It is very very hard to take. And I am just a Taunton boy, a lifelong Somerset supporter, not the one who has been, yet again, left out by England from the side to play New Zealand at Edgbaston this morning. You have to ask what Craig Overton and Jack Leach have to do to merit passing muster for Silverwood and Root.
Let’s deal with Leach first. It beggars belief that someone who has the responsibility for running the England cricket team can decide that Edgbaston, after the weather we have had and the forecast for the next five days, is not the place where you will need a spinner. On the human level surely there has to be some consideration for a bowler who spent the whole of last summer kicking his heels in the England bio-bubble and never bowling a ball in anger. We hear so much about the mental strain the pandemic has placed on so many of us so why does a “professional” set up allow this to happen
Fair enough Dom Bess was deemed the better option last summer and the regulations meant Leach couldn’t be released to get some middle time with Somerset but did it not cross Mr Silverwood’s mind that our Jack deserves to be treated with a little more humanity and respect. I’m not saying for a minute that Leach should have been picked on a sympathy basis, but I am asking why for the umpteenth home test Leach is in the squad and not picked.
The theory I heard is that Root, who clearly has the ear of the coach believes he is more than capable of fulfilling the role of primary spinner. Well, Mr Root, you aren’t. There is also a view that the vice-captain prefers to bowl in a four-seamer attack. Seriously? If someone who has played so many internationals and taken so many test wickets has a say in selection on that basis it is beyond ridiculous.
Leach will be sorely missed in this game, and the way the England first innings is collapsing, sooner rather than later. Am I the only one who really wants to see the England seamers toiling in hot sun and Devon Conway makes hay?
The felony has been compounded by calling Dom Bess up at the start of the week and then not playing Leach. Bess, who has had a tough time in the last couple of weeks for reasons it is not my place to go into, was summoned to Birmingham and into the bubble purely as cover under the COVID regulations for each. If ever there was a case of muddled thinking ……
You hope that Leach and Bess will be back with their counties and in Bess’ case back in the T20 side this evening.
Craig Overton has been the best bowler in the County Championship this season. No debate. While the Ollies (Robinson and Stone) are both top quick bowlers neither have been at the level of sustained excellence of Craig since the start of last year’s Bob Willis Trophy. But yet again it appears the Somerset player has been treated at best shabbily. The truth is Craig has been called up as cover for the other seamers in the squad with little intention of him playing. Would it have hurt, in a game where the opposition made seven changes to give him a chance to show what he can do? The sensible plan would have been to play one of Broad and Anderson in each game allow two/three of the other four to play one test alongside them, also allowing Leach to play in the side when Broad’s spinner allergy was irrelevant.
But no. Overton kicks his heels for the second week running and is not even allowed to be released because he is needed as cover for those seamers deemed worthy of priority.
If the mutterings that the Robinson situation impacted on Craig’s non-selection are true (I make no comment on those cloudy issues which I presume underly such conjecture) then surely Craig should have been released earlier either to play against Hampshire or start the Blast?
If you look at this objectively you have to conclude that the ECB decided that the 8-point deduction was, in retrospect not enough and with Somerset firmly in contention to reach Division 1 of the County Championship felt that a furthermore subtle sanction was in order. “Let’s deprive them of their two top bowlers, especially with a crucial game against Hampshire coming up….”