“Gutted to see the start delayed by rain, especially since I didn’t realise it was raining,” says Michael Robinson. “Although being just half a mile down the road the ground does look pretty dry here, maybe they can come and play in Alexandra Park round the corner?”
I believe Whalley Range has its own microclimate.
“As much as he’s brought this on himself,” says Adam Giles, “Jof doesn’t strike me as the sort of man that enjoys missing out. That considered, on top of the fact that he’ll have had five days in isolation knowing he’s let the side down, how much fire and brimstone might we see from him in the next game? In a similar vein, what should we be expecting from Broad? I feel like resting Wood and Anderson may have somewhat quelled his burning need to prove a point, seeing as, in light of this week’s selection, resting players now appears to just be another sign of the times.
Finally, is this last-chance saloon for Buttler? Lots of discussion last week by a myriad of pundits as to whether he’d retain his place ahead of Foakes, but I can’t fathom how he continues to be picked despite meagre returns. Foakes, on the other hand, must be wondering just what he has to do to take those gloves off the incumbent.”
It’s a tricky one. I was delighted when Buttler returned because he has too much talent for us to die not knowing, but we’re getting to a point aren’t we? I’d not necessarily bin him for not coming off in this Test, but I’d absolutely bin him if he doesn’t come off in this Test of the next one. In fairness, though, he’s someone you want coming in at 250-7, not 13-5.
Athers would also be tempted – he thinks Wood should’ve played here but not last week. But then what of next week? He goes on to say that Curran might not be a good enough third seamer, so perhaps this is a chance for Robinson to get a go.
“Would England really have decided to rest both Jimmy Anderson and Mark Wood if they’d known Jofra Archer would be unavailable?” asks Smylers. “If not, then it was silly not to include at least one of them as reserves in the 13-player squad. Admittedly it’s awkward to announce both the intention to rest a player and that they are in the squad, but it would’ve made sense. Or, as Vic says, why bother naming a squad at all?”
I wonder, quite a lot, if England might just stick one of them in anyway, then deal with next week next week.
By the looks and sounds of things, we need to find something to talk about while we wait. How about we put together our definitive OBO XI? Feel free to nominate for attitude, entertainment, humour, attire, and any of the many other things that have detained us over the last 15 years or so. I’ll start: SJ Broad.
“Think that 2013 test was also a portend of what was to come later that winter,” emails Digvijay Yadav. A fast and bouncy pitch with relatively little sideways movement. Right up Australia’s alley. As an aside, why don’t England play Jamie Overton or Olly Stone? So far we’ve only heard about these boys but rarely glimpsed them. Proper fast from the sound of things.”
Yes, I mainly agree with that. I’m not sure the pitch was fast and bouncy, exactly, but it was true, with action available for those getting close to 90mph (though it’s also fair to note that Australia had the best of the conditions). I’m surprised Olly Stone isn’t involved, but I’ve not seen loads of him or Overton.
Looking at West Indies’ squad, the main question is whether they change their XI and bring in Rahkeem Rashawn Shane Cornwall. My guess is that they stay as they are.
Holding goes on to say how may messages he’s received from around the world following West Indies’ brilliant victory last week. And how brilliantly affirming it is to see them back as a serious and seriously likeable outfit.
“He’s been very foolish,” says Athers of Archer, and it’s hard to argue with that. He’s as measured as ever, and understands the difficulty of being stuck in a bubble for so long, but those are the rules. “Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in a cell and he did nothing wrong,” says Michael Holding. “That’s sacrifice.”
TOSS AND START DELAYED DUE TO RAIN
Obviously. It’s still raining, and once it stops, there’ll be a 90-minute clean-up operation.
“Morning,” tweets Guy Hornsby. “It may be raining at Old Trafford but from my window a few miles away in Sale it’s stopped and the forecast looks pretty good from the next hour onwards and over most of the five days. I’m sure we’ll get a result, but what it is is anyone’s guess. Oh Jofra!”
“Jimmy and Wood rested, Jofra excluded,” emails Adrian Armstrong. “Are England at risk of deploying Adelaide 1982, or indeed Lord’s 1982, levels of popgunnery? Broad shoulders can’t carry everything.”
See below – I agree. We’re going to need something significant from Chris Woakes, and he’s capable, but the Ageas might’ve suited him better. Ultimately, Anderson and Wood will be needed next week, but it’s not that helpful if the series is over.
I wonder about England’s selection, as it goes. Old Trafford is maybe England’s best wicket, and I mean that in cricketing terms – how good it is to bat on – and absolute terms – how good is it relative to its rivals. Which is to say that it offers most to the bowlers with a bit of extra gas, and England now have no one with any. In 2013, they needed Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell to save them for that reason; today, they have a problem.
So, what does it all mean? It was probably fair to assume that England were going with Archers, Woakes and Broad, meaning there’s now a place available for one of Sam Curran and Ollie Robinson. My guess is they’ll go for Curran, who’s proved himself at Test level, offers ballast to the batting, and has the precious gift of timing – especially given they’ve got Ben Stokes to augment the pace attack. Perhaps, if another quick was in the squad – Olly Stone, say – they’d have been tempted to replace like with like. But in the circumstances, Ollie Robinson would be a huge punt.
What’s Jofra Archer’s favourite play? Macbeth. Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble, fire burn and testing double.
What’s Jofra Archer’s favourite song? I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.
Jofra, though; what were you thinking? I mean, we know exactly what you were thinking because it’s similar to what the rest of us have been thinking for four months – this is absolutely *Anglo-Saxon*, this is, is this – but really, as one of your best mates, what were you thinking?
Preamble – written prior to events, my dear friends, events.
This is not normally a niche that deals with indulgent fripperies like breaking news, but here’s some for you anyway: Test cricket is good. We thought we knew this prior to last week and we did, except we didn’t know it in the way that we know it now; now that we have have been distracted and diverted by it, enraged and enraptured by it, during a time of global disaster. As a wise man once said, ooh baby, I feel right, the music sounds better with you.
In similar vein, we can rely on the next five days to give us life. West Indies will be more confident than before, secure in the knowledge that not only can they beat England in England, but that they can beat England in England without Kemar Roach taking a wicket. That will not happen again, and with Shannon Gabriel and Jason Holder already in the zone, they will fancy themselves to clinch the series at the first time of asking – and with good reason.
England, meanwhile, have some breaking news of their own – great areas, Jofra – but have Joe Root back in the team, Stuart Broad consumed by an even more terrifying, hilarious vengeance than usual, and collective redemption to seek. Perm all that with one of the world’s most consistently sporting pitches, and we have all we need for another life-enhancer of a Test right when we need one, which is always, and may our heavenly father spread the tabernacle of peace over all the dwellers on earth, and let us say amen.
Play: 11am BST