May 1, 2014

An English sort of revolution

It's all change for England heading into the home Test season. Or is it?

It's mostly going to be the usual suspects for England this summer © PA Photos

The English are sometimes said to be conservative with a small "c". So whilst London might have provided a safe haven for Karl Marx to write Das Kapital and publish The Communist Manifesto, his host nation's most famous revolution resulted in more people being killed by an automated loom than by firing squad.

English cricket often gives the impression of a similar attitude to change. The various county grounds scattered across the shires are hardly a seething maelstrom of radical anger. National selectors are more likely to provoke a raised eyebrow by staying faithful to a struggling player than by a sudden show of faith in exciting but unproven youth. And whilst the ECB might have invented T20, it has left it to others to develop the format and use it in shaping the finances of the modern game. It's all very evolution rather than revolution, I'll take an umbrella with me just in case - conservative with a small "c".

But failure is often the catalyst for change. And the last six months have seen enough failure for even English cricket to realise that change has to come. The result is a new head coach, a parting of the ways with their most talented batsman that is yet to be fully explained, and more question marks placed over the international future of the recent Ashes squad than you'd find on the Riddler's costume.

So this season will see a different England. Change is coming; new players are to be drafted in, a fresh start made. At least that's the impression you get from seeing the Test side debated in the press and among supporters. Everyone has an opinion over who should replace Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott in the batting line-up, who the keeper should be, and which spinner gets to spend his summer being unfavourably compared to Graeme Swann. Between us all we've managed to narrow the next Test squad down to a trim 30-40 possible candidates. It's all very exciting; revolutionary, even.

Yet when you look at who has performed in domestic cricket so far this season, it's mostly the names of current England players that catch the eye. Alastair Cook, Ian Bell and Gary Ballance have gone from the ignominy of a five-nil whitewash in Sydney to being amongst the heaviest run scorers in county cricket. James Anderson who was ineffective in Australia and Steven Finn who was deemed "unselectable", have dominated the bowling.

But then one of the most painful truths for England from their humiliating Ashes tour is that the players they selected were, by and large, the best available. Nick Compton and James Taylor might feel harshly treated, and the decision to take a group of tall fast bowlers and then hardly use them was strange, to say the least, but most of the players on that tour will be strong candidates for the Test series against Sri Lanka in June.

Joe Root and Matt Prior had a tour to forget, but once they have proved themselves to be fully recovered from injury, I'd expect them to be first choice players again. Whilst Ben Stokes would have to break his wrist punching the Archbishop of Canterbury rather than a dressing-room locker not to walk back into England's troublesome No. 6 position after the assured way he made it his own during the Australian summer.

That leaves one batting berth open, with Sam Robson looking likely to join Cook and Root in England's top three, a toss up between Moeen Ali and Scott Borthwick to fulfil the spinner's role. and one more seamer to join Stuart Broad and Anderson.

So for "England's new start" we'll have a coach who has been reappointed to the job, and a Test side that could contain nine or ten players from the recent Ashes tour. As change goes, it's a very English revolution.

My first-choice England team for the upcoming Sri Lanka Test series: Alastair Cook, Sam Robson, Joe Root, Ian Bell, Gary Balance, Ben Stokes, Matt Prior, Scott Borthwick, Stuart Broad, Chris Jordan James Anderson.

Dave Hawksworth has never sat in a press box or charged a match programme to expenses

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on May 3, 2014, 10:09 GMT

    @Jerry Fitzsimmons

    There are probably a few reasons firstly there is a feeling he is reliant on English condtions where the ball nips around, this happens a lot at his home ground and it flatters his statistics. He stuggled when be bowled in SA on Englands last tour because the conditions require greater pace and bounce like Austraila. Secondly he can't bat as well as his comptitiors. Thirdly he is no spring cricken so there is no case for investing in the future with him. Forthly he is considered to be simliar to James Anderson who will probably end up as England leading wicket taker in Test Cricket.

    All this is a shame because he seems like a top bloke who has given everything to get back in contention after injury. I would love England to pick him but I doubt they will.

  • John on May 3, 2014, 3:40 GMT

    Well, apart from the fact that I see absolutely no way in the world that Scott Borthwick is even in consideration for a test place, I agree, it's a matter of gradual rather than drastic change. Still, the XI Dave names has 6 players 25 and under and only 3 over 30. By England standards that's a very young test side; by the standards of the current (just returned to #1) Australian side, with 8 players over 30, 6 of whom are 32 or more, it's a bunch of kids.

  • Jackie on May 1, 2014, 23:04 GMT

    Wrong about English revolution. We were the first. 1642. Civil war between royalists and parliamentarians. 1649 Cut off the head of the King. Can't get more radical than that. Egalitarian ideas that went to America, ideas that went to France. Perhaps you are wrong about the cricket too.

  • Dummy4 on May 1, 2014, 19:53 GMT

    Okay, this is a questions from an Australian supporter, why is Graham Onions always ignored? I know he gets injured but from the little Australians have seen of him, he looks like a fine bowler. He looks better than most of the pack of duds that got hammered 5-0.

  • Dummy4 on May 1, 2014, 16:54 GMT

    No Compton or Onions inn the top XI?

  • Jai on May 1, 2014, 14:21 GMT

    He protested against the arbitrary treatment from the English selection. That's far more wrong than not performing, didn't you know?

  • Vaughan on May 1, 2014, 13:57 GMT

    The author is joking when referring to his choice of spinner, right? Surely Panesar, then Kerrigan, are the best choices for the team? Otherwise I quite like the team, although Ben Stokes would not in my mind be an automatic inclusion in the team... he has some work to do!

  • Dummy4 on May 1, 2014, 10:23 GMT

    Strange, no mention of Carberry ?He did nothing wrong

  • Kathy on May 1, 2014, 8:56 GMT

    "... which spinner gets to spend his summer being unfavourably compared to Graeme Swann" {stifled chortles}. "We've managed to narrow the next Test squad down to a trim 30-40 possible candidates." {outburst of outright laughter}. Witty and too true!

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