y2k_rambo >> y2k_rambo's Blogs >> England captain's welcome to the hot seat........!!!!!!!

Posted by y2k_rambo at 2/8/2021 6:40:00 PM       
    The day before the first Test started Andrew Strauss gave his pre-match press conference. In his first answer he talked about the series being the latest in a line of new dawns for English cricket and he was momentarily interrupted to see if he meant false dawns. Five days later he has presided over England's worst batting demise since Trinidad in 1994 and their third-lowest total of all time. Welcome to the top job, Andrew.

    It is a month to the day since Kevin Pietersen was forced to resign and Strauss was thrust into the second-hardest job in British sport. The hardest is said to be the England football manager, but after today Strauss would quite happily swap places with Fabio Capello. The first month of full-time captaincy for Strauss has involved plenty of bridge-building and wound-healing. The positive spin from inside the England camp is that rifts and cliques don't really exist. Now we will find out for sure.

    The manner of England's demise was worryingly similar to some other recent debacles. The way they ground along at barely a run-an-over brought flashbacks of Adelaide in 2006-07, when they choked on the final day against Shane Warne, and more recently of their defeat to a modest New Zealand side in Hamilton last year. On that occasion they were skittled for 110 in the last innings and became stuck in a rut against Kyle Mills and Daniel Vettori. At least that was more than double this feeble effort.

    In the immediate aftermath of the collapse Strauss looked shellshocked as he tried to explain what had happened. This generation of England players aren't used to such damage being done in the West Indies, but now they know what it felt like in 1994 when Michael Atherton missed most of their 46 all out by doing,guess what,sitting in the shower.

    Strauss is right that the pitch can't be an excuse, because earlier in the day the West Indies tail batted in relative comfort to extent their lead to 74. Those extra 40 runs may not sound much, but it set the tone that West Indies were going to fight for everything. The lower-order had no issue with the slow outfield, but it took England nearly 28 overs to find the boundary and by then they were seven-down.

    There was a lack of intent, with no batsman willing to try and change the pace of the game. The one mostly likely to do so was Kevin Pietersen, but he got one of the balls of the Test and lost his off stump. However, England can't rely on Pietersen to constantly bail them out as he did in the first innings.

    The admission of a poor mental state suggests, despite Strauss's statements, that recent issues have left a cloud over the team. The IPL situation may now be sorted, but just because Pietersen and Flintoff know they are in the big league isn't necessarily a good thing. They certainly played more like paupers than princes in the second innings.

    Strauss's biggest challenge will be keeping the team together. When things go wrong on tour they have a habit of unravelling swiftly. Just ask Pietersen. This is the first time Strauss has tasted defeat as Test captain and it isn't the ideal way to start an Ashes year. Australia have problems of their own, but it's hard to imagine them folding for 51 in the near future.

    Whether in the long term Strauss's reign is a new dawn or another false dawn would be just a shot in the dark but these were dark days for English cricket.

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