We all knew that Sam Robson was going to get picked. He’ll play sensibly and probably quite well. If so, we’ll be quite happy about that while simultaneously wishing that we didn’t have to endure hilarious Australian ‘banter’ about his place of birth every time he gets a half-decent score.
We all knew that Moeen Ali was going to get a game. No-one’s blown away by that, but we also know there’s little point arguing about it because there ain’t really owt else on offer. To rail against his selection would be as futile as wailing at the empty shelves in a derelict bakery. Throw as big a tantrum as you like – loaves of sourdough will not materialise. You’re going to have to make do with the day-old half a baguette in your hand.
We also suspected that Matt Prior was going to come back. He’s scored some runs and he’s Matt Prior. By the flaxen locks of Gower, it’ll be a relief if he’s back to something approaching normal.
Steady batting, cross-your-fingers-and-hope-it’ll-be-at-least-semi-competent spin bowling and the same wicketkeeper as before all the good stuff completely evaporated leaving only a sticky, unsavoury residue. What’s far more interesting is the fairly fast bowling.
Chris Jordan’s selection was as predictable as those above, while about a month ago we said that Liam Plunkett was hovering near the door, unable to find a doorbell, trying to muster the courage to knock. His selection was forseeable, but is still quite intriguing. Could he unsame the bowling attack a touch?
James Anderson is so fit that he can effortlessly bowl at 84mph all day long. If he really puts the effort in, he gets up to about 87mph. This isn’t really worth the extra energy expenditure, so he generally doesn’t bother.
Stuart Broad definitely has it in him to bowl quickly. This is how he’s found his way into the England team in all three formats. Playing so much has worn him down to a good, solid 85mph bowler.
Chris Woakes is also in the squad. Not so long ago, he was a medium-pace all-rounder and it was thought he wasn’t quite quick enough to thrive in Test cricket. As a consequence, he’s worked really hard to increase his pace so that he’s now a good, solid 84mph English seamer, same as everyone else.
Chris Jordan’s a bit quicker. Liam Plunkett’s a bit quicker still.
Proper fast bowlers operate above 90mph all the time. These pair are more the kinds of bowlers who can deliver the ball quicker than that from time to time. However, this might, occasionally, allow England to attack a batsman in a slightly different way. Dull afternoon sessions just became fractionally less dull! For a bit! Until whoever plays (possibly both?) is worn down to generic English seamer pace by the relentless demands of international cricket!
It’s funny how things change. Time was, England’s one-day batting started with a bang/Banger and then burnt out. Nowadays they light tinder, wait patiently while the kindling gently crackles and then chuck on some logs which have spent eight months marinating in petrol right at the end.
The first scenario refers, of course, to Marcus Trescothick, who made 133 not out off 129 balls in a staggering run chase against Durham this week. Even Paul Collingwood couldn’t get him out. His robust, thocking straight bat presents a marked contrast to Alastair Cook’s deflections and Ian Bell’s scything cuts, which is what we get now.
At the other end of the innings, things are rather cheerier these days. Morgan, Bopara and Buttler provide increasingly demented sloggery, but there’s a case for saying that Chris Jordan presents the logical conclusion to this. In Bridgetown, he hit four of the nine balls he faced for six. Today, at the Oval, his strike rate slipped from that high water mark, but only to 292 runs per 100 balls.
Then he did some bowling. We like him a lot.
Third seamer – Chris Jordan? Can we start assuming this now, or is that going too far? It’s just it would mean one less thing to keep track of, and the less we have to keep track of, the more we can concentrate on the important stuff, like moaning about the players who definitely are going to make the Test XI.
Jordan took a five-for in the latest round of championship matches and seems genuinely promising rather than the word just serving as a synonym for ‘in his early 20s’. We also like his oversized glue-encrusted hands.
As for the openers, up until now we’ve assumed that Sam Robson will replace Michael Carberry. But with Jonathan Trott now seemingly (and sadly) gone for good, how about his becoming a good, dour, plodtastic number three? Carberry’s apparently been having a series of sessions with Graham Gooch who is still, for the moment, England batting coach, and has therefore not been booted out so forcefully that he can’t just amble back again with a hurt facial expression.
It went out with a bang, on a cold, damp, September evening with the run-rate slowly climbing beyond being chaseable and a few drunk people chanting discordantly at a handful of lower-order England batsmen most of them hadn’t really heard of.
Even watching on TV, it felt a bit like being one of the last employees of a bankrupt company, going through the motions, fulfilling those last few orders before picking up your mug as a souvenir of crappier times.
Chris Jordan played though. He was interesting. We seem to have found ourself following his progress this summer and it was very pleasing to see him bowling damn quickly.