“Form is temporary, class is permanent”

“Form is temporary, class is permanent”

or so the old adage goes… we’ve seen it for many years in all forms of cricket, so new players introduced into the arena should surely be allowed to be ‘in form’ when they try and step up a gear and face international bowlers.

nunny enjoys blackwell wicket
nunny enjoys blackwell wicket

Three english players have made fifties against Australia on this trip, but only one was on the park at Canterbury.  The other two are on the periphery of the core squad – but when better to blood them than when they have confidence against that attack, when they can share those experiences with those who have not yet been successful against that attack and when the opponents is aware that they were hard to pry out?

For those who experience a drop of form, the question is in this era of contracted players who do not play county or club cricket (or if they do, they might bat down the order and get no actual time in the middle) is; how can they re-gain that form? There are similar questions about those trying to return from injury.

Coaches may say that playing lesser bowling gets them back into bad or lazy habits where they can score quick and easy runs, but is it not similar bowlers they are likely to face in the nets, apart from their team-mates, whom they must get very used to facing.  Also, in the nets there tends to be a dearth of fielders, umpires, noisy crowds, photographers and all the other real-life “distractions” that are part of match situations, which is actually what the game is like. This is an eternal battle for all teams with a contract system.

I have seen a number of the current squad making fantastic, stylish, classy, jaw-dropping (pick your own superlative) innings – Sarah Taylor at Chelmsford 120 off 120 balls in 2009 and 89* and 93 in Christchurch as recently as February, Charlotte Edwards’ first ashes ton at Bankstown in 2011 or her astounding 137 off 88 balls in a rain-affected ODI in Christchurch, Heather Knight 150+ in the Wormsley test. This kind of class is permanent, its the form that seems to be “missing in action” at the moment.

Hopefully with the T20s being the next games to play, where “see ball hit ball” must surely be the tagline, and especially at Chelmsford, where the team has been previously successful in multiple formats of the game, even without key players, can be the jumper cables for the bump start some so desperately need.

As the tv pundits like to say, you are only one innings or even one ball away from fluency and certain of the current team are definitely in this frame. With the bat few seemed able to transfer to the “test match” mindset.

taylor lbw perry
taylor lbw perry

Whilst many of our team have vast (in the context of the women’s game) experience of test cricket, their opportunity to bat in any multi-day format cricket outside the ashes series is extremely limited.  (For those unfamiliar with the domestic game in the UK, country cricket is limited overs, with a white ball being introduced earlier this year.)  In fact it feels as though the academy players have had more multi-day cricket this year in preparing the Australians than the senior England team.

Team spirit is not the issue, class is not the issue, passion is not the issue, but somehow when they get out in the middle, a number of our players seemed to double triple and quadruple guess themselves – not great with the ball coming at you at 65mph+ – form seems to be the issue.

team enjoys Boulton wicket on big screen
team enjoys Boulton wicket on big screen

2 thoughts on ““Form is temporary, class is permanent”

  1. I agree – and the problem is you can’t really get back into form in the nets.

    My thoughts on the matter of England’s failings of late – we are simply not playing enough cricket. There is too much training which does not help match confidence it only helps coaches over-coach players, and players over analyse themselves and less likely to play their natural game as they are desperate not to make mistakes.

    But, critics of this idea might ask, aren’t England’s men in the same boat? They don’t play (much) county cricket, are employed by England to do a lot of training, and have just won the Ashes!

    So I set out to do a quick evaluation of the time (that has or will have been) spent playing cricket for England by both sides in (roughly) the last calendar year (last summer, winter and this summer)

    Men:
    iT20s: 4 ODIs: 40 Tests: 14

    Women:
    iT20s: 9, ODIs: 11, Tests: 2

    To me, it’s conclusive that England women simply need to play more ODIs. The international fixture lists need to be expanded. Although men’s series clearly have too many ODI matches, and often a 3 game series would suffice rather than 5; even if you had made these changes, they still would have played 25+ games, more than double the women.

    The solution seems simple: double up the international women’s series. We should play 2 home series each summer and 2 away tours each winter. Although of course this may eventually happen, the fact that this has been disjointed from the advent of the professional contracts has caused a massive problem. Ideally the contracts would not have come into effect until the fixtures list was already geared up ready for it.

    You could argue that some teams would be in the same boat, and they are to some extent, but if you look at the Australians for instance they do play more matches domestically than us and more of them play in the off-season abroad, instead of more training.

    The composite framework of the contracts system and the training and professional status were all supposed to improve the England women’s team. However, that was based on the assumption, which I think is being proved to be a somewhat dubious assumption, that insufficient actual time involved in competitive match cricket could be replaced by training.

    All the training and gym work at Loughborough, all the closed-door mini-games against boys teams, even the contracts systems themselves would be better replaced by simply more England (or even County) match cricket, of any format, but particularly ODIs. We can’t go back now, but the issue of not enough competitive games will still remain until the fixture list is ramped up. In the meantime I think the players should be taking every opportunity to get away from Loughborough and play more cricket.

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  2. You mention that three players have made 50s against the Australian attack this summer. One in fact made three 50s end to end and Amy Jones’ 155* was a class knock. It might also be worth pointing out that Australia did not use any non-recognised bowlers against her and, in fact, unlike the following Test Match at Canterbury, several of them were allowed to have a sit-down between spells as players “rolled on and off”. They were, therefore, presumably in better shape than the main England line-up had to face.

    Why was Jones not on the field at Canterbury? It’s one of those questions that has no sensible answer!

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