One of my cricketing dreams is to witness a truly great England cricketing side in my lifetime, something I have seen in the West Indians in my youth and later on with the Australians but never England, alas. Even though they have had good teams, none have ever gone on to become great ones. To be great, imo, a team needs to consistently beat all the Test playing countries over a period of 2-3 years, including Australia and India in their own back yard. I speak of course of Test cricket, the version that matters more. The shorter version of the game continues to be in the ascendancy, and sadly for we stick in the muds this will likely see off Test cricket as we know it.
Looking over the results in the past year, while England has recently won a series in England against South Africa and West Indies with some fine performances, yet in each series they lost a game due to an all too familiar batting collapse. As for their winter away, they lost comprehensively playing against India and even lost a game against lowly Bangladesh. It has been nice to see West Indies, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh all turn in good performances though, a good thing for the future of Test cricket. Now the season is effectively over, our eyes turn to the Winter Ashes series. There was little surprise in the squad selection. The worry is while England have some very good players: Root and Cook (batting), Anderson and Broad (bowling assuming they are not yet past their sell by date), Ali and Stokes (all-rounders) and a very useful Wicketkeeper-batsman in Bairstow, the main problem is that whilst the other batsmen selected may have earned their place, their batting skills are unproven at the highest level and therefore suspect. If I were to predict a series outcome against the Aussies, I believe the Aussies on home turf will be able to exploit the evident English batting frailty and come out on top. I hope I am wrong (and I usually am).
Looking at the County circuit, I am over the moon my own county, Essex, are not only county champions but they are by a proverbial mile ahead of the rest of the field. Winning 10, drawing 4 and losing 0 of their games is a fantastic result. While some of this upturn in fortunes is due to some very good players in the side from overseas or outside the county, most of it is a result of some very good home grown talent. I feel quite elated at today’s final table outcome that shows Essex at the top well ahead of the second place team, despite to my shame not watching a single one of their games this season. Essex has been my team ever since I was a boy. It took them a while to win a championship and it has been a while since they won their last one. Whether they can repeat the feat next season remains to be seen – I hope so but in any case I will be rooting for them.
While my playing days are now long past and my watching ones too it seems (although I do listen on Internet radio), I love the game and study with relish some of its more obscure aspects. I love to see good cricket played and regardless of team, I adopt the maxim: “may the best team win”. As for me, I will continue to listen to TMS, study the game and follow my teams fortunes, hoping they both do well.