King of the Valleys Award 2013

by Charlie_East_West on December 30, 2013

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Our King of the Valleys Award is awarded to the person or persons who have seen their reputation plummet the furthest over the course of the last 12 months. The worthy winner(s) receive our infamous dog shit jersey.

This prestigious award has a historic backstory on All That’s Left. In 2010 Vince Cable won the award, going from the trusty self styled national treasure politician to being hoisted by his own petard as the Daily Telegraph laid a honey trap against him at the end of the year, resulting in his ministerial responsibility for the Murdoch Sky takeover bid being stripped from him. In 2011 Dominique Strauss-Khan heroically went from French Presidential candidate and IMF Chair to suspected sexual offender prior to having the charges dropped against him. In 2012, good old Gideon Osborne won the award for a series of misdemeanours over the economy whilst finishing it all off by deciding to give millionaires a tax cut from 50% to 45%.

So, who is about to drop from giddy heights towards the gutter pantheon of pishness? Who has seen their stock fall quicker than the England Cricket team? Shit. Bollocks. Fuck. I have just blurted out the winner’s name. The winner of the 2013 King of the Valleys Award is the England Cricket team.

During 2013, the England Cricket team were at one point being hailed as one of the most successful English Cricket teams of all time. Since 2005, England had won four out of five Ashes series. By September 2013, they had just dismantled the Australians 3-0, and were now ready to head out to Australia for the second part of the back-to-back Ashes fully expecting another comfortable series victory.

Instead, what has happened in the Ashes series in Australia will go down as one of the worst ever touring performances by an England cricket team. They have been completely outplayed by an average Australian team – and are now staring down the barrel at a 5-0 whitewash.

The reputation of both the players and the coaching staff is in tatters. It is not just the losing that matters, it is the way in which they have lost. England have been comprehensively beaten in each test match. Alistair Cook has been outwitted by his opposite captain Michael Clarke. As has Andy Flower by his coaching rival, Darren Lehmann. England’s defence of the Ashes has been insipidly surrendered to Australia.

Australia have won this series by simply wanting it more. England look jaded, knackered and burnt out – the worrying mid-tour departures of Trott (stress related) and Swann (early retirement) – indicate that this is a team at the end of its road.

Perhaps it really is the end of the road for a once great English side. From 2003-2013, England has produced a number of wonderful test results and have benefited from a golden era of players including – Flintoff, Bell, Pietersen, Cook, Strauss, Swann, Trott, Anderson, Broad, Prior and Vaughan. But, rather ominously, it does not look like England have the same batch of new players ready to create another golden era.

How the mighty have fallen and the tables have turned. In September, England were Ashes victors. By December, they were throwing the urn back at the Aussies.

England might have lost the Ashes, but they have won at least one award this winter – our King of the Valleys Award.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Eddie Kaye December 31, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Twice now I have been beaten to the punch. I was thinking of penning an Ashes post Mortem as early as going 3-0 down at Perth, but thanks to Charlie I can devote my time to less bilious pursuits.

I agree, as flattering as the scoreline was in the summer, England rode their luck, and come the Oval with the urn in the bag they completetly lost the plot with the debuts of Kerrigan and Woakes. I must admit, I was not over confident as to their chances down under.

A resurgent Mitchell Johnson, an effective opening duo of Rogers and Warner and the cool head of Captain Clarke aside, the Lehmann effect cannot be underestimated. My Yorkshire bias is coming into play, but he was the best batsman I ever saw. I am surprised he has made such an excellent coach as his only blott on his County record was his disasterous year as captain which saw the club relegated just 12 months after winning the County Championship. The team spirit has been excellent – Bailey, Smith, Siddle, Lyon et al all chipping into an all round performance. Special mention to Brad Haddin whose lower order runs and excellent performances behind the stumps have made the difference to the Green Baggy cause.

As for England, they are in a mess. Coach Andy Flower IMO must shoulder some of the blame. The old guard of Anderson, Swann, Prior Trott and Bell has looked jaded. Rightly Swann has hung up his boots. Obviously I hope Jonathan Trott recovers from his personal problems, however I am of the opinion he is unable to play the right innings at the right time, he is far too negative.

A root of the problem is Cook’s captaincy (note the absence of any Sky commentator style puns). He is ostensibly a poor skipper, and it has affected his batting.

Michael Carberry has batted a bit over his weight, however he is not test standard, and being in his mid thirties, nor is he a long term solution. I am not a Monty fan – being able to put the odd good ball down whilst being a true number 11 and poor in the field is not enough to my mind. The addition of Durham’s Scott Borthwick to the squad (who is a good bat as well) should put pressure on Panesar. Speaking of Durham, Ben Stokes has been one positive to come out of this debacle.

Pietersen has disappointed. The heroics of 2005 I waxed lyrical about recently have been replaced with rash selfishness. I buy into the fact he is an attacking batsman, however surely he has the experience to know that when things are not going your way, you need to grind out some form and cosistency. Likewise, Broad has slipped into his old habit of massive inconsitency – a world beater one minute, going through the motions the next. We need more from these two.

Big question mark over selection – what is the point in taking tall pacemen Tremlett, Finn and Rankin to take advantage of the extra bounce Australian wickets afford, then not playing them? Criminal!

Finally, looking at the players I know best – Yorkshire trio of Joe Root, Tim Bresnan and Jonny Bairstow. The latter kept well in Melbourne, but his batting is suffering from spending most of last season on training meetups and twelfth man duty – he needs time in the middle. Bresnan is a good county pro, he will take important wickets rather than bucket fulls. He is a lower order batsman, and not really good enough to bat above 8 in tests. As for Joe Root – he has been on the cards for years. A class act, unfortunately he has not really reaped the rewards I suspected he might down under. He has had a couple of stinkers as far as decisions were concerned, and I am confident he will be a useful member of the test side for years to come.

Well, that was my (short) reply – please buy next years’ Wisden for a full rundown.

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL AT ATL!

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