Paul Farbrace may no longer be at the heart of the England set-up, but his new role as director of cricket at Warwickshire hasn’t stopped the former assistant coach giving the future progress of his former charges as much care and thought as he ever did.
And that extends to his ideas, not only on whom should or should not play in the upcoming World Cup, but also his suggestion as to who England should try as their new top three to bat against Australia in the Ashes series that will complete this most exciting of summers.
The names are Jason Roy, James Vince and Rory Burns and here, according to Farbrace, is why:
“I’ve been in Jason Roy’s camp for a couple of years now. I think he has everything you need to be a Test cricketer.
“Three years ago I asked Alec Stewart whether he saw Jason as a Test batsman. He said he didn’t see him opening at that stage but yes, definitely, if you wanted someone to bat at No.5.
“Had he been selected then, or before, to play Test cricket I think he would have found it tough.
“He might have been a bit reckless early on, as he was in his one-day international career, trying to boss the game and show he was in charge.
“But I’ve seen Jason learn so much over the last few years. He is smarter now in terms of decision-making and I believe is now more than capable of adapting his game to Test cricket.
“During the one-day series in Sri Lanka, for instance, he worked out that his trigger movements meant he was in the wrong position for slower pitches and slower bowlers.
“He made the change himself which proves he can adapt his game very quickly.
“And the confidence he has gained from being successful in international cricket means he’s not fazed by anything that goes on around him.
“What he did in Sri Lanka is a real sign that he used that level of experience and knowledge to make the right decisions at the right time which suggest he will be able to cope with Test cricket as well as he has done one-day cricket.”
But what do the selectors think? Specifically, what does national selector Ed Smith think?
Farbrace says:” One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about Ed Smith is that he’s looked at people who have done well in international cricket and said it doesn’t matter what colour the ball is.
“For too long, people have been pigeon-holed as red-ball or white-ball cricketers.
“But Ed has gone against that thinking, seen what guys like Jos Buttler and Adil Rashid can do in white-ball cricket and given them a chance and allowed them to find their feet in Test cricket.
“I believe Jason is ready for his chance.”
Farbrace also believes Vince is ready for another.
“One of the problems for batsmen coming into the side has been comparing them with those who had gone before, but players like Andrew Strauss, Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen were tough acts to follow.
“Some of those who were given a go might say they didn’t have long enough. A seven-game run was about the norm.
“The one I think England should persevere with for longer is James Vince.
“I think he is a fantastic player. Technically he is high quality and, whether he bats one, two or three I’d like to see him back in the Test side.”
And finally, Burns.
“Of all the players who have come in over the last five years, for me Rory is the most solid mentally.
“People suggested that we didn’t like his technique which is why he had to wait for his turn, but we never talked about it.
“What we did know was that this guy obviously knew how to score runs.
“But what has impressed me is that when he comes back to the dressing room you’d never know whether he’s played a good innings or a bad innings.
“You never know whether he’s practised well or had a tough net, never know whether he’s played ten Tests, or one, because he has an aura and a calmness that suggests he can cope with everything Test cricket might throw at him.
“He is the one England really need to stick with for a long period, give him a real go and I’m sure he’ll come good.”
Roy, Vince and Burns then… as easy as one, two, three, though not necessarily in that order.
Farbrace’s attention to the players of his recent past career does not indicate any distraction of his focus on the job he needs to do at Edgbaston.
But he does also admit that watching England carry on without him in the World Cup will be a bitter-sweet experience.
“Will it be tough? Yes and no,” he says. “Yes, because I know how much hard work has gone into the last four years to get there.
“No, because I’ll be able to enjoy it a bit more, watching as a fan rather than sitting on the balcony somewhere with my guts churning, chewing my nails, worrying about how the game is going to go.
“Of course, when England play their first game and I’m not there, part and parcel of it, a bit of me will be thinking it would be nice to be involved.
“But I count myself really lucky to be involved for the last five years.
“I could have been shown the door when Peter Moores left. I was just as much responsible for the performance at the last World Cup as he was.
“We were all in it together, all made decisions together, but I ended up staying on and had the benefit.
“And I really believe England can win it.
“We openly talked about dealing with the pressure of being the home team favourites. People say it’s just another game but it’s not. It’s more than that. It’s a chance to showcase how good a team we are.
“If they play the way they want to, and have earned the right to over the last four years, I think they’ll give themselves a great chance.”
PETER HAYTER / Photo: Getty Images