From Lawrence Booth’s Spin column this morning:
The seeds of England’s affable uselessness (“It’s OK to be beaten by
Mahela Jayawardene and chums: they’re a good bunch of blokes”) were
sown on the last tour of Sri Lanka in 2003-04. Nasser Hussain spotted
the danger: “I had watched how matey some of our players were with
Murali, particularly Freddie Flintoff,” he wrote in his
autobiography, “and I became concerned that this was having an
adverse effect on the side.” Hussain’s decision to get nasty as
Murali walked out to bat in the second Test at Kandy came about
because “I wanted him to feel he was in a hostile environment, not a
This is not to suggest that England start calling a member of the
opposition a cheat, as Hussain did. It is merely to illustrate that -
in the absence of a hard-nosed leader – England have lost their bite.
The Spin observed the off-field interaction between the English and
the Sri Lankans in this summer’s Test series very closely and it kept
reaching the same conclusion: Flintoff needs to add steel to his
repertoire, otherwise he will always hover in a lower captaincy
league than Hussain and Michael Vaughan.
Spot on. Mateyness has no place, especially when we’re losing so spectacularly. They all need a royal kick up the backside.