I arrived in Johannesburg a few days before Christmas. The first thing on our agenda was to hand over a cheque for ZAR15000 as a donation Kevin Richardson for his lion Sanctuary. A few of us went to visit him and were treated to a guided tour with him in a land rover whilst he took Meg and Amy on an enrichment walk. It was amazing that so many lions, Leopards & Hyenas clearly love him, he walks with them, plays with them, you have to think to yourself how safe is he? We all know animals can turn, it only takes one!
As we were in South Africa on Christmas Day rather then the normal turkey & stuffing, I thought how good would a safari to celebrate? So off we went to DinoKeng reserve about 90 mins outside of Joburg. It was great, seeing all this animals in their natural habitat instead of sitting around a table with turkey! Especially as it’s me that cooks it!
Anyway, we are here for the cricket, I won’t go into too much detail on the test in Jo’Burg but the illness in the camp was apparently quite severe, so I’ll cut them some slack on that. We then went to Cape Town and guess what? Our first victory since 1957! Everyone is cock a hoop over that, if it hadn’t of been for Stokes it would of been a drab draw, fine margins …
I will start with good news, it’s been a long time coming but they have abandoned playing football! About time!
These are my thoughts on the current state of our test team in general, I do feel that England winning the World Cup has papered over the cracks of the test team. I have now toured the full cycle away from home, four Years ago we won here 2-1, our only other series win was 3-0 against Sri Lanka whose team was completely dismantled by retirements, with losses in India including Alistair Cook relinquishing the captaincy , Australia, New Zealand twice & West Indies.
I have written many times about batting collapses which are still ongoing and the backroom staff. I thought I would start with Joe Root he spoke about a two year plan, first thing on the agenda recall Jimmy Anderson, 37 & Mark Wood who was hoping to be fit for the third test. Jimmy’s record is exceptional but surely England have to make a decision soon on either him or Broad, I must admit I’m struggling to come up with a lot of names that could be given an opportunity, but we have to start somewhere. I think things need freshening up in the background and being a Surrey supporter, I was a great fan of Graham Thorpe. He was the most elegant left hander I have seen since Gower, but what has improved with our batting? We have not ironed out the issues with Jennings & Vince, the mid order seems like a skittle alley when one falls it’s closely followed by 5 more!
On the bowling side we keep bowling the same short stuff, time and time again, Jofra tried that and gave away 20 runs needless runs, the batsman nor wicket keeper could reach it!
I honestly haven’t seen any improvement in our bowling attack for a few years now. Jofra needs wrapping up, and looking after and coaching with the red ball, he will be an asset, but we will be in danger of putting to much on him at an early stage in test cricket!
In those years when we didn’t improve our bowling attack (two of which Silverwood was in charge) and now he’s managing the team. I would say surely the ECB can see the issues we have, but then again they came up with the idea of the 100!! I still regularly receive texts, emails and have had many conversations on this, and still there is only one person I know who likes the idea!
Says it all really!
All the best