Before the Ashes started I wrote that batsman Gary Ballance looked all at sea. I felt the Australian bowlers would work out his technique and find ways to get him out. It was the right decision for the selectors to drop him ahead of next week’s third Test.
Equally, Ballance’s Yorkshire team-mate Jonny Bairstow is the right man to come in. Every time I have looked at a scorecard this season he seems to have scored a century.
The 25-year-old has notched close to 1,000 runs in less than 10 matches this summer, so he has earned his Test recall. He also produced a match-winning knock when England drafted him in to face New Zealand in the final ODI last month.
Bairstow was probably harshly treated when he was last in the England Test set-up. He was selected for the last couple of matches against Australia during the whitewash series 18 months ago, which wasn’t an easy situation to be thrust into.
He was then dropped for England’s next series against Sri Lanka. He has had a tough time internationally but he looks a much better player now than he did on that tour of Australia.
There has also been speculation and debate over Ian Bell’s place in England’s middle order after a barren spell of just 128 runs in 12 Test innings since his hundred against the West Indies in Antigua back in April.
Ian is a big confidence player. Struggling for form, consistency and runs really affects him. It is probably getting to a make or break stage.
But rather like the situation skipper Alastair Cook found himself in last year, I believe he is one score away from re-finding his confidence.
Perhaps moving up the order to No3, which is such a crucial position, will be the boost and the level of responsibility that he needs. We all know he is a class player, he is a four-time Ashes winner, and I believe that big score is just around the corner.
The position of opener Adam Lyth has also come under scrutiny after looking uncomfortable and scratchy at the crease so far against Australia and twice being dismissed cheaply in the second Test at Lord’s.
He has had to wait for his England opportunity and did well to get a century against New Zealand at Headingley earlier in the summer. It would be harsh to drop him.
However, if he doesn’t score runs at Edgbaston it might be time to look at someone else. Middlesex’s Nick Compton, who has not played for England since being dropped prior to the 2013 Ashes, could be an option to open alongisde Cook.
The Investec Ashes Match at the Kia Oval has now sold out, but you can still experience the drama through our first class hospitality packages kiaoval.com