Who said this leg of the tour would be easy? After the pummelling in Australia, England’s cricketers crossed the Tasman Sea for more of the same medicine. Plenty of questions were raised before the series. Could Trevor Baseless improve his shocking Test record abroad? Could England batsmen stop losing wickets on the stroke of an interval? Could the top order batsmen get any more than 50? Like a petty criminal in a police interview, England ‘no commented’. Naturally in no way is the previous sentence of any correlation (for any lawyers reading) but this was also the return of Ben Stokes to the side. Could England finally kick start their winter?
James Vince was the man who made way for Stokes. Vince, with an attitude to wide away swinging half volleys, similar to that of an alcoholic passing a public house, paid the price for nicking more Australians than the ICC will in the next few weeks. More on that later…
So England batted and what a start. Within an hour we were 27-9. Yes, 27 for bloody 9. That’s not a Test score, it’s a date heading into Autumn. It was like watching a really bad episode of the X Factor, when you are cringeing at the tv yet can’t stop watching. It was car crash tv to misquote Ant and Dec.
It was the dessert of crap after the main course of the Australian fiasco before Christmas. This is not to take anything away from Trent Boult or Tim Southee. Both bowled with pace, venom and moved the ball off the pitch and through the air, aided and abetted by fine catching including a ‘worldie’ from Williamson. Boult ended with 6-32, Southee 4-25. England were skittled for a miserable 58.
|A Boult from the blue|
The hosts batted and down came the rain. The next two days were wetter than Kim Hughes’ microphone at a press conference as Auckland opened its skies.
And then the news came from Cape Town. Cameron Bancroft was caught with sandpaper down his pants altering the shape of the ball. If I’m honest, every side in world cricket has tried to alter the ball in aid of reverse swing over the last twenty years. From Athers dirt, to Murray Mints, to Lollipops, every trick has been used but taking sandpaper in your jock has rubbed people up the wrong way, to say the least, not to mention Bancroft’s bollocks. It isn’t so much the fact that they have cheated but the moral high ground that this Australian team have taken, is hypocritical and the reason why everyone is jumping on their case. ‘The Leadership Team’ aka The Lyon Ring have tried to tell us this is the first time that this has happened. This can only be surmised as the same place where Mr Bancroft hides his sandpaper. Bollocks.
Lehmann has tried to say that the South African crowd are naughty people and haven’t been very nice to poor little Davey Warner and his chums. Yes, the same Lehmann who asked the Australian crowd to send Mr Broad home in tears. This Aussie side have repeatedly spoken about crossing the line, only that the line is always on their terms. I don’t think for a long time there will be a line drawn in the sand…paper.
Back to Auckland. The cricket became almost secondary after the events in South Efrica. Williamson showed how to bat on a wicket that always had a little bit in it for bat and ball, whilst Nichols farmed the English bowling. A hasty declaration when the teams returned after more or less a two day break saw Cook get strangled down the leg side, Stoneman and Root get fifty without converting and Stokes get a sixty. Wagner was ruthless in bouncing out the tail though and New Zealand were victors by an innings and 49 runs. Take nothing away from New Zealand they deserved this and turned up as if they meant business.
England looked so undercooked that this was bordering on botulism, salmonella and e coli. I wrote on Twitter that we had seen Cook lambing two weeks prior to the game which ruffled some feathers but I would rather see three or four proper warm ups like the old days - more Lamb cooking than Cook lambing. One 14 a side game or whatever surely contributes to our shocking touring record? I'm not singling out Cook either, it is down to the ECB to sort this out and also offer tourists here some proper games. I'd like to see a full strength county take on a touring side.
Baseless has to go as a Test coach, notice period or no notice period. Out of England’s last ten games abroad, we have lost nine, five by an innings. This is P45 material. I’m bored of calling for it but as long as the tickets get sold for home series, the game is hyped on Sky and we bring a new shirt out, the money will roll in, then who gives a shit if we get stuffed?