England had a poor week at Lord’s and it started with selection of the squad. Ignoring the wishes of the captain and coach by leaving out James Anderson was a screw up.
We had a massive lift in 2005 when Glenn McGrath was not fit for the second Ashes Test. Pakistan would have had a similar boost when they arrived at Lord’s which is why I find it very strange England did not at least have Anderson in the squad giving them time to make a proper decision on his fitness waiting, if necessary, until the first morning of the match.
No selector should ever have the power to tell a captain he cannot have a certain player. That is prehistoric thinking and belongs with the blazer brigade of the 1980s. This is an era where the captain and coach take on much more responsibility; they stand and fall by results. They are under scrutiny more than ever before.
A selector who watches county cricket should not be able to tell a captain like Alastair Cook, who has scored 10,000 Test runs and been in the job for nearly four years, that he cannot have his main strike bowler simply because they want him to bowl a few more overs for Lancashire.
I would have gone into a Test match with 50 percent fit Andrew Flintoff, and to be honest, we did on several occasions.
The reason was because Freddie had a presence. It is the same for Anderson and this is something selectors do not understand because they are not in the dressing room with the team day in, day out.
Cook needs Anderson’s presence. That much was evident at Lord’s. Yes, Jimmy is quiet but he intimidates teams because of his previous feats. They treat him with respect, particularly a team like Pakistan playing its first match in England for six years.
Ultimately England’s batting let them down at Lord’s but Pakistan won because they scored 339 in the first innings. I can guarantee if Anderson had played they would not have made 339. The gap between the two sides would have been narrower.
But it is the dynamic of the team environment that is so important and to arrive at Lord’s for the first Test as the captain having been told what to do by a selector sets a bad tone for the week.
The selectors are there to give you information. I have said for long time that we do not need a selection panel with a chairman of selectors. It is outdated.
You just need one figurehead whose job it is to speak to the media, explain decisions, be a link between the England team and the counties and tell to players why they have been picked or dropped.
That is it. Nobody else. The captain, coach and director of cricket Andrew Strauss should be the selectors. They can rely on other employees at the ECB to scout players. It is not as if the ECB does not have enough staff.
Surely there are specialist coaches in batting, bowling and wicketkeeping at Loughborough who can go and watch certain players. Andy Flower, for example, is a valuable source of knowledge with fabulous experience of coaching the England team.
The England coaches also have access to modern technology. They can see every ball a batsman has faced or bowler has bowled on their laptop through the cameras the ECB sets up at every championship match. On Sunday Trevor Bayliss would have been able to go on his ipad and watch the double hundred Aneurin Donald smashed for Glamorgan that day.
He can then ring the coaches at Glamorgan or send one of the specialist Loughborough coaches to go and watch him.
They also have plenty of opportunity to judge players when they are with the Lions squad and through the player pathway programme. It is an excellent set up giving the Loughborough coaches a chance to judge a player with their own eyes.