Have we all made realistic New Year’s resolutions? No more drinking on Wednesdays? One takeaway a week, but you won’t deliberately order enough for breakfast the next morning as well? Or maybe you’ve resolved to stop playing Australia quite so frequently.
Vivisection’s tempting, but let’s not reach for the scalpel until this England Ashes tour is actually cold. There’s a fifth Test of horror to live through yet.
That said, some of the errors of recent years should perhaps inform selection for this final five-day fiasco. There’s talk of Michael Carberry being dropped and this pretty much sums thing up. His omission would have an impact on an opening position and one in the middle order – in short, the two spots which England haven’t been content with for a long, long time.
There must be better bread
There’s been a lack of regard for the number six slot and a lack of conviction when it comes to openers and so we’ve ended up with the same four batsmen as filling between ever-changing types of bread.
The middle order slot has seen a number of players ‘given a go’ of whom only Joe Root made a decent fist of things. But England weren’t happy with that. Do well at number six and they want you out of there and into what they think of as being one of the proper batting spots.
Root was promoted to England’s other problem position – opener – and despite an Ashes hundred, was deemed a failure. Nick Compton was discarded too, shortly after hitting back-to-back hundreds. It seemed there was always someone better and by a process of deduction, it was determined that that person was Michael Carberry.
I thought you weren’t doing a post-tour dissection
No, we’re not. We just got a bit sidetracked. The point is the dropping of Michael Carberry and the ramifications of that. In this instance, England will presumably pick Gary Ballance. He seems to have good credentials to be a fixture in the middle-order – in which case, stick with him. Show conviction.
But will that happen? Joe Root will, presumably, move back up to opener should Ballance play. Root’s high quality sourdough at number six, but stale Mother’s Pride in the top three. Should he fail again, would they drop him or move him down the order and drop Ballance?
Too much shuffling
A number of openers and number sixes have been killed off, but Root’s been suffering collateral damage from England’s dissatisfaction and uncertainty too. A certain proportion of England’s batting shitness stems from all this low-key shuffling and the lack of conviction from which it stems. It’s rare that a player’s tossed aside after just one match these days, but it’s not unusual for someone to be out on their ear after four or five. It looks better, but the impact’s similar.
Other fifth Test selections
But that isn’t to say that players always get at least a series. Remember Chris Woakes and Simon Kerrigan? They didn’t even make it onto this tour after playing in the previous Test. Ben Stokes may have benefited from the ‘give ’em a chance’ approach to selection, but it doesn’t usually work.
This is worth remembering when names like Scott Borthwick crop up. Good luck to him and good luck to any young player picked for England, but he was literally a long way from the England Test team a fortnight ago.