5 Lessons Learned

As you huddle, with the wind whirling a storm outside, how better to pass the time than learning all about what’s gone on this cricketing week? Alright there may be a dozen things you’d rather be doing; from cutting your toenails to disinfecting the lavatory, but hey you’re here now. A satirical cricket article which bears the same reputation as our latest storm; Storm Gareth. Gareth, your mate down the pub or the weedy kid at school who has a fascination with insects. Gareth, you paying attention to me mate? Stop fantasizing about slugs and get ready to learn some cricketing lessons learned. Those creepy crawlies can wait. We can’t.

1) A Game Of Thrones

Winter has come. And gone, with all the icy coldness of Theresa May’s penetrating stare at those traitors in her party. Whilst the swirling catastrophe of Brexit continues to dominate the headlines, the England cricket team arrive home to a desolate country. If Joe Root thought he could escape politics by travelling halfway round the world for five months he is sorely mistaken. Since England first left (escaped) in October, precisely nothing has been achieved in our hallowed halls of government. Unless that is, you include five months of back stabbing, chaotic confusion and nobody having a clue what the actual fuck is going on.

Hang on a minute. That sounds like a popular TV series…

Mind you, as Westminster becomes Westeros, English cricket is liable to their own moments of madness. If this winter has shed light on anything it is the undeniable proof that England will cock up their World Cup campaign. Oh they may go and smack over 400, with Cosmos Jos wrestling over the galaxy with Universe Boss but in the next ODI they’ll burn in the asteroid hurtling inferno of their own stupidity. A drawn 2-2 white ball series against the side ranked ninth in the world is pretty shoddy. Especially when you consider Chris Gayle scored 95% of the Windies runs.

In the final ODI, eight England batsmen were out to bouncers. Clearly suffering from bouts of amnesia, each batsman contrived to be dismissed in carbon copy shots. Like the deaths in Game of Thrones, when one player falls, the other invariably follow suite. A lowest ODI total since 2015. When the pitch offers any variation, England fall to the slaughter.

Favourites for the 2019 World Cup? About as likely as Brexit being sorted by the time the final season of GoT begins…

2) A Clash Of Kings

Recognise the theme? Despite the fact your teacher hasn’t actually seen or read any of the 9.5 IMDB ranked series, he’s going to preach right from the education commandments. To completely bullshit! Hence we turn to the second of George R.R. Martin’s novels, A Clash of Kings; in the understanding it has something to do with cricket…

Oh I’ve got it! Just as kings fight in Game of Thrones, with allies turning on each other in treacherous scenes of blood and gore, so too are there problems within the England ODI camp. Notably the issue of King Jofra. Commanding the kingdom of Exciteros, this upstart will attempt to gain the final spot in England’s World Cup squad. Young, inexperienced but with fearsome potential, Joffra has the opportunity against Pakistan to seize the kingdom of his fellow kings. In this case, King Curran of Brothereros and King Willey of Erecteros. Only two of these three kings will attain their place in the manger of our Lord. The other will fall by the wayside, his gift trampled on the dusty road.

No, no, stop. Pause a moment class; we’ve got a bit confused here. Game of Thrones is being mixed with the birth of Jesus Christ. Completely separate entities. Although mind you throughout the ages belief in God has probably caused more deaths than our TV series. Boom – cutting edge religious/ political satire there!

Anyway… this clash of kings will undoubtedly end in tears for Tom Curran. Offering little against West Indies, Curran must feel uneasy about the upcoming squad announcement. Whereas Willey offers variation, Curran is no different than Plunkett, Wood or Woakes. With Alex Hales and Joe Denly being the reserve batsman that leaves only two spaces left.

Who will Wise Man Eoin Morgan choose? (Crap I’ve done it again!)

3) A Storm Of Swords

Wishing he could challenge Ashley Giles to a storm of swords this week, is fired batting coach Mark Ramprakash. Despite having a contract until after the Ashes series, Director of Cricket Giles has decided now is the time for Ramps to vacate the dressing room. Announcing the news on social media, Ramprakash clearly isn’t in the mood for exiting quietly, even appearing on Tuffers and Vaughan the day his termination occurred. Whilst he was calm, even understanding of the decision made, this must hurt a man who served the ECB for five years. Just like his playing career, it appears Ramps is being wheeled off the ramp in a squeal of haste.

Although, let’s be honest here. England’s batting over the past five years hasn’t exactly improved. An appalling display in the Caribbean saw totals of 77, 246, 187 and 132 as they suffered defeat in the first two tests. Lack of discipline, zero control and aggressive arrogance all contrive to leave journalists and supporters alike in a haze of befuddlement. We understand their desire to play positive cricket, yet it clearly happens at a heavy price. Even last summer, as Virat Kohli’s men were put to the sword, England’s top order functioned about as well as a new born baby attempting GCSE mathematics.

Time and time again a lower order batsman came to the rescue. Be it Buttler, Stokes, Curran or even Woakes. A decent opener is still longed for, with Roy the next in line. Perhaps Mark Ramprakash was always fighting a lost battle as the players under his guidance are all attacking individuals. Can a coach really attempt to alter a player’s game, when it has served him well on the county circuit?

Although telling Keaton Jennings to loosen up a bit would have helped.

4) A Feast For Crows

Moving away from our ‘great’ nation for a lesson, let’s take a quick peek at the New Zealand dining room. Adorning the heavily laden table, lie massive portions of delicious smelling food. Well, delicious if you’re a crow that is. For collapsed on the table are the carcass remains of the Bangladesh cricket team. Meaty and succulent for the New Zealand crows to sink their beaks into. Neil Wagner, Trent Boult, Matt Henry and Tim Southee have all been feasting on these remains this week, as they completely destroyed visiting Bangladesh in a perfect example of pace bowling. With hostility and short pitched balls, Neil Wagner was devastating, attaining 5-45 in the second innings of the second test at Wellington.

On a springy surface, Bangladesh had no answer; catches were skied and stumps splayed. They fell to an innings and 12 run defeat, meaning New Zealand secure series victory and a position as the number two side in Test cricket.

A perch which they thoroughly deserve, with eight wins from their last 11 matches, vanquishing West Indies, England, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh at home and a huge win over Pakistan in the UAE. That win in the energy draining heat of Dubai demonstrated the ability of Kane Williamson’s side. With experienced and clever bowlers, plus a batting unit which is growing in confidence this New Zealand squad are a seriously good unit. Youngsters like Henry Nichols are going from strength to strength, whilst Ross Taylor appears a vision of calm than in years previous. Certainly his attacking 200 off 212 balls swung the match away from Bangladesh.

Sri Lanka, England, Australia and India are to come in 2019. You suspect the crows will be licking their lips with glee.

5) A Dance With Dragons

You’ve reached the final instalment of our cricketing lessons learned for today class and it’s time to get on your feet and dance! For dancing their way to a T20 series win over India, were England Women, with a nail biting final over. Despite having an unassailable 2-0 series lead, securing a whitewash over India would not only provide the women with confidence but vital points in the ICC qualification for the 2021 World Cup.

With India requiring a mere three runs off the final over, Kate Cross channelled her inner dragon. Breathing fire she charged in, bowling three dot balls, before removing Bharati Fulmali and Anuja Patil. Despite a boundary standing between India and victory, Cross held her nerve with one final dot ball and victory was snatched. A truly scale shimmering spectacle. It means England Women move onto a three match ODI series against Sri Lanka, full of fire and brimstone. Their position in the qualification table may currently appear shaky, but if they unfurl their prodigious wings, a flight to the top is extremely possible.

That or it’ll be a performance on Strictly Come Dragon Dancing.

Here end this week’s cricketing lessons learned. Let’s hope you’ve got a fiery belly of laughs to warm your cockles against Storm Gareth. Like the bards of old we’ve taught you our songs of ice and fire, now it’s homework time. Which of course consists of viewing the entire series of Game Of Thrones AND reading the books, all before next week! We can all multi task right? What do you think I’ve been doing whilst penning this drivel? Class dismissed.