Day one from ‘Eadingley

I’ll just go and practice in the nets then, shall I?!

South Africa 262-5 stumps

When asked about the balance of the team on Wednesday, Andy Flower said that the makeup of the side that got thrashed at the Oval had been the basis of the team’s success in the past, and therefore he saw no point in doing something drastically different (like picking five bowlers).

And yet at approximately 10.30 on Thursday, England dropped the man who has done more than anyone else to create the success to which Flower referred.  The man in question, of course, was Graeme Swann – the man who actually enables England’s four bowler strategy to function by tying up an end, allowing the seamers to rotate from the other, and then attacking the oppositions left handers.

It was an astonishing decision by a management team that have clearly lost the plot. England haven’t fielded a spinner in a test match since 2003. We got hammered in that match, and if we get hammered in this one too, Flower and Strauss will deserve everything they get.

At the moment that England’s team was announced, Rudolph and Duminy must have been tempted to send Strauss and Flower a tin of Roses to say ‘thanks very much, chumps’.

Meanwhile, what the rest of the world makes of us dropping one of our few genuinely world class players – a cricketer of great standing across the globe – whilst including a fresh faced young batsman who averages just 35 in country cricket since April 2011, heaven knows.

When football managers are under fire from all quarters, the bad ones keep choosing the same formation in the hope that things will turn around. And because his tactics are the root cause of the fans’ criticism, the manager becomes intransigent – digging his heels in and hoping that, somehow, he’ll eventually be proved right.

Even worse football managers respond to defeat by dropping completely the wrong players. Ask Chelsea fans what they thought of the much maligned AVB when he started dropping the likes of Frank Lampard. He made his point alright, but he also proved himself to be a complete pelican.

England’s management have got a lot to be proud of. Although the team has played badly since September last year, they’re still in credit. One just hopes that dropping Graeme Swann isn’t Andy Flower’s AVB moment.

South Africa have already compiled a handy 262-5 (that’s effectively 262-4 as one of the wickets was the nightwatchman). If the sun shines tomorrow, England will be in trouble. What’s more, our seamers will be bowled into the ground with no spinner to do the donkey work. I hope fans with tickets for tomorrow like watching Jonathan Trott bowl.

I’ll be watching the Olympics tomorrow. It should be a lot less frustrating.

James Morgan


  • Crazy decision to drop Swann – a selection from the Dark Ages. We are constantly sucked in by the Headingley myth and selecting based on what the conditions may have been like 20 years ago rather than what they are now. Could you imagine Australia dropping Warne or Sri Lanka leaving out Murali just because the pitch had a reputation for being a bit seamer friendly?

  • Dropping Swann was a bit of a shock to me, however there where reports that his elbow had flared up again, and he was struggling for full fitness. I personally think he should have been left in the team, with Broad being dropped for Finn.


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