It’s probably human nature to become so obsessed with an idea that even when all the evidence points to it being a bad idea, letting go just isn’t an option. Everybody does it at some point in their life with this correspondent being no exception: from 1995 onwards every Wednesday was spent bucket on head, being guided around the garden by friends and relatives. All this despite it being clear that the previous year’s application to appear on Knightmare would never bear fruit (mainly due to the shift in the demographics of CITV viewers, older children having moved away from it, and creator Tim Child’s feeling that, while Knightmare should employ high-quality virtual reality in order to remain a cutting-edge show, such technology was not affordable at that time).
The reasons for this story are two-fold. Firstly, we love talking about Knightmare, particularly the bit just after the five minute mark in this clip:
Secondly, England’s obsession with having a pinch-hitting wicketkeeper at the top of the order in One Day cricket is similarly at odds with all the evidence. In all the time that England have tried it, it’s never even remotely looked like working. Matt Prior, Steve Davies, Marmite Kieswetter and even hot-sistered Tim Ambrose having all had a go in the last few years, with unformly disappointing results.
So why not try something a bit different?
One of the main reasons for having a wicketkeeper at the top of the order is that it gives the side a little more space for allrounders at numbers seven and eight, with the likes of Broad and Bresnan. Having a wicketkeeper in there would mean that there needs to be a genuine allrounder in the top six. We’re contractually obliged to make a joke about Samit Patel’s bulk at this point.
Despite all this, there may be another way. England are actually blessed with two potential wicketkeeper/middle order batsmen: Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler. The former is a regular keeper for Yorkshire, while the latter is more occasional with Somerset but has the advantage of being one of those natural sportsmean that can’t help but pick things up. He probably beat his dad at chess at the very first attempt.
By using one of these two (probably Bairstow to start with) as wicketkeeper, England would be able to pick an actual opening batsman to go alongside Alastair Cook. With a middle order of Trott, Morgan, Bairstow and Buttler England would have the requisite mix of solidity and big-hitting ahead of the allrounders. And yes, we know that we’ve not mentioned Kevin Pietersen or Ian Bell. Such is the price of underperforming for several years.
Both JB’s are youngsters just making their way in the game. As such England need to invest in them. There will be occasions when their keeping might let the side down. But there will also be times when they win games on their own. And England will finally have an actual vision of the way forward, rather than stumbling into the Corridor of Blades, without so much as a SIGHT spell (skip to about 6 mins and 20 secs):