The England Lions take on Sri Lanka tomorrow in what many people see as a trial match. Who will replace Paul Collingwood in the test team? And who will replace Tim Bresnan, whose calf injury (did he eat too much veal?) will keep him out for a few weeks.
The pundits reckon that the batting spot will either go to Eoin Morgan or Ravi Bopara. Both candidates have baggage. Morgan has a relatively poor first class record and he can’t bowl for toffee – so he’s hardly a like for like replacement for Colly. Meanwhile, Bopara has failed in England colours more times than Mark Ramprakash … well, nearly.
So who is it going to be? A century for either batsman could influence the selectors, but it’s hard to escape the feeling that they’ve already made their decision – they had five months to think about it after all.
My personal inkling is that Morgan will get the nod. The current England management seem to love the ‘next cab off the rank’ methodology – and they haven’t given two hoots about padding out the bowling attack in the past.
In our opinion, the fact that Bopara bowls a bit won’t sway them. They’d rather pick who they perceive to be the best batsman – and ask Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen to turn their arms over when necessary. Both of them picked up a valuable wicket during the Ashes.
As for the bowlers, many experts are billing the Lions match as a shootout between Finn, Shahzad and the returning Graham Onions. Every pundit has a different view as to which one should replace Bresnan. The thing is, they’re all wrong. If England don’t go into the first test with a seam attack of Anderson, Broad and Tremlett then I’ll eat Graham Gooch’s hair-hat.
Bopara will get another go at some point. I’ve never liked the cut of his jib – he seems gormless – but he plays for Essex and his mentor is Graham Gooch. Both factors are very influential in England selection. Is Bopara played for Glamorgan, he would have never been in contention.
To be fair, Bopara does score a hell of a lot of runs for Essex. I’m sure nobody at Glamorgan has scored anywhere near the number of runs Bopara has managed in recent seasons. Also the selection of James Taylor (Leics) in the Lions proves that players from unfashionable counties do occasionally get a look in. I agree that Bopara has looked flakey for England though. It was tough ask to bat 3 in the Ashes. When he has batted 6, he has looked a lot better … although most of his runs came against the Windies!
Looks like Morgan and Patel giving a lot of clues at Derby right now.
I can’t believe that people are pushing for Taylor, give the guy a chance to get a decent level of first class experience under his belt first. My gut says he is at least two more years away from the senior side.