We probably ALL have views on who we think is the best team in given circumstances – format, pitch, opposition, atmospherics – plus what order they should bat or bowl in, and given the many various and complex permutations, this leads us to Don’s Law. For those of those unfamiliar with this, as it’s currently not on wikipedia, Don’s Law explains that due to all these permutations, the team you would have picked is unbeaten, as it never actually plays!
Given all the possible variations, would many of us have ended up with a vastly different side to the one on the pitch at Canterbury? I think not. The core of the side picks itself – it is the next 3 to 5 from the pool of contracted players that may vary, plus which order they bat or bowl in.
There were many calls on the final day of the test, at the ground and on social media, for a different and often more aggressive order. Given that many games in England may be decided by the Duckworth Lewis calculation which looks at the resources a team has to offer, why is a rain un-affected game any different? Given that there were more preferable outcomes – win, then draw, and loss last of all – and there was a window for each of the first two outcomes, therefore, why not use the players in the best order to achieve each outcome? Players have a natural game and asking them to bat in a different way is dangerous and not often successful.
Players at all levels do like to know which position they are going to bat in, to prepare mentally, to know when to put their clobber on and warm up – also their parents & friends may like notice of when to get nervous. However, I suspect all of these parties would prefer to win more…
The next question may be do we have the right players in the pool? Whilst at the moment we seem to have quite a good range of spin bowlers around, and at the moment a decent supply of quick bowlers (although we like other teams seem to struggle to keep them fit), plus a number of keepers who have turned to batting full time when they realised they were unlikely to have a chance of keeping for England, it is batsmen where there seems to be a current dearth.
In years gone by, there used to be a number of Lanning-like batsmen across the domestic scene – the type who after celebrating a wicket elicited a groan as you realised who was next striding to the wicket! There don’t seem to be those dominant players around any more – does that mean we are developing fewer batsmen, that the domestic game is more balanced or that we are are in the cycle that many clubs often find themselves – sorting out a weak area only for something else to become an issue… Shame that batsmen seem to be an endangered species in domestic cricket.
For me, batsmen in form were the difference between the teams at Canterbury…