Stick Or Twist: Post-South Africa Edition

The score 3-1 has a lovely ring to it. It says ‘decisive’ and it says ‘comfortable’. However, whilst some England players have cemented their places for the foreseeable future – which in English cricketing parlance simply means ‘the next series’ – others will be feeling distinctly uncomfortable. Jos Buttler, for example, will sweating on his place. And Matt Parkinson will be feeling uncomfortable because of all the splinters up his bottom. It can’t be easy riding the bench for three months.

Anyway, in time honoured TFT tradition, it’s time to play our usual post-series game of stick or twist. You know the drill by now. If a player deserves to retain his place it’s a ‘stick’. But if he deserves to be jettisoned faster than a shifty looking Huawei employee carrying the Coronavirus then it’s a definitive ‘twist’.

Rory Burns – Stick

After passing his trial by pace during the Ashes, Burns ticked an adjacent box by passing another trial by pace in the first test at Centurion. His 84 was the only bright spot of an otherwise dark few days.

One suspects that the Sri Lanka tour would’ve been tough for Rory. He’s not the best player of spin and struggled somewhat we toured there last year. Missing the trip might therefore work in his favour. More importantly however, he needs to improve his first touch, hold the ball up more effectively, and look for support before shooting hopelessly from distance.

Dom Sibley – Stick

The man-bear passed his South African audition with flying colours. His maiden century at Cape Town was possibly the the most significant hundred of the series and proved that his quirky technique can prosper at the highest level after all. Like Burns, however, he might find Sri Lanka a rather different test.

Sibley obviously favours the leg-side but he’s proved those who doubted his ability to score runs on the off-side completely wrong. As his confidence grew he unleashed some very pleasant cover drives. You don’t score 1,300+ championship runs at an average of 70 if you can only play one side of the wicket. County captains aren’t that stupid.

Zak Crawley – Stick 

This lad has talent. He’s not the finished article but there’s clearly something to work with. I’d much rather keep faith with Crawley than recall Keaton Jennings for Sri Lanka.

It will be incredibly interesting to see how fares on the England Lions tour to Australia in a couple of weeks’ time. As far as I’m concerned – and I fully appreciate I have zero say in the matter – Crawley and Joe Denly are now competing for the same spot at 3 long-term. I hate to say it, as Denly has done ok, but if Crawley scores a lot of runs for The Lions (which is traditionally a tall order down under) then he’s definitely in.

Joe Denly – Stick

For now. But not necessarily in the starting XI. Joe’s 210 runs at 30 in South Africa was a typically Denly-espque performance. This guy can play. I don’t doubt that. And he deserves his opportunity to play against lesser opposition to score that elusive Test hundred.

However, international sport isn’t always fair. Just ask Ben Foakes. Careers rise and fall on the fickle judgements of those in charge. Therefore, if England feel that Zak Crawley is the better longterm bet then so be it. if you’d told Denly eighteen months ago that he’d play 14 Tests for England he would’ve bitten your hand off.

Joe Root – Stick

Four ‘sticks’ in a row eh? Well let’s spice things up by suggesting that England should twist on his captaincy.

Although some pundits are claiming that England’s 3-1 win is a vindication of Root’s credentials, I think we all know these are empty platitudes. Joe Root is not a natural leader and he’s not a good tactician either. He’s only captain because there doesn’t seem to be an alternative.

In my view Root is the best England batsman for at least twenty years. But we’re not getting value for money out of him precisely because of the captaincy. He averages 42 as captain with a very poor conversion rate of 1 ton to every 3.5 fifties. This suggests the mental load is simply too much. When he’s just another player he averages a whopping 52 with an acceptable conversion rate of 1 ton every 2.45 innings.

Ollie Pope – Stick

Rejoice! England have unearthed a new boy wonder. So let’s build him up, set expectations far too high, and then bury the poor sod as soon as he has one bad game.

Just kidding. There’s loads to love about Pope so we’ve got to treat this special talent with care. I’d certainly keep him away from England’s white ball teams for the time being because we just don’t need him. What’s more, I’d like to see him remain at 6 for at least a year or two.

Pope plays spin quite well so unlike some of England’s other young players I expect him to take Sri Lanka in his stride. A fixture for years to come? Does the Pope have a balcony?

Ben Stokes – Stick

Averaged 45 with the bat and 22 with the ball. That’s exceptional. I was even beginning to think he could replace Root as captain until he called that South Africa spectator a frightful rotter.

England should obviously stick with Stokes because he’s the best all-rounder we’ve had since Botham. Sorry Freddie. However, we should manage his workload very carefully. If we can keep Stokes, Wood, and Archer fit for the Ashes tour in two years’ time we might actually have a shot at taking 20 wickets down under. Stokes has this invaluable ability to make things happen – even on flat surfaces. Just don’t call him Ed Sheeran.

Jos Buttler – Twist

Enough is enough. We keep hearing that Jos will figure things out, and that his talent will eventually shine through, but he’s getting worse not better. And how many chances does he need for pete’s sake? He’s played 41 Tests, completed 73 innings, and his statistics since his recall are no better than his first stint in Test cricket.

Here’s the naked truth about Buttler. He’s done well against the weaker attacks (India 2014, West Indies 2015, Sri Lanka 2018, West Indies 2019), pretty well against the decent attacks (New Zealand 2015, Pakistan 2015, Pakistan 2018, India 2018) but absolutely horribly against the quality attacks (Australia 2015, Australia 2019, South Africa 2020). There’s a lesson in there. Talent can only take you so far without a sound technique and Test match temperament.

Poor Jos openly admits that he can’t work out how he should play. And that’s clearly not a good place to be. It’s time for Ben Foakes to come back into the side for Sri Lanka.

Jonny Bairstow – Twist

Although I wouldn’t mind too much if Jonny remains in the squad, Sri Lanka could be a good time to look at someone else. After all, there seems little point ditching Jos Buttler only to go back to Bairstow.

I remain convinced that Jonny can still be a good Test player for England. But he needs to work on his technique and actually prove it in some first class games before he earns a recall. Ed Smith needs to give the impression that England’s cricket team is a meritocracy. Jonny’s been living on past glories for far too long.

Rumour has it that Jonny might be asked to bat 3 in Sri Lanka. I don’t like this move because it’s short-term thinking. He’s not a viable No.3 elsewhere in the world because he’s vulnerable against pace bowling (especially when the ball is hard) and desperately needs to tighten up his defence.

Dom Bess – Stick

Although the legend of Moeen Ali grows every day – something I find bizarre and detached from reality – Dom Bess should quite clearly keep his place. He’s a good off-spinner who’s improving rapidly, he’s blessed with a competitive temperament, and he can clearly bat too. His Test and first-class batting averages both exceed 30.

Bess gives England the perfect balance. And his presence would allow England to drop Sam Curran overseas (if that’s what they ever choose to do) without worrying unduly about fielding a long tail.

Sam Curran – Stick

He’s a cricketer who polarises opinion. Some see him as an innocuous medium pacer and overrated batsman. Others see him as an absolute diamond with a rare ability to swing the ball from his left-arm angle and score plenty of runs down the order too. In fact, debate still rages as to whether he’ll end up as a bowling or batting all-rounder. This suggests to me that’s he pretty good at both.

I have to admit that I can see both sides of this argument. Sometimes I think he’s an overrated hobbit who’s only in the squad (let alone the team) because it’s funky to throw in a random youngster now and again. On the other hand I do see flashes of real ability and I don’t doubt that he makes things happen. That’s a special attribute.

Overall I feel conflicted about Curran but he’s done well enough to stay in the squad for sure. He also looks cuddly. And apparently that’s important.

Mark Wood – Stick

Crazy horse is a definite ‘stick’. But whether his body enables him to stick around is the big question. His new longer run up seems to have improved things but only time will tell.

A fit Wood makes a huge difference to the England team. His effervescence reminds me of Darren Gough. He’s all energy and enthusiasm. Every team needs a guy like that.

Jofra Archer – Stick

Being neither a racist nor a twat – ok I admit that the latter is debatable – I recognise that Jofra is a special cricketer. He just needs time and careful management. It’s just a shame that some supporters refuse to give him the former, and Joe Root hasn’t given him the latter.

Archer was clearly over-bowled in New Zealand and it’s no surprise that he’s picked up an injury. However, he remains the most promising fast bowler we’ve had for years.

Although I doubt he’ll ever have the energy and enthusiasm of Mark Wood – everyone’s different after all – I don’t see why this matters. Jofra should be himself, not think too much, and let his talent shine through.

Chris Woakes – Stick

Somehow it’s always easier to write off the steady cricketers. But in the case of Woakes I think England should resist for now. Why? Because there’s nobody better knocking on the door. Woakes is a better bowler than Craig Overton and a better batsman too. Therefore he stays in the squad.

Rather than pretending that Woakes is either a world class operator in the making or a waste of perfectly good oxygen, we should accept him for what he is: an excellent team man, a decent bowler (especially at home), and a more than handy wielder of willow. Overall he’s still a very good cricketer.

Stuart Broad – Stick 

Has enjoyed an excellent twelve months in which he’s taken 48 Test wickets at an average of 23.5. That’s superb by anyone’s standards. He’s not quite getting better with age like Jimmy Anderson but he certainly doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

There’s no need to over-analyse this one. Broad has been a very good bowler for a long time, he’s still a good bowler, and there’s clearly more to come. Would I take him to Sri Lanka? Probably yes. We can’t prejudge the pitches too much.

Jimmy Anderson – Stick

He’s still quality. And he’s still adding to his CV (or at least filling holes). Before this tour people doubted his ability to take wickets on South African pitches. After all, he endured a tricky tour in 2016. However, his 9 wickets at 20 this winter has put those arguments to bed. Why did anyone ever doubt him?

When Jimmy is fit I still think he’s England’s best bowler. Yes he might not have long left at the top, and it could well be that the injuries are starting to catch up with him, but it’s far too early to say this with any certainty. He’s picked up two injuries over the last year but so what? He used to get injured when he was a young player too.

Matt Parkinson – Twist

Poor old Parky. Ed Smith picked him – I imagine selecting a young leggie with little championship cricket under his belt sent his funkometer off the charts – but the team management clearly didn’t believe in him. Consequently there’s little point in continuing the experiment.

I like Parkinson, I really do, but if your coach doesn’t think you’re ready then you’re not going to play. End of. Picking him for Sri Lanka would therefore be a waste of a valuable spot. I’m sure he’ll come again though. He’s a talented lad.

So what do you think? Would you throw more players to the wolves or have I got the above just about right? Let us know in the comments.

James Morgan

39 comments

  • I think you have it about right – until Burns is recovered from injury I think Denly holds his place (he is the other really vulnerable one). In Sri Lanka England will need multiple spinners, and with Bess inked in for one of those spots it comes down to who joins him – and I agree that there is no point Parkinson going unless it is understood that he will definitely play. Leach if fit is a must, and I suspect that the best cover for Bess would be Amar Virdi. A couple of “send the funkometer off the scale’ options would be Liam Patterson-White (SLA, four first class games but impressive in those) or promote Lewis Goldsworthy (who has been having a decent time at the U19 world cup bowling SLA and batting in the middle of the order) – he and Hamidullah Qadri (OS) bowled England into a seemingly invincible position against the Aussies only for the seamers to then toss it away at the death.

    • Interesting to know what the thing is with Parkinson and coaches, because his county coach doesn’t believe in him either in red-ball cricket…and it really isn’t backed up by his record!

  • So who would you choose as captain instead of Root? We can’t risk overburdening Stokes, you’re correctly choosing to drop a potential captain in Buttler, and most of the others are too inexperienced. I would be happy to give Broad a go, but the selectors are hard wired into not picking a fast bowler as captain.

    • Burns is an obvious alternative captain when he returns. Surrey captain and looks to be good enough for his team place. And at 29 he is a reasonable age to take over.

  • I thought Burns was out of cricket until the new county season? The rumours are that Denly’s out and that Bairstow will bat 3 in Sri Lanka, probably on the basis that in the one test he played there just over a year ago, he scored a ton. Can’t say I agree with that thinking at all. What happens come the summer, regardless of whether Bairstow is a success in the two tests or not? Does he play against what might be a reasonable West Indies pace attack of Gabriel, Thomas, Roach and Holder and a Pakistan attack that has some youthful fast bowling talent? That would be going round in circles, especially if he failed.

    I would agree that once Burns is fit that Crawley should drop to 3. There is something to work with, regarding Crawley. Given that there hasn’t been a lot of upper order batting talent, they’ve taken a punt on him and he’s at least looked like he has something to work with.

    The Buttler/Bairstow wicket keeper conundrum bugs me because, like you say, both are very lucky to be in the test squad still after a long period of non-production. The problem is that there are quite reasonable doubts about Foakes when it comes to batting against seam/pace bowling, despite his manifestly superior keeping skills.

    Can’t find much else to disagree with really.

  • Oh dear, James you seemed not to realise that Burns is injured until next summer so won’t be going to Sri Lanka.
    Also, I am disappointed that you forgot to rate Mark Wood. I think they should drop Buttler and Bairstow for now and bring Foakes in as the permanent wicket keeper/batsman.

    • My bad. I’ve fixed it. I wrote this yesterday evening at the end of a long day writing about vitamins. Excuse the brain fart.

      BTW, I had read that Keaton Jennings was coming back to open (as a replacement for Burns). We wait with not so baited breath to see if this materialises.

  • Burns – Stick (Potential Capt if he can avg 40+)
    Sibley – Stick (Need to give him 10 tests before evaluating)
    Crawley – Stick (Same as Sibley)
    Denly – bang avg cricketer but until Burns returns should keep his spot
    Root – Shoudn’t be capt but there isn’t anyone to replace him
    Stokes – getting better and better but does need to push that avg into the 40’s
    Pope – Oh wow.. this kid looks good. Let’s not ruin him and leave him at 6 for at least 20 tests but I wouldn’t move him above 5 ever.

    Buttler – Drop him and never bring him back
    Bairstow – Drop him and never bring him back
    Curran – Drop him and ONLY bring him back if he’s bowling 84-86MPH and deadly accruate with swing… His batting is white ball and inconsistent. We had enough of those players to show us we don’t want or need it.

    Broad – Stick
    Anderson – Stick
    Archer – Stick Keep him around and let him learn. Rotate him with Wood ot keep him from being over worked. However.. don’t rest him from red ball games so he can play white ball.. rest him from white ball first.
    Wood – same as archer
    Woakes – STICK.. Should be the main seamer on the list and is also a proper batsmen unlike Curran. Way way way ahead of Curran and yet people want him dropped.. clueless.. He’s not as good as Anderson but he’s the best we have outside of Anderson/Broad
    Bess/Leech – STICK.. These two shoul be our spinners for the nex tfew years . Forget Moeen .. he’s done

  • I agree we do need a new captain. Someone that will hand the new ball to Wood rather than to Curran or Bess or taking it himself in a quest for personal glory.

    He should have enforced the follow on in the last test too. Surely our bowlers weren’t that tired? We bowled SA out for 183, not 350. Instead we sent out our batsmen into that average-damaging horrible twilight zone between aggressvely pushing the score on and patiently building an innings.

    The Sri Lanka squad will be interesting. Two more spinners needed to go with Bess and Leach. Three if Leach is still suffering. And some decent seamers will be rested. I can’t believe Broad, Wood, Archer, Woakes and Curran (let alone Anderson) will all head out there to fight for two test places and five overs each per innings.

  • Because Burns is not supposed to come back until the summer, I think Denly has to be left in place for now. He seems to be slowly grinding to a halt, as opposition captains work out how to stop him scoring, but he does a more useful job at 3 than can be expected of Bairstow, even so. We should give up on both Buttler and Bairstow as keepers and play the best keeper (still Foakes, and he is as good a bat in Tests as either of those, if not better). We should forget about Moeen, as his spinning mostly doesn’t do what is required in Tests, because he leaks runs. Bess is a much better bet for the present, as he has proved he can hold an end tight. Leach is fine if he is well, and they would go well together in SL. Otherwise nothing to disagree with, other than to stick with Wood, if he remains fit.

    • Isn’t complaining that Moeen leaks runs a bit like complaining that Wood’s economy rate is too high? Bar a couple of tenths of a ball, he also has the lowest strike rate of any England spinner in the last 100 years. That to me should be something to play around rather than carp about–play him as an attacking spinner rather than always assuming that the spinner is the one who has to stop the flow of runs.

      I can understand that you might not want to pair him and Rashid for that reason, but it does rather assume that England can’t find any five-bowler combination with one stock bowler. (It’s also the argument that deprived us of Steven Finn, who might have been one of England’s best strike bowlers for decades).

      I also think that, regardless of whether he plays again, we should mainly be extraordinarily impressed with Moeen’s test career. He’s done something that I can hardly remember any player doing, in playing tests pretty successfully in a completely different role to the one he filled for his county before he was selected at the age of 27. That’s a bit like deciding around now to pick Craig Overton as an opening batsman and after 60 tests complaining that his strike rate is too slow even though his average is 37. And if that seems like an OTT, bizarre comparison…well, it really is that weird! If we’re talking funky selection, Ali as a front-line Test spinner is one for the ages!

  • NOTHING to disagree with at all! You’re never going to make a selector. Can’t you get your own funkometer working and suggest dropping Stokes for Derek Pringle?
    You missed Leach as well as Wood in your list btw. Presumably Stick and Stick…
    What about Moeen for Sri Lanka (if available)? I read an article yesterday suggesting he might bat at 8 (where he has a good record) as part of a 3-man spin attack. Pace bowlers would just be Stokes +1 from Broad, Archer, Wood, Woakes or (probably not) Curran because their role is mainly just to try to get a breakthrough with the new ball, plus another short spell later to try to get some reverse. I laughed when I first read it but actually it doesn’t seem such a bad shout.
    Finally, Archer shouldn’t go to Sri Lanka in my view. Root might end his career with a 10-over spell.

  • Have to disagree with there being any serious debate about whether Curran will be a bowling or batting all rounder. He has played over 100 FC innings without ever making a century. Compare that with Woakes 219 FC innings and 10 centuries. So Curran can only be evaluated on his bowling – and at 78mph and swinging it only one way from the hand ….. he has to go.

  • Wasn’t sure if these were long term stick v twists or just looking at the tour of Sri Lanka, which is a bit of a one off. Assuming the latter, then Foakes must come in as keeper. You could ditch any of Buttler, Bairstow or Denly and not get any complaints from me, let’s twist Buttler. I’d bring back Keaton Jennings as there’s a little evidence he is good in India and Sri Lanka and twist Crawley (although he’s a better long term bet than Jennings). I agree Parkinson is a twist unless all of Leach, Moeen and Rashid are unavailable) Think you also need Leach + Bess and at least one more spinner which given there are only two tests probably means you can twist a fast bowler. I’d go for Woakes although as with Crawley I’d be resting rather than dropping and I’d be tempted to leave Archer out as well.

  • James is sadly falling for the Media/ECB spin on Curran and it’s sad to see. The guy is a white ball biffer and this is born out in his test career so far. He’s showing no sign’s of improving. His bowling is power puff and he’s mainly getting wickets because bats are going oafter him.. a la white ball

    The guy just isn’t good enough..along with Bairstow/Buttler/Moeen.

    Woakes is your workhorse for SL and you can add in some pace if you must by rotating wood//archer. I’d then give wood and archer the white ball series off as you don’t want to waste them on the slap and tickle formats. Leave that to the also rans like Curran/Overton etc

    • He’s only 21…
      37 wickets at 32 with a comparable strike-rate (58) to all of England’s other pace bowlers (and quite often chipping in with a crucial wicket). Batting average 27.
      If he can swap those averages around (or even just add 10 to his batting average) he’ll be a genuine all-rounder. I agree he needs to show signs of improvement but with that record at that age, surely he’s a kid worth persevering with?

      • at the expense of who?

        Wood?
        Archer?
        Broad?
        Anderson?
        Woakes?
        Bess/Leach?

        Are you seriously saying that Curran is better than any of those seamers???? (Curran’s batting is white ball… he’s never ever going to be a test bat irrespective to what Surrey, ECB or the Media keep spouting

        • No I’m not – he’s not better than any of those 5 at the moment. I’m saying he should be retained as a squad/contracted player because his record as such a young kid suggests he’s earned it. The article reviews the squad, not the team. Anderson will almost certainly retire at the end of the summer (if he ever plays again at all) and Broad won’t be far behind. Archer and Wood are always a breakdown risk, especially with the way Root mis-uses them. Woakes is 31 in March so probably only has 4 years left at most.

  • Curran stays and I don’t care what anyone says to the contrary. Sorry but he provides variety to an all right arm seam attack and as Hungerpang says above there is not a lot wrong with his average for a number 8.
    Not sure about Archer in the Sri Lankan heat or even if he’ll have the commitment. No point in flogging Jimmy to death either even if he’s fit to go. And we have to break up the Broad/Anderson partnership now and then to encourage the newer guys. Pity we don’t yet have a real wicket taking spinner rather than just holding up an end. I’d give Virdi a punt, he really gives it a rip.But not Rashid please.
    Stick with Crawley rather than drag Jennings back. I agree with James batting line-up, just add Foakes. Ok I’m a Surrey man but he is the best keeper!

    • Your’e a surrey man.. Hence the love for Curran.. Same as Yorkies with Bairstow/Ballance.. Not a bad word to be said

    • If Curran could move the ball both ways (instead of only one way) or move it late (instead of from the hand) or bowl consistently in the mid-80s (instead of high 70s)……I would see the merit of the leftie option. As it is decent bats are now realising he is a one trick pony. And, as I have said elsewhere, no FC centuries in over 100 innings is not the sign of a bat. I cannot believe Curran is so backed by the England selectors when Woakes, at the same age, was told to add pace (when he already averaged in the low 80s and moved the ball both ways). For me the ultimate giveaway is that at 78mph he registers the same on the speed gun as my club’s opening bowler – and we are a small village wh do not even play in the Surrey Championship (we are in the Fullers).

  • The vaguely-interesting questions about England’s squad: 1) Who goes as second spinner if Leach is unfit? Do they take a third spinner like last time? 2) Does Foakes get a squad place? 3) Are the changes Chris Stocks was reporting yesterday (Denly dropped, Bairstow to bat at No.3) accurate, and if so, why do England bother with formal squad announcements when they are regularly pre-leaked?

    I see SA were docked WTC points for a slow over rate. It’s a useless sanction for a team who have no hope of qualifying (or fear of relegation). The Big Three team somehow manage to get away with it again – amazing with a few overs of part-time spin can do!

    What about how SL have been doing since they last played England? They’ve played four series away and lost every one except the one in SA. They’re currently labouring to beat Zimbabwe. Their one home series was a 1-1 draw with NZ. They ambushed NZ (whose warm-up game had been mostly rained off and who can’t afford expensive acclimatisation camps I’d guess) in Galle then were thrashed by an innings when NZ had adapted. NZ picked three spinners for the match they lost then relied more on Boult-Southee when they won which gives England the excuse to go with seam if they need one. As for individual players, SL don’t have a bowler in the top 20 of the rankings and their spin department is showing no signs of recovery (they’ve relied mainly on the SLA of Embuldeniya who looks distinctly average). They have two batsmen in the top 20 (Karunaratne and Mathews at 11 and 14) and the new Fernando is averaging over 40 in his short career so far. In short, they’re a team should expect to beat again and with something to spare.

    • Exactly this… This tour of SL should be an utter demolishing of SL.. ANything less is a failure. This rubbish the ECB and Media spout (like we are now seeing about this SA trip) about it being ‘hard’.. is rubbish. It was hard when SL/SA/WI were good.. They are all so bad now it’s just a case of not being crap yourselves.

      Curran is awful. Woakes is a far better Test player and Curran is nothing but a bits and pieces white ball player

  • After winning an away series so comfortably in the end, despite the poor quality of the opposition, why replace Root as captain. The likes of Atherton and Hussein, both half decent England captains, seem comfortable to leave him in charge, believing he is starting to get to grips with the role, both tactically and man managerent wise. This is now his team, so why upset the Apple-cart.
    After recent years of inconsistency we seem at last to be coming to terms with the demands of red ball test cricket. It is no coincidence that our top order is providing the platform for success, acknowledged as a priority by Silverwood when he took the reins. 20-3 seems a thing of the past.
    I do feel you need an extra spinner out there, but picking your best players rather than those most suited to conditions is probably the way to go. Confidence is huge in sport and needs to be rewarded.
    Don’t see a place for Curran with Woakes and Stokes doing the donkey work and you need a proven keeper against spin, so Butler and Bairstow should go the same way, but we all know this won’t happen.

  • I find it bizarre how people often want to retain denly in this kind of thing. He clearly isn’t test standard and has no long term potential so is becoming more and more pointless a selection.

    Buttler clearly is a weakness and should be replaced. But averaging 30 as a wicket keeper and hitter is clearly far more credible than averaging 30 as a number three specialist bat. Neither should be kept but Buttler has 10 times more of a case than denly.

    The only real argument for keeping denly is he has done a good job in using up deliveries. So he is basically a glorified night watchman.

    • And yet Curran is lauded as some great prospect.. can’t bat and can’t bowl.. Yet another Moeen in the making … Bits and Pieces

      • I am not a great fan of Moeen, however it is a little harsh to describe someone who took the most wickets in a calendar year as “Bits and Pieces”

  • I think Archer should go back to county cricket and play some red ball cricket without all the expectation and criticism he will get playing for England. He isn’t ready, isn’t that impressive, and is too inexperienced.

  • “He isn’t ready, isn’t that impressive, and is too inexperienced.”
    I am sorry but that statement has stunned me. 30 wickets in 7 Tests at 27 with 3 five wicket hauls is a seriously impressive haul.

    • Agreed. But I would still be tempted to leave him out in Sri Lanka for two reasons; to let his elbow have a decent recovery period and to avoid the risk of him overstraining on slow low pitches. Better to have him fully fit for the summer.

      • Agreed – if the pitches are similar to last time we toured I think that the likes of Anderson and/or Woakes supplemented by the odd burst from Stokes – I like the idea of the extra pace of Archer/Wood but if only playing 2 or 3 seamers including Anderson…

  • There’s an interesting power struggle developing in the world’s other big “hit ball with stick” game. Golf in the Gulf? The US Tour is very wealthy and may be able to beat the challenge off this time but some sort of worldwide tour is going to happen one of these days.

    Top players playing for obscene amounts of money on grounds with no history and no live crowd are part of the future. The latter can be easily spun into a positive (it saves travel and therefore the climate! no danger of spreading the latest health scare! stay in your supercity and watch it on TV!). As for construction of new grounds, Brian Tuohy has done some excellent analysis of how new sporting grounds bring zero benefits to local communities and are just money-making rackets for the elite.

    • There really doesn’t have to be some fantastically expensive ‘Study’ to tell us that. Sadly, people demand ‘evidence’ or ‘where is your link’.. It’s obvious the future is in playing all the different sports behind closed doors and just streaming it. There really is a lessening need for ‘live’ games where people go to. It’s a waste of time, money, damages teh environment and provides very little actual benefit.

      As you say, all they are done for is to promote more money. Although… It would save football clubs money if they didn’t have to put on games.. The question is would it be worth as much to sponsors, corporates etc.. who, lets face it.. are the ones who supply the real money

  • Thas day got off to a positive start, on account of “That” Partnership between du Plessis and Van der Dussen. Be that as it may, one they were out in back to back overs, the conduits opened and South Africa met, well, themselves. A 3-1 arrangement win for the hosts at that point. What a fabulous series this has been for Joe Root as captain, a youthful young team coming together at all.

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