106 men have played Test cricket for England in the 21st Century but unfortunately, not every single selection has worked out. For every Ben Stokes who the selectors take a punt on, there’s also an Iain Blackwell for whom success never quite arrives. It’s understandable that not every selection brings reward, but not all of England’s selections in recent years have had an obvious logic behind them.
Strange things happen when you’re 4-0 down in an away Ashes series. After Swann’s sudden mid-series retirement (if you think he jumped ship, you probably voted for Brexit) and Monty’s loss of form, England turned to the Durham man for the final Test. The fact that Borthwick now bats three and rarely bowls shows what an odd selection this was. Although to be honest, England selectors and fans alike do seem to have a fetish for young, unproven leg-spinners (see Mason Crane).
I have a theory on this one. England knew about the precocious talent of Darren’s younger Australian brother James, and thought if they picked Darren then James would be obliged to follow his brother’s footsteps and play for England too. Not buying it? Me neither. England saw conditions at Headingley in 2008 and opted to pluck Pattinson out of obscurity rather than play the more experienced Matthew Hoggard on his home ground. Harsh on Hoggy me thinks.
Do you think Australia would ever have rested Warne when they were 3-0 up in a series against England? Well that’s essentially what England did when they gave Kerrigan his debut at the expense of Swann in the last Test of the 2013 series. His eight overs went for 53 and the rest is history.
If individual shots could win Test matches, James Vince would be one of the best in the business. One of many to play Test cricket in the Trevor Bayliss era more for their white ball prowess than anything else. With an average hovering around 30 in Div. 1, he was never going to last long.
Another one Test wonder from that fifth Test of the 2013/14 Ashes tour. One of the more forgettable debuts in recent years, but he still might play Test cricket again for Ireland now they’ve got Test status.
He supposedly bowls a good yorker but his rapid elevation from Surrey benchwarmer to England Test bowler caught a few people by surprise. Never really looked like taking many wickets and played all eight of his Test matches under Peter Moores, which probably sums his Test career up.
Jos Buttler India recall
Had hardly played first class cricket since he was dropped from the England side a year previously, Buttler managed to find himself in the England XI during last year’s series in India. Maybe there’s a pattern there – whenever England are getting thumped abroad, they turn to literally anyone to try to get them out of their mess.
Moeen opening the batting
Oh Moeen, you can do many things but opening the batting in Test cricket isn’t one of them. The theory of moving him up the order to accommodate an extra spinner made perfect sense…until you remembered it would involve him opening. Another short-lived experiment.
Liam Dawson playing in England
Is he a Test match batsman? Nah. Test match spinner? Nah. But he’s got ‘good character’ though. How many Tests will Liam Dawson’s ‘good character’ win England?