Who would want to be a selector?
Who would want to be a selector? Not me. Every month I seem to put the kiss of death on any player who has any kind of ambition of getting back into the England squad. First Gary Ballance and now Scott Borthwick! Ever since putting the Durham man's case forward in last month's blog, his form has deserted him - sorry Scott. Do I even mention the name Jos Buttler now?!
With Nick Compton's decision to take an indefinite break from the game - I wish him well - it has not only opened up the number three position in England's batting order, but has given the selectors plenty of food for thought. In my mind they have two options: 1) to bring Borthwick in for Compton as a direct replacement or 2) to push Vince up to three, Bairstow up to five and bring Buttler back in at seven. Oh the decisions!
Option 2 certainly has some mileage, especially given Buttler's outstanding form in the Sri Lanka ODI series. But for a few reasons I'm staying true to my comments last month and would bring Borthwick into the side. Bairstow has been batting brilliantly for England at number seven and despite the odd drop, his keeping has come on leaps and bounds since South Africa. And if reports are to believed he is working very, very hard with Bruce French on his keeping. I worry by taking the gloves away from him now the selectors would be in danger of knocking the confidence out of someone who has worked so very hard to get to the position he's in now. And Bairstow is definitely a confidence player. Also, I would add to that, that Buttler needs to get some red ball cricket back under his belt. Show that hunger and determination to win that place back by performing in four day cricket for Lancashire.
Lastly, I'm not sure pushing Vince, who is trying to find his feet in Test cricket after a run of low scores, is the right thing to do right now.
It's definitely a dilemma for the selectors. But the Borthwick flag is still flying high with me. If that wasn't enough for the selectors to deliberate over, with Stokes likely to return for Lords and Jimmy set to be passed fit, who gets left out from the bowlers? Steven Finn or Chris Woakes? On current form Woakes has to play. For whatever reason something is just not quite right with Finny at the moment and with Woakes consistently bowling at a quicker pace, with more accuracy and taking more wickets, combined with his superior batting skills, Woakes has to play.
So this is my team, for that first Test at Lords: Cook, Hales, Borthwick, Root, Vince, Stokes, Bairstow, Ali, Woakes, Broad and Anderson.
Selectors, over to you. Enjoy your meeting and rather you than me!