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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Tuesday August 20 2013

There are lots of pieces now doing the rounds, pieces like this one, about how Australia are now behaving like England used to, by picking too many players and not sticking to one side and backing this side.  The implication is that inconsistent selection is what is now causing Australia to keep on losing, just as similar inconsistency used to cause England to lose.  There is some truth in this sort of talk, but not nearly as much as those who say these things seem to imply or believe.

Saying that selection inconsistency makes a team lose is mostly to get the causal connection the wrong way round.  England used to pick lots of different players because they were losing, and were constantly searching for a different and better side.  England now select consistently because they are now, on the whole, winning.  Australia now keep picking new or different players because they keep losing.

It is perfectly logical that a losing side would chop and change, in the search for a better team than the losing team they now have.  Pick your best team and stick with it, say the critics who demand consistent selection.  But does it make sense to stick, and to keep on sticking, with a team that keeps on losing?  Selection consistency may be a virtue.  But consider also that saying about how doing the same thing again and again but expecting a different result is daft.

A similar mistake is made about “body language”.  Bad body language is said to cause you to lose.  Again, there is some truth in this.  Keeping your pecker up and not letting the other fellows see that you think you’re beaten can sometimes make a difference.  But mostly, it is your game going badly which causes your body language to be bad.  As soon as your game starts to pick up, so does your body language.

A losing team which behaves like a losing team is denounced by its fans for behaving like a losing team.  Pull yourselves together guys!  Show a bit of spirit!  But a losing team which behaves like there is no problem is denounced for not caring about losing.  If Australia now strutted about like they were 3-0 up instead of 3-0 down, everyone would call them pillocks.  If they carried on picking the exact same team, game after game, just as they would if they were winning, everyone would moan about that too.  A losing team just can’t win!  Until it does win, at which point its body language automatically gets better and its selection automatically becomes more consistent.

LATER: Here’s Broad making the exact same point about selection as I have been criticising:

“We are lucky we play in a time when selectors back players. It would have been different if we had this group of players in the 1990s. If they had two bad Tests they would be gone.

“But now, because the selectors have backed a group of players, we have a collective experience and belief in each other.”

But what if their “collective experience” had simply been a long string of losses?  Would these same selectors have continued to back the same losing side?

And what happens when this current winning England side starts to seriously fall apart, as it soon will, when players like Anderson and Swann (Swann in particular) have stopped playing?  How consistent will selection then be?  Something tells me I may be doing one of those I told you so link backs that we bloggers are so fond of.  When we actually did tell you so, I mean.