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Old 10th September 2008, 23:22   #141
Michelle Fivefer
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It's not the selectors' job to come up with alternatives as if they're producing rabbits out of hats. If there are players there in county cricket making a case for selection then the selectors have to weigh their merits versus the established but in this case unconvincing batsmen. If there aren't really players making a case in county cricket then it's rather harder to replace underperformers, isn't it? Bopara is one of the outstanding division 2 county batsmen this season so it's hardly as if there are several better alternatives. In division 1, the only outstanding English talent not already in the side (Pietersen), over the hill (Ramps, Butcher) or retired (Tres) is Prior. Shah, of course, has had a bad season, as has Key.

Oh and trying someone else could very easily do some harm, what with the danger that he might score no runs.

There's a plausible enough case for this but there is a problem: neither is an opener and that's where the putative empty slot is for Strauss and Vaughan to fight over. You could move Bell up to open. Would that be a good move? I'm not convinced it would be.
It's not the selectors' job to come up with alternatives? What else are they being paid for? Part of their job is to watch county cricket and spot talent, isn't it? I know it's a risk that someone might come in and fail. That's the chance that is taken with every debutant. I thought at first that you meant to say "what with the danger that he might score runs" - thus giving the selectors the headache of leaving one of the established players out and then discovering the successful debutant proved to be a flash in the pan.

I realise there seems to be a dearth of talent out there - although I haven't followed much county cricket this season so don't really know the situation. Duncan Fletcher had the ability to see the character in a player even though they weren't prolific run scorers at county level. (This is now coming back to haunt Vaughan; he was a brilliant test batsman but could never do it for Yorkshire. Now he can't do it for anyone).

But surely the only way for England to move forward is to give these, shall we say, sub-contracted players a proper run in the side.
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Old 10th September 2008, 23:26   #142
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It's not the selectors' job to come up with alternatives? What else are they being paid for? Part of their job is to watch county cricket and spot talent, isn't it? I know it's a risk that someone might come in and fail. That's the chance that is taken with every debutant. I thought at first that you meant to say "what with the danger that he might score runs" - thus giving the selectors the headache of leaving one of the established players out and then discovering the successful debutant proved to be a flash in the pan.
It's the selectors' job to emerge with the best England side possible. This clearly includes considering worthy batsmen from out of the side but if nobody is making much of a case for being worthy and the batsmen already in the side are therefore a better bet, the selectors shouldn't be picking randoms just because they are alternatives. That was what I was trying to say with the rabbits out of a hat line.

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I realise there seems to be a dearth of talent out there - although I haven't followed much county cricket this season so don't really know the situation. Duncan Fletcher had the ability to see the character in a player even though they weren't prolific run scorers at county level. (This is now coming back to haunt Vaughan; he was a brilliant test batsman but could never do it for Yorkshire. Now he can't do it for anyone).

But surely the only way for England to move forward is to give these, shall we say, sub-contracted players a proper run in the side.
That depends on what you mean by "move forward". It's not axiomatic that changing the side is moving it forward. It may be a move sideways or even backwards.
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Old 10th September 2008, 23:30   #143
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Sideways maybe. But dropping these two would hardly make the side worse. it's not competitive at the moment and hasn't been since 2006.
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Old 11th September 2008, 07:16   #144
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Anderson and Broad would have played more than enough tests and ODIs this year to get them a central contract if they had been on an incremental contract. They are now becoming important players Anderson more so in tests and Broad more so in ODIs.
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Old 11th September 2008, 08:53   #145
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Surely what's needed is a smaller pool of core central contracts and a larger pool of players paid on a retainer but not mollycoddled in the way they currently are. What I mean by that is that the likes of KP, Cook, Flintoff, Bell and possibly Panesar (for instance) should be on the type of central contract that they currently are and the rest should be on the type of incremental contracts that the likes of Prior currently are. This would give more flexibility for these less well remunerated players (i.e ones who you may not suggest are totally secure in their position) to go and play for their counties and a bit of an incentive that if they actually want to earn a heap of money they better bleedin well perform.
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Old 11th September 2008, 10:08   #146
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What I would like to see happen with central contracts is for there to be some kind of performance clause in them for the players.

At the start of each series every member of the squad should be made aware of what we require from them runswise/wicketwise etc. Obviously this wouldn't be set in stone as anybody can have a bit of a dip, a good ball, a batsman in stupidly good form, dropped catches whatever, but it does allow for some sort of measuring stick and it makes the players aware of the minimum requirement we have of them. After each series it can then be reviewed and then the player dropped for someone else (25 central contracts or there abouts would make it easier to call people up etc) if they don't come up to standard.

This system would have allowed us to then get rid of Strauss, Harmison and Collingwood earlier and would (this is conjecture I grant you, but considered conjecture) maybe have made them come back better players and not allowed this sense of entitlement that seems to fester the England team at the moment exist.
I'm gonna repost this because I still think this is true, especially of the batsmen. Why can we not do this?
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Old 11th September 2008, 10:21   #147
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I'm gonna repost this because I still think this is true, especially of the batsmen. Why can we not do this?
Sorry I had a few bevvies last night (watching the football) and didn't catch this earlier but it does indeed make sense and isn't that different from what I posted above so fair play.
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Old 11th September 2008, 10:22   #148
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Broad is #4 in the ODI bowling rankings, so I think he has clearly earned his elevation.
He may have earned his elevation to test cricket that way, but he has maintained his place in the side whilst averaging 43. That won't win you many test matches. I'm not saying his continued selection is necessarily wrong, but it's interesting the chance he's being given as a bowler, that Shah hasn't been given after a very promising debut as a batsman.
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Old 11th September 2008, 10:25   #149
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Surely what's needed is a smaller pool of core central contracts and a larger pool of players paid on a retainer but not mollycoddled in the way they currently are. What I mean by that is that the likes of KP, Cook, Flintoff, Bell and possibly Panesar (for instance) should be on the type of central contract that they currently are and the rest should be on the type of incremental contracts that the likes of Prior currently are. This would give more flexibility for these less well remunerated players (i.e ones who you may not suggest are totally secure in their position) to go and play for their counties and a bit of an incentive that if they actually want to earn a heap of money they better bleedin well perform.
I agree. About 6-8 central contracts for nailed on players is all that is required. If not that many players are certain of their places then the amount awarded should be less depending upon circumstances.The ECB have sought to constantly expand the pool of contracted players as if that in itself is a good thing. It's like the county scene of the 1980s and 1990s where counties had huge contracted playing staffs, with many individuals who were never going to play anything more than a bit part. Again, there was a worthwhile comparison with Australian state sides where the first eleven were contracted, maybe a couple of the most regular replacements, and the rest played on a match by match basis as required, unless they guaranteed their worth for the longer term.

England may well want the services of Broad and Anderson in the immediate future. But is that reason now to throw them a huge wad of cash, guaranteed for the next year, regardless of performance, when neither is certain of a place in the first choice starting line up? Indeed a shocker for Anderson in the first match in India could see him out of the side again on a long term basis.
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Old 11th September 2008, 21:52   #150
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I agree. About 6-8 central contracts for nailed on players is all that is required. If not that many players are certain of their places then the amount awarded should be less depending upon circumstances.The ECB have sought to constantly expand the pool of contracted players as if that in itself is a good thing. It's like the county scene of the 1980s and 1990s where counties had huge contracted playing staffs, with many individuals who were never going to play anything more than a bit part. Again, there was a worthwhile comparison with Australian state sides where the first eleven were contracted, maybe a couple of the most regular replacements, and the rest played on a match by match basis as required, unless they guaranteed their worth for the longer term.

England may well want the services of Broad and Anderson in the immediate future. But is that reason now to throw them a huge wad of cash, guaranteed for the next year, regardless of performance, when neither is certain of a place in the first choice starting line up? Indeed a shocker for Anderson in the first match in India could see him out of the side again on a long term basis.
I am finding this argument increasingly persuasive. There must be a better argument against it than the rather anaemic notion that it would create division within the squad.
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Old 11th September 2008, 22:15   #151
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There is always an element of risk connected with any sort of contract for a sportsperson. Counties will sign players they think are going to perform well for the club for the duration of the contract. There is more flexibility there, though: more cricket of different formats and the opportunity to get in form with the second XI when not selected.

With England, there are fewer matches but at a higher intensity. There isn't the same flexibility: if they don't make the England XI they go back to their counties or carry drinks. While the central contract gives England some control over the player, and the player receives a financial benefit, the award of a contract is fraught with controversy: it can be seen either as a reward for past performances, with no guarantee that the player will continue to perform at the same level, or as an expression of confidence in a player's potential, likewise with no guarantee of performance living up to that potential. Either way, there is much scope for criticising the system.
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Old 12th September 2008, 00:21   #152
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Contract Oct 03-Sept 04 - Collingwood 2 Tests 89 runs 22.25

The following year he didn't get one.
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Old 12th September 2008, 07:13   #153
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I think Jimmy can beat that one. Contract 04-05. 1 test 2 wickets @ 74.5 and 3 ODIs against Zimbabwe where he took 2 wickets at 56.5.
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Old 12th September 2008, 08:21   #154
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For once I'm not sure that Jimmy appreciates your backing in this argument.
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Old 12th September 2008, 10:59   #155
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Maybe all they need to do is change the mindset that you have to play the centrally contracted players at all times. If you are a centrally contracted player out of form, you should be as droppable as a non contracted player. Embarrassing maybe but so what?
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Old 12th September 2008, 12:50   #156
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I think the way forward is to think of the contracted people as those to whom the ECB wants to give lots of money. The purpose of the central contracts is quite obviously, first and foremost, to transfer regular dosh from A to specific B. And as to the question "why would the ECB want to do that?", the answer, as ever, is: unask the question, there doesn't have to be a reason, and if there happens to be one it's absolutely none of your business, and if you don't like it don't pay to watch cricket.

In terms of the England cricket team, the players to play are picked by a process ostensibly designed to enable England to do as well as possible in various games of cricket. Selection occurs match by match and tour by tour. The players play for the nation, and for match fees. Any connection with central contracts is probably coincidental.
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Old 12th September 2008, 13:58   #157
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I am finding this argument increasingly persuasive. There must be a better argument against it than the rather anaemic notion that it would create division within the squad.
Blimey.That's rare.

It strikes me as human nature that if you are given vast rewards too early, before you've achieved a high level of consistency and proven value, desire and performance are likely to plateau or even drop off. If I was guaranteed 200 000 in advance for the next year regardless of what I did, I'm not sure how hard I'd work, especially if I thought that there wasn't too much competition for my job at the moment.
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Old 12th September 2008, 14:21   #158
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Maybe all they need to do is change the mindset that you have to play the centrally contracted players at all times. If you are a centrally contracted player out of form, you should be as droppable as a non contracted player. Embarrassing maybe but so what?
They've done that already. They stupidly awarded Strauss one, didn't pick him for SL and then invited him straight back in before he'd faced another ball.
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Old 12th September 2008, 14:44   #159
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There is always an element of risk connected with any sort of contract for a sportsperson. Counties will sign players they think are going to perform well for the club for the duration of the contract. There is more flexibility there, though: more cricket of different formats and the opportunity to get in form with the second XI when not selected.

With England, there are fewer matches but at a higher intensity. There isn't the same flexibility: if they don't make the England XI they go back to their counties or carry drinks. While the central contract gives England some control over the player, and the player receives a financial benefit, the award of a contract is fraught with controversy: it can be seen either as a reward for past performances, with no guarantee that the player will continue to perform at the same level, or as an expression of confidence in a player's potential, likewise with no guarantee of performance living up to that potential. Either way, there is much scope for criticising the system.
But the purpose of the system seems to have changed. There was initially an excellent argument in favour of giving the ECB more control of key players; primarily fast bowlers - England have too often had too few of any real merit and couldn't afford them to lose pace and pick up injuries through constantly trundling the county circuit - and key batsmen immediately before a game when a broken finger playing a limited overs county slog could cost England a Test match. Now I'm not sure what the precise purpose is. As with so many of these things it seemed to have grown and morphed.
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Old 12th September 2008, 14:57   #160
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But the purpose of the system seems to have changed. There was initially an excellent argument in favour of giving the ECB more control of key players; primarily fast bowlers - England have too often had too few of any real merit and couldn't afford them to lose pace and pick up injuries through constantly trundling the county circuit - and key batsmen immediately before a game when a broken finger playing a limited overs county slog could cost England a Test match. Now I'm not sure what the precise purpose is. As with so many of these things it seemed to have grown and morphed.
Whatever the ostensible purpose, one of the results of central contracts is that the England Cricket Team is an entity to which players belong just as they used to be identified with their county cricket club. Gone are the days when players joined their nearest first class county straight from school and stayed there until they retired from the game. I can't keep up with the players' movements these days. What is Shaun Udal doing at Middlesex? And I never noticed that Dalrymple had moved to Glamorgan. There used to be a few transfers for players who weren't getting first team opportunities at their original club but now it's a free for all. And I have to say I don't like it.

But there is Team England, a close-knit group of players bathed in the warm glow of their central contracts and the lurve of their new captain Pietersen. England is their team now and while they may profess loyalty to their counties and want to play for them when the opportunity arises, we know that some of them are virtual strangers back in the shires and England is their first and only priority. (Durham players excepted. )
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