The Ashes 2013-14 November 18, 2013

Recovering Prior a chance to play

57

Matt Prior has provided a boost for the England team by coming through a long training session unscathed a few days ahead of the first Ashes Test.

Prior has been an injury doubt for the game, starting at the Gabba on Thursday, after sustaining a tear to the left calf muscle during the tour match against Australia A in Hobart. But by batting for about an hour against a variety of bowlers in the nets and then taking some catching practice, Prior provided a strong hint that he will be available for selection.

Prior was one of only four members of the England squad - Jonny Bairstow, Graeme Swann and Alastair Cook were the others - to attend a voluntary net session at the Gabba on Monday. Despite strapping to his left calf, injured while batting and later diagnosed as a grade 1 tear, he played with confidence in the nets and, perhaps keen to make a point to the watching Andy Flower, darted the first few yards of imaginary quick singles on several occasions without any sign of discomfort. Prior ended the session by giving photographers a thumbs up and saying "I'm fine" before having some catching practice on the outfield.

While it was a hugely encouraging session for Prior, it may still prove a little premature to conclude that he will definitely play in Brisbane. It has yet to be seen how he responds to the session and, with it having been only 10 days since he sustained the injury, the selectors may be uneasy to risk him at the start of such an important series for fear of aggravating the problem. Bairstow, batting fluently in an adjacent net, stands by.

Some might argue that Bairstow has a strong case for inclusion anyway. He averaged 29 with the bat in the Ashes in England compared to Prior's 19 and kept nicely in the second innings of England's victory in the warm-up game in Sydney.

But in such a pivotal game, England want their most experienced players. Prior, the team vice-captain and a veteran of 72 Tests including the series here in 2010-11, remains, despite his relative dip in form, a key figure with the bat and in the field. His astute use of the DRS might prove a factor, too. If England are satisfied that Prior is 100% fit, there will be no selection dilemma: he will play.

The wicketkeeping selection is one of two issues the selectors have yet to resolve ahead of the first Test. While Michael Carberry, leaving the ball with the precision required to prosper in Australia, has secured the opening berth and forced Joe Root back to the No. 6 position for a while, there is still doubt as to the identity of the third seamer.

While there are, on the face of it, three candidates - Steven Finn, Chris Tremlett and Boyd Rankin - it seems most unlikely that Finn will be included. While his wicket-taking record remains admirable, his propensity to leak runs is incompatible with England's strategy and renders him needing to improve his control if he is to break back into the side.

Tremlett, by contrast, may have lacked potency - he endured a modest county season and has taken just the one wicket in two games on this trip so far - but remains a reliable man to perform the holding required to balance England's attack. With his height, his skill and his control, he can be relied upon to maintain the pressure built up by James Anderson and Stuart Broad and should enjoy the extra bounce in the Australian wickets.

Those whose memories of Tremlett are limited to Test cricket will wonder what the fuss is about: he has invariably looked a fine quality performer at this level and, on the tour of 2010-11, was arguably England's most impressive bowler.

The intervening months have not all been kind, though. Tremlett has suffered a couple of serious injuries and, though he has worked hard to recover his strength and match fitness, there is little evidence to suggest he has recovered the nip that made him such a dangerous bowler.

Boyd Rankin may yet warrant selection as a compromise selection. While his form on the tour so far has been patchy, he has more pace than Tremlett and more control than Finn. He has never bowled in Australia prior to this trip and is taking a while to find the correct length, but Ed Cowan, the Australian left-hander, reckoned one of his spells in the latest tour game "screamed 'Test bowler" and he might prove a more aggressive choice. But, in a side who tend to play 'safety first' cricket, Tremlett remains the most likely selection.

Whatever happens, England's struggle to settle on a third seamer underlines the value of Tim Bresnan. While the unglamorous holding role performed so often by Bresnan rarely wins many headlines, the difficulty England have had finding a replacement for him has provided a reminder of his value. He is now bowling at full pace in the nets and, all being well, will make his return in the two-day game at Alice Springs that comes before the second Test in Adelaide. Tremlett or Rankin will have to bowl impressively in Brisbane if they are to deny him a quick return to the side.

While the rest of the squad took the time to enjoy the local attractions or a round of golf, Cook could have been forgiven for wishing he had joined them. He enjoyed a tough net session, being beaten several times by the net bowlers and losing his off stump to a beauty from Swann that lured him down the pitch and turned past his outside edge.

Generally, however, England are in good shape, and the promising performance of Prior will have provided further reassurance that, days before the serious business begins, they remain on track.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on November 20, 2013, 1:23 GMT

    Ok, so we (England) might look in pretty good shape, but let's not forget we never start a test series well, especially overseas. Trent bridge was the first time we've WON the first test of a series for quite a while, and then only just. Let's hope this time we get it right first test!

  • Bonehead_maz on November 20, 2013, 0:41 GMT

    Whoever the 3rd seamer is, he'd better be good! In Test Matches at Gabba - Anderson Avg 103 SR 160 - Broad Avg AVG 90 SR 240 ! - Swann AVG 80.5 SR 153

  • CodandChips on November 19, 2013, 19:31 GMT

    I understand arguments that Rankin wants to play cricket for England in order to play test cricket. That is not necessarily something I agree with. But what I am probably alone in thinking that Morgan's England ambitions at the moment aren't necessarily connected to test cricket. After all he does forfeit playing championship cricket to play IPL, doesn't he?

  • Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on November 19, 2013, 13:16 GMT

    Posted by 122notoutWestByfleet1996 on (November 19, 2013, 8:51 GMT), you make a terrible point, switching countries as an adult and moving to your homeland as a baby are light years apart. In saying that I do agree that if you qualify you can play. I am a dual citizen and a proud one of both my countries. The reason I think it is a shame that Irish players are taken by England is that Ireland should have test status.

  • JG2704 on November 19, 2013, 10:37 GMT

    @Nutcutlet - You say about Eng's decision not playing Tremlett in the Oval test now being apparent. Yes I agree , but for different reasons. He was not played at the Oval test because he was not ready/good enough. Obviously it could be that he's been holding back for practically every match in 2013 including the 2 warm up matches and the plan is to give Aus the shock of their lives when they're expecting an out of condition bowler with little threat and it turns out he's been kidding us all along. If that's the case then it's an absolute masterstroke and I will 100% say brilliant mind games but it would seem extremely far fetched as they surely could not have left out Boyd or Finn if either were totally on fire in the 1st 2 games and then that plan goes out the window. I just wonder how you see Tremlett as a safe option though?

  • JG2704 on November 19, 2013, 10:31 GMT

    @Mipixx on (November 19, 2013, 1:10 GMT) I think there are degrees of tear

    @dunger.bob on (November 19, 2013, 2:24 GMT) Re

    "As for the 3rd seamer, I have no interest. One ten foot robot is much like any other ten foot robot. Go for who-ever you like, they're all essentially the same aren't they"

    I'd say no. One is taking more wickets than the other 2 but leaking more runs , One is more economical but not taking wickets and the other is in between

    @Milhouse79 on (November 19, 2013, 9:18 GMT) Agree re 1 bad series ... but it is 2 bad series in a row and his glovework wasn't great in 2013 either. Add to the fact that he has only just recovered (if he has fully recovered) ..

  • JG2704 on November 19, 2013, 10:31 GMT

    @Paul Mcallister - I do have sympathy re Ireland's plight but the fact is that these guys chose to play for England so surely it's more the player not caring about Ireland's plight... As it is , they're some way from becoming a test nation - I think someone said that if they get the grounds in place it may be 2020 when they get test status. If true Boyd will be 36 and will have missed the boat. Personally - re Morgan - I think if Eng weren't in for him he'd probably choose IPL and other big T20 bashes over playing for Ireland. Just one thing - looking at the Ireland line up (bowlers) and you have Johnston,Cusack,Murtagh and Sorenson - none of who were born in Ireland. Not sure what the history is but I'm sure their birthplace would be highlighted had they been playing for England and we won't even go there re the Irish/English mid 90s football team

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on November 19, 2013, 9:24 GMT

    @landl47 (post on November 19, 2013, 5:48 GMT): No doubt at all about Prior being a fantastic team man, and personally as I said below, think he will play and want him to - and really hope he gets his form back. Burning image of him during both the NZ tours and the last Ashes, however, while in the field and throughout spells when the bowling went awry, was his trademark stance behind the stumps with a glove over the face and Cook nowhere in frame. That's where I was coming from. I realise the cameras can't be everywhere and trained on one guy for an entire session, so based on your fantastic comments (thanks by the way) - I'll lay it to rest there.

  • Jaffa79 on November 19, 2013, 9:18 GMT

    @dunger.bob, Prior had a poor series in England but the guy is an excellent keeper with 7 tons and averages 42, which is only bettered by Michael Clarke for the Aussies. He was awesome in NZ earlier this year and battered Aus around last tour down under. One bad series does not make a bad player! I mean, Mitchell Johnson has had about 8 or 9 bad series and he is being hailed as the Aussies saviour!

  • 122notoutWestByfleet1996 on November 19, 2013, 8:51 GMT

    put a sock in it Paul McAllister. Ireland don't have test status. England do. Rankin wanted to play cricket at the highest level. He qualified to play for England. He has now played international cricket and may well be making his test debut in the next few days. If England pick him, it is because he is considered to be one of the 4 best bowlers who are eligible to play for England. If someone is qualified to play for a country, you don't not pick him because you feel sorry for his country of birth and to help them get test status. End of story.

    No one seems to say these things about the various players in other nations who are not "born and raised" (moises henriques, usman Khwaja, Imran Tahir etc). And lets not forget Keplar Wessels who played for 2 countries.

  • on November 20, 2013, 1:23 GMT

    Ok, so we (England) might look in pretty good shape, but let's not forget we never start a test series well, especially overseas. Trent bridge was the first time we've WON the first test of a series for quite a while, and then only just. Let's hope this time we get it right first test!

  • Bonehead_maz on November 20, 2013, 0:41 GMT

    Whoever the 3rd seamer is, he'd better be good! In Test Matches at Gabba - Anderson Avg 103 SR 160 - Broad Avg AVG 90 SR 240 ! - Swann AVG 80.5 SR 153

  • CodandChips on November 19, 2013, 19:31 GMT

    I understand arguments that Rankin wants to play cricket for England in order to play test cricket. That is not necessarily something I agree with. But what I am probably alone in thinking that Morgan's England ambitions at the moment aren't necessarily connected to test cricket. After all he does forfeit playing championship cricket to play IPL, doesn't he?

  • Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on November 19, 2013, 13:16 GMT

    Posted by 122notoutWestByfleet1996 on (November 19, 2013, 8:51 GMT), you make a terrible point, switching countries as an adult and moving to your homeland as a baby are light years apart. In saying that I do agree that if you qualify you can play. I am a dual citizen and a proud one of both my countries. The reason I think it is a shame that Irish players are taken by England is that Ireland should have test status.

  • JG2704 on November 19, 2013, 10:37 GMT

    @Nutcutlet - You say about Eng's decision not playing Tremlett in the Oval test now being apparent. Yes I agree , but for different reasons. He was not played at the Oval test because he was not ready/good enough. Obviously it could be that he's been holding back for practically every match in 2013 including the 2 warm up matches and the plan is to give Aus the shock of their lives when they're expecting an out of condition bowler with little threat and it turns out he's been kidding us all along. If that's the case then it's an absolute masterstroke and I will 100% say brilliant mind games but it would seem extremely far fetched as they surely could not have left out Boyd or Finn if either were totally on fire in the 1st 2 games and then that plan goes out the window. I just wonder how you see Tremlett as a safe option though?

  • JG2704 on November 19, 2013, 10:31 GMT

    @Mipixx on (November 19, 2013, 1:10 GMT) I think there are degrees of tear

    @dunger.bob on (November 19, 2013, 2:24 GMT) Re

    "As for the 3rd seamer, I have no interest. One ten foot robot is much like any other ten foot robot. Go for who-ever you like, they're all essentially the same aren't they"

    I'd say no. One is taking more wickets than the other 2 but leaking more runs , One is more economical but not taking wickets and the other is in between

    @Milhouse79 on (November 19, 2013, 9:18 GMT) Agree re 1 bad series ... but it is 2 bad series in a row and his glovework wasn't great in 2013 either. Add to the fact that he has only just recovered (if he has fully recovered) ..

  • JG2704 on November 19, 2013, 10:31 GMT

    @Paul Mcallister - I do have sympathy re Ireland's plight but the fact is that these guys chose to play for England so surely it's more the player not caring about Ireland's plight... As it is , they're some way from becoming a test nation - I think someone said that if they get the grounds in place it may be 2020 when they get test status. If true Boyd will be 36 and will have missed the boat. Personally - re Morgan - I think if Eng weren't in for him he'd probably choose IPL and other big T20 bashes over playing for Ireland. Just one thing - looking at the Ireland line up (bowlers) and you have Johnston,Cusack,Murtagh and Sorenson - none of who were born in Ireland. Not sure what the history is but I'm sure their birthplace would be highlighted had they been playing for England and we won't even go there re the Irish/English mid 90s football team

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on November 19, 2013, 9:24 GMT

    @landl47 (post on November 19, 2013, 5:48 GMT): No doubt at all about Prior being a fantastic team man, and personally as I said below, think he will play and want him to - and really hope he gets his form back. Burning image of him during both the NZ tours and the last Ashes, however, while in the field and throughout spells when the bowling went awry, was his trademark stance behind the stumps with a glove over the face and Cook nowhere in frame. That's where I was coming from. I realise the cameras can't be everywhere and trained on one guy for an entire session, so based on your fantastic comments (thanks by the way) - I'll lay it to rest there.

  • Jaffa79 on November 19, 2013, 9:18 GMT

    @dunger.bob, Prior had a poor series in England but the guy is an excellent keeper with 7 tons and averages 42, which is only bettered by Michael Clarke for the Aussies. He was awesome in NZ earlier this year and battered Aus around last tour down under. One bad series does not make a bad player! I mean, Mitchell Johnson has had about 8 or 9 bad series and he is being hailed as the Aussies saviour!

  • 122notoutWestByfleet1996 on November 19, 2013, 8:51 GMT

    put a sock in it Paul McAllister. Ireland don't have test status. England do. Rankin wanted to play cricket at the highest level. He qualified to play for England. He has now played international cricket and may well be making his test debut in the next few days. If England pick him, it is because he is considered to be one of the 4 best bowlers who are eligible to play for England. If someone is qualified to play for a country, you don't not pick him because you feel sorry for his country of birth and to help them get test status. End of story.

    No one seems to say these things about the various players in other nations who are not "born and raised" (moises henriques, usman Khwaja, Imran Tahir etc). And lets not forget Keplar Wessels who played for 2 countries.

  • YorkshirePudding on November 19, 2013, 8:38 GMT

    @dunger.bob, I think if theres any doubt that Prior will be rested, as for doing what the aussies want, surely they would prefer Bairstow to play over the much more experienced (fit) Prior.

    Bairstows glovework is poorer than prior, also consider that the Bowlers and Cook rely on prior to cast a deciding vote in terms of LBW reviews due to his experience, and it will be more critical in Aus where the ball tends to bounce a little higher than in the UK off the same type of length.

  • YorkshirePudding on November 19, 2013, 8:28 GMT

    @Mipixx, so you saw the scans and are a fully qualified doctor then?

    It has been noted that Prior suffered a Grade 1 tear which is the lesser of the grades of tear, and can take 2-4 weeks to recover, if it was on the less severe side of the Grade 1 classification then he would just about be ready to play this week.

    Add on that he would have had daily heat/massage treatments and physio sessions its entirely feasible that hes recovered, maybe not 100%. In addition professional sports people tend to recover a little faster than normal members of the public.

    Had it been a grade 2 or 3 then his tour may well have been close to being over, and it sounds like either you had a grade 2 or 3 tear or didnt listen to the advice the doctor gave you.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on November 19, 2013, 7:32 GMT

    I disagree with some sentiment here that Prior doesn't add value to the team. He looks a good team man, Cook chats to him constantly and except for the last 12 months he has been pretty much one of their most consistent players. Would England drop him after 2 more poor performances going into Perth? Possibly.

  • landl47 on November 19, 2013, 5:48 GMT

    @R_U_4_REAL_NICK: sorry, but I think you're totally wrong. You might have noticed that Strauss fielded at first slip and when he retired Cook became first slip. Prior talks constantly to Cook and Cook consults him on every important decision. Prior often has a word with the bowlers between overs; it's not his job to run down the wicket and talk to them in between balls. If that needs doing, Cook does it. KP or Broad are often at mid-off or mid-on and naturally talk to the bowler, as happens in every side.

    Prior said that being VC was much harder work than he thought it would be, but that's not the same as being lax. He's highly regarded by all the England players- in fact, one of the reasons KP is there is because Prior took it upon himself to talk with him and try to mend fences.

    I'm not sure where you're coming from on this, but I doubt you'll find anyone associated with England who is not 100% in Prior's corner as a team player.

  • dunger.bob on November 19, 2013, 2:24 GMT

    Another way to look at all this is to ask yourselves 'what would the Aussies want' and do the opposite. I can't speak for anyone else (btw, I rate Broad quite highly. He's a dangerous customer) but this Aussie would love to see Prior play for 2 reasons.

    1. We seem to have his measure as a batsman. It might just be an illusion, but I think our bowlers are confident they can keep him quiet.

    2. He's a chance of breaking down mid match which would suit us perfectly. Losing any fielder is a blow, but losing your wicky can upset the whole rhythm of the fielding side.

    Pick Prior please.

    As for the 3rd seamer, I have no interest. One ten foot robot is much like any other ten foot robot. Go for who-ever you like, they're all essentially the same aren't they.

  • on November 19, 2013, 2:15 GMT

    Boyd Rankin should have been more concerned in gaining Ireland full ICC status. what chance have they of acquiring it now without Morgan and Rankin? England - proving yet again that they care little about the rude health or integrity of the Sport.

  • Mipixx on November 19, 2013, 1:27 GMT

    Agree with Compton/Onions. But then, I disagreed President Bush. I don't get a vote for either. So hey ho.

  • Mipixx on November 19, 2013, 1:10 GMT

    There is no way Prior had a torn calf. I have torn my calf three times. It meant crutches every time. If Prior had torn his calf, he would not be playing in any Ashes Test match this series. What he's had is a minor tweak - possibly not even a pulled muscle. So either the media has over-stated his injury or England has done so. But a torn calf does not recover in two weeks, for anybody, with any treatment. Ask any physio. I don't know why it benefits England to pretend it does, as Prior may be important but was useless in the last Ashes. I was hoping Bairstow would replace him. Now I'm disappointed that he won't. No wonder Bairstow wasn't sounding too optimistic about it himself!

  • 2MikeGattings on November 18, 2013, 23:54 GMT

    Prior will keep if fit. Identity of 3rd seamer still unknown. This is news?

  • Nutcutlet on November 18, 2013, 22:17 GMT

    @JG2704 on (November 18, 2013, 16:17 GMT). Yes, the selectors do occasionally go haywire & they certainly did over Kerrigan at the Oval, a punt that failed spectacularly. Remember that at the time many people thought that CT was bound to play. Why didn't he? I suggest that the answer is only now becoming apparent - with the series won, the selectors didn't want the Ozzies to have a fresh look at CT. That treat they were saving for the tour. Anyway, it's all interesting & intriguing and we can't both be right. If I'm wrong, I'll be the first to hold up my hand. Frankly, I think that England is totally risk-averse & the safest option is always considered the best. Throwing Rankin in is high risk in the first match of an Ashes' series. Can't see it myself. The wicket-taking will be done by JA, SB & possibly GS. The 3rd seamer's job it to keep it tight, as Bresnan so often does, without necessarily taking wickets. It's the plan & mostly it works.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on November 18, 2013, 21:56 GMT

    @Landl47: "Prior adds much more in terms of advice and support to Cook and help to the bowlers while England are in the field..." Really? Are you kidding? Do you think standing there behind the stumps with a glove over his face, whilst only the likes of KP runs over to talk to the bowlers, is good advice and help to the bowlers in the field? As a vice captain, he [Prior] has been lax and admitted as much recently.

  • Front-Foot-Sponge on November 18, 2013, 21:03 GMT

    @r_u_4_real_nick, good points. I do see Bresnan's value.Watto doesn't get loads of wickets but offers control. I think Onions is the loser here, I really don't get his non-selection. I agree about Broad too. He sometimes goes long periods without wickets but has that uncanny knack for 5 wicket hauls where he tears up a lineup. Last Ashes I think he was peaking, his pace and control was so good even though he was unlucky at times. He's bowled worse and got 5 wickets before. Funny game is cricket! I still think the Aussies come out tops bowling but hey the test starts in a few days so.....

  • JG2704 on November 18, 2013, 20:06 GMT

    @ Alan Thomas on (November 18, 2013, 17:13 GMT) You're right but at least England learn from it (picking a player who is not bowling at full tilt) yeah?

  • SDHM on November 18, 2013, 18:53 GMT

    Don't see how a man who is clearly some way from being the bowler he was and has looked well off the pace so far is in any way the 'safe' selection. Basically, whichever way England go is a bit of a risk; Finn will take wickets but leak runs, Rankin is unproven and Tremlett may never be the bowler he once was.

  • landl47 on November 18, 2013, 17:41 GMT

    If the decision were just based on batting and wicketkeeping, Bairstow might well have a good case for inclusion. I thought he kept very well in the final warm-up game and his batting, while I don't believe it's good enough for a top 6 test batsman, is certainly good enough for a WK/#7. However, Prior adds much more in terms of advice and support to Cook and help to the bowlers while England are in the field. He's an important part of England's chemistry and I have no doubt that if he's fit he will play.

    As for the bowlers, all 3 have something to offer in different ways, but all three also have drawbacks. If England were playing a defensively oriented side, I'd go for Finn, but Australia is full of ODI players and Finn isn't accurate enough to frustrate them out. Tremlett has better control and test experience but less pace; Rankin is sharp but hasn't quite got the length right and is a test rookie- plus his fielding is awful and his batting non-existent. Tough choice.

  • CodandChips on November 18, 2013, 17:27 GMT

    Although I've criticised him, I think Bairstow has to play. Prior has been injured and Baistow has done ok in replacing him. Prior should therefore be rested, especially considering he's had a modest year and warm up games. Saying no to Bairstow would probably shatter his confidence because it would show a lack of trust ie Prior's injury is less of a risk than Bairstow's keeping.

    Interesting to see the Onions fan club. I am a member, but I also appear to be the only one in the Jordan fan-club (despite being a hampshire fan, so no bias). Jordan performed in the championship, bowled nicely in the ODI, has some pace, bats a bit, and took that amazing catch in that T20. IMO he deserves a go. Onions is hardly ripping teams apart in South Africa atm (looking at his figures).

  • on November 18, 2013, 17:13 GMT

    Does nobody here realise that in 2012 Bresnan was suffering the after effects of an injury for which he had surgery which did not resolve the problem and necessitated further surgery in 2013 which did resolve the problem.

  • 2.14istherunrate on November 18, 2013, 17:11 GMT

    I think Prior will play. The management will have difficulty stopping it. The other question is over 3rd seamer.I thought about it and decided that if there was an alternative to lankies it would merely give me the luxury of choosing one of them instead of feeling like it's the only course. That said which? Perhaps they should go with Finn and the wickets so long as he does take them... In spite of everything we can afford to attack, and if it comes right we can be in a great position.

  • YorkshirePudding on November 18, 2013, 16:17 GMT

    @brusselslion, I think if theres any doubt Prior will be rested, give hime an extra week to recover rather than risking him breaking down half way through a game

    Bairstow is a good stand by, however his glove work can be a bit sloppy, but hes learning and as hes the only other recognised keeper on the trip hes a sure pick if prior isnt fit regardless of stats.

  • JG2704 on November 18, 2013, 16:17 GMT

    @Nutcutlet - PS - Also are Eng's management/selectors not beyond the odd baffling decision? Like playing 2 spinners in a 5 man attack when 1 at most was required and going the other way and dropping Swann and having no spin option in the 2nd test vs SA when the lesser Tahir took 3 for in Eng's full inns My issue is that if he's in the groove and his stamina is good then why isn't he showing it on the pitch and surely he would have shown what he is capable of by now - no? I would say that the 3rd spot should be Rankin's by default (if they have no faith in Finn) because at least he is taking wickets

  • JG2704 on November 18, 2013, 16:10 GMT

    @Nutcutlet - You are correct in that the management will have more insight into what CT is doing behind closed doors. Maybe he is holding back and will become a different animal when the tests come but that would seem pretty far fetched to me. I like Tremlett - but a peak,fully fit Tremlett and I wonder if they think he'll reproduce the 2010/11 form when it comes to the real thing? I can only go by what folk (and not silly folk with agendas) have posted on here after they've watched him in the flesh and combine it with the figures I see on the screen. I agree that if there are unresponsive pitches then bowlers need to be as miserly as possible so that the batsmen don't get too far ahead and maybe they can get wickets by playing attritional cricket but surely you look for wickets first and then economy second and CT is not delivering with the former.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on November 18, 2013, 16:07 GMT

    @Front-Foot-Sponge: In addition to Steve Back's reply, my rush to get Bresnan back would be that he is good at holding up an end, and O.K. might not always be amongst the wickets but still creates pressure on batsmen so that the likes of Broad, Anderson, Swann etc. can reap rewards at the other end. Going by number of wickets alone in tests is SELDOM the full story; yes you need 20 wickets to win a game, but bowling is often carried out in partnerships. Think how wonderful it used to be to watch Warne and McGrath in tandem.

    Watson's bowling economy in the last Ashes was admirable! O.K. the England batsmen maybe played him with unusual respect - but I see Bresnan as doing that AND picking up the odd wicket as well; = gold dust of a player to have in the absence of another stand-out seamer and the inexplicable snubbing of Onions. Bresnan has the (greater) potential to offer something with the bat as well, but rarely lives up to that potential in tests (rather like Broad).

  • brusselslion on November 18, 2013, 15:36 GMT

    The WK position has become a real worry for England. Most posters seem to be assuming that Prior will come good again - let's hope so - despite having a dreadful 2013 to date. The alternative - Bairstow - hardly instills confidence. He's untested as a WK at Test level, and we don't know how he will cope with the added pressure. In addition, his batting average in the last Ashes series was a fairly poor 29.

  • on November 18, 2013, 14:50 GMT

    I would prefer we picked Finn over Bresnan, Tremlett, Rankin or Onions. Finn is a proven wicket taker with an average below 30. He has to play. I've never been particularly impressed with Bresnan nor Onions.

  • on November 18, 2013, 14:44 GMT

    "A few posters pointed out Bresnan did have a good Ashes 2010/11 but went 3 tests summer 2012 with 1 wicket. So, what's the rush to get him back?"

    You are correct, Bresnan really struggled against India, and South Africa (as did most of our players), and I myself have reservations about him as a penetrative seamer on a variety of wickets/pitches. However, there is the consideration that he does seem to do well against Australia, for some reason, and therefore he seems to be thought of as a "horses-for-courses" Ashes selection (21 wickets at 24, if I'm not mistaken) and even managed to take a brace of four-fors against Ponting and co. in 2010/11 in some pretty good batting conditions. It's a strange one - even his first-class record isn't that great - but Australia seems to be his "favourite" opponent.

    But I might have a punt for Rankin, still. Anderson could be the stock swing bowler, with the tall quicks in Broad and Rankin (?) to back up.

  • Nutcutlet on November 18, 2013, 13:53 GMT

    @ JG2704 on (November 18, 2013, 11:06 GMT): I think only the England camp knows precisely what Tremlett's current capabilites are. He'll have proved his stamina satisfactorily to them & it doesn't matter if it's not been widely broadcast - pundits & the press don't pick the team. The great difference about a player on tour is that the management & coaches can monitor him over a sustained period & if he's in the groove it will be known. They also know that Tremlett has the temperament to cope with the big stage. There are question marks against Finn in that regard & Rankin's temperament is unknown - Test are not ODIs & it doesn't get bigger than the Ashes in Oz. As I've said before, it's CT by default. He has a job to do & it the most likely of the three to do it. When Bres is fit, then CT may well step aside if he hasn't done himself justice. One satisfactory performance from CT is what's required & if the batsmen go big, as in 2010-11, then a draw is likely, esp. as rain is forecast.

  • Front-Foot-Sponge on November 18, 2013, 13:07 GMT

    A few posters pointed out Bresnan did have a good Ashes 2010/11 but went 3 tests summer 2012 with 1 wicket. So, what's the rush to get him back?

  • Lmaotsetung on November 18, 2013, 12:54 GMT

    Part of me wants Bairstow to play the first test to see where he is as a keeper. I still have high hopes for him as the #6 batsman. So far he's been no worse than Shane Watson, getting a start and getting out.

  • on November 18, 2013, 11:07 GMT

    It's a risk but Finn should play, he's a genuine wicket-taker and wickets may be hard to come by at the Gabba. Tremlett has been out too long, Rankin needs to strain at the bit a bit longer yet. And if Prior is genuinely fit, he should play ahead of JB.

  • JG2704 on November 18, 2013, 11:06 GMT

    @Nutcutlet on (November 18, 2013, 10:28 GMT) Presuming you're picking him on economy alone - would you say it's a dafe option to play a bowler (who by accounts of posters on here) looks knackered after a few overs and who is not taking wickets in a 4 man attack?

  • JG2704 on November 18, 2013, 11:03 GMT

    @valvolux on (November 18, 2013, 7:39 GMT) Do you mean no one rates Broad playing in Australia or do you mean no one in Australia rates Broad? If the former then fair enough. He didn't perform well in his one and only tour. If the latter then you're talking absolute jargon. Not only did Broad not just do it in one test - he did it over the series and was 3rd (from both sides) in terms of wickets taken and had the best average (from Eng bowlers) in that series. And if you're saying that it was a one off (fluke) series then I guess he saves his flukes for Australia - please check out which bowler (in the 1st inns of the crucial final test) in the previous Ashes series in Eng took 5 for. Not crucial wickets though I suppose - only Watson,Ponting,Clarke and Ponting amongst them. Also the same bowler who finished top of the averages and wickets taken for Eng...

  • GeoffreysMother on November 18, 2013, 11:02 GMT

    valvolux - Stuart Broad is the next Glenn Mc Grath - its just he isn't Australian!

  • mikeindex on November 18, 2013, 11:02 GMT

    Second opener should be Compton. Third seamer should be Onions.

  • JG2704 on November 18, 2013, 10:40 GMT

    They'll almost certainly pick Prior if fit but I'd still go with Jonny who has averaged better with the bat in the last 2 home series and by reports kept well in the warm up game too. Let's not forget that MP didn't do too well with the gloves this summer either

  • Nutcutlet on November 18, 2013, 10:28 GMT

    I'm convinced that Tremlett will play. George has got into the mind-set of the England camp & it is the same as ever: safety first. Rankin may have a part to play later in the piece, but only if England find themselves chasing the series or there is an injury to one of the main strike force. Finn is just not worth the risk, leaking runs too readily for comfort in the minds of Flower & Cook. He's probably in 3rd place right now. Far less certain is the Prior/ Bairstow dilemma. Applying the same cautious thinking, is picking Prior really the safe choice? The Gabba is unlikely to offer very much to Swann & a keeper's capabliites are most tested by spin. JB has kept well so far to the quicks (from reports) & is at the peak of fitness, unlike the incumbent. Prior's batting has been in recent decline & JB has been showing application. Some people may think that Prior is certain to play, but taking a w/k (especially a w/k) into a Test with an injury isn't 'safety first'. I think it'll be JB.

  • milepost on November 18, 2013, 10:07 GMT

    I'm an Aussie and I rate Broad. I didn't used to but he bowled really well in the last Ashes and has that knack for big hauls of wickets. Scary, no, top class, yes. It's really unfair to knock the Aussie attack, they are all in form and we have the potential to have 5 seamers and a spinner, all of whom are good. Knock Johnson but if he fires he is clearly the most likely to run through a batting lineup. Glad to see Prior should be fit, he's good to watch despite a lean 12 months.

  • on November 18, 2013, 9:38 GMT

    England selectors shot themselves in the foot by not taking Onions. Everyone here in England thinks that especially with Bresnan not being fit. They've pick bowlers on their height! Crazy.

  • on November 18, 2013, 9:31 GMT

    Like I've said every time, pick Finn. I don't understand what the mystery is. The man takes wickets and when Anderson, Broad and Swann are all not leaking many runs, why not have a shock bowler? Johnson goes round the park a lot as well tbh. In England the duke ball helped bowlers on both sides at different times and made run scoring tough for England because they felt like Australia had the fire power to get them out. There's a hint there isn't there. Either, "Oooh no Tremlett might not let me go at over 2 runs an over? Arrrgggghhh" or "Ahh rats Finn could get me out here. I might score a boundary an over off him, but he's probably going to get me out." Hmmm tough choice....NOT!! Pick Finn for goodness sake

  • on November 18, 2013, 9:24 GMT

    If the selectors have any sense they will play Bairstow and Tremlett

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on November 18, 2013, 9:20 GMT

    I think Prior was always going to play, and sadly for Bairstow that will mean watching from the sidelines. Nothing against Bairstow, but he can't replace Root and Carberry will most likely open thus pushing Root back to the middle where he belongs in tests. Only position up for grabs is the third seamer. If Prior continues his poor form for a few games, I'd have nothing against replacing him with Bairstow then.

  • YorkshirePudding on November 18, 2013, 9:13 GMT

    @valvolux, isnt this exactly what the aussies were saying about Jimmy Anderson before he started to run through the top order on a regular basis during the 2010/11 ashes.

  • on November 18, 2013, 9:04 GMT

    Valvolux So no one rates Broad in Oz? Er, so what? Who cares what they think? They have enough worries of their own. They've got three pace bowlers at present they can pick in Johnson, Siddle and Harris. Johnson is a loose canon and Harris is a sick note as is Watson. They've got no spinner worth jack. Yes they need to worry about their own lot.

  • 1st_april on November 18, 2013, 8:58 GMT

    @kearon47 5/103 is commendable in a score of 350 , i will take 5/103 over 1/50, If Bairstow plays , i will be happy , finally he will be of some news to us , can't drop KP over text messages everytime to make Bairstow score a windfall 95

  • YorkshirePudding on November 18, 2013, 7:51 GMT

    @kearon47, I'm not convinced by Rankin, hes not really put a case forward for inclusion in the first test during the warm ups, in fact the only stat in Rankins favour during the warm up games at the moment is Economy and thats not really a factor in test cricket.

    Thankfully I'm not a selector or on the tour, as Non of the back up bowlers has really stated a case for being included as the 3rd seamer but I'd be happier with Tremlett/Finn than Rankin.

  • valvolux on November 18, 2013, 7:39 GMT

    Stuart Broad is now a bowler that builds pressure with control? Turn it up! He is just as likely as Finn to leak runs left right and center and I have no doubt he will be the major liability in the attack. When he got injured last time in Oz thats when the tables turned, when Tremlett came in. No one rates Broad in Australia, even after his once ever 6 series fluke in the last ashes.

  • kearon47 on November 18, 2013, 7:09 GMT

    @Ozcricketwriter, you sure, why would you take a risk on M.Prior so close out, and when J.Bairstow performed so admirably. And yes S.Finn is a wicket taker, but taking 5-103? out of a score of 350? is that worth the risk? At Brisbane I think we need someone with more control and still with abit of penetration, so it is B.Rankin for me and albeit he has only played 'First Class' cricket, he has better strike-rate of 45 than the other two. They have added him to the England squad and touring with them already, he needs to debut I believe.

  • Ozcricketwriter on November 18, 2013, 4:45 GMT

    Prior and Finn will both play. I think everyone knows that.

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  • Ozcricketwriter on November 18, 2013, 4:45 GMT

    Prior and Finn will both play. I think everyone knows that.

  • kearon47 on November 18, 2013, 7:09 GMT

    @Ozcricketwriter, you sure, why would you take a risk on M.Prior so close out, and when J.Bairstow performed so admirably. And yes S.Finn is a wicket taker, but taking 5-103? out of a score of 350? is that worth the risk? At Brisbane I think we need someone with more control and still with abit of penetration, so it is B.Rankin for me and albeit he has only played 'First Class' cricket, he has better strike-rate of 45 than the other two. They have added him to the England squad and touring with them already, he needs to debut I believe.

  • valvolux on November 18, 2013, 7:39 GMT

    Stuart Broad is now a bowler that builds pressure with control? Turn it up! He is just as likely as Finn to leak runs left right and center and I have no doubt he will be the major liability in the attack. When he got injured last time in Oz thats when the tables turned, when Tremlett came in. No one rates Broad in Australia, even after his once ever 6 series fluke in the last ashes.

  • YorkshirePudding on November 18, 2013, 7:51 GMT

    @kearon47, I'm not convinced by Rankin, hes not really put a case forward for inclusion in the first test during the warm ups, in fact the only stat in Rankins favour during the warm up games at the moment is Economy and thats not really a factor in test cricket.

    Thankfully I'm not a selector or on the tour, as Non of the back up bowlers has really stated a case for being included as the 3rd seamer but I'd be happier with Tremlett/Finn than Rankin.

  • 1st_april on November 18, 2013, 8:58 GMT

    @kearon47 5/103 is commendable in a score of 350 , i will take 5/103 over 1/50, If Bairstow plays , i will be happy , finally he will be of some news to us , can't drop KP over text messages everytime to make Bairstow score a windfall 95

  • on November 18, 2013, 9:04 GMT

    Valvolux So no one rates Broad in Oz? Er, so what? Who cares what they think? They have enough worries of their own. They've got three pace bowlers at present they can pick in Johnson, Siddle and Harris. Johnson is a loose canon and Harris is a sick note as is Watson. They've got no spinner worth jack. Yes they need to worry about their own lot.

  • YorkshirePudding on November 18, 2013, 9:13 GMT

    @valvolux, isnt this exactly what the aussies were saying about Jimmy Anderson before he started to run through the top order on a regular basis during the 2010/11 ashes.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on November 18, 2013, 9:20 GMT

    I think Prior was always going to play, and sadly for Bairstow that will mean watching from the sidelines. Nothing against Bairstow, but he can't replace Root and Carberry will most likely open thus pushing Root back to the middle where he belongs in tests. Only position up for grabs is the third seamer. If Prior continues his poor form for a few games, I'd have nothing against replacing him with Bairstow then.

  • on November 18, 2013, 9:24 GMT

    If the selectors have any sense they will play Bairstow and Tremlett

  • on November 18, 2013, 9:31 GMT

    Like I've said every time, pick Finn. I don't understand what the mystery is. The man takes wickets and when Anderson, Broad and Swann are all not leaking many runs, why not have a shock bowler? Johnson goes round the park a lot as well tbh. In England the duke ball helped bowlers on both sides at different times and made run scoring tough for England because they felt like Australia had the fire power to get them out. There's a hint there isn't there. Either, "Oooh no Tremlett might not let me go at over 2 runs an over? Arrrgggghhh" or "Ahh rats Finn could get me out here. I might score a boundary an over off him, but he's probably going to get me out." Hmmm tough choice....NOT!! Pick Finn for goodness sake