England include a man called Gary Ballance in their Ashes squad

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That’s what we think of you, punsome headlines. No way. No effing way. We might indulge in an opaque vertigo reference should Gary Ballance later get dropped, but that’s as much as you’re getting.

So, the England squad then? You knew most of it anyway. These are the other bits.

The batsmen

Gary Ballance scores runs like nobody’s business. We wish he literally scored runs like nobody’s business, because that’s such a specatacularly confusing concept. However, as far as we can tell, he doesn’t. He just figuratively scores them like nobody’s business.

Michael Carberry has also scored runs like nobody’s business if you look at run-scoring over a prolonged period in all formats. It seems he’s always been nearly good enough for Test cricket. The worry is that he still is.

The pace bowlers

It’s almost like the selectors’ spreadsheet had every column deleted except for height. Steven Finn, Chris Tremlett and Boyd Rankin are all included. The most relentlessly successful bowler in county cricket, Graham Onions, is left out. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that there is literally nothing he could ever do to get another game for England.

The other spinner

Not so surprisingly, it’s Monty, because everyone else is rubbish.

The all-rounder

Although England clearly think a lot of Ben Stokes, they haven’t picked him for his batting and they haven’t picked him for his bowling. Because of the way England tend to pick their team – with the best batsmen and the best bowlers – it’s hard to see how he’ll get a game. That last sentence isn’t actually as meaningless as it sounds.

What is a squad?

Tim Bresnan is not in the squad, but he’ll be travelling with it and staying in the same hotels and should he feel well enough, he’ll be eligible for selection.


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  1. Of course there is something Onions could do to get back in the squad. We have been hinting at this for weeks.

    He needs a double-consonant in his surname.

    Change your name to Onnions, or Onionns, for goodness sake, Graham, it isn’t rocket science.

    Or if you really fancy something different, change the name to Shallot. Or even better, Shallott.

    And so…

    …here comes the punsome tail-line…

    that’s shallot.

  2. Very well put, your highness.

    But I reckon Stokes will play in the Bresnan slot.

    The selectors clearly don’t pay too much attention to four day county cricket anymore. They see a player they like the look of and back them. Sometimes it works. But it’s a gamble.

    Interesting to monitor the Twitter accounts of the “harshly treated” players today. It’s like a competition to see who can be the most delighted, the most magnanimous and the most distraught.

    Rankin is “really chuffed”. James Taylor provided a link to a Michael Jordan quote. Compton is “disappointed”. Onions went further, saying: “Disappointed is a understatement, absolutely gutted.”

    There. That’s your next Cricinfo article done. That will be £50 please.

    1. That’s actually a pretty good explanation as to why that column can be so hard to write. It’s like prospecting in the Peak District. You sieve through an awful lot of dirt, but there’s very little gold.

  3. Boyd Rankin is better than Onions?

    I’ll have some of what the selectors are smoking, please.

    James Taylor should tell England to piss off if they ever ask him to be in a squad, too.

    1. There was a tweet by the ECB today that tells Onions exactly what he needs to do; arrange for Anderson to meet with an accident.

    2. Onions and Compton have been treated harshly. Particularly Onions, coming back to top form after a career-threatening injury.

      The only plus is that Gary Ballance has modeled himself on the Rob Key physique.

  4. Last year Taylor had two fair to middling Tests at the end of the summer, then got immediately bombed out of the squad. This year, it only took one fair to middling Test at the end of the summer for Woakes to achieve the same. That is clear, measurable progress.

    Its all fairly irrelevent, as England will probably just pick the Chester-Le-Street 11 if everyone is fit, but I am intruigued to know how/why:

    – Stokes is suddenly better than Woakes, with Woakes having played reasonably well in the last Test.
    – Tremlett is better than Onions, having got far less wickets at a far higher average throughout the summer
    – Ballance is better than Taylor, who was the replacement for Pietersen when he was injured
    – Carberry is now better than Compton
    – Bresnan is not in the squad, but is going to Australia and is expected to be fit for the warm up games. Meanwhile, Overton is in the Performance Programme squad but isnt actually going to Australia.

    This is the first England squad announcement I can remember winding me up in about 10 years.

    1. On your last point, Steve, I beg to differ. Darren Pattinson, Headingley 2008 vs South Africa.

      Agree on the rest, mind you.

    2. I reckon they’re slowly drifting back to horses for courses. The bowling selection inparticular reeks of this, tall bang it in bowlers did well last time so let’s stuff the squad full of them. Next time there’s a test at Headingley they’ll pick Steven Patterson and Jack Brooks in pre-match interview the Captain will vaguely mention swing and overhead conditions.

      We’ll go on to lose all remaining ever and our test status will be revoked. It’s a slippery slope this selection lark.

    3. This squad reeks of hubris. We went through the same thing in recent years when we thought you could put 11 guys out there in a baggy green and expect a superhuman output. Some elements of our media still hold that belief.
      I don’t expect that we’re good enough to take advantage of it but with several of your key players on the wrong side of 30 and a big ‘youth’ focus it’s only a matter of time before there is insufficient talent remaining in the team to cover for poor selection policy.
      Due to the shortened cycle you can probably win the next couple of series too, but selections like this mark the beginning of the end. Tick tock.

  5. England have quite rightly noticed the waning interest in squad announcements and decided to spice things up a bit and annoy us all to raise the interest. A cunning and devious plan.

    1. “We have dealt with this matter internally.”

      The punishments are harsh down in Leicestershire.

    2. Well, that is where Richard III was buried. Maybe they’re going medieval on Eckersley’s arse.

      (Was Richard III medieval? Let’s just say he was.)

    3. Fabulous.

      “It is understood both Cobb and Eckersley are contemplating a move to new counties”

      I don’t think Leics will be able to field an XI next year. Cobb’s total crap anyway so no loss, but Eckersley was their only good player this season.

    4. I think you might be confusing Richard III with Edward II, Sam, but both kings could be described as medieval.

      But surely with names such as Joshua Cobb and Ned Eckersley, we are talking about Diggers or Levellers from the Civil War period – otherwise known as “recent history” where I come from.

  6. O King of Right Usage of English Words And Phrases And Sentences And What Not:

    I refer to the quoted fragment from the below link


    “The inclusion of Gary Ballance may delight headline writers, but it is the somewhat ironic lack of balance in the Ashes squad that may come back to haunt England.

    If Ballance and balance are not the same thing – which seems to be a reasonable assumption to make – why is the lack of balance in the England squad ironic. when buttressed by the presence of Ballance?

    Do you approve of such usage?

    1. We rarely approve of the use of the word ‘ironic’. Even when used correctly, little good comes of it.

  7. From the Grauniads “The Spin”

    77 – the total number of wickets taken in first-class cricket this season by Boyd Rankin, Steven Finn and Chris Tremlett, at a combined average of 29.
    69 – the total number of wickets taken in first-class cricket this season by Graham Onions, all on his own, at an average of 18.
    Onions, has, of course, the advantage of playing his home games at the Riverside, a boon for any seam bowler. Away from the ground, he has taken a mere 28 wickets in five matches at an average of 19.”

    Truly there is nothing more he can do.

    1. Unlike some around here, I have little problem with most of the squad selection, apart from the selection of Tremlett ahead of Onions.

      But I can see some logic even in that selection, as Tremlett has form touring and bowling on hard, antipodean pitches, whereas Onions sole tour south of the equator did not go well for him.

      Still, Onions can (and I’m sure does) feel hard done by in the circumstances. His first class form this season has been exceptional.

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