There’s been much reflection within Team England these last few days, and after correlating our performances on this tour with the recent World Cup campaign, I’ve managed to identify what I believe to be the five stages of English ODI incompetence:
You narrowly lose the first of a five match series after calling incorrectly at the toss and missing several run out opportunities.
It’s frustrating, and you get asked some difficult questions at the post-match press conference; but at stage one, you know English fans are still thinking to themselves, “what the hell, as long as we win the next game, we’re cool.”
The second game of the series is lost by a convincing margin. A number of your batsmen appear to be missing home, as well as their timing, technique and, in one case, their pads. Your back-up spinner has decided to re-model his action on Steven Smith, whilst the selection panel contemplate recalling Luke Wright.
It’s worrying, and you get asked some hostile questions at the post-match press conference, but even now you know English fans are thinking to themselves, “we’re still not out of the series, and anyway, as long as we keep winning in Tests, we’re cool.”
The third match sees you suffer a crushing ten wicket defeat. One of your bowlers loses his run up so badly that he accidently barges into the umpire at square leg. Questions are asked about team discipline after an unpleasant display of sledging towards the driver of the drinks cart.
Whilst the selectors are trying to persuade Dominic Cork out of retirement, Kevin Pietersen has been spotted flicking through his copy of Dorlan’s Medical Dictionary and browsing online for flight times back to England.
It’s alarming, and there’s plenty of barracking during the post-match press conference. But deep down you know English fans are thinking to themselves, “hey, we’re not interested in the Mickey Mouse stuff. As long as we’re still ranked Test no. 1, we’re cool.”
A humiliating batting collapse in the fourth game of the series sees you dismissed in double figures. Your cause isn’t helped by Kevin Pietersen’s self-diagnosis of leprosy. With his insistence on using a runner (operating two yards in front of him, equipped with a bell, yelling out “unclean”) clashing with recently implemented rule changes.
In the field you lose count of the number of dropped catches from balls being thrown back by the crowd, whilst Samit Patel’s moral takes a further dip after Graeme Swann reveals the film rights to his autobiography have been bought by George A. Romero.
It’s disturbing, and there’s a petition to bring back capital punishment for treason being circulated during your post-match press conference. But you’re hoping that English fans are thinking, “hey, we’ve been like this for the last twenty years now, we’re still relatively cool about this.”
A humiliating 5-0 whitewash has been inflicted after the opposition wicketkeeper’s new-ball burst devastated your top order. Helpful ground security personnel escort your batsmen from the crease with a blanket over their head to avoid embarrassing photographs of them in the English strip.
The bowling unit has become so indisciplined the ICC has been approached to bail out the Greek economy with the match fee fines they’ve collected. Your fielding positions on the Sky Sports Illustrator resemble a Jackson Pollack action painting, whilst Bob Willis’s match summary sounds like he’s fast-forwarding through an audiobook of the Viz Profanisaurus.
To top things off, an animated video from Korean News mocking today’s performance has gone viral.
It’s shameful, and several journalists have had live ammunition confiscated before your post-match press conference. But you’re praying that English fans will be cool after you tell them that you’ve “taken plenty of positives away” and intend to “learn the lessons of this tour”.
Even if you have to add “and this time we mean it”.
(with a tip of the hat to the genius of Larry Miller)