THE difference between the two Ashes sides was never as wide as the chasm suggested by Australia’s trouncing at Adelaide. In the Pom euphoria it was forgotten that England’s suspect batting had flopped in the opening Test at Brisbane in the crucial first innings.
The batting failed again in the third Test at Perth, though this time in my view the bowlers let England down. The seam attack could not summon up the inspiration and consistency that Mitchell Johnson and his colleagues showed. And poor Steve Finn endured a nightmare, looking every bit the rookie.
These were near-perfect conditions for pace bowling at Perth, and yet Finn produced figures of 15-1-86-2 and 21-4-97-3 — simply not good enough. In fact he looked jaded and his form was disastrous — pitching consistently too short. That is a tough call on a young bowler with great potential, but it has to be said. The more accurate Tim Bresnan would almost certainly have been have been more effective, with the benefit of hindsight.
If England insist on picking only three seam bowlers for the fourth Test at Melbourne, the selectors should replace Finn with Bresnan to ease the pressure on James Anderson and Chris Tremlett. Not surprisingly Adelaide proved not to be the apocalypse that the Aussie media seemed to think. Selection and match strategy at Perth was spot-nn.
Finn appeared in the provisional 30 players announced by England this weekend for the World Cup on the subcontinent. He will not be included in the final reduced squad of 15 names by January 19, and there seems little room for new blood. Samit Patel has been brought back into the reckoning after his humilating exclusion from the one-day squad in 2009 for being ‘too fat’ — the ECB used physiology language that avoided the word ‘fat’.
The England Lions have eight players on the list in their squad set to tour the West Indies in January, February and March, but one or two at most are likely to make the World Cup. Ravi Bopara would be a choice, though I would regard Chris Woakes as a realistic candidate.
England have been drawn in a group with Bangladesh, India, Ireland, Holland, South Africa and West Indies. They are due to play two warm-up games against Canada and Pakistan before beginning their World Cup campaign in India on February 22 against Holland at Nagpur.
Provisional England World Cup squad
1. Andrew Strauss (Middlesex, captain)
2. James Adams (Hampshire)
3. James Anderson (Lancashire)
4. Ian Bell (Warwickshire)
5. Ravi Bopara (Essex)
6. Tim Bresnan (Yorkshire)
7. Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire)
8. Paul Collingwood (Durham)
9. Alastair Cook (Essex)
10. Steven Davies (Surrey)
11. Jade Dernbach (Surrey)
12. Steven Finn (Middlesex)
13. James Hildreth (Somerset)
14. Craig Kieswetter (Somerset)
15. Michael Lumb (Hampshire)
16. Eoin Morgan (Middlesex)
17. Samit Patel (Nottinghamshire)
18. Kevin Pietersen (Surrey)
19. Liam Plunkett (Durham)
20. Matt Prior (Sussex)
21. Adil Rashid (Yorkshire)
22. Ajmal Shahzad (Yorkshire)
23. Darren Stevens (Kent)
24. Graeme Swann (Nottinghamshire)
25. James Tredwell (Kent)
26. Chris Tremlett (Surrey)
27. Jonathan Trott (Warwickshire)
28. Chris Woakes (Warwickshire)
29. Luke Wright (Sussex)
30. Michael Yardy (Sussex)