2nd Test – Day One Round-Up

A fantastic day for England’s cricketers at Lords as they batted throughout its entirety without losing a single wicket. Opening batsmen Rory Burns and Jason Roy looked untroubled against the Australian bowling attack in reaching the close of play undefeated and will hope to build tomorrow.

Alternatively:

A chastening day for England’s cricketers at Lords as they bowled throughout its entirety without claiming a single wicket. The likes of debutant Jofra Archer and spinner Jack Leach never looked like taking an Australian wicket so will desperately hope to come back stronger tomorrow.

Take your pick!

Predicting England’s Next Caps: Revisited

A while ago, I predicted England’s next caps in each format of the game…

https://sillypointcricket.com/2019/01/12/predicting-englands-next-test-cap/

Here’s how my predictions fared…

Test: Prediction: Jason Roy, Actual: Jason Roy and Olly Stone

https://www.espncricinfo.com/series/18774/game/1152839/england-vs-ireland-only-test-ireland-tour-of-england-2019

ODI: Prediction: Jofra Archer, Actual: Jofra Archer, Ben Foakes and Dawid Malan

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/18956/scorecard/1161014/ireland-vs-england-only-odi-england-tour-of-ireland-2019

T20I: Prediction: Jamie Overton, Actual: Jofra Archer, Ben Duckett and Ben Foakes

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/18664/scorecard/1152840/england-vs-pakistan-only-t20i-pakistan-in-eng-2019

As you can see, there were multiple debuts in each instance but ultimately I got two out of three correct and we all know that “Two out of Three Ain’t Bad”!

Who’d be a Selector?

WARNING: I’ve become the pessimistic cynic that I used to criticise!

Jason Roy won’t do any worse than those who have been chewed up and spat out before him but is he really going to do any better?

He’ll likely average 27 but is also likely to be more Aaron Finch than David Warner, in Tests anyway. Roy is a player with no recent history of playing First Class cricket let alone opening the batting. He was all at sea against a moving ball in the World Cup final and should he score a few breezy thirties will that really be of benefit? Will he score Test hundreds more often than Keaton Jennings (Once every 8.5 Tests!)?

Yes Ed Smith and co. have gone down this route before with Jos Buttler and credit to both because it’s worked so far. This selection however is even more cavalier. How will Roy approach it? Like it’s an ODI or will he cramp up like Hales and try to play a game he has no recent history of playing?

I consider myself a realistic optimist (Or optimistic realist) when it comes to English cricket but appreciate that I sound pessimistic regarding the selection of Surrey’s Roy. I’ll back nearly everybody who is picked for England but just like I put my head on the line by advocating my proposed selections of players that others would dismiss as preposterous, I’ll equally express my opinion when I’m not convinced by the ones that we have selected. I expect our Selection Panel to be practicing what they preach and analysing every potential selection in extreme detail.

Will Roy pull his hamstring, not be able to field then not be authorised to open the batting meaning that Joe Root has to move up to three anyway? If you’ve spent a career running 100 metre sprints then suddenly try to run a marathon then you’ll likely get injured. Roy has spent a career, or at least the latter part, playing One-Day and T20 cricket and has recently struggled to fulfil those requirements. Now we’re expecting him to last five days!

I sincerely hope that Jason Roy has a long and fruitful Test career averaging forty plus home and away and I’ll be the first to provide an honest assessment and say well done… but he wouldn’t be my pick!

England have also selected Lewis Gregory but what is the Somerset man’s point of difference? His selection seems reminiscent of recent eras where early season form precedes consistency over the years. Gregory might currently be doing a bit better than Ben Coad, Jamie Porter or even Chris Rushworth but is he really a long-term solution, is he really better than those players? It’s the same as picking Mark Stoneman because he averaged 80 one year in a career of averaging 30 but ignoring James Hildreth for only averaging 40 most years. The odd peak amongst troughs wins selection over year on year consistency. The Somerset man’s selection smacks of a token “Yes we value county cricket” by the selectors. They’ve rested the likes of Buttler and Ben Stokes and feel that they can get away with bringing in a bowling all-rounder who’s topping the domestic charts for one-match (Keep county fans happy) against Ireland. Don’t forget that Sam Curran is capable of batting higher than he has done.

Lewis Gregory is a fine player whose all-round abilities can be of use to England but I’m just uninspired by these unoriginal selections. England have also selected Olly Stone. If I’m questioning Jason Roy’s fitness then…

If these players perform against Ireland in home conditions does that tell us that they’re good enough to be Test cricketers? Will the same people that malign Woakes as a horse for a course celebrate these players as the finished article based on a fifty of fifer against a country that has just three domestic teams? What message does these selections send to opening batsman out there or domestic bowlers who perform year on year? They can only beat what’s in front of them!

I’m sorry. I’ve become the negative, cynical hypocrite that I never wanted to be but so be it. That’s what being an England cricket fan will do to you. It’s not by choice!

Proposed England Test Squad

Hi all

Here’s my suggested England Test squad for the match against Ireland and ultimately the start of the Ashes…

Dominic Sibley

Rory Burns

Joe Root (Captain)

Dawid Malan

Jos Buttler

Ben Stokes

Jonny Bairstow (Wicketkeeper)

Mark Wood/Jofra Archer

Jack Leach

Stuart Broad

James Anderson/Chris Woakes

12th men

Moeen Ali

Sam Curran

The suggestion is that Archer and Woakes have injuries that need managing and may have to wait their turn. Of course Anderson is currently out of action and Wood is not going to play five consecutive Tests. Extremely good players are going to have to miss out and that may be the case for Sam Curran. I think that variety is essential in an attack but with slow left-armer Leach meriting selection ahead of Moeen that doesn’t help fellow leftie Curran’s case. I still believe in Moeen but he’s gone AWOL as a batsman and Leach should’ve played in West Indies. His batting and fielding have come on too. Moeen would be best served getting some county cricket under his belt. If somebody in the top/middle order fails after a few Tests then the others could be shuffled to accommodate Moeen as a second spinner or even allow Curran to come into the side. He himself is capable of batting at least as high as six.

On the batting front, Sibley merits selection. His ‘form’ isn’t just that. His sensational run started last year and included a hundred overseas. He clearly has a lot of ambition and concentration and could be just what England need. I’d have no concerns about tempo from the openers. Test matches last five days!

I also firmly believe that Malan is good enough to succeed at this level but his optimum batting position is number four. That’s why Root must move to three and embrace it. He might not like it but he’ll have a better team for it. Yes Malan has played before and averaged 27 like everybody else but he hinted at being good enough and is knocking the door down with an axe. You only have to look at the likes of Mark Butcher, Justin Langer and Marvan Atapattu, even Jonny Bairstow for players that came back stronger and age wise look at Mike Hussey, Kumar Sangakarra and Misbah-ul-Haq, even Andy Flower. Malan could yet have his peak years ahead of him. His inclusion helps maintain a good left-hand/right-hand balance throughout the batting order.

The likes of Gary Ballance and Toby Roland-Jones as well as Dom Bess could all be hitting form at the right time to keep incumbents on their toes. Sam Northeast is another one for whom a place in the XI is a genuine possibility. Like I say though, good players will have to miss out. That’s theory of numbers. Coad, Gregory, Porter, Denly and Roy etc, you cant squeeze them all in.

Regarding Roy, he simply can’t be trusted to be fit enough to field long enough to be allowed, in accordance with the rules of the game, to open the batting thus rendering his inclusion pointless if everybody else has to move higher up the order than they want too.

One more thing. What a shame that the England Lions players as well as most county squads can’t watch the World Cup final. Who scheduled this?!

Rooted!

Why is Joe Root so comfortable walking out to bat at three for England in ODI cricket but so reluctant to do so in Test cricket?

If Root were willing to operate at three in Tests, it would make it so much easier for England to accommodate a promising middle order player… or James Hildreth!

It’s the sort of inconsistency that irks me and talking of things that irk me… I wish that England were playing a Test tomorrow and Jason Roy was playing because I can’t stand all these ‘clever’ sods claiming that Roy could be our saviour in red ball cricket any longer. I CAN understand the logic if he scores over six hundred runs at the World Cup and the England management want to go with the flow but after all the talk of needing batsmen to reign in their attacking instincts, people want a feast or famine white-ball dasher who is at best a First Class number five to open in Tests against Starc, Hazlewood, Cummins and Lyon!

Oh and the Mark Wood bubble has burst already… 7-0-49-0!

Sorry, I’m being cynical (Or just joking) which is the reason why I stopped following 95% of all the other cricket blogs on WordPress!

Roy Ploy!

Following England’s recent batting debacles in the Caribbean, the general consensus appears to be that our nation’s willow wielders need to reign in their attacking instincts… so it’s fascinating that get Jason Roy in the Test team continues to be the latest trend!

Somebody must’ve sprouted this idea when Jos Buttler was performing so well (With plenty of luck) during the home Tests last year because it keeps coming up but at present the idea seems a little hypocritical.

England have made some decisions on certain bowlers only playing in particular countries and have hinted at doing the same with batsman. Will we only see Dawid Malan pull on an England shirt again the next time that England tour Australia? Will Keaton Jennings earn a recall for our next trip to Asia? And will Jos Buttler be dropped for the next Test, only to be recalled in the summer?

Some want Roy. Nasser Hussain wants James Vince flown in to play! As mentioned here at Silly Point, he has been performing well… in T20s! Is Paul Collingwood available?

How about this for England’s XI in the third Test…

Ed Smith (Lead by example)

Stuart Broad (Continuing the opener rotation policy)

Alex Davies (Let’s get another wicketkeeper in and wear him out at number three)

Joe Root (Captain)

Mark Ramprakash (He’s there)

Joe Denly (One more chance)

Keaton Jennings (In the all-rounder role)

Mark Wood (For the horses)

Jonathan Agnew (Test bowling average: 93.25)

Jack Leach (Errrr… for spin bowling I guess)

Any eligible Englishman currently in the Caribbean. (Yet another debutante!)

Halestorm!

England’s Alex Hales produced a storming innings for Rangpur Riders in the Bangladesh Premier League today.

Hales (102 from 48), in the company of Rilee Rossouw (100 from 51), took the Chittagong Viking bowlers to the cleaners whilst compiling a monstrous 174-run second wicket stand…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8653/scorecard/1169408/chittagong-vikings-vs-rangpur-riders-30th-match-bangladesh-premier-league-2018-19

As England’s Test batsman struggle in the West Indies, Hales, who’s no longer a shoe-in for white-ball selection for England, served a timely demonstration of his qualities.

In today’s other match in the BPL, there were also runs for another England batsman, in the form of Surrey’s Jason Roy. Roy, for so long Hales’ partner at the top of the order for England in limited overs cricket, before the latter was unceremoniously dethroned by Jonny Bairstow, made 42 from 28 deliveries for Sylhet Sixers…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8653/scorecard/1169407/rajshahi-kings-vs-sylhet-sixers-29th-match-bangladesh-premier-league-2018-19

Now if England’s Test batsman could score 100, heck, even 42 would be nice!