Many a touring team has mentally shipped off and gone home long before the end of proceedings. England are taking that a step further with the third mid-tour departure of the Pomnishambles thus far, as Steven Finn has successfully pleaded that even watching Lloyd Doyley and Nyron Nosworthy is better than bowling at one stump and having renowned bowler Alastair Cook pick through your action ad infinitum. So on the story moves to a game which most people will inevitably forget is even happening until they wake up on Friday morning to find England have lost by 150 runs or 8 wickets or something. A bit like how Shakin’ Stevens keeps releasing albums and you don’t realise until they get a 1-star rating in the Guardian. All we can say is that we hope Shakey stocked up on Waitrose vouchers after his annual Christmas windfall.
Quite frankly, Australia could put out a team containing Rob Quiney and John Hastings and they’d probably wind up winning. As it is, Shane Watson has earned a well deserved rest after his five ball duck and five wicketless overs on Sunday, while Mitchell Johnson returns to add raw pace and unbearable smugness to the attack. Of course the longer game for Australia is that they have a World Cup to host in a year or so; in that respect, we have absolutely no idea what they are doing picking Dan Christian in the squad. Shaun Marsh may well get his umpteenth chance to underwhelm in the absence of Watson while Shane Warne will be crying into his Lambrini if, as expected, Nathan Coulter-Nile and his fearsome 82mph dobbers are left out. It’s a strange looking squad with the likes of Glenn Maxwell and James Faulkner filling the very English berths of not being good enough in either discipline to really be playing international cricket, but as said, it scarcely matters at this stage. We just like to ponder whether 11 Glenn Maxwells would get royally tonked by 11 Mark Ealhams. And the answer is yes, yes they would.
Don’t get us wrong, we like the 1990s. What we wouldn’t give for modern day equivalents of Mansun and Sarah out of Neighbours (preferably combined in some way). However not having any clue whatsoever what the England cricket team is going to look like game by game brings a familiar unsettling nausea. It’s fair to assume that Joe Root will be once again taken out of the firing line after another failure in the warm-up game; captain Cook will survive that fate by dint of being captain and little else. Ravi Bopara’s stunning haul of 4-3 in that fixture vs Woolongong U12s in midweek will surely frighten the hosts into submission and it’s likely that England will actually bother picking a spinner this time and James Tredwell will get a go (important, after his relative mauling at the back end of the summer and with a Swann-less World Cup in these conditions fast approaching). Beyond that, it’s hard to say. Chris Jordan looked kind of ok last Sunday, Boyd Rankin did not. Tim Bresnan appears to have suffered one injury too many. Of course Broad-Anderson-Finn remains England’s best pace attack in this format but none are available at this juncture for various reasons. The rest will be picked out by means of “ip-dip-dog-shit”, a time honoured format.
No-one to care much. Australia to win. Boyd Rankin to be rubbish.