What kind of sick joke is this? Whilst the hormone laden, sweat ridden, voice breaking members of my class are on half term, I’m still stuck in the classroom. Why? Oh because I’m such a quality teacher, I’ve been forced into detention duty. That’s right some schools have detention in the holidays. Mind you these kids deserve it. That’s because they have names like Wood, Bairstow and Stoneman. Yep welcome to hell England. What’s that Ben? Think I’m going to be easy on you like that pathetic coach Mr Bayliss? Not a chance! So pull your socks up, place those weedy hands on the desk and for some woodwork, food tech, history and more.
‘Bang, bang, bang.’ See that boys? The way I’m hammering this piece of wood, using my massive mallet? ‘Crash!’ And there it breaks in half. You know what that symbolises? Your utter hammering by the Pakistan cricket team. All it takes is three blows and you break, each playing for themselves; a team made up of tiny fragments of wood. Embarrassing doesn’t even cut it. A splinter will though by the way, so do be careful cleaning up that mess.
In losing the first test of the English summer in twenty three years by such a horrendous margin reality must sink in. After a winter where the lumberjacks of Oz and New Zealand cut down our trees, ate us for lunch and shat us out on the lavatory, England fans were hoping for a new dawn. They had suffered the ignominy of not winning in seven tests; surely the first test at Lord’s in English conditions, would offer a glorious comeback?
Er, no. In what will go down as one of the worst displays of the past decade, you guys were shite. First of all choosing to bat Rooty; what were you thinking? You should’ve exploited the overhead conditions utilising two of the best bowlers in English conditions ever. You also put way too much faith in a batting unit where it is the norm to be 100-4. Guess what happened? We were 100-4 just after lunch! Shock.
In woodwork accuracy is vital because otherwise accidents will happen. Accidents like driving at a ball and edging to slip, or swiping a long hop down mid on’s throat. England’s batting was so wild. Fingers were mangled, nails broken and Stoneman dropped the anvil on his toe. There was no discipline, no knuckling down and chipping away. If we asked the England batsmen to craft a sculpture, only Alastair Cook has the patience to slowly, meticulously build a masterpiece. The rest would take a sledgehammer and smash the rock to pieces. This is test match batting for gawd’s sake; patience is a virtue. England had none. Boycs hit the nail on the head when he stated England need to learn to be boring. He should know.
2) Food Technology
I won’t lie to you. I’m beginning to reach my boiling point with you lot. Oh Dawid put that knife down; you’ll probably attempt to run someone out with it, miss and impale a team mate. That’s what this lesson is about; the fielding. In a kitchen health and safety is absolutely crucial. Ignore it and you’ll poison guests, burn yourself or slip on a patch of water. It is important therefore that in cooking you have two things. Firstly, sensible natures; which we’ve established you guys certainly do not possess. Secondly, pair of steady hands, in operating equipment and ensuring things are not contaminated by falling to the floor. Oh wait. You don’t have steady hands either do you?
The catching. Dear lord. Over the past week we witnessed an absolute horror show in the field by England. Five Pakistan catches were shelled like a pea in the first innings. Two by the head chef! Every England fielder had butter fingers, particularly those in the slips, whilst Buttler proved he can only cook wearing oven gloves.
Mind you, even Jonny wearing mitts contrived to spill the turkey tray onto the floor. The one saving grace was that there was no Monty Panesar esque drop, where the cherry bursts through the fingers on the boundary. Otherwise England’s attempts were fruitless. No, Woody you do not get to laugh at my jokes, however hilarious they might be. Take that smirk off your face! Whilst you didn’t slip up in the kitchen, the bowling attempted was rancid, like century old stilton. Some of those pongy decisions… Like attempting to ball short within an hour of play? That cheesed off the members let me tell you. Curses of ‘Edam you’ Wood could be heard from the other side of the kitchen. Now quit being such a Babybel, stop crying and don’t let it grate on you. Next time class don’t melt under the pressure; otherwise expect an even hotter grilling.
Ah the study of the mind. The lesson we’ve learnt this week class is that none of you have anything in there. Tumbleweed drifts across the empty space where thoughts of test match cricket should be. Like Homer in ‘The Simpsons’, clapping toy monkeys reign supreme. The concentration required to defend a cricket ball, stick with basic plans or even field in the same position is non-existent. What hope does test cricket have, when even the players forget the simple basics?
I’d go a step further actually and accuse the England team of being cocky. Facing a Pakistan side who are ranked seventh in world cricket, with only four players appearing at Lord’s previously and a batting unit who still watch the Teletubbies, England were blasé to say the least. There was arrogance about them, a self-righteous feeling which caused them to relax. And Pakistan took full advantage. Coached by Micky Arthur, who himself has beaten England twice at Lord’s the visitors appeared fresher, fitter and fundamentally did the basics well. Their fielding was superb, Abbas and Amir bowled full and the youthful batsmen gave England a lesson in defence.
Four batsmen reached a half century, with Babar Azam looking especially natural at this level. It’s a real shame he was forced into retiring hurt by a brutal Stokes delivery, for with a fractured wrist he will miss the next match. Old guards Azhar and Shafiq provided a platform for younger players such as Shadab Khan to express himself. Along with six of his teammates, Shadab was like a Lord’s virgin coming into this match. After four days of play they’re truly into the groove and will cherish their performance. With another borderline magnificent performance at Headingley, they will live to tell their grandkids about the time they shone a ray of light on England’s material girl ways and preached how to play test match cricket. Like a prayer they’ve taken us there.
A wise baboon once said, ‘Oh yes the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.’ Ed Smith has clearly never seen ‘The Lion King’, for in attempting to change the England side for the next test on Friday he has replaced Mark Stoneman with Keaton Jennings. The former has a test average of 27.68; the latter an average of 24.50. Um. Yeah that obviously makes sense right? Swapping a player who isn’t cut out for test cricket with… a player who isn’t cut out for test cricket. If we thought Stoneman’s timid approach to batting was cowardly, wait until Jennings faces Mohammad Amir on the first morning. He’ll be out third ball mark my words.
Last summer Keaton Jennings was brought in as the eightieth option to open alongside Cook. Facing a stiff South Africa attack of Rabada, Morkel and Philander, Jennings looked as helpless as a fish caught on the end of a rod. Now in a storyline ‘Groundhog Day’ would be proud off, Jennings returns. Yes he has two championship tonnes and a hundred in the Royal London One Day Cup, but why are we returning to him? Keaton had the chance last summer to stake a claim for the Ashes tour; instead we saw the stiffest footwork since Ed Balls was on Strictly. We cannot keep casting back into history; consequently Smith needs to look at untried county players.
Just because Jennings has started the summer with promise does not mean he should get another chance; after all he only averages 34.09 in 102 matches! Furthermore he clearly doesn’t possess the technique or mentality to succeed at the very top. Rather someone who does is his Lancs teammate, currently finding form in the second XI, Haseeb Hameed. Long term he is certainly the answer; rather than Jennings. Until then I reckon we take the advice of a sensible lion to, ‘Run. Run away and never return!’
I may have to be slightly careful with the final lesson, after my incarceration last week. After all the last thing we want is this class of England hooligans to run riot without a sensible teacher. Ah shit. Too late.
Things could go from bad to worse for you lot if the allegations in the recent Al-Jazeera documentary are anything close to the truth. The film alleges that during the test between England and India at Chennai in 2016, three England players fixed their scores. As in, a match fixer gave them money to only score a certain number of runs. Yeah because England are good to enough to deliberately get out on a certain score! Mind you if the score was in single figures… ker-ching.
Alongside England, the Aussies have also been brought into this scandal. Both camps seem baffled by the accusations and adamant they are ‘unsubstantiated.’ Which is probably the case, considering they are alleged by a self-proclaimed crook. You can’t be too careful though and it is quite right the ICC corruption unit are investing with rigour.
No names have been mentioned thank goodness as even false allegations have a nasty way of tainting individuals. But I’d just like to declare for the record, that I am completely innocent. Yep as coach of the school cricket team I never gave an opposition batsman out, for a pack of sausage rolls and a bottle of scrumpy. Ah bollocks. Back to jail I go.
Whilst I go mad in solitary confinement reciting the averages of England’s 2005 Ashes squad, you have plenty of homework. Notably to catch hot potatoes, build a birdhouse and have a Lion King movie night round Ed Smith’s. Oh and practice your batting for f**k’s sake! Class dismissed!