Saturday, June 23, 2012

Rotation; Why Not?

When I was a lad, plying my trade in the Jersey Under 15's football league, I was a reliable left back for my home Parish, Grouville. In the spring of 1995, we went on a cup run that took us to a prestigious final at Jersey's answer to Wembley; Springfield Stadium.
I was as excited as an England fast bowler, marking out his run up against a West Indies middle order batsman, but my cup final dream was to turn into a nightmare. Martin Roberts, a nippy left winger, nippier than me anyway, had forced his way into the reckoning and Robbo, our coach, looking for more attacking flare in the final, delivered the news I dreaded just an hour before kick-off:
"Marty' starts, sorry Tom!"
This of course was before terms like "rotation" and "managing your resources" we're part of sporting vernacular, this was simply a question of who was the best player, and I lost out. Boo Hoo!

Obviously it's much, much different these days. Nowadays the best players are not always the ones that are selected to represent their side.
In football, squad rotation has been in place for over a decade now. England managers have used friendly matches to audition future potential in the senior side. You could say this has played its part in devaluing playing for your country, or you could say it is this policy that has given the likes of Danny Welbeck the chance to shine in Euro 2012 that is on-going currently.
Cricket is going through a transformation of similar sorts now, with England apparently leading the way in squad rotation.
Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad were both rested from the final test match of the series against the West Indies last month, to rest them up for the busy summer that lay ahead. The series already won, it gave the selectors the chance to look at Steven Finn and Graham Onions, both fine bowlers, both in good county cricket form, both deserving of a chance then, surely?
With the third and final One Day International between the same two sides scheduled for this Friday at Headingly, and with the home side again taking an unassailable 2-0 lead into the match, England's selectors have decided to shuffle their pack once more. Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad and Graham Swann are all “rested” from the squad and in their place come Stuart Meaker, Jade Dernbach and James Tredwell. Chris Woakes is already in the squad and you might see all four on appearing on Friday.
This news has not been universally welcomed, with the likes of BBC TMS commentator Jonathan Agnew voicing concern for the punters, who pay top dollar for these tickets only to see a second string England bowling attack appearing before them. How can England expect to sell out future series against lesser sides if punters know rotation will be employed as soon as the series is in the bag?
It's a difficult problem for the ECB, and for cricket globally to thrash out. Schedules are ridiculously full at present; England have a One Day series against Australia up next this summer (why, exactly is the subject for further debate, surely), before South Africa's tour across all formats. Following that it's the T20 World Cup and then England's tour of India. I'm tired just thinking about all that.
And this is without considering the IPL, which is still shunned by international cricketing bodies, and England's own T20 tournament which is struggling for crowds both because of the weather and perhaps because of the lack of top England players appearing in the format because they're all preparing for or resting from England duty.
Until cricket schedules are considered on a global scale, rotation you suspect will be omnipresent in international cricket.
Schedules aside though, is rotation really that bad for the players, and for punters? Steven Finn has been magnificent in One Day cricket over the last 12 months and is a joy to watch. Chris Woakes is a genuine all-rounder in prospect and Jade Dernbach has been an England One Day regular over the past year as well, so we're hardly talking Bearded Bob and Jimmy Knuckles from the village green, are we?
These guys deserve a chance and from the ECB's perspective, as long as they are putting out a competitive side - and I believe tomorrows will be - then I don't have too many issues with them getting opportunities.
Plus England have to look to the future. Look at the post-ashes 2005 period, when ready-made replacements for the likes of injured Michael Vaughan, Simon Jones and Freddie Flintoff were in short supply. This gives England a pool of players to choose from as and when required, and that has to be to the benefit of the overall setup?
Punters heading to Headingly on Friday may be disappointed that they won't see Broad, Bresnan or Swann, but in my view we will still see a very competitive England side and in all probability, given the ineptitude of the West Indies middle order, will still win.
Supporting England has to be about supporting the team –it might be a shame not to see certain individuals, but the coach and captain have to plan for the future, as well as ensure they win every game, and in my view they will be adhering to both for the match up in Leeds.
For your information, I made it on for the second half at Springfield and more than played my part in Grouville securing the trophy – or so I have told myself for the past 17 years, anyway.

Tom Huelin for DieHard Cricket Fans
Follow Tom on Twitter @tomhue1

No comments :

Post a Comment