Finally, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s nearly here. It is so close I can feel it. That’s right folks, Test Cricket is back and what a series we have to look forward to in the latter stages of the summer.
Latter stages? OK, second half, maybe. You know what I mean. Shall we just call it August?
Five Test matches. Just under six weeks. It’s going to be full on and it is going to be just what a Test series should be – a test. The clue is in the name, after all.
I have grown weary of these mini-Test series that have become en vogue, purely as a way to try and get the ‘bigger’ Test nations into stadiums more frequently and therefore pay the bills. I am old school, despite still being young enough to be considered a colt in some counties. I like a Test series to be best-of-five. Let’s get it on.
With the first ball of the series to be bowled at Edgbaston on Wednesday, the series is already throwing up enough talking points for the average club cricketer to shell at least one like a pea. Trust me, following my brief return to the I’Anson Cricket League in Surrey for one weekend only last weekend, I know all about shelling a very simple catch. Catches dropped in Spain? Not very many at all. Catches dropped in one game in England? Two. And boy was one embarrassing.
But I am not here to confess my own inability, oh no.
I am here to critically analyse, or as I prefer to call it, mock the moment.
It’s not like Yorkshire to get their knickers in a twist over something cricket related, is it now? Adil Rashid ‘retired’ from red ball cricket to focus on his ODI game earlier this year, basically rendering him unavailable for County Cricket. Despite not bowling a red ball in anger since 2017, Ed Smith has decided that Rashid is just what England might need heading into the Test Series with India and boy are Yorkshire unhappy about it. Martyn Moxon has talked of counties being “doormats” whilst counting up exactly how many Tykes are representing England across all formats. Jonny Bairstow suggested that actually, Yorkshire might be “secretly chuffed” that another Academy graduate has gone on to play Test cricket for their county. If they are Jonny, they are keeping it a very good secret.
But why not Rashid? He is bowling some of the best stuff of his life currently and England are in dire need of an alternative spin option to Moeen Ali, even if Ali does tend to produce the goods in England. Granted, India are pretty adept when facing spin so if Rashid does actually play and not just become a controversial drinks carrier then it will be interesting to see how he adapts.
Personally, I am all for picking players who are in form and are confident in themselves regardless of the format – at the end of the day the rules don’t change that much between the formats – try not to get out and score as many runs as you can if you are batting and try and get as many of them out as possible for as few runs as you can when bowling. Oh, and catch it if it comes to you, OK?
With that in mind, and I have said this several times, I’d be getting Alex Hales and Jason Roy in the squad too – they have to be better options than players like Stoneman and Malan.
Five years ago, Jamie Porter was cold calling companies just in case they might want him to find them a new employee. Banging on the door, so to speak, you could say. On Wednesday morning, or England bat first maybe Wednesday afternoon, Jamie Porter might be banging on a few Indian doors with a red ball in his hand. If selected, of course.
So who is Jamie Porter and what has he done to earn a career that has taken him from recruitment to an England Test place in just five years?
Porter, it would appear, has the most county wickets of available Englishmen over the last two-and-a-bit seasons. And, considering that after Anderson and Broad the last two bowling slots have been rotated somewhat in that period of time it is almost a case of asking why England have waited this long to have a look.
Porter took 55 wickets in Division Two back in 2016 spearheading Essex’s charge to promotion. He backed that up with 75 Division One scalps at 16.82 a piece last summer as Essex won the top tier.
England chose to not show their hand to the Indians as Porter was rested from the India vs Essex tour match leading up to the first Test. If Porter does get the nod ahead of Sam Curran then it will be interesting to see if he can take that county form into the toughest Test series there is out there right now.
Do the selectors actually know anything?
Well, the first two points might suggest they do and then the latest selector to be bestowed with power, James Foster, only further endorsed this by coming up with a wonderful bit of tactical insight.
Virat Kohli is going to be key to this series.
Really, James? You think? The Indian skipper is almost peerless in every format at the moment and if he finally overcomes his England tour jinx then India will be very tough to beat.
But we knew that, James.
How about telling us something we cannot work out for ourselves?
England vs India gets underway on Wednesday.