Last month, as I have watched a little of the 1989 Ashes series for the first time (at least since it was played), I was more convinced than ever before that English bowling at the tail end of the 1980s really was worse than at any other time in the history of cricket.
The abysmal line and length of English bowlers throughout the series really confirms what the 1990 and 1991 Wisdens were saying about the inability of English bowlers of the time to master even the basics. It demonstrates beyond the smallest doubt that the “Year of the Bat” in the following 1990 season — when not a single England-qualified bowler bowling minimally 1,000 balls averaged under 26 and the average number of runs per wicket in county cricket rose to a whopping 38.72 — had absolutely zilch to do with the quality of the batting. The extraordinary scores of 1990 were due to a combination of
- rigged pitches
- these were due to changes designed to reduce the effectiveness of county medium pacers, alongside full covering introduced to be more favourable to television broadcasting interests
- abysmal bowling standards as described above
One amazing but funny mishearing occurred last month when I said English bowling in the late 1980s was
“in the abyss”
was heard by my brother as
“in the abbess”!