We all knew that Sam Robson was going to get picked. He’ll play sensibly and probably quite well. If so, we’ll be quite happy about that while simultaneously wishing that we didn’t have to endure hilarious Australian ‘banter’ about his place of birth every time he gets a half-decent score.
We all knew that Moeen Ali was going to get a game. No-one’s blown away by that, but we also know there’s little point arguing about it because there ain’t really owt else on offer. To rail against his selection would be as futile as wailing at the empty shelves in a derelict bakery. Throw as big a tantrum as you like – loaves of sourdough will not materialise. You’re going to have to make do with the day-old half a baguette in your hand.
We also suspected that Matt Prior was going to come back. He’s scored some runs and he’s Matt Prior. By the flaxen locks of Gower, it’ll be a relief if he’s back to something approaching normal.
So far, so unremarkable
Steady batting, cross-your-fingers-and-hope-it’ll-be-at-least-semi-competent spin bowling and the same wicketkeeper as before all the good stuff completely evaporated leaving only a sticky, unsavoury residue. What’s far more interesting is the fairly fast bowling.
Chris Jordan’s selection was as predictable as those above, while about a month ago we said that Liam Plunkett was hovering near the door, unable to find a doorbell, trying to muster the courage to knock. His selection was forseeable, but is still quite intriguing. Could he unsame the bowling attack a touch?
How fast is ‘fairly fast’?
James Anderson is so fit that he can effortlessly bowl at 84mph all day long. If he really puts the effort in, he gets up to about 87mph. This isn’t really worth the extra energy expenditure, so he generally doesn’t bother.
Stuart Broad definitely has it in him to bowl quickly. This is how he’s found his way into the England team in all three formats. Playing so much has worn him down to a good, solid 85mph bowler.
Chris Woakes is also in the squad. Not so long ago, he was a medium-pace all-rounder and it was thought he wasn’t quite quick enough to thrive in Test cricket. As a consequence, he’s worked really hard to increase his pace so that he’s now a good, solid 84mph English seamer, same as everyone else.
Chris Jordan’s a bit quicker. Liam Plunkett’s a bit quicker still.
Proper fast bowlers operate above 90mph all the time. These pair are more the kinds of bowlers who can deliver the ball quicker than that from time to time. However, this might, occasionally, allow England to attack a batsman in a slightly different way. Dull afternoon sessions just became fractionally less dull! For a bit! Until whoever plays (possibly both?) is worn down to generic English seamer pace by the relentless demands of international cricket!