Friday, May 04, 2007

Back to the Future

I'll hold my hands up now and say that when Paul Nixon was picked for the England ODI squad last winter, I was one amongst many who questioned the sense of the pick. Bearing in mind that he appeared to have been chosen on the basis that he was gobby and good at irritating people I suggested that if that was the criteria, maybe Jim Davidson, Bono, Rev Ian Paisley and Lily Allen should also be added to the squad.

Fair play to him though, he didn't take the TRSM criticism too hard and became one of the few 'successes' of the winter campaign with some timely batting and a generally tidy performance behind the stumps.

When the World Cup ended, you expected him to get a pat on the back from Peter Moores, and then return to the county circuit with a decent sun tan and some wonderful memories to bore his team mates with during the summer.

Bit of a shock, therefore, to find him in the 25 man squad for the first test.

Now, it's likely that he'll get picked. It's equally likely that he'll score some useful runs with probably a typically scrappy half century somewhere along the line, scored at the end of the innings as England declare on around 550-8 in one of the tests. It's equally likely that he'll keep wicket competently, take a few catches and make some tidy stumpings off of Monty.

In short, he'll do everything that's asked of him - in fact probably more.

But he still shouldn't be in the squad. He's not a Test match keeper, for one thing - nor is he someone who should be figuring in any of England's test plans beyond the end of this summer - and if that's the case, why pick him now?

There are at least four keepers in the County system at the moment who should have been picked ahead of him - Prior, Foster, Davies and Chris Read. Of those four, one is in the squad, but there's no word at this stage as to who is the intended number one.

The Lara-less West Indies side that's touring is going to be the weakest to visit these shores since the late sixties. England turned them over when they were last here - and they haven't got any stronger since then. It would have been an ideal time to draft in one or two of the keepers you'd suspect will be doing the job four or five years down the line - to let them get some relatively easy home tests under their belt before the ardours of a winter tour, and the visit of South Africa next summer.

Obviously our 'innovative' and 'forward thinking' new coach is not of the same mind.


Innocent Abroad said...

Who'd be a selector?

If you pick the best team for the match in hand, you aren't building for the future.

If you pick prospects who aren't yet the best, you're being unfair to those you exclude and heaven help you if you lose.

And what is a "test match" as opposed to a "one day" keeper, precisely? How do the skills required differ in the two forms of the game?

We haven't got a Gilchrist or a Sangakkara. You can't omit what you haven't got, and you surely don't believe that the series will hang on which keeper England pick.

Mark said...

Fair comment, but I don't see how you can ever justify someone making their test debut at age 36.

scott said...

What's the go with a 25 man squad? You could play a first and second XI and still have a spare guy left over.

God moves in Mysterious Ways, and so do England selectors!

Mark said...

I think it's called 'hedging your bets'... a less charitable description would be 'not having a f*****g clue'...!!!