Cricket Comment: Selectors crazy to opt for Rankin over Onions

Andy Lloyd
IMAGINE this scenario: England lose James Anderson to injury early in this winter’s Ashes series and arrive in Melbourne for the fourth Test without their key bowler and needing to beat Australia.

To who do they turn to take his place? Whoever it is won’t replicate Anderson’s swing, as England have overlooked Graham Onions and overloaded the squad with bang-in fast bowlers. It’s crazy.

Steven Finn is understandably in line for the third seamer’s slot and I can see the reasoning for taking Chris Tremlett, even if it’s based on old form and may turn out to be an error.

But Boyd Rankin as well? He did okay in the recent one-day games but I’m not sure he’s going to win England a Test match and I would definitely have taken Onions instead.

I just don’t see the point in picking three tall bowlers who hit the deck hard. Clearly England’s selectors think those players will thrive Down Under, but Onions would be much better in Melbourne, a seam-friendly pitch, and in Sydney, where the fifth and final Test will be held.

Anderson is the one bowler we’re looking to replace sooner rather than later. With Tim Bresnan’s participation in doubt as he recovers from back surgery, this would be a good time to audition someone else.

This squad also highlights the lack of cover we have for Graeme Swann.

Monty Panesar will do for now but he too is not getting any younger and there is a huge chance out there for a good young English spinner. I am pleased England are taking Gary Ballance, Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow, however. James Taylor hasn’t done much wrong but Ballance has had a great year and Stokes is a very good cricketer who needs experience.

Finally, Darren Lehmann’s “dour” jibe at England is an attempt to cook up a storm. He knows his team aren’t as good as England, and the only way Alastair Cook’s men will lose is if they play recklessly.

Andy Lloyd is a former England Test cricketer who has also been captain and chairman of Warwickshire.