Thursday, July 31

Would getting absolutely stuffed be good for us this time?

I'm sure a couple of years ago I was looking forward to seeing Michael Vaughan return - now I have to say I feel I'd be glad to see the back of him. Yes, he was good once, but your ability can disappear fast at the top level of sport, and his appears to have completely deserted him with the bat.

But more to the point is that reading a lot of the press, there seems to be an unpleasant air about the whole thing. Selection seems to be a "pick your mates" type of thing, almost like being back at school. If you're not quite in the inner circle and your form dips you get dropped for a while (Strauss) or apparently permanently (Hoggard), but if you are, you can be straight back in without having to prove you've remembered how to bat (Collingwood). It almost makes me miss the days when the selectors would panic after a defeat and haul in whoever was doing well in the county game at the time.

The dropping of Broad for Collingwood seems bizarre. I could see the point in dropping Broad for a batsman in form - arguably, Broad has been lucky, as if he was really that good he should have been scoring in the county game too. I could see the point in dropping Broad for a bowler in form - Broad hasn't been taking wickets, and England need to bowl South Africa out to win, or at least avoid humiliation. Collingwood is out of form. Broad is in form - his Test average is far higher than his county. More to the point, Collingwood is really struggling with the bat, it's not like he's scoring fluently then being a bit unlucky, while Broad has been attracting plaudits for his batting. Yes, he's not a Test number six. Not yet, anyway. But Collingwood sure as hell isn't playing like a number six either.

So this leads me to the though - how much of this is the fault of the coach and captain? And is getting absolutely stuffed for the rest of this series enough to force them out?

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