5 June 2014

Woakes the beneficiary of the England selectors' inconsistent interpretation of fitness

So we now know the England line up for the first Test, although the batting order is perhaps a little debatable as we don't know whether Bell or Root will bat at 3.   But presumably:


I've no problem with Robson, Plunkett, Ali or Ballance...I picked all but Plunkett myself.   I feel very sorry for Michael Carberry, but sadly he's a victim of the away/home thing (as those that debut away are statistically far less likely to be successful long-term), doubled with the fact that he's played 5 of his 6 Tests in a losing team against a very high quality bowling attack.   As Nick Knight's just said on Sky, Carberry must be gutted not to face a far friendlier Sri Lankan bowling attack in home conditions.

There's a couple of surprises for me.   The lack of consistency over fitness is strange - of Prior and Stokes I thought Stokes had done a better job of proving his fitness.   James Whitaker said that it's his lack of bowling that has kept Stokes out: "Ben Stokes is very much part of England's future, but with barely 30 overs under his belt we want to see him bowl more overs and get more stamina into his body."   It seems that Stokes is a victim of the English weather as he's only been able to bowl in 2 innings rather than the 4 he would have expected from the two Durham 4 day matches he's played in....I presume he's been bowling in the nets though?

The other surprise is Chris Woakes.   I assume he won't play, but even so it's a bit of a strange selection - you can't pick someone because he's a nice guy and for his captaincy skills when he's not going to be captain.   He averages 15 this season in County 4 day cricket with the bat, but he's been bowling well so the selectors must feel that he's the 5th best seam bowler in the country (or possibly the 6th if Stokes is ruled out due to fitness).   I can't say I agree but there have been worse selections....Woakes may well come through to be an international cricketer, but I'm not overly hopeful!

The player that I think is luckiest is Joe Root.   He's averaging 36 in his Tests to date but his highest score of 180 v Australia last summer was full of luck....Haddin and Clarke decided not to catch him in the 3rd over of England's innings.   But for that non catch he'd have an average of 30 from his 15 Tests.   For Carberry to be jettisoned but Root to get the nod seems inconsistent but, like Woakes, it's not a terrible call.   Root should be England's future....if picking him early and continuing to pick him allows him to develop into an international cricketer in the same way that Steve Smith has for Australia, then the selectors will be able to argue eventually that they got things right.

Interesting that David Hopps on Cricinfo thought that Samit Patel was very unlucky: "No player is more unfortunate to miss out than Samit Patel; even the presence of his Nottinghamshire coach, Mick Newell, on the selection panel has not been enough to win him recognition."   I thought it was only me (and after the last few days Ian Botham and Nick Knight apparently) who thinks that Patel should be playing....but also interesting that Hopps compared him to Ali rather than giving any consideration to dropping Root for Patel.   I'd have had both Patel and Ali in the side.

Given Root's selected, it does theoretically open up the chance of Cook batting 3 with Root and Robson opening but I can't see it, certain though I am that it would do Cook the world of good!

Good luck to all the starting XI....it may not have been the side I would have gone with but it's a new start so let's hope for a new result....a win.

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