England will be tempted to screw up their one-day plans and start again, but that would be the wrong move. There’s a reason why people talk about building a side. It’s because there’s no perfect, fully-formed team that’s just waiting to be compiled through correct selection.
But what about [insert name of false saviour]?
The English cricket backslapathon has led to some players being talked about as if they’re superstars based on scant evidence and England should learn from that.
Jonny Bairstow was proclaimed a world-beater based on a 21-ball innings. This series has shown that he is no such thing. He is a young, inexperienced batsman and he has no mastery of the art of batting in India because it’s actually pretty new to him.
England were said to be building their one-day bowling attack around the variations of Jade Dernbach, yet what does he know of bowling to master batsmen in India? He’s played most of his cricket in the second division of the County Championship. So too Stuart Meaker who hasn’t yet indicated why he’s a better bet than the other eight or ten England fast bowlers who’ve played for the national side in the last year or so.
There are no magic bullets. Replace Jonny Bairstow with Jos Buttler and you’re swapping one naive-yet-promising batsman with another. Discard Scott Borthwick for Adil Rashid and you’re doing almost exactly the same as when you rejected the latter in favour of the former. Maybe they’ll turn into great players, but it’ll take time.
Jonathan Trott isn’t perfect, but maybe he’s England’s best bet at number three. Ravi Bopara had a dire series, but he averaged 65 in the previous one. Maybe he’s progressing overall. James Anderson has a poor one-day record in India, but he had a dire Test record in Australia before last winter. Maybe he’ll bowl well if there’s a score on the board and he isn’t completely knackered.
Are we saying lower your expectations, settle for less from the national team? Sort of. We’re saying that sometimes it’s about improving the players you’ve got rather than looking elsewhere for ready-made solutions. If other players are spectacularly amazing, you generally know about it.