West Indies vs England: 2nd Test Preview

Playing catchup in a series, especially a short one, does tend to rather focus minds somewhat, and while it is not in the make up of anyone even remotely associated with the ECB to admit to an error, the 12 announced for tomorrow’s match at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium (let’s be honest, we all miss the Antigua Recreation Ground) by England are as much a tacit recognition of a first Test balls up as is ever likely to be the case. Broad is back in and seems certain to play, Jennings is out in favour of Joe Denly as the revolving door of England openers shows no sign of slowing down. More notable is the dropping of Adil Rashid, a player who might not be the Shane Warne standard that he appears he has to be in order to get any credit, but isn’t the clueless ingenue he gets all to often painted as either. More strikingly with him is the clear lack of any clue as to how to use him, either from the captain or the coaching team. If he’s not going to bowl more than a handful of overs, there’s little point playing him.

As ever, there are cases to be made both for and against any individual instance, but the inability of English sport across the board to be able to handle flair and individuality, whether on or off the field is a constant. It isn’t that Rashid in this instance deserves defending for his performance in the last Test, it’s that it’s impossible to ever know with such players how good they might be, so determined is the sporting culture to force them down narrow channels. This happens at elite youth level all too frequently to begin with, discipline too often coming to mean an insistence on conformity.

There is a consistent focus on what players can’t do rather than what they can. The idea that Rashid can be a stock bowler in Tests is absurd, yet so much of the criticism aimed at him consists of complaints about his accuracy and economy – it’s such a very English thing to do. None of this means that he is the answer to all our prayers, nor that his on field performances shouldn’t be criticised, but the pre-disposition in so many quarters to hold him to a standard he could never possibly achieve is simply bizarre, while the lack of scrutiny over how he is used is a failure of analysis.

Still, Denly can bowl a few leggies if asked, while Rashid can focus on more important personal matters.

For Jennings, there must now be serious questions over his future. He probably does have the aptitude for it, but his technical problems have become a major barrier for him. He has time to go and put that right, but it could be a long haul.

For Stuart Broad, with his new, more economical run up and work on his action, much will be expected. Not because of anything much more than that his omission was deemed in some quarters more culpable for defeat than the abysmal batting display in the first innings and the in some ways worse in the second. Being out of a losing side is one of the best ways to improve a reputation after all.

In the West Indies camp all is serene, the victory in Kensington most obviously allowing the clear anger at a perceived lack of respect to be vented from a position of strength. And why not either.

The weather for tomorrow seems similar to today, cloudy with showers. The dash from the beach to the room in a downpour will have earned me all the sympathy I’m expecting.

Tomorrow morning I daresay I might liveblog it and see how that goes down.


18 thoughts on “West Indies vs England: 2nd Test Preview

  1. dannycricket Jan 30, 2019 / 7:16 pm

    Woakes’ exclusion from tomorrow’s game surprises me. With Curran looking essentially as toothless as Rashid in the West Indian conditions, I thought Woakes would be an ideal replacement. Admittedly that would leave England’s pace attack as 4 right-arm fast-mediums, but surely Woakes would trouble the West Indian batsmen more than Curran, and is probably as good a batsman?

    Wood, I assume, is injured again.


    • Sophie Jan 30, 2019 / 10:43 pm

      I thought Woakes is not fit. He wasn’t in training or something.


      • BobW Jan 31, 2019 / 11:17 am

        Have to agree that there is no point picking four fast medium bowlers. I’d have Woakes in front of Broad though. (If fit)


  2. Rooto Jan 30, 2019 / 9:23 pm

    I totally empathise with Root’s failure to use Rashid effectively. On Talksport, they assumed that the captain was over-using the seamers because he couldn’t / didn’t dare / didn’t know how to use the spinners. To be clear, this isn’t criticising Rashid, it’s criticising Root. He should know better, if he’s meant to be the national team’s skipper. But I empathise because, back when I was a captain in my school’s 2nd year team, I was shit too.

    I don’t believe for a minute that Rashid has flown home ONLY because of the imminent birth of his second child. If that was at all in the pipeline initially, it would have been all over the newspapers already. Suddenly, it’s a convenient excuse to get Rashid as far from the test team as humanly possible, as he’s got no chance of bowling under this skipper (even if he’s playing).


    • thelegglance Jan 30, 2019 / 9:24 pm

      He was available to play if selected. He’s gone home because he wasn’t.


      • Benny Jan 30, 2019 / 9:46 pm

        So who picks the team? I like Rashid but if Root doesn’t who picked him?


        • dannycricket Jan 30, 2019 / 10:12 pm

          I think the theory is that the coach and captain pick the final XI.


  3. Benny Jan 30, 2019 / 9:49 pm

    Didn’t Root say that the appalling defeat in Barbados wasn’t down to wrong selection? Now we see 3 changes. How about some honesty?


    • dannycricket Jan 30, 2019 / 10:14 pm

      It’s only two changes so far, isn’t it? Broad and Denly for Rashid and Jennings. I don’t think they’ve committed yet on Leach (who presumably would replace Moeen, I guess?)


  4. Benny Jan 30, 2019 / 10:04 pm

    Even more, I suspect Curran was nailed on, then they had to drop someone- it was Broad.
    Again, Jennings, he’s their best bet. Have to stick with him – oh dear.
    Don’t believe the management are very clever.


  5. Mark Jan 30, 2019 / 10:59 pm

    We will never get to know the true story about Rashid, just as we never get the true story about any England players who’s face doesn’t fit. However, the pattern is always the same. Rumours circulate, and a universal agreement of the former one, and three test wonders in the media who declare said player does not fit in. This continues until said player is dropped.

    I wonder where they get their information from because The ECB doesn’t leak?An attacking bowler who takes wickets but doesn’t keep runs down is not welcomed. England take with their mothers milk the Strauss/Flower doctrine of bowling dry. You can take lots of wickets like Anderson, but above all else you must bowl dry. Look what they did to Stephen Finn when he was taking wickets but going for runs. The decided to remodel him. When England tries to remodel a bowler he can kiss his career away.

    As to how to captain an attacking but inconsistent leg spin bowler our brains trust hasn’t got a scooby. Mind you, when your batting can only be relied on to make 250-300 you will get twitchy if said bowler is not bowling at under 3.25 an over.

    I have never believed that either the previous two captains or the management wanted him. I find it bizarre that he was selected as many times as he has been because you would think the captain has a big say in who plays?

    I expect a big performance from Broad. He likes proving people wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. aranyaksen Jan 31, 2019 / 6:25 am

    I feel like Curran’s batting ability is wasted by making him bat at no. 9. By the time he gets to bat, the innings is already over. Can’t he be played as a batting all rounder coming at no. 7 say and Moeen Ali , who is out of form with the bat for a long time , as a bowler batting at no. 9? Broad in place of Rashid at no. 10 is fine I guess.


  7. aranyaksen Jan 31, 2019 / 6:25 am

    I feel like Curran’s batting ability is wasted by making him bat at no. 9. By the time he gets to bat, the innings is already over. Can’t he be played as a batting all rounder coming at no. 7 say and Moeen Ali , who is out of form with the bat for a long time , as a bowler batting at no. 9? Broad in place of Rashid at no. 10 is fine I guess.


  8. Miami Dad's Six Jan 31, 2019 / 8:45 am

    Sanjay Manjrekar has some thoughts: http://www.espncricinfo.com/story/_/id/25880522/outsider-asks-going-english-cricket
    I disagree with some of it, but agree that there are so many in the England side who are being asked to do roles they aren’t capable of. Bairstow and Stokes are nailed on selections, but we’re getting it wrong if we think they are a 3 and 5 respectively. These are specialist batting positions.
    But “TINA” middle order batsman for these positions in the County Championship, I hear them cry. Well, had we tried James Hildreth, given Pope a run in the side in a position he was accustomed to, not discarded several other middle order batsmen with proven pedigree…it’s easy to pick a bad squad then wash your hands of responsibility by blaming the selection pool, but to be honest I can’t ever recall a time when we had too many world class options coming out of our ears. It’s up to the selectors to form what we have into a competitive team, and the coaches to improve players on the periphery to the required standard.


  9. "IronBalls" McGinty Jan 31, 2019 / 10:03 am

    Worse than England’s batting is the puke inducing sight of Aggers fawning and grovelling to Sir Cooky as he joins the commentary team. Can I wait for his gobbets of wisdom and insight as the game unfurls?….Yes I can!!


    • BobW Jan 31, 2019 / 11:14 am

      Totally agree with this. His posts on twitter are ridiculous.
      Whereas Bumble on his makes Nasser Hussain look like an arse!


      • rpoultz Jan 31, 2019 / 11:21 am

        It’s like a teenage fan meeting a member of one direction…just awful from a, what we was told, ‘impartial’ commentator


    • Mark Jan 31, 2019 / 11:54 am

      It explains Agnew’s incredibly biased coverage of the whole KP affair. Now you see why he was able to get so much inside information.

      He’s not a cricket correspondent, more like an ECB/Cook lackey.

      I don’t listen to TMS anymore, unless I’m in my car, and only to get a score update It’s vomit inducing. Like most BBC sports output its been dumbed down, and made politically correct.

      Remember when he called Atherton out for the dirt in the pocket? He would have been grovelling all over Cooks boots these days. The idea the most inarticulate captain England have had for decades should become a broadcaster is another joke.

      Jobs and freebies for the boys. Sums up everything wrong with English cricket.

      Liked by 1 person

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