The Ashes needs Ben Stokes jersey more than England

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A day in the life of English cricket, September 2017: anatomy of a shemozzle. Three ECB responds as CCTV footage allegedly emerges of incident hours Adidas Ben Scrivens Womens Jersey before the fourth one-day international was due to start, with the skies above Kennington still bearded in white autumnal fog, an unusually thick knot of reporters and camera crews was already gathered in the bowels of The Oval deep below the rush-hour traffic, fussing and fluttering and brandishing their recorders.This had been billed originally as a cosy morning briefing on the Ashes squad, with a ring of soft chairs ranged chummily around the hard floor of the Ken Barrington practice dungeon. In the circumstances, entering, as we are, the post-Mbargo landscape, it was deemed more appropriate for James Whitaker and top-table guest Andrew Strauss to mount the plinth and address the floor from behind a table.
And so began another one of those ECB press conferences. You know the ones. From KP’s texts, to Ashes Meltdown, to Joe Root at the Walkabout, to emergency relief on The Oval square, to the current nightlife-related inanities, there have been a fair few in the last five years. This one was right up there on its own, more studied terms, a two-pronged exercise in obfuscation, damage-limitation and pure straight-bat doublespeak.Naturally Strauss was present to discuss, or not discuss, Ben Stokes and The Bad things No One Can Talk About Yet. First up, though, was Whitaker, there to explain and add detail to the morning’s Ashes squad announcement. This the national selector did with some apparent reluctance, answering questions about the most prestigious touring party in English cricket with all the obvious relish Oilers Jersey of Oilers Authentic Jersey a Adidas Devils Jersey municipal Adidas Devils Authentic Jersey official wheeled out to explain that the local watercourse has been flooded with 400 tons of decaying fish heads but this is all part of a wider plan, the beaches will be open as usual and really it’s all very positive.
Not that any of the current confusion is Whitaker’s fault. Unless, of course, you count his role in two successive slightly bizarre Ashes tour selections. Whitaker also helped finalise the loads-of-tall-blokes policy before Adidas Andy Greene Youth Jersey the calamitous 5-0 whitewash in 2013-2014, when Boyd Rankin, Chris Tremlett and Steven Finn travelled to Australia and either forgot how to bowl or never played again.Four years on, looking a little glum at his dais, Whitaker explained that picking James Vince, who hasn’t had a sniff since the summer of 2016, was “part of a process” and “a review” and was in fact the end point of a masterful process of elimination. As opposed to, say, a bit of a panic when everyone else has already failed.
A bit later Whitaker explained that the famously front-foot Vince was a natural back-foot player and therefore ideally suited to Australian pitches, which will be news to anyone who has ever watched him repeatedly driving through the off-side. Craig Overton had been picked for his feistiness and aggression, which are undoubted and indeed formally documented. Overton bowled with aggression and lift at The Oval last week. He can bat a bit, too, and is a fine athlete.Gary Ballance is also, we heard, a great back-foot player and he did play well square of the wicket in the 2013-14 Ashes ODI series. On the other hand, few people watching Ballance in his last 10 Test innings (average 13.4) will have nodded gravely to themselves and pronounced, yes, top-class back-foot player right here.
This though, was the theme of the day: fog, obfuscation, awkwardly pitched spin. A few hours later, as England and West Indies set about making a fair go of one of the more incidental, oddly sidelined international matches of any recent English season, it was tempting to look back with a little sympathy on what was a pretty horrendous morning on so many separate but connected levels for the ECB.Strauss is by now an old hand at the patient, slightly wounded chief executive’s crisis-management tone. But when it comes to Stokes, the Mbargo affair, and an increasing tendency to step outside the lines, he must feel a genuine sting of personal frustration.


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