Firstly, let’s talk about that title. Yes, it seems like a fairly obvious, cliched way to incorporate the surname of Craig Overton. But it also gives us a chance to talk about the music of Frank Stallone, brother of the slightly better known Sylvester. To paraphrase (i.e. steal from) Australian comedy legends Hamish and Andy, all the music in the world can be classified into two categories: the music of Frank Stallone and junk. And the foremost example of Stallone Jnr’s music is his 1983 hit Far From Over, which you can enjoy in its entirety here:
Now that we’ve got the important business out of the way, we can move on to talk about the Overton twins. If you find it hard to distinguish between them, you just need to remember that Craig is the one who told Sussex’s Pakistan-born Ashar Zaidi to “go back to [his] own f***ing country”, and is therefore perfectly suited to life in Australia. Jamie is the younger one (by three minutes), the one who bowls pretty quick, but regularly gets injured. He would therefore also be well suited to a place in Australia’s Test side.
In complete defiance of Trevor Bayliss’s assertation that England’s Ashes squad would be made up of players that had been around the squad over the past 18 months, Craig Overton’s selection took a few people by surprise (including, most likely, Bayliss himself, a man who has probably only ever been to Taunton to enjoy its massive Wetherspoons). Somerset endured a miserable 2017 season, with only a combination of a late run of victories and Peter Trego’s skill with a crossbow keeping them from being relegated to Division Two. And yet Overton was one of the few bright sparks, taking 46 wickets at 22 and definitely not getting into trouble for racially abusing anyone.
So what sort of cricketer is Craig Overton? His bowling is a bit like Stuart Broad – he’s quick but not too quick, tall but not too tall and nips the ball about a bit (but not too much). He can also bat a bit, which makes him like a young Stuart Broad. And we’d be willing to bet that he’s probably grasped the concept of not walking unless the umpire gives him out. Basically, he just is Stuart Broad and is, therefore, the ideal understudy for the man himself.
One of the (many) issues with the England squad is the sameness of the pace attack – all tall right arm fast-medium (but not too fast) bowlers. Of those left out, Mark Wood may still offer something different, being short, skiddy and almost entirely unintelligible to the average person, but given that his ankles seem to be made of biscuits, we’re not pinning too much hope on him. Without him and any realistic left-arm options (David Willey doesn’t count, for he is bobbins), it’s back to hoping that the Kookaburra ball will actually move off the straight and narrow.
However, does the absence of raw pace, left-arm swing or Peter Trego and his quiver of arrows actually reduce the chances of an England victory? We say no. The collective forces that knocked over Australia in 2010/11 was equally similar. Broad (who only featured in two Tests), Anderson, Tremlett, Finn and Bresnan were all fast-medium / medium-fast right-arm-over bowlers; together they squeezed Australia and utilised a tad of reverse swing, a touch of nip and tremendous use of bounce. England swapped the attack around and Australia never really settled. Overton can be the bowler who comes in halfway through the series and is an unexpected weapon. More to the point, he is not Jake Ball, and if Ball doesn’t have to play, England’s chances are far from over.