The fifth Test is an Ashes Test

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We don’t really buy into the concept of the dead rubber when it comes to Test matches. In a long one-day series, a situation can arise where bowlers are running in with a figurative cup of tea in one hand and a biscuit in the other (clasped awkwardly between two fingers so that they can still hold the ball), but a Test match is a thing in itself. With five days invested, surely players care a great deal about the outcome – it’s not like real work, after all.

The same goes for spectators. If we’re going to follow a sports match for pretty much a full working week then we don’t expect to watch B-teams. Our difficult relationship with squad rotation has been repeatedly documented on this site and its predecessor pretty much since the outset. The strategic implications intrigue us, but the fact that bowlers are disproportionately affected irritates us immensely.

There will be suggestions that England should rest bowlers for the fifth Test. This has merit, but at the same time, what would they be being rested for? An Ashes Test is the thing. You don’t rest people during the thing. You rest them so they can be there for the thing.

Pyjamas are for rest. It stands to reason.


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  1. I agree wholeheartedly, KC.

    If it was up to me, I would play the same team at the Oval (subject only to injuries) but I would rest certain key players (Anderson being a stand-out example) for the forthcoming one day series.

    A lot of people are talking about giving Tremlett a go at the Oval but I think that idea is tosh unless one of the “in situ pace trio” is injured. In any case, Tremlett’s record with the red ball this season does not warrent a horse for course call up at the Oval – his rehabilitation into international cricket would be better served with the white ball, initially.

    Gosh this posting is all serious – so far.

    Send in the clowns, someone.

  2. I would be interested to know how the Aussie fans and media used to feel when England were winning all those dead rubber Tests during the 90s and early 00s. (Despite that unsatisfactory number, I can’t think of another way to put it. Noughties? 2000s?)

    It seemed at the time that they were quite happy to let England have their moment, having demolished us throughout the series.

    1. Yeah. I have an Australian friend who is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. He’s not interested in cricket.

    2. Our experience of Australians tends towards their being incredibly nice people who would sooner suffer a collapsed lung than see their team lose.

  3. >>Pyjamas are for rest

    Also known as ODIs.

    Maybe they could have a “Casual Friday” dress rule for the fifth test, to ease them into the break. Let them wear jeans and polo shirts. Or perhaps they could stop work at lunch and play board games for the rest of the day.

    Sam – are you sure he’s not interested in cricket, or if he’s just not interested in talking to an Englishman about cricket right now?

    We have a pair of Australian friends who have no interest in sport whatsoever.

  4. A dead rubber would be a pretty serious thing in life. I am pretty sure that’s what caused Ian Bell.

    1. What an amazing, serendipitous outcome, Deep Cower.

      Sadly, my collection of dead rubbers have long since been abused as party balloons and water bombs. I should have thought ahead…

      …although, on reflection, I suspect that my dead rubber progeny would probably bat more like Chris Martin than Ian Bell.

    2. Jadeja has certainly “inherited” my ability to take wickets with slow deliveries that mysteriously don’t spin, albeit at a slightly higher level of cricket in his case.

      Not sure I can see the physical resemblance myself, DC. Nor do I recall any dead rubber incidents in 1988, but I was young and feckless back then, so who knows…

    1. If I ruled the world – Onions.

      In real life, it might well be Tremlett, on a specious “horse for course” basis.

      Mind you, there could be far worse specious horse for course selections than Tremlett for a test match. Just envisage Darren Pattinson at Headingley in 2008, weep, then move on.

    2. If you were a Khal of the Dothraki tribe, you could have a horse for a main course.

      *End bad joke*

  5. If I ruled the world, Onions would not be injured, Howe.

    Also, if I ruled the world, I would be all-knowing and thus sufficiently well-informed to rule the world.


    1. If you ruled the world, would Bresnan still be injured? If not, why would your supreme ruleriness be concerned with the 12th man?

      I say give Jimmy Ormond a game.

    2. If a ruling Ged had the ability to prevent injuries and didn’t use it that would be a very serious breach of medical ethics.

      So we can conclude that Ged is either an evil madman who would allow others to break down in career-threatening, agonising and entirely preventable injury, or he is an evil madman who actually thinks Onions is better than Bresnan, both of which are troubling.

    3. My gran is better than Bresnan. I don’t care if we’d have lost the last test without him, he’s a poor man’s Craig White.

  6. In one of those bizarre life-imitates-art scenarios (or more properly, life-imitates-cricket), I’m not really a fan of onions. Served raw, their main use seems to be to ruin a sandwich. I’ve spent many a pointless minute picking them out of a tuna mayo surprise (what’s the surprise – oh, it’s got ruddy onions in it again).

    But when cooked in a stew, with other ingredients, onions add hugely to the overall flavour of things. In fact, they actually bring out the flavour in those other ingredients, enhancing their performance, so to speak. Lamb and beef both taste better for having been stewed with onions.

    There’s at least a dozen possible analogical interpretations of that for the England team, several of which include picking Allan Lamb for the winter tour.

  7. I’m finding the burden of ruling the world, even speculatively/conditionally, a little too onerous.

    Of course there would be no injuries if I ruled the world.

    But it seems nigh on impossible to form a consensus on selection (Onions? Bresnan? Tremlett? Finn? rest Jimmy?), so with the absence of injuries I guess every selection decision has to be made by choice and then explained properly.

    I abdicate.

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