Chris Tremlett: Plenty of talking points already: Footitt making England case? ECB wrong to deny Bairstow and Broad game-time?

 
Chris Tremlett
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South Africa v England - Second Test: Day Two
Jonny Bairstow has played minimal cricket so far in 2017 (Source: Getty)

We’re only a matter of weeks into the domestic season but already a number of talking points have been thrown up. Here are a few observations.

Get them on the park

Yorkshire boss Andrew Gale has criticised the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for not giving centrally-contracted Jonny Bairstow permission to play for his county against Warwickshire last week. Bairstow has only played three days of cricket so far in 2017.

I can see it from both sides but I understand why it must be frustrating for Yorkshire and if I was in charge I would have the likes of Bairstow and Stuart Broad, who was forced to sit out of Nottinghamshire’s match at Durham, in the thick of the action.

Broad has played in the Big Bash but neither he nor Bairstow have been involved in too much cricket this winter. In fairness, there is a lot of cricket to come and the ECB will be looking at it from that perspective.

Broad, however, needs to get overs under his belt and take wickets. I believe Broad should have been allowed to play and a bit of time in the middle wouldn’t have done Bairstow any harm. On balance, they’d be better off playing cricket rather than sitting in the gym.

Foot in both camps?

Uncapped Surrey seamer Mark Footitt has made no secret of his desire to force his way back into the England reckoning, having been called into Test squads previously without being given the nod.

The 31-year-old has started the 2017 season with a bang, taking 13 wickets in two matches – only two players in Division One of the County Championship have snared more – and he is someone who has the talent to play international cricket.

Read more: Chris Tremlett: My 2017 County Championship predictions

He has the pace and skills and is dangerous with ball in hand. England are always searching for a left-armer, someone who provides a different angle of delivery to the batsman, and if he continues in this vein he has every chance of receiving a call-up.

Same old, same old

International heavyweights Kumar Sangakkara and Shivnarine Chanderpaul scored big centuries last week in Surrey’s clash with Lancashire at the Kia Oval and it was very much a case of class being permanent.

Chanderpaul is 42 and Sangakkara 39. It goes to show that no matter how old certain players are, when they get in it’s very hard to get them out. The pair of them are both top-quality performers and they showed in their innings last week that they still possess phenomenal ability.

Steyn power

While not county cricket, pace bowler Dale Steyn has been left out of South Africa’s squad for this summer’s Champions Trophy after failing to recovery from a shoulder injury he sustained against Australia in November. When big tournaments come around you want your best players available, not just for the way they perform but how they infuse confidence into young players.

Read more: Leg-spinner Crane could be England's Shane Warne

Steyn has done it in Test cricket and has played at World Cups. He’ll be a big miss. South Africa have a good bunch of young, exciting players but not being able to call upon the best bowler in the world is a massive blow.

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