The recent retirement of Kevin Pietersen from One day international and twenty 20 cricket has sent a few shock waves through English cricket. On the one hand he is one of our most successful 2020 players in the world having been our man of the tournament in the world cup, one of the highest run getters in the IPL and generally being an innovative and aggressive player against the very best. However, it is without doubt that Pietersen has not performed in ODI cricket as much as Test and 2020 cricket. He retired to extend his carreer in test cricket, and it got me thinking. This is an opportunity for England to safeguard our test supremacy and simultaniously dominate other forms through the spread the quality and depth we now have access too. We can limit injuries and Fatigue and make sure each form is cared for seperately.
The England test side is a strong, diverse set up with a brilliant balance of attack and defense, classic techniques of Bell and Strauss with more unorthodox methods of Cook and Pietersen. Pace of Broad and Bresnan, experience of Anderson and Swann. However, with Strauss and Pietersen not playing ODI’s, Prior with an awful ODI record and dispute over Trott’s place in the ODI side, one could argue is it time to reassess the balance of players in both squads. Of course ODI cricket is a format that England have never been able to crack and maybe one could say that this is because there has been a right of passage. Test side = Odi side. I disagree completely; especially with the amount of T20 Played and the quality of the depth England now have access too. England can afford to have a test side, a ODI side and a T20 side each specified to their needs in order to win.
Some players will be a constant as they are such all round good players they should play all forms of cricket. I argue Bell, Swann and Bresnan should be in every squad but i think apart from that England need to manage each squad separately. They have already taken steps to do this of course giving separate captaincies . The test squad has been cracked to an extent but there is still a huge problem glaring at them all in the face. FATIGUE . Although there have been no consistent injuries across the last few years, the schedule is such that injuries and tiredness are inevitable. This is avoidable as England have the depth to rotate Batsmen, Bowlers, Keepers and Captains without diminishing the quality of the side. What’s more the age of the replacements are perfect. Either Young and willing or just under or touching 30 and experienced, but with enough time left to have a real impact.
If we look at the Batsmen we are settled that the Test squad is Strauss, Cook, Trott at 123, With Pitersen Bell at 4 and 5, With Prior at 7. What we don’t know is the number 6 entirely, having dabbled in Samit Patel (Who didn’t bat 6 but could), Bopara, Morgan and now Bairstow. yet to settle on one player to fill the role. If we look at the possible replacements we can see that in the test and ODI teams there are ample capable replacements:
Somerset’s middle order have the likes of Hildreth 27 , Kieswetter 24 , Buttler 21, and Compton 28 – All either been in and out of the ODI side, or been banging out the runs in the counties for fun for a long time. It seems such a waste of talent for these guys to miss out on the grounds that doing well in the test side means playing in the ODI side. Trott and Cook should not both be in the ODI side. Pick Captain cook and play one of the above. Kieswetter Buttler and Bairstow are all also Wicketkeepers. Give Prior a break, pick one of them to keep, one of them to bat.
Carberry 31 (We need a replacement for Strauss when he finally goes) has shown his credentials in all forms of the game. Battled back from horrible injuries and disease, bedrock of the Hampshire batting lineup along with Liam Dawson and James Vince 21. Then we have Alex Hales 23 and Ben Stokes 20, top order hitters that know how to whack it out the ground. Ben Stokes bowls as well which possibly could see him as a bit of a Collingwood replacement perhaps. Then again, if Bopara isn’t playing test cricket as he is being kept out then let him play something else ? Then we have the likes of James Taylor 23, Morgan 25, Samit Patel 27 (who bowls), and even the experienced Owais Shah who was truly Awsome in the IPL.
I know that the Batsmen will say we need to play to stay in form, which is fair enough. But with the availability and amount of cricket that exists today i don’t think this is as much of a problem. The central contracting of these players may be the only issue. However, as we see with Pietersen, he has made himself unavailable and can go and play for Surrey, and Strauss with Middlesex now he has finished ODI cricket. It’s there if they want it..
Then we have the Bowlers. Anderson is our best bowler without a doubt, but do we really need to risk him by playing countless one dayers and getting smacked around in 2020’s ? I’m sure he will do well but why don’t we keep him for test cricket? Broad of course is the T20 skipper (which i disagree with) and Swann has countless times expressed his dislike of the ODI format. So why don’t we give our wealth of bowlers waiting in the wings a chance instead?
I have picked out a few that could easily walk into this England side and be a reliable bowler. Finn 23 has done it before. He has played test cricket, Played for Middlesex since he was 16 and coming down from 6’7 he is daunting. Under Flower he has really cranked up the pace to Fast, becoming a genuine pace power. Meaker 23 is a hugely exciting quickie from Surrey, that can really ‘get it up there’ despite being short. He is quick. Rankin 27 an Irish international but hey, that didn’t stop us from nicking Morgan and Ed Joyce. If we were to get someone like Rankin, we would have another 6 foot 7 or 8 high eighties quickies. Very Morne Morkel Esq. Harris 22 has been on the radar for a long time. A Glamorgan player since 16 years old he now has 6 years of county cricket and is only 22. He is a more Anderson type bowler but we need a replacement.
Dernbach 26 obviously a One day and T20 master that could walk in the test side also having played regular FC cricket for surrey. Onions 28 The unluckiest bowler in the world but one of the best bowlers in the world. .. Yet he can’t get in the England team. He is a true master of quick bowling having the ability to swing it at genuine pace. England need him back in their plans. Just these quicks (Excluding Tremlett as he seems to be permenantly injured) shows that England have a string of 4 or 5 genuinely class bowlers. So Why are we still picking our test specialists in One day cricket and 2020 cricket ? Lets spread it around a bit and utilize our depth that is so apparent.
Our spin options are equally as strong. Only having one spinner in the side usually means less replacements. Borthwick 22 Briggs 21 Kerrigan 23 , and of course Panesar and Samit patel are all players that could be picked in any form of the game to do the job. Nobody is touching Swann’s test spot of course. BUT Why risk that ? Wit the amount of cricket that is played, don’t make him schlap to Bangladesh and play a 7 match ODI series against India. Pick someone else and give him a rest or let him chose. We don’t need Swann for some games. We are the best side in the world due to world class batting, bowling and fielding. Not just our wizard with the ball
I hope i have convinced a few people that test = test and should mean that for most of our players. We need to use our wealth of talent lingering in the counties more and make sure that it dosn’t go to waste. We don’t want another generation of the neglected cricketer i.e Vikram Solanki’s, Graeme Hicks and Ramprakash’s who didn’t prosper enough. We don’t more wasted talent like Jon Lewis, Kabir Ali, Gary Keedy and Paul Nixons who dominate their field in counties but apparently not good enough for International because the test side plays ODI cricket. Lets really dominate and use all this talent and depth
Jon Lewis waits in the wings.. Still waiting