SWANNY'S WORLD OF SPORT: An England priority is to fleece fans
England's cricket team is lucky the Olympics are proving to be a golden delight for Great Britain.
They are also lucky the Premier League season started. Arsenal and Liverpool’s thrill-er last Sunday was a terrific distraction from confirmation that England’s belief they would become the number one Test-playing nation in the world by the end of August was as deluded as believing Rio 2016 would be drug-free.
At a time when it’s almost impossible to lose at home (just witness Australia’s hilarious capitulation to a Sri Lankan team recently thrashed by England) Alastair Cook’s men failed to beat a Pakistan team who have not played a home series for seven years and who have no serious first-class structure in their homeland.
In contrast England have millions to spend. They fleece their fans by charging exorbitant entry fees (I was offered a ticket to the Oval for £67, I went to Lord’s on a £70 ticket) to watch players who ensure they never manage to bowl the allotted 90 overs a day (I’d keep them on the pitch until they’ve done it, they’d soon speed up).
England’s approach to this series was flawed.
Did we ring Pakistan up and ask them what sort of pitches they wanted to play on? England would have whitewashed their visitors on seaming pitches with bounce and pace, but there seemed to be more interest in milking spectactors for five days then giving them anything to cheer.
Is it unsporting to load the pitches in your own favour? Possibly, but wait and see what awaits England in India this winter.
India will have seen how awful Moeen Ali is at bowling spin and they will have been thrilled that Adil Rashid wasn’t given the opportunity to test himself in the Pakistan series. A set of turning pitches will surely await and England will be long odds against to get even a draw in the five Test-match series.
Ali is hopeless with ball in hand. He’s rarely going to have a luxury of a big England score to help while the dopey selectors persist with batsmen who are embarrassingly out of their depth.
Alex Hales is not only a poor opening bat, he’s a bit of a head-case, one who picks fights with players far more talented than he is. Sledging is fine if you have the ability to back it up.
James Vince appears to be in the side because he can look pretty, but England will need batsmen who will at least fight to preserve their wicket in India.
And if they take pea-heart Steven Finn to the sub-continent I might not bother even watching. Finn’s medical record not his Middlesex connctions should determine his selection.
And we can’t expect wizardry from the captain to save our winter. Cook’s decision to bat first on the only likely cloudy day at the Oval was blindingly bad. He’d clearly forgotten Pakistan’s batting morale would have been low after their Edgbaston capitulation.