Scrawniness and self-floggery

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So where are we? No-one knows – which is the way it should be.

What we do know is that England could have had one, two and, in theory, three more wickets if they’d caught better. We also know that England’s batting looks lighter than Michael Rasmussen.

Stop going on about Michael Rasmussen all the time

You could probably infer something from the fact that we’ve made two Rasmussen references in one week. Thin bowling and light batting doesn’t amount to a particularly strong squad. It’s indirectly led to a situation where England have mimicked their not-entirely-successful team selection from August, where a nominal all-rounder gets a game because they want to play a second spinner.

Monty’s a bit more reliable than Simon Kerrigan proved to be, but what of Ben Stokes? All-rounders are bloody handy, but we always worry that almost-good-enough bowling and almost-good-enough batting does not actually equate to ‘good enough for Test cricket’.

The counter-argument would be that if an almost-good-enough batsman’s going to get runs anywhere, it’s more likely to be on the kind of pitch where you deem it necessary to play five bowlers. It’s also given rise to a nicely varied bowling attack.

But this series doesn’t appear to hinge on the bowling attacks.


We’re venturing into back-to-back territory, so it’s instructive to look at how the main bowlers are holding up. Stuart Broad seems fine. Jimmy Anderson seemed down on pace. Then again, with Anderson you never know whether it’s fatigue, injury or simply a decision to ration his glycogen. He is someone who reins it in a bit when he doesn’t feel there’s much to be gained from self-floggery.


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  1. “All-rounders are bloody handy, but we always worry that almost-good-enough bowling and almost-good-enough batting does not actually equate to ‘good enough for Test cricket’.”

    Bang on. Stokes is only playing because they wanted to play two spinners. It seems they’re trying to find the new Flintoff. It isn’t Woakes. It probably isn’t Stokes. There’s only one more left to try. Grab your passport, Ben Foakes.

  2. On the flip side of that, could Stokes do any worse than anyone else that has had a go at 6? You’d hope that you will get the odd punchy 50 out of him, which is as good as everyone else. And his bowling might mean that Anderson doesn’t get bowled into the ground on a “normal” day like today. Clearly, when the game is getting a bit close he is still going to bowl the 10 over spells, the important thing is that he isnt chucking down 25 overs plus on day 1.

    1. He’s not going to take more wickets or score more runs than Bresnan. Surely they felt Bresnan wasn’t ready for this Test, or they would have picked him.

    2. It’s probably more that they didn’t think Bresnan had the endurance for this Test and the next one as well and therefore took the view that another week’s wait wouldn’t do him any harm. We’re sure he’ll play in Perth.

    3. Yeah, you’re probably right. This morning my girlfriend (I know, right?) said “I just don’t think they’ve picked the best cricketers in England for this tour”. Hard to disagree with her. So I told her to shut up and get back in the kitchen.

    4. I’d be amazed if Bresnan wasnt about in Perth.

      The problem England now find themselves with is that they have 3 viable seamers on this tour despite picking millions in the squad. I cannot see how Finn, Rankin or Tremlett are going to play in the rest of the series. I actually didnt think Tremlett was that bad at Brisbane, if a little slow, but the way England have desperately scrabbled around to find someone else cant exactly have been morale-boosting.

      This squad looks more and more rubbish the longer the tour goes on when you consider the likes of Compton, Chopra, Taylor and Onions aren’t in it. The first XI are still pretty tasty when in form, but if any of them lose form dramatically or get injured, I have literally no confidence in any of their replacements bar possibly Monty as long as the pitch suits him.

  3. “So where are we? No-one knows – which is the way it should be.”

    The trouble with England right now is that you feel that unless the bowlers definitively win a match in their opponent’s first innings, the batsmen will lose it in ours. If Australia were playing SA or India this match would be level-pegging, because you trust those teams to bat a proper test innings. Australia might even feel slightly disappointed. However, I suspect an air of restrained satisfaction among Australians, in that they know they’ve done enough already to put pressure on England’s batsmen.

    Big day tomorrow. The Ashes might be mostly decided by the end of it.

  4. Everyone seems to think the Ashes will be decided by this Test. Hey everyone – there are three Tests left after this one. So they won’t be. Not even close.

  5. The definition of an all-rounder changed a bit somewhere down the line. An all-rounder used to be a guy who is a specialist in one department, and not-so-horrible at the other. Imran and Kapil were all-rounders. (You have anomalies like Sobers who were good at anything they tried). Now we are in a situation where Bopara and Chris Harris are considered all-rounders.

    I blame Sri Lanka for this. It is their experiment with “anyone with two arms can bowl” strategy during the nineties that started this epidemic of all-rounders.

    1. Andrew Strauss said that Bell’s desire to bowl in the nets waned as he became more and more established as a batsman.

      Maybe insecurity helps sustain all-rounders such that a disproportionate number of them are borderline as batsmen, bowlers or both.

    2. Who is the ultimate balanced all-rounder? Botham, surely. Although maybe he was a great bowler who could slog it quite effectively. He averaged 33 with the bat and 28 with the ball in Tests.

    3. To be fair to Beef, the last five or six years of batting were basically a write-off.

      Same with the bowling, actually. Averages can conceal a lot.

    4. My Dad used to be obsessed with taking away someones bowling average from their batting average. If it resulted in a positive, the player was an all rounder. The bigger the gap, the better the all rounder. I remember one fun filled Sunday afternoon where he sat with a version of “Cricketers Whos Who” adding up county players with a calculator.

    5. That would make a really good cricket top trumps section, Steve, batting average minus bowling average…

      …if only that “Bat For The Draw” top trumps thing was working…

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