Consistent selection is one of the key reasons why England have developed into a strong test team in the last decade. They have had a reasonably stable support group and most importantly, the men picked have performed consistently in different conditions worldwide. As a test match fan, it’s so hard not to closely follow a team with such high consistency in selection and performance. A country like Pakistan keeps producing terrific bowlers but the administration is a big joke and you tend to lose some motivation to follow a team like that with highly inconsistent selection.
I believe I’ve observed a few anomalies in England’s recent selections. I have been staggered by the amount of faith shown on a couple of players – Chris Woakes being picked for the test squad, Finn getting an extended run despite a fairly long stretch of ordinary performances, and now Joe Root’s selection as opener. By England’s own standards over the last 8 years or so, a bowler struggling with his run up and consequently struggling to pick wickets and act as an effective member of the bowling unit would have lost his place in a space of roughly 4 test matches. What adds to my surprise is the strength of the queue – Onions, Bresnan, Tremlett, and have you seen Boyd Rankin bowl yet? Finn was chosen ahead of the others in the Champions Trophy as well, and he went for quite a few. Chris Woakes? I’ve got no idea how he got into the test squad. I’ve been following his most recent stint with Wellington and he’s simply not test level. Someone’s got it wrong.
And my gut tells me the costliest one of all is promoting Joe Root as opener for the Ashes. He’s a busy player alright, but does he have the game to survive Siddle, Harris and Pattinson? I don’t think so. I cannot back my comments with averages or recent histories in similar playing roles and I don’t intend doing that either. I have a feeling Joe Root will be exposing Jonathan Trott very early in the innings, and that will give Australia a chance to have a crack at KP and co. at an early stage in the innings. I’m a big fan of Jonny Bairstow but he has struggled to make runs recently. The rest of the batting order looks good to me but the damage done by early wickets has been well established. I am suspecting 2 early wickets regularly and that 2 others in the English middle order will have an ordinary series.
England’s bowling? Looks like they’re going to pick Big Bres ahead of Finn, and I’ll be okay with that. Personally, I’ll give Onions a go.
The bowling units match up nicely but everybody thinks it’s Australia’s weak batting that’s going to cost them the series. Yes, it’s weak on paper, but at least they’re trying to make sure Micheal Clarke, and the two batsmen that will follow him won’t be exposed to the new ball. Watson and Rogers followed by Cowan is a damn good top order. I also understand that ‘exposure to the new ball’ is a limited factor, and that all batsmen need to cope with a moving ball during overcast sessions. Early wickets kill the chances of a big total irrespective of changing overhead conditions, and I believe Australia is the team that’s in a better position to avoid early wickets.
There are ‘how’ coaches, ‘why’ coaches, and the rest of it but Darren Lehmann seems to be one among the players. He does not tilt the scales by himself but along with a couple of faulty English selections, he’s one of the factors why Australia will do well in this series.
Luck comes into place, but it will more than likely favour the team that doesn’t lose top order wickets too quickly. That’s always been the case in all the cricket I’ve watched. Root and Trott gone early, and it could still be overcast skies. If Watson and Rogers put up a decent stand, they could well get to see some extended periods of sunshine..
The gut tells me Australia – Boof has come into the system but that’s only one of the factors. The players remain key, and Australia have still got the players to win the series. England need to have a rethink on Joe Root.
One thing’s for sure – this will be another cracking test match series. Even the administrators can’t make this a 2 test affair!
“….N.B.—The body will be cremated and the
ashes taken to Australia.”