Father replaces Uncle?

Father replaces Uncle?

Post by Vicky B. Vigneswar » Thu, 28 Apr 1994 00:39:19

Big-chested father replaces eccentric uncle in hot seat

Ray Illingworth, 'as good  a  cricketing  mind  as  there's  ever
been', inherits sport's most unenviable position billed both as a
craggy-faced saviour and a bit of a bossy boots

By Paul Hayward

Sir Colin Cowdrey thinks Ray Illingworth has "as good a  cricket-
ing  mind  as there's ever been". All the new chairman of England
selectors needs now is an asbestos skin to  deal  with  unceasing
criticism  and,  in  Cowdrey's  view, "a Trueman or a Laker or an
Underwood to appear out of the woodwork". Not much to ask, is it?
Depending  on  who  you  listen  to, Illingworth is being cast as
craggy-faced saviour, sagacious tactician, the last man  shouting
orders  on  the  bridge of the Titanic and a bit of a bossy boots
who will have Mike Atherton running around  like  a  school  milk
monitor.  Nobody doubts that Illingworth is obsessive, in the way
of Lord Home's uncle-in-law, who "could never walk down the  nave
of  his  abbey without wondering whether it would take spin". One
other conclusion is safe: Illingworth has just inherited  sport's
most unenviable post, and faces an almost biblical task in bridg-
ing the gap between a radiant past  and  dishevelled  present  in
which  some  have  argued  that  England  are finished as a world
cricketing power. And to think, at 61, he could have  carried  on
knocking  out  newspaper articles and shooting the breeze on bal-
conies with all the other old luminaries. Not  the  man's  style.
Consider  what  he  said on Thursday about England's recent past.
Illingworth declared that Hick, Ramprakash, Russell and Lewis are
playing  for  their  places, that Angus Fraser's fitness is ques-
tionable and that Keith Fletcher, the England manager, was  right
to criticise Robin Smith for chasing money rather than runs. That
should have given the team plenty to mull over on the long flight
back  from the West Indies. If Ted Dexter was a faintly eccentric
uncle to England's  cricketers,  Illingworth  is  more  the  big-
chested  father, gathering the family in the parlour and dispens-
ing patriarchal instructions through the ranks.  Harry  Enfield's
wonderful comic creation, the archetypal Yorkshireman, has a mot-
to which runs: "I say what I like and I like what I  ***y  well
say."  But Illingworth, who is from Pudsey, is a bit too smart to
allow himself to be  stereotyped  as  the  non-listening,  bluff-
talking Tyke barging his way into southern committee rooms. Pass-
ing from forthright newspaper and television pundit  to  chairman
of  England  selectors  might not seem the easiest way to win the
confidence of players. Indeed, Graham Gooch might raise  an  eye-
brow when he learns that Illingworth is not obliged to attend all
England's overseas Tests. On the general subject of past denunci-
ations, though, Illingworth insists: "I've only ever offered con-
structive criticism, which every player is open  to.  I've  never
really  slagged  anybody  off."  Illingworth's pedigree is beyond
question, as is the magnitude of his mission.  He  played  in  61
Tests  for England - 31 as captain - and was a gifted all-rounder
(off-spin, middle-order  bat)  before  successfully  moving  into
county  management.  Ask him about the England selectors' job and
he admits: "It was something I did want to do back in the  Seven-
ties,  but it's taken me a bit longer to get there." Twenty years
ago Illingworth might have swept into town in a sedan chair.  Now
he  is gathering flotsam on the beach to rebuild the ruined house
of English cricket. An  overstatement?  Illingworth  has  watched
every  home  Test  and international in the last 10 years, and is
candid about the long-term decline of the game in these  islands.
"I  think that's pretty true," he says to the suggestion that the
malaise has deep roots. "We've been in decline since the  1960s."
The  statistics merit renewed scrutiny. Shafts of sunlight in the
West Indies aside, England have won only 18  of  their  last  100
Test  matches. They were walloped by India last winter, beaten by
Sri Lanka and then flattened in the Ashes  series  by  Australia,
who won two of the six Tests by more than an innings.  "There's a
lot of work to be done," Illingworth said  before  departing  for
Lord's,  and an extended conference on how he, Keith Fletcher and
Mike Atherton would "fit together" in the  new  arrangement.  Now
that  is  a  tricky subject.  Surely old Fletch, who has survived
the falls of Dexter and Gooch, will  have  his  "responsibilities
reviewed",  his  "agenda  re-verbalised",  as the Americans might
say. Maybe not so tricky. "I will be working a  lot  closer  with
the  team  than Ted, who tended to pick the side and let them get
on with it," Illingworth said.  "I'm not going to ***le on  the
captain's  toes, but I will look to have a chat with him at lunch
and tea."

But what will be the abiding topic of  conversation?   Where  can
England  get  some  new  personnel, probably. Again, Cowdrey, who
scored 7,264 runs for his country, is a good  witness.  He  says:
"What  Ray really needs is for some great players to emerge. Ath-
erton and Stewart look set, but he needs a Maynard or  Thorpe  to
suddenly flower, and perhaps Devon Malcolm to come good among the
bowlers. "I remember for my first  Test  series  I  was  able  to
select from Tyson, Trueman, Statham, Loader, Bailey, Laker, Lock,
Appleyard, Wardle and McConnon. The embarrassment then was  which
combination  to  go for. It would certainly help Ray if he had an
Ambrose and a Lara available. What is disappointing is  when  you
have very gifted players like Graeme Hick not quite performing. I
honestly believe that he could demolish bowlers just  like  Brian
Lara's  done."  Illingworth has now abandoned diplomatic niceties
in discussing the West Indies tour. "I think  everybody  realises
that  the bowlers didn't bowl as well as they should have, either
in length and line, or with the same aggression that the West In-
dies  have  done,"  he  said. "One or two of the batsmen probably
haven't matured yet. I think we probably took  one  too  many  of
them."  Hardly  Bugsy Siegel's vision of a glittering new city in
the desert, but Illingworth wants to start with the simple stuff,
like  the  "imbalance"  in  English  teams he has been banging on
about for months. Too many batsmen, in other words, and too  many
seam  bowlers.  "If  you haven't got Malcolm Marshall and Michael
Holding," he says, "you've got to find other  ways  of  attacking
over  five  days of Test cricket. Australia have come up with two
***s and two spinners." This really is a hot  topic  for  Il-
lingworth. For most of his generation, in fact. "We always picked
balanced teams, so we didn't have  to  worry  about  the  pitch,"
Cowdrey  says.  "These  days  they're  always  worrying about the
pitch." Illingworth gives this theory mathematical expression. He
says:  "For  far  too long we've been playing with six batsmen in
the hope of scoring 420, or saving  the  game  if  necessary.  It
would  be  better to play an extra bowler and confine the opposi-
tion to, say, 300. If you do that, and you've got five good bats-
men,  you've  got  a chance." It was easy, in the West Indies, to
say that the home side won because cricket  meant  more  to  them
than  us.  Among  the old guard there is a suspicion that England
players now are more concerned with money and  endor***ts  than

Illingworth will not be drawn on this, but does say: "Put it this
way.  If they're not hungry  and giving  100 per cent  then  they
won't be playing for  England while  I'm around.  I'll always  be
fair on players, but I won't stand for anyone not  giving 100 per
cent."  On Thursday he said: "England have been running scared in
the past. I want to be more aggressive." That's the stuff. Sabres
out. "He's a very clear thinker about the game," said Mike Turner,
the former  Leicestershire  chief executive.  "He knows  what his
objectives  are."  But  it is tactical guile  and consistency  of
selection  that  England  need   most,   and   here Illingworth's
appointment  has sent  a rush of  expectation through the shires.
Turner, like Cowdrey, believes  Illingworth  possesses "the  most
analytical cricketing brain of anybody in the country" and  talks
almost tearfully of  their  decade  together  at Grace Road, when
Leicestershire  won their  first County  Championship. "I had the
most  harmonious  and incredible  working  relationship  with the
bloke  for  10 years,"  he says. "I think that, in Raymond, Keith
and Mike Atherton, you've got the  ingredients  of  a  very  good
working  partnership."  Turner  tells a story  about  the day  he
 signed Illingworth as county captain.  "A  very  dear friend  of
mine,  Brian  Sellars,  was  chairman of Yorkshire at that time,"
Turner says, "and he said to me when Raymond joined us:  'Thou'lt
have   trouble   with   that   booger'."  For  England,  as  with
Leicestershire, Illingworth brings the right kind of trouble.

Thanks  ::  The Daily Telegraph


UMass, Apr 26, 1994


Father replaces Uncle?

Post by Shamim Naq » Fri, 29 Apr 1994 09:05:15

|> Sir Colin Cowdrey thinks Ray Illingworth has "as good a  cricket-
|> ing  mind  as there's ever been"....

I have lost all credibility in the English cricket establishment (not
the test team which I believe is about to come good) but the poeple
who run the game in England. A case in point was provided by Dennis
Amiss of Warwickshire this week. Amiss is a former England captain,
selector and now runs Warwickshire. He admits that Lara was fourth on
his list of foreign players for 1994. Ahead of Lara, he had Phil
Simmons, Prabhakar and another player whose name I can not recall at
the moment (should tell you something about this player :-). I mean
even if we forget Lara's 375, how can Amiss put Simmons and P'kar in
the same class as Lara? And such people run cricket in England?




Father replaces Uncle?

Post by Manuvir D » Fri, 29 Apr 1994 14:19:11

|>even if we forget Lara's 375, how can Amiss put Simmons and P'kar in
|>the same class as Lara? And such people run cricket in England?

I don't know about Simmons.

As for Prabhakar, I can think of a number of reasons why
he might be considered ahead of Lara. If I'm not mistaken
he's a good swing bowler, one who would be well suited to
the English conditions. He has also been in good form
with the bat, so he would serve well as an allrounder.
And don't they give out only one year contracts? If so,
isn't it reasonable to expect that they might be guided
more by form than by class? Given that they can only take
one overseas player, isn't is reasonable to assume that
they would take the player that would help them the most,
given the composition of their team etc, rather than simply
the best player available?

Finally, I am not sure about the WI schedule, but I know
that India is inactive until the WI series in a few months,
so that would fit in well with their plans as well, in that
they would not have to be bothered with releasing the player
for a few games etc.

Basically I feel there are a whole bunch of factors that
might influence their decision, and unless you know all
of them, it might be unfair to make such extreme statements
about the English establishment (as opposed to simply
saying that Amiss made a wrong decision, or that Amiss is
a bad selector (or even a bad captain, Rohan :))).

- Manuvir


Father replaces Uncle?

Post by John Ha » Sat, 30 Apr 1994 01:45:27

Don't forget that when Amiss drew up his short-list the West Indies v
England series wouldn't have started, so Lara's quality wouldn't have
been so obvious (though I believe the 270-odd he'd made in Australia was
reported to be an exceptionally fine innings).

                                       |  Don't talk to me about life."
  Cranleigh, Surrey, England           |

Father replaces Uncle?

Post by Chinna Kozhandh » Sat, 30 Apr 1994 03:49:21

>the moment (should tell you something about this player :-). I mean
>even if we forget Lara's 375, how can Amiss put Simmons and P'kar in
>the same class as Lara? And such people run cricket in England?

Nope, neither of them is in Lara's class. But as for Warwickshires
desires, that's another story. The big reason Warwickshire wanted
Prabhakar, was his *all-round* capabilities. Warwickshire this season
are short on the bowling front, particularly with the absence of
Donald, and Dermot and I presume the others involved as well, felt
that someone like Prabhkar would be a very useful asset in the sense
that he could do pretty well with the ball, especially in English
conditions, and also chip in with the bat. I know that Dermot intended
to use him as an opening bowler, but to open the batting only in the
one day competitions whilst batting lower down, at #7, in the four day
games. Now Prabhakar will never match Laras batting feats, or Donalds
bowling feats, in all probablity, but it was felt that he would be a
great asset to the side - they woudn't have approached him otherwise.
Having said all that, I'm not at all surprised that they have gone for
Brian Lara now :)

Rohan [Warwickshire fan.... (but Derbyshire come first for obvious
reasons :-) )]