Wednesday, 29 April 2009

A new era

Anyone doubting whether Andy Flower really would provide a fresh start need only look at his first Test squad.

It is a squad which has scant regard for reputations and says form is everything. Michael Vaughan, Ian Bell and Steve Harmison will not be done any harm playing more county cricket to prove they deserve to play in the Ashes.

Of all those omitted, the one for whom prospects look bleakest is surely Owais Shah. Given his long-awaited chance in the West Indies on some of the most batsmen-friendly pitches you're ever likely to find, he was undone by a penchant for suicidal runs and his own cramp. The selectors seem to have decided he is neither fit enough nor calm enough for the demands of Test cricket. It is a hsrah call, certainly: he is a man who should have been given his chance much, much earlier so to jettison him after three bad Tests is ruthless. Ultimately, he was probably unfortunate that it was the number three vacancy that he was given his opporunity in; Shah's brand of wristiness and quality against spin is such that he could have become a fixture at five, say.

So Ravi Bopara will have the opporunity to solve England's perennial troubles at number three. He is a man high on confidence, having scored a century in his only Test of the winter and, in stark contrast to the other Englishmen (bar Dimitri Mascarenhas) has made a positive impression in the IPL. Has he got the technique and experience to bat at three, however? Bopara has been nothing more than mediocre during his spell as an opener for England in ODIs. It is asking a lot of him to score centuries at three in the Ashes - the feeling persists that Andy Flower could do a lot worse than set Kevin Pietersen the new challenge of leading the way from number three.

Graham Onions and Tim Bresnan have both been on the periphery of the England set-up for a few years and, given their excellent starts to the season, it makes sense to give them an opportunity. The new England have said a lot by who they have selected; they have probably said even more by who they have left out.


Innocent Abroad said...

Onions and Bresnan weren't even in your top 25+ from last January!

Richard Lake said...

I'm delighted for Bresnan (obviously). It also vindicates my comment on the Ashes ladder! I doubt that both he and Onions will play in the Ashes, but both now have a great opportunity.

The squad is most interesting with those who are left out. To my mind, the biggest surprise was Vaughan. There are two schools of thought as to his loss of form for England.

Either he is past it, or the captaincy was affecting his form and by resigning, he will be back to his best. I thought the selectors might have put that to the test before the Ashes

Shah, unfortunately, got his chance too late and was thus too uptight to make it count. Like Ramprakash, I believe he's go the game but not the mind for test cricket.

Bell has had it easy since he came into tests. Centuries came at a pace at the start of his career and he seemed to be taking it for granted. Geoff Miller's comments that it has to really hurt him not playing were spot on. He'll be back and a much better player for it.

Overall a brave selection

King Cricket said...

Would Mark Davies have been picked ahead of Onions, if fit?

Chrispy said...

Poor old Tremlett, if only he could stay fit! Good to see some new guys given a go.

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