Don’t panic about The Oval. The test is dead gum. We were beaten because our players lost focus after Trent Bridge. Our loss was actually a deliberate strategy to end the game quickly. Sir Ian has arranged a barbecue on Monday afternoon and the players don’t want to miss it. His Courvoisier glazed wild boar sausage is legendary. The readily available Cloudy Bay is not bad either.
At least that’s what we’re supposed to believe…
You can probably tell from my sarcastic tone that I don’t believe the above narrative at all. This seems naive. Is Lorde dead gum too? Remember, we lost badly in this game too.
In addition, several members of the England squad also contested for their places at the oval. Why on earth did Lyth, Bell, Bairstow, Buttler, Moeen, Finn and Wood come forward when people questioned whether they were included in England’s first-choice list for the Emirates?
The Ashes may have been decided before the Oval, but the truth is there are plenty of games left to play. Joss Butler, of all people, is astonishing to use complacency as an excuse to excuse a lackluster performance.
Joss better choose his words for the sky more carefully. Trevor Bayliss doesn’t take lazy bones lightly. I think his words exposed his insecurities about his place on the team and his batting performance. Followers don’t want to hear lame excuses.
What happened at the Oval Test reinforced the article I wrote after Trent Bridge in which I argued that England’s victory for the Ashes actually raised more questions than answers. As the late Mr. Benoy might have said (or rather, as Billy Birmingham would have said for him), “I can’t understand any more”.
Ashes’ victory was very satisfying and it was glorious to see David Warner defeated and the three witches, I mean Mitches, sent away. But now I’m sober and very worried about the future.
The main concern, of course, is the still inability of our bowlers to hit 20 wickets on benign surfaces – we won at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge because the pitches are bespoke – and the fragility of our shots. Eighth, ninth and tenth might look good, but other than that…
The selectors raved about England’s win, but I really don’t understand why. Admittedly, they’re not as incompetent as the Australian selectors, but other than that, I’m struggling to find any positives
Since it was dusted twenty months ago, selectors have found almost zero Test-grade batsmen – and I mean batsmen capable of scoring in the best bowling attack. Ravi Bopara or Adam Voges don’t mean much against a team like the Windies.
The selectors have tried the following players since early last summer: Robson, Rice, Trotter (Brand Two), Ballance, Bairstow, Butler and Moen Ali. Neither of them looked like top hitters in the top six. It’s actually quite frustrating.
If you lose your established number three (Trott Mark eins) after 50 appearances and then willingly sacrifice your established number four (Pietersen), the top scorer in the country, you better have a decent substitute. The bottom line is England doesn’t.
Unfortunately, our current selectors have yet to find a batsman who appears to have had a long and successful international career. It’s not good enough.
England has always been somewhat paralyzed by her selectors. In fact, in the past, the likes of Duncan Fletcher tended to cover the cracks with “gut feeling”. Because county cricket is not of the best standard, selectors sometimes have to look beyond the running weight. You need to look at skill, temperament and sheer talent, not just top-notch average. Any idiot can do it.
While Fletcher sees potential in some players with somewhat disappointing home records (Trees Kosik and Vaughn are two prime examples), the current selectors have largely failed to do so. None of the so-called new generations that debuted last summer have been relegated.
As a result, we head to the UAE and South Africa with just two proven Test batsmen: Cook, a very reliable opener, and Root, a young world-class player. For the record, Root was not selected for Yorkshire because of the running weight; his talent was spotted by Lions coach Graham Thorpe, who fought hard to get him in.
While I’m a big fan of cricketer Ben Stokes, I was nervous about his ability to bowl sixes in quality spin bowling. Ian Bell’s future is also up in the air — he’s a good hitter, but he looks burned out.
So England will head to the UAE with question marks and the numbers two, three, five, six and seven. What a mystery. We start Ashes with a fairly balanced top order. Now it looks like major surgery is needed.
Although England played deep and were often rescued by Moeen’s cameo in the eighth, I’m not sure the approach was sustainable. In my opinion, England basically has four players who look like a Test Seven: Mo, Buttler, Bairstow and Stokes. The fact that some of them hit as high as 5s and 6s is a big deal.
Then we come to England’s spin woes. Who exactly will take over the roles Swann and Panesar have played on past trips to the subcontinent? Failure to view Adil Rashid at any time in the past year is a criminal offence.
Rather than giving Rashid a taste of Test cricket at The Oval, he won’t be under too much pressure, he has