Now, as the season begins in England, it is mocked as the worst team in the world, writes Ted Corbett
English cricket is in a tizzy again, this time as authority wrestles with a decision about the next coach. Interviews take place in a couple of weeks and then those same head men go into another spin as they try to decide on a new Test captain.
My own bet is that Ashley Giles will be named coach — indeed there are rumours that he has already been appointed — and that Alastair Cook will continue to lead the side.
It will save a lot of heartache, both seem to want the job and they will calculate that the team cannot play any worse than it has this winter, culminating in yet another worst of all time when it lost to the Netherlands in the World T20 by a record margin.
I could make excuses by saying it was short of its best players, it was the end of the tour and you could almost hear its jet plane warming up for take-off. If you want an example of the confusion that will dominate the next two weeks how about this: one bookmaker makes Giles a short-odds favourite because, he says, Giles is the only coach who wants the job. Yet the short list will contain at least four names.
It might be interesting at this point to get a few words from Duncan Fletcher who coached England until five years ago, and is likely to be India’s winning coach when the T20 tournament ends.
He is looking forward to returning to England in late summer when India will probably win again just to rub in the lesson that he was the best England coach to date.
I also believe that if a place in the semifinals had been riding on the Dutch match England would have put up a sterner fight. It was not the defeat that rankled but the collapse and the sight of those nice guys from Amsterdam and Antwerp clog dancing their way to happiness.
I hope the bigwigs from the ECB sat in front of their 48-inch television sets back home thinking “This must never happen again”. I suspect they were muttering “Giles is very affable” and “Cook has impeccable manners” and preparing to vote them back into office in a flash. Giles is affable and swears he is tough enough for international sport but I wonder. Throughout the tournament in Bangladesh I kept watching Paul Collingwood who looks as though he wants to offer someone out to fight every minute of the day — but he can also be affable — and wondering if he might not be just what is needed. After all it is only seven months since England was Ashes winner 3-0 and riding near the top of the waves. Now, as the season begins in England, it is mocked as the worst in the world, after a winter spent congratulating other teams.Questions galore
What went wrong? How could any side go into such a mighty slide? Who can put it right? Here is a revolutionary thought. Make Collingwood the coach; make Kevin Pietersen the captain. Instead we will shortly hear just why it was necessary to sack Pietersen. Where will that get us?
Tell KP that he has been at least partly responsible for the descent from top to bottom and that he ought to put it right. Tell Collingwood to forget Mr. Nice Guy, to pick his own side — in his own image — and that he has two years to restore England’s mojo. Between them they might just surprise everyone in confused, wobbly English cricket and at least bring back the pride to the side that has forgotten how to win.