Musings From The Padded Cell

Guest Article – The Rants Of Chairman Molly

“England’s always expecting. No wonder they call her the Mother Country.”
Fred Trueman

“I just don’t bloody understand it!” said the old lag as another glass drained away.

For anyone who witnessed Geoffrey Boycott’s post Sydney test rant with James Anderson, it will have divided opinion.

There are always those who will think it is just the ramblings of an old player whilst others will be of the opinion that Boycott speaks sense. Whilst uncomfortable for Anderson, I firmly agree with “Fiery”‘s sentiments.

Back in the day, Ashes Touring Teams then under the auspices of the Marylebone Cricket Board (MCC), would board some redoubtable vessel and depart from Harwich for the long journey to The Great Southern Land.

On the voyage they would invariably stop off at “one of the colonies” for a gentle game against a Governor’s XI or similar composite team.

Eventually docking at Fremantle in Western Australia, they would be straight into the tour and proper full on games.

A quick peek at the 1946/1947 itinerary {Slow day at work Molly? – Ed} sees fixtures against all the State sides as well as a host of Country Sides- see here.

Sorry readers!

Whilst I do not argue for a return back to this type of tour, Boycott does have a point in that the preparation for this most recent tour was terrible.

Presumably the English Cricket Board (ECB) agreed to the fixture list a long time ago so why were plans not made to schedule far more meaningful games other than the challenges of an Australian Cricket Board (ACB) XI?

These games would also given likely fringe players such as Ballance, Foakes and Ball real game time in case of a call up to the test team. At the very least a spot of Grade Cricket – the next level down from Shield cricket – could have been arranged.

Instead we have back to back Tests followed by ODI & T20 slog-fests. I appreciate television schedules dictate and the financial benefits are huge to both boards, but we need to see us winning again.

It is remarkable that the ECB hierarchy – Graves, Harrison, Strauss and Whitaker (the unaccountable national selector) – have been so silent.

Molly in T20 mode

Today’s Daily Mail states preparations are already under way for the next trip Down Under but the performances and make up of the side will need urgent surgery before then. Plans must include games between the tests wherever possible against strong competition.

Every season the County Championship sees a raft of Aussies sampling English conditions; quite a few are test players. Apart from Mason Crane last winter, I am struggling to think of an English player who has played in the Shield since Ian Botham for Queensland.

A spell in Australia for any of the up and coming quicks would benefit them enormously; whether the ACB would sanction this would be open to debate. The ECB clearly have no issues reciprocating though.

Fred Trueman always used to say he got fit and into form by bowling – not by press-ups or gym work – as nets do little to replicate true match conditions therefore more games is essential to me.

Until we have players who can adapt and step up to the conditions down there we will always be behind them making The Ashes change hands back and forth like a yo-yo as we should be stronger on the UK pitches.

Footnote – Editor

The BBC website has this piece on the difficulties for all nations to win away from home. Witness India’s current struggles in South Africa, a team England comfortably disposed of last summer.

Molly and I come from a different generation as far as cricket is concerned. The game is in steep decline here, struggling to maintain an audience at all levels.

The ECB counters this by a strategy geared on women’s cricket, T20 and ethnicity; they are blinkered to the extreme and living in their Murdoch funded, gilded clouds.

Almost twenty years ago the nation was gripped as we beat Australia at home. Even though competitive school cricket had all but vanished, the ECB chose to take Sky’s money and closed the game off to even more kids.

Put simply, they are as clueless about how to beat Australia as they are about the state of cricket from grassroots upwards. Safe in their ivory towers expect no change four years on.

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