England Test Ladder
The three upcoming Test matches at home to the West Indies feel little else but a series of trials ahead of the Ashes. Despite the South Africa series being wrapped up nicely, arguably only one player has become an additional certainty to tour down under, namely Toblerone Jones; there are still three places up for grabs in the first-choice XI and several squad berths available. On the other hand, Mo.
Not every one was impressed, however.
We return to the Test Ladder to see who is on the plane, who needs to renew their passport and who will be able to do a shift as Father Christmas at their local shopping centre. As ever, this is a ranking of the likelihood of being selected, all in our humble opinion.
- Joe Root (unchanged) Apart from DRS, the top order, Trent Bridge and the incident with Liam Dawson, everything went better than expected in Root’s maiden series as captain. Just work on the reviews, Joe (and the blasted conversion rate of 50s to 100s).
- Ben Stokes (+3) Integral to the side, with his batting now strong enough to warrant a place in the top order, his catching consistently excellent and his bowling an added bonus (albeit his weakest discipline). Maturing nicely.
Like a nice hunk of Red Leicester.
- Alastair Cook (-1) His powers have waned considerably, but compared with the sea of sewage around him, he is an island of tranquillity.
- Jonny Bairstow (+2) Whereas Stokes seems to have mellowed as he matured, so Bairstow appears to have grown in confidence. He looks a different man to the meek batsman of two years ago.
- James Anderson (-2) He has slipped a couple of places, but only because those who can be relied upon with the bat are far more important to the team at present than the bowlers. The first extant cricketer to have an end named after him since Mr Nursery.
- Moeen Ali (+1) England’s second spinner and lower order batsman took 25 wickets and scored 250 runs in four matches? Beat that with a stick.
- Stuart Broad (-3) Threatened once or twice to begin a trademark burst of wickets but was overshadowed throughout, through no fault of his own.
- Chris Woakes (unchanged) It feels like he’s never been inked into a starting XI, and he still doesn’t due to his lengthy absence from injury and the emergence of TRJ. However, we’d feel more confident if he started at the Gabba instead of the Middlesex man.
- Toby Roland-Jones (+16) Well he’s lasted longer in the team than Kabir Ali did. Will he overtake Ed Giddens? Yes. Will he have a long international career? No.
- Tom Westley (NE) Of the series’ young batsmen, it was the Essex Man who looked most comfortable. Which is like saying a fly-tipped mattress is more comfortable than a fly-tipped mattress with piss stains and broken springs.
- Haseeb Hameed (NE) Yeah, we missed him out last time we did a Test Ladder. Look, it’s not easy being competent. Anyway, a timely dogged knock in the County Championship might just get Hameed back into the team for the West Indies matches. England are desperate for someone who can build an innings, and Hameed against India looked the best bet for some time.
- Mark Stoneman (RE) He featured in our England Ladder in September 2015, so we deserve a million credits if he finally gets picked soon. But so did Chris Rushworth, so that’s a million credits we deserve to lose.
- Mark Wood (-2) A series average roughly equivalent to the GDP of South Africa does not necessarily suggest he’ll make a starring return to the side anytime soon. However, it has been said before, and it will be said again, that there is something about him. There is, after all, something about him.
- Ben Foakes (NE) Giving a specialist wicket-keeper a go against the Windies might not be the silliest thing the selectors have ever done. The quantity of all-rounders (including Bairstow) means that it could work, with the Surrey man the most likely to benefit.
- Jos Buttler (-2) Although they’ll probably just try and shoehorn in Buttler instead.
Day two in the Selector’s committee room and James Whitaker still maintains that there is a way.
- Adil Rashid (-4) When England play two spinners, Rashid should probably partner Ali. However, someone (or some) just don’t seem to trust him. We suspect he’ll be taken to Australia, but that’s by no means certain.
- Mason Crane (NE) Especially with the Hampshire lad turning heads and turning balls.
- Alex Hales (-9) In form, and not just in the shorter formats of the game. England don’t exactly need someone who can push the scoring rate forward, but with a Dawid Malan-shaped hole likely to appear at No. 5, Hales could be the man to fill it.
- Liam Dawson (NE) The frustrating thing is that there is a role for Liam Dawson; it’s just not in the Test XI and not as first-choice spinner.
- Dawid Malan (NE) Wery lucky to have been selected in the first place; wery likely to be replaced in the near future.
- Keaton Jennings (NE) There’s a feeling that he’s the day before yesterday’s man.
- Ben Duckett (+2) His time will come again, but not this side of 2018.
- Scott Borthwick (-3) The anti-Plunkett. Basically, whenever we sing his praises, he goes to shit.
- Jake Ball (-6) We’d only advocate his selection if there was another fast bowler called Cannon.
- Tom Curran (RE) Too Surrey for our liking, but we have to admit he’s got something about him.
- Liam Plunkett (-7) Get him on that plane and give him the choice of air-stewardesses and the bunks in first-class.
- Jack Leach (+2) Because England need more players who wear spectacles, and because his first-class record is pretty darn tidy (for an English spinner).
- Daniel Bell-Drummond (-5) It’s not going to happen, is it? 🙁
- Gary Ballance (-15) His finger injury happened at the best possible time. Finger injuries do need 12 months of treatment before the all-clear, don’t they?
- Saj Mahmood (unchanged) “legend” – not our words, but the words of the Huddersfield Daily Examiner.