How remarkable is Englands change in fortunes in the cricket, i know it’s only four ODI’s and one test match but never the less it’s still great to see a winning team at last. Not just the winning though but the manner of them, there seems to be a new energy and vibe about the whole team that hasn’t been there for the last two to three years, also a much better balance to the whole team, which brings me to my main point of issue which is the selectors.
I know people will say that it’s easy with hindsight but surely the art of being a selector involves a certain element of prediction, which is where i believe that the selectors got it badly wrong at the start of the South Africa Test series. Aside from the continued charmed life the batsmen have had for the last ten to fifteen test matches which is another story altogether (Pietersen excluded obviously) the decision to leave Flintoff out of the 1st Test was clearly the wrong one, looking at his fitness is the last three Tests show what great shape he has got himself in & some of the batsmen who faced him in the county match before the 1st Test stated at the time he was definitely ready to play, what difference could he have made in that South African 2nd innings where they lost only three wickets in two days?
Then we come to the Harmison debate, whatever your feelings whether you think he’s had enough chances already or not, it’s obvious that the side is better with him in it. It was pointless waiting til the last test of the whole summer to bring him back when the series was already gone, yet again i don’t see this as being wise with hindsight but a selection failure, during the T20 spell midway through the county season all the reports where that his bowling was back somewhere near it’s best and yet the selectors waited til the last test to bring him in. It was obvious after the 1st Test that the bowling wasn’t going to get 20 south african wickets very easily and so it proved, he should have been brought back for the 2nd test or if not then definately the 3rd to give him the chance to influence the outcome of the series.
In my view the South Africans will depart these shores greatful to the selectors for not picking Flintoff for the 1st Test and leaving it til it was to late to bring Harmison back into the fold. He had served his sentence and done the hard labour at Durham and i can’t help but think if we had picked our best team it would have been a different outcome to the series. Broad, Anderson, Sidebottom and Panesar are good honest bowlers but as a unit i believe that they lack that extra bit of firepower to get 20 wickets against the top class sides, it’s ok playing the likes of New Zealand and the West Indies as you know somewhere along the line they will get themselves out.
So if we want to compete with the Aussies next summer my message to the selectors is “In future try picking our best team”