FOR me, the big issue for England going into next week’s Second Test in Pallekele is that we are possibly going to have three wicketkeepers in the starting 11.
There has simply got to be some manoeuvring in the team as it is causing a fascinating debate, also in terms of who is going to bat at No 3 and also open.
We have been asking for England to have a nice, solid opening partnership and Rory Burns looked really good in both innings of the first Test with Sri Lanka. In the first innings, he tickled one down the legside and was quite unlucky and in the second, he had a bit of an idiotic moment trying to take a quick single and got run out.
But then you think: ‘how do you get Jonny Bairstow back in the side?’ All of sudden, some people seem to be forgetting how much of a positive impact that Jonny has made with England over the past two years. He has been one of our best players.
It annoys me that some people seem to forget that. He has been brilliant at No 7 and kept wicket superbly. Jos Buttler has come in at seven and done exactly the same job as Jonny, but seems to get more praise.
After his injury, some are speaking about Jonny not getting back in the team. I find that remarkable as he has been one of England’s best two or three players over the past 18 months.
In terms of getting him back in, there are a couple of options. Moeen Ali is not a No 3 and Jonny opens in one-day cricket. Can he open in Tests or has Burns done enough to get another game? Or does Jonny bat at three, or Buttler.
My choice to bat at three would actually be Ben Stokes and Bairstow to come back at his normal place of No 5 as I do not think we will go for three spinners in Pallekele. So I think one of the spinners might have to miss out to get Jonny back in.
I arrived in Sri Lanka on Monday morning after an 18-hour journey from the UK and there has been a fair bit of rain at times.
Between getting my suitcases and walking into my hotel room, I must have had twenty supporters say to me: ‘Why should we be coming here and paying all this money’ and moaning about the weather saying that they would not see a ball bowled for three days. They said that it was a waste of me going out there!
All of sudden, some people seem to be forgetting how much of a positive impact that Jonny has made with England over the past two years. He has been one of our best players.Darren Gough
What I would say is that I have been out of Test cricket for nine years in terms of covering it and I have had a terrific time over here.
It was fascinating cricket from the start of day one to the end of day three in the series opener.
England were 113-5 at lunch on day one, trying to play the positive brand of cricket Joe Root spoke about. The recovery was an unbelievable effort, led by Ben Foakes on his debut. He showed how you have got to bat, although the worrying thing is that our top order keep getting blown away.
Massive praise though to Keaton Jennings for his superb second-innings century. He came into the series with so many big names in cricket slagging him off saying that he did not deserve an opportunity. Many said he was only going because Alastair Cook had retired and the selectors did not want two new openers.
After a good, but not sensational 40 in the first innings, his second was excellent. It was a good, old-fashioned Test innings. He showed patience when he first went in and had a game plan to sweep and not come out of his crease and take a risk. He is a big lad, but a good sweeper and his reverse sweeping was as good as I have seen in a Test arena.
Player’s Pact is Pathetic
Other cricket news this week has revolved around the ‘Player’s Pact’ for Australian players to show respect after the ball-tampering saga, and it is absolutely pathetic.
Some of the great Australian cricketers will be turning in their graves.
There is nothing wrong with a bit of aggression and sledging as long as it does not get personal. Sledging does not mean you have to get personal or cheat.
Does anyone think that the Aussies really believe in that ‘Player’s Pact’ and that are they going to stick to it?
Say next year’s Ashes series is 1-1 going into the third Test; is the pact going to be in players’ minds when the likes of Pat Cummings is opening the bowling at 90 miles per hour and he is bowling to Joe Root on a tight day when it could go either way?
This ‘pact’ is the biggest load of PR rubbish that I have seen in my life.
Show some respect to Surrey...
PEOPLE always talk about a strong Yorkshire helping to make for a successful England side, but now I think you have to include Surrey in that too.
You have got Surrey who have just won the County Championship and Yorkshire who have obviously won it on a number of occasions, including some relatively recently.
Now you have a bunch of players from both counties who could be the heart of England in the next few years in all forms.
It used to be Yorkshire being at the heart of it and then the ‘Surrey Strutters’. I remember Doug Padgett used to say to me: ‘You do not talk to any of those brown-hatters and those who wear the brown cap!’.
But it is now time to show some respect to Surrey.