Being as so many people seem to have very clear ideas about what England did wrong in the West Indies, we thought it might be nice to list some of the mistakes that England made that we too would have made – a kind of wilful spurning of hindsight, if you will.
We’d have selected Jonathan Trott
We like to believe that psychological problems can be overcome in the same way that technical problems can be overcome and that the correct response isn’t necessarily to automatically consign that player to the bin for evermore.
Trott made county runs last season, he made a double hundred on an A tour and the general feeling was that he seemed in decent physical and mental shape. He’s been one of the best batsmen England have had in recent years, England needed an opener and it didn’t seem so much of a stretch for a number three to open. So yes, we’d have picked him.
We’d have continued picking Jonathan Trott
Two Tests ain’t a lot of evidence on which to reject someone. Almost all batsmen are nervy at the start of their innings and Trott had at least managed a fifty in one of his four innings. We also wouldn’t have felt too great about bringing Adam Lyth in with an implicit message that he might only get four innings to prove himself. So yes, we’d have picked Trott for the third Test.
We’d have picked Moeen Ali
He’s been England’s main Test spinner and overall he’s done well. He was fit, he’d played some cricket; James Tredwell had done okay, but he only ever seemed like a stopgap. So yes, we’d have picked Moeen Ali and thinking about it, we’d probably make that mistake again. It still seems unlikely that he’d bowl so badly in the West Indies’ third Test run chase.
And what else?
We’d also have made a bunch of terrible decisions that England didn’t make, only we sadly can’t prove the stupidity of them because they never played out in real life.
We wouldn’t have played Gary Ballance at number three, for example, because we wouldn’t have put him that high last summer.
We’d have left Stuart Broad out of the first Test team and he doubtless wouldn’t have returned to take 4-61 in the second.
We’d have picked Rob Key.
We’d have had fielders in ridiculous attacking positions and conceded shitloads of runs.
We’d have brought Jimmy back on when it wasn’t the time to bring Jimmy back on.
We’d have bowled Trott in every innings.
We’d have bowled Ballance in every innings.
We’d have burst into tears when Nasser Hussain interviewed us.
We’d have eaten too much at breakfast and been unable to concentrate properly during the match.
We’d have bollocked/not bollocked/encouraged/challenged/ignored Jimmy Anderson before his second Test clinching spell. We’re not sure which worked, or even if anybody did anything. But whatever someone did or didn’t do, make no mistake, we wouldn’t or would have done it. Plus we’d have done and not done a bunch of other critical things, undermining England’s chances.
Without the benefit of hindsight, it’s important that we face up to our mistakes.