Ashes 100-1 Countdown: 62 Days Until the Ashes…
At 3.30 pm September 23rd UK Time the 16 man England Ashes squad was announced which attempts to win down under for the first time since 1986/7. It was billed as being the squad with no surprises but some talking points emerged as Chris Tremlett and Monty Panesar were recalled at the expense of the harshly axed Ajmal Shahzad. Controversially, Adil Rashid, who seemed to be Monty’s biggest rival for the 2nd spinner’s spot, didn’t make the grade and failed to even to get a spot on in the performance squad. This is beyond baffling.
The 16 Man Touring Party: Andrew Strauss (captain) (Middlesex), Alastair Cook (vice-captain) (Essex), James Anderson (Lancashire), Ian Bell (Warwickshire), Tim Bresnan (Yorkshire), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Paul Collingwood (Durham), Steven Davies (wicketkeeper) (Surrey), Steven Finn (Middlesex), Eoin Morgan (Middlesex), Monty Panesar (Sussex), Kevin Pietersen (Hampshire), Matt Prior (wicketkeeper) Sussex), Graeme Swann (Nottinghamshire), Chris Tremlett (Surrey), Jonathan Trott (Warwickshire).
This leads rather intriguingly to four talking points: two questionable decisions and two things that are practically set in stone for the England camp…
Firstly, the talking points:
1) The Second Spinner Debate – Graeme Swann is most likely to be England’s ace in the pack this summer. The chance of the 2nd spinner getting a look in is going to be slim this summer, even on the traditionally spin friendly Sydney wicket. But nevertheless England’s selection across the squads is somewhat bizarre. Monty Panesar has got in on the strength of his bowling alone. He’s emerged from the wilderness of the previous county season to take 52 wickets at an average of 26.
And of the three frontline candidates – Monty, Rashid and Tredwell – he’s certainly the most complete bowler. But he no doubt lacks many of the attributes of complete cricketers that fit into the modern England bowler mould – namely fielding and wagging your tail. Meanwhile Rashid who certainly has these capabilities has been shunted from the performance squad as well. The only thing the selectors might be thinking is that his lack of control will cost him and his economy rate down under. Here’s the stats for the 3 this year.
2010 1st Class Batting
Rashid: 732 runs @45.75
Panesar: 163 runs @ 10.63
Tredwell: 526 runs @ 27.68
2010 1st Class Bowling
Rashid: 57 wickets @ 31.29 (SR 53.10)
Panesar: 52 wickets @ 25.69 (SR 59.80)
Tredwell: 44 wickets @ 30.27 (SR 60.20)
2) The Secondary Pace Attack – So Bresnan and Tremlett get the nod ahead of Ajmal “not put a foot wrong” Shazhad. This writer was convinced that it was a straight choice between the two for the final bowling spot, yet they both make the grade. Tremlett’s form for his new county Surrey has been cracking and his added height is highly favourable in Australian conditions. Whereas Bresnan is a cricketer that you know exactly what to expect from. He has impressed the selectors is some unfavourable conditions before and his lower order batting is handy. But Shazhad can rightly feel aggrieved. A more adventurous move would have been to go with Shazhad and Tremlett.
Now for those things set in stone:
1) The England Batting Lineup – The 6 frontline batsmen we all knew would get picked got picked. And the batsmen waiting in the wings as cover in the squad is the immensely talented Eoin Morgan. No surprises there really. Yet Ravi Bopara misses out altogether on the performance squad. Maybe he needs a rest.
2) The England Starting Lineup for the Gabba will be…
Whether you agree with this starting lineup and squad or not, I can guarantee that it will be the side that takes the field in the opening test come November 25th.
Is this the England squad that will send shivers down the Aussies spines? Would the Baggy Green be quaking in their Boots?
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