Forget the sweets, England's posturing leaves a sour taste

The likes of Sidebottom, Anderson and Prior must stamp out the boorish behaviour which is unsavoury and hard to take seriously

It doesn't take much to see that England's problems amount to something more than a hill of beans in this crazy world. The sweets on the crease at Trent Bridge may have grabbed the headlines but they diverted attention from a wider issue.

England are increasingly going about their business like a bunch of cheap hoods. It will be fascinating to discover ifthis is part of their strategyfor levelling the series against India in the Third and final npower Test starting at The Oval on Thursday.

The prattle when they are in the field is incessant, and seems to become louder when either they are behind in the game or less illustrious players are batting. Fielders constantly return the ball ferociously to the wicketkeeper – low, hard and who cares who's in the way, particularly if it happens to be the batsman – from the most innocuous positions.

Some of the bowlers are being deliberately belligerent, not only attempting to stare malevolently but also following through to the batsman's chinstrap, generally intending to intimidate. It is all so much posturing. Since much of it is being executed by James Ander-son, a bowler who off the field is bashful to the point of being uncommunicative, and Ryan Sidebottom, who sports a magnificent hairstyle once seen on Shirley Temple, it is also difficult to take seriously.

Somebody really ought to have told Sidebottom by now that, far from being menacing, he looks as though he is about to burst into a rendition of "On The Good Ship Lollipop". He and Anderson should consider letting their bowling do the talking, because at times they have bowled exceptionally. On the other hand, Chris Tremlett may need more raw meat.

Some of this has always gone on, but the combined effect makes for uncomfortable viewing. England are boorish and becoming unattractive to watch. There were some weasel words spoken after India's splendid victory at Trent Bridge to go 1-0 up, many of which lamented the jelly-bean saga for diverting attention from an excellent match. Yes and no. Had it not been for the puerility of that exercise (and while nobody's saying, the net is closing in) more questions might have been asked about their general conduct.

India are not blameless and had a word or two to say at Lord's, probably prompting England's riposte in Nottingham. But it was only a mild exaggeration of what has gone before this season. The cheap hood-in-chief is the wicketkeeper, Matthew Prior, who talks animatedly, spurring on his comrades, disparaging the opposition, being terribly smart. He may as well take the field in a trench coat and trilby doing Humphrey Bogart impressions. Prior, all of six matches into his Test career, said: "It comes with the territory. It's international cricket, it's a hard game. We all want to win, so you've got to have banter."

He was supported by the coach, Peter Moores, who having made a misjudged plea for the removal of stump microphones, said: "That's how he usually operates, that's what he does and that's what he was selected for." Moores, of course, knew exactly what he was getting. The team that he built at Sussex with Chris Adams was hardly known for reticence.

England are in danger of alienating their audience and of getting the balance wrong. Of course Test cricket is not a garden party, but nor is it a nightclub brawl. Prior would do himself a favour by looking at more experienced contemporaries.

Adam Gilchrist, who plays for a pretty good side, is not perpetually on the verbal case, and Kumar Sangakkara, of Sri Lanka, has mellowed considerably, understanding that a well-chosen word here and there is more penetrating than the interminable stream of insults in which he used to indulge.

England could do themselves a favour by examining the recent past. They won six successive series home and away in 2004 and 2005 not by posturing, not by enlisting braggadocio and machismo but by playing uncompromising, frequently attacking cricket. In their finest hour two years ago they might have been toe to toe with Australia, but they were not snarling. England are missing Andrew Flintoff for many reasons, but his sunny disposition and his determination to enjoy the contest are among the most obvious. And Stephen Harmison is the gentlest of souls. Likewise Matthew Hoggard. Under-stated intensity has brought them, respectively, 197, 205 and 240 Test wickets.

The unsavoury demeanour is particularly annoying because we are engaged in an authentic Test series between two pretty good teams. It should clearly have been the keynote series of the summer, of at least four matches, and the nonsense of playing seven one-day matches casts further doubt on the credentials of the administrators in both countries.

Both sides should be unchanged, and England's seven-hour selection meeting on Thursday focused more on the squad for the Twenty20 World Championship and one-day series in Sri Lanka than the composition of the squad for The Oval. However, they may be slightlytempted to introduce Stuart Broad for his Test debut. This is improbable given his lack of recent cricket, but the gamble could be taken. The batting order will be unaltered, but nobody should think they are untouchable. It is not performing well as a unit. Ian Bell is starting to look vulnerable, and a score when he is up against it would allay many doubts. The justifiable move to give Ravinder Bopara an opportunity is looking unstoppable.

England are capable of winning the match to ensure that their captain, Michael Vaughan, retains his record of never having lost a home series. It would help if they learned to be good again at being noble.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform