As we’re yet to hear whether Kevin Pietersen will definitely be fit for Old Trafford, we thought we’d speculate about his possible replacement. Will it be a familiar name, or will the selectors pull a ‘rabbit’ out of the hat; a poor choice of phrase perhaps … unless we’re talking about yet another recall for Bopara (sorry, Ravi).
From where we’re sitting – which I confess is absolutely nowhere near a selection meeting – there are four possible options; although I have to admit that the first is about as likely as an Australia series victory. If you don’t believe me check out the latest cricket betting.
1.We replace KP with a bowler – either Graham Onions, Chris Tremlett, Steve Finn, Boyd Rankin, or a spinner like Monty or Simon Kerrigan. As the game is at Old Trafford (which usually turns even when the home team doesn’t blatantly request a dry pitch), and I personally don’t fancy any of the reserve batsmen, this is what I would do. I love the idea of playing two spinners; the Aussies might actually do this themselves now that Pattinson is injured. I’d give the highly promising Kerrigan a debut on his home ground.
The drawback to this plan, however, is that it means picking five bowlers – so basically there’s a Phil Tufnell’s chance in hell of this happening. It’s also a little nonsensical considering that some of our batsmen have been out of form, whereas our four-man attack is rolling over the Aussies for fun. If Kerrigan does indeed get a game, perhaps we should pick two seamers and two spinners – just like we did in India.
2.Nick Compton comes back into the squad. Some say this is unlikely because Root cemented his place as Cook’s opening partner at Lord’s. I’m not so sure. Why can’t Compton can bat six? He’s relatively solid and he’s actually a better fit sandwiched between the middle-order stokemakers. Nobody wants to see the return of the most turgid top three in world cricket; our run rates in the series have been healthy compared to the drab starts we endured against New Zealand.
3.Ravi Bopara makes his one hundreth comeback. I feel sorry for Super Ravi. I think he’s a good one-day player and a useful part-time bowler, but I just don’t see the point in recalling him to the test team. The longer form of the game gives Ravi too much time to think. He sometimes seems paralyzed with fear, and as a result he seems flakey – which is probably the opposite of how he’s really feeling. Personally, I think Bopara is too highly strung (think Mark Ramprakash) to fulfill his potential in test cricket, which is why his stats are below par. I prefer him as a one-day specialist, where he can play by instinct and rely on his natural talent rather than technique.
4.James Taylor gets a recall. We’ve been critical of Taylor in the past – mainly because he hasn’t written a good song since Copacabana. Sorry – we promise not to mention his uncanny resemblance to blue-rinse brigade dreamboat Barry Manilow again (just check out that schnoz!).
Taylor is flavor of the month after finally scoring some big runs for Notts this season. He’s one of the smallest batsmen on the circuit, so he’s hardly a like-for-like replacement for KP, but he’s probably the best of a bat lot when it comes to young batsmen (if you don’t believe how bad our reserves are, then look at the Lions’ results in Australia this winter). Taylor has also been included in the Sussex team to play Australia this week, which proves he’s on the selectors’ radar.
Conclusion: Because England will never play five bowlers while Andy Flower has anything to do with it, and because selecting Compton to bat six might appear odd, we fully expect Taylor to earn a recall. Although the media has made noises about Bopara, we think recalling Ravi would be an unpopular move; the selectors will probably want to avoid any unnecessary controversy.
What do you think? After wasting an hour writing this, I suppose KP will be passed fit – thus making this debate about as useful as Ashton Agar’s bowling.
Written in collaboration with Betfair