A winter tour is certainly a long time in the world of test cricket, that’s for sure!
Joe Root’s boys – the world’s number three test side - arrived in the Caribbean having despatched world number one, India, during the English summer and completing a 3 – 0 victory in a rare away series win on ‘spin-laden’ Sri-Lankan wickets.
Every pundit predicted a comfortable England win against a politically volatile West Indies Team who were having to play youngsters in their test side with a number of their more experienced and destructive players going for the ‘hired-gun’ life around the world in various T20 franchise teams.
A good sized proportion of these ‘expert’ pundits predicted a 3 – 0 England victory as we began the build up to this years Ashes series against the old enemy, Australia – ‘just a warm up for the big event in late summer UK’ they said!
Well – here we are, two tests of the three completed, only seven days cricket actually played and the series already lost – clearly not the stroll everyone was predicting!
The Windies haven’t just beaten England comfortably in two test matches, they have completely outplayed, outfought and, frankly, humiliated a side being heralded as ‘soon to be the number one test side in the world’, quite honestly England have been an embarrassment to watch.
The sight of a battery of Windies fast bowlers charging in and making English Batsmen hop around the wicket has resulted in Sky Cricket commentators waxing lyrical about the ‘old days’ when the Windies were blessed with a truly terrifying group of bowlers who blew away everything before them – this, they said, was looking like a return to those halcyon days of West Indies Cricket.
However, I do not believe that this group of clearly talented bowlers are or ever will be up there with the Holding’s, Marshall’s, Ambrose’s or Walsh’s of the 70’s and 80’s – I believe that we have seen an emerging side ‘blow-away’ an England team who clearly think they are better than they actually are and who, when asked to step-up, failed to show the slightest appetite for a fight once the going got tough and tall fast-bowlers began hurling 90mph deliveries at them.
The England teams’ collective lack of heart isn’t the only reason to be genuinely concerned about where our test side is going though (although lets not underestimate just how worrying that lack of heart is from our snowflake generation of batsmen), the decision to leave Stuart Broad out of the team for the first test in Barbados defies belief. A wicket which was clearly going to suit tall, fast bowlers was screaming out for 6’5’’ Broad (who lets not forget has taken 436 test wickets), however, somehow we managed to make the ridiculous decision of dropping Broad and playing 5’9’’ Sam Curran (the smallest player in the squad) on a wicket which quite obviously didn’t suit him! Now Curran is clearly a very talented cricketer who is going to have a long and successful International career but really – on this wicket – you couldn’t make it up.
Root then compounded the error by refusing to accept it was the wrong decision (although Broad returned for the second test and played extremely well) and began making statements which left most of the supporting public less that impressed – come on Joe; tell us who made the decision and accept it was wrong instead of making silly excuses.
There are thousands of England cricket fans who have made the trip to the Caribbean and they deserve better than players appearing to have inflated opinions of their ability, refusing to admit the obvious and playing shots which quite honestly wouldn’t belong in Sunday League village cricket, because they don’t have the heart to fight – Not good enough England!