Ashes head to head: the keepers and spinners

Having already looked at the top order and the middle order, we now turn our attentions to the Ashes head to head: the keepers and spinners.

Nathan Lyon has a pivotal role to play for Australia. If he can keep England quiet, he will get in amongst the wickets and ease the burden on Australia's pace attack

Nathan Lyon has a pivotal role to play for Australia. If he can keep England quiet, he will get in amongst the wickets and ease the burden on Australia’s pace attack

Jos Buttler Vs Brad Haddin

Buttler is currently one of the golden boys of English cricket; a rare attacking talent who is in tune with the demands of modern cricket. That is, at least, as a batsman. He is far from being the finished article as a wicket keeper, and we asked recently if he has been overhyped. His ODI performances, whilst glittering, have yielded two centuries and he is yet to register three figures in Test cricket. A little perspective would not go amiss – he undoubtedly has the potential, but he is not there just yet.

This will be a pivotal series for Buttler. There is nowhere to hide in an Ashes series. He is, however, a steely character and you wouldn’t expect him to be fazed by the challenge. His glovework and batting will be given their sternest examination yet, though.

Haddin, at 37, is the old boy of the series. He had his international career resuscitated at the expense of Matthew Wade after Mickey Arthur’s ill feted reign. His is also the antithesis of Buttler, the softly spoken, mild mannered country boy. Haddin is in your face the whole time, his aggressive personality inspiring the resurgence in Australian cricket, albeit at the expense of basic decency.

The Cricket Blog’s verdict: We’d go for Haddin. You know what you’re getting with him; experience, good glovework and a handy lower order batsman who has rescued his side from several perilous situations. Buttler would do well to emulate his performances, if not his personality.

Moeen Ali/Adil Rashid Vs Nathan Lyon

The spinner’s spot is the only question mark hanging over this England side. Ali had a good breakthrough summer last year, but he has begun to falter a little. Whilst he is more than just a part timer, he is not really a front liner of international quality. Australia will doubtless seek to get on top of him early and give Alastair Cook a real problem. Those moments may go so far as to define his Test career; respond well and take wickets and the spot is his for the rest of year at least, but retreat into his shell and get whacked and Rashid is ready and waiting.

Rashid is unlikely to feature unless Ali slips up, which cannot be ruled out. I would also expect to see Joe Root fill in a few overs throughout the series.

Lyon has provided some consistency to Australia’s Test spinner selection that was sorely lacking post-Shane Warne, but for a brief tenure by Nathan Hauritz. He has a very aesthetically pleasing, classical off spinning action. He now has 41 Tests under his belt and 146 wickets. If England are to stay true to their newfound attacking mantra, they will surely target Lyon, though. It is a scenario that he will relish.

TCB’s verdict: You’d just have to go for Lyon. He’s a better bowler than Ali or Rashid, although the batting depth that Ali or Rashid, at eight, will bring to England cannot be ignored.

Next time we round off our series with a look at the quicks.

By Miles Reucroft

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6 comments on “Ashes head to head: the keepers and spinners

  1. The Buttler bashing continues I see.

    Strange considering since the Ashes in 2013/14 Haddin has scored 230 runs in 19 innings. In Buttler’s 12 Test Match innings he has scored 474 runs in 12 innings. I suppose the latter has still not been forgiven for missing that stumping in the West Indies?

    Haddin’s career stats are aided by his impressive record against England which has boosted his overall average to over 30. His behaviour in the World Cup final also demonstrated that he is a thoroughly unpleasant character.

    I for one am hoping that we will look back on this in September and chuckle about how much you’ve underestimated just how talented Buttler is.

  2. Haddin’s record against England, then, is surely reason enough to make him the pick of the keepers on display in this series? When the chips are down and the batsman have failed, Haddin has a great record of bailing them out of trouble. I agree that his character can be questionable, but he is a solid keeper and batsman.

    Buttler has a huge opportunity to impress here. He too can rescue England’s early batting failings. He can take the key catches. He can gee up those around him. And, by September, he may well have proven himself to be Haddin’s equal or superior. It’s far from being make-or-break (he’s only 24), but he’s not the finished article and, like most 24 year old international cricketers, he has aspects that he can improve upon. He should go on and score Test hundreds and he will undoubtedly add to his ODI tally of two.

  3. Paul Spencer July 2, 2015 at 1:11 pm -

    Keep on bashing, Miles.
    Good for Buttler to read something other than idolatry.
    He has genuine challengers and needs to be on his toes.
    (PS The Jos Buttler ‘batting masterclass’ on Sky last summer had me spluttering over my cornetto).

  4. I’m not bashing! I think he’s a very good player, but he’s not the finished article. I feel that he will evolve into a world leading ODI player, but that he may not necessarily make it as Test cricketer. Series such as this will reveal a lot more about him: maybe he is worthy of all the praise, maybe he has had unnecessary expectation placed upon him.

    His First Class Recrod is modest. His List A record is superb.

  5. I would reluctantly agree in terms of keeper of the series but its should be said that Haddin is far from exceptional. There does seem to be a lack of top class keepers around at the moment in all honesty. Is this a result of the keeper-batsman desire that every country now seeks? I don’t know but I think it would be wrong to say we’re watching a fine exponent of the art. Haddin is decent but not a great and unfortunately usually saves his best for us.

    I just do not get the hostility from you both? It reminds me of English football. Anyone with potential we’ll just pick apart until we’ve ruined him. Although I did notice both of you were very quiet after Jonny Bairstow’s recent keeping display for England. Was that drop easier than the run out in the West Indies???? I think so…….

  6. Paul Spencer July 2, 2015 at 3:33 pm -

    Miles, for some, ‘bashing’ Buttler is saying ‘he’s a very good player’ rather than ‘he’s the greatest thing ever to put on pads’.
    Like you, I think he’s a very good player.