England’s selection was correct

After a tough first day of the Test for England there has been a lot of suggestions that England picked the wrong side. England selected three seamers with Graeme Swann the lone specialist spinner. Samit Patel is in the side too, but mostly for his batting and he is not a real attacking option. The seamers struggled badly and did not take a wicket whilst Swann was brilliant for his four-fer suggesting that England should have played two spinners. The notion is that Monty Panesar should have come in for Tim Bresnan who had a terrible day. But hindsight is a wonderful thing. Certainly England selected the best possible team at the toss and I would say that even with hindsight the calls for Panesar are rather misplaced.

I’ve gone over the stats about English spinners in India before, but the heart of the matter bears repeating: English seamers are better than English spinners in India. English seamers have more wickets at a better average and better individual performances in India than their spin colleagues. Yes Indian pitches are spin friendly, but England’s best weapon has historically been seam. That is the general point in favour of three seamers. But there are also the individuals to consider and it is worth noting that Swann and Panesar do not bowl well together. This is the eighth time they have played together in a Test and England have won none of the other seven whilst losing four.

A large part of the reason for that is that they are never both successful. When Swann has a good match Monty has a poor one and vice versa. (Or in some cases they both have been poor.) This makes a bit of sense because Swann and Panesar are very different bowlers. Swann tends to toss it up and spin the ball more whilst Panesar bowls flatter and darts it around. Sometimes one will be favoured and sometimes the other (usually Swann) but they never have both done well. It’s all well and good to say it is a spinning track and England should play two spinners, but it’s a bit like saying that Eoin Morgan should do well against spin: it looks good in theory, but it has been tried and simply does not work.

There’s also the fact that Monty also does not have a very good record in India at all. He has played five Tests there and taken five wickets at an average of almost 56. And although he looked a better bowler in the UAE it was because the pitches suited him. He was back to the same inefficacy in Sri Lanka. That’s not to say that it is impossible for him to do better this time, but that he needs to show that he can before he is picked. That would have to be in the warmups and Bresnan comfortably outbowled him in those matches.

The selectors do not have a crystal ball; they can only go on the data provided. The data show that English seamers do better in India than English spinners, that in Asia Monty has only ever done well in the UAE where his darts are more effective and that Bresnan was taking wickets in India in the warmups and Monty was not. They made exactly the right call based on the evidence they had and even Bresnan’s failure on the first day only shows that Graham Onions would have been a better bet. There is nothing to suggest that playing Monty would have improved England’s chances.

One thought on “England’s selection was correct

  1. Thats all great about stats, but when your looking down on a slow low pitch which never has anything in it for seamers as everyone was expecting, you have to look at other options, The past record of spinner vs seamers in India means very little when you consider England have never had the luxury of 2 International class spinners to choose from where they have regularly had proper world class seamers to choose from and as you said before there 2 different spinners in there style so there rarely both going to be the one to end up with amazing figures because there a partnership, and bowling partnerships is what it is all about creating the pressure and taking the wickets as it showed in the UAE just like seamers don’t often see your whole bowling unit with good figures its all about doing a job in the bigger effort and creating things for the team. In UAE it wasn’t the spinners fault we didn’t win that series it was the top order failures, if you look into the stats of Swann & Monty together they show thats its not been the fault of those 2 we have lost matches but the fragile batting up top or poor selection like in Cardiff 2009.There no guarantee Warne or Murali would improved England chances on day 1 of this Test but its almost certain if England had selected 2 proper spinners (Swann & Monty) then they would of got on earlier and not released all the pressure off the Indians at the start of the innings and kept things alot tighter like Swann did and created more pressure like Swann did and got chances that way Monty’s darts were effective in UAE on the slow low turning pitches, so when we go to India playing on slow low turning pitches we drop him. The big difference between Monty & Morgan is that Monty does a good job when he comes in yet morgan constantly failures due to a poor technique in Test cricket.
    Data/Stats provided over history are only ever a guide, just like in the last 2 Test more wickets have gone to spin than seam there like also its common knowledge the pitch was relayed because over the last 2 matches they have been high scoring draws with nothing in them for the seamers especially, but you would expect a professional world class outfit to look abit further into it than a few basic numbers and managements perspective of that spin is an after thought and doesn’t really matters and the constant selection of batsman that can bowl part time spin is devaluing a huge skill in being able to bowl top class spin, also England have read way to much into what happened against the village/county sides on pitches & grounds that were set-up more friendly to the England side than the Test pitches were always going to be and England got caught out in all the hype

    It was a huge mistake to go into this Test with only 1 spinner and its a mistake that shouldn’t of happened, it will hugely handicap England in this Test and will play a huge part in defeat if we go on to lose this test!


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