TalkSport Commentary Review

As some of you may well know, I’m not a huge BBC Test Match Special fan. I do like many of their commentators but a particular few irk me. It’s fantastic however that they have such exhaustive domestic commentary.

I was hugely impressed by Guerrila Cricket’s coverage of Ireland’s inaugural Test but was a little tentative regarding TalkSport adopting England’s tour coverage. I haven’t always enjoyed their footballing efforts, often finding them very shouty.

I had little opportunity to tune in during the Sri Lanka series but have had more opportunity to do so during the West Indies tour. There’s noticeably a lot of commentators swapping seats, though not ridiculously frequently. This means that there are lots of different perspectives but also that listeners are unlikely to like every one. That’s theory of numbers. I’ve been impressed by what I’ve heard though and any voice is welcome ahead of Jonathan Agnew’s. I’ve particularly enjoyed listening to Steve Harmison and Darren Gough. As an erratic fast bowler, I rather rudely wasn’t sure how astute Harmison would be about the game but his insights have been… well, insightful. I was of the impression that Gough was maybe a bit brash having caught headlines from his other radio shows but he seems measured and actually quite sympathetic to the players. Neil Manthorp is there too and like other commentators who I admire (Jim Maxwell and Fazeer Mohammed), he not being an ex-player, removes some of the stuck-upness that can fester in commentary and punditry environments.

I don’t have Sky TV but do occasionally catch some cricket on BT Sport. They have coverage of some Australian cricket but the likes of Brad Hodge and more so Dirk Nannes have never endeared themselves to me. Sky Sports ex-Test players only policy just wouldn’t sit well with me I’m sure.

My first impressions with TalkSport have been promising. Long may it continue.

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!

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!