Turning Point?

For anyone who watched KP limp his way through the Lord's Test, today's news that he won't be playing for England again this summer will have come as no surprise. And, even though he hasn't been near his best form recently, as a proven big-game player with the ability to turn bad form into good at the drop of a hat, he's a big loss to England.

It seems highly probable that Ian Bell will be his replacement. This isn't necessarily bad news; too many people appear to have forgotten that Bell is a player of very considerable talent and excellent technique who has made 3000 Test runs at 40 with 8 centuries. Okay, he was kept in the side for time beyond endurance while continuing to fail, and the concerns over the resilience of his temperament are entirely justified, but please don't write him off before he's had another chance.

It's a pity, though, that there isn't exactly a long queue of other contenders. Robert Key? Recent runs, but really an opener and the suspicion is that his face doesn't fit. Joe Denly? In my opinion a great prospect with good runs against Australia, but an opener. Jonathan Trott? Getting closer all the time, but unlikely to be considered ahead of Bell yet. Owais Shah? Never going to happen. Mark Ramprakash? Ditto. Marcus Trescothick? Don't even go there.

Whole series have turned on less.


Gaurav Sethi said...

Bell had it too easy against India, and then he took it for granted. Think he wanted to score as he walked in to bat - somebody gotta sit down guys like Bell, who want to seize an ODI berth with their test form, strike rate, inventiveness. Dravid was caught in the same loop for a while. Tell you, the ODI carrot destroys some pretty able test players.

Brian Carpenter said...

Bell just needs to go out and bat as he can, without worrying about his body language or how he comes over to the opposition.

Like a good few other English players - Ramprakash, Hick - he's easily good enough but it's what goes on between his ears that's the problem.

Rob said...

I think the problem is that it *is* another chance when other cricketers don't get a go. Test cricket can be the making of some players and they are just not getting a chance. There might not be a long queue of options but it seems unfair to not even try some of them. Bell has done nothing to deserve this chance (one innings does not count). I reckon if the Aussies had a say, they would select Bell.

Brian Carpenter said...

Of the other candidates, on current form I think Ian Trott would have been worth a go, and, overall, I think Shah's been very badly treated at Test level although he didn't inspire confidence in the West Indies and I suspect that Flower et al have lost interest (he would have been selected for the Lions game otherwise).

However, while I'm not sure I've got much more confidence than you about Bell doing well, I do think he's as good a choice as anyone else - he's at least got some Test runs and centuries, not all of which are worthless - and it seems wrong to automatically assume he'll fail.

What's clear, however, is that he'll be slaughtered unmercifully if he does fail, which seems a bit harsh. It wasn't his fault that he kept being selected when his form had declined, and he can play a bit.

Anyway, has he been selected yet? I don't think he has.

Russ said...

Brian, I am not sure I understand your writing off of the openers for being openers: Key and Denly. In a situation where Bopara is probably playing one spot too high, pushing him down and playing an opener at three would seem the ideal fit. How you fit KP back in if that succeeds is a good question, but not a bad problem to have.

As for Bell, I think he'll play. It would be an odd selection for him to be selected as a reserve, then dropped when someone becomes injured. We'll see.

Brian Carpenter said...

Thanks, Russ, and welcome along.

Yes, I think I was probably being a bit conservative in my thinking, although I was probably unconsciously reflecting the way I think the selectors would approach it. Key could certainly bat at three; Denly could as well but I'm fairly certain he's always opened for Kent and it would be better to have him in a familiar position for his debut.

I think they'll give Bopara one more match at three, with Bell at five, but things could change if Bopara continues to struggle. KP will obviously come straight back in when fully fit but there must be doubts about whether that'll be this season.

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