Se­lec­tors have failed to pre­pare for Ashes series

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Third Test - By Scyld Berry chief cricket writer

Eng­land’s se­lec­tors this sum­mer have not se­lected. It is their job to stand back and pre­pare for the fu­ture, while Eng­land’s cap­tain and head coach fo­cus on the present, and they have hardly done so.

Af­ter the prac­tice game be­tween the Stokes XI and But­tler’s XI at the start of July, it was clear that Eng­land’s best at­tack for the next Ashes series – now only 15 months away – would con­sist of Jofra Archer, Ol­lie

Robin­son and prob­a­bly the re­vamped Craig Over­ton, backed by Ben Stokes and a spin­ner. Only when these bowlers needed a rest this sum­mer should Eng­land have re­sorted to their abun­dant re­sources of seam and swing.

Un­less Robin­son is a late call-up for the third Test team, noth­ing has been done. Archer has been given three Tests as third or fourth seamer, and bowled like one. He should have been lead­ing the at­tack. Who is the bowler most likely to take 20 wick­ets in the next Ashes series, when Eng­land have to take more than 80 to win? No­body in the last Test, where the pace bowl­ing was de­signed to max­imise English con­di­tions: James An­der­son, Stu­art Broad, Chris Woakes and Sam Curran, all with far bet­ter records at home than abroad.

In­stead the se­lec­tors – Ed Smith, James Taylor and Chris Silverwood, also head coach – have al­lowed An­der­son and Broad to dic­tate se­lec­tion. As soon as one is omit­ted, their PR cam­paign swings into ac­tion. An­der­son had a tri­umph in Aus­tralia in 2010-11 by be­ing re­lent­lessly ac­cu­rate and get­ting the Kook­aburra to re­verse-swing, but even so his record in Aus­tralia is 60 wick­ets at 35 runs each in 18 Tests;

Broad’s is 34 wick­ets at 37 each in 12 Tests; Woakes has taken 10 wick­ets at 49 each in four Tests.

In ad­di­tion to those sta­tis­tics is the scar­ring. An English crick­eter who is ex­posed as a fail­ure in a Test series in Aus­tralia is bro­ken: not fin­ished, be­cause he might well carry on play­ing county or even Test cricket, but he is not go­ing to suc­ceed in an Ashes series in Aus­tralia. It is the un­scarred who win in that par­tic­u­lar en­vi­ron­ment.

The de­fect in the present panel has been high­lighted. Eng­land need a se­lec­tor who has been there and done that. The ex­ist­ing three have played 16 Tests be­tween them. Only one has played a Test in Aus­tralia, Silverwood, who fea­tured in one, when he was in­jured af­ter four overs. Col­lec­tively they pos­sess the data, but none knows from ex­pe­ri­ence what is in­volved in win­ning, and los­ing, in Aus­tralia.

To make the big call, and tell An­der­son or Broad that some­body younger needs to take the new ball in­stead, a se­lec­tor who is a for­mer player of dis­tinc­tion is re­quired. Aus­tralia’s se­lec­tors have al­ways been ruth­less in in­form­ing a player his time has come, and he has to go for the sake of the team’s evo­lu­tion. Eng­land’s bowl­ing has been go­ing up a cul-de-sac this sum­mer, not on the road to Bris­bane.

Strike bowler: Jofra Archer has been third or fourth seamer this sum­mer in­stead of lead­ing the Eng­land at­tack

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