I think it is time. The camel’s back broken by the straw he wasn’t even carrying. Though if he wasn’t carrying the straw, how can he take the can for it? Do camels have tipping points, and if they do, does it have anything to do with straw or even cans for that matter? Ok, the analogy is getting confusing here let us cut to the chase: after the first ODI Andy Flower must walk.
Flower wasn’t at the MCG but this performance had all the confused hallmarks of his Test side’s tour. Ashley Giles has been left with a dazed and clueless captain, England’s most promising young batsman has been confused and addled to the point that he scratched around for 3 runs from 23 balls, no-one seems to trust Eoin Morgan to take on any responsibility and bat higher than 5, and Jos Buttler batted at 8. Madness.
Then we look at the bowlers and this just gets grimmer: Boyd Rankin left England as a confident big fella hitting 90mph and will return a quivering injured parody; this could already be his final match for England. Tim Bresnan takes a long while to get back into the rhythm of bowling well after injury but even at his best, his overall ODI figures don’t warrant the trust that some seem to have of him – he currently averages 36 with the ball, the same as Ravi Bopara, though Bopara is an entire run per over better in terms of economy rate. What on earth has happened with Steven Finn?
On this tour the success stories have come from players from outside of England’s inner bubble of under-performance, and that speaks volumes. The experienced core who have proven that they can do it before, simply haven’t. The standards set whilst fielding, the discipline in batting and bowling, everything about England has dropped from where it was 12 months ago in India. There have been too many poor decisions and too many key players under-performing by too great a margin to be able to say that this is anything other than the failures of a system. I’ve not even mentioned Kevin Pietersen – there is not enough blog-roll in the world to sufficiently sum that one up.
(Yoinked from the Graun): “Shortly after becoming the last Englishman to win the league title, Howard Wilkinson was made the FA’s technical director and in that capacity said England could learn lessons from the continental system, whereby directors of football took responsibility for sourcing players and spending money, leaving coaches free to change clubs every three or four years when their squads got sick of their voices or their training routines. “
Perhaps this is what has happened with Flower and his coaching team, or perhaps this was inevitable once Flower split off his Limited Overs responsibilities (something of course his players are not allowed to do). Either way, after a period of sustained excellence for England this is a disturbingly sharp malaise. Ashley Giles cannot be blamed for not being able to turn things around for the limited overs matches, the decisions still come from and are too heavily burdened by the impact of Flower and the core of the failing Test squad – and it must be remembered that officially Flower remains ‘in overall charge’ of the England cricket team. The England cricket team sucks.