REGARDING the Wayne Rooney situation, one of my big bugbears is players getting caps for friendlies. It should not be the case.
If they didn’t, it would not even be a story with him having a farewell appearance for England against the USA on Thursday.
For me, Spain have done it the right way with David Silva in inviting him to their friendly game with Bosnia to mark his international retirement and giving him a send-off as a special guest.Darren Gough
With Wayne coming back after not playing for England for two years and getting a cap, what would have been wrong with him receiving a presentation before the game and the game being a testimonial/charity match, which is what it really was and him being present as a celebration of his career?
I did not agree with him coming on and getting a cap. It was barmy and this is someone who I admire greatly and I am not going to blame him for it. He probably did not ask for it and it was a gesture from the FA and a PR thing.
As a cricketing example, it would be like saying to Alastair Cook next summer: ‘I know you have retired and missed West Indies and Sri Lanka, but we would like you to come back for the Lord’s Test and field and have a little knock as a bit of a celebration of your career.’ It is just crackers and would not happen in any other sport.
As for a celebration of Rooney’s career? Well, I was all for that. He has had a wonderful career.
Sometimes, maybe due to his Manchester United career, he has had a hard rap. But I think he has been a fantastic servant to England and a terrific player. A pre-game presentation and the FA donating to his charity as a thank you was the right thing for me.
For me, Spain have done it the right way with David Silva in inviting him to their friendly game with Bosnia to mark his international retirement and giving him a send-off as a special guest. But with no cap for turning up as he was not playing.
Looking at football back in the day, there were not as many England matches. Now, just look at the amount of caps that the likes of Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling have got for England, despite still being young lads. They will go and knock off all the records of these older guys.
You now have Euro and World Cup qualifiers and the Nations League, friendlies and even mini summer-tournaments. There are so many caps to get in a calendar year that it is getting ridiculous.
So that, for me, is why we do not need caps for friendlies. Friendlies should be used as friendlies. Look back to Sven-Goran Eriksson’s day and the amount of caps given out in friendlies. How can that be right?
You are supposed to work for an England cap. Now they seem to give them away like sweets.
Onto the Test series in Sri Lanka and regarding Jonny Bairstow being overlooked for the second Test, I have got to say I am quite confused about the situation.
If say Joe Root, Jimmy Anderson or Jos Buttler had missed a Test through injury, I think they would have immediately come back in.
Just six months ago, Jonny was the number one wicket-keeper in the country and nobody was even compared.
He had done a terrific job batting at seven and keeping wicket in Australia.
Suddenly, with him suffering an injury, they tried to get Jos Buttler in to keep wicket in the summer. Now it is (Ben) Foakes who has overtaken them both with the gloves.
With Jonny’s batting, I would see him as being in our top three, but he has been overlooked for his batting in this Test.
The most obvious statistics that the selectors will have gone on is that Jonny has had 41 Tests batting down the order and keeping and averages in his forties. As a batsman only, he has averaged 27.
Maybe, they have thought that his batting stats on their own do not justify his inclusion. But I found it strange not to recall him.
Jonny was unlucky for me, although England’s win in the first Test was their first away since Chittagong in 2016. When you win a Test game, you tend not to make changes.
But moving forward, this wicketkeeping position will be a hard choice for England.
As for the number three decision, it is interesting for me. It is such a big decision.
They tried Moeen Ali in the first game and now Ben Stokes in this Test. I like Ben there, technically he is very good.
People say: ‘well, what if he bowls 20 overs?.’ But I think if he bowls that many in an innings, Buttler would have to bat at three.
My worry is that we need to find a number three to play in all forms of the game in all countries. Stokes, for me, is that man. Let’s not worry about his bowling, he is the fourth seamer apart from in Asia.
He is rarely going to bowl 25 overs an innings. Although Jacques Kallis did it plenty of times and it was not an issue with him.
Some are even talking about Sam Curran batting at three after a couple of good knocks. But he is not quite ready. And why waste Buttler’s talent – at scoring runs and taking the game away from the opposition – at three against the new ball? Not for me.
Stokes is the obvious choice.. As for Bairstow maybe batting at three to get back in the side? There would be a big question-mark. Jonny would want to bat at six – and keep wicket. It is the right thing for him.
On the Second Test action, I know people were worried about how much the pitch was turning, but I think it has been an absolute belter. If you get stuck in and play the right shots, you can score.
If you bowl well, create pressure and bowl in the right place, you can get wickets.