George Dobell, on Cricinfo:
This England environment, in recent times, has a record of ruining players. A confused Steven Finn has regressed, an over-used Swann has retired, an exhausted Jonathan Trott has taken time out and the loss of form of the likes of Cook and Joe Root suggests that the schedule is part of an unsustainable business plan that risks running the greatest assets of all: the players.
The article is about Kevin Pietersen of course, which is why he doesn’t mention him – but he does oddly omit any mention of Andrew Strauss, who went from world beating captain to disgraced outsider all in less than 18 months.
And so what has happened to this England – this machine, this juggernaut – that created such a poisonous environment?
Nothing all that out of the ordinary, actually – at least in my opinion. Sure, they hit a bad patch of form – a bad patch greatly exaggerated because it was against the old enemy on cricket’s biggest stage – but this is not their first bad patch since reaching what most would see as the pinnacle of recent years: beating Australia in the fifth Test of the 2010-11 Ashes at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
In fact, it’s their third since the SCG Test. I even plotted it out for us all to see:
With each bad patch came a series of knee jerk reactions from the ECB (Eoin Morgen’s last Test for England was against Pakistan in Dubai and Andrew Strauss’s lest Test for England was against South Africa at Lord’s – to name just two).
And now they are dismissing Pietersen.
Again, from Dobell:
It is increasingly hard to avoid the conclusion that it is the institution at fault, not the individuals.
I cannot agree more.
The ECB, through mismanagement, and just since 2011, has ruined the careers of a half dozen of the greatest English cricketers of the last 50 years.
But a caveat:
As seen in the graphic above, each reaction from the ECB was followed by a period of relative success at the Test level – that cannot be disputed. And so maybe, despite what we all may think, the ECB upper management knows what they are doing better than the armchair journos, as they have the results on the pitch to back them up.
But probably not.