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Buttler’s Test Recall: Championship Kicked In The Crotch Again

Oh dear. I can already tell that Ed Smith and I are not going to get along. The selection of Jos Buttler to play as a specialist batsman at No.7 is indefensible if you believe in the county championship. And it’s also indefensible according to Smith’s own evidence-based methodology.

First of all it’s necessary to separate Jos Buttler the T20 batsman and Jos Buttler the test batsman. The former is a brilliant player. He’s one of my all time favourite limited overs batsman and a bit of a genius on his day. Buttler’s white ball game, which is based around a brilliant eye and fast hands, is ideally suited to T20. He’s undoubtedly a world class white ball batsman. As were the likes of Michael Bevan, Graeme Hick, and Neil Fairbrother of course.

Unfortunately however, Jos Buttler the first class batsman is a flawed specimen with a somewhat fallible technique. He’s often too loose outside the off-stump and also vulnerable against the short ball. Fast bowlers tremble when they see Jos Buttler wearing pyjamas. But when he’s wearing whites they’re queuing up to have a bowl. Just ask the Australians who played in the 2015 Ashes.

It’s extremely revealing that Jos has reached 50 or more a massive 31 times in the shortest form of the game, but only reached 50 or more a paltry 24 times in red ball cricket. That’s quite astonishing when you think how much longer he gets to bat in the championship or test cricket. The obvious reason, of course, is that he rarely survives long enough to make big scores.

We keep hearing that Smith is a man who embraces hard evidence; someone who likes statistics to back up his intuition. Well here are some damning stats for you: there are currently 10 keepers in county cricket with superior first class averages to Buttler: Ben Foakes, Tim Ambrose, Alex Davies, James Foster, Steve Davies, Adam Rossington, Chris Cooke, Ben Brown, John Simpson (by a whisker), and Gareth Roderick. Furthermore, this list doesn’t even include Jonny Bairstow and Joe Clarke (who reportedly wants to keep more regularly).

And let’s not forget that Buttler will be playing as a specialist batsman, despite only making four first class hundreds in 99 games and 156 innings. How many specialist batsmen in the country have better records than that? I’m going to suggest the ECB’s favourite round number: a hundred.

Like many people I’ve seen Buttler’s recent efforts in the IPL. He’s been nothing short of phenomenal. But surely someone as shrewd as Ed Smith realises that T20 form is completely irrelevant when it comes to test cricket (otherwise we might as well recall Duckett and Hales). What’s more, surely the last thing England’s test team needs at this time is yet another stroke-player?

The truth is that Ed’s brief should’ve been to identify players who can knuckle down, bat time, and score big hundreds. After all, isn’t that what everyone criticised James Vince (the batsman dropped for Buttler) for? Instead Smith has inexplicably recalled a player with similar flaws. At least Vince finally made a massive century yesterday so he’s in form. Buttler’s hasn’t even played any championship cricket for months. Indeed he rarely plays any at all – which is why he’s probably Lancashire’s third choice first-class keeper behind Dane Vilas and Alex Davies. Would Buttler even get a game for Lancs if he was ever available? I know some Lancs fans think he wouldn’t.

The other thing that irritates me about Buttler’s recall is it insults both the county championship and the players who have done the hard yards in the championship trying to win an England test place. How does one explain Buttler’s inclusion to the likes of Ben Foakes, or even one of the many specialist batsmen currently knocking on the door like Joe Clarke and Liam Livingstone (who was England’s spare batsman in New Zealand)? The latter might not be in the best form but at least he can remember what whites look like.

One wonders – and I hate to be so cynical – whether Buttler’s selection has something to do (whether intentional or not) with making the championship appear increasingly irrelevant at a time when the ECB is prioritising its ridiculous Hundred concept? After all, what’s the point of our domestic first class competition if players win international honours based on form in a foreign T20 slogathon? I bet you Daryl Mitchell and the PCA members aren’t too impressed at Buttler’s inclusion just days after stressing that the county championship is every player’s No.1 priority. If only we could be sure that the board and our new national selector shared the players’ outlook.

I’ve been racking my brain for other explanations for Buttler’s inclusion but I have to admit I’m struggling. Other explanations might even be (a) Ed Smith’s desire to be funky, or (b) the ECB’s desire to include one of its most famous and marketable stars in the test team (money talks etc). However, I can discount the former because picking Jos Buttler isn’t remotely funky; it’s an unoriginal and stale idea that’s been tired before and quickly discarded. As for the latter, let’s see how much the public wants to watch a losing team.

Anyway, I’ve written enough about Buttler. Now he’s in the team we wish him well. He seems like a good lad and it’s not his fault he’s been plucked from India by a man with no plan. Instead lets move onto the other controversial decisions. I won’t write too much about Root moving to three. I believe it’s the wrong decision because Joe averages more the further down the order he goes. I also don’t agree that Malan is a number 4. To me he’s a natural 5 because he’s elegant, plays crisp shots, but doesn’t move his feet too much; therefore I’d feel more and more comfortable the lower he bats.

The other two selections that are somewhat head-scratching are the retention of Mark Stoneman, who I read hasn’t made a score greater than 30 for Surrey this summer, and the left-field selection of Dom Bess. I don’t feel particularly passionate about either of these calls but they’re not the decisions I would have made.

Stoneman is an honest opening batsman. He’s looked ok at times but also been vulnerable against short bowling, which isn’t exactly ideal for an opener. Personally I felt that Rory Burns deserved a chance to shine. Or failing that (and only if he’s worked on his technique since he last played for England) Keaton Jennings. At least recalling the latter might have been justified by his two recent championship hundreds.

When it comes to Bess I have mixed feelings. I like him a lot as a cricketer. In fact, I picked him in my projected Ashes team a few months ago. However, I can’t avoid the fact that he’s taken just one solitary first class wicket this season. I admit the conditions have often favoured the seamers this ‘summer’ but that hasn’t stopped Surrey’s Amar Virdi from putting in several incredibly impressive performances. In fact, Bess has impressed with the bat far more than the ball thus far.

Having said that, there’s no doubting Bess’s class and potential. I’m looking forward to watching him play, even if once again his selection ignores domestic form. But hey, who cares about the championship when you’re an ECB employee? And the more you can give subtle signals that championship cricket is now irrelevant the better.

I’m probably wrong to be this cynical, of course, but that’s how it currently feels. And with everything else that’s going on in English cricket you can hardly blame me. Did you see Colin Graves argue that kids don’t like T20 yesterday? Yes Colin, and the moon is made of cheese and Jos Buttler is England’s test saviour.

James Morgan

 

2018-05-15T20:59:26+00:00 May 15th, 2018|Player Spotlight, Test Cricket|45 Comments

45 Comments

  1. Hungerpang May 15, 2018 at 5:12 pm - Reply

    Pardon my language on your site James but this selection is just one big fucking piss-take. Vince made 76 in his last Test innings and a patient, game-saving 200 yesterday, and he’s dropped? For Buttler? Reminds me of the day they told KP where to go the day after he’d made 300 (which was also the day when a mate had said “Fancy coming to The Oval?”, to which I replied “Sorry, need to paint these windows while the sun’s out”….aaaaarrrrrggggghhhhh!)

    I’ve close to had it with this game, because it’s no longer the game I fell in love with. It’s just so sad. Tom, Andy, Colin, Ed bloody Smith & Co – your fate is in the hands of mums with small kids. Good luck with that one…

  2. muffin May 15, 2018 at 5:47 pm - Reply

    Not an entirely unexpected contribution, James; I was surprised too ( though not as anti as you are).
    Wouldn’t it make more sense for Buttler to take the gloves and Bairstow to be the specialist batsman? Both have flaws as keepers (though Bairstow has perhaps made a bit more progress). I’ve not seen Foakes keep – how good is he?

    • Nick May 16, 2018 at 7:45 am - Reply

      Foakes is the most natural keeper but he is still also a work in progress, he missed a stumping against Yorkshire and there have been other mistakes that go under the radar in County Cricket that would be made a huge deal of in a Test Match. I remember a piece about him describing him as a catcher of great catches but not yet a great keeper. All this is irrelevant if Bairstow continues to do the job with bat and gloves and Buttler is picked on talent. What can Foakes do?

  3. James May 15, 2018 at 5:52 pm - Reply

    Utterly bonkers, but what do you expect? Maybe the ECB recognises Buttler’s name, and is using him for marketing purposes? I also totally agree about Malan. In fact, I like Nick Compton’s idea (this may not often happen) that Cook should bat at 3. Bring back Jennings, who is at least in some kind of form, to open with Stoneman. Is this perfect? No, but what can you do with what’s available?

  4. Benny May 15, 2018 at 5:58 pm - Reply

    Apart from the two surprises, this is probably the team Whittaker would have selected. Another slightly new (but not much) Era for us

  5. SimonH May 15, 2018 at 6:01 pm - Reply

    There’ll be two Test teams on the field – and this may well be enough to beat a Pakistan lacking Misbah, Younis, Yasir and Wahab from last time and with Amir half-crocked. Pakistan are so weak now they lost at home to Sri Lanka. These aren’t exactly two XIs for the ages.

  6. Elaine Simpson-Long May 15, 2018 at 6:20 pm - Reply

    Shane Warne was chatting to Mike Clarke at the IPL today and he said Buttler was brilliant and he felt he should be playing Test Cricket. I admit I am puzzled by his choice but let us see how he gets on

    • James Morgan May 16, 2018 at 8:41 am - Reply

      That’s par for the course really. People see him in the nets and go ‘wow’. They see him in a T20 and go ‘wow, he’s so talented surely his skills can translate”. But the bottom line is that Buttler looks a very different player when a world class bowling attack in trying to get him out with a packed slip cordon and a man on the hook.

      Plenty of people said exactly the same about Yuvraj Singh. But after 40 tests, numerous recalls, and an underwhelming average of just above 30, India fans had to accept that he simply wasn’t up to test cricket – despite having perhaps more natural talent than any other player on the planet.

  7. Cameron May 15, 2018 at 6:27 pm - Reply

    I’m new to commenting on here but have been reading this blog for a few years now and I totally agree with you James, I can’t fathom the Buttler decision. He is my favourite 1day/t20 batsman by miles but he has played as much long form cricket as I have in the past few years (not a lot btw). Having read the news on BBC sport first, they’re reporting it as Root at 3 and Malan at 4. Surely we needed some more change than Buttler and Bess coming in. Burns, Gubbins, Clarke, even Vince and Jennings have made scores and I think Stoneman is extremely lucky to have kept his place! I could go on.. But I won’t.

    • James Morgan May 16, 2018 at 8:42 am - Reply

      Good to have you onboard Cameron. Cheers for commenting.

  8. growltiger May 15, 2018 at 6:41 pm - Reply

    This is beyond ridiculous. I guess Smith is trying to demonstrate some post-modernist concept of selection, where form and class are both outmoded, as well as suitability to the task. There is a touch of irony, of course, in the treatment of Vince. You have to admire the effrontery of it. But Joss Buttler does not have a defence. In any case, putting him in as a specialist number seven is really harking back to the dark ages (wasn’t the last one so-selected Ian Ward?). Game over, really.

  9. Kenaz May 15, 2018 at 6:59 pm - Reply

    I think I have about given up on England and the ECB. I’ll support club cricket and my county (for the remaining life the championship has left before the ECB finally kill it off) but these corporates are absolutely destroying the sport at the top tier, not just ECB but CA also with their Bangladesh decision.

  10. Mark May 15, 2018 at 7:11 pm - Reply

    Where is sam Curran? Taking wickets for fun and surely the variation we would love in the attack. Mark wood as much as I like his character needs to prove a period of fitness in 4 day cricket before he should be considered.

    Foakes Livingstone and Clarke should be feeling very unlucky indeed. Foakes was also back up on last tour and without doing anything wrong he is dropped. In fact he has been making runs…

    Which other test team feels the need for a specialist bat at 7 anyway? Surely the number of allrounders we have goes even further against this ploy? It really does feel a lot like we are back to crazy days of the 90s England set up with very confused management. Strauss is a massive disappointment.

    Test team in 4 years time under freddie flintoff:

    Jennings
    Root
    Clarke
    Pope
    Livingstone
    Bairstow
    Stokes
    Archer
    S curran
    Bess
    Porter/stone

  11. Edward May 15, 2018 at 7:21 pm - Reply

    Completely disagree cricket in England on green tops against bog average bowlers with the ball moving all over the place tells you little of value about batsmen and nothing about bowlers

    • JackieL May 16, 2018 at 12:05 pm - Reply

      Do you think Buttler has proved much in the IPL given the small boundaries, four overs per bowler and the lack of a slip cordon? They tried the same logic with Hales. Didn’t work for Morgan either. The ECB underestimate the skills needed for Test Cricket because they think only in marketing and product terms. Kohli realised there is a huge difference. That is why he is acclimatising here. Buttler will play without any preparation. Smith doesn’t know how to select from the championship.

  12. John May 15, 2018 at 7:47 pm - Reply

    Nice to have an unpaid ghost writer. On the money.

  13. Doug M May 15, 2018 at 8:53 pm - Reply

    Well not much more to add. Not really unexpected from the EC B idiots. Of course it’s nothing to do with a best test side, it’s about killing off the Championship followed by test cricket for 24 hour t20 and 100 f…ing bollocks. Other wise why would you pick a player, Butler, who wouldn’t get in the Lancashire side and I’ve had this first hand from Lancs members.He’s crap in 4/5 day cricket. Bess has taken 1 wicket this season, Virdi although only 19 has already taken 17. How do you justify that? Plus for Christ’s sake 4 right bloody arm 82mph seamers- again! Wood can bowl 3 overs fast at best, Broad and Anderson will soon need repacing. Woakes hardly plays county cricket. Great opportunity wasted here against a sub standard Pakistani side. If I were a County player I’d be seething. Talk about a kick in the teeth. Hope they vote not to play in the new crap.

    Actually as a Surrey supporter the one thing Smith has done is take our only out of form batsman away, Stoneman. Stuff test cricket and I never thought I’d say this, but I hope they lose every test, because it’s the only way anything will change. I’ll be following a rampant Surrey and wouldn’t watch England even if you paid me.

    C’mon Smith and Graves let’s hear what garbage explanation you have.

    • Tate May 16, 2018 at 8:10 am - Reply

      Agree completely about Buttler. My mate plays for Lancs and he loves bowling against him in the nets with a red ball: “snicks off every f-ing time”. He runs a mile when Jos is in the nets against a white ball, but that is another matter. Hopefully we are all wrong, but I doubt it.

      • James Morgan May 16, 2018 at 8:43 am - Reply

        This comment needs to be retweeted to Ed Smith. Everyone should read it.

        • Tate May 16, 2018 at 9:11 pm - Reply

          Just don’t put my name on it – my mate will not be happy!

  14. Marc Evans May 15, 2018 at 9:00 pm - Reply

    If you want to win a test you have to bowl the opposition out twice, barring a dodgy declaration. How does including an extra batsman help this. It is and always has been a defensive ploy not to lose, which has backfired more often than not with England and certainly displays little confidence in the encumbents. If this is the mindset of the new regime, results are not going to improve. Quick 50 merchants do not win tests.
    It is incredible to me that the ECB seems immune to the most basic logic in its continued search for the ‘missing link’ which will suddenly create a new era for English cricket. We need IQ tests for these guys.

  15. Doug M May 15, 2018 at 10:53 pm - Reply

    Check out Agnews article in the BBC. Completely supporting his TMS mate Smith’s selection. Like TMS he’s lost all his credability. Shame, used to like him and the show.

  16. Kenaz May 15, 2018 at 11:02 pm - Reply

    It is strange. The usual cricket-media types (Aggers, Legside Lizzy, Vic Marks, Paul Newman) are really throwing their weight behind Ed Smith and this selection yet they didn’t have a good word to say about the Ashes squad – it is a real volte-face. Ulterior motives anyone, if we permit cynicism?

    • Nigel May 16, 2018 at 5:05 am - Reply

      It does seem that they are giving a mate a very strong benefit of the doubt.

      As far as the selections are concerned, i think that of Bess is entirely defensible. There are not a huge number of spinning options, he clearly has talent, and though it’s a gamble the potential reward outweighs the risk. In that context, sticking with the seamers makes some sense particularly as Woakes home test average is around three times better than away.

      The Butler pick is bizarre in its own right, but simultaneously shifting most of the top order up a place, risking Root and Malan’s form, to make room for a specialist number seven is beyond absurd.
      What is worse is that given Pakistan’s weakness a couple of results might see the nonsense being persisted with….

    • James Morgan May 16, 2018 at 8:47 am - Reply

      I haven’t read much reaction to the Buttler selection but it makes sense they’d support someone they know well. Buttler is also a nice guy and easy to like, so it again it makes sense that they really want this selection to work and are looking at it through somewhat rose tinted specs. Is this objective? Probably not. But then again, I was so cynical about Smith’s appointment that I’m probably not being totally objective either 🙂

      • Nigel May 16, 2018 at 12:50 pm - Reply

        This from Agnew seems just silly:
        “Captain Joe Root has made no secret of not wanting to bat at number three, but he has volunteered to do so for the good of the team. It is another positive move.
        Dawid Malan, who impressed over the winter, is more than capable at four…”

        I’m not sure what’s positive about making the team’s best player bat in a position he’s not comfortable with – and Vince is likely a more natural (and certainly more gifted) number four than Malan, who might just be exposed by a move up the order.

        And this to facilitate a ‘specialist number seven’…

  17. Harmy's Head May 16, 2018 at 4:55 am - Reply

    Cannot see the logic of recalling Buttler, especially as a specialist batsman at 7. Yes he’s been going great guns in the IPL, but that should mean nothing as regards Test selection. Quite apart from the fact that the last thing our fragile batting line up needs is another T20 blaster, Buttler lost his way in all forms of the game last time he was in the Test side, by trying to make himself into a Test player (which he isn’t), and only recovered form in the white ball formats when he was dropped from the Test side.

    Glad Smith has given Bess a go rather than recalling Moeen as I feared he would. Having been warming the bench in the IPL, Wood proved form and fitness with a long bowl and 6-for against Derbyshire on Monday – I really hope they have the balls both to pick him ahead if Woakes and allow him to bowl normally rather than just telling him to bang everything in halfway down the track. If Stokes is fit to bowl a full spell then Wood is best used in short sharp bursts, much like Michael Clarke used to deploy Mitchell Johnson.

    • James Morgan May 16, 2018 at 8:48 am - Reply

      Agree with every word mate.

  18. Andrew Cheese May 16, 2018 at 5:43 am - Reply

    Strange but who knows; give Smith a chance. The selectors have got to do something. My only gripe is that Stoneman is still in the squad.

  19. Growltiger May 16, 2018 at 7:07 am - Reply

    “My only gripe is that Stoneman is still in the squad”

    Sadly, I agree with you about Stoneman. Just watching him at the other end from Rory Burns has made it clear that something that went wrong with Stoneman in Australia has not come right since the start of this season. Apart from the fancied Gubbins and Jennings, even Adam Lyth looked in better shape in the last match at the Oval.

  20. Comte May 16, 2018 at 7:12 am - Reply

    Like others on here I have now reached the past-caring stage. Bollocks to the ECB and all who sail in her.

  21. Nick May 16, 2018 at 8:08 am - Reply

    Stoneman retaine who needs a hundred in the next two which is a precarious position to be in and is a good indicator for this side. Nothing seams permanent but nothing much changes.

    James Vince dropped just as he was starting to score runs is classic England but if he keeps scoring he will be back soon enough. His elegance means it won’t take much and despite scoring at about ‘found out’ post 2014 Gary Ballance levels for England there won’t be the same question of his quality.

    Ed Smith has long been a Buttler fan so I suppose it a good sign he has stuck to he views rather than reverting to the England view that Buttler should be left to white ball. Batting at seven with the tail behind is a pretty thankless task, Bairstow’s average over the last year is poor because when he is batting with the number 11 he throws his wicket away

  22. James Morgan May 16, 2018 at 8:51 am - Reply

    The other thing I wanted to add to my article is that Buttler’s selection goes against the trend of cricketers specialising in one form of the game – something I understand that Strauss is keen on. By picking Buttler in test cricket we risk undermining the confidence of a special white ball talent, and we also expose him to burnout in the run up to the world cup.

    This really is a daft selection on every level. It’s like recalling Alastair Cook to the T20 team because Smith saw him get a couple of solid 50s for Essex in the championship & because “he’s just so talented that I assume his skills are transferrable to any form of the game” … despite all previous evidence.

  23. Growltiger May 16, 2018 at 8:59 am - Reply

    The sometimes-responsible George Dobell wrote that picking Buttler “may be a lot of fun”. So might tying a firework to the cat’s tail. So might picking Vince. No argument has been advanced that any of these choices would improve the probability of England winning a Test match, or drawing one when caught on a greenish Lord’s pitch against Amir. The idea of installing Ed Smith as selector was supposed to be that he applied some thought to the selection process, but that appears to have been a mistake.

    • James Morgan May 16, 2018 at 10:08 am - Reply

      Everyone loves the idea of Jos Buttler being successful in test cricket. Everyone wants it to work out so much. But what reason is there to believe it will be different this time? It’s like Graeme Hick all over again … who also batted 7 in test cricket a few times.

  24. Bob May 16, 2018 at 10:17 am - Reply

    Morning all, long time listener first time poster,

    I wonder how much influence Bayliss, Strauss et al had on the selection. I’ve read a lot about Buttler and completely agree with both sides of the argument that; a – ‘He’s such an incredible talent and possibly the best short-form batsman so it’s worth one or two series to put the question to bed of “What if?” At the same time, it’s a massive slap in the face to county cricket. It sets the precedent that it doesn’t matter what you do in CC… The way into the team is to score a bucket loads of runs in an irrelevant T20 tournament on the other side of the world.

    To be fair to Stoneman, he was thrown in against possibly the best two seam attacks in the world and ‘just’ did alright so i can see why they want to give him a chance in home condition and I suppose that argument could be used to argue sticking with Vince.

    I’m quietly/nervously excited by English cricket. We’ve got some great young talent coming through in all departments, and it can only be a matter of time that they can be ignored if they keep progressing and pushing for a place in the squad.

    • James Morgan May 16, 2018 at 10:33 am - Reply

      Welcome Bob. There does seem to be a lot of talent coming through all of a sudden. If we were going to pick a specialist batsman down at 7, I would have rather selected Joe Clarke who has just as much talent as Buttler yet also the potential to move up the order and become a world class red ball player in time. I doubt we’ll ever see Buttler bat 3 or 4 in the test team.

      • Bob May 16, 2018 at 10:55 am - Reply

        I actually agree with that completely. I believe Root’s debut was down in the lower middle order and would’ve liked to see a new face in Foakes at 7 personally, even in as a specialist batsmen. I think they’ve missed a trick in blooding a new opener at 3, Burns or Gubbins, which could have both put pressure on the opening spots and protected the middle order a bit.

        • JackieL May 16, 2018 at 12:28 pm - Reply

          It’s interesting now that Root was picked because of his solid success in the county championship. But mistakes were made by Flower who wanted him to open. That experiment failed. Then batting at 3 and that failed. He built his reputation at 5 and 4. If he’s at 3 he could be more or less opening
          if an early wicket falls as it often does. Has he improved against the new ball? His debut was at 6.

          • Mark May 16, 2018 at 7:35 pm - Reply

            Couldn’t the argument be that most batsmen will average better at 5/6. It’s just easier..its just a matter of responsibility that our best batsmen need to.win the toughest battles. Are there many examples of great test batsmen batting at 5 or lower? I can only think of maybe S Waugh and Kallis but they had other great batsmen to accommodate their lower order positions.

            • dlpthomas May 17, 2018 at 12:01 am - Reply

              Gary Sobers batted a lot at number 6. Adam Gilchrist was pretty handy at number 7.

  25. oreston May 16, 2018 at 6:55 pm - Reply

    Many people think Stoneman is lucky to have been retained, but after a very poor 2017 and winter tour how much credit does his opening partner still have in the bank – regardless of supposedly being England’s GOAT? Only Nick Compton has made any kind of a useful suggestion in recent days regarding the elephant in the room that is Cook’s collapse in form as a Test opener but the ECB aren’t going to listen to him. We go into the summer with a flaky opening pair who will more than likely leave Root and Malan exposed to the new ball far too early and too often, with a result anyone with an ounce of common sense can predict. If Ed Smith was really going to be a new broom then now would’ve been the time to address such fundamental issues. This is not one of the strongest Pakistan sides ever to visit these shores, but beating them (assuming that happens) won’t necessarily prove much going into the India series. Neither, looking ahead to next winter, is this England squad (which differs very little from that which Smith inherited from Whitaker) with its one dimensional seam attack one that has the capability to turn around England’s appalling recent overseas form. There is as yet no evidence of any kind of long term strategy for the Test team.
    As for Buttler, it would’ve made slightly more sense to give him the gloves and play Bairstow as the specialist top order batsman he clearly should be (although even then Foakes would probably have been s better choice as wicket keeper/batsman). But no. Ed just had to make one bold and funky decision to prove his credentials as some sort of original thinker, even if it’s clearly the wrong decision and simply a rehash of something that’s already been tried and failed.

  26. SimonH May 18, 2018 at 8:12 am - Reply

    Ah, so it was all about Root taking more responsibility and wanting to bat at No.3:

    ““I’ve had a year in the captaincy now and I feel I’ve gained enough experience to feel comfortable doing that. For me it was getting used to the captaincy and making sure I could separate the two; that my full focus was on my batting when it came around”.

    Nothing to do with trying to fit a pint into a quart pot then? Smith, Amla and even Viv Richards dropped to No.4 when they became captain. Only Williamson has made a success of it and i) NZ have nothing like England’s schedule and ii) he took some time to adjust with cheap runs against Zimbabwe masking an otherwise poor trot.

    Still, Pakistan are so weak I can see Root and Cook making runs and Jimmy and Broady taking wickets and everything in the garden declared officially rosy…. until next winter….

    • SimonH May 18, 2018 at 8:22 am - Reply

      Root also had these things to say about Buttler:

      “I can see him putting a lot of bums on seats”.

      Is marketability now an official selection criteria?

      “He can also bring a lot of experience from tournaments around the world and being the one-day vice-captain can help our dressing room, too”.

      I thought the dressing room was full of harmony and with three all-time greats in there, how many more sources of help does it need? It couldn’t be those greats form a bit of an inner clique and Root wants a critical mass of players of his own generation to override them, could it?

      “it might take a bit of time to come right.”

      So they’ll keep picking him and picking him until he eventually comes off?

  27. Simon H May 20, 2018 at 10:40 am - Reply

    I hope some of the people who moan about the quality of warm-up opposition England get on tour are noticing the game that Pakistan have been served up. The second XI of a Second Division team…..

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