Emergency selection - an English viewpoint
It’s like the good old bad days. Not for a while have England entered the latter stages of a Test series in disarray with talk of a team overhaul in the air. The humiliation at Headingley was so bad that the demand for Mark Ramprakash is entirely understandable.
The mirth this is causing in the Australian camp and media is equally justified. It does reveal a degree of panic that suggests the home side are in no fit state to win back the urn. Bringing back a batsman who hit two tons in his previous 52 Tests, just short of his 40th birthday can only really be described as a panicked, emergency selection.
But that is the scenario England have played themselves into. They were not just beaten at Leeds, they were hammered, the match lasting less than 200 overs – I should know, I was there for the brief third day. Money not very well spent.
Although the proposed selection of Ramprakash reveals the dearth of batting talent in this country, it should be remembered that the Surrey run machine is a special case for a special occasion.
Ramprakash is far more likely to score significant runs at the Oval than Ravi Bopara or Ian Bell, helping England to upset the Fifth Test odds (http://betting.betfair.com/cricket/2009-ashes/ashes-odds-australia-favourites-to-retain-the-urn-090809.html) in the process. That is why he is being considered. Rob Key and Jonathan Trott are in the frame for the same reason, and, for the record, it's a far safer Oval Test bet (http://betting.betfair.com/cricket/2009-ashes/) that they will get the nod.
The 16 runs England’s three, four and five amassed from their six innings at Headingley is the lowest ever by an English middle order in Test cricket. Change is needed.
Any Aussies getting carried away by England’s predicament should note their own team’s selectorial issues. At least Ramprakash has not been touting himself for a recall like Justin Langer, who seems determined to get involved in the series in one way or another. Just make do with taking the Don’s first class run scoring record Justin.
Stuart Clark should not have been left out in the first place and the success of Shane Watson as a makeshift opener should not disguise the Phillip Hughes mistake – dropping a young gun after three innings is as English a knee-jerk reaction as you would ever wish to see.
It would be typical of Ramprakash’s England career if the selectors manage to time his return to guarantee the most possible pressure. One Test, an Ashes decider, with only one other batsman in nick; no pressure Ramps.