OPINION: England Need Radical Change After Years Of Net Loss

With South Africa winning the 2nd T20, that series now stands at 1-1; and with van Niekerk in the form she’s in, you’d be a fool to bet against the Women Proteas taking the silverware in the decider on Sunday.

There is little doubt that South Africa continue to improve, and I stand by my predictions that (1) they are a very good bet to reach the 2017 World Cup final, and (2) Dane van Niekerk will be the best player in the world in her generation… Meg Lanning or no Meg Lanning!

South Africa’s success has been generally attributed to the impact of increasing professionalism, with most of the team now on semi-pro contracts. But it is also the case that they seem to have been blessed with some very good young players – not just van Niekerk, but Suné Luus, for example – a leg-spinner whose action is so smooth you have to wonder if she actually has a shoulder… or does her arm just rotate in a large spoonful of treacle?

Meanwhile England have… Tammy Beaumont – over 50 internationals, with a highest score of 44 and an average just-about scraping into double-figures.

Let there be no doubt that we consider “TB” a very, very good county player. If she were a man, she would have had a solid career at a middling First Class county… a Notts or a Somerset… with a benefit year at the end of it, followed by a comfortable retirement, perhaps in a coaching position at a minor public school… doubtless earning a lot more that she does now as a centrally contracted England professional.

But one thing she probably wouldn’t have done is played for England.

So you have to ask what Mark Robinson saw that persuaded him to select her in his squad for the World T20?

Well.. in fact… you don’t have to ask, because we know – he saw her in the nets at Loughborough. And yet it is increasingly clear to everyone who has followed the game for a number of years (and to be fair to Robinson, he’s been very honest that he hasn’t…) that the nets at Loughborough just aren’t walking the walk.

Ask yourself this: which England players have got better over the past two years, since they holed-up at Loughborough as “full time pros”?

(With apologies to Private Eye…)

  1. Heather Knight.
  2. Er…
  3. That’s it!

And even in the case of (1) we suspect this has got a lot to do with the two winters she has spent out in Australia, under the tutelage of the excellent Julia Price at Tasmania Roar / Hobart Hurricanes.

It is hard not to think that England stand in sharp contrast to South Africa’s bright, young future – an aging squad, at least one of whom will almost certainly never play international cricket again; and a very shallow pipeline, which leaves us turning back to players who have already shown that they don’t have quite what it takes at this level.

If Mark Robinson didn’t know it then, we imagine he’s realising it now: there is a vast gulf between English domestic cricket and the international game, and players who are very good at county, and look classy in the nets against a bowling machine they know better than the back of their own hand, can be found-out awfully quickly in the heat of international battle.

When we first met Robinson back in November, he told the assembled press corps that England didn’t need radical change. Perhaps he was just being polite to the old regime? Perhaps not? But when Robinson said that, the editor and I glanced at each other, both thinking the same thing – if we are going to compete for world cups, radical change over the longer term is really now the only option we’ve got!

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10 thoughts on “OPINION: England Need Radical Change After Years Of Net Loss

  1. For so many years the ECB made a lot of noise the media about the advances provided in the Academy and coaching facilities for women’s cricket.

    Now when its limitations and results (or lack thereof) have been laid bare for all to see. We hear nothing but how the WCSL will provide a pinnacle for a structure that needs a complete overhaul if England 2017 and beyond is to be competitive.

    The silence is deafening.

    Mr Robinson has limited resources to work with but the world cup and summer series could be a familiar story for fans of England women’s cricket.

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  2. Elwiss, Wyatt, Jones, Sciver and Farrant need backing and given defined roles within the side and told to express themselves and play their natural games. 4 positive batsmen in that group that can take the game to the oppo and have the ability to score above a run a ball.

    Greenway in my book isn’t contributing enough on a regular basis for some one with over 100 caps and its time to give the younger players the opportunity and responsibility.

    Time also for a change of captaincy with some fresh ideas. Lottie obviously still worth her place in the side with the bat but I would like to see Knight take the reins in all formats.

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  3. The thing that p*sses me off most about the current situation is not that England lose matches (that’s sport) or that players might not be up to international standard (blame the coaches, blame the selectors for picking them, the players just try their best) but the way the ECB treat the relatively small number of avid followers as complete muppets. It’s really an insult to our knowledge of the game to keep trotting out the same old mantra about England having strength in depth. Please Connie, if nothing else and if only for my sanity, will you commit to resigning if you ever come out that load of clap-trap again. Instead of media spin I think we would like to see some sort of strategy to improve England (and the WCSL with so few matches, is yet another smoke screen being put up there as the solution to everything). Syd is brave and to be commended for sticking his neck out on this (it’s easy for me to say what I think because the players don’t know me – in fact nobody does – so I’m just an anonymous ranter but not so Syd).

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  4. Syd states “Ask yourself this: which England players have got better over the past two years”. Perhaps Syd has been through the books or perhaps its his insight, either way here are the facts:-

    Compare end of 2013 with end of 2015 (certain players omitted due to too few innings eg Jones with only 2 innings and Elwiss with none):-

    T20 Batting Averages going up:-
    Edwards 30.84 to 32.69
    Gunn 15.28 to 15.56
    Knight 6.56 to 14.31
    Winfield 14.33 to 17.00

    T20 Batting Averages going down:-
    Sciver 21.71 to 18.42
    Wyatt 14.73 to 12.56
    Beaumont 10.25 to 8.31
    Taylor 30.98 to 29.59
    Greenway 25.59 to 25.26

    T20 Batting Scoring Rate going up:-
    Knight 81.94 to 103.15
    Winfield 89.58 to 92.25

    T20 Batting Scoring Rate going down:-
    Edwards 107.25 to 106.13
    Gunn 102.52 to 101.27
    Sciver 95.60 to 94.09
    Wyatt 105.22 to 102.55
    Beaumont 71.10 to 66.17
    Taylor 110.81 to 108.21
    Greenway 98.91 to 96.50

    So its a rosette to Knight and Winfield in T20 – which makes Robinson’s decision to omit Winfield look even more out of touch with reality. Of course reality mean be the Loughboro nets and I’ve no stats on them.

    I’ll knock out the ODI equivalent and even look at the bowling after I’ve moved a fushia !

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  5. Frankly England will never improve as long as same people are managing its affairs. I will not name them but it is quite evident how the ‘closed circle’ of the ‘enlightened’ is depriving the real talent to prosper in the new environment of globalised women cricket. This administration is making the same mistakes that England men’s game made in 90s. Unless meritocracy is given preference over nepotism and favouritism, we will see many more blogs and comments of similar sentiments in years to come.

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  6. Another “anonymous ranter” here!

    The first time I watched England women was in the 2013 Ashes series which we won, and it was on Sky. At the time I thought it was great, but didn’t really pay much interest again until the 2014 T20 world cup. That competition really got me hooked and I was absolutely gutted we lost that final. Since then I have followed the team a lot more closely and we’ve seen the retirement of some strong and very good players like Brindle and Colvin. However, it’s been some time since England really introduced any new young players. In fact I can’t really remember any. All the players I’ve seen for the first time, it turns out had played for England before.

    In answer to your question “which England players have got better over the past two years?” Apart from Knight, the obvious answer, I would say both Amy Jones and Georgia Elwiss. At least from my, admittedly outside perspective. With what’s happened recently with Winfield and Beaumont, those two may be out of the picture again for a while now at least. Although personally I think Winfield deserved another chance, in T20 at least.

    The question of which England players have improved is interesting because it’s always most likely to be younger players that improve most. And since England have very few really young players, the answer to the question is unsurprising. You have to be in it to win it, as they say, and if we want improvement we need a mix of youth and experience. At the moment, we don’t have too much youth and the experience the players are getting is of losing just as much as winning.

    We just have to brave, take some risks and back our most promising academy players. It may result in a couple of losses to begin with but we need to focus less on short term results and more on long term goals. To me, the Pakistan series next summer is the ideal time to start 2-3 younger players against a team we should have a solid advantage against. The most obvious contenders to bring in for me are Wilson, Farrant and E. Jones but there are others as well. The most striking areas of need are pace bowling, batting solidity (esp. understudies to eventually replace Edwards or Greenway) and more left-handed bowlers and batters to mix up the angles. This trio serve those purposes well.

    I hope for a tidier performance in the field agianst SA tomorrow. Then let’s get the T20 WC out of the way – it’s most important to play in a positive manner even if we don’t make the semis in my view. If the other big five play well, “sixth” place would not be a disgrace. Claire Connor is a but out of touch if she thinks we must get at least fourth. That may well not happen. And I’m not even sure Australia are big favourites either. They’re slow starters to new series (as we see again against NZ) and have not been too impressive as of late; so will have to play well to get through, but if they do get to the final will be most likely to win in my view. If they don’t, anyone else out of South Africa, India, England, New Zealand or West Indies (in that order), could win it.

    Just to say finally that I love this team and am not giving up on them, no matter what happens!

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  8. Re the Clanger’s post, yes I agree absolutely. Listening to Clare Connor’s Sky commentaries drives me up the wall as we get the same old corporate rubbish about how healthy the set up is. In which case why is it the same players being picked regardless of whether they succeed or fail? Why are no players emerging from the domestic game? Why is she used as a commentator anyway – we no longer have Andrew Strauss on men’s commentaries for the very reason he took a senior job at the ECB?

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  9. Met Matt Dwyer yesterday he’s under no illusions as to the size of the task facing him on the women’s and girls pathway, but I still fear the ‘cosy club’ and the ‘unique’ structure will make his job and Mark Robinson’s job harder than it should be.

    Revamping the sport should not involve throwing everything into a Super League when the structure below needs modernising. Following the Aussie template and having academy level investment as part of the ‘Hosting’ franchises may have tested the commitment of investors excessively but it would’ve been a start.

    There are some people in this structure who have a huge ‘conflicts of interest’ starting with CC.

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