I’m a son of the 1990s. When jumpers were to be exceptionally baggy; hair to be centre parted and preferably covered in styling gel; pop music to veer from the horribly commercial (Britney Spears), to the gloriously independent (Pavement). Another staple of the last decade of the second millennium was the masterful selectorial gaffes of the English cricket team’s selectors.
The extravagant talents of Graeme Hick, Mark Ramprakash and John Crawley were squandered by woeful mis-management and careless, short-sighted selection. Though this lost generation of cricketers cannot wholly be the responsibility of the selectors’ shortcomings, continuous droppings and re-calls clearly did nothing for these players’ sense of security. Imagine the strength of a three-four-five of Hick, Ramprakash and Crawley: all comfortable in their roles and mentally secure. Such power in the middle-order could have re-written history, and England cricket fans might not have such a sadistic sense of self-schadenfreude in guiltily enjoying the classic ‘90s batting collapse (as Rob Smyth wrote about humorously in the first issue of The Nightwatchman).
The 2000s brought central contracts and a new age of selectorial consistency. By the 2005 Ashes series, England’s XI had become so set in stone, such a model of consistency, that millions nationwide would have been able to run through that glorious team sheet: …K.Pietersen, A.Flintoff, G.Jones…
We thought we had left behind the world of murky team meetings rife with disagreement, surprise visits from the team manager and captain in the dead of night, the stern rap on the hotel room door. Barring a brief interlude (titled: Peter Moores) which brought us Amjad Khan and Darren Pattinson, this solidity and continuity in selection became gospel under Andy Flower. Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Andrew Strauss, Paul Collingwood and others, have all been given the selectors’ endorsement and more chances to recover form than they possibly deserved.
But of late, the treatment of certain players is beginning to baffle those outside of the England bubble. Nick Compton has been dropped from England’s only warm-up game, just a week before the Ashes; this decision seems to have ruled him out from the first Test at the very least.
Nick Compton is a man who scored consecutive Test centuries only three Tests ago; and two of the Test matches since his last century have occurred among poor batting displays from the team as a whole. Joe Root has been promoted ahead of Compton (as stated by Geoff Miller himself) to open alongside Cook. Now as impressive as Joe Root is (and by Jove, this boy is the future), does he need to adapt to opening in Test match cricket as England’s biggest six months in years begins? Compton himself has subsequently scored a century and two half-centuries in first-class cricket since his last Test match appearance, one of those being a fine 81 AGAINST the Australians. At the very least Compton deserved two Ashes Tests, but instead, the selectors have gone against their dictum of continuity.
James Taylor is another who has put the hard graft in and scored heavily and consistently. Yet he remains on the fringes, seemingly behind Jonny Bairstow (yet to really impress at all in international cricket, and possessive of a poor technique against spin AND high class fast bowling) and Eoin Morgan (where questions marks must still remain over his commitment to Test cricket). For Taylor to not even secure a place on the Indian tour late last year, after battling manfully against the best attack in world cricket was a disaster, especially as Samit Patel was the man who had nominally replaced him. James Taylor averages just shy of 50 over a period of 93 first-class games, He clearly is a serious player; whatever England have against him has to go. This prejudice against him is baffling.
Let’s just hope that unlike the music and television shows, there is to be no reformation or comeback of England’s selectorial woes from the 1990s.
First published on The Sideline Agenda site (http://thesidelineagenda.com/), a website I now write for. This version of the article is un-edited and has been augmented slightly (or to put it simply, far messier).
Original article: http://thesidelineagenda.com/2013/06/27/englands-treatment-nick-compton-flashback-lost-generation-1990s/