Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Strauss down the order

So, Andrew Strauss has returned to the England Test line up, but, the management obviously having read my criticisms of his and Cook's incompatibility, he isn't playing as an opener but as number 3. Despite the fact that he's hardly ever played there,I think this is a sensible move for two reasons. The first is that it allows the Vaughan/Cook partnership, which is both a left/right combination and a combination of a stroke-player and an accumulator. The second is that it allows Ian Bell to bat down the order at five - where he has always looked more comfortable.
Bell, despite his obvious class (his stats are almost identical to Michael Clarke's) has a problem in international cricket in imposing himself. He looks almost self-effacing at the crease - not a trait that opposition fast bowlers are likely to miss. This is doubly handicapping at number 3 - where the fast bowlers have their tails up and there's nowhere to hide. Bell at five or six is more likely to score runs. Strauss is worth having in the side for more reasons than that, however. He catches well at slip, a position that, without Flintoff and Trescothick, England have been weak. He is also a sensible chap - a good team player. That said, he needs to repay the selectors' faith quickly, or this could be a brief return to the colours.

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