Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Mice, men etc

Well, things have definitely ganged agley. Two of the names one would have inked in for the First Test at Lords (where I shall be, oh frabjous day etc) are now scratched out, leaving a need for a new captain and another frontline batsman. The obvious replacement, in cracking nick on what is, admittedly, a sumptuous batting wicket in Taunton, is still not ready to return to the fray. So, to whom should the selectors turn on Sunday?
The captaincy question shouldn't trouble them for more than half a minute. Despite the calls for Paul Collingwood to take the one-day role, the step up to Test Match leadership is too big a jump for someone who isn't even a county skipper. And it's unnecessary anyway when in the England team, now doubly guaranteed his pace through Vaughan's injury, there is a player who has an unblemished records as Test skipper: played four, won three (admittedly one by default). So, Andrew Strauss it is, easy.
As for the replacement batsman, there is one natural candidate and one or two outsiders. Ed Smith has been in good form for Middlesex for the last couple of seasons, having put the trauma of the end of his Kent days and mixed England experience behind him. Ravi Bopara wins a few supporters too, especially after his performances at the World Cup. I suppose there's even a case, as a one off replacement, for John Crawley or Mark Butcher or Mark Ramprakash, though I doubt that a new coach would want to look so far back so soon. So the probable candidate is Owais Shah, who currently holds the unenviable record of the highest score made by a one-cap player. Shah's also in good nick, knows Lords as his home ground and would let no-one down.
Flintoff's collapse with the bat leaves him an unlikely Test number six, so England have two choices: play as 'keeper someone who can bat at six, or play only four front-line bowlers, backed up with the medium pace of Collingwood (it is an irritant that both the two part-time spinners will be injured). Matt Prior could, at a pinch, justify a six slot, so I'd give him the nod.
This leaves my team of: Strauss (capt), Cook, Bell, Collingwood, Shah, Prior (wk), Flintoff, Plunkett, Hoggard, Panesar, Harmison. The tail looks long largely because of the absence of a plausible number 8 - a role Giles used to fill. Hopefully Stuart Broad will come to fill this position, but I'm not convinced that a Test at Lords is the right place to blood him. We'll see, I don't exactly have an excellent predictive record on such things.



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home