Sri Lanka Squad
Well I’m not sure this Sri Lanka trip is going to be quite what I’d expected when we booked it back at the start of this year!
Aside from the fact that I will now be climbing Adam’s Peak at 31 weeks pregnant (4 hours ‘moderately tough’ in travel guide speak means it’ll be pretty easy for a still-quite-fit-preggo, no?), the England side looks like it could have quite a different makeup to that which I had expected.
Of course, with only five tests to play before the Ashes, there’s actually not a lot of wriggle room to be carrying dead wood. And in a way, it means the warm-up matches that I will be watching (tests and school term times are not buddies) could be some of the most important for a good while.
I admit it, I had hoped that Cook would stay on and opt for a quiet retirement away from home, allowing a glorious few tourists to see him bat in what for him are pretty favourable conditions. But you have to hand it to the Chef: he deserved that Oval send off more than anyone else I’ve watched as an England player. On which note, PC TinTin and I met at Alastair Cook’s second test match, after the ginger one saw his debut century in Nagpur. I’m not quite sure how our relationship is going to work without Cookie in it??
I had also half hoped that Jimmy would take his record-taking wicket in Sri Lanka, but again you can’t begrudge him doing it in front of a home crowd full of love and admiration.
There was talk, too, of leaving Anderson and Broad at home to sit out the Sri Lanka series, on the basis that runs would be plentiful and wickets for swing bowlers, at least, scarce.
I’m pleased that England have taken them both; it would seem logical to play them one at a time not for the purpose of resting either of them – there’s really not that much cricket to be played before the next Ashes – but because we need to be a bit more rigorous in our succession planning.
This is why it also makes sense to take Keaton Jennings this winter. I, like many, may remain unconvinced by his batting technique, even though he’s clearly one of the nicest guys in cricket. But we just can’t be going out there with two fresh openers now that Cook has gone.
I’m hoping the team management can find a way to fit in Sam Curran and Ollie Pope, as clearly both of them represent the future of England test cricket. Similarly, I’ll be hoping to see Burns open the batting, and to see a bit more joined-up thinking around Jos Buttler and Johnny Bairstow’s batting and wicket keeping positions. I’ve always been a fan of both players and to me it was no surprise when Buttler was recalled at the start of the summer because to me he should have been playing for much longer. I think he’s got the perfect temperament for the game and is an ideal role model and ambassador for cricket.
Finally, England’s man-managers need to find a way around this ridiculous ‘Mo can’t be seen as the frontline spinner’ nonsense. We can’t keep wasting a space on an additional bowler just to give Moeen the psychological candy floss that he’s been asking for.
There are certainly plenty of questions that still need answering as we head to the subcontinent, and that’s going to make this trip even better than I’d first imagined it would be.