England should look to Mahmood, Rashid, Brsenan to conquer all
Posted by Duncan Fletcher, Wednesday 19th August
England did really well. Well done. Winning the Ashes is never easy. People keep asking me if this team is as good as my team in 2005. Indeed, I occasionally offer them an answer. The key to England’s success was Andrew Strauss, who is a very good player. He scored 474 runs, which really is a lot of runs. An interesting statistic is that he scored 26 more runs than Michael Clarke, who is a very good player. People keep asking me if I should have made him captain for the 2006/07 Ashes. However, I know that I always make the right decisions, and always stick to them, mainly because they are often right.
Where now for England? How do you replace Andrew Flintoff? The trip to South Africa will be very tricky, and England need the best three-dimensional young unproven cricketers they can find. In the last two Tests Broad was exceptional and if anything proves that my old mantra that young, rounded, 3 dimensional cricketers are a good idea, is correct. On that basis, England must get Sajid Mahmood back in the side. I know I talk about Saj a lot, but he really is one of the most intelligent, rounded and brilliant all-rounders I have ever worked with. He could fill Flintoff’s boots.
An example of his intelligent bowling was in an ODI a number of years ago. Saj used his brain brilliantly, sending down 5 of his marvellous slower balls, bamboozling the batsman into only scoring 9 runs off the over, a good economy rate for Saj. Plus of course, he has pace. Pace is the single most important thing a bowler can ever have, and Saj has plenty.
I will never forget the brilliant match-winning 22* he scored against South Africa in 2006. It is probably up there as one of the best lower order batting displays in one day cricket history, but often gets overlooked. I believe that, as a genuine all-rounder, he could be slot into the no. 7 slot, allowing Broad to bat 8, and Swann 9.
I also think that Adil Rashid and Tim Bresnan must tour. The case for Rashid is obvious, so I will not go over it again. Bresnan is one of those players whose both his bowling nor batting are quite Test standard, but he offers an overall three-dimensional package that can boost the middle order.
South Africa will be very tough opposition, and England must play to their best to win. They must also field their best side, and by playing lots of all-round cricketers with multiple skills it could be done.
Duncan Fletcher is the former coach of the England cricket team, who also writes for the Guardian. This column is a selection of his articles that, sadly, were not deemed publishable quality by The Guardian.