Nothing Special

Ignoring the main point of discussion about the England team for Bangladesh, which seems to centre on the fact that Andrew Strauss is giving the tour a miss (I'm firmly in the anti camp), I found myself looking up Ajmal Shahzad's details on Cricinfo the other day as Michael Vaughan kept going on about him on TMS.

I keep a fairly close eye on county cricket and couldn't remember him doing very much, but thought I must have overlooked something as Vaughan kept talking about him as though he was the best thing since sliced bread.

Cricinfo revealed that he's taken 53 wickets at 35 from 22 matches, with a best of 4 for 22. Nothing special, and for a moment I found myself wondering what was up and how we could even consider picking someone for a Test squad when they'd never taken five wickets in a first-class innings. It wouldn't have happened in the old days (as Fred Trueman might have pointed out).

But then I remembered that Wayne Parnell and Nathan Hauritz were in the same boat when picked by South Africa and Australia respectively. Indeed Hauritz's average was well over 40 and he's done okay, so perhaps it doesn't matter all that much.

We'll see. The chances of Shahzad actually playing in Bangladesh look slim, not that that's enough to prevent him being dropped. Just ask Adil Rashid.


Dean @ Cricket Betting Blog said...

Think I'm right in saying that both Michael Vaughan and Marcus Trescothick had fairly modest county averages when they were first picked, think they both averaged in low 30's.

Apparently Duncan Fletcher saw something he liked.

Hopefully whoever had the idea to pick Shahzad has the same eye for a player.

Hopefully he won't just be dragged around different tours having nets like Rashid, and then getting dumped, with what I believe to be very harsh treatment of a young man.

If he wasn't ready then why didn't someone notice this on the West Indies tour?

He then could have been playing somewhere else instead of his long net session in SA, and playing for his county during the Natwest series last summer. Bad man-management for me.

Brian Carpenter said...

Of course you're right to mention Tres and Vaughan. And I totally agree about Rashid; I think he's been very badly treated but I think he's got the talent to come back and, at 21, time's on his side.

Edmund said...

I'm not sure that Rashid has been so badly treated: he's been blooded early and WILL come back, probably sooner than you think. But, besides, it's not a bad gripe to have: it must be forty years since we had a choice of FOUR spinners (Swann, Tredwell, Rashid and Panesar also threatening to come back), all with realistic prospects for selection.

But the move for the mediocre Shahzad is particularly amazing given that Steve Kirby and Jon Lewis have been far more consistent performers in 2009. You can hardly call Rashid unlucky, when he has been virtually guaranteed a second chance, whereas "JJ" was dumped for ever after only one test.
In fact, the bowling attack of that match (3rd test vs Sri Lanka, Nottingham 2006) makes interesting reading in this light: Hoggard, Lewis, Flintoff, Plunkett, Panesar. The sixth bowler used then, Pietersen, may be the only one to be retained, though after recent matches even HE can't take his place for granted...
One final point: the middle order of that match (Cook, Pietersen, Collingwood) have stayed despite all failing. Is it easier for batsmen to keep their place than bowlers? Are there more bowlers who are one-match wonders than batsmen?

Brian Carpenter said...

Thanks, Edmund, and good to see you back again.

I wouldn't necessarily assume that I don't expect to see Rashid back soon. His performances in the Championship, especially late last season, showed he's got plenty to offer, but I get the impression that Flower has a keen eye for what he wants in a player and feels that Rashid's a bit short of what's required at the moment. The extent to which he was badly treated can be debated, but, you're right, he'll be back. Overall I'd agree that Jon Lewis deserved more than the single Test chance he got, but his chief problem was that he was 30 when he played in that game and didn't look like the type of bowler who'd make a major long-term impact, especially abroad. Plus I don't think Fletcher was ever convinced by him, which would have comprehensively cooked his goose in those days.

As for the question of whether it's easier for batsmen to hold their place than bowlers, the answer must be yes. I'm not sure if that's as it should be but I think those responsible for selection are sometimes influenced (if only subliminally) by the fact that, as everyone knows, as a batsman you can make one mistake, or receive one very good ball, and your chance is gone, while as a bowler you can have well over a hundred opportunities to take wickets in an innings. So the implicit reasoning may be along the lines of 'if you've got all those chances and you're still not taking wickets...', ignoring the fact that, in general (and especially in the modern international era of dead pitches and ultra-powerful bats) runs are easier to score than wickets are to take.

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