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.
On the evidence of the first three ODIs, Root won’t be a second-stringer for too much longer. Tredwell will be there or thereabouts, a reliable second spinner to ease Swann’s burden. Dernbach’s performance has been a microcosm of his 21-match ODI career, in which he has averaged 38.17 and conceded 6.28 runs an over.
Craig Kieswetter, on Wednesday, is likely to lose his spot behind the stumps. His likely replacement Jos Buttler and fast bowler Stuart Meaker are yet to play a game, while Chris Woakes has had only one chance.
Anderson, Trott and Swann, meanwhile, have had ample time to recharge themselves for the busy year ahead, which includes home-and-away series against New Zealand followed by back-to-back Ashes contests.
The hosts, on the other hand, have derived little from their bench. Apart from their fast bowlers, India do not rotate their ODI eleven all that much. With the scoreline reading 2-1 and two more matches left, conventional wisdom would suggest that India continue to play their first-choice eleven. And they probably will, on Wednesday.
Cheteshwar Pujara and Rohit Sharma, therefore, will continue to occupy the bench that they warmed while their respective state teams were playing in the semifinals of the Ranji Trophy. And according to reports, they will not be released for the final, which begins on January 26, a day before the final ODI. Pujara and Rohit may well compete in a book-cricket version of Saurashtra versus Mumbai if they remain on the bench in Dharamsala.
If it does turn out that Pujara and Rohit (not to mention Ajinkya Rahane and Ravindra Jadeja) aren’t released, they will also miss out on an opportunity for long-format cricket before India’s next assignment, the Test series against Australia starting on February 22.
Between now and then, the domestic calendar has only two first class fixtures — the Ranji final and the Irani Cup — before it shifts into limited-overs mode. Not for the first time in recent months, India might start a Test series a tad under-prepared.
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