Anyone For a Bunch of Fives? (Belated) England Player Ratings for the Test Summer

jimmy

I admit this has come a bit late. Every Tom, Del and Harry revealed their player ratings for this summer’s tests a while ago. But that’s the good thing about The Full Toss. We don’t give two hoots about things like punctuality. How anti-establishment of us (waits for groans of approval / disapproval)

Anyway here goes …

Alastair Cook 6 – Gets marks for determination but not a lot else. Captained terribly in the first half of the summer (Warne, Hussain, Boycott, Vaughan etc were right) but at least managed not to blow commanding positions in the final three tests against India. In fact, he showed encouraging signs of doing the basics well. His batting remains a real worry though. There were fleeting glimmers of improvement, but needed outrageous luck to compile three somewhat stodgy half-centuries. Because lesser men would have simply given up when playing so badly, he gets a slightly better than average grade.

Sam Robson 5 – Normally, if a rookie opener scores almost as many runs as his skipper over the course of the summer (and makes one more century), his position would be assured. But we live in strange times people, strange times. To be honest I’m not sure what to make of Robson. His doesn’t know where his off-stump is, he looks rather scruffy at the crease, but the likes of Thorpe and Ramprakash (judges I admire enormously) believe in him. Having said that, I think his time is probably up. Who will replace him? It doesn’t really matter. Once Alex Lees is ready, it will be his spot for the next decade.

Gary Ballance 9 – Is he really a number three? I would say ‘yes’ but that would mean Peter Moores was right … and I don’t want to live in a world in which the nutty professor is all knowing! Basically Ballance has done everything asked of him. He’s the find of the summer. Let’s just hope he can score runs against top class bowling too. The Aussies are bound to wind him up and then make some lame “keep your shirt on mate” gags.

Ian Bell 6 – Oooooh this was a tough one to grade. He probably deserves a 7, but expectations of Bell are rightly higher than his peers. Often described by the mainstream media as England’s best player (a little bizarre considering they call his skipper the best England player of all time) Bell was expected to step up big time as the senior figure in the middle-order this year. It didn’t quite happen for him though. He scored just about enough runs to keep the wolf from the door, but there were still a few too many flaky dismissals for my liking. Will need a big 2015 if England are to regain the Ashes.

Joe Root 9 – Find that “Roooooooooooottt” chant annoying? Well you’d better get used to it I’m afraid. Joe looks so much better in the middle-order. He’s here to stay. Let’s not muck around and move him up to open again. If he can score runs against the Aussies next summer, he’ll go on to break all records … unless the selectors do something daft like make him captain. I’m being facetious obviously.

Moeen Ali 7 – I would have given him an 8, but he didn’t score many runs against India (despite being involved in two key partnerships) and I’ll be accused of Worcestershire bias if I rate him too highly. Ironically, after talking up his bowling all summer (I told you all he was the best spinner available to England irrespective of whether he was an all-rounder) I’m now going to recommend caution. He still has plenty to work on, so let’s keep expectations realistic. His batting needs to tighten up (especially against the short stuff) but he’s so naturally gifted that I half expect him to be a ‘rise to the occasion’ type, who bats better against the more potent attacks. Moeen got himself into trouble against India by thinking too much. When the bowling goes up a notch, his heartbeat rises and his instincts take over, I reckon he’ll be fine.

Matt Prior 3 – A poor grade but it really wasn’t his fault. He was blatantly injured, and if Cook (and Moores) hadn’t needed a security blanket, he wouldn’t have played. The selectors got a lot right this summer, but unfortunately they got this one wrong. But let’s not write him off just yet. If anything happens to Buttler, then Prior is more than capable of doing a Haddin. He’s also significantly younger than Haddin too.

Jos Buttler 8 – It’s hard not to get excited about Jos. He’s a born entertainer. If large sections of the public weren’t so disillusioned with the England team, the Buttler hype would be sky high. In a way, the current malaise might suit him then. His keeping was slightly better than advertised (which was a relief) and he showed an encouraging knack of applying himself as well as playing those delicious reverse sweeps and ramp shots. With Pietersen out of the picture, the team needs someone like Buttler.

Chris Woakes 6 – Has he really added a yard of pace? Maybe half a yard. Although he looked better than he did at The Oval in 2013, the jury’s still out. There are lots of things to like about Woakes – he’s got a good classic orthodox bowling action and a sound technique with the bat – but I’m not quite sure whether that’s enough. Strangely Woakes’ bowling is almost too orthodox (if such a thing is possible); batsmen see the ball out of his hand very clearly and line him up quite easily. However, being a purist I refuse to believe than orthodoxy is anything other than bloody marvellous. I’m genuinely perplexed. Help!

Chris Jordan 6 – Another cricketer I can’t quite fathom. He’s lightening around the field but approaches the crease like a clockwork toy running in sand. He occasionally makes the batsman hurry but the speed gun rarely registers over 140kph. My biggest concern, however, is that he doesn’t move the ball much. Could this be why he struggled to pick up wickets? Jordan could turn out to be a useful test player for England, but on the other hand he could be the new Chris Lewis (without the slight lisp, criminal record and penchant for shaving his head at inopportune moments of course).

Ben Stokes 6 – If it’s a choice between Stokes and Woakes, I’d say the future’s brighter with Mr Orange. The selectors obviously disagree though. I can see why they prefer the Warwickshire man – his orthodoxy is a coach’s dream and he’s far less likely to say / do anything controversial – but the truth is that Stokes takes wickets (even with bad balls) whereas Woakes doesn’t. Interestingly, the Stokes / Woakes dilemma actually reflects the schism within English cricket generally: it’s the talented maverick versus the predictable conservative option. Which side are you on? I suppose it depends whether you like a bit of excitement in your life.

Liam Plunkett 7 – I like Plunkett. He’s quick enough, bowls a heavy ball and is as strong as an Ox. What I don’t like, however, is the stupid bowling short from around the wicket plan. It’s macho; it’s brainless; it’s crap. Fortunately, however, I don’t believe it was Plunkett’s choice to bowl like that. It smelt like a pre-conceived Moores balls-up to me. Let Liam loose on the Aussies, with the freedom to bowl where he wants, and he’ll ruffle more canary yellow feathers than Woakes and Jordan.

Stuart Broad 8 – He wasn’t fully fit all summer, so Broady’s efforts were pretty heroic in the circumstances. He didn’t find his rhythm all the time (and was often down on pace) but as usual he was devastating when at his best. He should score more runs though, shouldn’t he. If we could put Alastair Cook’s head on Broad’s body, we’d create one hell of a batsman.

Jimmy Anderson 8 – Probably deserved a 9 as he did more than any other player to turn the series against India around and save his skipper’s job. However, because he ballsed up Lord’s so badly, and his on-field behaviour has become something of a distraction, I’ve decided to mark him down a bit. Having said that, Jimmy is probably the only world class player England have got left. OK, we can argue about who or what constitutes ‘world class’, but Anderson is, in my opinion, the only England player currently in the world’s top three or four at his particular craft.

James Morgan

42 comments

    • I’m with you Paddy. I’ve been reading this blog since the end of the Sri Lanka series and this is the first time I’ve agreed with more than 50% of anything written! I’m sure it won’t last :)
      Well written and entertaining as always, James.

      • To be fair Kev, this is the most miserable the blog has ever been. Had you started reading the blog a few years ago, I’m sure you’d have found a lot more of our stuff agreeable. Unfortunately these are polarising times :-)

        It was mostly success, success, success between 2010-2013! And lots of Aussie bashing. Always went down well.

  • Great blog. And pure genius with ” like a clockwork toy running in sand”. Perfectly encapsulates how Jordan looks.

  • “My biggest concern, however, is that he doesn’t move the ball much. Could this be why he struggled to pick up wickets?”

    Against India, he got 10 wickets at 22.3, at a strike rate of 36.8. That’s a better strike rate than any other English bowler, and a better average than Ali and Broad. Worse economy rate of course, but that’s because his bowling was all over the place most of the time.

    He takes wickets even when he’s bowling shite. A bit like Stokes. And Woakes is the opposite – he doesn’t take wickets even when he’s bowling well (5@43.4, SR of 85.2!)

      • The Indians surrendered so meekly at The Oval that I didn’t really count his wickets there. Bit selective of me perhaps, but I was thinking about Jordan earlier in the summer. Didn’t he go two tests without taking a wicket? Could be wrong. Point taken though. Those stats are pretty good!

  • I struggle to see any progress in Plunkett since his first spell in the England team. Is he any better than Rankin who also struggled?

  • I would like to give a 10 to Andrew Strauss for his brilliant Derrick and Clive impersonation “you f***ing c**t ”

    I would nominate Graeme Swann a 7 for his audition for a part in Downton Abbey with his claim that Test match tickets were £20

    Newman I would nominate a 0 for his extraordinary claim that Sri Lanka should not have mankad Butler, because it was in the rules. (Unbelievable)

    Nasser I would give a 9 for telling Cook if he stood down England would not miss his captaincy. Quite brave after what happened to Warne.

    Pringle and Selvey I would not bother marking because their work is unreadable.

    And finally a 9 to a Mrs Alice Cook from Essex ,who with her husband are going to try and become the new posh and Becks. No doubt they will be appearing on Mr & Mrs. Where Mr Cook will put on headphones and a blindfold and music (while sheep may safely graze) is piped in. Mrs Cook will then try to answer questions about how many slips her husband would want, and how many runs he would like as a lead before declaring.

    • Great stuff, Mark.

      Swann’s £20 gaffe is a contender for the low-point of the 2014 season. In the casual statement the gulf between inside/outside cricket was starkly revealed.

  • Great ratings, like Paddy I found myself nodding and agreeing with every single figure and comment, which never happens! The Woakes/Stokes/Jordan comparison draws parallels with Napoleon’s remark regarding his generals; to paraphrase – would a captain prefer good bowlers or lucky bowlers?!

  • I’m afraid you are much too generous to Cook — his stupid captaincy cost two test matches, he behaved like a complete dick to the Sri Lankans, his batting was torturous and beholden to outrageous luck (at the Oval he basically scored 79-4), and he gets only one mark less than Moeen Ali, who scored an almost-match-saving hundred and went from part-time spinner to match-winner within a few tests? Two to Cook, eight to Ali from me.

    Also, Prior’s selection was not just due to Cook’s needing a comfort blanket, it was the result of dishonest self-reporting on the extent of his injuries. Anyone who saw his performance at Headingley should have known that there was no way he could get through five back-to-back tests, and he shouldn’t have claimed he could. So 1 point to him from me.

    And why not use all of the available points? What more do you think Ballance could have done? 10 out of 10 to him, ditto for Root.

    • Good to have you with us Clive. No TFT thread is complete without the odd grumpy old man. It would’ve been me , but unusually I got out of bed on the right side today for a change :-)

      I’ll address your points in sequence.

      A. Cook had a summer of two halves. Because he finished on a high, it thought it fair to give him 6 rather than 5. Also I’m tired of bashing the bloke now, and it’s quite easy to spin his summer either way (for good or for bad). Yes his batting was still poor, but the stats say he averaged nearly 50. Had India taken their chances, this average would’ve been about 10 (!), but as someone said earlier in reference to Stokes, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

      B) Mooen bowled better than expected against India but batted worse. Hence a 7. An 8 or 9 would’ve disregarded half the reason he’s in the side.

      C) Prior went through rigorous fitness tests, so the selectors had their eyes open when they picked him. No matter how much pain you’re in, it’s how well you move that counts. Most cricketers experience some pain when they play.

      D) It’s hard to give 10s because 10s represent perfection in my book. Ballance and Root didn’t score a century in every inns so they’ll have to make do I’m afraid!

      Keep the comments coming … Enjoyable.

      • I’ll take grumpy, but steady on with the ‘old.’

        Maxie’s really answered for me, but I’d make one other point. After Lord’s, the England captaincy became much more collegiate, with Broad, Anderson, and Bell all noticeably taking charge of operations. As an example, see how quickly Broad stepped in at the Rose Bowl to help out Jordan when he was having problems with his grip. We know, too, that the turnaround in Ali’s bowling was thanks to some advice and extensive net practice with Ian Bell (to me, this was the revelation of the summer, and the complete answer to those who rubbish the idea of a Bell captaincy).

        But after the Oval win, there was another important revelation: the remark of Anderson that after Lord’s he and Broad decided to forget about the think-tank’s plans for each batsman, and go back to doing what they both do best. And this can be seen in the results: Anderson went back to bowling inswingers and outswingers, after which he had the number of most of the Indian batsmen, Broad went back to bowling to hit the top of off. The macho, semi-racist “these brown chaps don’t like it up ’em” bowling of Headingley and Lord’s was abandoned, and the bowlers concentrated on their own strengths instead.

        This is an extremely significant development, and as such, was inevitably passed over by all the major cricket journalists. It suggests an abandonment of the methods of the Flower, laptop-driven era, where England’s bowlers were expected to stick rigidly to plans, even when they weren’t working. This is precisely what leaks suggest the players asked for in the infamous Melbourne meeting. None of them had the guts to take it to the next logical step and blame Flower for the side’s performance, though — except KP. When he started slagging Flower off, they hung him out to dry. Of course, we don’t know exactly what was said, but this is the most plausible version of events.

        • Everything about this analysis makes sense. The reason England turned the series around was that Anderson and Broad began to bowl much more effectively – and much more naturally. Because, as you say, they were unshackled from the pre-ordained plan.

          In a sense, this was the end of Flowerism.

          Swann’s remarks on TMS today are fairly explosive – but as an insight into the Team England mentality, entirely unsurprising.

          “I remember sitting in a team meeting – before the new fielding restrictions were brought in – and we were told that if we scored 239 we will win 72% of games. That meant the whole game was built on having so many runs by a certain stage and having so many partnerships. I used to shake my head, thinking ‘this is crazy’. I remember Jonathan Trott getting close to a hundred in Colombo. We had batted to our plan almost perfectly and scored 229. Trotty got 86 in 115 balls. Everyone said “brilliant”, then Sri Lanka knocked them off in 39.3 overs.”

    • I’d tend to mainly agree with you, Clive. On the Cook point, when you say, James, that he was encouraging signs of doing the basics well…I honestly can’t see that’s much about for a man who’s captained England in 28 tests, and played in nearly 110.

      Prior can’t be blamed too much personally for trying to tough out his injuries, but his selection was foolhardy in the extreme, and smacked of blinkered, siege-mentality favouritism. I wonder if England would have won the last three tests so easily had Prior remained, instead of Buttler.

  • Hi James, not a bad summary but I think you strayed off the reservation a little with regards to Cook.

    Just because you are tired of bashing him doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve it. If you want to say you’re awarding sympathy points then you should do so.

    The bald facts are that his batting is in the toilet with no signs of improvement. His few scores were not as a result of improvement but as a result of a supine opposition doing everyting in their power to ensure he got runs. And by god he fought hard against them by trying to get out at every opportunity.

    His captaincy similarly has not improved either. It would be barely adequate at schoolboy level. He didn’t have to actually do any captaining, India took the initiative for him. Everyone says Dhoni is a poor captain, I beg to differ he did a remarkable job with England this summer.

    Cook 3/10 and I’m declaring one a sympathy point ‘cos I quite like roast lamb.

    • Much as I think that Cook is somewhat overrated as a batsman, and nothing more than an error prone adequate captain (in the Ponting mould), the fact is he won 3 tests in a row without making any errors and averaged nearly 50 with the bat. He deserves at least half marks. You can’t hang at batsman for dropped catches etc, or lbws not given, otherwise we’d have to chalk off Bell’s ton and give him a 3! Where would it end. Like him or loath him, Cook is a determined guy and I think that deserves some credit. Scyld Berry, who is one of the more impartial journalists, gave Cook a six in his ratings, and that’s what in trying to be here: impartial.

      Maxie. It’s possible the Prior fitness tests were not very thorough but again that’s not exactly his fault! I really don’t think the hostility to Prior is warranted. Just like Dimitri argued people shouldn’t forget the things KP did for England, the same applies to Prior. He was a very good servant for England and played heroically several times. Even if one objects to his role in the Pietersen sacking, surely he’s allowed one mistake in what was / is otherwise a distinguished career.

      • I’ll come in here, as I’m mentioned.

        No surprise, I’m a curmudgeon. Hate the marks out of 10 things. I’m not into all that.

        On Prior. I don’t blame him for playing, I blame the selectors and the management for picking him. I’m not besmirching his career, but to compare his alarming dive to that of KP, as some have, is a bit silly. It was worrying. It may also have been that like KP in 2009, when he was battling his achilles, he couldn’t take his footwork for granted and struggled as it got worse. His batting fell off a cliff, and Prior lost confidence. Achilles do have a terrible effect, Watch KP’s second innings at Lord’s in 2009 – it’s painful. Prior was probably going through mental hell with the bat. But good grief, I don’t expect him to not give it a shot, and not to turn down selection. It was clear, or at least it seemed that way, that Cook felt he needed to be there.

        If, and I mean if, we get him back to a fully fit, sharp Matt Prior he should be pushing Buttler for a place, and we should absolutely play him if Buttler is injured. But there needs to be some truth here. He needs to be fully fit. We’ve been down that road before.

        Prior’s glovework was poor, his batting after Lord’s went downhill, and by the end it was painful to watch. I’m not besmirching his career one bit. But unlike what we’ve done with you-know-who, I’m not consigning him to the scrapheap either.

      • But you are giving marks out of 10 for performances this summer, so Prior’s past achievements should not count for anything. Especially after his dreadful performances with both bat and gloves in seven home tests last summer and three away tests last winter, after which he was dropped. He should never have been picked this summer.

        I’ve always commented in the past what an unselfish player Prior is, especially when he’s batting — he always thinks of the team’s needs first, his batting partner second, and himself last. But it shows that when someone’s place comes under threat he can act selfishly and cynically, which is what declaring himself fit for five back-to-back tests against India after he had barely come through two against Sri Lanka. I said at the beginning of summer that there was no way he would last. Surely the England management could see that? At Lord’s, he dropped two catches on the first morning, and the malaise spread throughout the rest of the team. He couldn’t dive to his right and he couldn’t get down on the low ball. Buttler isn’t that great behind the stumps, but he’s better than a guy who last week admitted that in addition to his Achilles problem, he has a torn quad and a damaged arm, and experts have said he couldn’t have physically gone on a moment longer.

        I honestly can’t see him returning because Buttler has already shown he’s a damn quick learner, and he’s working with Bruce French — Prior knows himself what a good teacher French is. Plus Buttler is a guaranteed selection for all three formats.

        • Why was Prior even back in the side in the first place? He’d been dropped after ten consecutive poor tests. Had he really done much in early season county cricket – one century, and then injuries – for him to make a convincing case for recall?

          Or was it brought back because he was one of the boys, and to help Cook?

      • I did say it wasn’t Prior’s fault – I wasn’t castigating him personally for trying to tough out his injuries.

        I’d agree with Ian – Cook didn’t really have to do any captaining. When you score big or the oppo are 8-4 or 45-6, it’s a piece of piss. You prove yourself as captain when they are 375-2 and you claw your way back.

  • ” the fact is he won 3 tests in a row without making any errors and averaged nearly 50 with the bat.”

    James, the TEAM won the tests not Cook on his own ….. otherwise we’d be hearing how knackered he is bowling 50 overs from both ends on his own!!

    Having glanced at Ed Smith’s article (3 England caps) in Cricinfo maybe you could also consider rating all the journalists too – 4 pro Cook articles including one totally sycophantic one by somebody called Emma in last 24 hours in press

    • Yes the team won those tests, but Cook was the captain and he did fine (in those wins). The media coverage I would rate as 1 or 2 out of ten. At worst they failed in their duty to be impartial by spinning the ECB line; at best they got so obsessed with Cook as the story, and lazily blew it up into some kind of soap opera (in a tabloid way), that they forgot to focus on the real heroes: Anderson, Broad, Ballance and Root.

      • Cook was lucky that his summer or two halves was organised so that he only played two tests against SL and 5 against India. Reverse the order and we’d probably be looking at a 1-0 defeat by India and a 4-0 drubbing from SL.
        As far as his soi-disant “captaincy” is concerned, he managed to be adequate towards the end, but 6 is very generous. As for his batting, the fact that “he averaged nearly 50” is an abuse of statistics since although it is true it tells nothing like the story of his batting and makes it see as if he could once again be relied upon to steady the top of the order. No such evidence is yet available for that presumption.
        Maybe he does deserve half marks. A 5 would still be pushing it, but I’d concede it was possibly fair. Personally, watching him tell us all about Alice urging him to cling on to the marketing opportunities and wages that go with being England captain and reading so much of the sick making paens to his square jawed loveliness in recent days incline me to award him a 3. Even off the field, he’s an awful captain.

      • The Emma John piece is so toe-curlingly awful, it reads like a Hello! magazine parody. And in fact, I do smell something fishy, because this is absolutely nothing like Emma’s usual style. She’s a very good writer with a strong sense of humour who normally would be expected to skewer this kind of puff piece herself. For an example of her at her best, take this amusing article on supporting England in the nineties: My Poster Boys

        My theory, totally unsupported by anything but circumstantial evidence, is that this article is meant to sort out the Guardian’s dispute with the ECB over the Carberry interview earlier in the year. The ECB actually threatened to sue the Guardian over its coverage for not putting its side of the story (there’s a first!). The Guardian promised to print some kind of explanation, but this fell through because the wording could not be agreed. So I wonder if the Guardian promised them a totally uncritical puff-piece about Cook and Emma drew the short straw.

        The only trouble with this is that it doesn’t account for the rest of the Guardian’s uncritical coverage.

        • It’s an interesting theory. I’m inclined to always suspect the worst when it comes to the way the ECB try to control the agenda. We already know that Downton has in effect repeatedly breached the Pietersen confidentiality agreement by briefing journalists (and feeding them tall stories) off the record. Occasionally these yarns are proven to be false, or indeed lies – eg, Etheridge and the returned presents.

          There remains much suspicion that the ECB nobbled Shane Warne, behind the scenes, to stop him carping at Cook.

          But I don’t know whether the Guardian/Observer would collude with them i this way. Bearing in mind their role in Hack-gate, they’d be very averse to the charge of hypocrisy to which they’d be open if they agreed to a deal like this.

          My theories are these:

          – Journalists happen to naturally like Cook, and this skews their thinking.

          – They covet access, which is their most valuable professional asset. It makes sense to have a good relationship with Cook. There is no value in a good relationship with Pietersen.

          – The press seem to think that the public adore Cook. Good example here: http://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2014/may/16/alastair-cook-batting-england-fans-captain-cricket

          – On the surface, Cook’s story this year has a seductive narrative – a man on the brink, in the depths of despair, with everyone saying he should quit, digs deep into his reserves of courage. There is an epiphany, and a rebirth, and an inspirational comeback. When Emma John was pitching the piece to her sports editor, this would have been a more attractive narrative than the truth. But to make it work, she needed the reader to feel affection for him – hence all the gush and puff.

          – The likes of Selvey are personally close to Cook and also admire him professionally.

          I doubt that the Guardian as an entity has decided to take a specific editorial line about Cook. In any event, Selvey and Marks very likely write whatever they want to, without much interference.

          • Maxie “On the surface, Cook’s story this year has a seductive narrative – a man on the brink, in the depths of despair, with everyone saying he should quit,”

            But everyone WASN’T calling for him to quit. Most cricket writers were saying he should stay on. They have created a false narrative. One minute those of us who have called for him to quit are portrayed as “everyone.” The next minute when it all turned around we are portrayed as “morons and a minority outside cricket who know nothing”

            In some ways I have a little sympathy for Cook because I think he has been cynically used by higher Ups to protect their own jobs. The poor poor Alastair framing is a good way of concealing that it was actually poor poor Downton whose job was on the line. But Downton is not such a sympathetic character. All these puff pieces are I think attempts to cash in before the KP book comes out. And to gloss over the fact he shouldn’t be one day captain.

            As I have said before Cooks mission was to survive the summer. He has completed his mission. Next year ECB will not be so desperate to defend him. They won’t need him anymore to protect themselves.

  • “England did fantastically well to turn the Test series against India into a brilliant 3-1 victory and I am delighted for Alastair Cook. He deserves credit for the change in England’s fortunes and it is clear the addition of Jos Buttler has been an incredibly positive influence on the team and environment in the dressing room.”

    These are the words of Kevin Pietersen (in his article in today’s telegraph).

    Look, I am not a Cook fan by any means, and I absolutely do not enjoy defending him, but if even KP can give him some credit …

    • That’s not just straightforward praise, though, is it? He takes a big side-swipe at Prior, and by extension, Cook, who insisted on retaining him at the start of the summer, and even after Lord’s said “It’s up to Matt if he wants to play.” (There’s one point I would take off Cook right there, just for that stupid comment).

      He’s also subtly reminding us that Cook said Buttler was not ready for test cricket only a few weeks before his successful debut.

      And probably also suggesting: “See, you do need someone who plays his own way after all, not just robots who follow plans.”

  • Right on with the ratings James, good to see TFT getting back to analysing cricket ;)

    Could I add a 9/10 rating for the selectors, ECB grudges aside I think they did a pretty good job with selection.

    The phrase “Buttler’s not ready for test cricket” has been used as a stick to beat Cook and Moores with and with hindsight does seem an error of judgement, however considering he had (and still hasn’t) completed a first class season as wicket keeper it wasn’t such a daft thing to say, I don’t think Prior’s selection was ‘blinkered favouritism’ but at worst a misplaced hope the experience Priors’ fitness would hold while Buttler, who was clearly being groomed as his imminent successor, gained experience keeping wicket in 4 day cricket.

    Off subject but I’d like to highlight and agree with Swanns comments on TMS yesterday on why England won’t win World Cup – poor selection and tactical conservatism has and will continue to negate their potency as a 50 over power.

    • Prior was cooked as much because he was Cook’s bezzie as he actually had anything to offer. Prior’s keeping when he first got in the England side was naff – certainly no better than Butler’s now.

  • Very much enjoy reading these. I would far rather read someone willing to scratch beneath the veneer – especially as you get the impression the author really enjoys and knows the game and but can also be positive – than someone who just ignores the gaping deficiencies and just wants to big this side up!

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