One of my favourite features of the New Year is the arrival of the ticket application forms for the Lords debenture holders. I would consult my diary, inscribe the fixtures in it and book the hospitality.
The executive in charge, an excellent fellow who did much to create a club ambience in our group, left.
His replacement emailed us with the news that from now on ticket application was by internet hub. At the time of receipt I groaned as this was yet another new device with which to grapple. I was duly informed the hub was open for business yesterday and – anxious to obtain tickets for both the ICC World Cup and the Ashes – I tried to use it. There seemed no sign of life but apparently it was not operational till midday.
Then because of software issues it was put back till 5.00. At 5.30pm it was not giving me any method of payment. At 7.00pm I was finally successful but, wishing to buy more later, this proved unachievable. Most of my fellow debenture holders are 60-plus and I wonder how they coped.
England are favourites but we are not an overwhelming side so I fancy India with New Zealand as best bet. Here are no whipping boys, both Afghanistan with the best white ball spinner in the world Rashid Khan and Bangladesh, capable of pulling off surprises. I’ll hold judgment on the Windies till after the ODIs in the Caribbean whilst Australia and Sri Lanka have their own internal problems.
As or England’s 2-0 reversal in the Windies, it does tell me that the much-praised selection policy by Tom Harrison, CEO of the ECB, is unjustified.
Where there is no platform of runs from 1-3 positions the pressure on the middle order on atrocious pitches against hostile pace becomes excessive. Joe Denly, Rory Burns and Keaton Jennings simply do not produce the runs necessary but, batting down to Sam Curran you would hope and expect there are 300 plus runs.