Archive | April 21, 2015

Quick single: fair selection

Trott and Cook open again for England, while Adam Lyth, the premier opener in county cricket last season, acts as 12th man. Mark Wood, seen by some as the fastest bowler in the touring party, waits for his international debut, while the four seamers who took nine wickets between them in the first Test, get another game.

It’s not fair.

And I’ve not even mentioned Nick Compton.

Unfair selection; worthy players who are ‘hard done by’. It’s just, well, unjust and the selectors should pay the price.

That’s a characterisation of opinions expressed by many followers of all major teams. It’s not one I share.

Fairness, I believe, has no place in the selection of international cricket teams. Selectors should aim to field the team that, in their expert opinion, is best suited to achieve the objective set. Most commonly, that objective is to win the next match; but it could be to prepare a team for a more stretching challenge ahead (Cook’s continued selection may fall into this category).

A very simple algorithm could pick a team based on statistics from domestic first class cricket. The selectors’ role is to assess whether a player with an impressive first class record could reproduce that success in international cricket. They must judge whether an encouraging start to a Test career is likely to be sustained and, if not likely, that it is better to cut it off before it goes sour. Selectors must know when to bring to an end the career of one of the mainstays of the team. Selectors must search for the clue that distinguishes the potentially international-class from the group of pretenders. They should not trouble themselves with fairness.

And given that license to make judgements, selectors should be held accountable for results. I expect selectors to be ruthless and to be treated ruthlessly.