In the pink signifies a state of well being; good health. The pink here has nothing to do with colour, but is based on the old English ‘pynca’ meaning “point”, hence “peak” or “apex”. Shakespeare speaks of “the pink of courtesy”. As ever, if it is good enough for Shakespeare, then it’ll just about do for the wrong’un. Especially seeing as I don’t like nor abide the idea of a ‘purple patch’.
There is a fair amount of cricket to go on to determine form for this series: England players have played a good amount of County Cricket by their admittedly low standards, and we’ve also had an England Lions XI play a warm-up against the tourists themselves.
The pinkest man is undoubtedly Joe Root. In fact he’s pinker than Barbie’s Renault Clio test driven on acid. In his two First Class matches for Yorkshire this season, he has plundered 467 runs at an average of 149. This affirmed any doubts the England selectors might have had after a shakier tour of New Zealand than his hype suggests, and he was named captain for the England Lions team to face the tourists at Grace Road. BISH, 179 big ones to keep New Zealand in the field for two days and the growing Joe Root fanclub purring.
Unlike Root, Captain Alistair Cook has played just once in CC2013, and although he faced plenty of balls in his watchful first innings 59 against Hampshire at Chelmsford, he made just 4 as Essex collapsed in the second innings. Opening partner Nick Compton has had a mixed start making not very many against Surrey, then bouncing back well with a fifty and a century against much-fancied Warwickshire at Taunton.
In England’s likely middle order, Jonathan “at best a” Trott meandered his way to a solid 96 from 203 balls in his solitary knock against Sussex and I Ron Bell made 56 in the same innings, both one of six men caught behind by England player of the year Matt Prior, himself making two solid starts with 42 and 62 in his two matches to date. The two Warwickshire wielders of willow also both wafted their way to 50 in the first innings of their second match against Middlesex, so have had some time in the middle if not three figures per se. At 6 he with the deluge of follical rouge, Johnny Bairstow, will almost certainly play and like his aforementioned County Com-padre Joe Root is in top form having struck two half centuries and a blistering 186 already this summer.
Of the bowlers, “attack leader” (what a horrible phrase that is – it invokes stark images of a rabid pack of rottweilers, or perhaps the Luftwaffe flying in formation over London, or in fact simply that odious fellow Glenn McGrath) James Anderson has eight wickets in two matches to date at 22.5, and likely new ball partner Stuart Broad has picked up 12 wickets in his two County fixtures, including match figures of 8-91 against Derbyshire. These look good on their own as an opening pair but unless they are replicated over time they are not obviously outstanding in terms of actual match-winning performances.
For the third seamer spot, Steven Finn is another to have profited from playing against Derbyshire, though his 6 wickets there look a lot less impressive when twinned with his match figures of 1-102 against Surrey. Simple Tim Bresnan on the other, meaty hand has been in the wickets and is likely to face off with Finn. Off-tweaker Graeme Swann is unsure of his place through fitness rather than ability, and his start with Nottinghamshire has been merely steady with the ball with a bonus 50 mit willow, which ought to be enough for him to reclaim his spot.
Men in the Pink: Root, Broad, Compton, Bairstow
Men who look ‘alright’: Cook, Bell, Trott, Anderson, Prior, Bresnan
Men in the Brown: Swann, Finn
What we can gauge from this: Sod all
What I won’t do in future: Start writing a ‘form guide’ before the final round of matches are played…