Jonny Bairstow stands out for inclusion in England's one-day team for India | Vic Marks

Of the new names entering the scene the Yorkshireman made an arresting, if short, debut in Cardiff

It has been a minor miracle. The one-day internationals have been Duckworth-Lewis damp, Cardiff cold, and contested by a shadow side dutifully led by MS Dhoni, the one stellar survivor in the India party. In the press box the excitement has been muted; in the dressing-rooms they disguise any lack of enthusiasm a bit better. Yet the stands have been jam-packed, the tickets sold out months ago, albeit when the prospect of seeing Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh in action was real. No matter that a good anorak is essential in mid‑September once the sun has set. No matter that most of the regulars are on their last legs. English cricket can boast depth of pace bowling, some bright young things epitomised by Jonny Bairstow, who kept depositing white missiles into the river Taff around bedtime on Friday and a band of effective, or, at the very least, lucky marketing men.

A flicker of excitement has come with the one-day team. Some new surnames surfaced, very often beginning with B. Scott Borthwick, Jos Buttler as well as Bairstow have all played international cricket now. So have Ben Stokes, Alex Hales and James Taylor – to no great effect – and Jade Dernbach. Of these Bairstow – suddenly – has been the most arresting after his stunning innings of 41 in Cardiff, which briefly overshadowed the mizzle and the plummeting temperatures. We may need some perspective here.

Bairstow has faced 21 deliveries in his international career, three of which he has hit for six. But the ball was wet, the bowlers modest so we should be wary of too many superlatives. Yet there was a presence there from the moment Bairstow clipped his first ball to mid-on. Immediately he looked as if he was at home playing international cricket, which was not obviously the case when we glimpsed Stokes. Surely they will take Bairstow to India now.

So it seems the selectors can do no wrong and they have been playing a few shots recently. Their authority is unchallenged and when this happens they are in danger of becoming insensitive to the county game, which is charged with producing England cricketers of the future. A few examples: Durham's side was much reduced by the team selected for England's match against Ireland; Yorkshire were similarly frustrated earlier in the season.

The squad for next week's two Twenty20 matches against West Indies is also experimental and interesting, not least to see how Graeme Swann goes about leading the side. These matches are not allowed to be called "the Stanford games" by representatives of the England and Wales Cricket Board, but that is what they are – winter cricket at the fag end of a long season just to fulfil a contractual obligation with the ECB's rights-holders. At the risk of sounding parochial they might have permitted one of Somerset's keepers, Craig Kieswetter or Buttler, to participate in the Champions League instead. But no. England always have to come first.

The national team The national team do produce the dosh, of course, and it was not difficult for them to sell the matches against India. Yet somehow the end product was often disappointing. England played some fine cricket in the Test series, yet the contest was seldom compelling. It was too one-sided and the constant agonising over whether Tendulkar would reach his 100th international hundred was initially bogus and ultimately tiresome. He received as many farewell standing ovations as Frank Sinatra without ever giving a classic performance.

The tourists were much more animated and competitive when playing with a white ball. They were also unlucky that the weather intrusions usually favoured the home side. Though victorious England still betrayed signs of naivety and poor planning in the way they played some of their one-day cricket. In Cardiff, for example, it was a crass error that England's best bowler, Swann, did not bowl his full complement of overs and the novel notion of attempting to bowl a succession of yorkers wide of off stump at the end of the innings looked too clever by half. Then the rain made life easier for Alastair Cook's side. The wet ball skidded nicely on to the bat – especially Bairstow's. It will be much trickier for England in India in October.

England crushed a creaking India. Yet we did not learn that much. We knew the Ashes heroes were handy cricketers. Stuart Broad, absent for three Tests in Australia, had a barnstorming series, which was timely and reassuring. The only addition to the side since the winter has been Eoin Morgan and his impact against India was modest – 194 runs at 32. He remains the first batsman picked for the one-day team, the last one for the Test team.

Yet for drama it was necessary to go beyond the national team in 2011 to the domestic game. Leicestershire, no hopers in the Championship, walked off with the Twenty20 Cup. Their motley crew is already on the way to Hyderabad in India as they attempt to progress through the qualification stage of the Champions League. Somerset join them there on Sunday after their latest attempt to take a trophy back to Taunton.

So romance, of sorts, at Grace Road. So, too, at Old Trafford, still Lancashire's notional home though their thrilling Championship triumph was chiselled out at Aigburth in Liverpool. Odd as it may seem Glen Chapple provided a better story than Tendulkar in the summer of 2011.


Vic Marks

The GuardianTramp

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