Maybe this statement would seem more accurate to some of you if we said ‘too many fair batsmen’ – but that would fly in the face of the universally-accepted Premier Manager 2 scale where ‘fair’ actually means ‘really rather shit’.
No, England and Australia have too many Very Good batsmen. Too many Very Good*** batsmen way down the order to be precise. It’s not that either side has better batsmen than ever before in the top six. It’s not that at all. Nobody would make a case for this being the best line-up of specialist batsmen either team has boasted. It’s down the order where the problems lie.
In the first Test England had Moeen Ali at eight, while Australia had Mitchell Starc – a guy with a Test 99 to his name – at number 10. This means innings can really drag on.
It’s not that it feels like a drag while you’re watching Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali, Mitchell Johnson or any of these sorts. As often as not, they’re more entertaining than the guys above them. It’s just that with tails docked, the importance of a wicket is diminished – and in a Test match, wickets are very much what it’s all about.
Time was, you took two top order wickets and it was like an explosion. Bricks flew everywhere. Damage had been done. Walls might collapse. The whole damn structure might implode. Nowadays it’s like picking a bit of sealant from around a window, or dislodging a slate from the roof. Technically you’ve done some damage, but there’s so much more left to do.
Bring back Alan Mullally and Jo Angel.