Experience in Test cricket helps players perform

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Those writing about cricket bandy the word ‘experience’ around until it ceases to have any meaning, but it’s easy to overlook the significant role it plays in terms of how a player performs.

Experience isn’t just a statistic. It isn’t how many games someone’s played. It’s different conditions, different environments and different situations. Player A might average 50 in county cricket, but it’s not just as simple as bunging him in the national side.

If he’s 22 and hasn’t played a Test before, he’s likely to do worse than Player B who’s 34, has 70 caps, but only averages 40 in first-class cricket.

A Mitchell Johnson quote about the Ashes explains this pretty well.

“I didn’t take in the fact that their home crowd was right behind them all the way and I wasn’t used to that feeling and obviously taking on the role as leader of the attack all got to me a little bit. I’m glad I recovered from it. It has definitely helped and is something you need to go through. It was a learning experience for me.”

For a long time, Australia’s Test side had more Test experience than England’s. As talented as the Aussies were, there was also a greater likelihood that those players would perform at their best.

What conclusions can we draw?

International experience is a valuable commodity and is not to be frittered away on players you hope will come good. Selectors should identify the players they are most certain about and stand by them.

It would be a damn sight easier for them if English domestic cricket actually clarified such issues to some degree.


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  1. Exactly right, KC. Spot on.

    No, wait a minute. I’ve just seen a picture of Paul Collingwood. Exactly wrong, KC. Way wide of the mark.

    Oh, the confusion!

  2. “I didn’t take in the fact that their home crowd was right behind them all the way and I wasn’t used to that feeling”

    what did he expect??

  3. Steve, there have hardly been fully packed crowds five days in a row at other test series that he has played in, roaring for him to eff up.

    In SA, there were spectators but the grounds were half full if that and in India and the West Indies there just isn’t the crowds or I suspect the appetite, for test cricket that there is in England.

    He is a relatively inexperienced player, which almost everybody seems to forget.

  4. Spot on KC, dead right. The only way our test team is ever going to progress is if you give these youngsters a chance to test themselves at the highest level. If they’re good enough, they’re old enough. And if that player isn’t good enough to make the spot their own then there’s always another youngster from the county scene hungry for the chance!

  5. Winniepooh

    I know it’s doubtful sometimes, but some cricketers do have the brains to have some imagination.

    It was the Ashes – everyone knows that the Ashes have big partisan crowds, EVen if he had never, ever, somehow, watched past series, even on TV, you’d think that other cricketers, especially his mentor, Lee, would have enlightened him.

    And he’s not quite that wet behind the ears.

  6. The first and third time I read it I got the same opinion as Alex that we should give talented youngsters a go at Test level.

    The 4th time I read it, I got the impression we shouldn’t pick these cocky youngsters with an average of 50 in our village green County games until they have got so bored that their average has dropped to 40.

    It’s quite late here in Los Angeles

  7. It’s a question of balance, surely. I remember being livid when Thorpe was dropped prior to the Ashes in 05. I thought we’d need him to shore up the middle order with his “experience”. As it was, Bell and KP managed to cobble together a few runs and it was alright. Would they have been as successful without Strauss, Tresco and Vaughan around them? No.

  8. MJ always seems slightly wet behind the ears to me. Not dumb, just a sort of head in the clouds type of player.

    Sounds like exactly the sort of thing he would say.

    And on top of that, the Saffer crowds were incredibly kind to him, it was Siddle who copped the abuse.

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