As news filtered through last Saturday night that Kevin Pietersen was ruled out of the rest of the second test with a knee stain, the rumour mill started as to who would replace him should he not make the third test.
For me I thought it was straightforward. Only weeks previously was Nick Compton opening the batting for England against New Zealand and although he was subsequently dropped, somewhat unfairly, he was then drafted in to play for Worcestershire against Australia in a tour game re-affirming that the selectors were still interested in his performance and first back up should something go wrong.
So when KP announced he was struggling with injury and that it was touch and go for him to make the third test it only made sense that Compton would be the first name for consideration.
Yes, Joe Root’s 180 in the second innings was high class but there is no reason why Compton would not slot into the top order, moving Root back down to the middle where he had started his test career.
Instead, news through yesterday morning from the ECB was that James Taylor, who last played a test a year ago and was dropped after three failed attempts against South Africa, is to play for Sussex against Australia at Hove starting this Friday.
Taylor has certainly been in good form this year but has barely been mentioned since he was dropped. Others, like Root, have come in and performed admirably, and knocked Taylor out of the selectors thinking.
Should Pietersen be ruled unfit for the third test it appears Taylor, runs or no runs against the Aussies in the three day game, will come in to bolster the middle order. It’s unlikely the selectors would go to all this effort to then turn around and give the slot to someone else; they just want Taylor to have some longer game practice instead of the 20/20 games he would have played for Nottinghamshire on Friday and Sunday.
Unlucky to be dropped in the first place, Compton will be wondering what he’s done so badly wrong to have fallen so quickly by the way side. It’s only a couple of months ago he scored wonderful back-to-back hundreds in New Zealand and helped England save the series. They say cricket is a funny old game. It can certainly be a cruel one too.
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