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?!

Trescothick- Shoaib was the difference

England opening batsman Marcus Trescothick conceded that England had been outplayed in Pakistan, and pinpoints Shoaib Akhtar as the difference:

There’s no point making excuses: we were outplayed, simple as that. They had qualities that we didn’t. Most critically, they had Shoaib Akhtar, who bowled better than I have ever seen him bowl before. Sure, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Danish Kaneria had big series, too, but it was Shoaib who kept putting us under pressure early on in our innings. Without him, Pakistan would have been a much less fearsome unit.

Shoaib is a huge figure in world cricket; a volatile, dynamic, and emotional man who has a huge role to play in Pakistani cricket, and I wrote about him at length the other day.

Trescothick also muses about the lessons England need to take from their defeat:

But the lesson here is that we have to learn to adapt. You can still be positive by scoring at two runs an over. We have to become flexible enough to control any situation.

The best example of this was our run-chase at Multan, which ended in failure and so set the tone for the series. We had two half-decent partnerships – first Andrew Strauss and Ian Bell, and then Geraint Jones and Shaun Udal – which relied on playing patiently and seeing off the bowlers. While it would have been nice to dash to a quick win – and the pitch wasn’t getting any younger – hindsight certainly suggests we were too eager that day.

You don’t get many opportunities to win games in Pakistan, so it really hurt to let that opportunity slip. We had outplayed them for most of the match, and if we had won it, I’m sure the whole tour would have been a completely different story.

In a three Test series, it is so hard to come back after you’ve dropped the First Test. Mismanaging the runchase as they did, England will have to learn if they want to do better in the sub-continent in future.

Udal, Loudon to tour Pakistan

Thoughts on the squad? Shaun Udal and Alex Loudon both in the party.


England squad Michael Vaughan (capt), James Anderson, Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood, Andrew Flintoff, Ashley Giles, Steve Harmison, Matthew Hoggard, Geraint Jones, Simon Jones, Alex Loudon, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior, Andrew Strauss, Chris Tremlett, Marcus Trescothick, Shaun Udal.

England one-day squad Michael Vaughan (capt), James Anderson, Paul Collingwood, Andrew Flintoff, Ashley Giles, Steve Harmison, Geraint Jones, Simon Jones, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior, Liam Plunkett, Vikram Solanki, Andrew Strauss, Chris Tremlett, Marcus Trescothick

National Academy Squad Gareth Batty, Ravi Bopara, Stuart Broad, Rikki Clarke, Alastair Cook, James Dalrymple, Steven Davies, Mark Footitt, Ed Joyce, Robert Key, Sajid Mahmood, Liam Plunkett, Chris Read, Owais Shah, Tom Smith, Luke Wright, Mike Yardy