Roy Ploy!

Following England’s recent batting debacles in the Caribbean, the general consensus appears to be that our nation’s willow wielders need to reign in their attacking instincts… so it’s fascinating that get Jason Roy in the Test team continues to be the latest trend!

Somebody must’ve sprouted this idea when Jos Buttler was performing so well (With plenty of luck) during the home Tests last year because it keeps coming up but at present the idea seems a little hypocritical.

England have made some decisions on certain bowlers only playing in particular countries and have hinted at doing the same with batsman. Will we only see Dawid Malan pull on an England shirt again the next time that England tour Australia? Will Keaton Jennings earn a recall for our next trip to Asia? And will Jos Buttler be dropped for the next Test, only to be recalled in the summer?

Some want Roy. Nasser Hussain wants James Vince flown in to play! As mentioned here at Silly Point, he has been performing well… in T20s! Is Paul Collingwood available?

How about this for England’s XI in the third Test…

Ed Smith (Lead by example)

Stuart Broad (Continuing the opener rotation policy)

Alex Davies (Let’s get another wicketkeeper in and wear him out at number three)

Joe Root (Captain)

Mark Ramprakash (He’s there)

Joe Denly (One more chance)

Keaton Jennings (In the all-rounder role)

Mark Wood (For the horses)

Jonathan Agnew (Test bowling average: 93.25)

Jack Leach (Errrr… for spin bowling I guess)

Any eligible Englishman currently in the Caribbean. (Yet another debutante!)

Annihilated, Obliterated and Humiliated!

Well done West Indies on a, to put it mildly, thoroughly deserved Test series victory.

As for England, we can question preparation, selection, application and probably a lot more.

Maybe next time England go on tour, they might play some actual cricket matches to prepare for the really important ones, they might pick some actual batsman suited to the relevant format and they might bat for longer and in the course of doing so, score more runs… and a golden cow might rise from the west and shower the world with all conquering medicine, war ending words of peace and fruit that tastes like chocolate!

Back to the Future

There have been many great batsman who didn’t crack Test cricket first time… or even second time!

Could any of the players pictured above force their way back into England reckoning?

Gary Ballance 1498 Test runs @ 37.45

Possessing by far the best Test record of any of the batsmen listed, it seems unlikely that Ballance will get another chance. Being Joe Root’s ex-flatmate helped him before but won’t again. He’ll have to score an insatiable amount of runs to make a case and combine that with having eradicated perceived technical deficiencies.

Ben Duckett 110 @ 15.71

In contrast to last winter, it’s been a hugely encouraging time for Ben Duckett recently. He was recalled to the England Lions squad and returned to the scene of the crime in India. He’ll be looking for a fruitful campaign with his new employers Nottinghamshire to get back into the full England side.

Keaton Jennings 750 @ 25.86

The most recently jettisoned on this list, it seems highly improbable that Jennings will line up against Australia this summer. Come England’s next tour to Asia however and even if it be as back-up/sub-fielder then he could come into contention.

Dawid Malan 724 @ 27.84

Malan wasn’t happy to be axed and he has been hard done by after a record-breaking start to his T20I career. He couldn’t really argue with his Test termination however. He’s not set the world on fire since, neither in county cricket or in various T20 competitions so has a lot to do to earn a recall.

Mark Stoneman 526 @ 27.68

A potential recall for Stoneman isn’t actually that outlandish. If he prospers alongside Rory Burns at Surrey in the early days of the county campaign then he could yet force his way back in. He could do with improving his fielding though.

James Vince 548 @ 24.90

Vince has performed superbly in the latest edition of the Big Bash and maybe white-ball cricket is a more likely route back in for him. Such is the competition for places though, that it won’t be easy.

Of course all the players detailed above may now be labelled damaged goods so we may see some Test debuts before we witness recalls for any of the above.

Keaton Out… in the Cold!

Only England are capable of regularly finding Test match opening batsmen capable of scoring Test hundreds (Compton, Lyth, Robson) but not actually capable of succeeding at Test match cricket!

Keaton Jennings is the latest to be dropped by England and he’s been replaced by Joe Denly (Not actually an opener) for the second Test against West Indies. The decision is both logical and illogical all at the same time. Jennings looks like a square peg in a triangular shaped hole but to have persisted with him this far! The fact that Adil Rashid has left the tour could be an argument for bringing in fellow leg-spinner Denly but with Jack Leach likely to return to the XI that’s stretching it a bit.

Jennings has been found wanting against pace once again and it’s hard to see a third way back… unless others don’t grasp the opportunity and we’re touring Asia… so we’ll probably see him again soon!

Denly has had a torrid time on tour (SL & WI) but now likely has two Tests to enjoy. He’ll open the batting but there’s that release of pressure of knowing he’ll be involved with the ball at least a bit too. His selection at the top of the order is likely to be a stop-gap selection. He needs to go out there, take the rough with the smooth and enjoy himself. He’ll likely need a Test hundred, ideally in the second Test then to open in the County Championship and absolutely plunder runs to keep his place for the Ashes.

Who opens the batting for England come this summer’s marquee series is anyone’s guess. If Rory Burns doesn’t deliver during the rest of the series then it really will be a shoot-out in the County Championship… which will be great for the competition.

I had hoped that KJ would find a way but it wasn’t to be. Wishing Joe Denly the very best of luck on Test debut and beyond!

England Crumble to Chase in… Chase!

A massive well done to West Indies on comprehensively and deservedly defeating England in the first Test.

We could talk about selection until the cows come home but can’t you always?

There’s no doubt that England’s preparation was pathetic. These everybody has a bat affairs don’t promote competitiveness. It would be far better to have a couple of eleven-a-side First Class fixtures, actually breed some competition between the players and put some pressure on them for their place, as there should be in Test Cricket. There’s value in the new buzzword, destigmatising being dropped but some intensity between teammates is needed in order to be successful. There is of course an argument about volume of cricket and time with family but maybe this highlights the need for different squads for different formats and the longer form almost becoming a completely separate sport.

As is typical with English pundits, a player who took an eight-wicket haul still got criticised and derided for being nothing more than a village cricketer. Maybe England should select some village cricketers. If so, I’m available!

The selection of Darren Bravo doesn’t say a lot about the state of willow wielders in West Indies cricket. He was selected based on history but wasn’t primed to perform given how little regional four-day cricket he’s played in recent times. Having said that, it’s probably a bit rich for an England supporter to be criticising the home team’s batting. He’ll likely score a ton now in the second Test. What a Test match for debutant John Campbell to be part of too!

It’s hard to see Adil Rashid playing in the next Test and Sam Curran might be struggling too but please don’t write him off. Please don’t lump him in the “Only good in home conditions” category, after one underwhelming performance.

Keaton Jennings will probably survive as Joe Denly has hardly made a case…

… and the likelihood of Moeen Ali being promoted to open after a pair is slim. Rory Burns did at least make strides and can hopefully back that up during the rest of the tour.

Fingers crossed for a couple more fascinating Test matches in the Caribbean. Oh, should probably mention Jason Holder too… well batted!

Can Campbell Buck the Trend?

Rajendra Chandrika, Kyle Hope, Vishaul Singh… remember them? Nope. Fair enough.

Not only did those named above disappear from international cricket quicker than a balaclava clad criminal from a crime scene but in the cases of Chandrika and Hope, they dropped off the radar altogether. They have recently re-emerged on the domestic scene whilst Singh has been back in the A-Team. I actually thought that Singh (At 6) and Hetmyer (At 3) were the wrong way around when they debuted. Clearly Hetmyer is some talent though and one to watch come the World Cup.

Back to Jamaican John Campbell. Only three hundreds and an average of barely thirty, does make you wonder whether or not he’s actually qualified to open the batting against Jimmy Anderson. Let’s remember though, an absurd amount of spin bowlers on the domestic circuit in the Caribbean average about fifteen with the ball. Maybe a batting average of thirty in the West Indies is equivalent to an average of forty in England.

Congratulations to Campbell on becoming West Indian Test cricketer number 317.

I’ll be following on TalkSport having not had the opportunity to listen to the Sri Lanka tour. It can’t be worse than BBC Test Match Special!