Friday, 14 August 2009

Emergency selection - an English viewpoint

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 ( 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 ( 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.


  1. Ramps and Tresco can rest easy after the last few days of English domestic cricket. Bell will be retained (it was always the case) and Bopara dropped. Trott will come into the side but normally bats behind Bell at Warwickshire. Bat him at three and Bell at four. Technique wise, Trott is superior. In fact, I'd bat him at 3, Colly at 4 and perhaps even Prior at 5, with Bell to be moved as far as possible from the openers.

  2. The thing that many advocates of putting in Trescothic, Ramprakash and Key are saying is that ‘it is just for this test match’ ie to get the Ashes back. On the surface perhaps this is a good point as it deflects away from the ‘message this sends’ or the indictment it places on the depths of the English squad. One counter argument has been: why have Trott in the squad if you’re not going to pick him when a change is necessary? Stoph, you mention Aus’ knee-jerk reaction in dropping Hughes but I think there are three elements to this. Firstly he was replaced with a bloke in the squad there as a spare batsmen. Granted if he’d made a pair twice we’d all be saying how stupid it was to put him in but that’s the way selection goes. Secondly, Hughes looked all at sea against a particular style of bowling. This was then never going to change (ie where they bowled to him) and it’s not a test series that a batsmen should be working on technique. Thirdly, Aus were always 1 for bugger all as a result and we couldn’t risk that continuing. Granted, if Watson failed it would have continued and I’d be wrong but selectors acted quickly and we saw improvement.

    My issue with looking to Key or Ramprakash is that it indicates complete lack of faith in the capacity for contracted players to compete at international level. Even if Key or Ramp had played against Aus before: so bloody what! Neither did well (just because Ramp made one ton means little: Scott Muller got a few wickets) and played against completely different bowlers. England dug their hole with Bell and Bopara and will pay for it dearly by losing the Ashes. Let’s not underestimate the influence of Johnson gaining his radar and supporting Hilfenhaus. We’ve improved during the series while England’s best was at Lords with Fred and Strauss.

    A sprig of wattle in my hand.

  3. A sprig of wattle.... sums up completely why we are all here making comments, putting forward ideas, bagging each other and loving the day.
    A bit of fervour, the spice of life.

    My thoughts on Engerlands selection issues? Couldnt give a rat's toss bag what they do, what I care about is how we go about it, if we do well we win.

    Good to see you back Stoph POTD to you for the most in depth writing since you left.

  4. You only have to look at the disparity between test players used over the centuries by each nation to realise the problem that English cricket culture has created. Mid 600’s to England compared to only 400 odd for Australia. That equates to about 1 a year more every year. While on the surface it is probably a decent idea to look at a seasoned player, however long they have been out of the game, it just exacerbates the problem and it is the very reason the problem exists in the first place. Changing the team every time you get a caning does not always get the desired result. It doesn’t matter how many county runs anyone has made if they are not against bowlers of the quality or in the same form as the Fab 4 Aussie attack.
    I have to admit I would love to see the carnage in the media created by a mixture of knee jerk reactions and the catastrophic failures of over the hill and ill prepared batsmen. This is pure England paranoia and I love it.

  5. I’d noticed the numbers on England’s shirts and wondered the same thing. That is a lot isn’t it! I suppose there’s two elements to that: firstly there are a lot of English players that have been tried who are crap, and secondly some players probably weren’t given enough time.

    All the pressure is on the Poms now – I hope we bat first and go through the whole day. Then we’ll see what the sides are made of. It would be sad to see but watching England drop their heads when they realise there’s no way back would be a sight.

    I saw a post from Lango earlier today and then tried to comment on it – then it was gone straight after?

  6. thanks for the POTD Sledgey, not my work i must admit... another from betfair that i commissioned prior to going away.

    Great stuff everyone while i was away, good to see that the ship could sail on without me; thanks for the good wishes Lefty too.

    well for the first time in d'ears england have a last test that carries some real weight to test them- unlike 05 where they just had to hold on, it is all up them now.

    looking at the turmoil in camp, it looks to me like for England to win, Australia need to go in with the mindset of contriving a draw. that's it!

    a native in my native land...

  7. You f.,.ing beauty!

    The best thing is that there will be some serious cricket played this Thursday. England have to win so need to be on top at the end of the first day; miracles do happen but neither team will be hoping for second innings heroics. Aus will not pick and play for a draw and we're one all going into the last - even if I haven't watched as much as I'd hoped (you WERE THERE STOPH?) - I'll always take a 5th test like this.

    Go Punter, take a ton with you.

  8. i wish i was there mate! i only saw the first session (albeit a good one!).

    i would have posted pix if i was there, as i did on boxing day.
    nice if we could get boxing day, adelaide and sydney pix this season.

    stoph verismo
    down the wicket

  9. It will be interesting to see the state of the Western side of Adelaide Oval this summer: it is absolutely gutted at present. I guess they figured neither West Indies nor Pakistan would draw the crowd that India or South Africa would so ticket sales wouldn’t be hurt. Of course the stand they’re upgrading is the Members so there’ll be a lot of old farts that won’t go if they don’t get the seat they’ve sat in for 145 years. I’m hoping the need for SACA to recoup funds will lead to my membership being rushed through!

  10. Don't do it Lefty, then you'll just be another old fart!

  11. Dude, watching the Indian tour from the Members was the greatest live cricket viewing outside of Cairns. Watching Tendulkar while munching on a beautiful curry was sublime.