The most interesting thing about all this tiresome bollocks with Kevin Pietersen is that we get a little peek into England’s future. James Taylor made a solid and unspectacular start to his Test career in the first Test and now Jonny Bairstow will return to play a few eye-level cricket shots. The future doesn’t seem all that shiny at first glance, but let’s take another look after five days of cricket before we firmly commit to pessimism.
But is the selection policy right when it comes to batsmen? To our eyes, new England batsmen of recent years can generally be lumped into one of three categories.
Competent old boys
Slightly older cricketers who take to Test cricket fairly quickly, often having played a fair few one-day internationals already. Examples include Jonathan Trott (Test debut aged 28) and Andrew Strauss (Test debut aged 27).
Young cricketers who take to Test cricket pretty much instantly. Examples include Alastair Cook and, er, that’s about it, actually. Probably shouldn’t have made that heading a plural.
Bit harsh, but we like the word. Most new England batsmen fall into this category. These are batsmen who are promising but wobbly and are in and out of the side until they’re older and more consistent. Examples include Ian Bell (Test debut at 22), Ravi Bopara (22), Eoin Morgan (23) and Jonny Bairstow (22).
There’s a case for saying that the competent older boys are just older blunderkinds, in which case surely the most logical selection policy would be to focus on established batsmen like Mike Carberry and Nick Compton. That’s a simplification though and adopting that policy would have meant wasting a lot of years of Alastair Cook.
We’re finding it hard to feel optimistic about England’s next batch of batsmen right now, but how much is the oft-cited strength in depth of England’s bowling down to the fact that so many seam bowlers have had chances to play Test cricket? Maybe Bairstow and Taylor are about to usher in a brave new world where England’s batting is the envy of the world?
It seems doubtful. Batting is different to bowling. There’s more catastrophic potential. Bowl a leg-side full toss and at least you get to turn at the end of your mark and have another go. Miss a straight one and that’s that.
Don’t miss any straight ones, lads.