Chris Tremlett: England’s bowling attack runs risk of being exposed by injury

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Tom Curran impressed for England in white-ball cricket this summer (Source: Getty)

New-ball duo James Anderson and Stuart Broad have masses of international experience between them, and if one or both of those were to incur an injury then England are looking pretty light in the seam department.

Warwickshire’s Chris Woakes has played 18 Tests but after that, in the continued absence of vice-captain Ben Stokes, England have Jake Ball, who has three matches under his belt, and uncapped pair Craig Overton and Tom Curran.

Curran was called into England’s Ashes squad on Tuesday after Steven Finn was ruled out of the series following scans which revealed he had suffered knee ligament damage, and I’m really pleased for my former Surrey team-mate.

The 22-year-old deserves to be on the radar of Test selectors after performing so well over recent years but I’m a little surprised they did not home in on Yorkshire’s Liam Plunkett.

Plunkett, 32, has played 13 Tests spread over nine years and has featured in a lot of one-day international cricket. I might have been inclined to pick him, purely with that added experience in mind.

On the one hand, young players have nothing to lose and don’t have scars from previous Australia tours, but throwing inexperienced bowlers into the cauldron of Ashes cricket is a tough ask.

That is not a slight on Curran, who I don’t think will feature if everyone is fit and the likes of Anderson, Broad and Woakes stay clear of injuries.

Curran has taken everything in his stride during his career so far, whether that be his elevation to the Surrey first team or fitting seamlessly into England’s white-ball teams during the summer.

I doubt coping with pressure or expectation will be a problem for him. He has the right attitude and temperament and all the attributes to have a very big future. This will be his biggest challenge so far, though.

Switching to Australia’s seam attack, former Test star Ryan Harris this week claimed his nation’s current bowling unit is better than the Mitchell Johnson-inspired battalion that blew England away during the 2013-14 Ashes. I’m not convinced.

Some of Australia’s present-day bowlers are very talented but to say they are better than the attack that helped whitewash England, that’s a big call.

That team had Harris and Johnson, two of the best bowlers Australia have ever had, Peter Siddle, who played more than 60 Tests, a good steady player in Shane Watson who could hold up an end and underestimated spinner Nathan Lyon.

Mitchell Starc has similarities to Johnson and is clearly in good form after making history by becoming the first player to take two hat-tricks in the same Sheffield Shield match earlier this week.

If he bowls as well as he can do then he has the potential to be as good as Johnson, but you cannot say that someone like Pat Cummins is comparable to Harris. Australia’s current attack is not too far behind that of 2013-14, but it’s not there yet.

Finally, England are yet to appoint a replacement vice-captain for Stokes and I’m not sure Trevor Bayliss is too fussed about naming a formal candidate. I don’t think it’s a big issue either as Anderson, Broad and Alastair Cook are there for Root to bounce ideas around with.

Should Root sustain an injury and be forced to miss a Test, I would like to see Cook given the responsibility to lead again – it’s not a step back. Bowlers have enough on their plate delivering their plans in Australia.