If we no longer trust the team selection experts, it’s time to submit ourselves to the wisdom of the hat

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Trevor Bayliss’s hat (via ECB YouTube)

One week Moeen Ali is England’s innovative pick at number three; the next week Ben Stokes is England’s innovative pick at number three – but no sooner has the change been made than there are people for whom Stokes is no longer innovative enough. Nick Compton says Sam Curran would be a better option.

As the great Ferris Bueller once said: life moves pretty fast. A tired old cricket blog can’t hope to compete in this current climate of leftfield lateral thinking. By the time we’ve taken a deep dive into Adil Rashid’s record to pick out a few choice stats indicating that he’d be a surprisingly good option against left-arm seam bowlers armed with the new ball, others would have already put his case forward and moved onto an even more innovative alternative.

Maybe this is why there is growing distaste for data and the experts who wield it. When the world of reason accelerates away from us, where can we turn? What can we do?

We do what humanity has always done, of course. We submit ourselves completely to forces entirely beyond our control.

The fact of the matter is that England have a number six surplus and there is no statistical insight that can overcome that. This tricksy issue could be managed in several different ways, but we rather like the simplicity of Evil Scootus’s suggestion that we just resort to picking names out of a hat. This, to us, seems like the perfect and appropriate response to our demented world of experts and their careful consideration of the facts.

The Hat.

You know where you are with The Hat. Succumb to it. Feel the weight of thought and decision-making lift from your tired, middle-aged body with its weary limbs, myopic eyes, greying hair and busted fingernail from where the nurse burnt through it to relieve the swelling after you broke your finger when you crashed your bike a few weeks ago.

Feel it all float away from you. Feel instead how reassuring it is to hand those responsibilities on to someone/something else. You know you want to do it. Names will be drawn, problems will be solved. There’s nothing to worry about. Submit to The Wisdom of the Hat.

The only question that remains is which hat to use. There are strong feelings on all sides, but let us tell you here and now that Trevor Bayliss’s floppy white England hat is the correct hat from which to draw names. Don’t ask us how we know. We just do.

Sure, there are some who will say that a traditional England cap should be used or a trilby or a fedora or a fez. There’s actually a whole bunch of people – real delusional conspiracy theorist wingnuts – who think that it would actually be better if England drew names from a helmet.

But they’re wrong. We’ve got a gut feeling that Trevor Bayliss’s floppy white England hat will get better results than any other hat. If you give us the afternoon, we’ll head over to CricViz and we’ll dig out some hat-centric win percentages to prove it to you.


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  1. Is there anywhere I can read about what constitutes a number six (or whatever) batsman? To the uninitiated, the certainty with which people seem to say that X is definitely a six and definitely not a five or seven can take on an angels-dancing-on-a-pinhead quality.

    1. It’s a continuum. Five, six, seven, all much of a muchness. Five a little bit more sensible. Seven a little bit more Shahid Afridi.

      1. But Shahid Afridi’s best as an opener.

        Does that mean all number 7s should be opening for their respective teams?

  2. I totally, utterly and utterly totally disagree with the choice of Trevor Bayliss’s floppy hat for the purpose of choosing the Number 3.

    Jonathan Trott’s floppy hat is a far more suitable hat for choosing the Number 3.

    Naturally, Bayliss’s floppy is ideal for the sequencing of who bats at 5, 6, 7, 8 &9 – but not for the choosing of the Number 3.

    A vital distinction.

    Sloppy journalism on your part, KC…

    …or should I say, floppy journalism?

  3. I took a list of all England players to have debuted since 2003 (in order to include Anderson) and hatted it. I got this

    1. Chris Woakes
    2. Dawid Malan
    3. Boyd Rankin
    4. Haseeb Hameed
    5. Geraint Jones
    6. Matt Prior
    7. Moeen Ali
    8. Craig Overton
    9. Martin Saggers
    10. Chris Tremlett
    11. Scott Borthwick

    Pros: Innovative number 3, Moeen Ali in the right position, legspinner

    Cons: Still insists on picking too many wicketkeepers in the middle order

  4. I’d quite like to see a Harry Potter style sorting hat: “Plucky one you are. I see useful lower order runs in a brave rearguard action. Your best position would to be to bat at 7. Therefore you can go in at 3.”

  5. Jack Leach is opening the batting. The Government is falling apart.

    Excuse my French, but what the frig is going on?

    1. On the evidence of England’s last innings, Keaton Jennings, is England’s answer to no.3 (because Root scored a century, when Jennnings played at 3)

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