Harmy misses out…

They never learn, do they?

See these selectors, sometimes their logic completely eludes me. England’s big problem in this series – no, stop me before I tell a lie. England’s most serious problem is that the other side is fielding eleven South Africans, while they only have two.

But, aside from the possibility of signing up more ringers, England’s other big problem is that their batsmen have been failing to fire. The captain, once the top-ranked batsman in the world, is averaging seven this series. You’ve got Paul Collingwood MBE, who hasn’t made a score for England in I don’t know how long. The odd flash of brilliance from Pietersen or even from Thom Yorke (under his “Ian Bell” alias) isn’t rescuing some wobbly performances.

So, faced with a batting lineup that isn’t working, what do the selectors do? They do what they always do – faff about with the bowlers. And this time there’s been the expectation around Harmy’s return to the squad, followed by the anticlimax of him being left out of the XI. This instantly removes a lot of the fun, bearing in mind that Harmy has an almost Pakistani quality of being either brilliant or awful, but never boring. He could win a match single-handed, or he could decide that second slip needs some wicket-keeping practice. You never know which Harmy will turn up on the day, and that’s a big part of why we love him. I suppose you can’t really blame the selectors for getting cold feet.

Still, I suppose they deserve some credit for sticking with Ambrose, even given the crapness of his performances with the bat. You really need to decide whether or not you’ve a viable keeper-batsman, and if not, you have to grit your teeth and carry the keeper. And, let’s face it, if England’s top seven can’t make a decent score between them, then they deserve to lose.

We shall see…


  1. chris y said,

    July 29, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    England’s most serious problem is that the other side is fielding eleven South Africans, while they only have two.

    Well, they tried an Aussie in the last one and look where that got them. Also, if you’re going to carry the keeper, you can’t afford Monty, and there’s no other decent spinner around. No, they’ve got worse problems than this: it starts with them being completely shagged and goes downhill from there. Until the four day game in England is dug up and replanted I wouldn’t put money on them against Ireland.

  2. ejh said,

    July 29, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    Cultural, innit. At the end of the day England are picking from a really quite small pool of potential players. There’s enough for them to produce good international cricketers, but not enough to produce enough really good ones.

    Or if you prefer “turning points of history” as your theme, try the First Test at Multan not long after the victorious Ashes series, in which a very good England side, having led by 140 or so on first innings, narrowly failed to chase 197 on the fourth day, freezing psychologically and tactically (I think seven of them were out to the same sweep shot). They were never remotely as confident again.

    I assume by the way you’re trying to tempt Norman Geras to come out and play?

  3. ejh said,

    July 29, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    Oh, if you want to do class politics and cricket you could always try comparing the educational backgrounds of English bowlers to that of English batsmen…

  4. splinteredsunrise said,

    July 30, 2008 at 7:59 am

    It is one of Norm’s redeeming features, isn’t it? Kind of like Hobsbawm and his jazz, although if I was a jazzhead I might think differently.

  5. ejh said,

    August 8, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    Misses out, indeed.

  6. splinteredsunrise said,

    August 9, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Quite. I know what Monty was trying to do, but if he could have waited…

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