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Why Samit Patel should play in place of Mark Wood

Mark Wood’s duff ankle means he won’t play the third Test against Pakistan. So who should replace him?

Over at Cricinfo, Andrew McGlashan argues that Liam Plunkett is the logical choice. Being as Chris Jordan was only a late call-up to replace Steven Finn, Plunkett is the next pace bowler in the order of peckery. Plus, as Mike Selvey has been arguing in the Guardian, England’s spinners ain’t done owt – Selvey reckons they’d be better off picking five seamers.

We disagree. We think this is a great time to recall the man Kevin Pietersen calls Sandwich Patel. Between them, Patel and Rashid are a decent Test match spin bowler. In the first innings Patel can keep it, if not tight as a mouse’s ear, then tighter than Rashid would, and then the Yorkshireman can do his thing in the second innings while Patel busies himself standing still.

More importantly, Samit Patel is actually really rather a good batsman against spin bowling and England possess really rather a poor middle order at the minute. One Test may not be enough to prove his worth – and doing so may have few consequences in the long run anyway – but he’s always impressed us.

Most importantly of all, Samit has plentiful energy reserves.

Lord’s Cricket Ground tour – not a match report

Bert writes:

This website has a number of obsessions. Cricket is one, obviously, but there’s cats and fat cricketers and ankylosing spondylitis and all sorts of other stuff. And there is the apostrophe, with particular reference to the correct use thereof.

The thing is, I don’t think this is especially unusual. The link between cricket and punctilious punctuation, that is. There is something about cricket, its atmosphere and culture, that makes it a suitable place for those of us who care about such things. Next time you’re at the cricket, ask the person sitting next to you if correct apostrophe use matters – it’s very likely that you’ll get an affirmative response.

I found myself at Lord’s the other day, taking the kids on a tour of the ground. It occurred to me that I could confirm, or possibly refute, my hypothesis on apostrophes while I was there. I mean, one would expect that the Home of Cricket would also be the Home of Correct Apostrophe Use. So I paid particular attention to this as I took the tour.

Let’s start with something simple – the straightforward adding of a possessive s to a singular noun.


Yep, no problems there. In fact, the eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that the same correct usage is repeated at the top of the stairs. Well done the MCC. Now, what about plurals?


Ah, exemplary. How many boys? More than one, I’ll be bound. You’ll have to take my word for it, but that same perfection is repeated on each of the display boards in the case. As you might imagine, the children and I spent several happy minutes at this display, bathing in the warmth of the calm, confident typography of the English cricket establishment. Marvellous stuff.

Of course, the name of the place itself – Lord’s – has an apostrophe, indeed one that might trap the unwary user. So how does the MCC get on with this trickiness?


Perfectly, of course. We shouldn’t have expected anything less.

Is it okay to drop Jos Buttler?

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Yeah, why not? It’s not like he’s scoring any runs at the minute. We’re also a great believer in the redemptive power of “I could do better than that.”

Have you ever found yourself believing you weren’t qualified to carry out a given task, only for someone else to complete it in your stead and do a really shitty job? Other people being crap at things is a real confidence booster.

Ideally, Jonny Bairstow would come in and do an excellent job as England wicketkeeper. Then again, he might not. In that event, Jos might well think: “I may have an odd first name and one too many Ts in my surname, but by the Beard of Grace I had my moments in Test cricket. Maybe I could have more moments.”

At that point, he’d turn into Sanath Jayasuriya only with more hair.

Plus it’s not like he’d be fully dropped, sentenced to 300 hours of county cricket. He’d still be in the team for the shorter formats where everything seems so effortless for him. Without Test failure grinding him down, we have every reason to believe that Buttler would at some point return to being England’s best one-day batsman.

Once he has, and having been vastly superior to his team-mates for a period of time, he’ll doubtless start to feel pissed off about not playing the longer format. Mark our words, a surly sense of being unjustly overlooked combined with poor form from your replacement is the recipe for Test success.

Wahab Riaz achieves the impossible

The formula for deciding on the man of the match is as follows:

  1. Which team won?
  2. Which of that team’s batsmen scored the biggest hundred?

And that’s your man of the match. In the event that no-one made a hundred, you pick the guy who took most wickets.

However, in an unprecedented subversion of the normal rules, whoever was responsible for naming the man of the match during this Test picked Wahab Riaz (4-66 and 1-78). Misbah-ul-Haq could have been a contender for delivering another excellent coin toss, but by dismissing Root, Stokes and Buttler in the space of one monster weather-and-pitch-defying spell, Wahab inserted a sharp corner into what has generally been a smoothly meandering series. The odds were against England from then on.

Adil Rashid deserves a mention too for an innings of glorious futility. At 172 balls, it was longer than any of England’s first innings efforts. Much like life, it was all effort and no reward.

England’s batsmen roll onto thorny hedge cuttings

Good bowling exacerbates uncertainty. This is a very inexperienced England batting line-up and it therefore has good cause for self-doubt – particularly in unfamiliar conditions. When confronted with the contrasting threats of Wahab Riaz and Yasir Shah, it was no surprise that it collapsed in on itself like a cheap bike tyre punctured by a thorn.

We floated the possibility that an England batting collapse might happen as long ago as yesterday – and not for no reason. Here are England’s batting averages for the last 12 months. You can see that Alastair Cook and Joe Root have scored roughly twice as many runs at twice the average of the third most successful batsman, Ben Stokes. Beneath him, England possess a whole slew of number eight batsmen, it would seem.

This isn’t entirely an unfair assessment. As has been pointed out, very few of England’s batsmen are actually specialists. Maybe the modern thirst for three-dimensionality has ushered us into the era of the jack-of-all-trades cricketer. Perhaps one or two might like to remove strings from their bows and instead focus their efforts on just one aspect of the game. It worked for Bradman.

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