The England selectors have been renowned for not making drastic and constant changes throughout many series over the past few years.
This Ashes series however, has proven to be a different story.
So far in the series Jonathan Trott, Chris Tremlett, Monty Panesar, Graeme Swann and now Matt Prior have not lasted the full five tests. These changes, combined with opportunities for Durham youngster Ben Stokes and Yorkshire's Jonny Bairstow & Tim Bresnan, have been a recurring theme throughout.
The tourists made two changes for Brisbane, two for Adelaide, one for Perth and two for Melbourne. Despite the fact that some changes have been enforced (Trott and Swann), it it worrying that the England team and selectors perhaps do not know their best XI.
So why has this been a cause of England's poor tour so far?
Stability is key. If the team is playing well and nobody is being dropped, it almost certainly improves morale within the players. A perfect example is the current Australian team. Every player in the side knows their roles in the team.
No tinkling with the batting has happened whatsoever. Warner knows his job is to be agressive, Watson is the all-rounder, Clarke is the leader with the bat and in the field and Haddin can play in his own attacking manner. The bowlers know their roles too, with Harris's accuracy, Johnson's pace, Siddle's energy and Lyon's consistency making them one of the most potent attacks in world cricket at the moment.
Due to the good form of many of their players and the trust issued by coach Darren Lehmann, they are all used to playing at the level they know best. In comparison England have constant new faces in their line up that take time to produce performances worthy of winning an ashes series.
You only have to go back in time to prove that stable selection works:
In the famous Ashes series of 2005, a rejuvenated England did not make a change until the 5th test and even that was an enforced one with Simon Jones's injury. Once again, every member of the team knew the role they had to play in their quest to win back the urn, which proved to be a successful one.
More recently in the 2010/11 series down under, England had the luxury of providing a stable, happy team. The only changes being Chris Tremlett for Stuart Broad (injury) and Tim Bresnan for Steve Finn. Not a single change was made to their batting line up.
Australia, throughout that particular series, brought in Phil Hughes, Usman Khawaja and Steve Smith for Simon Katich, Ricky Ponting and Marcus North respectively. The series of course ended up with another famous England series victory, this time by 3-1.
The most recent Ashes series however was like chalk and cheese in terms of selection. Once more, England did not make any changes to the batting at all. Australia, by contrast, brought in Chris Rodgers, David Warner and Usman Khawaja, with the outgoings being Ed Cowan, Phil Hughes and Khawaja. These changes and the regular shuffling of the batting order, did not allow the Aussies to settle into any rhythm when they went out to bat, hence the large amount of low scores.
If England want to invest into young talents such as Stokes, Bairstow, Joe Root and Gary Ballance, then they have to prepared to let these lads to settle into test cricket and prove themselves. Even if it does come with low key performances in their first few games.
This will perhaps become crucial in the near future, with Kevin Pietersen, Prior and Jimmy Anderson not getting any younger. Root and Stokes have especially shown that they can cope with the demands of test cricket and they will be the players that England will look towards to drive England forward in the future.
Stable selection has a simple motto: Give faith to the players who are good enough to perform and they will produce they good sooner or later.
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