Futile Suggestions

After Ollie Stone was ruled out of the second Ashes test yesterday, I Tweeted out my preferred side for Lord’s. It went as follows: Burns, Roy, Stokes, Root, Buttler, Bairstow, Woakes, Curran, Archer, Leach, Broad.

I was immediately given a tongue lashing (I’m going to copyright this expression when Josh Tongue plays for England) by several people who hated this team. “White ball hitters all of them”, “useless”, “where’s Hildreth?”, “Where’s Sam Northeast?, “Where’s Sibley?”

All of these were legitimate questions, I guess. But I didn’t see the point in suggesting a team that was never, ever, going to take the field in a month of Sundays. I wasn’t tweeting out my ideal England XI per se; I was tweeting out the side I’d like to see from the realistic options available.

The truth is that although many cricket fans (me included) would love to see red ball specialists aplenty in the side, it’s just not going to happen now. Ed Smith and the management have nailed their colours to the white ball mast and they’re not going to change after one defeat. So what’s the point in suggesting names from outside the inner circle?

When he became chairman of selectors, Big Ed made it abundantly clear what his philosophy was. He loved all-rounders, wanted to pack the team with players who offered a bit of everything (the most talented ‘cricketers’ available I think were his exact words), and he put his faith in players with big match temperaments i.e. those who had excelled in the IPL or in front of big ODI crowds.

In doing so Smith ranked the ability to perform in front of big crowds as more important than technique. Dealing with the pressure of a noisy environment was considered more important that knowing how to deal with a moving red ball delivered by test class bowlers – bowlers who who could put fielders wherever they wanted, and bowl as many overs as they liked.

When the selection of Jos Buttler appeared to work (at least to begin with) Smith and certain allies in the media saw this as controvertible evidence that Smith was right. Even though he wasn’t. And I think some people in the corridors of power shared my doubts …

England’s decision to ask Dukes to manufacturer several hundred cricket balls for The Ashes that replicated the ones used against India last summer – even though they’re using different ones in the championship this season – suggested all was not well. It suggested that England didn’t think they could win unless the ball stayed harder for longer and swung around corners. In other words, they didn’t think they could win unless every single tangible was doctored in their favour. If all things were even, England would probably lose.

This recipe that has papered over the cracks for so long. And it’s why we usually get thrashed abroad. “Let’s make as much money as we can from white ball cricket – and screw over the championship in the process – but we’ll get away with it if we win enough games at home. And we’ll do this by preparing green tops and giving Jimmy Anderson a lovely red cherry that swings more than any other ball in the world”.

The problem at Edgbaston, of course, is that the doctored Dukes didn’t swing. And they went soft much quicker than expected too. What’s more, after the first morning the pitch didn’t behave itself either. And when Jimmy got injured the bankruptcy of England’s strategy became crystal clear. “Oh shit”!

So what on earth are England going to do? I’m not sure to be honest. Anderson looks like we won’t be fit until the 4th test (if that), Wood is out for the season, Stone’s setback is concerning, and if we prepare green tops I expect our white ball hitters to struggle as much against Peter Siddle as the inadequate Aussie batters are likely to struggle against Chris Woakes. The differentiator, once again, is therefore likely to be Steve Bloody Smith.

But if I’m not sure what England can do to change the Ashes momentum, I’m absolutely certainty what they won’t do: admit they’ve got their strategy for the last few years completely wrong. Do you really expect Ed Smith to come out after one defeat and say “sorry guys, I dropped the ball on this one, so we’re bringing in Sibley for Roy, Northeast and Hildreth will bat 3 and 5 respectively, and Ben Foakes is going to be given the gloves for the rest of the series”.

It’s. Not. Going. To. Happen. And even if it did it’s unlikely to work. County players haven’t been playing championship cricket in recent weeks. This part of the summer is T20 time. Therefore, to ask Sibley or Northeast to suddenly rock up at a test match, swap their pyjamas for proper clothes, and make their test debuts in front of a packed crowd at Lord’s with Pattinson and Cummins bearing down on them, is almost unfair.

The truth is that although England’s batsmen might be substandard and under-cooked for test cricket, they’ve still played more red ball cricket in recent weeks than their potential replacements. Yes Ben Stokes shouldn’t be batting at 3 or 4 with a test average of 33, yes Jonny Bairstow’s average of 35 isn’t good enough either, and yes Jos Buttler’s return of one century from 32 matches is rubbish, but I really don’t think Sibley or Northeast, in the current circumstances, would do any better. In fact they’d probably do worse.

What’s more, chopping and changing now would give the Aussies another huge fillip. It would smack of panic and desperation. It would be like the 1980s all over again when England might pick thirty players in the space of a few games. Therefore we have no choice but to send out the same old faces at Lord’s (perhaps with the odd tactical changes or two) and simply hope they perform better.

It’s still possible England might turn this one around. Stokes, Buttler, and Bairstow really aren’t bad. And Joe Root is due a ton too. We might get lucky. And let’s not forget that Australia’s batting has its weaknesses too. Our lot beat India last summer and Australia aren’t much better.

And that’s exactly what the ECB will be desperately hoping. They’ll be hoping that their gross incompetence and betrayal of the first class game won’t be exposed for all to see. Heck. When you put it like that, perhaps an Australian win wouldn’t be the worse thing in the world? It might hurt like hell, but it could be the best thing for English cricket in the long run if it exposes all the flaws and increases the pressure on the ECB to change tack. It’s a thought anyway.

James Morgan


  • Well see your points James but it all smacks of Ed Smith flogging an almost dead horse. Really Butler and Bairstow just smacks of the closed shop selection policy. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Moen still in thier as well. Are Woakes and Archer fully fit? I don’t see Root scoring a ton or even 50 at no 3 especially vainly trying to captain as well. And Roy will just not work at no 2 I think. Maybe your right and an absolute thrashing by in my view a better prepared (playing a 3 day game now) team might force changes, either that or get ’em all injured!

  • You’re right of course. But I do rather miss the days of sudden surprise selections (not 1988 or 1989 though – that was plain daft). But David Steele in 1975, and Brian Close in 1976, were extraordinary choices, and yet both were of course tried and tested in county cricket, and were both successful for England, even if Close’s main achievement was to keep Michael Holding at bay with his chest.

  • I’d go for:

    1. Burns
    2. Sibley
    3. Root*
    4. Roy
    5. Stokes
    6. Bairstow (or Buttler)
    7. Foakes+
    8. Curran
    9. Archer (if fit, Woakes if not)
    10. Broad
    11. Leach

    Roy is more likely to make runs at no. 4 than no.2; Buttler & Bairstow- both underperforming, can’t afford to have both; Sibley – – did well vs Australia for the Lions, so why not play him? Curran – ditto. Archer plays if fit, Woakes looked a bit jaded.

    • This would be my side as well, except that I would definitely drop Bairstow and play Woakes instead of Buttler if Woakes’s knee is holding up. The side is almost entirely from the Edgbaston squad, the only new faces being Sibley and Foakes, with Sibley the only new cap. Therefore it is not a completely obvious admission that the whole strategy is flawed, and therefore the National Selector could propose it without immediate loss of face. The reality is that the strategy is pants.

    • Not playing Woakes at Lords is almost akin to India leaving out Kohli. Why anyone thinks Curran is a test bowler (rather than a fourth seamer in tests) is beyond me.

  • Your selection is entirely full of white ball hitters or players compromised by white ball mentality. Sure changing for younger players, some maybe not proven or not in form is a risk but longer term might just break up this dire side and close the idea of “positive brand of cricket”

    Nothing positive about it, it’s reckless

    This obsession over Roy is also embarrassing .. totally awful county record and nothing suggests he has what it take a why this insistence by everyone just because he can slog a non swinging, non moving, on flat tracks with fielding restrictions white ball ???

    Bairstow people still defend.. the guy literally avg’s what.. 35… off how many tests.. Jesus we are flogging a dead horse and not even a young players

    Sure stokes has shown a willingness to adapt but how old is he ?? What’s his avg z?. How many tests ? Hardly any good is it.. certainly not enough to think he’s antying more than a 6/7 really.

    Root is nit a 3, again embarrassing to those who think he is.. he’s a 4/5 .. essentially a world class middle order player but just a ‘decent’ top order bat .. we will ruin him .. good going

    Might as well find whoever in county cricket who is willing to bat time and has the least white ball technique and attitude and give them a good run. Literlaly can’t be worse and at least they’ll be trying to play test cricket and not some version of one day stuff ‘play my own way’ ‘Bakr yourself’ load of rubbish

    Simple truth.. ECB has destroyed red ball cricketers and so has the amateur game. Thes eplayers are a product of that but are reaping the Bnefits in pay for a skill set they do not possess

  • I can’t say I disagree with you but when did England last take a punt on a youngster who consistently made runs in the Championship. We’ve returned to the bad old days of the batting being a closed shop while the bowling continues on a merry-go-round. Poor technique, out to silly shots, dislikes short bowling, can’t read world-class spin, doesn’t play for my former County – you could say the same about every current team member. If someone is knocking on the door, let them in. Or change those who are in charge of the door.

    • Even if no one is ‘knocking the door down’.. when our supposed ‘world class’ players avg less than 40 why not give someone else a go and kick them back to county cricket.

      We just keep paying them monster bucks to keep failing

      • But who? Who is knocking on the door?

        Surely if we’re to dump a load of batsmen for not averaging 40, then their replacements should at the very least be doing so in county cricket on a regular basis. Sibley doesn’t, even though he’s having a good season this year: four months ago he averaged around 35 in a career lasting several years. Northeast doesn’t: he averages 39 in a 12-year career of which eight have been played in the second division (sure, he averages 60 this year but he averaged 25 last year). Hildreth does, but he’s averaging less than 35 this year and if you take away his one highest innings out of 19 that drops to 26, which suggests that his median is even less than 35. Picking him would have a hint of the Glen Chapples about it: ignore him for years when he’s in sparkling form and then pick him when he’s out of form.

        I don’t really see any other names being suggested. If there is one, it’s Zak Crawley, who averages 32 even though most of his cricket has been played in division 2.

        That’s the real issue for me–the system isn’t producing those good young players for England to take a punt on (and the one it produced last year was given a debut: Pope). I suspect Sibley will be given a chance before too long too.

  • Roy, seriously? An Ashes series is not a place for a player to learn how to play red ball cricket.

    Australia do not want England to change their line up.

    • Of course the Ashes is not the place to learn how to open the batting in red ball cricket. But that’s what the selectors decided to do, and they’re not going to change now after one defeat. We have to make do for now I’m afraid.

  • You are absolutely right James. I agree with every word you written. Spot on as far as Root is concerned regarding his place in the batting order. There’s nothing more to add. Well said.

  • I fear some commenters haven’t quite grasped the purpose of this post. The reality is that the changes to the next squad/XI will be minimal – anything else would represent an acknowledgment that the selection process, since Mr Ed took over, has been flawed.

    It is a point well made that even those batters who have had a good CC season date are currently engaged in T20 matches and are therefore even less prepared for a test match (debut) than the present incumbents.

    It is all very disheartening, and set to become even worse once the CC is relegated to spring and autumn to make way for the ‘surefire hit’ that will be The Hundred!!

    • Oh everyone will have but why ‘back the boys’ when you know it’s a disaster and so hit and miss.. if englsnd do win it’ll be ‘how great we’re x or y, first test was just another one of those blips’

      You don’t just back players because you’re told too.. or shouldn’t but many will and do

      • Good heavens. It’s like no one was clamouring for 50 over success after 2015 and no one filled with elation and pride when it came. Well it came gentlemen and it came at a cost.

        Shame then there wasn’t a hiving off of the 50 over guys for 50 over cricket only and an entirely separate strategy (and squad) for tests. The reason there wasn’t, of course, because that would have been a restrictive practice – one the limes of Root would have absolutely railed against.

        It’s also true that no one knew the new 50 over approach was a success and so one worth pursuing for a good 2 years and with test series victories being produced by the Bairstow’s and Buttler’s of the ODI clan – including last year against the then top test playing nation – who was pressing for wholesale change?

        With the ODI monkey off our collective backs, perhaps the focus might, of not fully change, then be shared in more equal proportion. There’s an International Test Ladder to climb after the Ashes are done so a focus will be needed.

        As we don’t currently possess the Ashes, we can at least not lose them this Summer. I can’t see us getting the 3 victories we need, so I’m preparing for them to stay where there. What would though be fab, come September, would be a clearing of the decks and test coaches found for Sibley, Salt, Hain etc

        I’ve said before how much I’ve envied other nations bravery at wholesale change and the swapping of new for old, how wonderful it would be for others to be envious of this in us.

  • probably the last red ball cricket Steve Smith played, save the Aussie’s practice at Southampton, was an innings he played for his Sydney club side Sutherland sometime early December. Lucky he was underdone against the swinging Duke…

    • I think what we’re seeing with Smith is that he’s benefitted from a year off. He’s fresh and hungry. He’s also super human. I think most players would need more adjustment before scoring two test hundreds.

  • We need a battle hardened coach like Mickey Arthur come in who is going to get the side playing test cricket, enough of this wafty exhibition fantasy of hitting 500 in a day, or collective shrug of the shoulders 40 overs innings when they should be batting out the day to save the test. I don’t see the point in wholesale changes for this series either, I do see it as a huge wake up call for the entire England set up and they’re gonna get what they deserve for dismissing the dismal efforts in Australia. Massive priority needs to be put on getting test match players hours at the crease, I just hope the Hundred doesn’t end up making everything worse

    • One person’s ” battle hardened coach like Mickey Arthur” is another’s international journeyman’s.
      He, like Bayliss, has zero knowledge of CC and the players involved. Personally I would like some combination of Silverwood & Otis Gibson.

  • One of the problem of playing CC in April/May is it becomes increasingly unlikely that a batsman will force their way in by weight of runs. IMO Sibley is the only player to do so and should therefore be picked, Denly to be dropped and Roy bat 3 with Root 4.
    Anderson is injured so will be replaced with either Archer or Curran.
    Moeen is unselectable, he has simply lost all confidence. Leach comes in.
    Personally I would pick the best keeper in the country irrespective of their batting ability and bat at 8 with Woakes at 7 – I appreciate that this will not happen. Butler/Bairstow have a lot to prove to keep their places.

    • Why Roy ??? What’s he done to deserve a go or even to stay ?? Why does denly lose out ??

  • I understand your thinking, but the one ommision which cannot be defended is that of Foakes. Unquestionably the best keeper in England and probably worth 10 runs an innings over Bairstow behind the stumps (more compared with Buttler). And he has a vastly superior FC batting average than Buttler (and a better test batting average than either Buttler or Bairstow. albeit in only 5 tests).
    If Foakes is not to be selected in circumstances where our batting is failing and we all acknowledge our keepers are adequate at best ……. then I fail to see what can happen to bring in Foakes and leave out a current bat. The entire team going down with dysentry?

  • The problem with worshipping naked talent as the defining factor in selection for any sport is that it often goes with a dodgy temperament, which is not conducive to consistency. Think of all those footballers from Best to Gascoigne who entertained but never made it to the top because no international manager wanted to put his reputation on the line with them. What you need at international level, where winning ranks above entertaining, is an ability to grind out performances, not just play champagne stuff. In test cricket 50 and a careless dismissal is a sin greater than a duck.
    In terms of shot making Smith is not particularly talented, Bairstow, Butler and Roy have more innate batting ability, but Smith has the temperament to manage his shot selection better, hence his greater consistency. Similarly Warner has modified his natural one day batting style to accommodate test match shot selection. Root, when asked about Roy, said he would be asked to play his natural game. This is the basic flaw in our approach, where Smith and his brain’s trust have just not appreciated how to bat in test cricket, despite the Australian’s example being right under their noses. There needs to be a more thorough public examination of the game’s future, where the Smiths of this world are forced into a public debate to defend their ideas.
    If the present 50 over format is going out of fashion with the administrators, to be replaced by bish bash bosh ‘Hundred’ style stuff, where are the next generation of test batsmen to be drawn from?

    • Well said, but I think it is even worse than you suggest. Natutal red ball bats are being ruined by attempts (sometimes successful) to convert them to white ball bangers. I think of Sam Hain, who looked a world beater at 18, with a cautious red ball style. They demanded a change to make him a success in white ball with the result he could barely buy a run in red ball for 3 years and is only now recovering a little. And if rumours are true Lancs tried the same with Hameed – with the result we have all seen. I have hopes for Rob Yates at Warwickshire, but fully expect him to be the next to suffer.

      • The problem for me is the counties now require players to be more adaptable, with emphasis on the increasingly important white ball competitions, as county cricket takes a back seat. This is not their fault, just the prevailing winds of change. Most on this blog would love to see young players groomed for ‘proper cricket’ before their technique is irrevocably compromised by the requirements of 20-20. Leave white ball to experienced pros who can adapt better with less harm to their mentality. There is no other game that has more formats than cricket, so young players need special consideration.

  • George Dobell (as he often does) hits the nail on the head here. “You’re not surprised that an attack that couldn’t dismiss Steve Smith in the last Ashes can’t dismiss him now. And you’re not surprised that a side that has now failed to make 250 seven times in 11 innings cannot bat through an entire day. You’re not surprised that a man chosen to open in Test cricket on the basis of his aggressive batting in one-day cricket was dismissed trying to hit his way out of trouble. And you’re not surprised that a man who averages 64.65 with the ball against this opposition could not bowl them out.”

    • Although Moeen Ali’s bowling average against Australia is skewed by his test wickets in Oz costing 115 each.

  • Futile suggestions indeed James!

    The three main factors for defeat were:

    1) Steve Smith
    2) Jimmy’s injury
    3) Losing the toss

    Playing ‘red ball specialists’ aka young English players who make run’s in the county championship would’ve made zero difference to the end result.

    Yes, I think there are player’s badly out of nick in the England side but you could argue the same with the Aussie’s, their two openers were useless. But crucially, they weren’t needed. As long as 2-3 players hung around with Smith in both innings they knew we’d always have to bat last and Lyon would do the rest.

    Rather than pinning our hopes on a young batter scoring heavily in the county championship, England should be telling Moeen he’s a world beater and working out how to get rid of Smith – that’s the game right there.

  • Quote;
    “The three main factors for defeat were:

    1) Steve Smith
    2) Jimmy’s injury
    3) Losing the toss”

    I actually disagree, the three main reasons were;
    1) Steve Smith
    2) Root’s captaincy
    3) Losing 4 middle order wickets for 18 runs (282-4 to 300-8) in first innings

    • Root’s captaincy? Unless it was for guessing wrong at the toss I fail to see any decision he made that significantly harmed England’s chances.

      He couldn’t call upon his gun bowler (see no. 2) and he couldn’t rely on his no. 1 spinner to hold an end 1st innings and take wickets 2nd innings – neither of these factors were his fault. He couldn’t formulate a plan to dismiss Smith but history and averages would say as yet, no captain has.

      Regarding losing middle order wickets, Aus went from 90/4 to 122/8 in their first innings – England did however emerge from this innings with a 90 run lead. Yes it should have been more but we had them 3 down before they had reach parity.

      It was Australia’s 2nd innings was where the game was decided – more heavy runs from Smith (1) lack of Jimmy (2) having to chase/defend on day 5 wicket (3) proved decisive.

      • What he could have done, knowing their limitations, was to use his bowlers in short bursts so draining them less quickly and mixing things up more giving the batsmen less chance to settle. Also employ some more imaginative field placing to make them think. On Sunday, when I was there, play drifted in pretty aimless fashion for most of the day, as we waited for something to happen, with Root time wasting to no great effect by constantly having the ball checked. It was embarrassing. Even the Barmy Army took the mickey by throwing on balls of their own. It was like watching us play under the arch drifter Gower.

  • “Root’s captaincy? ”
    He seemed not to believe that his bowlers could ever get Smith out. He went very quickly to “funky” ideas/fields rather than bowling at the top of 5th stump (a line he plays at because of his exaggerated move across). In his defence (and to be fair probably backs your Jimmy point up) he was let down by Stokes in the first innings – he bowled magnificently in the second but was wayward in the first. Root simply let the second innings get away from us, at 75-3 we were well in the match. Questions need to be asked/answered why Denly, who went at +5 runs an over, bowled more than Woakes? Was/is Woakes injured? (As an aside if he was why are we contemplating going into the second Test with both him and Archer who have had recent injuries?)
    One thing we do agree on is Smith was the decisive factor. He is awesome.

    • It would seem there is nothing wrong with Woakes since 2 days ago the i reported that there is a debate in the England camp whether he can bat at 6 to allow Bairstow to stay at 7 (if Denly is dropped) with Curran coming in. I agree that, in the absence of injury, Root’s handling of Woakes was so incomprehensible that he should lose the captaincy.

      • I must confess I was also bemused by Woakes not bowling atall in the first session on Sunday. We asssumed he had some sort of minor injury or illness, as although he seemed to be fielding ok he did go off a couple of times, with Archer substituting.
        However I have not heard any mention of this since, so was there a problem? If not it seems plain daft to bowl more overs with Denly, who never looked like taking wickets, even bowling into footmarks on a turning strip. Moin too,was bowled in too long a spells, as he was similarly ineffective.

  • Root is averaging 37 and batting in the wrong position. When he wasn’t captain , a job he never should have been given, he averaged in the high 40s. He needs to get back doing what he used to do, scoring 100s, now we’re lucky to get a 50 from him.
    Only team changes for Lords, Leach in for Ali, Archer for Jimmy. Curran in the squad but he’ll only play if Woakes isn’t fit. No surprises thier. James was right!

  • To those saying we have sacrificed the test side for the world Cup. People aren’t playing cricket any more, maybe we just aren’t producing players full stop.

    Yes the 50 over team is very good. But check their date of birth. Virtually the whole side is aged around 29. Exception is archer who is an exception for various reasons.

    The 50 over side may be screwed soon. The timing fits in nicely with the sky sell off.

    • Anyone sensible knows that at the basic level, the more people playing a sport the better the standard. As you rightly note, we have less people playing than ever before so the quality just isn’t there.

      And yet.. we have all these ‘world class’ players apparently …..

      Glos gcb have created a ‘survey’ about their new strategy and basically it gives you a set of answers which they’ve decided and it’s essentially ‘spend money on women’ or ‘ spend money on pathways’ or ‘spend money on glos cricket club ‘

      Basically it’ll do naff all use and be yet again wasted.. they don’t want to listen and won’t listen so what’s the point. Literally can’t be fixed

      Simple fact is regardless to what format is played at amateur level people have changed my lives and no tinkering will help. Shorter games won’t help and neither will long games.. thr only things that will are

      1) playing in every school (essentially if you get all 5 million kids playing you increase the odds
      2) fund school cricket and running them (teachers and schools won’t so Cricket needs to do it.. doesn’t need some over qualified back.. just get kids playing)
      3) midweek 2020, sat long format cricket with a sat 2020 league (on Astro with coloured kit and retire at 30.. aimed more at participation)
      4) county games (4 day) to be live streamed and available on demand for non live watchers in full and a highlights package free to air (or ideally stream as it’s cheaper and easier than a tv channel).. this would at least get cricket on tv. Leave England games and 2020 behind the paywall as that pays the bills

  • Yep the sky sell off was in 2005. So kids who were 10 then will now be 24. Simply put we don’t have many players in that age range which is why players like denly are being given a chance at 33. Burns made his debut at 28.

    The last generation of players is the 28/29 year olds. These were 15 or so at the sell off will have been largely unaffected as will have already picked cricket.

    Off the top of my head, can’t think of anyone younger than that coming through English system that have made an impact. The currans maybe but they had a pro dad.

  • 4 day County Cricket is dull. Even if it wasn’t, which television company could make a business case for televising it?

    State Cricket in the likes of Australia isn’t dull though. Why?

    Because there’s 8 teams rather than 18 so the sides are far better peopled by top-grade players. Because of this they don’t need to pad-out their teams with overseas stars. I’m in no way anti-overseas stars but if our aim is a competitive Country game to feed our national Test team, then the standard has to go up.

    Get the standard up, with teams packed with more top players, the crowds will come – followed by the TV cameras.

    The same, of course, is true about our T20 competition and for this reason alone I expect The Hundred will have some success. My hope is that (after no other countries take up the format – why would Australia, why would India?) the ECB and Counties agree to merge the formats and we have 8 player-packed teams, playing one game at a time just like the Big Bash and IPL.

    Why look to create a successful format when a very successful one already exists?

    You can tinker with when what competition is played when but if it’s going to continue to pour with rain during large parts of August, it ain’t gonna change nothin’.

    • Well the 1st Division is hardly dull. Surrey last year were terrific, game after game, culminating in one of the best games of cricket you’ll fever see, Surrey vs Essex at th Oval in late September. This country isn’t Australia or India, IPL type contests don’t work, watch the100 probably bomb next year. Like football people follow their teams not the London Lunatics or such like. The problem is the ECB, who need a complete clear out and a massive refocus of cricket too down in this country. How on earth do you develop test players with ONE round of Championship cricket in 7 weeks in July and August? No wonder we can’t produce quality spinners or fast bowlers. So we play a Test team largely full of one day “all rounders” a loose term at best. no wonder we’re crap. It’ll only get worse with the 100. Australia are far better prepared: a 3 day game against Worcester this week. Our lot? In the nets. Enough said.

  • I have just, for the first time, seen Zac Crawley bat. I think we can easily rule him out as an option – right hand, leg side only.
    Foakes must play, and as wicket keeper. I would prefer Buttler to Bairstow as a batsman.
    It’s easy to say who shouldn’t be in the side – rather harder to suggest who should replace them. All the players mentioned are either very unproved, or already past their best (Hildreth, for example – if he were to have been selected, it should have been several years ago).

  • Well I reckon both Sibley averaging over 60 and Northeast couldn’t possibly be any worse than Bairstow, Moen, Butler and Denly surely. You know if Australia go 2 up we’d have to win the last 3 to get the Ashes. It’s really time to take a punt on some alternatives but they haven’t have they.

  • If our 18 county system is as good as the Australian’s state one, what is it that makes their test team so consistently better than ours?

    Modern top level sport has to = spectacle. If it doesn’t it will die. So, we can either wait for half the county sides to run out of money and fold or start planning (and implementing) now.

    The county game can be trilling. The task is to make more of them more so.

    • Why are India so poor then they have no fewer than 37 teams in their First Class Competition?

    • Australia as a nation are more competitive in sport generally. It’s nothing to do with standards and everything to do with temperament. They just hate losing more than we do. Players representing Australia in any sport are conditioned to this mindset. We are not.
      Despite the constant patriotic urging of the Barmy Army the body language of Englands finest at Edgbaston was less than convincing. After saying he was relishing the challenge of an Ashes series Butler was particularly disappointing, looking pretty half baked throughout. As I sat there on Sunday I kept thinking how this team need a spot of Dermot Reeve, every ball is an event, kind of leadership. Only Stokes looked the part, showing the kind of competitive spirit we need to wrest back the initiative we’ve given away.


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