On the face of it England’s bowling’s strong, but New Zealand’s batting’s been occasionally dire and the last six Test matches have been in home conditions or in New Zealand – which is hardly the land of dust bowls or steepling bounce.
It’s increasingly evident that England can rely on Ryan Sidebottom. Monty Panesar should thrive in most places. The other pair we’re not sure about.
James Anderson will win matches when the ball swings, but when it doesn’t or when that first over goes wrong, he can still be a liability. We reckon he can bowl when the ball doesn’t swing, in which case being assured of his place should calm his nerves. If it isn’t that, then maybe he should spend some time with Matthew Hoggard learning some cutters and slower balls or something.
Stuart Broad’s equally irritating. Clearly a good bowler. Clearly a fixture in the England side for years to come, but not actually taking rucks of wickets. It’s been fine thus far. England have won both series in which he’s played, but he can’t contribute so little with the ball against better batting line-ups.
Andrew Flintoff will want to play when he’s fit. Simon Jones isn’t doing much wrong and nor’s Matthew Hoggard. These are perhaps more reliable bowlers in the short-term and maybe offer more in less familiar conditions, but Broad and Anderson will improve by playing.
Hopefully the two youngsters will sweep South Africa aside with aplomb and we can stop worrying. Who’s got aplomb going spare? Anyone? Can you post it to Peter Moores if you track some down. What’s in that old ice cream tub in the garage? Isn’t that a tub of aplomb? No?