Jockeying for position
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Statistically, James Tredwell has enjoyed an incredible ODI series, with seven wickets in the first three matches at an average of 17.28 and an economy rate of 4.48. But even he might have been a touch amused when he was asked, on Tuesday, whether he felt he was in with a chance for Test selection.
If he wasn't a contemporary of Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar, Tredwell might have had a run of games in the longer format. How well he would have done is debatable — his accurate, minimally-spun round-arm off breaks somehow seem made for limited-overs cricket.
But the selectors are unlikely to ponder such questions anytime in the near future. Swann and Panesar, unfortunately for Tredwell, exist, and are bowling as well as they ever have. Had Swann been available for selection, Tredwell may not have gotten to play the ODIs.
As is the case with a couple of members of England's pace attack. Jade Dernbach and Chris Woakes may not have made the squad if James Anderson and Stuart Broad were around. Joe Root has had a chance to display his precocious maturity with the bat and surprising skill as an off spinner only because Jonathan Trott and Jonny Bairstow weren't part of the squad.
Broad was nursing an injury while Bairstow had to fly home due to an illness in his family. Anderson, Swann and Trott were rested. England began the ODI series on top of the ODI rankings. After their defeat at Ranchi, they slipped to third, and were replaced at number one by India.
Seldom in sport is the number one ranking guarded with so little jealousy. But seldom in sport does the number one ranking mean as little as it does in ODI cricket — if England are to win in Mohali, they will reclaim the top spot; but on a pitch that is supposed to assist the quicks, levelling the series might be their priority. The World Cup is the top prize. And unless another edition of this quadrennial tournament looms over the horizon, the rest of the ODI calendar is a space for teams to mix and match, rest and rotate, and see how the second-stringers cope.