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Despite upswing, serious issues dog England

While England steadily climb the cricket rankings, and face South Africa to decide the top position, they do so with mixed feelings.

india Updated: Jul 16, 2012 00:04 IST

While England steadily climb the cricket rankings, and face South Africa to decide the top position, they do so with mixed feelings.

What works for them is that the Test squad is settled, the top order, led by an imperious Kevin Pietersen looks formidable, Graeme Swann is a crafty match winner and the pace attack under James Anderson and Stuart Broad is incisive.

England's on-field success is fuelled by impressive governance and innovative management.

Head coach Andy Flower is from Zimbabwe and Davis Sekar, the bowling coach, was imported from Australia. Both are strong willed individuals who have consistently placed country before club and county. They call the shots.

This means deciding not just on team selection but the more sensitive matter of managing player workload.

Say in selection

Team England decides which player has to miss which game in order to be match-ready when it counts.

That is why Broad was pulled out of Tests - even though he screamed that he wanted to play, and ahead of the South African series, all key bowlers were compulsorily rested.

Contrast this to India, where players decide their availability and choose when to play and when to rest.

Murali Kartik, currently with Surrey but who has spent eight seasons with four counties, confirms that the cricket setup is not only professional but very much on the ball.

"They know about players," he says, and the foreign pro has the added responsibility of mentoring young players, providing strategic inputs and at the same time participate in club activities.

Still, despite the apparent success and wellness, there exist some ominous dark clouds too.

English cricket is seriously strapped for cash, only four of the counties are making profits, sponsors are hesitant to commit monies and, because of dreadful weather, attendance at matches this season has been an all time low.

Derek Brewer, the new secretary of the MCC, recognises the commercial challenge, and feels serious restructuring of domestic cricket is needed.

There are lessons to be learnt for India too. One instance is the way in which Mark Ramprakash (someone with 35000 first-class runs and 114 centuries) was forced into retirement mid-season.

When asked about the harsh move, the official response was curt: “Sport is driven by performance, not emotion.

(The writer is a Daredevils official)

First Published: Jul 15, 2012 23:51 IST