The Worst Since 1994? England’s Ashes Squad

Good news. The Ashes is going ahead. It took some intense diplomatic wrangling but eventually the England players decided to commit. Even Jos Buttler chose to tour, which shocked me as much as it probably annoyed Ben Foakes.

It’s not all good news, however. England’s squad is predictably weak. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that it’s the weakest to leave our shores for Australia since 1994. One could argue that the 2002/03 squad was just as bad but at least they managed to avoid a whitewash against one of the greatest Test teams ever assembled. Plus they had an extremely handy opening pair.

So which lambs, exactly, have the selectors chosen? Exactly who we thought they’d choose to be honest. There’s no imagination whatsoever. The out-of-his-depth Chris Silverwood has decided to stand by the same players that have already been found wanting time after time:

Burns, Hameed, Crawley, Malan, Root, Pope, Lawrence, Bairstow, Buttler, Bess, Leach, Woakes, Overton, Broad, Robinson, Wood, Anderson.

My first thought upon seeing the squad was how lucky Silverwood’s wife must be. He’s incredibly loyal. Did he not fancy flirting with a Matt Parkison or Liam Livingstone? Nope.

However, in the selectors’ defence, I’d struggle to make an unarguable case for any of the players omitted. Livingstone has made his name as a white ball player in recent times, whilst Parkinson offers very little with either the bat or in the field. This isn’t necessarily an issue for me but you just knew it would bother the people that matter.

Meanwhile, although we can all grumble about Craig Overton, who exactly should have been picked instead? Archer and Stone are injured so the options were limited. Mahmood is still very raw in red ball cricket and his record really isn’t much to write home about.

Although some might laugh at suggestions that any England squad containing Anderson and Broad could possibly be deemed ‘weak’, let’s just look at things objectively here. I love Jimmy as much as the next England supporter but he averages 35 down under. Broad averages 37. They’re good bowlers, as is Chris Woakes, but the conditions won’t help them.

Pace and quality spin is what you need to take 20 wickets down under. And sadly England don’t have enough of either. Mark Wood’s fitness will be absolutely crucial as he’s the only seamer capable of fighting fire with fire. We’ll all be pining for Archer, Stone, and indeed Ben Stokes, within five minutes.

It’s England’s batting, however, that worries me the most. Our top three looks woefully thin. Burns has guts but remains the archetypal average Test opener. Hameed will be vulnerable against Australia’s quicks on harder surfaces, and Malan is a barely adequate five or six. Do you really want him striding to the wicket in the first over of a Test match? It will be hide behind the sofa time.

Unless Joe Root can break all records himself then England will simply get blown away. Ollie Pope has tremendous talent but looked a long way short of fulfilling his potential this summer. He’ll find it incredibly hard to adapt to Australian pitches. A Test match won’t be anything like Aussie grade cricket.

And then there’s Dan Lawrence. Again he’s a good young county batsman but this will be a whole new ball game for him. Setting anything but the lowest expectations would simply be unfair. Besides, I think everyone expects Jonny Bairstow to play anyway. Silverwood isn’t just loyal; he clearly cares about the environment, too. His commitment to recycling cricketers is astounding.

So what else do England have in their locker? Although the management team will be pleased that Buttler has decided to make the trip – he’s a strong presence in the dressing room – I wouldn’t expect him to succeed down under. He’s been found wanting every time he’s faced Australia’s pace attack. He averages a pitiful 20.5 in 18 innings against Australia (all at home). He’ll find the going tough when Cummins, Hazlewood, Starc and Co bomb him, too. I suspect this trip could see the end of this Test career.

Martin Johnson famously described England’s 1987 Ashes heroes as the team that couldn’t bat, bowl, or field. So maybe it will be the same this time? We’ll all write them off and then watch in awe as they prove us wrong. This is possible, of course, but one thing the 1987 team did reasonably well was catch. Sadly, the current England XI drop more catches than any other major Test nation. It’s a recipe for disaster.

The only good news, of course, is that Australia have problems of their own. We won’t be facing the great baggy greens of the 90s and noughties. However, I suspect that they’ll have more than enough for us. Their bowling will be strong – let’s not forget how well Nathan Lyon supports their fearsome pacemen – whilst any XI containing Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne is capable of putting competitive scores on the doors.

Are you as pessimistic as me? I’d like to see a little more positivity in the comments below. Unfortunately I just feel that our cupboard is bare. We all know the reasons why. The ECB have neglected first class cricket for far too long and Ashes ignominy is exactly what English cricket deserves.

The road taken by our hapless administrators led to this point. Now we have to watch the inexorable car crash.

James Morgan


  • I am less willing to excuse the selectors than you. Bess is an inexcusable choice – English off spinners rarely fare well in Australia and Bess’ test record is mediocre. I share you views about Malan, and even though an away Ashes is not an ideal series for newbies I would have called up Tom Abell as number three (he is also a handy medium pacer and has experience of captaincy, which means that if he can establish himself at test level there would be an heir apparent to Joe Root for that job). I would have selected Foakes as first choice keeper, and would not have had Bairstow on the plane at all (in a test career soanning nine years he has had one fat year (Dec 2015 to Dec 2016) and eight lean ones.. Parkinson should have been chosen as back up spinner to Leach for all that he is no11 and not a great fielder. Glenn McGrath’s regular pre-series prediction looks justified this time.

  • I shall be watching the series from the safety of behind the sofa…
    Peter Drake
    teacher playwright cricket nut Hexham

  • Parkinson’s and Livingstone’s partners, if they have any, will also be very happy that Silverwood isn’t flirting with them I should imagine…:-)

    Yes, Parkinson’s batting is irrelevant–or should be. I saw a figure somewhere that suggested that he gets both more turn and more drift than any spinner in the world. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’ll turn out to be a world-class test bowler–although he certainly won’t if they never give him a debut!–but Bess also hasn’t so far, and unlike Parkinson he didn’t have a particularly successful Championship season.

    They were originally talking about taking a squad of eighteen or nineteen…which would have allowed them to take both Overton and Mahmood (or maybe Carse). I’m not as sceptical as you about Mahmood–his record looks fine to me (career average a touch under 27, 2021 average around 24, strike rate 50, two wickets per game in ODIs), and isn’t the crucial difference that he’s a bit faster than the others?

    One you didn’t mention is Crawley. If you’re talking unconvincing records then Crawley’s your man. He’s surviving on one innings in his entire f-c career at the moment. Sure, the options are limited (I don’t quite see it with Abell either, who also doesn’t have a very flash record) but I struggle to see how Crawley is a better option than recalling Sam Robson, say–who at least is in good form, not to mention having a career average several runs better than Crawley’s.

    • I watched some of a Lancahire county match on TV a few weeks ago. Lancashire’s part-time leggie – I forget his name; Lewis, perhaps? – completely outshone Parkinson. The latter bowls far too many “hit-me” balls..

      On the test selection, the bowling might be OK, but I agree that the batting looks brittle.

      • That’s interesting. It seems that not too many of the four-balls are actually being hit for four, however: his career economy rate is better than that of Bess, Patterson-White, Carson, Virdi and his brother and only fractionally worse than Leach (all of whom bowl a type of spin that is less likely to go for runs); over a whole run better than Crane, if we’re talking leg-spinners; and almost a run better than Ali and Rashid, about whom a similar criticism is made. And his strike rate is better than any of them, and 25% better than most of them.

        Looking at bowlers who bowled 100 overs in the Championship this year, the only Lancs bowler of any description to come within almost half a run of his economy rate was Bailey (Luke Wells didn’t either). The only more economical spinners countrywide were Bess, Briggs and Harmer, all by a tenth of a run or less–and Parkinson’s strike rate was around 10% better than Briggs’s, 20% better than Harmer’s and 60% better than Bess’s.

  • The omission of Ben Foakes is inexcusable. He’s our best keeper and he doesn’t require English pitches in order to shine as a batsman. A closer look at Liam Livingstone and Harry Brooks as batters would also make sense to me.

  • As you say James the cupboard is pretty bare for new talent, but it would have been good to put a couple of promising youngsters in there instead of the tried, tested and oft failed. Foakes continuing absence is a mystery as he can bat red ball as well as Buttler. Bairstow going as a batsman shows how thin the options are on that front. Still a good chance for Pope to show what he can do. Crawley and Lawrence are both tall so should in theory be able to play the bouncing ball better. Hameed is a class act as has a great opportunity to put that to the test. A bit fed up of the continuing Burns critics. He’s made pretty good use of his servicable talents so far and I think as as reliable an opener as Warner. I like Malan personally as he’s good all round the wicket with a decent temperament, but as ever it’s hard not to feel it depends on Root making a few hundreds to keep us competitive. At least most of squad will have experience playing against the present Aussie line-up.
    On the bowling front Overton could do better over there than here with his extra height to hit the deck, a bit like Broad? I think his selection ahead of Mahmood a skiddy bowler is right. Would have liked to see Parkinson in there to give us an extra option, was impressed with him when selected last season. Bess will be interesting as he didn’t exactly pull up any trees last season, but will probably get the nod ahead of Leach for his batting. Anderson is always a threat with the new Cherry and Woakes has the ability to get the best out, but it’s Robinson who could be our Hazelwood and with Wood our Stark and Broad our Cummings, it’s not all doom and gloom.
    If we can catch better than this last season I think we have a chance. Trott reckoned taking their 20 wickets would be our main issue, personally I think it’s making a decent 1st innings total that’s going to be key. It’s difficult to be competitive coming from behind all the time as confidence drains away. It’s one of those series we could lose 5-0 or if we can get off to a decent start win 3-2. We have the talent, do we have the confidence and application to make best use of it.

  • It’s a neat trick they’ve pulled apparently convincing most people that a squad lacking Archer, Stokes, Ali and Curran is full strangth (some would add Stone although I’ve been underwhelmed by what I’ve seen). Prize white-ball assets who one might have feared finishing an Ashes’ tour in one piece now don’t face that problem… which is somewhat convenient.

    There’s some way to go between the squad being announced and it appearing on the field in a full Test series. Although high profile sporting events with a lot of money at stake and lots of opportunities for social engineering have usually managed magically to go ahead, the possibility of “re-arrangements” can’t be rules out (especially given the lunatic governments in Sydney and Melbourne).

    England’s last three away Ashes’ wins were largely the work of medium pacers (10/11 Anderson/Bresnan, 1986/87 Botham/Small, 78/79 Hendrick) and one has to go back to Snow in 70/71 and Tyson in 54/55 for pace winning in Australia. What those wins mainly had in common was that Australia were very, very weak. This Australian sqaud is only one major injury or loss of form away (most obviously to Smith) from being less than terrifying. There isn’t much strength in depth there.

    A year ago there was talk of England going to Australia wit three outright pacement to ‘bomb’ Australia. Only one has actually made it this far. Is anyone surprised? Given that Wood will be 32 and has a history of ankle trouble, what are the odds he’ll appear in more than two Tests?

    One final point: Lyon is much more effective at LHBS and India were able to negate him by having a line-up packed with RHBs. England’s likely XI looks like it’ll have four or possibly five LHBs. At least they should all be at the very top or bottom of the order with none batting at Nos. 4-8.

  • We all know that Leach will be carrying the drinks while Bess will play because he can score 20-30 runs. Nevermind that he bowls a longhop every over or can’t keep scoring down, his 30 runs down the order will make all the difference. Foakes should have been there as well, but the selectors seem wedded to the Buttler-Bairstow nexus.

  • It will be like 2013/14. I would be amazed if England win a single Test. Several England Test careers will end, and a bunch of new players will be shunted forward. Among them I would certainly hope to see Harry Brooks and Rob Yates, both of whom might have been worth a punt this time. As for the bowling, just having Mark Wood as the only bowler who can consistently bowl above 85 mph is ridiculous. Wouldn’t George Garton be a good pick? And Mahmood can manage 90 mph on occasion. The absence of Foakes and Parkinson is dimwitted.

  • I have an horrible feeling that the only player to emerge from this tour with his reputation enhanced will be Foakes, not least on the basis that his Test batting average will by then be higher than Buttler’s

  • According to Silverwood this lot of persistent. losers are “battled hardened ” due to recent Tests. Really, has he forgotten the results already. Same old, same old. Still they refuse to take Foakes and really Butler, Bairstow, Lawrence, Malan, Bess (Jesus!) are just not up to it. Bit like the ECB. I’m not convinced with Hameed yet and Broad? Not any more.There won’t be much in these wickets for Leach, a leggie like Patkinson, would be much better. A number of test careers could well finish after this series. If Wood and Root fire we might win one, but maybe that’s to optimistic.

  • I was waiting for you to pre-emptively blame the ECB for defeat but it took until the penultimate paragraph. A new record.

    • It’s largely because of the ECB and ICC policies and the way they are destroying the red ball game in favour of the hit and giggle that the Test side is in the state it’s in. Why do you think we’ve only one test batsman (I don’t do batters) who averages over 40? The ECB need kicking out and English Cricket rebooting from top to bottom. I actually mainly follow NZ now because of the state of the game here.

      • Look at the list of Ashes series in Australia since 1990. The rule of thumb is that England get flogged when they go to Australia. The one aberration is when England won, when they were exceptionally strong and Australia were exceptionally weak and in decline. Even decent England sides have been smashed 5-0 or 4-0. That’s the reality.

        Is that all the ECB’s fault? Or does it make more sense to conclude that it is simply very hard for English sides to win in Australia, unless they are actually significantly stronger and the Australians are in decline?

        To the extent that you guys expect to be soundly beaten, is that a specific failure of the ECB? Or is it in fact a reversion to the mean that has been established over 30+ years?

        Instead of constantly bellyaching about the ECB, maybe you should simply accept that when England go to Australia, they tend to get flogged, as the list of series since 1990 suggests.

        • We just lost both our home summer series for the first time since the 1990s. This had nothing to do with The Ashes. Our grumbling about the ECB has been going on for years, as it’s common knowledge that they’ve run the championship into the ground. Again, this has been going on independently from The Ashes. This blog doesn’t go into hibernation when we’re playing other sides (which we do the majority of the time).

          England’s record in Australia was poor in the 1990s and noughties because they were up against some of the finest Test sides ever assembled including two all time great bowlers. Don’t forget that without these players (and even including them in 2005) Australia’s recent record in England is equally poor. You haven’t won a series in England for two decades. You got close last time because our current Test team (like the Aussies in 2010/11) were at a very low ebb. At least we actually capitalised when the opposition were historically weak.

          England have only got worse since 2019, sadly. And we won’t improve, indeed we will only get worse, because the ECB are still running the championship into the ground. That’s the point. Highlighting historic results on one particular tour (without paying attention to context) is just a poor attempt at parochial point scoring.

          Counties are on the verge of dying over here. Livelihoods are at stake. Something many people have cared dearly about for decades is under threat. If you were more than a casual observer of this blog intermittently then you’d realise that. Dismissing all that because you want to point out how ‘England always lose in Australia anyway’ is crass and unwelcome.

          • Australia’s record in England is not “equally poor”. That’s nonsense. When was the last time Australia lost 5-0 in England? Australia won four series in a row in England between 1989 and 2001. When did England do that in Australia?

            England generally get flogged when they go to Australia. Look at the record. Blaming the ECB is pointless and it’s simply your preferred way of ignoring the fact that Australia is, on average, better at cricket than England. You’d save yourself a lot of handwringing if you came to grips with this reality.

            Rather than accepting that, you prefer to complain about the administrators. That’s understandable but it’s an obvious fan dance.

            • But you miss the point: this is the worst England Test side since at least 1994. It’s not just Aussie who beat us, it’s NZ (better than Australia at the moment any way), India and we struggle against the West Indies who has
              it’s worst test side ever. It’s not that our players are not any good as you say, it’s because of the on going policies of the wretched ECB policies based on a diet of white ball money grabbing and banishing the Championship to the bookends of the season. Result? Obvious: they don’t develop any red ball skills!
              And yes the 2001 Aussies here was the greatest test side I’ve ever seen. Your current side bar Smith and Laburchange is almost as weak at batting as England. England have no pace or a test class spinner bar Wood and they will lose. But don’t blame the players for this appalling situation.

  • The point is also that nothing has been done about the reasons that England lost last time (to the extent that the seam bowling attack, which was one of the biggest reasons, is largely the same players with the same uniformity but four years older)–despite those reasons having been pointed out at the time and fairly continuously since. And if you think that the Australia team of 2017 was one of the all-time great international sides then I have some magic age-reduction pills to sell you!

    That’s a systemic problem, not merely losing to a vastly better side, bad luck or coincidence. Is that so difficult to understand?

    • Australia is, on average, better at cricket than England. It’s like how New Zealand is, on average, better at rugby.

      You guys tie yourselves in knots to avoid acknowledging this.

      Just accept the reversion to the mean.

      • But Tom is right. His statement that Australia is, on average, better at cricket than England – in the same way that NZ is, on average, better than England at rugby – is pretty much correct. Yes, we should find out why and strive to ameliorate the situation, but it’s not ‘childish’ to state the situation as it is…..

      • …and I never suggested otherwise. I’m not sure that you’ve read my post any better than Tom?!

        • When someone disagrees with you, you simply accuse them of not reading your posts closely enough, as though that’s the only possible explanation.

        • No, I’m not saying that you haven’t read the posts because you’re disagreeing with me (you actually don’t know whether I disagree with you or not, because I haven’t expressed my opinion on the points you’re both making!)–but because…your posts don’t show any sign of having read mine properly.

          Specifically, you’re both criticising me for saying something that I didn’t say in the posts to which you’re replying.

          I don’t mind debating something I’ve actually said (in toto, not by randomly extracting single words from a post!), but it really is a waste of time debating abstract points which I haven’t raised just because other posters are getting worked up by them.

  • The 94/95 squad had two batsmen with career averages over 40 (Gooch and Thorpe) plus Stewart who averaged over 40 when playing as a specialist batsman. Atherton almost certainly would have averaged around 40 but for playing in an era of incredibly strong bowling and his back trouble. The bowling had two seamers with averages in the 25-30 range (Gough and Fraser).

    It wasn’t really that terrible a squad. The misfortunes were that some key players got injured and Australia were very strong.

  • I can’t be optimistic James. I just feel desperately sad – just like I feel every time I realise that first class cricket is basically not played at all in summer in this country any more, but simply pushed to fringes of spring and autumn where dibbly dobbly bowlers can bag a five-for before lunch and batsmen don’t really have a prayer of developing a technique that will allow them to survive, let alone score runs, anywhere else in the world. Ollie Pope is supposed to be one of our brightest batting stars and remember him batting on turners in India last year? It was embarrassing, he looked like a number 9. It will be the same on the fast bouncy pitches in Australia. Further, any side relying on Mark Wood – average 33 per wicket – as a spearhead is in a sorry, sorry state.
    This squad feels as though they didn’t even bother to think. Anyone seen any First Class cricket this summer? First Class what…? Me neither. Oh well, shall we just go with Jonny and Jos and Jimmy and Broady then? Done. Next agenda item please…proposals for “The Fifty”…that’s more like it….
    This may be the weakest squad since 1994 – I’ve no idea, I haven’t looked at them. However I have looked up our top 6 for the Brisbane Test in that series. It was Atherton, Stewart, Hick, Thorpe, Gooch, Gatting. Admittedly the last two were way past their best and probably shouldn’t have been there, but of the current lot, only Root would get in that side. It’s the worst squad since a long way before 1994.

  • Is there anything more English than the pre-emptive surrender two months before an Ashes series starts?

    • What a stupid comment. All people are doing here is analysing the respective squads and using their own judgement to suggest what they think is most likely to happen. Most people doing that – myself included – come to the conclusion that Australia is likely to come on top, in my case because I find it difficult to see how this attack is going to take 20 Australian wickets and similarly difficult to see that we can consistently out score the Aussies when we only have one genuine Test quality batsman. That’s not pre-emotive surrender, it’s simply being realistic.

      • You are describing pre-emptive surrender, which is a great tradition among England fans.

        You can call it something else if you prefer but I see a bunch of you deciding in advance that England will lose, pivoting immediately to blaming the ECB, when the reality is that England generally lose quite convincingly when they go to Australia.

        • Where in my post have I mentioned the ECB ? You are the one with an ECB obsession. As I’ve said elsewhere you simply repeat your incorrect and incoherent narrative without bothering to read – or understand – anyone else’s posts. You really are a Grade 1 tedious bore.

          • Agreed, he is also doing what Australia always does before a series, baiting the opposition to wind them up. England fall hook, line and sinker for it every time. I nearly did, but having lived there years back, just twigged it.
            Pity Tom that New Zealand is currently much better than you lot isn’t it?

            • New Zealand have played some fine cricket recently, and I say good for them. That’s really a one-sided “rivalry”. When was the last time they beat Australia in a series?

              • OMG England have lost their last 3 series against New Zealand!?

                I guess I’ll have to take your word for it when you say how great they are.

          • Blaming the ECB is the author’s preoccupation and the tenor of many comments on this blog and this thread in particular.

            There’s no need for name-calling. Just accept that Australia is, on average, better at cricket than England and you’ll be less angsty.

            • I’m afraid the only person who is angst on here is you, and that is because you are continually being called out for misrepresenting others’ posts and your obsession with the ECB which is bordering on the pathological.

  • Parkinson easily deserves a run in the Test team but Buttler is wasting a place. Proper wicketkeeper batsman, sorry batter, is needed for Test cricket. It’s not just his silly haymakers, he costs plenty cos he’s not a top class glovesman. Why this policy persists is beyond logic.

    • Buttler has one stumping to his name. Foakes has 5 in 8 Tests keeping to a similar attack as Buttler. If you compare their averages then make allowance for chances taken, runs/extras conceded, Foakes wins every time. and that’s before making allowance for the demotivating effect on bowlers of seeing chances go down and needless runs conceded.

      • Foakes actually possesses a superior FC Batting Average with a higher percentage of both 100s and 50s per innings than Buttler has – yet we hear Buttler is in for his batting, yes Foakes can bat handily…

        • Robert
          As I’ve said elsewhere, there is very little between them at Test level either, andI doubt Buttler’s average will increase this Winter. I personally would feel happier with Foakes batting in that position than I do with Buttler and he is in a different league as a keeper. I just don’t understand his omission.

  • Seeing that Darren Gough was the leading bowler in the ’94 squad I had a look back at his record.

    He bowled almost exactly the same number of combined f/c and List A deliveries as Jimmy ‘Isn’t it a miracle he’s still bowling at his age?’ Anderson.

    • Sadly Gough got injured immediately after impressing at the SCG. He was a leading light and possibly the only bright spot from the tour. He even made a 50! The rest of the bowling was toothless if my memory is holding up. That was the series when Martin McCague embarrassed us at Brisbane. We really struggled.

      The batting was also poor aside from Thorpe. Alec was a fantastic cricketer but he was hopeless against spin. Warne had him on toast every time. I think the desperate selection of Gatting, recalled from nowhere, showed just how bare the cupboard was back then. However, amazingly Gatt actually scored a ton at Adelaide I think. Not that he made another run in the series lol. The ‘98 squad was a lot more competitive and would’ve drawn the series 2-2 had Simon T’awful given Slater run out in the final game. Instead he blundered the 3rd umpire decision.

    • I quite agree. I understood the Buttler choice under Ed as that was originally his big call, but I can’t understand it now when Foakes is so obviously, overall, the better option.

      • Being a huge fan of Ben Foakes, I’m actually quite glad he’s not going to be involved in this almost certain defeat for England. I just wonder though if they were concerned about his lack of match practice. I checked all the Surrey games at the end of the season and he wasn’t playing. Is he back to full fitness now?

        • Yes, he played in the last Championship game for Surrey. But you know what the ECB is like over “resting!”

  • You retained the Ashes in 2019 by the skin of your teeth, and almost ballsed it up due to crap captaincy. Yes your totally wrong.

    • What margin would have been acceptable for retaining the Ashes?

      My understanding is that a drawn series was all that was required.

  • What’s the over/under on the number of England players who’ll quit mid-tour if it gets too hard?

    Or the number of England players who are so completely exposed for insufficient toughness and technique that they never play Test cricket again?

    Any takers?

  • Squad strength isn’t necessarily a great predictor of how the Ashes will go…

    Probably the strongest squad England ever sent was in 1958/59 and they crashed spectacularly (and somewhat dubiously). England’s 86/87 wasn’t a strong one in most regards (as their results against everyone else showed) but they won the Ashes easily. The 70/71 squad had major weaknesses (especially the middle order and support seamers) but the opening batsmen (Boycott, Edrich, Luckhurst) and Snow plus the spinners won it.

  • I’m still trying to wrap my brain around Stokes’ indefinite break, and I realize I’m getting off track here. Yuvraj Singh’s 2011 World Cup heroics are remembered by millions because he put his country first, and his passion and perseverance led to his side winning the cup and him collecting the man of the series title. England sorely needs a batter who can bat lower down the order, and Stokes is the guy for the job. I’m not trying to minimize mental illnesses; all I’m trying to say is that he’s a player with a lot of potential who won’t be able to live up to it if he doesn’t play. He was the star of the 2019 World Cup, and the 135* at Headingley is also up there, and he had the chance to repeat his feats in Australia. There’s no rule that says you can’t look after your mental health while playing your sport.

    • Abhishek
      The only person who can make that call is Stokes himself assisted by those closest to him. I think everyone else should respect his situation and refrain from what is, by it’s very nature, I’ll informed comment on an intensely personal matter, other than to wish him well.

      • Yes I agree. But I still find it a bit odd that he agreed to captain England in a 3 match T20 against Pakistan, and even odder that he played the first two rounds of the 100, and with an injured finger. If I had (and I’ve had them) mental health issues that the last thing I’d want to do.

  • Incredibly generous to call Burns average. He has a test average of 32 over a sustained period of time in his 30s.

    Certainly in my lifetime, he is the worst England batsman to be considered pretty much a guaranteed starter. Can’t recall any other batsman with such a weak record to nail down a place. We’ve had loads of far worse players but they have generally be discarded or been in and out. Buttler gets a big of a pass as he is a keeper otherwise he would be in same category.

    • I don’t know how long your lifetime is but there have been several opening batsmen worse than Burns that I can think of-Kim Barnett, Keaton Jennings to name 2 off the top of my head. He’s not a world beater, I grant you, but who’s the alternative?
      You really class Buttler as a keeper?
      He’s scored 2 test centuries in goodness how many innings and his keeping is poor by international standards especially to spinners.
      I think anyone who watches red ball cricket realises that Foakes is light years ahead behind the stumps and he has also scored at least 2 centuries in far fewer innings.
      I also believe most people would only rate Bairstow as average in both batting and keeping.

  • You had it about right but under sold Malan who has batted well so far. The only quibble is that this si indeed far and away the very worst England side to play Test cricket and, as an afterthought, the worst prepared. Their performances, Malan and Root excepted, have been embarrassing in the first degree. Australia is missing 50% of its attack in this game yet England cannot make 300 first knock. I could go on but, like the ECB, I can’t be bothered.


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