The brutal nature of top class international sport was never better highlighted than Wednesday’s axing of Toby Roland-Jones from the England team for the 2nd Test against West Indies, starting on Friday.
Roland-Jones has played just 3 Tests, taking 14 wickets at an average of 19.35, with 2 of those Test matches having been against South Africa.
In truth, Roland-Jones has done nothing wrong, but it just goes to show how tough international sport is, and from an England fans point of view, shows a more ruthless nature from the new Joe Root regime, which will surely be needed if England are to have a chance in the Ashes later this year.
In the past I would suggest that England could rightly be accused of metaphorically taking their foot off the throat when they are on top, rather than pressing down harder, like an Aussie or South African team would have.
England could easily do that against this West Indies team, but bringing Chris Woakes back at the expense of Roland-Jones suggests that England are not taking their foot off the throat. Before injury, Woakes had become one of England’s main players, so in bringing him back and not choosing to rotate or rest Anderson or Broad, England have shown they are not going to ease up.
In the latest Ashes betting, Betvictor currently have England as the 11/5 outsiders to win the Ashes outright, they have shortened slightly after the series win over South Africa. A drawn series is 6/1, with an Aussie win currently at 8/13.
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With the first Ashes test not until 23rd November, there is plenty of time for those odds to change. Australia could struggle in Bangladesh, and either side could pick up injuries, resulting in a change in the odds.
Australia will always be the favourites in their own conditions though (unless something dramatic happens), and the worldwide trend of late shows that the likes on England, Australia and India, all thrive in their home conditions, but struggle when they they tour each other’s nations, so clearly England will be up against it.
All England can do at the moment is give themselves their best chance. They have already demolished South Africa 3-1 this summer, and by getting their best XI on the field against West Indies, and being ruthless, they are demonstrating to Australia that they are not going be a pushover.