It’s been a slightly underwhelming end to the first home Test series, given all the news surrounding the England team and with the final Test against the West Indies being washed out. However it’s been quite a formative last week for England none the less and one in which offers hope ahead to cricket fans and of course, for our cricket corporate hospitality guests over the summer.
Was it the right decision to rest Anderson?
England head coach Andy Flower’s decision to rest James Anderson for the final Test against the West Indies was a huge talking point amongst fans and professionals alike, only overshadowed by the somewhat questionably timed retirement of Kevin Pietersen from international ODI and Twenty20 cricket.
Both Broad and Anderson where rested in the end with Finn brought in to replace Anderson and Onions Broad. One certainly can’t hold it against Flowers bringing in Finn, a player who can consistently bowl over 90mph. Of course it’s all too easy to speculate on what could have been, had Anderson been bowling during the Windies first innings. The fact is however both Ramdin and Best put on a superb display.
Flower’s logic appeared sound given the Test series against the West Indies was already wrapped up and the next Test series against South Africa is looming large on the horizon mid-July. He’s also made it clear that England will continue to adopt a squad rotation policy in order to grow “our pool of fast bowlers”.
What is clear however is the depth of quality England have; one report claimed that England’s reserve bowling attack of Finn, Tremlett, Monty Panesar and Graham Onions would rank at number 4 in the world behind only England’s first attack, South Africa and Australia. If England are to dominate Test cricket in the years ahead as many predict, they’ll need such depth of quality to choose from, especially given the increasingly heavy schedule players face. The question remains however which approach will provide a more successful team; should we establish a consistent starting XI or develop a squad with cover and competition?
Furthermore some argue that the lure of the Indian Premier League and Twenty20 franchise cricket will decay the wealth of talent England have to choose from in the future. If bright talents such as Finn and Tremlett do not feature as often as they’d like for England then perhaps the temptation will be too strong for them to capitalise on the big demand for English players in overseas leagues such as the IPL.
Pietersen on reduced England duty
Pietersen’s ‘not-so-surprising’ decision to retire from 50-over one day internationals and Twenty20 contests was announced last week with the player citing the heavy workload as his reason. He later went onto state that he’d like to play for England for the T20 World Cup this September in Sri Lanka, but he can no longer continue playing all forms of cricket. The ECB however do not allow players to pick and choosing their preferred format, rather they must play both 50-over ODI’s and Twenty20 or neither.
Trott himself said he wasn’t surprised by Pietersen’s decision and noted the rest of the England team’s “fully support” his decision. England’s batting coach Graham Gooch was also upbeat on Pietersen’s decision. In another sign that England’s management are forward thinking ‘team’ players, Gooch was happy the opportunity to represent England had been passed on stating:
“You have got to look at it from a team point of view as an opportunity for someone else to make his mark, to represent his country and to win games for his country.
However Pietersen looks to have missed out on the chance to change Nick Knight’s view on his ODI abilities. Knight who himself was a successful England batsmen, has been critical of Pietersen in the past and believes the England ODI side will be “slightly better for having Kevin Pietersen out, because it has not been his bag”. Pietersen has averaged just over 41 runs in his career making him far from prolific, so it’s not hard to understand Knight’s point of view when you take into account his obvious talent.
ECB signs seven-year international TV deal
In a sign of England cricket continued global popularity, the ECB signed a sever-year deal with ESPN STAR Sports that will see England fixtures continue to be shown in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. The deal will run from 2013 to 2017 and includes not onlt three home Ashes series against Australia but 60 days of action each season from domestic competitions.
ECB chief executive David Collier says “this new agreement demonstrates the enormous appetite for cricket worldwide … TV audiences for cricket are expanding rapidly in Asia and the Middle East.”
And so overall although there have been many questions asked there have also been many answers provided. The England management have shown their resolve and commitment to a clear future plan that builds upon the wealth of talent at their disposal. These are still early days in comparison to the dominant periods enjoyed by the West Indies team of the 80/90’s and Australia in the late 90’s, but we all believe here there’s more big things to come!