Amidst all the brouhaha of test match cricket that includes the absurd hashtag #rise, I have yet to see #ashesfail #testfail or #Englandfail but they spring to mind when I think back on the last two days test cricket at the Oval.
Alistair Cooke has clearly decided that “de-risking” is essential and has adopted the dead hand of risk-management to the England Captaincy.
Key tactics include
• Not playing local players (Onions and Tremlett) despite local fans paying up £100+ to be entertained
• Reducing the over rate to a derisory 11 overs an hour on day two of a test match we had professed we wanted to win
• Scoring at around 2 runs an over against your opponents four runs an over
• Speaking a kind of robotic language at press conferences.
While these tactics may chime with the management consultants, accountants and actuaries in the corporate boxes, they do not play well with the 20,000 or so paying customers who come to watch a “game” of cricket, not an exercise in liability management.
Indeed, at close to £100 a pop, test match cricket may soon be beyond the means of anyone but said consultants, the rest of us being forced to pay subs to Sky to watch the stuff. But even the most die-hard fan is going to think twice about going down the pub to watch the coma-inducing performances of England over the past two days. I’ve handed my sky dish back some time ago.
Amazingly, Test Match Special is the only free to use service that gives you up to date information of what is going on without having to fork out! Back to the fifties!
I see nothing positive in this crazy behaviour. A week ago, I spent a great day at Edgbaston with a crowd that paid considerably less and got nearly 1000 of thrilling runs in a day. We got a new folk here in Gary Wilson (the man with the “at-risk” microphone), we sang, we stood up to hate Suarez and we cheered on whoever was playing despite not really caring who won (most of the time).
I know that 20/20 is not Test Match Cricket but if Test Match Cricket is going the way that Cooke and his cronies seem to want to take it, it will become as joyless and unsuccessful as England became as a rugby team under Martin Johnson.
Teams need Morinhos who can talk about “happiness” as “a core value” and link to the roots of sport, what we practiced in school. The child really is father to the man in this and I’d ask Cooke and co to “child up” and remember that cricket is only a game.
The relentless pursuit of success at all costs mocks that essential truth and will eventually prove those who doubt the future of test cricket right. If test cricket is about what we’ve seen in the last two days, I’ll present Cooke with a little urn of my own and I think you’ve guessed what will be inscribed on it!