West Indies improve their attack, England don’t

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Shannon Gabriel’s fun, isn’t he? An old school fast bowler who doesn’t half-arse it and who has plenty of arse to deploy. He is a good selection.

Gabriel’s efforts have contrasted with those of Chris Woakes in this match. At the start of day one, Woakes was the only one of England’s all-rounders whose batting average exceeded his bowling average. This is no longer the case.

It’s not that he isn’t trying. It’s just been a while. He’s got the air of a middle-aged man cajoled into a five-a-side football match by his workmates. His mind knows what to do, but his body’s not quite following instructions.

Woakes is bowling the ball less quickly and not necessarily pointing it in the right direction. We presume such things should be noticeable in the nets, even if fatigue will have compounded them. You get the impression he’s been selected primarily to get him back into the swing of Test cricket, not because he’s primed to perform. This is a decision of unjustifiable confidence from a team that’s already carrying about half its batting line-up.

The upshot was that England once again looked a bit fast-medium. We don’t want to be one of those people who looks ahead to the Ashes when there’s an entirely different series currently underway – because that’s precisely what we’re criticising really – but we can’t help but fear for a bowling attack that only seems to look good when the ball’s doing a bit of something.

They won’t get as uch swing or seam Down Under and it’s not like the Aussies are going to be preparing Bangladesh-style turners either, is it?


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  1. Woakes’s 23 did not improve his batting average (29.55 prior to this test). Stokes (all-rounder, surely?) did, however, improve on his 34.01.

    Hopefully this nit-pickery won’t require a full re-write, just a tinker.

    1. That’s what we meant. It was actually the batting that first tipped him negative.

      Maybe we should have said “at the start of day one”.

  2. When I chatted with one or two of the Warwickshire insiders while at the Edgbaston test, their feeling was that Woakes was not quite ready, despite a reasonable haul of wickets against a depleted Middlesex at Lord’s.

    They thought Woakes would play the current match (v Lancs) for the county and then (if all went well) he would probably play the Lord’s test.

    My guess is that Woakes was accelerated into the England side because of the one-sidedness of the first West Indies test. On that basis (I’m suggesting the thinking might have gone) the Headingley test match would be a much easier gig than a county championship match against Lancashire.

    I agree with you, KC, that the calculus was mistaken, but it was understandable.

  3. At the time of writing, with Woakes 28 not out, his batting average has once again climbed above his bowling average.

    Following his two wickets and his 58, the same can now be said of Ben Stokes.

    Moeen Ali’s batting average has clambered up to a Stokes-esque 35.35, but remains short of his bowling average by four fifths of a run.

    Thank you KC for giving me an exciting new obsession.

    1. It is worth noting that Alastair Cook’s status as the finest allrounder of all time is in little doubt, possessing as he does a batting average nearly 40 runs higher than his bowling average.

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