Who do England rely on? And is that a problem?

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With live cricket broadcast at a reasonable hour, a Test tour of the West Indies is one of our favourites when it comes to watching the game on TV. It’s a shame it comes hot on the heels of the World Cup, ahead of an Ashes and in conflict with the start of the county season. But you get what you’re given and all you can do is make jerk chicken, pour yourself a beer and slouch on your sofa making the best of things.

There are many things we’d like to see in the next few weeks. Two major hopes are for signs of good form from Jonathan Trott and James Anderson.


Jonathan Trott doing the usual Jonathan Trott shit

While England have ostensibly replaced Trott’s runs with those that have been produced by Gary Ballance, the effect doesn’t seem to have been quite the same. England’s good performances seem so closely associated with Trott’s good performances that he should really be branded ‘totemic’.

For some reason, you have to be attention-seeking to be branded a talisman. Andrew Flintoff and Ian Botham were thought of in these terms. Trott less so, but his influence seems to us to have been as great. Perhaps he’s less showy amulet and more rabbit’s foot contained in an inside pocket. England are shaky. His runs and influence are needed.


James Anderson perfects ball levitation

If he plays, this will be Trott’s 50th Test. Jimmy Anderson is about to play his 100th. For a quick bowler, that is some total. However, the corollary of that is that we’ve already seen the bulk of his career. Sad to say, but it would be good to see him find form because we should savour every ball in his remaining Tests. England doesn’t produce many bowlers who are this good.

England need him as well – as much as ever, which is worrying. Where once they appeared to have a surfeit of seam bowling riches, a lot of the queue has been revealed to be illusory. Symptomatic of this is the fact that Stuart Broad is certain to play, despite not having shown any form whatsoever since his return from surgery. Fast-medium, unremarkable, largely ineffective, he somehow remains England’s first-choice opening bowler.

As ever, it seems like it’s all on you, Jimmy.

Adil Rashid

Adil Rashid bowls one at the moon

If good form from Trott and Anderson are short- to medium-term hopes, we’d also like to see England move to a place where they are less reliant on them. We’d like to see something from everyone involved, but we’d be particularly pleased if Adil Rashid can somehow get a game and a clutch of wickets.

He is, reportedly, not bowling all that well at the minute, which is a bloody shame. England’s strategy where they looked to build suffocating pressure with a battery of right-arm fast-medium bowlers now seems redundant without sufficiently reliable personnel, so it would be good to get some variety.

Everyone assumes that variety demands a fast bowler (preferably a left-armer because some of the best fast bowlers in the world are currently cack-handed and apparently that aspect is more significant than the fact that they’re good bowlers regardless of which hand they hold a pen with). But leg-spin is useful. It can provide an injection of chaos when the status quo ain’t in your favour.

Rashid is currently no Warne, but it isn’t too fanciful to assume that he could do a number on the guileless contemporary lower orders who nevertheless contribute so many runs. Plus he can bat.

Rashid would be no passenger were he to make it into the Test team, but English tradition dictates that one spinner is the default – even if you have two decent options who can also bat. Expect James Tredwell – not a feature of second division Kent’s first-class team – to play, and expect him to be judged and discarded from the one-day side on the basis of his Test performances.


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    1. I see KP scored a century yesterday.


      Is that how this England supremo thing works?

    2. He seemingly can’t be arsed to bat second digs though – maybe one swashbuckling century against some students is enough for an England recall these days?

  1. Easy to forget, when they’re surrounded by everyone else in the team, that IRon and Root are actually pretty good players.

    1. Boycott on TMS today has been unbearable. England off to a shaky start? Sack them all. Including all the support staff. Literally send them all home. Middle order fightback? West Indies are hopeless. Ramdin is a weak captain. The pitch is far too slow.

    2. And the best thing is, after he scores a century, somebody else is bound to come along and score a better one. C’mon Stokes!

    3. He’d never scored the first century of an England away tour, or something, before yesterday. So that’s another monkey off his back. If Stokes ‘tons up’ today, will there be more calls to drop Bell because he can’t score the only century of an innings? Aah the fickleness of yesteryear.

      PS. 292 runs in two (slightly elongated) post-lunch sessions, 174 after tea?! 5.6 an over by my calculations. What did they put in that tea?

    4. If Stokes bish-bash-boshes his way to a century today, I’d just like to say now that I fucking called it.

  2. I’ve just listened to Ed Smith on TMS espouse the very things that you, KC, so often do. That a six is not always worth the same, that game context has meaning. Bell had just knocked Samuels out of the attack, after Samuels had tried to sneak an over of dross in 15 overs before the new ball. Smith then related a story about how Rob Key had done just the same to Peter Such. Robert William Trevor Key.

    I didn’t realise you were Ed Smith.

    1. Neither did we. We also know that there are some who read this website who hold his commentary in very low regard, which makes it doubly weird.

    2. I don’t know if I am Ed Smith but i think he writes extremely well, commentates better than most and has a decent avator.

    3. The problem with Ed Smith is that he always seems to be thinking “how do I get the cretins who read and listen to me to follow the complex and wonderful thoughts that my massive brain has created?”

      I’m sure he’s a really clever fellow who thinks important thoughts, but it’s a little off-putting to be talked down to from such olympian heights.

      Although maybe that’s just my inferiority complex getting in the way.

  3. Just seen Stokes get his half century. Sadly this suggests that Enland will lose this and the next test by huge margins before being rolled over in 3 days in the third.

  4. Oh boy have I missed first class cricket and did start to make up for it yesterday?

    You bet your sweet dot ball I did.

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