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Jeor

Cricket 36: Ashes to Ashes, Warner to Dust...

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Dale Steyn retires from Test cricket. He's 36 and had a long run of injuries, so it's not surprising. He was statistically probably the best fast bowler in Test cricket in the world for the past 20 years - great career.

 

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Posted (edited)

Some selection dilemmas for both sides heading in to the Lord's test. England have to make a call on Anderson's replacement. Jofra would be the automatic selection if fit but his injury niggles and lack of long-form cricket must be a worry. The hosts also need to think about the spinner's slot, as well as Denly's place in the side (he's averaging a paltry 21 across his 8 test match innings). 

Another selection issue for England is Bairstow's batting form line. In hist last three test matches he has scored 2, 0, 0, 8 and 6. It's a similar run of form that saw him dropped for Foakes in the winter. 

In the Australian camp, it's all about the fast bowlers. The "if it ain't broke" side of the debate would suggest not messing with a successful formula. On the other hand, Pattinson and Siddle ended the first test with the just two wickets apiece, with veterans Hazlewood and Starc left on the sidelines. Hazlewood in particular must be champing at the bit - he's only played one first-class match since the SCG test in January. 

Edited by Paxter

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35 minutes ago, Paxter said:

Some selection dilemmas for both sides heading in to the Lord's test. England have to make a call on Anderson's replacement. Jofra would be the automatic selection if fit but his injury niggles and lack of long-form cricket must be a worry.

I don't think it's that much of a concern. Archer looked pretty mobile as a substitute fielder at Edgebaston and he apparently bowled through the pain with this injury for most of the World Cup so even if it does flare up he's probably not going to be completely out of the game the way Anderson was. If he gets through this 2nd XI game ok I think he'll play. If not either of Stone or Curran would be reasonable options.

The most pressing concern for me is Ali's form. He seems like a really nice guy and he's been messed around a bit so I do feel sorry for him but he's not worth his place as either a bowler or a batsman at the moment. They need to make a change.

Bairstow and Denly are also concerns but I can't really see them making three changes to the side in one go.

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Posted (edited)

In some ways it may be no bad thing if they can find a place for Sam Curran in the side. He saved England's bacon last summer and they really need the extra batting depth when they are carrying so many poor top order batsmen. 

George Dobell wrote a good piece on Cricinfo about England's test mentality. Many England cricket pundits rate the likes of Buttler, Bairstow and Stokes highly when it comes to test batsmanship. But the simple fact is that they are averaging 34.56, 35.70 and 33.76 respectively, which really isn't good enough in the modern game. Now I'm not saying they should immediately drop those three players, but they should be under pressure for their spots rather than automatic selections. 

On Moeen, the harsh aspect of dropping him is that he's been one of England's best since Root took over the captaincy. His record under Root is 83 wickets @ 30, with only Anderson taking more wickets during that period. Under Cook's captaincy, Mo was averaging over 42 with the ball. 

Edited by Paxter

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8 minutes ago, Paxter said:

On Moeen, the harsh aspect of dropping him is that he's been one of England's best since Root took over the captaincy. His record under Root is 83 wickets @ 30, with only Anderson taking more wickets during that period. Under Cook's captaincy, Mo was averaging over 42 with the ball. 

The thing with his bowling is he's well capable of bowling very good deliveries, he just doesn't do it consistently and he tends to get worse under pressure to perform. He just not a reliable performer and it's a bit of an indictment of him as a bowler that in spinning conditions England tend to pick another spinner as their primary spin bowler in order to take the pressure off him.

Leach is a bit less talented but I doubt England would have ended up giving Denly and Root as much of the ball as they did in Australia's second innings if he'd been playing.

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, ljkeane said:

I don't think it's that much of a concern. Archer looked pretty mobile as a substitute fielder at Edgebaston and he apparently bowled through the pain with this injury for most of the World Cup so even if it does flare up he's probably not going to be completely out of the game the way Anderson was. If he gets through this 2nd XI game ok I think he'll play.

I do feel a bit sorry for the 2nd XI batsmen who are going to be facing Jofra Archer trying to prove he deserves a place in the Ashes squad.

ETA - apparently he took 6 wickets and scored a century, as fitness tests go that seems fairly productive.

Edited by williamjm

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I think the fact that Archer was being used a substitute fielder in the First Test shows that they're pretty confident he'll be able to make the second. It will be really interesting to see how he goes - he's got real pace and talent, enough to really trouble international batsmen, and he could be the type of bowler England were sorely missing in Australia's second innings.

On the Australian side, like @Paxter I too wonder how long they can keep Starc and Hazlewood (particularly) out of the side.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Jeor said:

I think the fact that Archer was being used a substitute fielder in the First Test shows that they're pretty confident he'll be able to make the second. It will be really interesting to see how he goes - he's got real pace and talent, enough to really trouble international batsmen, and he could be the type of bowler England were sorely missing in Australia's second innings.

On the Australian side, like @Paxter I too wonder how long they can keep Starc and Hazlewood (particularly) out of the side.

The lazy six-for in the tour match was certainly a good sign!

I just don't know if the Archer change will be enough. I'm finding it harder and harder to recall how on earth England beat India 4-1 last summer. The drawn series against Pakistan and the loss to West Indies are better indications of where they are at in test cricket. 

ETA: Some pretty interesting reporting coming out of the first Ashes test on the Starc non-selection. Apparently it all came down to Langer's preference for someone who could suffocate the opposition (Siddle) over pure strike power (Starc). And the decision paid big dividends: England scored 0.33 boundaries per over and 2.75 runs per over, while Australia notched 0.47 boundaries per over and 3.99 runs per over. It's a fascinating titbit because it shows the impact of Justin Langer on this Australian team. I can virtually guarantee that Lehmann would have pushed for Starc to be selected. 

Edited by Paxter

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Paxter said:

how on earth England beat India 4-1 last summer.

Because we're pants, and our batsmen let us down every time ( tbf, couple of the games were close and we should have won those)

Also - everyone pray we have 5 days at Lords. Your boy got a ticket for the last day.

Edited by Raja

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10 hours ago, Paxter said:

ETA: Some pretty interesting reporting coming out of the first Ashes test on the Starc non-selection. Apparently it all came down to Langer's preference for someone who could suffocate the opposition (Siddle) over pure strike power (Starc).

Yes, I've read some of that too. If it is true, then Langer was bang on the money. England are full of shotmakers in the ODI style, so it makes sense that suffocating them and keeping the run rate low is going to eventually result in wickets as they can't or won't defend. There was an article on cricinfo that mentioned that Joe Denly was beaten by Lyon twice, then swept him for four twice, but that wouldn't have bothered the Australians - they knew that he couldn't defend and his only response to being beaten was to try and attack.

Starc is the typical (and highly successful) ODI bowler - expensive but wicket-taking. Bombshell as it was to drop him, it makes some sense that if he's a great ODI bowler but Test record of late is ordinary, you don't want to pick him in a Test match where the opposition is geared towards ODI bowling.

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Yeah, omitting Hazlewood was a surprise, but now that I look back on his record from the start of 2018 it hasn't been setting the world on fire. 28 wickets in 9 Tests at an average of 34.64 isn't terrible but it's also not as good as I thought it would be. Still, you'd think his bowling style would really suit English conditions as well as Langer's "suffocation" strategy.

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I think it may have been the batting of Siddle that kept Hazlewood out. I think they were set on Pattinson's return so he was always going to start and Cummins is pretty undroppable. Overall it worked out but I wouldn't be surprised to see Hazlewood in for Siddle or Pattinson next match. Prefer to keep Pattinson as I want to see him develop and improve.

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Pattinson is the stronger batsman, and while Siddle is more experienced, Pattinson probably has the higher ceiling, being a bit younger and quicker.

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South Africa's bad year continues with Hashim Amla following Steyn into retirement. It's also not much of a surprise but they are both going to be difficult players to replace.

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Posted (edited)

I think a timely decision from Hashim. His test record since 2017 is quite poor (averaging 27 with zero hundreds) and even his usually amazing ODI record is not much better recently.

But he is certainly right up there with the all-time great South African batsmen, something that seemed extremely unlikely when he debuted against England all those years ago. I'd say only Kallis and Pollock were better test batsmen, with Smith and De Villiers marginally behind Hashim.

ETA: I forgot to mention my own av! B Richards must be up there too.

Edited by Paxter

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The England squad for the second Test has been announced. Moeen has been dropped, and is replaced by Leach, which isn't too big a surprise. Archer is also in to replace Anderson. They have stuck with their batting lineup for now, although I'd think Joe Denly probably won't get many more opportunities unless he delivers a decent innings soon.

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I must admit I’m disappointed they stuck with Denly - he’s a really poor choice for mine at number 4. Perhaps down the order he might have a fighting chance, but he just looks completely out of his depth this high up. It’s a bit of a joke that Australia has Smith striding out at two wickets down and England has Denly. Anyway the proof will be in the pudding.

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Posted (edited)

Yeah, no great surprises with Leach for Ali and Archer for Anderson.

I suspect the thing with Denly is that there aren't really any specialist batsmen banging the door down to get into the team. Otherwise even people like Buttler and Bairstow (probably not Stokes, since his status as all-rounder is sacrosanct) would probably have their places questioned with Test averages in the mid-30s. So I suspect even Denly will get some benefit of the doubt.

EDIT: A closer examination of the batting records presents some pretty dire reading for Buttler and Bairstow. A bit like Mitchell Starc, their ODI form has obscured the fact that their Test records just aren't very good, particularly against Australia.

Buttler - in 10 innings against Australia he averages 12.80 and hasn't ever passed 50.

Bairstow - in 26 innings against Australia he averages 26.53 with 1 hundred and 2 fifties.

In fact, in his last 10 Tests against anybody, Bairstow only averages 21.16. It can't be long before Foakes is floated as a possible replacement, possibly even mid-series here if he has a quiet scorecard in the 2nd and/or 3rd Tests.

Contrast to Smith's recent form against the Poms...from the last Ashes series to now, his scores are 141*, 40, 6, 239, 76, 102*, 83, 144, 142. That's just ridiculous!

Edited by Jeor

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