England seam bowling stock-take

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The problem with giving people names is that we tend to associate certain qualities with those names. This doesn’t happen with bananas. Bananas are interchangeable and are evaluated for what they are. If they’re at peak ripeness, hurray! If they’re bruised and old, we replace them with new bananas.

This is probably because the qualities of any given banana don’t really warrant much discussion. Their status can usually be summed up in a sentence. Seam bowlers are different. We go on and on about them and so sometimes we don’t really take in that there has been some level of deterioration.

There has been some level of deterioration

We’re told that one of England’s greatest strengths as a Test team is that they have a bunch of quick bowlers who they can rotate with no discernible impact on the quality of the bowling attack – Anderson, Broad, Finn, Bresnan, Onions and Tremlett. For a while, this was true. It probably isn’t at the minute.

We’ve written about Tim Bresnan already. He’s still called Tim Bresnan, but he isn’t currently as good as the Tim Bresnan of a year or so ago.

We could say much the same about Stuart Broad, who is successfully retaining nomenclature while simultaneously shedding fitness and effectiveness. He hasn’t broken his spine or coughed up a lung, but it does feel likes he’s been slightly injured for about a year now.

When he wasn’t playing, people yearned for the ferocious pace of Steven Finn. Now he is playing, people have realised that an extra 3-4mph hasn’t caused the world’s best batsmen to implode in despair at the impossible challenge confronting them.

James Anderson‘s much the same as he ever was, which is good. Chris Tremlett has been injured, which is bad. Graham Onions hasn’t really been allowed to bowl, which amounts to a lack of meaningful recent information.


This is the end of our England seam bowling stock-take. We conclude that things are okay, but probably not as good as they once were, even though the names are the same.

Feel free to talk up little-known county youngsters as if they’re Malcolm Marshall in the comments. We like seeing wishful thinking passed off as expert opinion and the identification of a young, overlooked genius is one of the finest examples of that kind of thing. Ideally, try and name a very large number of players and then refer to your comment as evidence of your insight when one of them finally gets a one-day international against New Zealand in 2017.

Yes, we know that we do precisely this all the time. We pride ourself on our hypocrisy.


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  1. James Harris
    Toby Roland Jones
    Oliver Wilkin

    I hear that there are even some promising bowlers playing for counties other than Middlesex.

  2. The Daily Mirror’s not-nearly-as-good-as-the-King’s article on England’s fasties today has a picture of Stuart Broad that makes him look positively Boparaesque. Pudgy.

    As for NewMarshalls(TM), I’d echo Toby Roland-Jones and not just because I’m Middlesex.

    Stuart Meaker I will nod to, despite Surrey.

    Moving down the order of pace precedenc from “fast bowlers” to “seamers”:

    Ben Stokes looks well worth it with the ball, and he is a proper allrounder. And yes, he bowls 80mph on his very best day, but I don’t care.

    And Keith Barker absolutely needs to be given a go as soon as possible, and it’s frustrating that no one is giving him a chance. He should have gone to India with the EPP. A proper bowler, a left-armer which England sorely lacks, and he can really bat, not in the Stokes class but in the Broad/Bresnan class.

    Finally, Chris Rushworth should have one eye kept on him. He had a hell of an August/September. If he’s picked something up, it’s not too late for him to get an England A opportunity either. But Barker first.

    1. Yes and quite useful he looks too, does young Topley.

      But the poor lad plays for Essex and I think KC has a rule which says that second division runs and wickets don’t really count.

      Which rather eliminates KC’s beloved Lancashire players of course, for the foreseeable. Not that they have any pace bowlers of merit at the moment. If they did, they wouldn’t be in this mess.

    1. Perhaps there are some young Sri Lankan bowlers out there, with tenuous but adequate connections with Blighty, who fancy completing their education over here in England and then…

    2. Well, Kula Shaker has turned into a pretty decent bowler since his music career rather fizzled out in the late 90s, but he’s 30.

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