Zafar Ansari is almost certainly batting too high

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Earlier today, we took issue with England’s willingness to make bold prophecies. However, we rather shot our match-previewing bolt yesterday, so we’re now going to have to commit much the same crime simply so that we have something to say.

We are guessing/predicting that Zafar Ansari will be (a) playing and (b) batting too high in the second Test. We think he’ll come in ahead of Chris Woakes (if he plays) and Adil Rashid (if he plays). We think this is wrong.

Ansari averages 31 in first-class cricket with a large proportion of those runs made in the second division. He has made three hundreds.

Woakes has made nine hundreds and averages 37. Adil Rashid has made 10 hundreds and averages 34. Both have played the majority of their cricket in the first division. You might argue that they’re a bit older than Ansari – but we put it to you that sometimes older players are also better batsmen.

The cause of this anomaly, as far as we can tell, is that Woakes and Rashid have been picked as bowlers, whereas Ansari has been picked as an all-rounder. Team management have therefore understandably concluded that Ansari is the better batsman – even though he isn’t.


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  1. Alternatively, it’s that age-old nebulous quality that only hardens up (or falls apart) when you put it on the big stage: “temperament”. Perhaps they think that he looks like “he’s got the temperament for Test cricket”, whatever that means. Worked a charm with James Vince.

    Since Zafar’s not on ISM’s books, I have no idea why the selectors would have come to this conclusion. I can only conclude that they’ve taken a look at his education and concluded that he’s “from the right sort of family”.

  2. One reason could be trying to match these players to the roles they have in county cricket.

    Ansari as far as I’m aware usually bats in the top five for Surrey and also has a reputation as a bit of a blocker. He might be someone to come in with an established batsman (particularly a fast scorer like Stokes) and work well in a partnership. Particularly if he’s a good runner between the wickets.

    Woakes and Rashid usually bat at seven for their counties and are fairly aggressive batsmen. Both have batted in the tail for England a fair bit now and are a bit more used to that, and Rashid bats at nine or so in list A cricket as well. Maybe they’re less likely to be left on 5 not out with potential lower order strength wasted.

    When Jos Buttler batted with Chris Woakes in the 2014 summer he batted ahead of him because he bats at 6 in FC cricket, even though he has fewer first class hundreds and runs per wicket than the bowler. This was correct.

    1. I know I’m probably going to come across as Chris Woakes’ number one fan but Woakes usually bats 6 for Warwickshire especially in recent years. He made his England debut batting 6 and was extremely competent and nearly won that game for England. It would be a travesty if he bats lower down than Ansari. I think he could be the eventual number 4 in this side to accommodate Buttler at 8. Just a uneducated guess.

      1. Woakes is a quality batsman. I think the ‘aggressive’ label just comes from the fact he usually bats at 8/9 for England, but he’s clearly a player who can play proper innings. He could probably average 40+ if he got a run in the top seven, but that seems unlikely. He’s unlucky in that England have so many other all-rounders, as even viewed purely as batsmen I’m not convinced Moeen Ali is significantly better.

        All of which is a roundabout way of saying: yes, he should definitely bat higher than Ansari.

      2. He could if he can force himself up the order, he looks one of the most organised and compact batsman we have, to be honest I think he’s probably one of our best technique wise. Like I say I hope he forces himself up the order but unlikely to get there with who’s in front of him not looking likely to move. His only real chance is number 4 but then you have to make room for Duckett when Hameed eventually debuts. We have very good players we just need to pick the right ones in the right positions.

    2. Dear Howe_Zat
      Batting ahead of Woakes means batting 8. So the matching thing doesn’t apply.

      dear King
      You have pressed a couple of my buttons here:
      – spinners batting before seamers (it’s an age old class thing)
      – Surrey favoritism

      Woakes is obviously a high class batter who has scored important runs for England this year.

      Please don’t do this England. Please stop them, oh king

  3. Who would be an England selector. Fans are never happy. Good on Ansari, I say. Let’s give him a chance. Rather him than Batty IMO.

    1. 47% of the innings’ runs came from a single player (Tamim Iqbal)

      77% of the innings’ runs came from single partnership (Tamim Iqbal and Mominul Haque)

  4. 171-1





    There’s a bit of “does not compute” about that, though if you’re an England fan with a long enough memory it is a bit more credible.

    If they’d gone on like that, arithmetically BD would be 1710 all out.

      1. Although 171/1 = 171 so which computation or scorecard formatting is actually correct?

        In Australianese does it come out as an unpleasant decimal?

      2. Put the maths down, BailOut, and no-one will get hurt. Play with some nice round 0s and 8s, leave the sharp, pointy 1s and 7s and whatnot alone.

        These days of course, we tend to get all our collapsing done early on, then build a recovery with our never-ending batting lineup, thereby utterly demoralising the opposition.






      3. Why is everyone repeating everything today?

        We feel like we’re missing something.




      4. It’s all right, oh King. You get a free pass from National KC Phrase Repetition Day, due to your sterling services to the concept of repetition in the past. (See: Spondylitis, A.)

        The rest of us have to try a bit harder.

        The rest of us…

  5. If Duckett is going to insist on not making many runs, he should at least get out first ball so that people on the internet can make Golden Duckett jokes.

    1. Can you put hubris on ice? Surely you have to try and get as much in as possible while you can to sufficiently justify nemesis?

      1. Depends on whether you consider nemesis to be an inevitable consequence of hubris or not.

        Surely if you bang on about how well something’s going to go and then it does go well, that’s not hubris, that’s just an accurate opinion.

  6. Only 6 of England’s last 39 test opening partnerships have yielded at least 50 runs. Stat’s entertainment, folks.

    1. At least they didn’t destabilise the batting order by moving Duckett down to replace Ballance and bringing Hameed in, eh?

    1. Can’t really claim it on the basis of one innings, but the players certainly provided some evidence that we might be right.

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