Sunday, 30 May 2010

New Ball Blues

Tim Bresnan's been called many things in his time. Portly. Roly-poly. Tubby. Fat. Carrying some timber. But England's new ball bowler shouldn't be one of them.

Steven Finn has been picked for this test ahead of Stuart Broad in order to give the young Watfordian some test match experience, ahead of the Ashes this winter. Fair enough. But surely England see Finn as an opening bowler, with his pace and height being perfect for when the ball's at it's hardest. So why isn't Finn bowling first up against the Desh?

The powers that be are trying to be nice to Jimmy Anderson after not playing him in the World T20; making sure he bowls the most, and gets to choose what end he would like. And as England's leader of the attack, Anderson is well within his right to pick the Pavilion End to have his first hurl from. Much has been made of Finn's reluctance to bowl from the Nursery End, but Andrew Strauss should have given him two words if he complained. Man up.

If the selectors want to give Finn test match experience, the best experience for him will be bowling from an 'unfamiliar' end (or as unfamiliar as an end can be at one's own ground). Evidently, it was decided that Finn shouldn't have the new-ball from the Nursery End, so Bresnan got to have his go.

While Bresnan's stock has risen in the England team on the back of a successful tour of Bangladesh, and winning the World T20, he won't be England's new ball bowler on the first morning at Brisbane. Put simply, he is not an international new ball bowler. Despite experimentation, it's been decided that Broad is not either. Barring an incredibly unlikely return for Steve Harmison, the honour of sharing the cherry with Anderson will be a straight shoot-out between Finn and Graham Onions. A Graham Onions who won't have played much cricket. And a Steven Finn who won't have done much new ball bowling for England.

Surely it would make sense for Finn to take the new ball, regardless of end until the end of the summer, so his discovery of experience is extended further. If England are using this Bangladesh series as a way of formulating plans for this winter, (which the resting of Broad and Collingwood certainly suggests), it would certainly make sense Strauss to throw Finn the ball first. And if Finn bowls as well as he did in the first innings, he's going to earn his place on merit (and not just because others have been rested).

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