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Old 21st January 2016, 14:00   #141
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Yes, Ansari's progress will be interesting, especially if he opens the innings for Surrey in Div 1 and scores runs. Also, Danny Briggs's move to Sussex may reignite his career and he will be first choice in all cricket, so his development is worth keeping an eye on. Until then, I suspect Cook is more than happy with Ali, certainly compared to Rashid who I don't think he rates at all, unlike Morgan.
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Old 21st January 2016, 14:07   #142
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Swann and Gilo part of England teams with brilliant pace attacks - didn't stop them performing better than Ali.
Look up the stats. Only 2 English spinners have significantly better stats over the last 40 years, Swann and Monty, Edmonds a better average but much lower strike rate is also up there ahead I guess. For England they were once in a generation players. Its like saying all Aussie spinners are useless because Warne was better, Sri Lankans because of Murrali. Embrury Ave 38.4 SR over 100, Giles Ave over 40 Sr 85, Tuffers Ave 37.68 SR 93.2. Nobody would ever disagree Swann was better than any spinner whose played for England post Underwood (maybe before) ... Giles was clearly a better defensive bowler than Ali but was far less of a wicket taker.
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Old 21st January 2016, 14:16   #143
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Interesting post JRC. Ansari is certainly an intriguing option as spin bowling all rounder, although with the current shape of the side, the fact that he can bat offers rather less than it might have done if England didn't already have an obvious pick batman who can bowl in Stokes and a fairly obvious pick bowler who can bat in Ali. One could argue that Ansari wouldn't be a silly choice as specialist opener given how other options have done but you're not really needing to pick him in a batting slot and have six bowlers, nor would you be keen to drop a fast bowler for him as while that would give exceptionally long batting, you certainly want a fourth quick. I suppose the time you might go for it if touring India, Bangladesh, UAE (we tried the former option with Ali there, who's not even an opener) or Sri Lanka.
I think you're right about India, I think they will probably try and play 3 quicks and 3 spinners. I don't think playing 3 all rounders in a team is a problem if at least 2 of them are genuinely in your top six batsmen. If Ansari bats better than the alternative openers the fact he can bowl shouldn't stop him being picked as an opener. At present Stokes would get in to the team as a batsman even if he couldn't bowl. Potentially the younger Curran could develop in to a player who would merit his place as a batsman. Kallis's bowling was purely a bonus for South Africa. I think trying to get an all-rounder in the side is a problem when they aren't in your top 6 bats you can pick or your top 4 bowlers.
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Old 21st January 2016, 14:18   #144
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JRC67 is right, great post!
Ali works well as part of a 5 man bowling attack, often bowling the difficult overs when the seamers are struggling - chipping in with important wickets.
He is not Swann (or Monty) and would not be ideal in a 4 man attack but we are lucky to have in him and Stokes two Test Class allrounders.
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Old 21st January 2016, 14:18   #145
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Yes, Ansari's progress will be interesting, especially if he opens the innings for Surrey in Div 1 and scores runs. Also, Danny Briggs's move to Sussex may reignite his career and he will be first choice in all cricket, so his development is worth keeping an eye on. Until then, I suspect Cook is more than happy with Ali, certainly compared to Rashid who I don't think he rates at all, unlike Morgan.
Brigg's looked really good at first, then it all went a bit flat.
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Old 21st January 2016, 14:18   #146
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Look up the stats. Only 2 English spinners have significantly better stats over the last 40 years, Swann and Monty, Edmonds a better average but much lower strike rate is also up there ahead I guess. For England they were once in a generation players. Its like saying all Aussie spinners are useless because Warne was better, Sri Lankans because of Murrali. Embrury Ave 38.4 SR over 100, Giles Ave over 40 Sr 85, Tuffers Ave 37.68 SR 93.2. Nobody would ever disagree Swann was better than any spinner whose played for England post Underwood (maybe before) ... Giles was clearly a better defensive bowler than Ali but was far less of a wicket taker.
And monty had a marginally better average and worse strike rate!
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Old 21st January 2016, 14:25   #147
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Before and after Swann
http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/eng...type= bowling

http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/eng...s;type=bowling
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Old 21st January 2016, 14:26   #148
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What? Giles played lots of his career with a fat flintoff, Craig White, Ian Salisbury, mark butcher, alex Tudor. The last couple years he was part of a good attack! I suppose that is why he got more five fers at a worse average and much worse strike rate. But you ignore that some more.
Mark Butcher as part of the pace attack ?

Clueless.
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Old 21st January 2016, 14:55   #149
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Mark Butcher as part of the pace attack ?

Clueless.
The selectors were. He was close to ticking your box TWICE. he took four wickets on two occasions. Seeing him bowl first change in the West Indies in 1998 was a low point of my life.
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Old 21st January 2016, 15:08   #150
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The selectors were. He was close to ticking your box TWICE. he took four wickets on two occasions. Seeing him bowl first change in the West Indies in 1998 was a low point of my life.
He was no Jonthan Trott! He was England's best occasional seamer since Gooch.

Obviously Ravi Bopara's since surpassed him.
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Old 21st January 2016, 15:13   #151
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He was no Jonthan Trott! He was England's best occasional seamer since Gooch.

Obviously Ravi Bopara's since surpassed him.
But first change!
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Old 21st January 2016, 15:22   #152
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... He clearly isn't in the same league as Swan as a spinner, but having him in the team does make the unit more effective. His bowling figures are worse, partly because he is part of a 5 man attack and partly because England's seam attack is developing in to a very balanced unit. I think he's only taken 13 wickets from 7 - 11, so his record at dismissing the top 6 isn't bad. If you were Cook and the no 7 came in and you've got the choice of 2 of the top 5 bowlers in the world, Finn's height, Wood bowling at 90 mph plus and Stokes now showing he can bowl at about 90 mph and swing the ball who would you throw the ball to? Traditionally England have struggled against the tail but I've had a look through the records and I think there have only been 3 50's by 7 - 11 since Ali came in to the side (in an era when most number 9s can hold a bat). I think having him there has allowed the seamers to get at the tail fresher and having that 5th bowling option also give Cook the option to bowl a bowler out for the day if they really get in to the groove rather than rest them for a later spell. It would be interesting to see Broad and Anderson's bowling averages before and after we went to a 5 man attack, my guess is they are both much lower.

In the ideal world there would be a better spin option. However Bayliss isn't stupid and I think at the moment he sees him as a player who does contribute more than his average. He comes across as one of those players who will go out try to do whatever the coach and captain ask, rather than just play for himself. Clearly he isn't a world beater, but a lot of the great teams have had bits and pieces cricketers who get their head down and allow the better players around them to get on with what they do, Larry Gomes and Roger Harper were almost the glue for some pretty good West Indies sides who did more than their averages and strike rates.
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I think you're right about India, I think they will probably try and play 3 quicks and 3 spinners. I don't think playing 3 all rounders in a team is a problem if at least 2 of them are genuinely in your top six batsmen. If Ansari bats better than the alternative openers the fact he can bowl shouldn't stop him being picked as an opener. At present Stokes would get in to the team as a batsman even if he couldn't bowl. Potentially the younger Curran could develop in to a player who would merit his place as a batsman. Kallis's bowling was purely a bonus for South Africa. I think trying to get an all-rounder in the side is a problem when they aren't in your top 6 bats you can pick or your top 4 bowlers.
I agree there's utility in Ali ... but I suppose partly it depends on what the alternative is. In the first post here, a lot of the positive things you've said about Ali's bowling (enabling those 4 seamers to function better) would probably be true of any other decent spinner in his place. Regarding the second post: I think you're right about Stokes now being a top 6 pick regardless of his bowling; but I don't think that was the case when he was first picked. He's moved on from being a bits and pieces player -- which is what you hope will happen when you pick a bits and pieces player. With Ali, I'm not sure that he has. His best test bowling and batting performances came in his first summer for England, and I don't think he's yet one of our best 6 batsmen or our best 4 bowlers. Maybe it doesn't matter; as you say, England are doing OK. But I think we may lose to Bangladesh.
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Old 21st January 2016, 15:52   #153
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. He was close to ticking your box TWICE. he took four wickets on two occasions.
Same as Moeen then..

Butcher probably just edged it on batting between the two...
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Old 21st January 2016, 18:28   #154
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I agree there's utility in Ali ... but I suppose partly it depends on what the alternative is. In the first post here, a lot of the positive things you've said about Ali's bowling (enabling those 4 seamers to function better) would probably be true of any other decent spinner in his place. Regarding the second post: I think you're right about Stokes now being a top 6 pick regardless of his bowling; but I don't think that was the case when he was first picked. He's moved on from being a bits and pieces player -- which is what you hope will happen when you pick a bits and pieces player. With Ali, I'm not sure that he has. His best test bowling and batting performances came in his first summer for England, and I don't think he's yet one of our best 6 batsmen or our best 4 bowlers. Maybe it doesn't matter; as you say, England are doing OK. But I think we may lose to Bangladesh.
I think Stokes was always a bit of a punt on potential, although if you match is record game for game with other lower middle order batsman (ie averages after 5, 10, 15 games) we've tried over the last 3 years he actually has a better average at any point in time, partly because of his 100 in the Australia series. The big problem in English cricket is getting young test batmen to come through, with the obvious exception of Root. Positions 2, 3 and 5 are still far from settled despite a promising first test in SA.

I think Ali is more of a bits and pieces cricketer at the moment, but so are most of the others spinners plying their trade in county cricket. I also think the work he's done on his bowling, plus moving him around in the order, has had a pretty adverse affect on his batting. Hopefully that will be a short-run phenomena as his action does seem to have settled down a bit more in this series so he can maybe spend more time on his batting over the coming year. I think at this point in time he's a reasonable cricketer in terms of what England need, rather than an irreplaceable one if someone breaks through this year, or next, or the year after. There's still some potential to develop his bowling a little more, but he clearly is a more natural batsman and the only way he'll be more than a decent stop-gap until someone better turns up is to bat the way he did batting at 6 with a bit more responsibility and try and become a test quality number 5. Then again it might take us 20 plus years to find another top quality spinners in which case he's safe until a better bits and pieces player pitches up.
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Old 21st January 2016, 18:34   #155
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Same as Moeen then..

Butcher probably just edged it on batting between the two...
I don't like to be the bearer of bad news but butch had a test batting average of 25 after 30 tests. Obviously this is irrelevant for some reason you will point out but worth considering. He took 16 wickets compared to all of moeen's. So pick who you want.
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Old 21st January 2016, 18:49   #156
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I remember his role in the beating of Windies well and was at that famous "4 innings in a day" at Lord's but it really was a very small period that he was that good. By the end of the Sri Lanka tour he barely bowled with anything like the same speed and ended up batting from fine leg against Dizzy and Brett Lee in the 2001 Ashes. I think for a time he registered the quickest ever speed for an England bowler, 97mph.
He was the first English player who really got reverse swing going, as before that it was just the Pakistan quicks. At the time there was a theory you could only reverse at above 90mph and that was why he suddenly started moving it. People can do it at 80mph now, so that theory has gone out of the window. Sadly I think his body wasn't made to bowl fast and he quickly disappeared. Would be a good radio or TV interview to find out how he learn't to reverse it as there has always been someone who could do it in the team since White.

White and then Jones, both sadly for very short periods, were the best English seamers I've seem with the old ball and for 7 or 8 tests each could make it talk. If England ever do go down the 5 seamers route it would need to be someone of that ilk. 5 traditional English seamers wouldn't really work as you have to go in to a test expecting to bowl 140 overs in the first innings. In a 5 man attack the role of the fifth bowler is to use up the overs either after conventional swing has gone and the seam has gone flat (greener pitches) or after the ball is scuffed up and before it starts reverse swinging (dry sub-continent type pitches, although you really need a spinner or 2 there). In the ideal world you'd want your front-line bowlers to bowl about 18-20 overs in a day, so your looking for your 5th bowler to pitch in with about 16 overs. I could see the logic as the 5th best seamer in England is probably a better bowler than the best spinner. But there are some top batsmen who do struggle with spinners and it gives all batsman something to adjust to. Personal preference would be a spinner, even if they are only average at test level.
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Old 21st January 2016, 19:03   #157
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I don't like to be the bearer of bad news but butch had a test batting average of 25 after 30 tests. Obviously this is irrelevant for some reason you will point out but worth considering. He took 16 wickets compared to all of moeen's. So pick who you want.
He only averaged 34 after 71!
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Old 21st January 2016, 19:14   #158
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He only averaged 34 after 71!
Yes but he played an incredible innings in a dead rubber....
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Old 21st January 2016, 19:29   #159
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Yes but he played an incredible innings in a dead rubber....
He had short periods of looking class and some long and pretty awful periods in between.
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Old 21st January 2016, 19:32   #160
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He was the first English player who really got reverse swing going, as before that it was just the Pakistan quicks. At the time there was a theory you could only reverse at above 90mph and that was why he suddenly started moving it. People can do it at 80mph now, so that theory has gone out of the window. Sadly I think his body wasn't made to bowl fast and he quickly disappeared. Would be a good radio or TV interview to find out how he learn't to reverse it as there has always been someone who could do it in the team since White.

White and then Jones, both sadly for very short periods, were the best English seamers I've seem with the old ball and for 7 or 8 tests each could make it talk. If England ever do go down the 5 seamers route it would need to be someone of that ilk. 5 traditional English seamers wouldn't really work as you have to go in to a test expecting to bowl 140 overs in the first innings. In a 5 man attack the role of the fifth bowler is to use up the overs either after conventional swing has gone and the seam has gone flat (greener pitches) or after the ball is scuffed up and before it starts reverse swinging (dry sub-continent type pitches, although you really need a spinner or 2 there). In the ideal world you'd want your front-line bowlers to bowl about 18-20 overs in a day, so your looking for your 5th bowler to pitch in with about 16 overs. I could see the logic as the 5th best seamer in England is probably a better bowler than the best spinner. But there are some top batsmen who do struggle with spinners and it gives all batsman something to adjust to. Personal preference would be a spinner, even if they are only average at test level.
He had a very slingy type action with a lower arm, that sort of lead him to naturally bowl reverse swing as many English seamers are up and over types. I rather think you are forgetting Gough when you speak of reverse swing, he wasn't too bad at it either and he had bowled very well in the two Asian series in 2000/2001, possibly his finest performances in England colours. I remember him bowling Martin Crowe with a fine late inswinger in an ODI in 94 that had Ritchie Benaud impressed (that may have been his debut).

You are right that White didn't have the body to bowl quick enough, he simply didn't have the core strength to do it.

As regards the make up of a test attack, I'm with you, one seamer or other is likely not to bowl as many overs in a 5 man attack. Indeed there were even concerns about that in the make-up of the 2004/5 team and that man who came under scrutiny was Jones. Ali, despite his limitations does a job and usually has an impact in taking top order wickets.
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