Duncan Fletcher has let it be know that England will be playing five bowlers in the first Test.
I have, to date, heard a number of explanations for this odd tipping of the hand before the tour kicks off on Friday. Some say that this is to mentally take the pressure of Flintoff. Others that it is to put the pressure on other players.
The more eccentric of my aquaintences claim it is all a mind game; that Flintoff could bowl 30 overs tomorrow but neither he nor Fletcher want Australia to know that.
In my singularly well-informed opinion everyone is wrong. Fletcher is making it plane that he is going to drop Monty in favour of Ashley Giles and breaking it to the touring crowds gently.
I think this is madness.
Now I am not so arrogant, forgetful or self-important (Geoff Boycott) as to question Fletcher’s position. As with Clive Woodward after the rugby world cup only more so, in the light of massive success over Australia, I am willing to look past almost any eccentricity.
Nevertheless, dropping Monty for Gilo would be very silly indeed.
Fletcher seems to feel that the tail must be stiffened and that Giles is the man to do it. I say naynay.
Gilo has a test average of 20.72 compared to Monty’s 10.20. So with the bat, on paper Giles is worth 10 maybe 11 runs more than Monty.
With the ball, Giles fells the stumps every 83.48 deliveries for 39.6 runs. Monty, on the other hand, is blasting bails every 75.25 balls for the price of 32.4 runs.
Now, assuming over a match they were called on to bowl say, 35 overs: that is 210 balls. For those 210 ball, the Ashley Giles of cricket would return 2.5 wickets for 99 runs. Monty would bag you 2.8 wickets for 90 runs.
So assuming they both batted twice, Gilo is one, maybe two runs better than Monty while we cannot take into account enthusiasm or the affect a player has on team moral.
What we can take into account is this: the King of Spain averages 2.7 wickets a match, Monty 3.2. Against Australia that is a very big wicket.