Sam Curran was England’s second-choice pace bowler for this Test match and that seems pretty significant

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Sam Curran (via Sky Sports)

England have picked three spinners and so far they’ve out-bowled Sri Lanka’s spinners. That’s pretty weird and unusual and attracts so much of your attention that it’s easy to overlook the seemingly-irrelevant constitution of the pace attack.

But the pace attack is worth a look, because with places scarce, decisions have been made. It was Sam Curran who opened the bowling with James Anderson.

Back in May, before he’d made his Test debut, we said that we’d quite like Curran to play Test cricket, but that we didn’t much like any of the circumstances in which he would play. Curran was almost the right choice, but not quite the right choice. While there was much to admire, it was hard to see an area where he outscored any of his rivals other than through simple, straightforward wrong-handedness.

Maybe all it took to tip the balance was greater exposure to his relentlessly serious demeanour. Act seriously enough and people will either (a) take you very seriously, or (b) take you not in the least bit seriously. (We’re not sure what the threshold is on that one. Maybe something to do with how you actually back up that seriousness performance-wise.)

In this Test, England have preferred Curran to Olly Stone, a fast bowler; Chris Woakes, an all-rounder who averaged 75 with the bat and 20 with the ball in the two Tests he played against India this summer; and Stuart Broad, a guy with 433 Test wickets and by any stretch a fixture in the side.

That’s noteworthy, isn’t it? That’s a significant thing?

There comes a moment in the lifespan of every T-shirt when it doesn’t get to go on holiday any more. It might still get worn around the house or under a jumper, but when opportunities are scarce and space is finite, you suddenly realise it’s no longer worthy of a place in the suitcase.

This can only happen when there’s a viable replacement. Quite often, T-shirts go on holidays they have no real right to go on simply because, despite their very obvious deterioration, they’re still somewhere near the top of the T-shirt pecking order. Other times a sudden influx of new T-shirts denies an otherwise perfectly reasonable garment a trip it could certainly have expected to go on at any other time.

Stuart Broad is not yet tatty and nor is Chris Woakes, but Sam Curran has been chosen ahead of them. Okay, England bowled so well that he only actually bowled six overs in the first innings, but if that was the plan, it was one formed by someone whose mind and body is fatally riddled with optimism.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, it is very hard to envisage a scenario where England won’t want to pick Sam Curran for the Test team.


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  1. Tough on Woakes.

    I’m beginning to suspect there’s some sort of rule against having three players with rhyming names in the same side.

  2. Then there are the t-shirts which are relegated to gardening or painting duty. Still loved and un-chuck-out-able but only brought out once or twice a year for specific gardening conditions and only recalled once every three to five years if there’s a crisis painting job to be done.

    Somebody somewhere will no doubt provide the cricketers to match these scenarios.

    1. That’s similar to Douglas Adams’ definition of ‘broats’.

      “A pair of trousers with a career behind them. Broats are most commonly seen on elderly retired army officers. Orginally the brats were part of their best suit back in the thirties; then in the fifties they were demoted and used for gardening. Recently pensions not being what they were, the broats have been called out of retirement and reinstated as part of the best suit again.”

  3. Broad would have just celebrappealed right through the quicksand and out the other side. Playing SCurran on a quicksand deck is the sort of error for which the selectors should be rightly castigated.

  4. Ged’s back…

    …as in, returned…from Japan. He doesn’t have ankylosing spondylitis or anything like that.

    Mind you, after that 12 hour flight, Ged and Daisy are both feeling it in the back a little this morning.

    So I can bring recent, relevant experience of holiday packing to this debate. I can tell you that KC’s tee-shirt decision-making analogy does not work with me.

    I tend to have “horses for courses” clothes for holidays – special (thinner) tee-shirts for when we go to hot places and (in my case) trousers and shirts with buttonable pockets that make me feel just that little bit more secure when carrying so many vital documents and bits of plastic around with me while travelling.

    Some of my “horses for courses” garments are starting to look well shabby as the years go on and Daisy seems to be plotting a holiday wardrobe transformation project on my behalf ahead of the next time…

    …if there is a next time. Daisy’s packing dilemmas (she always wants to, metaphorically, take a ridiculously large squad on tour) nearly caused a major domestic this time. The following piece explains:

    Our Japan Ogblog pieces (15-20 of them) should all go up over the next few days, just in case some of you are interested in such travelogues…

    …or should I call them “elite travelogues”?

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