On the Front Foot: Brought up on Twenty20, but there's still only one ultimate Test
With Twenty20 obviously conquering the world, or at least India which amounts to much the same thing, it has been a heartening month. Not for England, clearly, for whom it has been extremely disheartening in general. But the views of two novice members of their party have provided sweet music to an old buffer's ears. In rapid succession and with deadly earnest delivery, both Stuart Meaker, 22, and Jos Buttler, 21, professed their love for Test cricket.
Meaker said that he liked to think of himself as a purist and that Test cricket was his preferred form of the game. It was the one above all he wished to play in. This will have left pleasingly unturned in his grave Meaker's fellow old boy of Cranleigh School, the highly influential cricket correspondent EW Swanton. In his role as journalist and commentator for 40 years, Swanton did not so much make an informed guess at the composition of the England team, but instructed the selectors who they should pick.
He was the archetypal establishment figure who just about tolerated one-day cricket but might have drawn the line at Twenty20. Meaker would have his unyielding approval. So would Buttler who was equally assertive about Test cricket as the truest examination of skills and his determination to play it. "It should be for most youngsters coming into the county game." These, let us not forget, are among the first generation who have always played Twenty20 – in Buttler's case more of it than anything else. Perhaps the old game has a future after all.
Out with the new...
India's resounding win against England in the one-day series has been achieved with a young and inexperienced team. The average age of the XI in Kolkata which completed the clean sweep was 25.48 (mind you, that was ancient compared to their youngest ever team, a mere 23.35, sent out against England in Indore in 2006 when they were already 4-1 up in the series).
With that in mind,it might have been something of a surprise when the squad for the forthcoming Test series against West Indies was announced. Returning, without demur were Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Yuvraj Singh, aged 38, 38, 36 and 33 respectively. Beaten 4-0 in England recently and on their way to Australia soon, something will have to give inthe Indian team soon.
And this in the week that their great former captain, the Prince of Kolkata himself, Sourav Ganguly, announced that he will once more make himself available for the Ranji Trophy.
A wise selection
There seemed universal approval of Australia's appointment of John Inverarity as their new chairman of selectors. As in England, they have insisted on a remarketing, almost as if that alone will do the trick, and, like Geoff Miller, his job title will be national selector.
It is a full-time role for the first time and welcome is that Inverarity, at 67, has been handed a three-year contract. Experience and wisdom count for much and, as somebody who was a headmaster outside the game, Inverarity has it in spades. But he recognises what sport is intended for and said at his inaugural address: "Generating youth is the lifeblood of sports. You need to keep an ideal balance in terms of age profile and how much longer people have got in their careers."
Only one team in it
Andy Flower, who makes no excuses, fairly pointed out the other day that in assessing England's overwhelming defeat in India, it might be as well to remember all their recent triumphs. So it might. It is coming to that part in the annual cycle when awards are made. The England cricket team are still by a distance the team of the year which should be formally recognised just before Alan Knott, John Snow and Tony Greig receive their long overdue CBEs.
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