The big story today is that Sunil Narine has been reported for an illegal action. As this blog is constantly at the cutting edge of contemporary sporting discussion, and remains the go-to place for breaking news about cricket, we’ve decided to ignore the chucking debate entirely*.
Instead we’re going to engage in a bit of semi-topical debate, sweetened with a sprinkling of nostalgia. I want to ask you all a question:
If you could add one cricketer from England’s recent past to the current test team – in other words go back in time, alter a player’s date of birth, and make him available for selection now as a fresh-faced youth – who would you pick?
Maybe England need a great young batsman to bring the crowds flocking back? I’m thinking of a young Gower or maybe even Pietersen here.
Perhaps we could do with a world class spinner, in which case you choice is Graeme Swann, or, err, Graeme Swann.
I have to admit, taking ten years off Swanny’s clock is quite appealing. However, as he didn’t really crack his art until his late twenties, would reinstating Swann be a wasted pick? He’d have a relatively short shelf life.
The obvious temptation, of course, is to bring back a Botham or even a Flintoff. A world class all-rounder boosts both the batting and the bowling.
The problem is how you’d shoehorn another all-rounder into the side. If you’ve got high hopes for Ben Stokes, as I do, then a hard-hitting batsman who picks up valuable wickets as a change bowler might be a bit of a luxury.
I’m going to reveal my personal choice now. Although I was extremely tempted to give Grumpy Bob a double knee transplant, let him sup the elixir of eternal youth and then let him loose on the Aussies again, a psychopathic maniac with terrible hair can only get you so far.
Instead I’ve decided to address two areas of concern simultaneously by selecting … wait for it … Michael Vaughan.
If Vaughan was a young twenty-five year old, Sam Robson would soon become a distant memory. Finding an opening partner for Cook (and eventually replacing him) would not be such an issue either.
Vaughan would be the perfect batting foil for Cook. Whereas Cook hangs on the backfoot and seldom drives with authority, Vaughan would take a big stride forward and cream all-comers through the covers – just like he did so memorably on England’s 2002/03 Ashes tour, when he single-handedly took apart the best bowling test bowling attack I’ve ever seen.
Disclaimer: I was very young when the Windies ruled the waves (plus they didn’t have Shane Warne!)
Vaughan’s right-handedness is an obvious advantage too, and being such a glorious driver of the ball he might put the bowlers off their length; therefore they might inadvertently bowl too short at Cook and end up feeding his cuts and pulls.
What is more, we don’t have to drop a useful cricketer to make room for Vaughan: he would simply fill the available vacancy while helping Alastair rediscover his touch.
Just as importantly, of course, Vaughan would solve England’s leadership issues. It wouldn’t take him long to oust Peter Moores (in theory!) and Cook could return to his natural place: a valued infantryman rather than a general.
Think about it. How much more confident would you be about our Ashes chances next summer if Vaughan was at the helm? The team would immediately seem more dynamic, charismatic and aggressive.
Even better, Downton and Clarke wouldn’t get in the way. He might not hail from Essex, but Vaughan would still look the part and talk like an England cricket captain should do – but without the tedious gobbledygook and management speak.
There’s just one problem: Vaughan wouldn’t exactly do much for our one-day team.
*If you want to read incoherent ramblings on the pros and cons of bowling with a bent arm, I suggest heading over to cricinfo, where the comments section is as unintentionally amusing as ever. One bloke argued it was unfair to penalise bowlers for chucking and suggested batsmen should only be allowed to bend their elbow 25 degrees when cover driving instead. Hmmmm.