After the England quad announcement was put back to tomorrow, there has been a lot of speculation about who might be included. I’ve already said my preferred squad, but there are a few things which have changed since then.
First off is that Eoin Morgan has a central contract and looks certain to be in the squad. I still think that is a bad idea and in fact his inclusion baffles me to an extent. He has a reputation of being a good player of spin and an asset on the subcontinent, but this seems to have come from nowhere. (I did see a suggestion that he played spin well because he played hurling in Ireland. Not sure if that is the actual rationale or not, but it is a ridiculous notion.) He has played one series in conditions that are similar to the subcontinent, in the UAE early this year, and he had an absolute shocker. He looked as shocking against spin as the rest of the squad and that is the only time we have seen him in conditions like India. There is simply no reason at all to include him without his proving his worth in the County Championship.
There’s also a suggestion that one (or very possibly both) of Ravi Bopara or Samit Patel will be in the squad. My thoughts on Bopara are well established. Patel is a more complicated matter, but I don’t think he should play. He is not Test quality with either bat or ball and I don’t like the notion of having such a ‘bits and pieces’ player in the side. It’s a philosophy that seems to be common for sides playing in the subcontinent that they need a special side or a special player for balance. Whilst I do think that there is merit to altering the balance a bit, I don’t see any logic in having players who are not good enough in the side just because they are not good enough at more than one thing. The conditions in India are different, but not so different that sides need to do something odd. Teams, or at least good teams, do not select unusual players for the different conditions in England, South Africa or Australia. So why for the subcontinent? Selectors need to keep faith in Test quality players to perform even in different conditions.