “How about a Spanish kiss under the mistletoe? It’s like a French kiss only a little further south”….Lorna Adler “I was dating a guy for a while because he told me thatb he had an incurable disease. I didn’t realise it was stupidity”….Gracie Hart
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. 12 2. 5p
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Who was the author of ‘The Realm of Gold” (1975)? 2. Where was Jean Drapeau a political leader?