How do you solve a problem like the seamers?

You may not be interested in my opinion on the England team for the next Test match in Leeds, but I am interested in writing about it and so I will take advantage of having no editor other my conscience and go right ahead.

A lot is up for debate. By my reckoning only five current players can be sure of selection for the next Test: Cook, Pietersen, Collingwood, Prior and Panesar. Of the others, it has been a long time since Strauss produced a major innings, Bell is vulnerable if the selectors decide to pick both Vaughan and Flintoff, Shah looked absolutely hopeless at this level, Plunkett isn’t an automatic selection, Hoggard is injured and poor old Steve Harmison needs no further comment. So there is the potential for quite a few changes depending on the mindset of the selectors.

For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t risk Hoggard, Vaughan, Flintoff or Jones because of current or recent injuries. I might be tempted to replace Strauss with Vaughan since neither has produced an innings of note in recent months but Strauss has had the opportunity to do so and not taken it.

The conventional wisdom on picking sides for Headingley is that it is a helpful wicket for seamers and you might choose to pick an extra batsman to compensate. That sort of thinking can safely be consigned to the history books – Headingley is no more likely to favour seam bowling than anywhere else these days. We are compelled to pick our top bowler, Panesar, who is neither a seamer nor likely to contribute with the bat so the remaining ten positions need to give us a wicket-keeper and four seam bowling options.

Here’s an option which will certainly be overlooked by the selectors:

1. Strauss (or Vaughan)
2. Cook
3. Bell
4. Pietersen
5. Collingwood
6. Prior
7. Bresnan
8. Broad
9. Onions/Harmison/Anderson/Plunkett/whoever
10. Onions/Harmison/Anderson/Plunkett/whoever
11. Panesar

The addition of both Tim Bresnan (a local) and Stuart Broad gives us some compensation for the loss of a batsman as both could potentially make useful lower order runs. Neither is a Test number 7 but the combination of the two means you have two chances of somebody staying with Collingwood for a while. Neither reduces the quality of our seam options noticeably.

The remaining two seamers should probably be picked on the basis of experience or the side would look a bit green. I guess that means Harmison and Anderson although neither looks likely to take a wicket at the moment, never mind bowl a side out.

Is Prior a Test number 6? No, but he has form and confidence. This is a side designed to compensate for the loss due to injury of some very important players. With no fit Vaughan, Flintoff, Jones or Hoggard it is going to be necessary to compromise. Here is a slightly left-field option that makes the most of the resources available. I have no doubt the actual side will bear no resemble to this one at all.


1 Response to “How do you solve a problem like the seamers?”

  1. 1 Dominic Sayers May 24, 2007 at 14:25

    So it looks like we will have Anderson, Plunkett and Harmison due to the injury to Broad. So the only difference between my side and the selectors is Sidebottom for Bresnan – a better bowler but not such an accomplished batter. So if we do not do well I only have myself to blame now.

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