ODI Series Drawn & Who Makes The Plane For Sri Lanka?

There are obviously two things to talk about today. The first is England’s victory in the 3rd ODI in South Africa. The second is the Test squad for Sri Lanka. Therefore this post will be a fusion of the two. It’s the blogging equivalent of buy one get one free. Or BOGOF to us miserable old sods.

First up it’s the ODI, which actually turned out to be quite a good game in the end. It was all looking a bit one-sided when the Cricket Boks were reduced to 155-5, but a decent partnership between David Miller and Parking Phehlukwayo, and then Miller and Lutho Sipamla, saw them post a semi-competitive 256.

To be honest I was expecting England to chase the runs comfortably, especially when Bairstow and Roy set another good platform. Unfortunately, however, we lost regular wickets along the way and it was actually quite tight in the end. England were never in dire straights, and I was always confident we’d reach the target in the end, but South Africa fought hard and made a game of it. Kudos to them.

I was actually quite relieved that England won this game. Losing our first series as world champs wouldn’t have been a good look. Overall 1-1 was a fair scoreline and both sides learned quite a bit. I was particularly pleased with the performance of England’s young players. They didn’t exactly tear up trees but they showed some promise.

The guy who caught my eye yesterday was Saqib Mahmood. He didn’t particularly impress me in New Zealand (albeit in limited opportunities) but he looked a lot better yesterday. In fact, I was a little disappointed that he only bowled the five overs given that England were on top.

It would’ve been nice to see Mahmood close out the innings. I can understand Eoin Morgan’s thinking, as both Jordan and Tom Curran are more experienced death bowlers, but I was desperate to see a little more. We all know what Chris Jordan is at this point.

Tom Banton also looked promising again. Batting at 6 is completely different to opening (his role for Somerset) so he did well to adapt to the circumstances and score at a run a ball. One wonders where his short-term future might lie at ODI level? Roy and Bairstow are pretty much entrenched at the top of the order so he’ll need to show some flexibility if he wants to play regularly.

It was also good to see Moeen and Adil Rashid back in the fray. They both bowled very nicely. Indeed, Rashid seemed to bowl a little quicker, which was apparently a deliberate plan. I’m not sure how this helps his shoulder injury but apparently there are some benefits. Can any doctors in the house explain this one?

It was interesting to hear Ian Ward quiz Rashid over his Test future after the game. He was coy to begin with but eventually ruled out playing in Sri Lanka. To his credit, Adil said it would be unfair for him to leap-frog other bowlers currently committed to playing first class cricket. He’s got a point too – although I do think it would be nice to have a leg-spinner alongside Bess and Leach.

Mentioning Rashid gives me the perfect opportunity to segway onto the Test squad announcement. What do you expect when it’s announced on Tuesday? The fact the announcement has been delayed for 24 hours suggests to me that there’s some close calls to be made.

It’s interesting that Moeen Ali has done a u-turn and suggested that he’s not ready to return to Test cricket after all. Personally I think this suggests that England weren’t going to include him anyway. I know for a fact that Ed Smith is a devoted TFT reader – and a huge fan of me personally – so I imagine he was swayed by my erudite argument last week that there’s no point picking three off-spinners in the same side (Bess, Moeen, and Root) when a leg-spinner would provide a better balance.

It’s a shame that Jofra Archer will miss the tour. In fact, I’m slightly worried about his injury. I’ve heard some pundits argue that he generates a lot of his pace from hyperextending that elbow so I hope there are no long lasting effects. Without his pace Archer is half the bowler.

I had to laugh when I saw Joe Root defend his handling of Jofra yesterday. Obviously he was never going to admit ‘over-bowling’ him but I think Joe’s attempts to shift the blame were a little bit disingenuous and certainly a bit of a stretch.

Yes Jofra has played a lot of cricket, and participating in the IPL doesn’t exactly help, but the bottom line is that he bowled just 43 overs in the whole of the 2019 IPL. Root flogged Jofra for 42 overs in one innings in the first Test against New Zealand in Mount Maunganui. Therefore, it’s quite apparent where the problem here lies.

England’s other star bowler, Jimmy Anderson, has made himself available for the tour but personally I think it’s unlikely that the selectors will risk him. Sri Lanka can be hard work for the seamers so I’d probably rather Jimmy rest up.

One intriguing suggestion I’ve heard is that Anderson might travel as a ‘player-coach’. This seems like a good idea to me. It’s probably unprecedented but why not? Presumably he’d be there in some kind of leadership role and only play if there’s an emergency or conditions suit him. This is one funky idea I might be able to get onboard with.

The other big questions remaining are (a) whether Denly will keep his place, and (b) whether England will drop either Jonny Bairstow and / or Jos Buttler and call up Ben Foakes.

Personally I would keep Denly in the side. He’s still the best placeholder we’ve got at 3 and he’s found some form in the ODIs. Yes we shouldn’t read too much into white ball games, but his two half-centuries should give him some confidence and loosen him up a bit. We all know Denly has the technique to eat up a lot of deliveries in Test cricket; the challenge for him now is to express himself a little more.

When it comes to the keepers I think I’ve made where I stand on this one pretty clear. If England want to claim they’re a meritocracy with a straight face then they simply must drop Buttler for Foakes. Anything else would smack of favouritism.

The question then becomes whether Jos or Jonny should make the trip as reserve keeper. Personally I’d keep Jos in the squad. Why? Because he’s a pretty good player of spin and the latter has done nothing to warrant his place in the squad.

I like Bairstow as a cricketer, I really do, and I still think he’ll play a lot more Test cricket for England in the future, but for now he needs to focus on scoring some red ball runs for Yorkshire. As his teammate Adil Rashid said to Ian Ward, Test caps should really be earned. I don’t see why this should be any different for batsmen or batsmen-keepers.

James Morgan 


  • Everybody everywhere seems to be talking as if we’ll only be taking two spinners to Sri Lanka. Surely we’ll be playing two (underused) seamers plus three spinners (as well as Root and Denly) so won’t we be taking four spinners out there? I wouldn’t be surprised to see Rashid on the plane.

  • On selections for the tour to SL: I can the logic in picking Rashid (his only test five-for came there, and he would not be alone in being considered purely on the basis of previous success in that part of the world would he Mr Jennings?), although if there is to be only one legspinner in the party I would say that the spot should go to Parkinson. I would personally envisage Bess and Leach as first choice test spinners, with Parkinson (LS) and Virdi (OS) as reserve spinners. Obviously Bess and Virdi would not both play in the same team, but any other permutation of two or tops three from the four named is conceivable. On Anderson – if he is definitely fit and ready to play then possibly yes, but not if Broad is also to be in the team (selecting both of these two at their ages would for me be the equivalent of giving fortune a massive V sign. I am glad that Moeen has removed himself from the test equation, saving the selectors a job,

  • Re-Archer I am sure you have seen Barney Ronay’s article ‘England have broken Jofra Archer – and no one can say it wasn’t coming’ in the Gruaniad, makes some valid points methinks…

    • Ronay makes some good points. The attitude to Archer as an establishment outsider has been little short of a disgrace and, unfortunately, he has been cursed with a captain in Root who is both too stupid to understand the risks and too cowardly to take on the establishment. His other very relevant comment is about ‘busting a gut’ in training. Anyone who has trained as an athlete will tell you that is precisely what you do not do. A short session of repetitions will increase fitness and improve aerobic performance more that any gut busting session (although reps are painful). And if the gut busting does not refer to aerobic training then what the hell relevance does it have to skill training?

      But Ronay does omit one relevant issue. The sheer workload on modern cricketers (both in games in all formats and training) seems to have resulted in a huge increase in injuries in recent years. In 2019 there was a point where Warwickshire were (arguably) having to field their 6th, 7th and 8th choice seamers due to injuries (Brookes, Stone, Sidebottom, Norwell) and Woakes on England duty. I do not ever recall such frequent injuries before the last 20 years. It seems that cricket has yet to learn the lessons of other sports – that less training, but high intensity training, coupled with proper tapering and a manged workload is needed to avoid injuries.

  • It looked to me like Rashid was trapped a bit by Ian Ward in that interview and didn’t know what the on-brand answer should be. Even his eventual “I’d say no” was nowhere near as defiant as the headlines have reported. For him to make himself unavailable for selection on the grounds of a moral argument that, if selected, it would be unfair on others who have been playing four day cricket strikes me as implausible. If the selectors decide to accommodate that unfairness then I can’t really believe Rashid would make a principled stand against them by refusing to tour…

  • Good to see Bangladesh win the U19s.

    Pity their players only designated future is as franchise nomads while the team they beat have the prospect of proper Test series (for as long as anyone does), hosting plenty of ICC tournaments and at least 10x the renumeration in international competition. The ICC would choke on “meritocracy” if they had any shame – but they don’t so they don’t.

  • Take Bess, Leach, Parkinson and Virdi. With Root and maybe Denly as two extras all the bases are covered. Rashid and Moeen seem to be saying they store not going? Think so but it’s a bit vague. Rashid lacks control in tests like most leggies and Moeen? Maybe not. Pointless taking Anderson or even a fit Archer on SL wickets. Broad and Wood (only two tests), and Sam Curran for variety. Foakes for sure. I wouldn’t take Buttler or Bairstow for the Tests.
    Archer “has played a lot of cricket” I keep hearing. No just T20. Then flogged for 42 overs by Root no doubt causing the injury. And more concerning why is he taking about 4 months before he’s available for tests. The guys 24 and should heal quickly unless it’s worse than they’re letting on

  • It’s effectively a fractured bone, which is going to take time to heal – and only then can he start building up the fitness he requires to return to front line bowling.
    Add to that several comments about his fitness not being good enough to help avoid some of the stresses of bowling at high speed in ling form matches, then four months sounds sensibly conservative.

    All this ‘he’s young so he recovers fast’ is part of what led to the injury in the first place.

  • As annoyed as I was when Rashid was recalled after having given up red ball (he subsequently hardly bowled as Root didn’t seem to rate/trust him), I thought he had been rash ( no pun intended) in giving it up in the first place. Also England had dragged him round for ages without giving him a go, then after he played and did OK they promptly dropped him. He has perfected his googly and would be an asset for sure but doesn’t sound up for it. I would take only Foakes as keeper as Pope could fill in in any warm up games if so required.

  • Agree totally about Root off loading his part in Archer’s demise. Also 2-4 over stints in the IPL hardly over tax a bowler. Can’t see them dropping Denly for Sri Lanka after his crucial exploits in the 2 completed ODI’s, but surely Buttler will be replaced by a proper keeper to handle the increased spin factor out there. Don’t see the point in taking the likes of Anderson and Broad to toil away in those conditions. Would rather take an extra spinner as I feel they’ll be better stock bowlers than the seamers. Wood I’d certainly take advantage of at the moment with Woakes and Stokes as shoe-ins leaving room for a couple of young seamers in the squad. You do have Root and Denly to help with the workload in the event of breakdowns.
    Good interview with Rashid too. Nice to see a player so intelligent about red and white ball selection.

  • The problem with Root’s comments, denying he over-bowled Archer, is that he seems to have learned nothing; and therefore is likely to do it all over again. Maybe Stokes (as Captain of Vice) could be tasked with punching Joe in the face if ever he asks Jofra to bowl more than five overs off the reel? Or something.

    • It just seemed an exercise in shifting the blame, atleast Silverwood admitted that they might have to use Archer differently. Quite why the team management is unable to see something that a casual fan can spot immediately is a question for the ages.

  • Got my fingers crossed that Foakes will make the trip – best keeper around , in any country IMHO.

    • I am a huge fan of Foakes but he is arguably the second best – but I would always choose Foakes over Bates. It might look a bit odd taking a minor counties keeper and batting him at 11!

  • I don’t know why Buttler and Jennings make the flight – the former is one very lucky guy.
    If Foakes doesn’t make the team it will be a travesty.
    It’s a shame that Archer can’t go and an even bigger shame that Root can’t see the truth.
    But hey, it’s only a piddling little two Test series of little consequence.

  • Good to see Bangladesh win the U19s.

    Pity their players only designated future is as franchise nomads while the team they beat have the prospect of proper Test series (for as long as anyone does), hosting plenty of ICC tournaments and at least 10x the renumeration in international competition. The ICC would choke on “meritocracy” if they had any shame – but they don’t so they don’t.
    Very Helpful Information. Keep it up and Thanks for sharing.

    IPL 2020 Schedule Team Players Venue


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