John Stern: England party starting to look like it's 1999

I’m into history repeating itself at the moment. For a while I was thinking that the Ashes 2009 was shaping up like the Ashes 1989: England with high hopes, Australia in transition (euphemism for a bit ordinary), 4-0 Australia. The result may still happen, of course, but the preconceptions look pretty wide of the mark just now.

Now, I’m getting a 1999 vibe: major international tournament at home (World Twenty20) which we cock up, shambolic management structure leading to embarrassing Test series defeat and prolonged wailing and gnashing of teeth.

A year ago, TWC’s cover story was a picture of a forlorn looking Ryan Sidebottom next to the words, “On the slide – Are England going backwards?”

The question was essentially about whether England were returning to the pre-Fletcher anarchy of the 1990s. The conclusion, from our writers Tim de Lisle and Nasser Hussain, was a qualified “no”.

But a year on from that article, surely the answer is an unequivocal “yes”. England have been going backwards for most of the past 12 months and there’s precious little sign of any progress, save the improvements of Stuart Broad’s bowling and the emergence of Graeme Swann.

The problem is vision. We have been looking back at 2005 ever since the fateful bus parade. Until we start looking forward, just as Hussain and Fletcher did in the winter of 1999-2000, England will continue to bumble along.

Where that vision comes from is the big question. It’s not coming from the ECB because all Giles Clarke cares about is filling the board’s coffers, which tempts and distracts the players in equal measure.

Andrew Strauss has enough on his plate just holding everything together and scoring (more than) a few runs.

We await the new head coach. One gets the impression that Andy Flower is increasingly favoured. He’s an impressive man but has little experience. I would favour him working under an experienced international coach such as John Wright, John Buchanan or Mickey Arthur. Of those three I’d favour Wright or Arthur. The applications have closed – now we must wait for English cricket’s latest saviour.

John Stern is editor of The Wisden Cricketer

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2 Responses to John Stern: England party starting to look like it's 1999

  1. Dave says:

    To be fair though, we flippin’ murdered the West Indies.

  2. Peter Redding says:

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head when you say that they’re still looking back at 2005. There doesn’t seem to be any forward planning or a willingness to build a new team. England seem to forever be hoping that the likes of Flintoff, Harmison and Vaughan rediscover their form of four years ago, rather than trying to establish new players.

    It’s almost like an “It’ll be alright on the night” attitude and it cost them big time in the 2006/07 Ashes when the selectors tried to recreate the 2005 team, even though many of the players were lacking fitness and form going into that series. The decision to pick an unfit Giles over a then in-form Panesar still haunts me to this day.