Liam Dawson is getting carted

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Liam Dawson (via Channel 5)

We’ve been wondering whether Liam Dawson will become a player we hate for being kind of dull or a player we love for being kind of dull.

We haven’t yet reached a conclusion, but what we are a little more certain of is that he’s utterly failing to do the main thing he’s been picked to do.

It’s always a bit harsh to judge a player in his first few matches. Plenty of great players have been pigawful at first. The problem is that Dawson’s unique selling point isn’t even particularly worth waiting for.

From what was said ahead of the first Test, he owes his selection to being the least badly mauled spinner in an innings when one opposition batsman made 199 and another made an unbeaten triple hundred.

This seems to us to be rather like splashing out a fiver on a double shot of the poison that will kill you most slowly. It’s also odd that Dawson’s 2-129 should carry so much more weight than Adil Rashid’s 23 wickets in that series.

One explanation from team management implied that the Hampshire man’s the ‘keep it tight’ spinner, who will allow the other bowlers to attack. We only caught the highlights of today’s play, but a sizeable proportion of it seemed to involve Hashim Amla depositing Dawson far and away, somewhere back behind him.

He hauled it back a bit later on, such that his figures ended up only as those of a bowler who’s been relentlessly milked. However, he was also beslogged by Amla in the first Test. It feels like the batsmen have his measure.

Normally in these situations we’re of the opinion that the ideal solution is not to drop the player; it is for the player to stop being so damned ineffectual and start playing really well instead.

Our concern in this instance is that Liam Dawson playing really well might just amount to 1-50 off 20 overs or something like that.


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  1. I don’t know why you’re all okay with England selecting below par players. Its not like you guys have a quota or anything.

  2. There doesn’t seem to be an obviously outstanding county spinner to supplement Moeen with, and it seems unlikely you’d want Moeen to be the only spinner. So clearly the selectors will want to select another spinner. It’s also pretty clear that Moeen is unlikely to develop into a defensive spinner. And if the selectors want someone to keep things tight, that means either Liam Dawson getting his act together or someone else coming in to fill the same role. In that case, it’s hard to see Rashid getting selected even though he seems (at least to me) a logical addition to the side.

    But does every side really need a defensive spinner to “allow the other bowlers to attack”? Why not have two attacking spinners? And if one of them is getting carted because they aren’t extracting much that day, then bowl the other one more. There’s always the argument that the best form of defence (i.e. stopping the opposition scoring runs) is attack (getting them out).

  3. I totally get the theory of picking a defensive spinner. I just don’t understand why Dawson is suddenly the answer.

    I have two questions.
    1 – Is there no better defensive seamer than Dawson? I’m not really sure why the person bowling 20 overs for 45 has to be a spinner
    2 – If it has to be a spinner, then what can Dawson do better than Samit? Fielding probably, but England can probably afford to hide one player when all their seamers are such good fielders.

  4. “This seems to us to be rather like splashing out a fiver on a double shot of the poison that will kill you most slowly”

    Isn’t this literally what drinking is

  5. Teams often get into the kind of impossible position that England have cornered themselves into, and it surprises me how readily batsmen give their wickets away. I am sure that the mentality of “playing positively” becomes absolutely ingrained with the diet of limited overs cricket plus the trend towards higher RpO in Tests. Nevertheless, there are a stack of batsmen in this team who haven’t nailed themselves in place as long-term fixtures, and it doesn’t seem to cross their mind that “a gritty half-century here would really cement my place, at least for the rest of the series” or even “grinding out an Athertonian unbeaten century over the next two days will make me a legend and virtually undroppable for about the next 3 years”.

    Even if the chances of winning or even drawing are negligible, it isn’t like the batsmen have nothing to play for – the personal possibilities that are open to them are tremendous, it’s as if their team’s incompetence or the opposition’s brilliance has been scripted perfectly to set the stage up for a heroic act, if only they can carry it off. Yet very few batsmen even seem to make a serious attempt at it. That isn’t a criticism of England specifically, all teams seem to do this, but I’m at a loss why fewer batsmen don’t try digging in and going down in history for it.

    1. I think the only team that’s pulled off ‘over my dead body’ type blockathons are South Africa. Their batsmen seem to be more ready to try them.

  6. All this ‘defensive bowler’ talk is absolute nonsense imo. The primary job of any bowler is to to get batsmen out. If the pitch and/or the weather conditions don’t suit said bowler, then he can/should bowl a more containing line and length, allowing the other bowlers to be more aggressive (read buy wickets for runs :))

  7. We’ve lost a Test! Everyone panic! Widespread changes! Heads will roll! Public inquiry!

    1. Relax, Sam. We’ve got the anti-momentum that is so key to long-term test success with us now. Seems that impatient, brainless batting and a propensity to play SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS is the overriding factor in our defeat here so it would be a little harsh to drop the at times strokeless Gary Ballance. Dawson will probably become the latest ‘escape goat’.

    1. Excellent then that the England and Saffer players get some extra bonus time off to watch its denouement!

  8. He’s too quick. In our learned, distant and increasingly blurry observations of him on Friday, we concluded that he was firing it in too flat and too quick. It looked a piece of cake for the batsmen to face.

    Fast and flat is usually the spinner’s reaction to getting properly laid about, so it is disturbing to think he has been laid about while so doing (I haven’t seen the second innings). His only reaction from there is to go faster and flatter. Maybe eventually he’ll bowl like Wasim Akram. Maybe this is the plan.

  9. Today’s play was like driving my Morris Traveller. There’s no synchromesh in first gear and when you find it you clunk quickly to second gear which runs ok for a bit, but you reluctantly have to reach for third which is neither here nor there. Leaving that change behind you drift into top gear and could cruise quite happily along like Miss Marple which you could have done from the start of your journey, but no, you pick up speed thinking you’re in a sports car and rev the nuts off the thing and wonder why you’ve come to a stop without reaching the pub.

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