Edward Pearce advises David Lloyd on how to sort out English cricketby Edward Pearce / May 20, 1996 / Leave a comment
It is a proposition beyond contradiction that if things are run badly, they could be run better. Having suggested in Prospect last month that the Royal Opera House would be a better place if it employed junior designers who could paint, and directors bumped down to stage management, let me now give the national game a look over.
English cricket has had a horrible time in South Africa and an even worse one in the limited-over World Cup. This raises two questions: could England be strengthened immediately by different selection and management? And in the long term, how do we start to compete with Sri Lanka, the new masters?
On the first question, there are two key points. First, form players should get priority. A batsman like the happily named Peter Bowler has a brilliant season-scores and scores-but he is not considered. He and anybody like him who has settled straight into the groove should be considered for Test selection-whatever his lack of chic.
You might argue that Ramprakash is a form player who failed. So he is, so he did. But the principle is right: Ramprakash, in spite of tour failure, should be persisted with. If someone plays the way he did last season, a rotten tour should be treated as an overhead. Cricket selection is a bit like company management. The choice is between pleasing shareholders now with ruthless downsizing moves in the manner of Lord Hanson; or sticking with R&D and sitzfleisch in the fashion of ICI. We already defer, reasonably enough, to shareholders/ spectators, in the one day game. But the journey of an in-form county cricket talent, through high anxiety, into an important Test player, demands a selector leadership which ignores that sort of City opinion.
Also, we should favour any player who is hungry. The embodiment of hunger is Nasser Hussein. He wants success so badly that given time, he will translate into full effect. Hunger is, of course, a virtue in a captain. For once, conventional thinking is right. Dermot Reeve lacks the Rupert Brooke touch, but he wants to win, sets about winning, and wins. He is fractionally below taking a place as a player-but only fractionally; with his temperament, he would not, like many gifted players, vitiate his talents by neurotic under-performance. If he’s good for 40, he’ll get 40 instead of being worth a century and slashing behind at…