Posted by: nestaquin | February 10, 2009

Wisden Trophy: Rollercoaster of Love & Despair

The extraordinary concluding day at Sabina Park in the first Test of the 2009 Wisden Trophy has inspired comment from thousands who have only a passing interest in cricket and while I am tempted to describe the darker side of human psychology instead I’ll document my experience of events that unfolded while watching the match in the early hours of Sunday morn.

Fortunately, the wonders of modern invention enabled a sporadic conversation to develop between my sweating, mosquito bitten self and my good mate in frozen London and through our exchanges I was witness to a range of human emotion that few sporting events could replicate.

The poor bloke, a fine man and passionate supporter of English cricket, was cruelly thrown onto an emotional rollercoaster that began the day with confidence and turned a quiet bend into optimism after drinks.

Before and over lunch the steep cline of hope and denial was quickly traversed before a frighteningly rapid descent plummeted the man into despair shortly after. The 360 degree loop to loop from anger to acceptance was negotiated without incident or injury before the dizzy ride ended in dim, all too familiar reality.

Such is the recurring jaunt the English cricket team put their supporters through. They really should be grateful for no other team can lose so entertainingly and with such spectacular and stylish ineptitude.

The fact that the hype has produced a virtual lynch mob of ranting maniacs, amateur selectors and forensic psychologists is neither here nor there. Test match cricket is in the minds and hearts of an entire population in the middle of an Arctic winter and as a lover and patron of the ancient game, it is difficult to contain the joy when viewing the publicity that this extraordinary match produced.

Stay Human

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Responses

  1. Indeed so.

    Strauss and the boys appear to have captured the zeitgeist in England in a week when the country ground to a snowy halt, the pound dipped ever lower vs the dollar and the euro and unemployment went ever higher.

    It’s fair to say that much of the comment (professional and amateur) has been written by people who did not see events as they unfolded and have the state of the nation in one corner of their minds and an unholy hotch-potch of KP hating, IPL envy and sheer masochism in the other.

    Of England’s seven proper batsmen: Cook played a poor shot; Strauss was tortured, then dismissed by sustained excellent bowling; Bell went to a good piece of keeping trying to seize the initiative; KP got a beauty; Colly got a good one; Flintoff was out slogging with the game lost; and Prior got one almost as good as KP. That’s disappointing, but to call it a farce or call for wholesale sackings is to do the fielding unit a disservice.

    Some change is needed for Antigua and I’d like to see this XI.

    Strauss
    Cook
    KP
    Colly
    Shah
    Flintoff
    Prior
    Rashid
    Broad
    Harmison
    Monty

    Get a bit of luck with the referrals (doesn’t that decision not to refer Sarwan the last ball before tea on Day Two look poor now?) and England can level it in Antigua, as I suspect the Windies are due a collapse too with their 7-11 order.

    Antigua might be a repeat of long passages of quiet dullness, followed by bursts of extreme excitement. I can’t wait!

  2. The Windies have trumped their opponents again by quickly announcing that Lendl Simmons is in for Marshall. I don’t know too many instances where a bloke suddenly falls out of form after scoring 281 so that’s just another quandry for the England brains trust.

    Ryan Hinds is also in the squad, a very handsome in form bat who bowls tidy searching tweakers. He is a better bowler than Gayle so the Windies will have spin options galore with stronger batting.

    I think they’ll be harder to beat this time around and the crowds will be flocking to see them in action.

    England better realise quick smart that this is a team who believe in themselves as do all there vocal and vibrant supporters.

    It will be tough for the visitors and I wouldn’t be counting on the Windies to falter. England, as a team, will have to be near their very best to succeed in Antigua.

  3. The referral system can be reformed easily with the 3rd umpire being given sole discretion to review ANY decision while NOT using any projected paths, and only overturning on-field decisions if there are sufficient objective reasons like pitching outside leg/inside edge/hitting outside the line/clear nick etc, unlike Sarwan’s decision. Forget all this 2/3 unsuccessful referrals per team nonsense and take them out of the equation. Can’t be that hard, with the walkie talkies and all.

    I’m not convinced the Windies can sustain their excellence over the whole series, and I’d have both teams at even money to win this series. Likely outcome: 1-1

    Bell Bell Bell. He’s been hearing how he’s “destined” to score 8000 runs @ 45, and he suffers from looking so good so as to flatter him. His situation is not dissimilar to pre-2001 Laxman, and can only dream of having the impact the latter has had from 2001 onwards. But seriously, as someone has pointed out, he’s played almost as many tests as Bradman – time to give Shah a go.

    And there’s a problem when the justification for keeping a player in the side is “who else”, as it is in Monty’s case. Swann/Rashid looks too green, so I suppose it should be Monty/Swann (they turn it different ways). But Monty really really needs to learn. For crissake, he’s a Test cricketer, he shouldn’t be having to learn to flight more etc etc.

  4. West Indies selectors are wise if they are considering changes, as they won this Test with two and a half innings and two bowlers. The tail from 7 down looks like one 8, two 9s and two 11s which must hurt them soon.

    I like Dan Vettori’s idea of one referral. And I like the fact that it retains cricket’s appeal to the umpire for a decision, albeit a review, rather than one at first instance. One appeal would cut out the speculative stuff but still save the batsman who edges it on to his pad (and knows it) or the ball pitching well outside leg (the batsman knows again) and the bowler who really thinks it’s hitting (as Flintoff did vs Smith). And I’d check all dismissals for no balls.

  5. On KP hating… his situation reminds me somewhat of the Tendulkar situation in India in the 90s; people expected Sachin to win all the games for India, single-handedly. And when he failed to make big scrores, and India lost, he would get all the blame.
    It was as if the rest of the team was just expected to show up and look pretty!

  6. Leela – “It was as if the rest of the team was just expected to show up and look pretty!”

    So that’s what Chappell said to Irfan Pathan! No wonder it all went wrong.

    Good point re KP.

  7. ‘no other team can lose so entertainingly and with such spectacular and stylish ineptitude.’

    Amen, Nesta!

  8. English team resembles a lot like Pakistan team these days, some thing is not right in their dressing room and I guess their selectors are blind just like ours they keep on playing out of form players and ignore fresh talent.

  9. Great result for WI cricket.

    As for 51 all out, I have seen only the highlights, the bowling was very good, but only 2 dismissals were created by unplayable balls. I have a feeling English batsmen did not expect such sustained attack from WI, and before they could realise, it was all over. As an Indian fan, this is not entirely alien to me..there have been a few occassions in the last decade (once in WI, twice in South Africa, last year at Ahmedabad against SA, and against Mendis&Co in Sri Lanka in the test series). May be India scored more than 51 on most occassions, but I distinctly remember a test in SA against Donald&Co where India scored 100 and 60 in the same test.

    I also remember a test against Pakistan where Irfan Pathan took a hat-trick and reduced Pakistan to 39/6.There was a tremendous fightback by Kamran Akmal and Afridi, and Pakistan eventually won that test.

    So, my grouse against England is that they seemed to throw in the towel after the first 4 wickets fell, especially after KP fell.

    Mindset is a funny thing..more often its the demons in the mind than on the field/bowling that undo test batting sides.

    Dressing room issues cannot explain such collapses.Nor blaming the IPL auction (as Nasser Hussain seems to do)..

    What surprises me is that even after so many failures, no one wants to change the opening combination.Both Strauss and Cook play from the same book.Is there no other opener in the squad or in the county game to replace Cook for a season or two?

  10. Obviously, I know nought about the English dressingroom or mindset but I’ve played plenty of cricket and have observed many patterns.

    One that applies to England is that they rely very heavily on one batsman, something Leela astutely stated above.

    Basically, when in a sticky situation that requires someone to stand up all eyes and hearts look to the gun, KP in this instance.

    When his stump went cartwheeling the seventh ball after lunch doubts began to surface in players minds. When the captain followed an over later that nailed it.

    Minds began to chatter “We’ve lost” and what transpired became inevitable although 51 was a very poor effort.

    If you have a gun like KP and no-one else of quality he needs protection against the new ball.

    He came in with the bowlers fresh and on target after a cheerful lunch and a few sightseeing overs beforehand. A precarious situation for KP and Dyson, a proven and excellent tactician who knows how to win cricket matches, knew that his early wicket was the key to an easy victory. They had a plan and executed it beautifully.

    If KP was, say playing for South Africa, he’d probably bat no higher than five or six in Tests and in ODIs he’d be likely to open. I reckon he’ll open or bat at three for Bangalore too.

    England need to build their batting around his needs and not the other way round. That’s what a team like NZ did with Martin Crowe. They had Hadlee too (Flintoff) and they were pretty successful despite their lack of depth.

    For now, the key to England staying competitive is to lose only two wickets in the first 30 overs if KP is at four. Shouldn’t be too difficult but when it goes awry their chances diminish rapidly especially in the second innings.

  11. Hi Nesta

    Agree with your analysis of both KP and Dyson.

    Not sure if England can deliver what you say – losing only two wickets in the first 30. Can the team keep its nerves? I’m doubtful. KP is no Martin Crowe…

    Anyway – I thought I’d let you and readers of your (brilliant) blog that we’re running a comp for Aussie cricket fans giving peeps a chance to win a money-can’t-buy trip around the globe. If you want to enter, you’ve got until Friday 13th to submit an entry for your chance to go on an epic 80 day cricket tour around the world – from Australia to Lord’s – with Johnnie Walker picking up the tab.

    Simply upload a video clip or an image which clearly shows how you’d create a cricket match with anyone, anywhere. It could be a game you once played on your travels, or one that you’ve recently set up in a park, work-place or back-yard!

    We’re looking for entries that tell a story, capture our imagination and demonstrate why you’d make the best ambassador to spread the word about one of the world’s great sports. Check out the following video for an example of how simple your entry can be.

    Good luck! Please submit entries at http://www.localtolords.com Love your blog, by the way!

    Stayin’ Human!

  12. I bet you say that to all the boys Lax! Good competition but who other than the unemployed and Paris Hilton has 80 days to skive off?


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