How do you pick a Test team?

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Here’s a question: if all records and memory of Test history were erased, how would you select your playing XI for the next match? Would the side differ from the one that would take the field normally?

There’s always context. There are always past Test achievements to go off. Many players earn a guaranteed spot over time, but their initial selection wasn’t always so cut and dried. Imagine all that information has gone and you’re starting from scratch. How do you go about your task?


Do you go off batting and bowling averages? If you did that, the India side would feature Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma and Subraniam Badrinath. Some would argue that a couple of those players should be featuring, but it’s striking that none of them do. Manoj Tiwary would also be playing and Sachin Tendulkar would only just eke out Abishek Nayar.

But that’s poor use of statistics. Maybe you’d look at the players’ averages over the last few years or try and weight averages in some way to lessen the effects of high-scoring matches.

In-depth statistics

Or maybe you’d go all Moneyball and look for the meaningful statistics behind the averages. How reliable is that forward defensive? Does the batsman have any weaknesses against particular types of bowling? What proportion of a bowler’s deliveries are dot balls and how consistent are they in terms of line and length?

Strategy first or players first?

Questions about bowlers are particularly complex, because what exactly are you looking for? Do you have a strategy in mind for which you’ll find the right bowlers, or will you find the best bowlers and then devise your strategy? If the latter’s the case, how do you compare an accurate seam bowler with a less accurate, but highly skilled, swing bowler?

What’s your point here?

Dunno. We just wonder how much of an impact history and prejudice have on selection, we suppose. We wonder whether a selector without preconceptions would pick some unexpected players.

Don’t suppose it matters really. So, er, what are you doing this weekend? Anything interesting? No?


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


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  1. You need to find a strategy to use with the players you have, not pick the players to suit the strategy.

    The former is pragmatism, the latter is wishful thinking.

  2. I’m a bit confused (again). If all records and hitory have beed erased, how do I judge the reliability of the forward defensive? Do I have to bowl at him myself? That will only really demonstrate how he plays beamers and long hops. Or are the records of non test first class cricket still available? In which case the entire England team will have seemingly died a few years back. sorry if i’m sonding a bit arsey, but I don’t get it. (By the way bradders, you are quite right, KC is available in saudi, provided i don’t read it in the same room as a woman)

  3. Interesting. If I didn’t know anything about the players and the rules have only just been explained to me, I’d just go by the stats. Not glamorous, I know. OTOH, if I have seen all my players in action, albeit for a brief time, I’d pick the one that’s least likely to annoy me.

  4. No, nothing interesting. Have a little sleep. Maybe go for a walk. My girlfriend has promised to bake me a cake, which is nice.


  5. The question has puzzled me and seems to have puzzled most.

    Problem is, when you take away the context of the game, the underlying narrative of the players’ stories, there’s not much left of cricket (or indeed any sport). You’ve taken away the interesting bit.

    So my answer is that I don’t know and I wouldn’t care a jot for the “spotless mind/groundhog day” cricket world you posit, KC. I wouldn’t be a selector. I wouldn’t follow the cricket, nor indeed any sport if you have made them all memory-erased.

    I’d read more books, spend more time messing about with photography, stuff like that, instead. Heck, maybe I’d even get out more.

    1. Ha, that’s a good one Ged.

      Out? In the real world? Where there a real people? Away from the computer screen?

      Pull the other one. It’s got Ian Ronalds on it.

    2. Wonderful answer, Ged-IvisitexoticplaceslikeEgyptandTurkeyeventhoughmycricketmemoryhasnotbeenerased-Ladd.

      Pretty sure you’ve mentioned something like that before.

    3. And today shall be remembered as the day I violated the margin rule on KC’s website. My grandchildren will talk about it. And yours too.

    4. Apologies I could not get back to you sooner, Deep Cower.

      Been out for the evening, you know the Thursday night score, exclusive party, Rock Legends, Movie Supremos, bimbos galore…

      …I said I’d get out MORE in KC’s postulated dystopian world, DC, I did not state (nor even infer) that I don’t get out at all.

      Egypt was recent, granted, but we haven’t been to Turkey since 1996. Vietnam this time last year, India the year before, China the year before that…

      …and your point is?

    1. See, O’Keefe may have 17 wickets at 26 this season, and Doherty has 2 at 80, but he is missing the important thing, the X Factor. It’s easy to spot for Doherty because it’s in his name. That’s why they pay the selectors the big bucks.

  6. This is an important question that invokes serious thought. After careful deliberation I think I will sleep in on Saturday and then maybe have tea. Have an omelette for breakfast. I will continue to ignore the chores that have been piling up for months now.

    That is a far as I have got right now. Will write again when I think of something else.

  7. How do you pick a team? You could do what the Australians did a few years ago when they got a new coach for the Socceroos. Pick the whole of the A League and get evryone into a camp for a week. Then play a series of friendlies with the players you liked best.

    The Australian Football team allocated numbers up to 110. I had never seen the number 107 on the back of a football shirt before! It didn’t heklp them to play well.

    They would have to play test cricket with the players names on the back as the players might need to check the name before yelling out “Yours… um turn around please I have forgotten your name… never mind I will drop it mayself…”

  8. Some sports scientist would devise a series of inane physical tests such as the 40 metre sprint, and standing vertical leap then get a series of young men into a gym and select the 11 people who did the best at those tests.

    Or they would base it on physical archetypes such as a fast bowler must be tall and then go looking for tall people.

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