Monday, 10 March 2008

Trouble in Hamilton

If we discount victories against Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and the West Indies, New Zealand have only won three test matches in the last five years. With that in mind, winning the first match of a series against England is a surprise. The fact is however, that this was no closely fought test match with the underdogs coming out victorious, New Zealand thrashed England. They outplayed England in virtually every session culminating in a devastating final day performance when they dismissed the tourists for 110. New Zealand were fantastic, they showed fight, zest and enthusiasm.

In contrast, England were poor. I would go as to say that England’s performance in Hamilton was the worst I have seen in a long time. At no point were England competitive, a late charge by Sidebottom could not disguise that. I have mentioned Harmison previously but he is not on his own in the bowling department, Hoggard’s was also less than impressive. As for the batting.... the top four were dismissed by, as far as I could tell, straight, true bouncing deliveries with Pietersen being almost bounced out and worried by a medium pacer. Collingwood (amusingly titled Brigadier Block by Bob Willis) took thirty-three balls to get off the mark before succumbing having made two from fifty deliveries -- that is a strike rate of 4! Ambrose was bowled by a straight ball and as if to outline how ridiculous it all was, Bell batted beautifully.

There is something sinister going on in the England camp. I do not know what it is but there is definitely something going on that is not right. Test sides do get dismissed for 110 but not normally on featherbed wickets to county standard bowlers in perfect conditions. Every player looks depressed even Pietersen is quiet and withdrawn. The coach talks about being competitive -- rather than winning! Something is very wrong in the England camp, anyone care to make a guess?


Mahesh said...

I watched the highlights and you are right. I have not seen England play this badly for ages. There is nothing wrong with the squad per-se. They just look that they can't be arsed. Nothing else.

Vaughn or someone needs to motivate this team. And the selectors need to pull their finger out and drop a few and get some young blood in the team.

Gettign rid of Staruss and Harmison might be a start.

Richard Lake said...

Normally when a team is ill at ease with itself, it tells in the fielding first. Bowlers and batsmen like to look after their own figures, but if there is unrest, then the fielding goes to pot.

That clearly wasn't the case in Hamilton as the fielding and catching in particular was outstanding - by far the best part of the England effort. If you can'd be arsed, you certainly don't fling yourslef around in the field.

I just think England misread the pitch and the tactics wrong. We were probably also shocked by the form of Hoggard, who had his worst match for a number of years. The batsmen sold their wickets dearly in the first innings, but froze in the second. The first innings didn't show a lack of fight, but a lack of idea - it's as if they forgot they had to score runs as well as bat time.

Moores and Vaughan need to get it togeher for the next match and maybe play to a less rigid plan than seemed to be in place this time round.