“Ben Stokes is a big-match player,” said Chris Woakes which was quite easy for him to say considering he wasn’t the one who got dropped.
Despite Sam Curran coming in and doing more, in my opinion, in two Tests than Ben Stokes has managed in a very long time it was the young lad who was dropped to make way for the man with an “acquittal” verdict tucked away in his cricket bag.
Was this the right decision to make? Well, if England do somehow go on and win this Third Test match (and I cannot really tell you how unlikely that is) then fair enough – I will admit I was wrong, especially if Stokes take five-second innings wickets and scores a majestic ton.
Given that that outcome is incredibly unlikely after India knocked up 329 and then bowled out England for 161 before cruising to 124-2 at the close of play on Sunday night I have to question Joe Root, Ed Smith and whoever is currently in the brains trust.
What exactly did Sam Curran have to do not to be dropped? I mean, if you were determined to pick Ben Stokes no matter what then why not just pick him to bat and keep Curran in the side? Drop either of the openers, pull names out a hat, I don’t care. What message does it send out to a new top talent that no matter how well you play in your first two Tests; Tests that were won, you are going to be dropped to bring back a big-name player? It’s shocking form from England.
Look, I don’t care that he took a great catch to take out Kohli on 97. We can’t start picking players because they can catch (even if they are very welcome right now).
The same is clearly going to happen to Ollie Pope before the summer is out. The lad can bat, there is no question. Yet, he is going to be totally stitched up for the rest of this series by the fact that he is going to be batting before there is 100 on the board every single time.
Keaton Jennings is not a Test cricketer. Yet again, we have seen his technique regress as the Indian bowlers gobble him up quicker than Ben Stokes necks a few quick pints on a night out in Bristol. Alastair Cook, one of my favourite opening batsmen of all time, needs a break and also needs someone good enough to come in and replace him for a period of time whilst he refinds himself scoring bucket loads for Essex. But there isn’t anyone, is there? Otherwise, they’d already be opening with Cook.
England will do very well not to lose this Test from here and, considering many of you will be reading this on Tuesday, they probably already have.
But that Ben Stokes, he’s a big-game player.