Matthew Hoggard, an Ashes winner in 2005, believes the current team will do themselves no favours if they place too much emphasis on the effect of incoming England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Graves’s choice of phrase before they set out for the three-Test tour of the Caribbean.
England arrive back home today, after a chastening defeat in Barbados against a developing team who, therefore, earned a 1-1 draw.
In the aftermath of disappointment at the Kensington Oval, England captain Alastair Cook was tempted to reflect on the questionable timing of former Yorkshire chairman Graves’s description of the West Indies as “mediocre”.
The chairman, who will begin his tenure next week, went on in the same radio interview in March to promise “some inquiries” if England failed to beat their hosts.
After that came to pass on Sunday, Cook, who made an overdue century in the third Test, likened Graves’s comments to a “team talk” for the opposition. He acknowledged, too, that the chairman’s utterances would have been “irrelevant” if England had played to their potential – and former Yorkshire bowler Hoggard believes more home truths will be in order as England seek to rally in time for this Ashes summer.
“I think it was a big, bold statement from Colin Graves,” said Hoggard, who is participating in the 2015 series of Great Swim events on behalf of cricket-based charity Cricket Without Boundaries (CWB).
“But I don’t think it was that far away from the truth.
“England did go over as favourites and would fully have expected to have beaten the West Indies. You can’t hide behind an incoming chairman’s comments.”
Instead, Hoggard insists, all involved in Cook and coach Peter Moores’s team must take personal and collective responsibility for their own performances.
“You need to take it on the chin and say ‘right, we played poorly, we should’ve gone on and won the series’,” said Hoggard.
“Yes, the West Indies could’ve used it (Graves’s assessment) as a bit of motivation. But sport is measured on performances and results and England didn’t get the result that everybody expected.”
Hoggard added: “I think the selectors have got to have a little bit of responsibility for the wrong team.
“But they can’t be solely held responsible for the performance of the players. The players have still got to hold their hands up and say ‘I didn’t take enough wickets, I bowled poorly’.
“I don’t think we’re a million miles away... but to say we had a good series is a little bit optimistic.
“Alastair Cook’s scoring some runs; James Anderson is going from strength to strength; Joe Root and Gary Ballance continue improving.”
Seamer James Harris took 9-34 to guide Middlesex to a 187-run victory against Durham at Lord’s.
The Welshman sent the visitors packing for a second-innings 71 in 24.1 overs and finished with match figures of 13-103.
With two already in the bag when Durham resumed on 24-2 in pursuit of 259 to win, Harris took the next five and had figures of 7-20 after eight overs.
Steven Finn spoiled his chances of taking all 10 when he claimed the eighth wicket by having Usman Arshad caught in the slips off bat and pad.
Yorkshire’s T20 warm-up match against the South Yorkshire League at Abbeydale Park last night was washed out.