So, England’s test squad has been named for the forthcoming tour of Sri Lanka. What has been good to see is that the selectors have-like they did for the twenty20 championship-dared to try something different. The naming of FOUR uncapped players in the test squad comes as a huge surprise from the selectors who have in the past gone with experience over experiments… Though the English managed to win the ODI series, some critics have the opinion that beating the Lankans without one of their prime pillars, Muttiah Muralitharan is equivalent to scoring a goal without a goalie to stop you.
Ravi Bopara, Stuart Broad, Phil Mustard and Graeme Swann have all been named, while former captain, Andrew Strauss has been overlooked due to his poor form in the last season. It’s no surprise that the revitalised 28-year-old, Owais Shah, a huge contributor in the ODI’s has been included in the squad.
The troupe looks better balanced on paper with the inclusion of Shah and Bopara in particular as it is known that both are fine players of spin and possess the apt outlook that a sub continent wicket demands. Both showcase the right temperament and have cool heads on their shoulders which is not only an asset on the field but also a necessity to keep the dressing room atmosphere composed in tense situations.
Though Shah spent most of his time at no 6, he has the class to be in the top 4 in the Test lineup if he manages to spend quality time at the crease.
The inclusion of Phil Mustard is not a surprise either. He has clearly been picked as deputy to Matt Prior ahead of Geraint Jones and Chris Read simply because he has experienced Sri Lankan conditions after his recent tour of Sri Lanka with the One day squad.
England’s bowling will once again revolve around the in-form Ryan Sidebottom who has already had a comprehensive run and is growing in stature with every game he plays.
The versatile Graeme Swann, a jovial contributor with bat and ball in the first three ODI’s, has probably made the cut owing to his splendid all round performance in the series. The man may just be the end of England’s struggle to find a match winning limited overs spinner and on Sri Lankan soil, the spin of Swann could well prove to be a handful.
It should be the perfect test for the English especially with the fascinating challenge from the Kiwis coming up next summer.