Back when I was just a lonely old soul, writing mainly for myself and being read mainly by myself, there were a number of bloggers I made sure I read. Up there with The Old Batsman and 99.94 was “The Wrong ‘Un at Long On” (dormant since 2015). I enjoyed his take on things, when he could get the enthusiasm to write, and along with the Full Toss (Maxie and James in full cry), they encouraged me on in the early 2014 madhouse. Now, in a strange circle of fate, the same Wrong ‘Un at Long On, or as we know him on here, Miami Dad’s Six, has penned an article on the upcoming selection for the Trent Bridge test. Not entirely seriously……
Even though MDS is a blogger, remember, he’s guesting for us, so be nice. My thanks to MDS for penning this piece, and if any of you feel up for the challenge, we’d be happy to have you. Take it away Wrong ‘Un.
So. About me. My username was a keyboard autocorrect of a cricketing moment (an internet based prize for whoever can decrypt it). I used to pen/keyboard/phlegm-up a mediocre blog myself, but was put off/shamed mainly by the unerring accuracy and thoroughness of others, ahem, mainly Dmitri, who were firing off game-changing dramatic soliloquys whilst I was spouting dribble – this was around about the time our foreign-born number 4 was ditched for shocking off-field behaviour.
This time around it’s a foreign-born number 5 in trouble for shocking off-field behaviour, which usually would signal a spell back in county cricket. To be frank though, not many in the side have really nailed their place in the side to the point where you’d guarantee they’ll be about this time next summer, so you’d fancy that our biffing ginger ninja might be slotted back in almost immediately. We all have our own thoughts on whether or not this may be the best course of action, I for one struggle to get bothered either way.
One thing I *do* get bothered about is selection. There are two main selection issues that regularly rile me, namely either players being treated unfairly OR players given special treatment, and they have been joined by a third type of annoyance – the funky, overly-lauded selection that doesn’t get scrutinised enough. Thanks, Ed. So here are my main thoughts on selection for the 3rd Test at Trent Bridge.
Weirdly, Edward’s fresh opening batsman selection is neither innovative (he has been tried before), nor funky (he’s a rather straight-laced, nerdy looking fellow). That doesn’t mean (foreign born) Keaton Jennings is a bad player, per se, and there are certainly normal, Championship-based reasons for selecting him this summer. However there seems to be a media consensus that he’s done pretty well in spite of a run of 29, 42, 8 and 11 not exactly boosting his Test average, which sits at 24.00 after 9 Tests. You’d probably think having picked him that England should persevere for the series. I’m calling it out as a poor selection, neither funky nor successful. (Foreign born) Gary Ballance was sent away to address his underlying issues, didn’t bother, then came back the same player with the same weaknesses. He got slated for it, yet to me Jennings seems to be entirely similar. Can anyone see him scoring a ton in Sri Lanka? Even a 50? I’d chop him now.
His opening partner’s form is boom or bust. Cook averages 27 across 12 Tests in the past year. That stat doesn’t include the double ton against the West Indies, but includes the unbeaten double ton against Australia. That appears to be where we are with Cook at the moment, huge knocks on flat decks, book-ending long periods of stodgy, footwork-related low scores. It’s a problem quite a few batsmen wouldn’t mind having, but not exactly what you want from your opening bat. The main worry I have is that Cook’s prowess against spin appears to be waning. Historically he’s good against slower bowling though, and with a tour to Sri Lanka and the West Indies coming up, I’d persevere with him, just about, for that reason alone.
Root = number 3. Bat there, try and get a big score once set.
Then there is something of a mess from 4 to 8, created by the battery of multi-purpose tools England have assembled, combined with the complete absence of quality top order batsmen. I don’t actually mind Pope at number 4, although in an ideal world we’d have a settled top order which saw him slot in initially at 6, where he plays for his county. He’s just the latest one to get thrown in, not exactly a scientific or funky selection, and he’ll either have a sink or have a swim. Sometimes that’s sport.
For the number 5 slot, I’ve learnt nothing new about Stokes since “the video” emerged, and as he’s been playing since then following an initial suspension in Australia, I’d be happy enough for him to get picked again. However on the basis of him averaging 34 across his career, and not appearing in any sort of nick since he was, ahem, nicked – I just don’t see him as a top 5 batsman unless he really hits top form. Without overloading Jonny Bairstow, I think he is worthy of the number five spot.
At 6 and especially at 7, Jos Buttler is the funkiest of Ed’s funky selections. Widely lauded as a huge comeback success after two Tests and a couple of 50s against Pakistan, with a ludicrously premature promotion to the vice-captaincy, he has subsequently flunked. I like Buttler, more than a little bit, however he’s never hit a Test ton. If that doesn’t change soon, we are going to reach a situation where he cannot be picked unless he’s the designated wicket keeper, vice -captain or not. Stokes could slot in at 6 which is probably a more realistic spot that a truly top team would pick him in; if you don’t end up using his bowling, is that any worse than not using Buttler’s wicket-keeping?
Chris Woakes’ place is apparently under threat in spite of a match winning century at Lords, plus a home bowling record with a lower average than both Anderson and Broad. Woakes is an interesting comparison with the other new all-rounder to have emerged. In his early 20s, Woakes came on the scene and did alright, but as he was only trundling along at 80-84mph was told to go and put a yard of pace on, so he could trouble batsmen abroad. Although he did so, and is a perfectly serviceable bowler in ODI and T20 across the world, that hasn’t exactly translated into success in Tests away from home. England will be hoping the (foreign born – ED, he was born in Northampton to a famous Zimbabwean cricketer father) Sam Curran’s left-arm angle equates to more overseas success, although there have certainly been fewer murmurings about his pace than Woakes received. Curran also currently has a lower bowling average at home than either Jimmy or Broad. From the top of my head, so does Toby Roland-Jones. To me that sounds like the foundation of an in-depth analysis of how picking the pair indiscriminately over the past 10 years has denied Graham Onions the chance of 500 Test wickets, but I’ll leave that to someone with more time.
Nevertheless, Anderson and Broad are currently bowling miserly spells and taking wickets. On that basis they get to stay in my XI, which I’m sure them and their 900 Test scalps will be delighted to hear. As does Adil Rashid, who probably won’t bowl much again, but has done fine this summer the times he has been called on (figures of 3-40, admittedly mainly thanks to Ishant Sharma). No-one wants a situation like the Saffer team of the early 2000s, who couldn’t find a spinner in a Christmas cracker selection – and again Rashid has surely been picked with this winter’s tours in mind.
So my team would be:
- ED’S RANDOM FUNKY PICK GENERATOR WHO CAN PLAY SPIN WELL…MARCUS TRESCOTHICK
- Root (c)
- Stokes (vc)
Let me know your thoughts, criticisms and mind…
Ian Bell at 4 and Pope instead of Stokes. Other than that, I can’t argue with any of this 😉
Ian Bell and Samit Patel generally got in every XI that I ever picked on the old blog (Samit only just missed out on the ‘All time Red-headed XI’), and I would be seriously tempted by Bell in particular if Pope did a cruciate. I’d suggest that if you gave Bell, Vince, Ballance, and Pope a run of 10 games 3-7, you’d back Bell to score as many tons as the rest combined, ideally with all the runs gracefully dabbed through backward point, or sumptuously driven through cover.
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He’d get to three figures with a late cut for four I reckon.
And surely your autocorrect is something to do with Javed Miandad hitting that last ball match winning six off Chetan Sharma? One for the teenagers to chew on there….
Yep. At the time it was just about the greatest moment I could possibly imagine in limited overs cricket. The amount of T20 played these days though a last over/ball decider is no longer quite so rare though. Your prize is…there is no prize. Soz.
Does it really matter what the batting line up is at home? Seeing as the strategy is “We will bowl you out for less than than whatever we can score. “
We bat down to eleven, and hope to muster 300 odd at home. Which will be all that is required on green seaming wickets where our leading all time wicket takers will knock over the majority of the opposition. What they fail to mop up will be dealt with by a combination of Stokes/Woakes/Curren/Rashid/Ali. (Insert your favourites.)
According to Shinny toy last night ……Stokes is fabulous. Yes, you heard that right….. Fabulous. I don’t think I have ever heard of an England cricketer being called fabulous before. He also stated that Stokes will go on to be one of Englands all time greats. Now I know in this age…… all time greatness is trotted out almost every other week, but still.
It is frankly amazing how many all time greats this England team has. The leading run scorer, and according to some….. England’s greatest living cricketer. The two leading wicket takers of all time, and Stokes who we are assured will become one of the all time greats. With this in mind, it’s remarkable how rarely this all star eleven ever manages to win away from home, or on any wicket that is flat.
Maybe why some of us can’t take any of this stuff seriously.
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The conflicts of interest in cricket are the worst in any sport I can think of, and Vaughan is by far and away the worst example for it. The only one that is comparable is boxing, but at least then you know exactly why Eddie Hearn thinks Anthony Joshua is the baddest boxer since Tyson with the fastest hands since Patterson.
As for the batting line up, I realised as I was writing that England’s selectors would probably have a better time of it if they picked the team starting at number 11 and working their way up. Anderson. Broad. Rashid. Curran. Woakes. Stokes. Bairstow. err…someone. Root. Someone. someone. There’s been no long term planning in the batting order, and no success stories in the batting line up since Bairstow. It’s a mess.
Don’t forget the world’s most talented cricketer!
Which one is that?
Are you joking? Or, as Daniel Harris puts it in the Guardian: “Ed Smith has made a brilliant start in his new role as national selector. Not trusting a talent as extreme as Jos Buttler’s ought to be triable in the Hague, yet there were many prepared to write him off as a limited-overs specialist.” (I don’t know Daniel Harris, so I have no idea what tone this is meant in exactly. He might be known for enjoying his hyperbole.)
If it’s the Guardian it’s sneering, supercilious tone.
Daniel Harris was the ghost-writer for KP’s second book. You know, the one the people all “wanted him to write, reflecting on his great career and high moments” and that no-one really gave a stuff about.
Actually a pretty measured book.
Re: Trescothick. I never understood why he couldn’t have just been picked for home Tests and left out for the overseas tours. He was valuable enough, and his illness real enough, to make an exception. But maybe he didn’t want the pressure.
Ian Bell ! Could he return?? It would be like that Narnia book where the kids get told “Nah, all that magic stuff died out years ago” and then it all comes back again….
Great post, MDS, I never realised you were the Wrong’Un, learn something every day.
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Bell is the top scorer of the Blast, has 22 Test centuries, is in form for the first time in years, and averages 58 this year in the Championship with 3 tons.
He’s also 36, the last time we saw him his eyes had gone, he was being briefed against even then for being of poor character, and he aint Alastair Cook.
Perhaps not playing for England agrees with Bell. I seem to recall that he’d spent 13 years or something in the England bubble. That’s a hell of a lot of hotel rooms.
I’m sure the break has done him good, although the benefit of it took a long time to manifest itself in his cricket. He has, I believe, said pretty consistently that he wants to win his England place back. Now that he’s unarguably selectable again on the basis of his county form bringing him back seems like a no brainer. Except of course that it wouldn’t be a long term answer and would be an admission that we’re a not producing many young, genuine Test quality batsmen – and that would never do.
An unnecessary “a” crept in there somehow. I wasn’t trying to evoke Middle English – “Sumer is icumen in” and all that.
Sounds like a hitherto undiscovered folk song.
Here we go a-picking a bat, picking a bat, picking a bat,
Here we go a-producing a bat, all on a summer’s day.
Here we go a-picking a bowler, picking a bowler, picking a bowler,
Here we go a-producing a bowler, all on a summer’s day.
Here we go a-picking a wickie, etc etc.
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I think sometimes selectors get themselves into a bit of a corner, and that’s where I think we are right now with Buttler. Having picked him, I just don’t see how they can or will drop him now. That doesn’t mean he’s not the right person to step aside, but I really don’t think it will happen. In some ways (though I love Jos) I’d be impressed if they did, as Woakes can’t be dropped and Scurran not only doesn’t deserve to be, but in these two tests have been crucial. Remember when we dropped TRJ for Woakes last summer without fully appreciating what TRJ had been contributing? Scurran isn’t a pity pick or one for the future – he’s contributing significantly to our success (such as it is) right now.
For me, it has to be either Stokes or Buttler on the sidelines for this test, but goodness knows what they’ll actually do.
I love Buttler but I think it might have been better if Ed Smith had left him in the one-day side. You can see why they wanted to try him again in Tests and why, having got him into the side, they’d make him vice-captain. But I suspect that like Morgan he just has a better one-day brain.
I’m amazed that they thought Buttler ought to be made vice-captain. I know “vice captain” is just a nominative thing (who was v/c in 2005? I have no idea), but it is like after a couple of 50s from someone playing as a specialist batsman from number 7, they thought they’d cracked everything with the selection.
As for the openers spot, and the mention of Tresco, is there a Tresco like situation available for exploration? A player who we need to take a punt on because of sheer talent?
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Always nice to see an 80’s teen movie reference. When I look at the state of cricket now I can’t help but think “When you grow up, your heart dies….” 🙂
Stokes, Woakes, Broad, Anderson seems over doing the seam to me. Drop one and pick a batsman who you think might actually score some.
Although I take Mark’s point that it doesn’t really matter since the forecast for Trent Bridge is cloudy and Trent Bridge typically swings more than Edgbaston…
Personally, I’d be tempted to drop Cook and look for someone young and give them time. Bit tempted to drop Jennings too, but “real selectors don’t do things like that.”
Oh and Burns could come in at 3 and Root should be at 4. I know everyone thinks he should take one for the team and bat at 3, but the stats are fairly clear, we’re losing run by forcing him at 3.
And while I’m raging, can we find a seam bowler who can do it on a dry day in Brisbane?
The bottom question is a no, ever.
Root at 4 would be fine if we found a number 3. Burns might be it, or even an opener, although I am suspicious of any pitch that Morne Morkel nearly averages 30 on.
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Assuming Stokes plays I suspect it will be Rashid who gets dropped.
Agree about Jennings, and Buttler. I read in today’s Times that Buttler is settling into second slip and therefore cannot be moved. At Lord’s he dropped as many as he held. Not a strong argument, then. But indicative of the official line.
So Baylis has stated that it was decided to bring Stokes back into the squad just two hours after the verdict for his own “well being.”
Now this does raise some eyebrows for me, particularly in light of how certain other players have been treated. Are England now a mental health hospital? If England want to pick him, and think he is ready to go then fine. But the idea that someone is picked for his country for his own good is ludicrous.
I call bullshit on this. They wanted him back, but they are trying to spin it as doing the right thing on humanitarian grounds. And people wonder why many don’t believe a word they say.
Baylis also has said Stokes should make a public apology. A bit difficult when you have been found not guilty. Although he expects something to happen. Baylis does not guarantee he will be picked in the eleven. Probably depends on whether he comes up with the correct apology?
This whole thing seems as if it’s being directed by Shakespeare. But is it a tragedy or a farce?
Didn’t KP have to come up with an apology once upon a time?
Sitting next to Giles Clarke..
KP had to apologise individually to every member of the team for sending some texts. But I don’t expect Stokes will have to do that, apparently the team all like him so that’s good-oh.
Interesting that Mr Cipriani just fessed up and paid up, but Stokes had to be martyred and vindicated at vast expense.
He has been found not guilty of affray but, let’s face it, he is on film behaving like a knob. Cipriani has apologised already and he hasn’t even gone to court
Cipriani is proof positive that some people are just genuinely stupid. Years in the England wilderness, at least partly because of his behaviour, gets his England place back and then does this. FFS.
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But people genuinely wonder if Jones will pick him. Compare with Stokes. Just how badly can Stokes behave before the dressing room stop loving him? Just how mature are they?
Averaging 27 in 12 Tests WITH an unbeaten double century.
But we were all wrong not to go along with the media wankfest last Christmas, eh?
He’s been bobbins since India, apart from literally two innings and That One Against SA That Wasn’t 100 But Is Held To The Breast Like The Holy 95 Was.
Come at me.
PS I still wouldn’t drop him. But the fact remains that two men with over 100 Tests were dropped for form over two years that was in one case comparable and in another nowhere near as bad (but justified post facto as a form issue anyway). And neither had convincing replacements lined up then either.
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On a lighter note Lovejoy is going on strictly come dancing. So that will cheer us all up. Or not as the case may be.
Drunks, dancers, and law courts. Who needs TV drama when you have modern celebrity sportsman?
May I refer the Honourable gentleman to the tweet earlier this week…
I suppose because Goughie and Ramps won the thing a few years ago they are hoping for another cricketer to do well. Not sure he’s the right cricketer though.
More like he will play the John Seargent/Ann Widdicombe role.
But as you say who cares? Will anyone know who he is? Probably more name recognition in the cast of love island.
Spare a thought for the poor woman who has to be his partner. After a few weeks she’ll be gnawing the sequins off her costumes in suppressed rage.
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The thing with that is that the wider general public have no idea who he is, and so his cheeky chappie, Gawd bless ya Mary Poppins banter will probably go down very well – at least until he expresses his surprise that ordinary people have to pay for a licence fee that he thought was only about £10.
Just so you’re forewarned.
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How about Buttler at 2. I am sure Ed will be able to rig the tables so that the dice rolls the right way.
I’d be interested to see Root again opening, at some point. I know he ran out of steam a bit when he first came into the side and opened, but I think he’s the best suited to playing the new ball in the squad.
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Stokes plays, Curran dropped. Hmm.
Not sure many saw that coming. Harsh on Curran, not only was Stokes favoured over him, so were Buttler, Woakes and Rashid who were the other three who could have given way.
Having read Peter’s post (now up) in drafts and seeing that he’d written that exactly that would happen before the announcement was made, you need to grovellingly apologise to him for doubting him. 😀
As expected, and just makes a mockery of the whole…… “we brought him back into the squad for his own good, but he may not play” …..bollocks.
They always intended for him to play. They were falling over themselves to get him back in within minutes of the verdict. Infact they put a statement out during the trial that he may play before the jury even retired to decide a verdict. Unlike others his face fits with this regime. They like him, and what he does off the field is irrelevant. They even covered for him when he went awol, in Manchester during a test match. Even if he fucks up again off the field they will cover for him. Who honestly thinks this so called disiplinary hearing will be anything other than a total whitewash?
It’s why Strauss’s hectoring about trust is bullshit. Always was, and always will be. This team Is made up of a clique of about 5 players. They can do whatever they want. They can create fake twitter accounts and mock their own team mates. But others need to have their cards marked, The rest are just spare parts.
This regime is not something that is easy to like or support.
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They will cover for him until……. and we know there is an “until”.
And we’re not being wise after recent events here. We’ve made this point repeatedly, right back to the Pietersen affair concerning Stokes.
Yup, the clocks ticking…….
It’s harsh on Curran, very harsh indeed. Really hope they give him another opportunity later in the series. He might (just might) be a big part of England’s future, but he’ll need a proper run of games to establish his credentials beyond all doubt and prove himself in different conditions and situations. I hope (sadly more than I expect) that they’re not going to be stupid enough to mess him about.
Very hard on Curran, I agree. Just makes a mockary of all those platitudes about ……The man in possession……and You never change a winning team…..
Most sports platitudes are utter tripe.
Not that I wish any harm at all on Chris Woakes ever, coz he was the bizness in the last match, but doesn’t he struggle to play more than two Tests in a row? Doesn’t he pop a muscle or a ligament on an all-too regular basis? Just the way it seems to me. Anyway, that’ll be Curran’s way back into the team, and probably by Test #4. Deffo #5.
Ben Stokes: innocent? Innocent of not putting someone into a coma, I’ll agree. Surely someone was committing an affray in that video. BUT THEY ALL GOT OFF!!! What kind of a legal exercise was that? Didn’t pass the smell test for me… they all got off… if that was likely to happen, was the whole rigmarole really in the public interest? Well, that’s why I’m not a lawyer or a judge, or even ever on jury service.
Jeez though, KP got the bullet for whistling or texting or summat. Being a cnut in Colonel Strauss’ estimation, wasn’t it? Ben Stokes must be one heck of human being. Bet he get’s maximum whistling privileges.
I’ll get me kagool.
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