Even with free tickets being offered, only 500
fools people turned up to watch England put up a fight lasting 17 balls to delay the inevitable against India in the 3rd Test at Trent Bridge.
Hang on, 17 balls isn’t much of a resistance effort, is it? That’s more like a “we all know what’s going to happen and what is on TV today” type attempt.
The winning margin was 203 runs, a bizarre turnaround from the first two Tests where England deserved their W.
Joe Root is probably right to urge people not to be too down in the dumps in the knowledge that England lost a match against a team currently ranked number one in the world but the performance did absolutely stink of everything I mentioned last week.
There is now talk that Jonny Bairstow, injured at Trent Bridge, might still play as a specialist bat at the Ageas Bowl such is the need to keep people who can actually bat in Test conditions in the squad. Better than that, there is talk of a longer-term plan to wrestle the gloves off Bairstow and tell him he is opening the batting. Not because Jonny is keen to open, you understand. Just because there’s nobody else in England capable and we are running out of people to try.
Both Alastair Cook and Keaton Jennings really should be jettisoned. Frankly, the fact Jennings was even recalled tells us how bad the problem is – Cook should be given a long break so he can sort himself out, refresh and come and add an incredible autumn to his already legendary career. And if we can find someone to share the burden with him at the top of the order, we might see Chef return to what he can be, easily the best opening bat in the world on form.
Suddenly, England and selection looks like a total mess. Moeen Ali went back to Worcester and scored a double ton and took some wickets though we are more interested in his runs right now. If he comes in, it’s for Ollie Pope or Adil Rashid and dropping either would be odd – Pope needs time to learn the ropes and it is not his fault he has struggled so far considering he is batting two spots higher than he has ever done in first-class cricket and he may as well be batting at three the speed of which he has to get his pads on and get to the crease. And why have all the hoo-ha of calling up Rashid if you are not going to back him for at least the whole summer? Personally, and I said this last week, I feel the biggest mistake England have made in the entire summer selection wise is dropping Curran and bringing back Stokes. The whole thing is feeling like a mess of their own making, especially as Moeen Ali does need to be back in the side – it’s just that Ed Smith didn’t really need to go around creating a load of rods for people’s backs.
James Vince is also back in the squad as cover for Jonny Bairstow, so what does that even mean? A couple of months away from the squad means that Vince has stopped wafting airily outside off-stump? I doubt that very much indeed. We brought back Gary Ballance and that failed. We’ve brought back Keaton Jennings and that has failed. Don’t try it with Vince as well, stick with Pope and give him a home and away series before casting judgement.
That said, if Vince did get a game then Root can bat at four which is where he wants to be and we could move Pope down a place as well and he might feel more comfortable.
As I said, it’s a total mess. It’s no wonder Virat Kohli et al have their eyes on being the first team since a Don Bradman Australia XI donkeys ago to come back from 2-0 in an away series and win it.
My team for the Ageas Bowl: Cook and Jennings (because there’s nobody else yet and I don’t know enough about Rory Burns at Surrey to suggest he is the next in the queue to get a go); Root, Pope, Bairstow, Ali, Buttler, Woakes, Curran, Broad, Anderson – it’s important to point out I probably would not have brought Rashid back in the first place. If Bairstow is out, I’d keep Stokes and bump Moeen up to five. Yeah, I really would.