Thursday, 20 January 2011

A Drop in the Ocean

So far the main talking point in the post Ashes encounters between England and Australia is the clinical decision by the management to drop Paul Collingwood for the first ODI.  Will he stay dropped?  While he has been included in the 15 man World Cup squad, this is still a difficult question. 

FB has a soft spot for Colly, so he hopes we haven't seen the last of him.  He is England's most capped ODI player (189) and the leading aggregate run-scorer with 4978.  FB thinks he is pretty important to the functioning of the team in several respects - although he accepts that if he can't deliver with the bat there is only one end to this story.

Strauss' comment was that Colly needs to get his head clear.  Well maybe, but just as important is that he gets back in the habit of scoring vital runs.  Can he do it and get back in the side?  Will he make the World cup squad.?  How do you expect Fantasy Bob to know?

But let's think.  Colly has previous in the dropping game and has bounced back before.  Four years ago he suffered a significant slump following his 206 at Adelaide. He went 14 innings without a fifty before illness kept him out of a match against Australia in Sydney. He returned for the following game against NZ and hit 106 which was followed by an unbeaten 120 and 70 in the two deciders against Australia in the 3 way ODI series.   Then, he was dropped for the second Test against South Africa in 2008, following another lean run. He was recalled for the next match and after a first-innings failure he hit 135.  So Collingwood is a man who knows how to fight back.  Has he used up all his lives?  History suggests that he can respond effectively to the big drop. 

But how do other players respond to the axe?  FB has little direct experience since he has made sure that he always plays in a side where there is a challenge actually to get eleven - so his chances of being dropped are correspondingly low.  At an earlier stage in his career he used to work hard on the quality of his sandwiches, a strong reason for continued selection.  Then being captain was also a bit of an insurance policy, the non-playing captain being more for the Ryder cup than the Ryden league.  More recently, owning a car with considerable boot space is persuasive to the selectors and adds extra insurance.  These are factors less open to the first class player.  Strauss and Flower may hesitate to give appropriate priority to the ability of Colly’s Volvo estate to ferry an assorted range of juniors from venue to venue.

How have other players around the Ashes series coped?  Ian Bell was dropped after England's ignominious 54 all out in Jamaica 2 years ago.  He says,   'England did me a favour dropping me. I knew I had to change. I don't think technically I was struggling, but other areas I had to improve on, if I hadn't addressed them I would not be here now.'  It is OK for him to say now since he has come back looking something like the complete batsman.    But did he feel this at the time? 

Mitchell Johnson was dropped after the First Ashes test, and very forlorn he looked too.  But the story was changed at some point - not dropped but rested and after some time (a couple of days) in the nets came back for the Perth test and got man of the match award. 

Nathan Hauritz was omitted from the Australian long list prior to the start of the series, and sold his kit in a garage sale so pleased with the decision was he. 

X Doherty is firmly Ex - dropped after the third test following the intervention of the RSPCCB (Royal Society for the Protection of Crap Bowlers). 

Kevin Pietersen was dropped last summer and showed his new found maturity by indulging in a four letter word strewn Twitter rant – which evidently restored his understanding of where off stump is - to judge from his return to some kind of form in the Ashes.

So there are many possible responses.
The drop also happens in other sports, Wayne Rooney was dropped earlier this season to protect him from the abuse of supporters following his adventures in sleaze land – and then out of indignation at his stated wish to leave Man Utd.  He still hasn’t quite recaptured the electric form of last season.  But, according to recent press reports, he used the time off creatively to refine his his tax avoidance plans,
And here is some advice on what to do if you are dropped. FB is particularly impressed by the point that you should learn some improved techniques but don't be too flash with them in training.  FB obeys that instruction to the letter - he is never flash with technique (or anything else) in training - or anywhere else for that matter.

But it's not just sports people who can be dropped.  Susan Boyle apparently wakes up in a cold sweat out of anxiety that she'll be dropped by Simon Cowell's machine.  FB imagines that there are many reasons to have nightmares relating to Simon Cowell, but this would not be too far up his list.

Like, so, like Kirsten
The last word on this compelling subject should go to actress Kirsten Dunst  (no, FB isn't too sure who she is either).  She could make claim to be the Ian Bell of the silver screen for recently saying that she is not angry about being dropped from the next Spider-Man movie. According to, she, Tobey Maguire, and director Sam Raimi were dropped by Sony for the fourth blockbuster.  She looks back positively, if with a rare inability to speak English, on her Spider Man legacy, saying "I felt like what we had during those films was so special, like me and Tobey and Sam.  It was such a unique experience and also because it was these independent minds and actors and you're making this huge film." 

These words cut no ice with Strauss and Flower and Dunst did not make the England World cup squad.

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