Today at the test – the best of times, the worst of times

England v India 5th test 3rd day, Oval…September 9, 2018

England with eight second innings wickets remaining lead by 154 runs

The scorecard needs no further introduction but suffice to say England are in the box seat. Today I’ve seen the best of times and the worst of times – or the best of test cricket and the worst. Let’s deal with the worst…cricket is an entertainment business especially so if it needs to get more bums on seats live and on tv/radio across the world.

Therefore when I pay my hard earned cash for a days play of 90 overs in six hours, that’s what I expect! Not 86 in six and a half hours! What would the public say if the RSC or the NT put on a play or event which they didn’t complete even when they ran over time! Imagine the next time you go to the cinema or a concert that the film finishes before the end or a singer stops half way through their final song/set? Would anyone be happy? Would you want some cash back? But, with cricket it’s ok? Imagine a premier league game or a Six Nations game stopping short? Happy punters? Think not.

Today we had the farce of England’s two ‘premier’ fast bowlers taking 11 minutes between them to bowl two overs – 12 balls? We had field changes…personnel not places, practice bowling and endless committee meetings to decide what to do next! I pay my cash to watch cricket not committee meetings. And to add insult, the Indian batsmen who were only slightly joining in, were told to hurry up!

The ICC have been threatening to do something about this for some time…a vague threat of financial penalties but none has ever been levied! The idea of a stop clock is being considered but let me suggest the following as a cure. The day is supposed to be 90 overs and played over three sessions of two hours each – the break being for feeding the players. So, if they can’t finish each session of 30 overs on time, then they keep playing until they do! If that means lunch is 10 minutes instead of 40 or tea five instead of 20, then so be it! Hitting players were it hurts…teams march on their stomachs too, then they won’t do it more than once!

Management theory about meetings comes into play here – I used to chair weekly team meetings many years ago. Each went on for hours and then I read of the concept of standing meetings – no furniture whatsoever – two hour meetings were done in 25 minutes! And when we went back to seated meetings they never lasted long again! Cricketers will suffer once…then never again!

Then we had the sight of captaincy in chaos! At one stage Buttler, Stokes, Bairstow, Anderson and Broad were individually acting as captains and Joe let them! The rumblings in the Pavilion were that he needs to get a grip! At the moment he’s a ‘Plan A’ captain (Cook for all his batting brilliance was also a Plan A captain). What I mean is that if the first plan doesn’t work, then there’s no Plan B. Smith (for all his management faults), Williamson and Kohli are all Plan B and C captains…Joe needs to learn and step up.

So to the best of times…whilst it’s sad to see Cook retire (and it comes to us all), and people are asking ‘why?’ as to ‘why haven’t you?’, the pure outpouring of respect, love and sheer admiration for the man and his commitment, skills and tenacity, and possibly sheep farming, manifested itself in the Oval standing to a man (and woman and child) to applaud him all the way to the wicket and more! Grown men welling up, lips trembling…very un-British but the best of times…and rewarded with an unbeaten 46.

And finally, perhaps following my blog on Friday principals have replaced principles in advertising…but it begs the question- how is it that they have time to put it right, but not time to do it right first time. Or have I drifted into the over rate debate again?

But the best outweighs the worst!

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