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November 2008
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Miles Jupp: Plans? England don’t need plans….

November 20th, 2008 by Miles Jupp in England, England in India, One-day cricket and tagged , , , , , , ,

There’s an exchange in Blackadder Goes Forth when General Melchett is roaring at Captain Blackadder about all of Britain’s battle plans being leaked to the Germans:

Melchett: “You look surprised, Blackadder.”

Blackadder: “I certainly am, Sir. I didn’t realise we had any battle plans.”

I’m not suggesting that Peter Moores and Kevin Pietersen share a great deal in common with either of these comic characters but there does seem to be more than a whiff of confusion about quite what England should be attempting to do in this one-day series.

Thanks to the BCCI’s strange scheduling decisions and an unwillingness to acknowledge when the sun sets, England were left literally in the dark at the end of this game – yet one suspects they might have been able to achieve this without any outside help.

I wrongly imagined that this seven-match series would drag on and on and on but it is racing by. Every time I’ve turned on the radio this week there are tales of yet another bashing and all of a sudden seven one-dayers doesn’t feel like such an absurd length. In fact, it doesn’t feel like enough games.

It looks as though we might be slowly selecting our best side over the course of the whole series, taking our time to tinker gently with things, rather than risking shockwaves through the touring party by making any big changes. We may arrive at a well-chosen team with a sensible batting order just in time to put on a competent display in the final game at Delhi and then take that momentum with us into the Test series.

It can’t be the case that we don’t have any plans, it’s just hard to guess what they might be – especially when most questions fired at the management during press conferences are fielded with a vague promise to improve on, or at least look, at “certain areas”.

KP continues to be impressive and thoughtful in his post-match interviews. “We need to score more centuries,” he said today. They’ve scored two and we haven’t scored any.” Then he added that since England have been playing one day-internationals against India in India, we had scored very few hundreds: “It’s either six or nine, I can’t quite remember.” That’s quite a sweet confusion to find him in, as if he’d written the correct number on a post-it note on his fridge, Jessica had knocked it off taking out a carton of soya milk, and put it back the wrong way up. (It’s six.)

He also rightly pointed out that we are getting better, because the results are getting closer. This is a simple point but a correct one. But while some of England’s changes today did make a difference, there’s no way it will be the same XI at Bangalore. I can’t imagine Harmison will stay out of the team long or KP’s energy to convince him to return will be wasted.

It could be that KP’s sense of drama is underpinning all of this. There’s been too many series in which the balance of power has constantly swung back and forth between the contestants. What England want now is to make a major comeback as seen in duff but heart-warming sports movies. And by ensuring that we’re three down and with four to play, they have set this up perfectly.

Miles Jupp is an actor, comedian and cricket fan

Posted in England, England in India, One-day cricket | No Comments »

Matt Prior: The Triumphs And Tribulations Of England’s Wicketkeeper (at time of writing)

November 20th, 2008 by Alan Tyers in Alan Tyers, England, England in India, One-day cricket

They’ve changed my role in the team but it’s nothing personal. Instead of my shouting, which Mooresy says is one of my biggest assets, they want me to focus more on chirping.

In these Indian conditions you have to be a little bit more clever, wait for your opportunities. For instance, in England, I’d just shout: “BOWLING!” after every delivery, or: “SORRY, I DIDN’T SEE IT IN THE LIGHTS.”

But here, I’ll adapt, try and unsettle the batsman. I’ll say: “Bowling… Or is it?” or maybe get inside the opponent’s mental space area by whispering: “I could have caught that if I wanted” in a haunting falsetto.

All good keepers know exactly the right thing to say to each batsman. Today for instance, I said to Yuvraj: “What do you keep winning man-of-the-match for? You can’t even ride those motorbikes.” I could tell it got him thinking, because he was shaking his head in disbelief. He didn’t score a boundary for the rest of the over, apart from a four.

It’s almost like being a psychiatrist really, except that you are not trying to interpret unconscious behaviour as the manifestation of sublimated subconscious wants or traumas, just trying to get up in their grille if the ball’s doing a bit outside off. I’ll leave the head-shrinking to Snapey and his ‘Jung And Malibu Consultation Sessions’. It’s fascinating stuff and if you want to learn a bit about the mental side of the game, get yourself down to the pool bar area at 6pm of an evening (bring own mixers).

It was disappointing to lose today on the Duckworth/Lewis, but you can’t legislate for everything, as Mooresy quite rightly says. Who would have thought it would get dark at the same time two days in a row? But there are a lot of positives for us to take from the performance: the fact that Yuvraj didn’t get a motorbike, to name but one.

England are in the fortunate position at the moment of having several keepers who can contribute things other than just runs and catches and stumpings. Timmy’s got his guitar, I’ve got my mental disintegration as mentioned above, Phil Mustard’s knocking on the door with his René from ‘Allo ‘Allo. You throw in Foster and Read – who are admittedly both a bit one-dimensional (OBSESSED with catching!) – and it must be a nice selection headache to have. I can tell, as Mooresy is often rubbing his temples after wickie practice.

Matt Prior was ‘chirping’ to Alan Tyers

Posted in Alan Tyers, England, England in India, One-day cricket | 2 Comments »

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