Monday, 26 August 2019

And breathe...

A day has passed and my brain is still struggling to process what happened at Headingley.  I watched the game in 1981 on TV and my abiding memory isn't Botham smashing the ball into the stands but Willis charging down the hill.  To a naive thirteen year old me, victory was inevitable.  (That series sealed my fate as a lifelong cricket addict.)  Same in 2001 when Mark Butcher played so well I knew he'd never get out.  Away from Ashes cricket I saw Devon Malcolm's 9/57 against the Saffers in 1993 and I knew he would win us the game.  And I watched Lara's 150+ against the Aussies at Barbados in 1999, that was as tense as it was awesome.  I can't think of anything in almost forty years that was as impressive as what Ben Stokes did yesterday.  Even Sir Geoffrey has rated it the best innings he'd seen.  I have a feeling we haven't seen the best of Stokes either.  He may never play another innings like the one I saw/heard yesterday but he will become one of our greatest ever batsmen, as well as a very handy bowler and a fabulous fielder.

The Ashes were gone but Ben Stokes happened and dragged them back but the series isn't over by a long way.  We still have to get better if we are going to win and we know where we have to improve.

Australia have a superb bowling attack but so do we.  Broad and Archer have been consistently superb, if Jimmy is fit he must play at Manchester.  Take Lords out of Chris Woakes records and his statistics are not good enough, yes he can bat but that isn't why he is picked, he should be rested for the next test.  Jack Leach is a tough character and is definitely our No. 1 spinner now, Mo may have played his last home test.

The amazing second innings shouldn't deflect attention from the almost disastrous first, it should have cost us the urn.  England must make changes but I have a horrible feeling they won't change anything, it was this selection group that picked Sam Curran ahead of Stuart Broad for the Barbados test earlier this year after all.

After day two I'd have dropped all of England's batsmen bar Burns, Root and Stokes but Denly's 50 contributed greatly to England's eventual win as did Bairstow's 36 so they stay for now.  If Bairstow is to bat at six then he doesn't keep, Foakes comes in and Buttler has to make way.  The selectors seem to like Ollie Pope.  That just leaves an opener, I like Jason Roy but now is not the time to be learning how to play red ball cricket.  There are a couple of young openers doing well in first class cricket, give them a go.

The XI that won't be picked for Old Trafford.
Burns, Sibley, Root, Denly, Stokes, Bairstow, Foakes, Archer, Broad, Leach, Anderson

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