aAccording to reports, the England team took a charter flight to Hobart. Watching them play on the first day at the Bellerive Oval, it seemed as if they had traveled by old sailing bark, arriving, like Abel Tasman, dirty, aching, and dressed on ships, half-hungry six months after picking weevils from biscuits. Damaged, cut, bruised, suffer from strains, aches, collapses, loss of shape and lack of faith. Among the 11 of them, it felt like if you picked the best bits out of each, they could put together one fit, functional and happy cricketer.
The record books show this to be the shortest run the team has ever run in the Ashes, but from the looks of it, it must have started to feel like it had lasted a very long time.
The short jubilation they felt, and everyone else’s felt, after Joe Root’s victory on a grassy, wet, green, and unexpectedly familiar field, and Australia dropping to 12 for three, waned very quickly once Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head launched their brilliant counterattack. England began to fall apart as soon as Root made his first bowling alley. Kris Woks, who was hopelessly lacking in shape and feeling after being dropped from the team, seemed to have forgotten how to do the one thing that was always so natural to him, and he couldn’t settle for a streak or length. Mark Wood couldn’t have done much better.
Then Ole Robinson sprinted off injured right after lunch, and when he got back in, he spent the rest of the day swinging wildly around the field, occasionally throwing the ball under his armpit from the rear. With Ben Stokes unable to run as he entered the game carrying a lateral strain, the only option Root was left with was to bow himself, which England ended up providing 10 overs of partial spins in conditions that were allotted. Made for bowling seam. The result in the logs was supposed to sound encouraging, but instead spoke of a missed opportunity and a missed opportunity.
So, as the day went on, thoughts drifted away from what would happen in this game to the more pressing question of what would happen when it all ended. Fortunately, European Central Bank CEO Tom Harrison was on hand to fill in the details. Harrison gave an interview to the BBC in which he spoke through some of his thoughts for the future. Do you have a desire for more of this? Harrison rarely gives interviews, however, once he does speak, he has an uncanny knack for making you feel like you’ve already heard enough.
Harrison explained that we were actually looking at defeating this last series wrong, and it was really a “great opportunity for us to come together as a game” to “reset the importance of red ball cricket in our domestic schedule” and “reset how we play first-class cricket” in the UK “.
This would be all the more persuasive if Harrison had not spent the past seven years in charge of the same system he now blames for this failure. It would have helped his cause, too, if the biggest hindrance to the recalibration he wanted wasn’t the expensive white ball championship he launched and now scattered in the middle of summer like Dobermans on the couch.
Harrison is also back on another of his recent themes, “The Size of a Cricket,” and again, he’s absolutely right. There is a lot. The question is whether he’s noticed that in large part is due to the fact that he just launched an unnecessary fourth format for the sport. There was another strange irony when he talked about the concrete measure he had taken so far. He said he wrote to Cricket Australia asking them to help set up a system in which English players could play at the Sheffield Shield (they could hardly have first-class cricket in their country, after all). More cricket, then, for the guys he says need to play a little more.
There is a good point here too. If you look with the right eyes, you can see how Labuschagne and Head benefited from playing English county cricket in the way they proceeded around seamstresses of England on a green ground in Hobart. But there are only six sides of a shield, and the competition for places in them is very fierce. Good luck convincing them that they should also help develop young English players. In addition, the current England squad already has a lot of experience in Australian conditions, whether it’s in class cricket, the Big Bash, or in the A-rounds. It’s one of the things the ECB has done right in the past few years.
That’s before you even think about the question of where, exactly, they’ll find time for this on the schedule. Regardless, it’s a good idea, just down the list of things England needs to fix. Maybe they should wait until they touch it up with the players. If they tell too many that they will have to spend more time in Australia, they may end up with a rebellion on their hands. Although it’s funny, listening to Harrison, you wonder if that’s exactly what English cricket needs.