Two of those England Test selections are just about weird and surprising enough to talk about

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Olly Stone bounces Luke Wright (via ECB)

England have named their Test squad for the tour of Sri Lanka. Rory Burns is in, Olly Stone is in, and – a mere 10 years after we tipped him – so too is Joe “No Pants” Denly.

The Burns selection isn’t really worth commenting on, so let’s concentrate on the other two.

Olly Stone

Ashley Giles went full Partridge when talking up Olly Stone this week. He said the fast bowler was injury-prone in much the same way that a Ferrari apparently is.

“With many bowlers – your BMWs or your Audis – you just get in and go but if you have someone who bowls at pace and has had his history of injury you have to treat them very carefully.”

The fragile fast bowler is an important role to fill in any team. Ideally, his fragility is such that he misses more games than he plays, so that when you’re losing you can say: “If only our 488 GTB hadn’t done his knee/fractured his scapula/ruptured his pancreas/lost both of his pelvises – we’d have won this by tea on the second day.”

Olly Stone appears to be very effective, so there are two ways England are likely to use him.

(1) They will use him as a drinks waiter while picking both James Anderson and Stuart Broad in the first XI on the grounds that if one of the two senior bowlers proves ineffective in Sri Lankan conditions, the other one will almost certainly be useless too.

(2) They will only ever pick him on the least helpful pitches and reward him for this by eventually forgetting all about him because he has a high bowling average. England’s attitude to fast bowlers and leg-spinners is that you only resort to them when absolutely necessary and at all other times it’s best to keep things 100% fast-medium.

Joe Denly

We’ve no real idea what this is all about. Denly’s batted in the top order in 2018 and not been completely humiliated. We suppose that’s enough at the minute.


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  1. Would anybody be willing to place a tripwire in Stuart Broad’s home for the good of English cricket?

    Of course they’d just play all three of Anderson Woakes and Curran.

    1. Team selection is where it’ll get genuinely interesting. Are they brave enough to take Anderson and Broad on tour and then leave one of them out?

      If they don’t, they’ll probably play in the same side as Curran and Stokes, which means four fast-medium bowlers like usual (even if one of them does at least bowl wrong-handed).

    1. Remember when Keaton Jennings was the guy who swanned in and made a Test hundred against India and we were all trying to work out how to fit him and Haseeb Hameed into the same side?

    2. I’m lead to believe that there’s no room for sentimentality in sport, but is there some Machiavellian expediency going on here with Jennings? Peculiar handshakes and rolled up flannel trousers?

  2. Ian Bell ‘coveniently’ suffered severe bruising to his hand just hours before the squad was announced.

    1. Was there anything out there that lead us to believe that he was being thought about for selection?

  3. Jennings aside it’s what you’d expect isn’t it. Jennings will likely play and fail in first test only for Denly then to open. ALI at 3. Broad should be left out.

  4. The way Sri Lanka are playing right now, England should win the series.

    Also, I request the King to address the ongoing Asia Cup and the fact that Afghanistan seem to be beating all comers. Pakistan pulled off a 3 wicket win with 3 balls to spare. Bangladesh and Sri Lanka were thrashed.

    Yay for Afghanistan!

  5. Off-topically, I was pleased to read in what used to be the Cricket Badger that Cameron Bancroft has huge hands to go with his massive head.

  6. Denly is apparently my friend Louise’s second cousin, or something. This in itself is no reason to pick him, but it is also not a reason not to.

  7. That 10-year-old post about ‘No Pants’ is pure gold. Not that this isn’t – but this has less casual creepiness.

  8. Anyone else currently enqueued for #CWC19 tickets? Lack of success (100% unsuccess, no less) in the original ballot has provided this window of opportunity, but the window appears to be jammed just slightly ajar. I’m told the queue is ‘paused’ – isn’t that precisely what a queue is?

    There isn’t even anything to entertain you while you wait interminably; a game involving the flinging of virtual crickets into the berry-brown face of Robert Kilroy Silk, for example.

    Any fellow ballot total failures in? What matches are we going for? I am hoping to something northern-y in early July involving India, West Indies or Sri Lanka.

    1. Aah the queue is now unpaused and my little stickman guy is walking. But he’s got an awfully long way to go! At present he’s languidly sauntering along like Inzi going for a quick single.

      1. Not yet. He’s almost 3/4 of the way there though… this is about the point he might start to think about a dive if the throw looks on target.

      2. I suppose this is what happens when you have one website selling tickets for an entire tournament.

      3. The whole process has been convoluted at best, but at last some modest success to report.

        Pakistan v Afghanistan at Headingley on 29 June in the game they’re already calling the Battle of the ‘stans, followed by Sri Lanka v Windies at Durham on 01 July. Cheap seats, and a rest day in between for that arduous journey north on steep cobbled roads. Bosh.

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