It seems odd that in spite of the number one ranking, England have actually lost 5 of their last 9 Tests. Sure, four of those were on the subcontinent, but it is a record that could certainly get worse over the next two games against this impressive Saffer side at least (and, with another 4 lined up after that in Fortress India, who’s to bet against a rather drastic overall slip in that ranking status over the next 6 months?).
I think the important thing which England need to do after the merciless drubbing in the First Test is to almost ignore it. Concentrating on their own plans, it would be foolish to panic after such a wonderful run of form at home. Re-revert to the tried and tested, concentrate on the basics, and, quite simply..play better!
In spite of statistically the worst loss in the history of Test cricket (a debatable use of stats, but the comparitive wicket to run ratio was impressive nonetheless), I can’t see England making any changes for the Headingley Test. Bresnan and Bopara are the men deemed most at threat, but a lack of stand-out alternative at number 6 will see England persist with Ravi Bop, and I have a feeling that one poor Test won’t blinker views on Bresnan’s overall record in Test cricket, especially as Headingly is his home ground, a swinging ground, and he bowled as well as any other English bowler at the (insert sponsor’s name here) Oval.
In fact, if I had to make a change, I’d potentially be looking at Stuart Broad. Yes, he’s a bit of a talisman, but not to the extent of Anderson. His runs down the order aren’t as consistent as Bresnan’s. He offers height and pace, but not to the extent of Finn. If it weren’t for his annoyance factor (I have the feeling he is quite disliked across the world) and his record over the last two years (62 wickets @ 24) then well, I’d drop him. Hmm. I guess you can see why he’s hard to drop, actually.
So, being desperate to find somewhere in the team to make a change, and in the habit of an England fan who was brought up in the 90’s turmoil of selection and one cap wonders, I’ll pluck a name to replace Bopara at 6: He’s English and in good form, but in all probability not ready for international cricket, Joe Roots would also be playing at his home ground if he were to be picked from the wilderness ahead of those deemed to be next in line (Morgan, Bairstow).
In the unlikely event of any of this happening, I’d like to see our batsmen stop playing stupid shots, our bowlers hit a line and length more consistently, and our fielding to be sharper. And a recall for Paul the Wall Collingwood, perhaps? He’s ginger-er than Bell, at least.