The Light Roller: Recalling familiar faces Chris Tremlett and Monty Panesar tells us a lot about the depth of England's talent pool
English seamers are queuing up for a place in the squad but there is much less competition for the spinning slots
A welcome return for an Ashes hero
The recall of Chris Tremlett to the England squad for Old Trafford is a nod towards the winter's return Ashes series as much as anything more immediate. And if the memories of the MCG stir him to further Ashes triumphs either at home or in Australia once again, one can only say 'bravo' to the selectors for showing faith.
But although Tremlett in full flow can hardly be ignored, his record for Surrey this season is fairly demure - 19 wickets at 39.63. It is therefore a marker of England's strength in seam-bowling depth that, while he remains in contention with Finn, Bresnan and Onions to be the number one back-up to Stuart Broad and James Anderson, other likely lads - Rankin, Jordan, Stokes, Harris and Patterson to name a few - rarely get a look in when test squad permutations are considered.
Monty's a gem but it's time to groom a successor to Swann
Monty Panesar is another cricketer whose success for England brings much joy - not least for those looking to translate wicket-celebrations into esoteric, disco dance-moves. But if Tremlett's return suggests a burgeoning seam larder, then seeing Panesar back is a reminder that Old Mother Hubbard wouldn't be keen to open the cupboard marked 'spin'.
Monty is a very good bowler, at least on helpful pitches. But he lacks the aggression and intrigue of a Tufnell or Edmonds and has become relatively predictable. It's hard to imagine he will take large hauls of wickets in England or Australia. Yet who else is there?
In the first division of the championship, Samit Patel, Adil Rashid and Scott Borthwick have all taken between 18 and 20 wickets this season - set against Monty's 21. All have been tried and to some degree tested by England over the years: none has yet prospered.
The remaining option is Simon Kerrigan, who has taken 20 wickets in his last two championship games, albeit in Divison 2, making 44 for the season at under 20 runs each. Being seven years younger than Panesar suggests he is the likely successor to Graeme Swann and it is a shame the selectors did not decide to consider him for a debut on his home ground.
We need cricket back on free-to-air TV
It may be the ageing process but I get the feeling that, glorious as Ashes series always are, there is a certain level of apathy among the general population this time round.
The veering of Cricket Australia from sleep-walk to night-terror and back again hardly helps. Part-time fans can't generally be provoked into feigning curiosity when England are overwhelming favourites. But if they can't watch it, what hope is there?
TV coverage was central to the extraordinary interest in the 2005 series. The context was quite different of course but it may be time to revisit the one-sided notion that viewers tuned into Channel 4's virtuoso coverage simply because the cricket was exciting. They did, but it was also the case that the public's excitement and expectations were raised by the excellence and extensiveness of the programming. And were England's stars not boosted in their performances by the knowledge that their exploits were being watched by millions? Bring back live cricket to all our screens!
The next England women's captain
They say the best way to pique a child's interest in a subject is to ignore it yourself. That has certainly been effective in developing my 3-year-old's love of My Little Pony.
When I spotted a pink, foam cricket bat in a local shop recently, I insouciantly asked my daughter what she thought of it.
'It's lovely! Please can I have it?' Bouyed, I parted with a tenner and took child, bat and ball to the park. After several impressive one-handed swings to leg failed to make contact I suggested trying a more orthodox stance on a middle-stump guard.
Needless to say, the bat is now the preserve of its purchaser and is used for practising late-cuts and leg-glances in front of the mirror.
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