Looking forward to seeing more of this bloke next summer? Me neither.
This blog post would have been called ‘The Sunday Roast’, but it’s a day too early for that. Still, what’s twenty four hours between friends? There’s so much to discuss at the moment:
There’s England’s selection dilemma – Jonny Bairstow’s century today has put the cat amongst the pigeons – Pat Cummins latest serious injury, plus The Dark Lord’s appointment as Surrey captain to chew over.
We’ll start with Bairstow’s heroics. Jonathan Trott might not want to open (and I don’t particularly want him to either), but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to see how England can squeeze all their best batsmen into the team. As Maxie argued a couple of days ago, Jonny was England’s start performer in our last test match. It would be incredibly harsh to drop him – especially now.
One option that hasn’t been discussed, of course, is opening the innings with Bell. He has the most classical technique of all England’s established batsmen, so he’s certainly capable of moving up the order. This would enable Bairstow to slot in at five, with Prior six and Patel seven. The balance of the side, therefore, would be exactly the same as our last test on the subcontinent (when we beat Sri Lanka nine months ago).
How does a lineup of Cook, Bell, Trott, Pietersen, Bairstow, Prior, Patel, Broad, Swann, Finn and Anderson sound to you? We wouldn’t rule it out – especially as Compton and Root have failed to shine thus far.
The next item on the agenda is the latest injury to strike Australia’s best young bowler since Dennis Lillee (if you believe the hype). I’ve been really impressed with Cummins every time I’ve seen him. For a 19 year old he has tremendous pace, and I saw him bowl a beautiful spell at Jacques Kallis last year in which he made one of the best batsmen in the world look like Mark Lathwell on a bad day.
However, there’s no point having natural talent if you can’t keep yourself fit. Cummins seems to be injured more than a stunt man with a death wish. There have been plenty of cricketers over the years who have burst on the scene, then disappeared because their bodies can’t cope with the rigours of the modern game. Cummins appears to be one of them; which is terrible news for an Australian side that desperately needs a world class bowler, and great news for England fans who saw all of our best bowlers drop like flies either just before, or actually during, Ashes series in the 1990s.
Finally, we have to discuss Surrey’s decision to appoint Graeme Smith, aka The Dark Lord, as captain on a three year contract. He replaces poor Rory Hamilton Brown, who has gone back to Sussex after the Tom Maynard Tragedy.
Smith has committed to Surrey because apparently the English summer doesn’t clash with any South Africa fixtures. However, it has stoked rumours that he might quit international cricket sooner rather than later. He has, after all, given away the ODI captaincy to Crueller DeVilliers.
How do you all feel about this? Is it right for Surrey to use their substantial financial muscle to recruit a test heavyweight to lead their team? Will the considerable knowledge Smith passes on to Surrey’s young guns outweigh any potential drawbacks?
Or is it just the prospect of seeing Smith’s smug grin – and the full face of his broad bat – on a more regular basis that really grates? We really hoped we’d seen the last of him for a while. I tell you what, if Kallis signs for Middlesex or any other English club next season, I might have to sidestep county cricket altogether next summer.