Injury aside, who was the last batsman dropped by England? It was Ravi Bopara, who remains, at least for the moment, next man back in. Before that? Ian Bell.
Stability is an inevitable consequence of success, as well as a contributor to it. For every era-defining side, there is a generation of players who miss out and spend the rest of their lives hearing people say: 'you'd walk into that team now...' Such has been the fate of Stuart Law, Darren Lehmann, Ian Harvey, Brad Hodge, Martin Love and other Australians. You could argue that Stuart MacGill might have played 100 Tests, or that Gilchrist could have played 60 more. West Indies would probably be pretty happy to open their bowling with Wayne Daniel and Sylvester Clarke at the moment. Who knows, in a few years, India might be looking at the Test match batting of Yuvraj Singh with longing in their hearts.
So it is with England right now. Strauss, who is 34 and has the burden of captaincy to shorten his lifespan aside, Cook is 26, Bell 29, KP 31, Prior 29, Trott 30, Morgan 24. Strauss's spot might come up after the back-to-back Ashes series. As for the others - in four years? Five? Longer?
Already there are casualties. Who can imagine Joe Denly getting back in? If Bopara doesn't get a spot as the spare man on tour, what is his future at 26? And Owais Shah? James Hildreth? What about the wonderkids of a couple of years ago - Billy Godleman, Sam Northeast - now that all of the fuss is about Jonny Bairstow, James Taylor, Ben Stokes, James Vince, Alex Hales?
Surrey and Somerset have, between them, Jason Roy, Steve Davies, Tom Maynard, Zafar Ansari, Stuart Meaker, Jos Buttler, Craig Meschede, Craig Kieswetter, Lewis Gregory. The bowlers have more chance, but there are plenty of them, too.
And what of Rory Hamilton-Brown? He's only 23, and a county captain. Had he been around 15 years ago, he would have played for England by now. As it is, he's never mentioned.
There is no answer to this strange combination of generational talent, serendipity and organisation. All that can be guaranteed is that one day England, like the rest, will drift back into entropy and dream of the promise that slipped them by.
NB: Australia will publish the Team Performance Review, aka the far catchier 'Ashes Autopsy' on Friday. Wonder how much store it will set by the flukes of time?
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