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.