Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Sir Geoffrey's Edgbaston Recipe

Boycott, writing before the bad news about Kevin Pietersen, reconstructs the England side for the Edgbaston Test.

His recipe is:
Bell for Pietersen
Harmison for Onions
Sidebottom for Broad

As much as I think Sir Geoffrey is the closest thing to a real, live cricketer who thinks along sabermetric lines, I can't back all his suggestions. Although Sidebottom had a good first innings at this same ground against South Africa last year, he's not a particularly penetrative bowler against top batting sides. I don't think he'll provide sufficient difference to Broad. I don't mind giving Broad a match off, on my 'rest the bowlers' principle, but I don't see them as significantly different.

Harmison is an idea I can get behind. He's had his moments against Australia, especially during the 2005 Ashes series. He also did well against the South Africans at the Oval last year. However, he hasn't really been a consistent bowler since that last home Ashes series, so if he flopped at Edgbaston I'm not sure I'd go back to him. I'm not sure I'd bring him in to replace Onions. Onions has, in limited playing time, shown some ability to get Australian wickets.

Bell is a risky pick. I'm not sure I'd do it, but I don't know who else is available. People have suggested Key, but he's risky, too. He's vulnerable batting at the end of sessions as the Australians have shown in the past. But who else is there? The only players whose County Championship statistics are making an obvious case are Key and Jamie Dalrymple. I feel the stats have to yield first place to the people who actually watch a lot of cricket, and know the players, in making this pick. However, given Broad's spectacular catch, I'd give extra weight to fielding ability here.

So, my recipe has two changes from the Lord's Test.
Harmison for Broad
Best fielding batting candidate for Pietersen

Broad for Onions only if Onions is hurt.

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