After a thoroughly underwhelming and frustrating summer, topped off with some truly rubbish England performances, the 2012 season’s final act brought the curtain down with a spectacularly half-arsed swish. As England left Sri Lanka and headed for pastures greener, we were hugely looking forward to pacy wickets, the ball swinging round corners and our beautiful boys in blue remembering how to win. Five months later and one is left with little more than a feeling of profound disappointment; none of that came to pass, there were very few moments of truly gripping international cricket, and the domestic season has been a complete farce. So it was fitting, perhaps, that the summer’s swansong combined all of the worst aspects of the year and combined it into a little bite-size chunk for
everyone no one to enjoy.
From Chester-le-street, where England scored so slowly they ended up with minus runs, to Manchester, which saw the match abandoned five balls short of a result, before everyone headed to Birmingham and spent an hour and a half sunbathing before the umpires decided they could be bothered to start, it was a joke of a series that did little more than take the paying public for a ride. No one can do anything about the weather – other than perhaps not scheduling games anywhere near the north in September – but the powers that be and their reluctance to actually get on the pitch unless the conditions were absolutely perfect has been a constant source of irritation throughout the summer and it reared its ugly head again this week. Going from a nine over slog in the pouring rain at Old Trafford to spending ages watching all the players practice in bright sunshine at Edgbaston while the umpires messed about with ‘areas of concern’ does nothing but damage the game’s image. In a summer where we have witnessed the best of sporting achievement, this was undoubtedly the worst.
So what of the matches themselves? Taking the abomination that was the second game out of the equation as it was, without question, the worst game of cricket we have ever witnessed, the other two did at least provide the odd moment of vague interest. England’s two batting efforts were at completely opposite ends of the competence spectrum, while their bowling was pretty good across the board. In a microcosm, that is the story of their year; whether they are competitive now relies entirely on the total pot luck of whether their batting fires. We fear that the first T20 might be more of a reflection of where they’re at right now than the third, but the latter will give England some confidence going into the World T20 next week. The other point of interest from our point of view was Jos Buttler’s innings at Edgbaston leading to 51allout being called a ‘cock’ by current mediocre Somerset cricketer Adam Dibble. We’re on the brink of the big time.
For South Africa, this series seems to have been a complete waste of time. Much like the ODI’s which preceded it, they have really just used the games to rotate players, keep everyone fresh and not expend too much energy before the World T20. It’s been impossible to judge where they’re at because at no point have they played their strongest side, but at least they now know, for sure, that Richard Levi is really crap. Perhaps the only thing they can take to Sri Lanka with them is the improvement in Robin Peterson’s game, as he has developed from ‘terrible’ to merely ‘not that terrible’ over the past month. Despite ourselves, we have one or two South African friends lurking around the 51allout bunker and that’s the only thing from the entire series they even remotely cared about. At least we’ll always have Morne Morkel’s wide.
So that’s it, then; the home international summer consigned to the annals of time. It won’t be one we remember with much fondness. Fortunately, cricket never sleeps and the eyes of the world are about to turn to Sri Lanka and the World T20 which all kicks off on Tuesday. It’s a damning indictment on this series that we know no more about either of these sides than we did two months ago.