Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Out of the Ashes

Having stated I have scant interest in the England team and coaching setup, the following may seem a tad hypocritical, with more than a dash of gloating involved, but after the Homework Affair and the demise of Mickey Arthur I’m interested to see how these things pan out and want to keep something as a handy aide-memoir with accompanying hyperlinks to save me from having to go looking for vaguely-remembered snippets somewhere down the track.

Assuming, of course, they’re still there.

There has, of course, been the predictable flood of condemnation, in varying tones scattered across the spectrum from irate through scathing towards embarrassed, with lashings of it’d never have happened in my day from commentators safe in the knowledge that it didn’t.

This one, from The Guardian would appear to be a representative sample:
UK Ashes press round-up: England 'emasculated' by Australian juggernaut: Alastair Cook's side were humiliated over five brutal Tests, and British sport writers blamed poor batting and a rampant Mitchell Johnson .

Martin Crowe on the difference between the two sides here: Hard run-makers revive Australia.

Predictably, there’s the regulation adjustment and search for a share of the spotlight from one of the players with a big question mark over the intersection of place and role in the team (how much does he bowl and where does he bat?) in The Ashes: Shane Watson credits own stance with turnaround in team culture, but the headline’s slightly misleading. The key there is the change wrought with remarkable speed by Darren Lehmann.

There’s a similar piece here: Lehmann made playing for Australia fun again - Watson

There’s an intriguing version of events around the change of coach here: Australia's Ashes turning point.

If Watson’s right, and I’m not suggesting he isn’t, this brings additional pressure to bear on England coach Andy Flower, and it’s his future that has me intrigued. You get headlines like
Andy Flower to stay on as England coach but warns of more pain and Flower determined to correct mistakes although we also have Andy Flower may quit as England team director if Kevin Pietersen plays on, and on Cricinfo, Pietersen future under scrutiny, which contains a rather telling little suggestion from Michael Vaughan, a former England captain, that Pietersen should become vice-captain deliberately to break down a culture of "yes men" that has grown up around the England set-up.

That might, in turn, throw some light on this little gem I found on Cricinfo (England's road to hell), which may be fact, fiction or one of four flavours of a synthesis of the two I’ll refer to as faction.

It might be largely factual, leavened by a smidgen of fiction.

Alternatively, it could be fiction, built on a factual basis.

And there are two possible aspects of a house divided that could fuel either or both of the above, a leaking of detail that might not be entirely factual to an outsider, or a story designed to promote the dissident faction in a divided dressing room. Intriguing.

There’s a toeing the party line narrative from within the England camp at Pain can drive us to new heights while Back to the days of boom and bust: England's chief executive David Collier has guaranteed Andy Flower a job until 2015 - and the debrief on England's Ashes humiliation has not begun. Can that be right? published on the eve of the final massacre raises some serious issues that will need to be addressed if England are looking to reverse their fortunes.

And as the stories continue to emerge I'll continue to aggregate the content for future reference. Stay tunes.

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