Any tour of India is a challenge. It becomes even more so when the perception is that the touring batsmen generally haven’t a clue against spin bowling on turning pitches along with the well documented story known as KPGate which could equally have been called ECB Couldn’t Manage A Slash In The Morning Gate.
As Yates wrote previously, “Flower must manage and monitor Sally Broad, Graeme Swann and James Anderson equally as much as he manages and monitors KP”. It seems like most of the tour party has come out with the usual platitudes the “Re-integration process” has gone well and they’re glad that a line has been drawn so people can move forwards. Business bullshit bingo to the fore.
What will test the platitudes, the team and the strength of Alastair Cook and Andy Flower will be if India keep turning the screw with spin bowling and beating England. Pretty much in the way India have in this first test match. Are the cracks in Team Unity starting to show? Is the pressure starting to become unbearable for certain players who should never (in Yates’ opinion) have been anywhere near the vice captaincy?
Sally Broad’s recent spat on Twitter with Sir Ian Botham might not be in the same league as Kenwyn Williams but Kenwyn is just an ex-administrator (although Williams might have bigger balls than Sally judging by his legal claim against USACA). Sally is supposed to be an all rounder and, as vice-captain, a role model of professionalism and good conduct.
The envelope I started this post on last week read “What If…. Things Go Totally Titsup?” (with apologies to Radio 4 for borrowing the “What If” title from them.
- England batsmen (mostly) look clueless against spin (again)
- England stick to playing one spinner
- One or more players loses it & does a Blackmore
- India stuff England repeatedly
- England humiliated in test series
- Some elements in the media get their knives out
- What then for Team Unity, KP and Andy Flower?
Does Yates really need to expand on these points? We’ve had the first two already, and are at least half way through the third. And we’ve only just completed the first test of the series.
It doesn’t have to be KP throwing a big fat wobbler of a tantrum that disrupts the team atmosphere. It could be Sally, Swanny, Jimmy, Foggy, Compo, Clegg or whoever. Though Yates is impressed with Swann’s return to concentrating on his cricket rather than his failing comedian routines (small note for Swanny here – stick with toilet humour and you’ll usually get a laugh).
The stats folk will tell you who hasn’t been performing in recent tests, and as a result attention is now focused on Sally, whose position in the team may well have been saved by the news that Steve Finn has crocked himself again. Bumble wants to drop Jonathan Trott but I think he may be in the minority there. You need players who can dig in and Trott has shown that he can indeed dig in and get right under the opposition collars. Swashbuckling comebacks aren’t too likely in India unless their bowlers start doing Yates impressions and serving up Samit Patel sized pies. Ain’t going to happen.
The Andy Flower of old, the one who stood up to Mugabe, had balls of steel and a determination to match. Ruling out testicular cloning and transplant surgery (which will take a while to recover from), his determination needs to pass on to the players who haven’t yet come to the party.
Yates isn’t going to go down the road of “What If…. Things Go Totally Titsup?” because there is plenty of knowledge, experience and sheer bloody-mindedness in that England camp. The test series is still there to be won. It will be hard work and tough decisions and gambles will need to be made. Time to dig in, grind down, cut out the silly shots, the bowling looser than a Romford slapper and play good, hard, proper test cricket.
Yates has had plenty to say about the BCCI and its many failings. And will surely continue to. Talk of balls, determination and bloody-mindedness above also applies to Yuvraj Singh. His fight against a rare form of cancer has been well documented and it was a source of great pleasure to Yates to see Yuvraj back playing for India. To come back from any life threatening illness takes balls, serious determination and massive amounts of bloody-mindedness. So Yates raises his glass to Yuvi.
Yates has been online for a long long time, so when someone who claims to be a freelance writer told me to “f**k off”, it said more about the person, their inability to engage in sensible debate and come up with something vaguely original or amusing than anything about yours truly. Anyone who defends the BCCI’s bullying greed is a misguided muppet concerned only with their own vested interests.
Yates remains steadfast in his belief that the BCCI is a greedy bully, driven by the love of money over and above everything else. When it behaves greedily, stupidly or in bullying ways then Yates will highlight that here. In English schools this week is Anti Bullying Week, so it’s another opportunity to remind people of what Tony Greig said about the BCCI: The BCCI needs to embrace the Spirit Of Cricket. Whether it will under the leadership of Numbnuts Srinivasan is doubtful. Of course, Yates will be happy to be proved wrong on this one.
Graeme Smith Comes To Surrey
Yates thought that talk of Graeme Smith coming to Surrey was just a Samit Patel sized pie in the sky. So credit to the Surrey management team for bringing Biff to The Kia Oval. Last season was tough for everyone at Surrey – players, staff, members and fans – so this is a huge statement of intent from the club. Smith may not be the prettiest player to watch but he’s tough, determined and very effective. He will also come in with his own clear ideas of what he wants to achieve. Yates is seriously buzzed about this signing and can’t wait for the captain’s squad number to be confirmed so he can get a Graeme Smith Surrey shirt.