Month: June 2018 (page 1 of 2)

A(nother) call for more downtime

Photo by Sarah Ansell

For players mostly, but also for fans.

Our latest Wisden piece delves into how Jonathan Trott went from his normal run-gathering self in early 2013 to down and out by the end of the year. It also takes a quick look at how his Warwickshire team-mate ended up worn down by international cricket by his early-30s.

It also highlights that 2021 schedule we were on about the other day.


How about a nine-ball over? Would that be too much for a fast bowler?

T20 Blast Finals Day (ECB)

The prospects of there being a fresh tactical dimension in The Hundred have been all but dashed after Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA) chairman Daryl Mitchell said that no-one was really up for the 10-ball over because it seems kind of tiring.

Speaking to The Mail, he said: “People who are going to bowl at the death are concerned about that because of the physical demands and mental well-being. I don’t think it would be possible to ask, say, Tymal Mills to bowl a 10-ball over at 92-93 miles per hour, especially if you throw in the odd wide or no ball.”

So, to be clear: a whole extra limited overs competition is fine, but one guy bowling an extra four balls in one of his overs is far too great a workload.

Mitchell then raised an interesting question about the PCA’s workload thresholds by suggesting: “Maybe we could have eight-ball overs at the start and end of an innings to make up the hundred.”

Or maybe you could have nine-ball overs? How does that grab you? An innovative solution or would it not be possible to ask, say, Tymal Mills to bowl a nine-ball over at 92-93 miles per hour, especially if you throw in the odd wide or no ball?

Cutting to the very heart of the issue, Mitchell then said: “There’s not really an easy way to get to a hundred balls and the fact it’s not divisible by six does cause a problem.”


What is it like to be Virat Kohli?

Virat Kohli (CC licensed by James Cullen via Flickr)

Captain of his country, the best batsman in the world, tens of millions of social media followers and filthy rich – what is it like to be Virat Kohli?

Well barring some sort of Freaky Friday body swap development, we’re just going to have to try and imagine. But we can do that. We can do that easily. We can look at the facts and get a feel for things and then just fill in the gaps using best guesses. Rich or poor, famous or unknown, the nuts and bolts of people’s day-to-day lives are broadly the same. There are no great mysteries here.

These are the main things we need to think about when we’re imagining what it’s like to be Virat Kohli:

  1. His whereabouts
  2. His hair and clothes
  3. What he eats
  4. How he stays fit
  5. The emotions he feels
  6. His relationship
  7. What it’s like to be really good at batting

If we go through each of those categories, that should give us a pretty good idea what it’s like to be Virat Kohli.

Whereabouts

International cricketers are generally in one of two places: (1) a cricket ground, or (2) a hotel.

I think we can all imagine being in a cricket ground because we’ve all been in one. All you have to do is imagine that you’re in the dressing room or in the middle rather than in the stands, which is pretty easy. The middle is regularly broadcast to us in high definition, so we know what that’s like, while dressing rooms are just rooms with loads of cricket gear lying around. If you’re Virat Kohli, the cricket gear will all be fairly new and there won’t be any of those 1970s batting gloves with rubbery tines on the fingers that make them look like Stickle Bricks.

It’s pretty easy to imagine being in a hotel too and far more fun.

We are a huge hotel breakfast enthusiast. We stayed in a hotel in Bengaluru once where the buffet breakfast featured Indian breakfast food for those who preferred Indian breakfast, Western breakfast food for those who preferred Western breakfast and also – for reasons not entirely clear to us – steak in pepper sauce.

We are not a person who is breakfast loyal, so we absolutely ate all of those things for breakfast every single day. It was greatly enjoyable.

Spending half your life in hotels has considerable benefits where breakfast is concerned. Already we’re wondering whether we should maybe have investigated the Freaky Friday body swap idea a little more thoroughly.

Hair and clothes and that

One of the greatest changes in India in the last decade or so has been in the field of fashion. It used to be that an Indian version of a cool person was someone wearing a leather jacket and a pair of sunglasses on a motorbike.

Nowadays India’s ahead of the game. It’s all facial hair, tight T-shirts and ripped jeans and everyone looks impossibly well-groomed.

Virat Kohli is very much part of this. In 2014 he launched a fashion brand called Wrogn. (The early marketing slogans were all about whether or not you were doing things Wrogn – it was incredibly painful and bad.)

A large part of running Wrogn seems to involve making faces.

Here is some evidence.

Here is some more evidence.

And here is some more. (This one is absolutely our favourite.)

So that’s clothes covered. As far as hair and facial hair is concerned, that’s both easy and delightful to imagine.

Virat Kohli is lucky enough to live in India where getting a shave and a haircut is a highly wonderful experience and one that anyone with sufficient money would absolutely choose to have daily.

Let’s compare.

Getting a shave and haircut from a professional in the United Kingdom

The process involves telling the barber a number for the sides and back of your head, after which you say “and just a trim on top” or similar.

The barber then confirms the number (a ‘one’ for us because we have thick lustrous hair that is not entirely unlike carpet) and then he starts asking you what football team you support or where you’re going on holiday.

It’s an excruciating experience. They may rustle your hair a little to get the loose bits out afterwards, but that is as good as things get and you are no way adding a shave to the mix unless you’re fully mental. You pay the man and you leave.

Getting a shave and haircut in India

The actual cutting of the hair probably isn’t going to be all that dramatically different because the cutting of hair is a fairly functional thing. The fella might oil your hair afterwards though, which is very nice in hot weather because it makes you feel like you’ve got permanently cool wet hair.

The shave is on another level (and we say that based on shaves we’ve had in shacks where the electricity cuts out every five seconds – Virat Kohli will not be going to those places.)

The barber starts by gently applying about nine different oils and unguents, methodically working them all in. Then he does the soapy lather thing. Then it gets a bit scary because he’s probably using a cut-throat razor. But then it gets okay again because turns out he doesn’t want to kill you, he just wants to pull your skin around so that he can very carefully and accurately smoothen you.

Then he asks if you want a head massage and even if you say no, he basically gives you a face massage anyway. But you don’t say no, you say yes, and it’s extraordinary because of course you never normally have any kind of massage because you’re a man.

Summary: When it comes to fashion, being Virat Kohli involves (a) wearing T-shirts, (b) making three distinct facial expressions while modelling said T-shirts, and (c) sneaking in a daily massage by pretending it’s a shave.

Food

Virat changed his diet in 2012. He told The Telegraph: “I went home, came out of the shower one day and looked at myself in the mirror and said ‘you can’t look like this if you want to be a professional cricketer.’

“I was 11 or 12kgs heavier than I am now, I was really chubby. I changed everything from the next morning from what I eat to how I train. I was in the gym for an hour-and-a-half every day. Working really hard, off gluten, off wheat, no cold drinks, no desserts, nothing. It was tough.”

It sounds tough. If we do any training whatsoever, we immediately refuel with great slabs of wheat and gluten and gallons of cold drinks. Sometimes we consume these things even while the training is in process.

As you’d imagine, the new diet had an impact on Virat.

“For the first two months I felt I wanted to eat the bed sheet when I went to sleep because I was so hungry. I was craving taste. I was craving delicious food.”

It’s worth mentioning here that Virat is clearly not a man who knows his food. If we were craving taste and craving delicious food, what we would not want to eat is the bed sheet. We do not have to actually eat a bed sheet to know that bed sheets are not delicious.

Apparently the diet works though.

“I felt quick around the field. I would wake up in morning and feel like I had energy.”

We literally cannot imagine waking up in the morning feeling like we have energy. That is officially an imaginatory leap too far.

Fitness

“Around 30 minutes before the bus leaves for a match, he does what he calls a ‘priming session’ in the gym,” Chris Woakes told the Guardian’s Ali Martin recently. “It’s like a short burst of Olympic weightlifting.”

Just like Mark Wahlberg in Pain and Gain, Virat Kohli believes in fitness. He believes in it so much that he’s invested in a chain of gyms and fitness centres across India.

“From 2015 I changed my training again. I started lifting, snatching, cleaning and dead lifting. It was unbelievable. I saw the result. I remember running after a ball in a Test series in Sri Lanka and I felt more power in my legs. It was, like, ‘wow’. This training is addictive. The last year-and-a-half it has taken my game to another level.”

Here’s a shot of Virat Kohli lifting something heavy above his head, taken from this YouTube video. We have no clue why he’s wearing a hat.

We are very bad at this kind of lift for two reasons:

(1) We are very inflexible. Thanks to many years working at a computer, our arms don’t really go straight above our head any more. To get them in roughly the right position, we have to do a kind of arched back thing. This is a very sad thing, but it is also the truth. The remedy is to do loads of stretching. Stretching is exactly the kind of thing we always resolve to do more of and exactly the kind of thing we never do more of.

(2) We are very weak. (Our top half is anyway.)

Here’s a blurry shot from the same video, where Virat’s filming himself on a static bike.

If you are able to film yourself while cycling, you basically aren’t cycling. Cycling is supposed to end in a coughing fit and maybe some light vomiting.

We have no idea why he shot this footage and we’re actually kind of pissed off about it.

Emotions

Virat Kohli strikes us as being quite an emotional man. We aren’t – unless ‘hungry’ is an emotion (and we’ve already dealt with that one anyway).

Kohli seems to get angry about everything when he plays cricket. We can only conclude that he deliberately maintains a near-constant state of peevishness throughout every match, simply so that the final step to full-on rage isn’t too great.

This is alien to us. When we see him snarling with his eyes bulging out of his head at the moment he celebrates a hundred, we always think that it is (a) an entirely inappropriate emotional reaction and (b) a colossal waste of energy.

Being emotional seems thoroughly exhausting, but we suppose all that pent-up energy resulting from his new diet has to come out somehow.

If the Freaky Friday thing happened, the first thing we would do in Virat Kohli’s body is make an energy trade-off. We’d get right back on the wheat, right back on the gluten – maybe even right back on the cold drinks. Apparently we’d lose energy through doing this, but it’s okay, it’s ABSOLUTELY FINE, because we’d also make savings.

We’d cut back on screaming and cut back on snarling and we’re pretty sure that would allow us to break even.

Relationship

Virat Kohli is married to Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma.

We read that when it was Sharma’s birthday recently, they went to watch Avengers: Infinity War and then there was a photo of them from later that night where you can see a cake in the background.

This all seems very normal, so to imagine what Virat Kohli’s relationship is like, just imagine a completely normal relationship except that everyone stares at you 100 per cent of the time whenever you’re out in public.

Being incredibly good at batting

While this one is most likely the greatest point of difference between yourself and Virat Kohli, it’s also the easiest gap to close. Because who among us hasn’t already spent enormous chunks of our life daydreaming about being brilliant at batting?

Back when we were ten, we’d hit a sponge or tennis ball and imagine it had gone for six to bring up our hundred. Now that we’re 40, we have got this down so well that we can do the exact same thing without even needing the ball. We just do the whole thing in our head. We’re doing it now! Six!

Being brilliant at batting is exactly the same as being rubbish at batting only with far fewer mishits. You don’t even need to use your imagination much at all really. It’s actually easier to imagine being good at batting than to imagine being mediocre at batting because you don’t also need to imagine those occasional poor shots.

Do it. Just sit there, in your chair, on your fat arse, and imagine yourself middling a cover drive. Now imagine it again. And again.

Congratulations, you are Virat Kohli.


The 2021 season is murderous. How many England players will actually make it through?

Joe Root (via BT Sport)

10 Ashes Tests in a row was such a good idea and went so well that the ECB thought to themselves: “Say, why don’t we play 10 Tests on the bounce against India? Let’s really focus on that. Let’s go from August 2020 to November 2021 without playing Test cricket against anyone else.”

Then, while they were all patting themselves on the backs for having such a brilliant idea, someone added: “Then after that let’s have the World T20 and then an Ashes.”

All of this happens within a year.

The India bit

England are again due to play 10 five-day matches against the exact same opposition in a timespan of about seven months.

This is two things:

  1. Boring (after a bit)
  2. Unfair on the players

The last time England played two successive five-match series against the same opposition, the team imploded and one of the players ended up needing treatment from a mental health professional. This was not even slightly a coincidence.

The really big events (Tests against India, Tests against Australia, World Cups) bring increased stress levels long before they actually take place. Even if a player gets a physical rest in between, the mental stresses generally remain.

Speaking about his downtime between international fixtures the last time England played back-to-back five-match Test series, Jonathan Trott said: “The three weeks in between wasn’t time off because I was working hard in the nets.”

This is why, when we wrote about overtraining* for Cricinfo a few years back, we asked whether it was actually responsible to play international cricket without an off season. Switching off is not an easy thing to do when the next major engagement is already rapidly approaching.

*Overtraining is not just a physical thing.

“It’s what they’re paid to do”

Yes, exactly. It’s their job; it’s their livelihood. Everything’s riding on it. And if that weren’t enough, cricket is also for many players pretty much their whole personal identity.

For cricketers who do nothing but play cricket and who are forever being told that the next batch of cricket coming up is really very significant, their whole emotional wellbeing is bound up in how things go on the field. When things don’t go well on the field, things don’t go so well off the field either.

Dr Richard Winsley of the University of Exeter told us that major non-playing stresses for a sportsman include frequent fixtures, competition for places, travel, and being apart from family and friends for long periods in foreign hotel rooms.

These are the things that eat away at you and wear you to a nub even when you’re supposedly ‘resting’.

England’s big fixtures in 2021

Let’s bullet point England’s major 2021 engagements (there are actually a fair number of one-day series in addition to this) and try and imagine how we would switch off and recover if our whole career hinged on making runs or taking wickets in these matches.

  • January-March: five Tests against India
  • July-September: five Tests against India
  • October-November: World T20
  • November onwards: The Ashes

It’s really hard to look at that without envisaging mental casualties.


“Our bowling is an area of concern”

Katherine Brunt leathers a six (via BBC)

So said South Africa captain Dane van Niekerk after her team had conceded a world record 216-1 in a T20 against New Zealand and then a few hours later conceded 250-3 against England.

“An area of concern” is a great way of putting it. “An absolute liability” is just that little bit too straightforward, while “absolute dog toss” isn’t a very diplomatic way of rating the performance of your team-mates.

“We spoke between games about what we wanted to do, but did the complete opposite,” she added.

She didn’t say why.


Are England the ultimate flat pitch one-day side?

Alex Hales (via YouTube)

England took the Australia bowling attack apart as if it were a giant Lego penis and grandma was coming over. The dismantling was rapid, efficient and utterly comprehensive.

We strongly disagree with the idea that people want to see more boundaries, but there’s no harm in having the odd one or two of these front leg clearing festivals from time to time – and if they’re held against Australia, so much the better.

Honestly, if you’re tired of Australians being on the receiving end of world record totals, you’re tired of life.

Meaningless?

There’s a temptation to almost write off these sorts of totals because they’re so ridiculous, but no matter how flat the pitch and no matter how short the boundaries, this sort of innings requires huge ambition and consistent execution. The Australians gave a sense of how difficult it is to pull off when they batted.

In contrast, England are good at this, in no small part because England are built for this. They’ve been conditioned to start hitting early and to keep on hitting throughout an innings. It is a very specific skill and they are probably as good at it as any one-day side has ever been.

A flat pitch bowling attack

England also have a bowling attack that is honed for high-scoring matches. This is a thankless and undervalued art and we want to quickly pay tribute to it because it is something that is almost wholly overlooked.

Some days you restrict the opposition to 350 and that is a very good effort – a fact that is currently acknowledged somewhere around zero per cent of the time. (Then the batsmen saunter past that target and everyone gushes about what they’ve done.)

England’s bowlers are at their best when the ball is flying to all parts. It’s counter-intuitive, because all people see are the boundaries, but the bowlers are very, very good at shrugging off the blows while unleashing occasional rapid stiletto stabs.

Bowlers should only be judged against what could have been scored on any given day. If every other side in the world would concede eight an over and you concede seven an over, that is literally match-winning.

Adaptability

A lot of people think that one-day cricket is all about flat pitch mega-totals these days because the only time they pay attention is when there’s a flat pitch mega total.

However, we only have to go back two matches to find a winning total of 218-7. The big concern is supposed to be whether England’s batsmen will be able to adapt on days when runs are likely to be less plentiful, but we’d argue the bowling is a bigger concern.

England’s one-day bowling strategy is all about variety. They currently field a left-arm swing bowler, a right-arm new ball bowler, a leg-spinner, an off-spinner and a bang-it-in pace bowler.

Variety is ideal when you want to ask the batsmen lots of different questions. It’s less good when conditions favour one particular type of bowling. When that happens in a 50-over game, all you really want to do is ask the exact same question as many times as possible, and that’s much harder to do when you have your eggs in so many different baskets.

If England have a weakness, this is it. This is where they will be beaten.


It didn’t always seem so obvious that Liam Plunkett wasn’t Sajid Mahmood

There was a time when Liam Plunkett was spoken about in much the same way as Sajid Mahmood. Then there was another time when Liam Plunkett was spoken about in much the same way as Sajid Mahmood. It seems safe to assume that it won’t happen a third time – other than in this article.

This article looks back on the first two occasions when Liam Plunkett was spoken about in much the same way as Sajid Mahmood.

First, a reminder

This is Sajid Mahmood.

Sajid Mahmood (photo by Sarah Ansell)

To many of you, Sajid Mahmood’s face will be a very familiar face, but it occurs to us that some of you may never have even seen him.

Saj hasn’t played international cricket since 2009, which is one thing – but he hasn’t even played first-class cricket since 2014.

Four years is quite a difficult time gap to appreciate. Four years ago feels roughly the same as the present day, but at the same time it also seems poised to stroll through to an era where you can legitimately reminisce.

Four years ago, the most recent Star Wars film was shit. Four years ago, you hadn’t heard Uptown Funk even once.

Point is, Saj’s cricket career isn’t currently at its zenith.

The first time people spoke about Liam Plunkett in much the same way as Sajid Mahmood

In 2004, England picked Sajid Mahmood for their one-day international (ODI) side. In 2005, they picked Liam Plunkett for the Test team and then almost immediately for ODIs as well. Early in 2006, Sajid Mahmood made his Test debut.

These were exciting times and these were exciting bowlers. They bowled quickly and they were both in their early 20s. As it became increasingly apparent that Andrew Flintoff, Steve Harmison and Simon Jones maybe weren’t the kinds of bowlers who would venture far into their thirties, Liam and Saj were (briefly) viewed as The Future.

The second time people spoke about Liam Plunkett in much the same way as Sajid Mahmood

By the end of 2007, Liam Plunkett had 23 Test wickets at 39.82 and Sajid Mahmood had 20 wickets at 38.10. Both were run-conceding machines. Plunkett was going at 3.57 runs an over and Mahmood was going at 4.04.

They played two Tests together and while the second one went quite well, both their reputations were bound to the Idol of Many Hands and thrown off the dock into the sea by the first one. It was the one where Sri Lanka made 537-9 following on and Andrew Flintoff tried to bowl himself into a debilitating bout of rigor mortis.

Their one-day records at this point also encouraged the notion that the two of them were basically the same shit player. Plunkett had taken 37 ODI wickets at 34.05 with an economy rate of 5.85. Mahmood had 29 at 38.89 and was conceding runs at the exact same rate.

That rate seems unspectacular nowadays, but let us tell you this was still a time when commentators would spend 10 overs talking portentously about the moment when the required run-rate would finally exceed a run a ball.

Whenever anyone said something about Liam Plunkett or Sajid Mahmood in 2007, they said it in a sort of groaning sigh and what they said, every single time, was: “Why do they keep picking him?”

Act II

In The Secret of Monkey Island, the character you play, Guybrush Threepwood, can hold his breath for ten minutes. When he is thrown off the dock tethered to the weighty-looking fabulous idol, you have these ten minutes to escape.

All Sajid Mahmood managed to do was slowly turn green, but Liam Plunkett at some point hit upon the solution. The solution is that you pick up the idol, pocket it, and climb out of the sea. (This analogy doesn’t actually extend to the solution – we only mention it because the solution is a very wonderful and funny thing.)

Plunkett is the elder statesman of England’s one-day bowling attack these days and he has become the quick bowler they absolutely rely upon for wickets when the opposing batsmen start to take flight.

Plunkett bangs in the short one; he bobbles in the short one; and he sometimes spears it or bobbles it at the stumps. He bowls all of these things reliably and he cycles through them until one works – and generally one does.

Where things stand today

Liam Plunkett now has over a hundred ODI wickets at under 30. And let us tell you about his economy rate, because this is so marvellous and we are so happy with these numbers.

We took the end of 2007 as being the end of Act I of Liam Plunkett’s career because while he played the odd international after that point, they were very occasional and he’d definitely fallen into the “only if we’ve suffered plenty of injuries” category.

As we said before, at the end of 2007, Liam Plunkett’s ODI economy rate was an eye-watering 5.85. As the world has reshaped itself around him, his economy rate has dropped from to a more-than-handy 5.84. (Isn’t that great?)

So, okay, not all of the numbers properly tell the story of how Plunkett has gone from “why do they keep picking him?” to World Cup linchpin. You can comprehend it better by looking back on matches like the one on Saturday when he beasted four wickets and secured an England win.

(Quick late digression: One of the umpires for that match was Alex Wharf, who was England’s very next ODI debutant after Sajid Mahmood. Alex Wharf’s debut went well. He was man of the match.)

While he might be knocking on a little, Liam Plunkett’s cricket career is pretty much at its peak.

In contrast, Sajid Mahmood was last seen literally pretending to be a bowler in a TV advert for a betting company.


Afghanistan haven’t scored too many runs, but that’s not really the point at this stage, is it?

The Afghanistan cricket team in Jersey (via YouTube)

Remember Out of the Ashes? It’s a documentary about Afghanistan’s journey “from war to the World Cup”. We reviewed it here and thought it was rather wonderful.

It strikes us that it could do with an update because Afghanistan are a Test team now. This is a highly astonishing state of affairs.

If you’d asked us 15 years ago how likely it was that Afghanistan would become a Test team by 2018, here is a list of things that we would have rated as being more likely.

  • Pretty much everything

They’re not an especially good Test team going by the scorecard for their inaugural Test, but then Afghanistan’s rate of improvement is so steep that you wouldn’t bet against them were this a five match series.

It isn’t of course, but they’ll play more Tests and at some point they’ll win. We know this because Afghanistan’s superpower is that losing games gives them strength.

For now, it’s enough that they’re playing at all. As Afghanistan’s then minister of finance, Dr Omar Zakhilwal, said back in 2016 ahead of their first one-day international: “There is nothing that can touch cricket in popularity or as a force for good in Afghanistan. There is absolutely nothing else that mobilises our society in the same way.”


Why aren’t the big teams embarrassed about losing to smaller teams?

Scotland beat England (via Sky Sports)

Scotland’s obvious delight at beating England at the weekend was in no way matched by the anger of the England fans or the embarrassment of the players. It’s not an exact mathematical thing, but normally in sport you’d expect similar sorts of weight on both sides. Why was that not the case?

If you could boil the England fans’ reaction down to a jus, it would taste something like: “Bit disappointed, but happy for Scotland – it’s great for them.”

This is in no way appropriate and absolutely 100 per cent not what anyone from Scotland wants. Those guys want tears and this sort of phlegmatism really undermines their celebrations.

As for the opposition, when the final wicket fell, Trevor Bayliss stood up and flattened out the pocket of his hoodie. You could argue that by Bayliss standards flattening out the pocket of his hoodie pretty much amounts to dropping to his knees and roaring at the heavens, but we’d argue that it more accurately amounts to flattening out the pocket of his hoodie.

Eoin Morgan said: “It’s not the end of the world for us. It was a really good run out and good to have a practice coming into the series against Australia.”

That pretty much sums up the whole problem: There’s nothing riding on it. There are no consequences. Scotland’s big game is just a warm-up for England. The two sides viewed the game completely differently.

England’s one-day side hasn’t been together recently, yet they only met up the day before the Scotland match. They barely practised. The match was their practice.

That is dismissive and insulting and if you think that being beaten will make them act differently in the future, think again. It is a get-out. So long as games against Scotland are viewed as warm-ups, defeats can be shrugged off.

“Onwards to the proper stuff – we’ll be playing properly come the proper stuff,” will be the gist of any comments after a defeat.

Scotland are of course not invited to the one Proper Stuff event that is supposed to be about celebrating and encouraging the spread of the sport. The ‘world’ cup is currently a closed shop reserved only for the made guys.

People do seem to be a bit sick of this and we get the distinct impression that the 10-team format of the 2019 World Cup will be a one-off. Nevertheless, even when Scotland did get a World Cup invite, the format was generally rigged to the extent that there were still no real consequences unless the big teams suffered a whole series of poor results.

There have to be consequences. Consequences are what piss losing fans off. A guarantee that one way or another there will be a whole bunch of pissed off fans makes any cricket match infinitely more exciting.


Will Jos Buttler prove that the best Test teams contain the best T20 players?

That’s a terrible headline. It labels Jos Buttler a T20 player when a key aspect of the point we’re about to make is that players shouldn’t be categorised.

Over at Wisden, we’ve picked up almost exactly where we left off earlier in the week, arguing that England’s Test team would do well to draw on a wider range of experiences.

Take a look back on most of the recent Test debutants and first-class performances have generally been trumping international white ball performances as a selection criterion. The team has become more specialised and more focused and while that may seem like a positive, we’re saying that it also makes it homogenous and that homogenous means worse.

In recent times, adaptability and innovation have come to be seen as being synonymous with ramp shots and reverse sweeps because these things are ‘new’ and easy to identify.

But that’s not the case. Flexibility, improvisation and lateral thinking are not the sole preserve of T20 cricket. The truth is that the shortest format is the one in which players face the narrowest variety of conditions and match situations, whereas Test cricket is the one in which they must adapt the most.

Successful Test teams need people who can come up with solutions to problems on the fly and if all the free thinkers are drifting towards T20, Test teams would do well to try and reclaim a few of them.

Here’s the Wisden link again so that you can read similar sentiments expressed in a greater number of words.

 


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