England’s defeat at Old Trafford has yet to be officially confirmed, but barring serious rain it seems inevitable, and that will mean that Australia have retained The Ashes. Even if England somehow escape with a draw (which would be undeserved) they would need to win at The Oval and that looks unlikely given Australia’s overall superiority thus far in the series (save for a few sessions at Lord’s and the amazing final stages of Headingley Australia have been bossing things all through this series). Based on three matches and four days of the fourth cricketing justice demands that Australia retain The Ashes. Thus this post looks at the future and suggests changes for the fifth test based on The Ashes being already gone, though I would still recommend that they make these changes regardless. Having started this post just before play begins on day five there is a question of which will be completed first – this post or Australia’s victory – and my lack of confidence in England’s remaining batting is such that am not betting on which happens first!
THE STORY OF DAYS 1-4
Australia racked up 497-8 declared in their first innings, Steve Smith helping himself to a double century, his third in test cricket, all of them at England’s expense (only Don Bradman, with no fewer than eight, has scored more against England). England just avoided the follow-on, Burns and Root playing substantial innings – the former in the process becoming the first opener not named Cook to score three fifties for England in a series since the retirement of Andrew Strauss. Then Australia went out for quick runs, and got enough to declare yesterday evening, setting England just over 380 to win, Smith by his standards failing, managing a measly 82 (nb – I have had plenty to say regarding his personal conduct, but I have never criticised his batting.). Then Burns and Root fell in successive deliveries in the first over of England’s 2nd innings. Denly and Roy saw things through to the close, but barring more heroics from Stokes, it has hard to see England batting out today.
Burns’ successes have resolved one of England’s top order problems, but still required there are a)another opener who can do it against the red ball and b) someone who is comfortable at no 3 against the red ball. Additionally I think that Buttler (his first innings effort here notwithstanding) and Bairstow both need replacing, with a genuine frontline batter and a wicketkeeper-batter respectively). The bowling is in a much better state, but at The Oval a second spinner is likely to be needed alongside Leach, and somehow they have to find out a way of getting Smith out.
SORTING THE BATTING
I do not believe that either Roy or Denly belong in a test XI, and even big scores for both of them today will be too little too late as far as I am concerned. I have been arguing in posts since August 31st 2018 for Tammy Beaumont to be given her chance alongside the men, and I stick to that line. At no 3 I opt for a third regular opener, Dominic Sibley, and then Root back where he really belongs at no 4. As wicketkeeper and no 5 I select Ben Foakes, with Ben Stokes rounding out the top six. I then go for all-rounder Lewis Gregory at seven, Jofra Archer at eight, Stuart Broad at nine, Jack Leach at ten, and at 11 my second spinner, to whom I dedicate the next subsection of this post…
HELEN FENBY – THE MYSTERY OPTION
I was alerted to this possibility in a match in which she took four cheap wickets and also surprised all the commentators with her action – if it is a new one on them then perhaps it will be a new one on Steve Smith (all orthodox selections seem to have drawn a blank, so let’s try an unorthodox one). While this would be envisaged XI I would also have in reserve in case conditions warrant it 1) an extra batter, in this case Ollie Pope of Surrey, and 2) a reserve pace bowler, Craig Overton. Thus, my full squad for The Oval would be (all names in hyperlink form):
- Rory Burns
- Tammy Beaumont
- Dominic Sibley
- *Joe Root
- +Ben Foakes
- Ben Stokes
- Lewis Gregory
- Jofra Archer
- Stuart Broad
- Jack Leach
- Helen Fenby
- Ollie Pope
- Craig Overton
FURTHER SUGGESTIONS TO COMPLETE A TEST TOUR PARTY
I want another three players to complete a test touring party, and I reckon that they should be a batter, a pace bowler and a spinner. My three choices for these roles are George Bartlett of Somerset (a look to the future, with a youngster who is better suited in both style and temperament to playing long innings against the red ball than to biffing the white one around – his county colleague Abell and Joe Clarke of Nottinghamshire both also merit consideration), Anderson if he is fit, and if not whoever out of Mark Wood and Olly Stone is fit and Dominic Bess (since I have a left arm spinner and leg spinner in my squad I opt for the off spinner Bess in preference to leg spinner Matt Parkinson).
My usual sign off…
PS – contrary to the mischievous comparison made in the introduction to this post England have not lost a wicket thus far today.
7 thoughts on “Ashes Gone -What Should England Do Now?”
Do you know what kind of gulls those are?
I believe that there are four species of gull featured in this post – Herring Gulls, Lesser Black Backed, Black Headed and Glaucous (the big ones with the tortoiseshell patterned plumage).
Thanks! I was asking about the Black Headed but I didn’t realise there are four different species here. It’s interesting, not the ones I usually come across in Australia.
Joe Clarke!!! He can’t buy a run and should still officially be ‘Unselectable’ for his off-field discretions until at least the start of next season in my opinion. England have said out loud about changing the culture of the team so I don’t see Clarke coming in yet.
Assuming that the Lions actually arrange a tour then I’d take Bess to New Zealand (Only two Tests) so that various other spinners (And there’s some good ones coming through) can actually play some cricket. Bess wouldn’t let anybody down if called upon.
Sibley should get his chance with Pope in the middle. I agree with that and I agree with excluding JB and JB this winter so would bring Foakes in. I’m still struggling to get Porter and Coad in because I still want some experience in the attack but appreciate that Gregory is in the mix. There’s five T20Is before the Tests as well. I’ll be revealing my squad choices once we’ve seen how the last few weeks of the CC pan out.
Your squad is more than respectable but I’m really not sure about throwing very good women cricketers straight into Tests rather than some domestic cricket first.
Appreciate your detailed feedback. I can accept your comments re Beaumont and Fenby, although my feeling is that desperate times call for desperate measures. I am willing to consider alternatives, but to me messrs Roy, Denly, Bairstow and Buttler have all demonstrated that they cannot do enough against the red ball (and Denly’s 50 today is very much in the “too little, too late” category), and they all need replacing. This is also why I am not suggesting many changes in the bowling department – the batting is the problem area, and having followed the game for over 30 years I have seen far too many occasions when bowlers have been thrown under the bus when it is really the batters who are the problem. Fully accept your point re Joe Clarke.