England from 526 to 1000.

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Re: England from 526 to 1000.

Postby Arthur Crabtree » Mon Dec 24, 2018 1:11 pm

July 23-26, 1992, Headingley. England beat Pakistan by six wickets.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/1648 ... gland-1992

Under Graham Gooch's captaincy England began to win the series that didn't require heroic legend to achieve, beating India in the UK and New Zealand away and (post Hadlee) at home. But if they had even found a foothold in their struggles with West Indies, one side got under their skin like no other, and it wasn't Australia. For some time Pakistan had been the second best side in the world, uncontested until the re-emergence of South Africa. But for England under the hardworking, methodical Gooch it felt like Pakistan were beating England with witchcraft.

The sorcery was reverse swing and the England side would remain suspicious of its virtue and provenance until Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram spilled its secret recipe to their county team mates at Glamorgan and Lancashire in the late nineties. It turned upside down what every county pro knew, that you saw the shine off the new ball, and then made hay in the sunshine. A flat pitch was poison for the England seamers, but the Pakistanis were immune. Gooch, Atherton and Stewart would do their hard work, and get to 150-1, and then the sky would fall in.

The 1992 Pakistan team wasn't quite as impressive as the one that toured in 1987 under Imran Khan (who was replaced by Aaqib Javed), but it was still very strong. And after decent starts from the top order, England collapsed to go 1-0 down at Lord's. So the Leeds groundstaff gave Gooch another pitch to order at Headingley. A year on from the win there against the West Indies, England picked four line and length merchants and dropped Devon Malcolm. This was the era of the Headingley specialist; in came Neil Mallender on debut, Tim Munton and Derek Pringle to join Chris Lewis. Typical of England's selection of the time, it was the same plan but three quarters of a new attack from the previous year.

This Headingley foursome bowled out Pakistan for 197 on a sporty pitch. What pain would Waqar and Wasim exact in revenge? Atherton and Gooch saw off the new ball well as they so often did, and then Atherton got out after doing his primary task, as was also common. But Gooch kept on batting, against new ball and old. It was another seven hour knock to set alongside his classic versus the West Indies in '91. England eventually lost their last eight wickets for 28 runs, as was their destiny, but Gooch's 135, supported by Robin Smith's 42, had already won the match.

Neil Mallender bagged 5-50 in the second innings to give him eight in the match. The target of 99 England were set in the last innings was not without hazard, but Gooch's 37 and David Gower's 31* saw them home. Yes, David Gower! Such was the muddled story of English cricket under Ted Dexter, Gower was back again. Gower finally retired from the game after the defeat in the last Test at the Oval, a ground which suited the Pakistan team much more than Headingley. Mallender was retained there but never featured again and today stands as an umpire with a Test bowling average of 21.5. Strange times. It all added up to a series defeat, but the Headingley Test was still a thrilling win against a great side and perpetuated the fragile myth that there there was a formula for England to beat anyone. In 1992 Headingley seemed to be English cricket's Goldilocks pitch.
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Re: England from 526 to 1000.

Postby Arthur Crabtree » Tue Dec 25, 2018 11:48 am

Next time, the deadest dead rubber victory in history.
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Re: England from 526 to 1000.

Postby Arthur Crabtree » Wed Jan 23, 2019 12:05 pm

August 19-23 1993, The Oval. England beat Australia by 161 runs.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/1643 ... eland-1993

English cricket in the 1990s was the archetypal drunk at the bar with a thousand hard luck stories. If only things were different, then... things would be different. If I didn't have bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all. Often these misfortunes were badly timed injuries to key players, usually Darren Gough and Angus Fraser, culminating in the 2002-3 Ashes tour when very nearly the whole squad got injured, plus all the replacements.

In the Ashes of 1993, those hard luck tales are the first incidents that come to mind. Atherton getting run out on 99... Gooch out handling the ball... Mark Lathwell's debut... the Gatting ball which defied the laws of Newtonian physics. That debut ball in Ashes cricket by Shane Warne, the ball of the century, is what we remember the 1993 series for. It certainly wasn't for a close and exciting contest. England went into the Ashes that year having lost every match of their winter tour: 3-0 in India, and a single Test in Sri Lanka. By the final appointment with Australia at The Oval, England were 4-0 down and the Ashes had been lost a month ago. Only a draw in Nottingham stood between England and a potential (baggy) greenwash under the pitiless squint of the magnificent Aussie captain Allan Border. Their press began provocative talk of reducing the Ashes from five or six Tests to three.

A less partial observer would have noted that Australia suffered greatly from injuries to pace bowlers themselves that year. At Lord's, Steve Waugh took the new ball (with Merv Hughes who was indomitable throughout) and Mark Waugh was the third seamer! The Australians won by an innings and 62 runs. Australia were of course far too good, and with Shane Warne in the side the Ashes was even less of a contest. Yet, in this decade, English cricket would usually have its day, typically in a game with the series long gone. And so it was at the Oval in the summer of 1993.

At Leeds that year, England had fielded their all pace Headingley attack (including Mark Ilott and Martin McCague) and lost by an innings and 148 runs, with the tourists stacking up 653-4 in their only innings. It was enough to see off Graham Gooch, who never had the support of Ted Dexter, the Chairman of Selectors. The dead rubber win at the Oval was to be England's first victory led by replacement captain Mike Atherton. This promised a new beginning under the stewardship of coach Keith Fletcher. England's revival of the early nineties had come back to earth and Micky Stewart was sacked and the hapless Lord Ted resigned. At the Oval, they went back to Devon Malcolm, Steve Watkin and Angus Fraser and won by 161 runs. These three took all twenty wickets. Fraser seized eight on his return from a hip injury. Such bad luck with injuries. Mark Ramprakash made a match winning 64, adding crucial runs with the lower order. Oh, what might have been.

For good and mainly for bad, the England side of the nineties had now assembled around their new captain, Iron Mike. Hussain, Stewart, Hick, Ramprakash, Caddick, Fraser. Phil Tufnell was in the twelve. Thorpe was injured. A year later Gough would be selected. I wonder what might have been if they hadn't been gathered under the blundering care of the amateurish Ray Illingworth?
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Re: England from 526 to 1000.

Postby Arthur Crabtree » Tue Jan 29, 2019 9:33 am

August 18-21 1994 at The Oval. England beat South Africa by 8 wickets.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/1634 ... gland-1994

Devon Malcom might have been a fast bowling great. He had superb action that Allan Donald would refer to when stripping down and rebuilding his delivery. He could angle the ball into the batter, cramping them for room, and he could swing it away with that beautiful, muscular gather and release. And of course, he had pace like fire. Ex players in commentary boxes around the world will go into a rueful daydream together when Devon is mentioned. They can laugh about it now, but they can remember the fear. But Malcolm left international cricket with an average of 37.1 and a strike rate of 66. Too many of those hot deliveries passed harmlessly wide of leg or off stump.

It's tempting to wonder how accepted the likeable Malcolm was behind the scenes. The Caribbean born players at that time spoke of not feeling welcome. Ted Dexter when Chairman of Selectors famously called the Jamaican born fast man, Malcolm Devon. England want the skills of the players from overseas, but it seems also that they regret the need. Malcolm was a player who maybe lacked a little confidence. He didn't get it all right all that often, but on one occasion, he did. And he will always be remembered for the Saturday at the Oval in 1994 when he took 9-57.

After a poor 1993, the following year was at least mixed. After going 3-0 in the West Indies, England won in Bridgetown. At that time, any touring team winning in Barbados was scarcely credible. In most years, Alec Stewart and Angus Fraser's heroics at the Kensington Oval would be the focus of any review of that twelve months. Now under self styled supremo Ray Illingworth, England beat New Zealand 1-0 at home and then hosted South Africa for the first time since their return to international cricket, before heading off for another disappointing Ashes tour. England went to the Oval 1-0 down against a very strong South Africa (who had drawn home and away with Australia) after losing at Lord's by 356 runs. Where Mike Atherton was charged with tampering with the ball, a misdemeanour which dominated the talk of the rest of the summer. England recovered to draw well on a flat Headingley pitch. But the frustration of watching a losing side was deepened by the knowledge that this team had bent the rules until they splintered.

England again went to the Oval with a four man pace attack: Malcolm, Defreitas, Gough and, playing his only Test, Joey Benjamin who took four wickets in the first innings and was destined to retire with a Test bowling average of 20. The pitch was hard and fast and wasn't going to last the five days. It was a good toss for South Africa to win and bat first. Typically South Africa scored most of their runs in the lower order, with Brian McMillan and Dave Richardson two of the great seven-eight bats ever in adversity. They saw South Africa to 332 all out from 136-5, with Jonty Rhodes retired hurt after being hit by Malcolm on the helmet. England conceded a lead of 29. Last out was Devon Malcolm who was at least equal with Phil Tufnell as the worst batter to represent England in the last fifty years, but who had been bounced by the visitors. And he left the field with a threat and a promise: 'You guys are history'.

Malcolm's destruction of the South African batting was reminiscent of Bob Willis' bowling at Headingley in 1981. The match situation wasn't as tight, but there is something thrilling about seeing a fast bowler hunting for wickets and shooting out a batting order in a spell. South Africa were 1-3 inside four overs and wounded. Daryl Cullinan repaired this a little with Brian MacMillan, before going to Gough, the only batter to escape Malcolm's revenge. England needed a potentially hazardous 204 to win which they scored off only 35 overs and with remarkably little fuss. But it is Devon's bowling that everyone remembers the Test for. It was a release after a troubled series, and gratifying that a genuine good guy should have such a great day to take away from his time in the game.
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Re: England from 526 to 1000.

Postby Arthur Crabtree » Tue Jan 29, 2019 9:38 am

Next on 526-1000, our only draw.
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Re: England from 526 to 1000.

Postby sussexpob » Tue Jan 29, 2019 10:07 am

I remember when Malcolm transferred to Northants around the late 90s, he came to Sussex for a OD game, and a few people were making comments that he must be finished now he was in his late 30s, and that they were suprised Northants had signed him on such a long deal. Then, as the innings gap came and we were strolling around the outfield, he came on with the keeper to warm up, and me and my old man went over to watch. He then proceeded to launch a series of thunderbolts at the keeper, even off a short run up. Can remember everyone watching being a bit stunned by it.

He had that raw pace that, when channeled correctly, was a rare asset. But I dont think he was ever much of a player who had a radar. Its debatable if he was ever a test class bowler, or where he was just one of those capable of a match winning spell. I watched the highlights of the above legendary spell a while back, and seem to remember the South Africa's gifted him wickets from a few poor balls.
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Re: England from 526 to 1000.

Postby Arthur Crabtree » Tue Jan 29, 2019 10:25 am

Remember Darren Gough's testimonial when a number of pace bowlers bowled against a speedo and Malcolm, who had been retired for a few years was still considerably the quickest.

I think Devon played prior to the speedo. Craig White is remembered as the fastest clocked England bowler, but if Devon was quicker than him, maybe he touched 100mph at his peak. White bowled some balls at 98.
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Re: England from 526 to 1000.

Postby sussexpob » Tue Jan 29, 2019 10:35 am

Arthur Crabtree wrote:For good and mainly for bad, the England side of the nineties had now assembled around their new captain, Iron Mike. Hussain, Stewart, Hick, Ramprakash, Caddick, Fraser. Phil Tufnell was in the twelve. Thorpe was injured. A year later Gough would be selected. I wonder what might have been if they hadn't been gathered under the blundering care of the amateurish Ray Illingworth?


I dont personally think of this era as a lost opportunity for English cricket. If Ray was amateur hour, then he was probably more representative of this epoch of county cricket, than being a person wrongly elevated from a terrifically professional system. I think back to some of the bowlers England capped in the 1990s. Ormond, Fraser, McCague, Tim Munton.... these were guys who could barely get past their run ups they were so unfit. Its not really a great surprise Fraser spent most of his career injured, he never looked fit. At times he looked like he almost fell into his delivery stride through sheer exhaustion. Darren Gough could have lost a few pounds too.

People really look at the stats coming from county cricket in the 1990s and assume that these players must have been great, and that they simply didnt live up to it through some mentality issues. I dont really agree with that, I think England produced very little through the decade which suggested it could elevate, from a technical level. Hick smashed runs for run, but he was incredibly bottom hand dominant, and that was always a problem for him. Ramps I always thought had that slight pause at the top of his backlift which, when he was on top form meant he had lovely control of the ball, but especially against quicker pacer and better movement, became a hindrance. It always felt he was slightly hurried in bringing the bat down, and that it was disjointed and not a fluid motion..... of course, when he picked up the ball perfectly, it looked elegant. Probably the most elegant in his career.

I was never convinced Atherton had a technique of any sorts. He was Cook on steroids, all the mental grit you need, nothing else. He had the tuck off the pads, the square drive, and then the defensive. Good quality bowlers who had patience at him for breakfast. Hussain was always had balance issues to full bowling, tended to over commit his weight and drive on the up. Stewart and Thorpe had more compact techniques, and did better. Stewart maybe had a weakness vs spin, but he worked hard to correct the initial trigger movement of planting his feet.

I thought Caddick is a major "what could have been". Not sure there are many other players who I feel that with. The main annoyance was England never picked Ali Brown in a test, I thought when I seen him bat in counties, he had the makings of a very class player. And Mark Butcher I thought never reached his full potential. Well actually, he maybe did because I think he ended up doing pretty well under the Fletcher years, but the start of his career was a disaster. Thought he had a lovely technique.
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Re: England from 526 to 1000.

Postby sussexpob » Tue Jan 29, 2019 10:45 am

Arthur Crabtree wrote:Remember Darren Gough's testimonial when a number of pace bowlers bowled against a speedo and Malcolm, who had been retired for a few years was still considerably the quickest.

I think Devon played prior to the speedo. Craig White is remembered as the fastest clocked England bowler, but if Devon was quicker than him, maybe he touched 100mph at his peak. White bowled some balls at 98.


Never really sure where White managed to get that pace from. He went up to about 2000ish being a pretty middle of the road fast-medium bowler, then he got the chance under Fletcher, and all of a sudden was bowling lightening quick from that slingy action. The explanation I have seen given was he apparently collapsed on a night out in Scarborough, and went through lots of medical testing that never uncovered why he suddenly blacked out. He was supposed to be convinced that he had something majorly wrong with him, so played like every game would be his last. This included throwing himself into balls without care for his long term welfare.

White actually showed true moments of quality after he revived his career, but sadly it never really channeled itself into sustained success. Seem to remember he once bowled one of the best deliveries by memory I have seen; a vicious reverse swing ball above the 90s to Brian Lara in what must have been the 2000 series. Left the best batsman of all time wondering what had just happened.

I can believe the point about Malcolm. As I said, watching him bowl from right up close, it looked unbelievably quick. I know Steve Waugh has remarked before that Malcolm struck fear into the Aussie hearts with his pace.
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Re: England from 526 to 1000.

Postby sussexpob » Tue Jan 29, 2019 10:50 am

Cant sadly find a video of the White ball.... scorecard indicates it was at Oval. It was actually a golden duck for Lara.
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Re: England from 526 to 1000.

Postby Arthur Crabtree » Tue Jan 29, 2019 1:08 pm

I remember all the England fast bowlers, Caddick, Gough, Cork and White reverse swinging the ball prodigiously and very late in that series.

I'm unconvinced about the argument about Illingworth and the CC if only because Fletcher took over the same team (post David Lloyd) and transformed it, beating the WI for the first time in decades and winning in Sri Lanka and Pakistan the next winter. Even not being completely hapless in India the next winter. And then he and Marsh building a new team from the CC which won in SA etc before regaining the Ashes.

Athers was pretty damning about Illingworth in his autobiography (as he was about Gower at the other end of his career for the same reason) and his laissez faire amateurism in an era of hard preparation. At the very least Illingworth put pressure on his players by leaving them to prepare themselves, even to the point of procuring their own facilities. And as you say, the physical preparation wasn't good, but even Duncan couldn't get Gough down to a proper weight.
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Re: England from 526 to 1000.

Postby sussexpob » Tue Jan 29, 2019 2:18 pm

Hick played 10 tests under Fletcher, he averaged 18 (most are consecutive). Ramprakash played 14 tests, again mostly consecutive judging on the time frame (isolated to early 2000-to end of English summer), he averaged 25. Fletcher couldnt get these players working it, and I am pretty sure this is around the time Ramprakash had those crazy county seasons where he averaged Bradmanesque levels. Atherton and Hussain remained consistent (within a decimal point of their career averages).

I am not really sure any of the batsman provide a compelling case for saying Fletcher really changed them. Fletcher brought in new blood, mainly because he was good at seeing through the numbers and finding players who had talent, but maybe had underachieved. He doesnt seem to have been able to turn any of the batting blood in the team into anything functional.

As for the bowlers, Gough averages 1 run a wicket better under Fletcher. Considering his numbers under Illingworth are held back by the fact he was out pretty much for a year injured, and his comeback tests he took a few games to get up to speed, its not really that noticeably better. Caddick averaged 23 a wicket under Stewart, 27 a wicket under Atherton (pre Fletcher) and 29 with Hussain (this stat shocked me).

I am not sure anyone of the existing players statistically can be proved to have been made better by Fletcher.
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Re: England from 526 to 1000.

Postby sussexpob » Tue Jan 29, 2019 2:21 pm

Thats not a slight on Fletcher, as I think he made changes to the system that professionalized the game through the expectation of the national team. Central contracts are a massive example of why you cant really compare what was at the disposal of both coaches.

I tend to see it as a scenario where the 1990s had to happen, to wake up a system completely resistant to change. Much like in the last few years, where relative success seems to have excused the ECB into fading back to an old boys network affair.
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Re: England from 526 to 1000.

Postby Arthur Crabtree » Tue Jan 29, 2019 2:25 pm

Thorpe I think did much better under Fletcher. I think Athers was suffering badly with his back towards the end, so keeping up with his career record wasn't a bad outcome. I think Fletcher discarded Ramps and Hick (and Tuffers) fairly quickly but got plenty out of Stewart once deciding he was a batter-keeper (this may not have meant an improvement of his average as he was more prolific without the gloves). Caddick and Gough were better under Duncan.

Clearly though England did better under Fletcher, even if only as a collective. They were bottom of the pile before he took over.
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Re: England from 526 to 1000.

Postby Arthur Crabtree » Tue Jan 29, 2019 2:29 pm

Atherton says that Illingworth devised the role of a soccer style supremo (something that was often talked about during his job at the BBC) and so got rid of people who used to support the side off the field. But then didn't bother doing the job himself. They'd always find him on tours by the pool. Consequently, the senior players were doing mundane tour managers jobs.
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