Understudy tourists

England will soon have to pick its squad for the winter tours and the three understudy roles up for grabs are those of top-three batsman, wicketkeeper and spinner. My calls for Bob Key were largely dismissed, so I’ll move on to the ‘keeper, who will start as Matt Prior’s back-up, but may get a crack if the Sussex man drops Sangakkara on 0 and becomes Murali’s latest bunny.

It seems England now have an embarrassment of riches at keeper with several stumpers scoring regular runs this season. Foster, Ambrose, Mustard, Read, Jones, Batty have all scored well. Read and Jones have likely had their turn, but Foster may be due another one? Ambrose has been excellent too. Tricky. Mustard must be in line for ODIs, because he’s brilliant at the top of the order for Durham. It’s a shame for Steven Davies that Worcestershire have hardly played this season.

Spinners are more of a quandary. I don’t agree that Pietersen and Vaughan can fill in the gaps. We need a genuine spinner to support Monty, especially in Sri Lanka. The problem is that, as ever, there are no English spinners topping the charts, although I can’t see what Graeme Swann has done to upset the selectors. He would do alright. Adil Rashid has great potential and can bat too. As can Alex Loudon. But would any of them bowl out Sri Lanka? I’m at a loss.

Bring back Shaggy?!

Luck of the Irish?

William asked for it (not me; I’m not speaking the third person), so I thought I’d offer thoughts on Ed Joyce’s call-up to replace Marcus Trescothick. I find it baffling, quite honestly. I’ve been a big supporter of him for many years. He’s a calm individual, relaxed at the crease – unfazed by situations – and bats accordingly. He’s very talented indeed but what I saw of him in his brief one-day appearances didn’t inspire much confidence. Worse still, what must Rob Key feel?

Interestingly Key is one of Flintoff’s best buddies, and there will have been no shortage of bellowing from the captain. Stranger still that Owais Shah wasn’t called up, perhaps England’s best player of spin (I can’t think of too many who play spin with such ease). Perhaps they just wanted another left-hander…

Your thoughts, ladies and gents.