Adrian Mills Gurn

Po : A Selection to Strike Fear into the Hearts of England Cricket Fans!

Adrian has been the first Stoker to comment on the England squad for the Ashes:

OK, so maybe a bit of a dramatic headline, but looking at the records this season of who is in, (particularly in the batting department), it does make me wonder if that really is the best we’ve got.

Batting wise I see that we have two obvious selections, two guys with potential just starting their, (hopefully long), Test careers and not a lot else. I think Ballance has been found out at Test level in at least two series. He struggled in the first two Tests of this summer and despite the runs he’s scored for Yorkshire I’d personally have stayed away from him.

I hadn’t realised Vince was even in the reckoning given that he’s averaged mid 30s this season and struggled as a Test player last year. Compare him to someone like Robson who has a Test century to his name and has averaged mid 40s this season, (although I appreciate he hasn’t been banging the door down as it were), and I wonder if he’ll get another look in. The more I look at the batting the more I think I’d have liked to see Hales’ name in the hat, even if just for the fact that the Aussies will respect his international record and not see him as an easy target. He also averaged more than Vince this season, (albeit in Division 2.)

Bowling wise, I think it’s a big blow that TR-J is injured and I can sort of understand not selecting Wood on fitness grounds, but there have been so many times in the past when we’ve selected players who have been fitness worries, so that surprised me a bit.

I’ve never really been impressed by Ball. When I’ve seen him play he’s not looked like a wicket-taker to me. He seems a bit too similar to a young Broad, but without the occasional magic spell. I have no problem with the selection of Overton as he’s had a good season, but it does make me wonder what Porter has to do to get considered. I appreciate he doesn’t have the pace or the height of some of the other options, but he’s taken over 50 wickets in each of the last three championship seasons. Seems a bit weird to me.

They’re talking about Crane as a risk, but I think they’d probably have said that about Leach, Rashid, Dawson or whoever else they could have put in as a back up spinner. I’d say it’s easy to see that we might need a back up spinner as Moeen will be targeted with both bat and ball, (and mouth), and probably under more pressure than most of the rest of them.

Now for the positive – I think Foakes is a good selection as reserve keeper.

Just wondering what everyone’s thoughts are?

The first to add to the debate is Rowland Prytherch, (the Club’s joint-leading Sunday XI bowler back in his first season for us in 2012 – Injury has really limited his cricket in subsequent seasons but vows, (as you’ll read below), to get down and see us from time to time in the future. Rowland writes:

“I have managed the odd game over the past few years, although I’m very much restricted to gentle fielding and underarm lobs, so it’s all down to the batting – but still, maybe next season after a bit more rehab time over the winter. I’d really like to come down to you guys and get a game in for old time’s sake, so do bear me in mind, (but absolutely best to use me as an emergency resort if you’re otherwise going to be short-handed probably!) I still wear my Stoke cap with pride and am aware that I should really come down and earn it properly!”

Anyway – speaking of the winter…

Yes, it’s all looking a bit thin pickings really isn’t it? General consensus seems to be that Ballance is getting in because he’s the skipper’s mate, which isn’t ideal. I’ve also seen it pointed out that Vince and Root share a management team. I hope this isn’t the start of some awful era of nepotism.

That said, I have always sort of rated Vince and the handful of times I’ve seen him play he looks like a serious cricketer…until he gets out. Obviously not the best season and no doubt he’s vulnerable on the drive. But I was excited when he got a go before and surprised that he made such a hash of it. I think he’s being picked at No.3 and Ballance is the spare No.5 as things stand, but I would have had Hales for that spot, absolutely.

It’s quite worrying and more than a bit odd that nobody seems able to come in and do well enough to stick around. Why is that? Maybe so much more analysis done at international level that flaws are being exposed ruthlessly? Obviously the bowling standards are high and there are fewer bad balls to cash in on, but it’s weird that people seem to retreat further and further into their shells until they look completely awful, and it’s happening to all of them. Perhaps it’s as they get worked out by the bowlers – certainly the technical flaws seem to get magnified over the course of a few games!

Dare we ask, perhaps, Ramps, having failed to quite nail down a place as an international batsman is having the same problem as a coach? It’s worrying when players continually look worse after a few weeks in the England set-up! But they should be able to look after themselves as well of course.

Bowling-wise, I expected them to take Wood, even if he only played every other match. Where’s the pace otherwise? I agree that Plunkett looked a good bet – he’s in good form and fitness and never seems to let us down. The rest are a bit samey I think? Don’t know a lot about Overton’s game to be fair. At least Ball has got height on his side.

Picking Crane without having tried him out in a Test seems a bit of a leap too – having seen him on TV a couple of times he looks decent, but it’s going to be a bit of a cauldron if he gets a game! They must like his attitude, etc, and see big potential, so fingers crossed!

So, in summary : It’s going to be brilliant!

If you have any comments on the above, or this squad…

England Men Ashes Squad 2017

…e-mail or message Adrian directly and we’ll add them here.