Now is the time for England’s batsmen to nail down places for Sri Lanka

来源:betway必威体育 作者:王孙魂 人气: 发布时间:2019-11-16
摘要:One up with two to play makes you the favourite to win. Yet on the eve of the fourth Test in Southampton the India team

One up with two to play makes you the favourite to win. Yet on the eve of the fourth Test in Southampton the India team, though 2-1 down in the series, seem the more settled. For the first time in Virat Kohli’s reign as captain he has indicated he intends to play the same side in consecutive Tests. Meanwhile England, despite their lead, remain a .

This may not be desirable but it is not necessarily a bad thing. The blunt truth is no one can be sure whether they have the right personnel in the England team, how long they should persist with batsmen, young and old, who are not producing the goods and then there is still scope to debate what constitutes their best bowling attack. There is no disgrace in being a team in flux. The situation would be worse if the selectors rigidly stuck to the same names come what may, instead of searching and experimenting. But some solutions soon would be handy.

The instability of the team is illustrated by the realisation that for the Test tour to Sri Lanka in October the selectors can surely ink in only one specialist batsman, Joe Root. Consider the others. Alastair Cook and Keaton Jennings need runs to justify being certainties for the trip. Cook has one half-century in his past 14 Test innings; Jennings has one half-century in his past 15 and a Test average of 23 after 10 matches. James Vince and Ollie Pope, both of whom were omitted from the final XI for the fourth Test, are easy on the eye until we peruse their records, though one should immediately add the caveat that Pope has played only three Test innings. Jonny Bairstow? He is a certainty for Sri Lanka but while he is playing at the Ageas Bowl as a batsman only he cannot really be regarded as a specialist, such is his .

Joe Root defends changes to England side before fourth Test – video

So it is Root plus four AN Others as the selectors contemplate their specialist batsmen for the winter. At Southampton there is at least the chance for two of them, the openers, to nail down a spot, which adds a spicy subplot to a Test that already has obvious importance since it could decide the series.

Even the bankers in the top half of the order have something to prove. Bairstow has explained in forthright terms his eagerness to remain the wicketkeeper and he is entitled to do that, just as he is obliged to play as a specialist batsman if that is what the captain and coach want. How will he feel if he excels in his new role in this match, thereby providing evidence he can function so well as a specialist batsman?

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Then there is in the middle order. He seems to be a different player now; he no longer swashbuckles. Since his return to the side after the Ashes, Stokes has made two half-centuries in 10 innings, 66 in Auckland in April, 62 at Trent Bridge last week. In those innings his strike rate has been 35 and 33 respectively. In part this is a sign of increased responsibility on Stokes’s part given that in both those matches England were on the rack after dire first-innings performances with the bat.

It may be Stokes has merely been restrained by the frailties of the top order, which have forced him to dig in but 12 months ago the great asset of Stokes the batsman was not as a dogged occupier of the crease. It would be reassuring to see him dominate an attack again and it would be helpful if the top order gave him the freedom to play that way – if he can.

As usual all the pre-series talk of rotation among the bowlers has evaporated. Stuff happens: Stokes goes to court; Woakes goes in the thigh so the team adjust accordingly and the old lags must keep going – at least until the series is decided. For this Test, the idea of playing Moeen Ali is a good one simply because he has been in such good form. He is a streaky cricketer, a dangerous opponent at his best, and England are right to try to cash in appropriately, even though that means omitting Pope.

Meanwhile the India camp seems remarkably tranquil. The tourists possess the prize batsman of the series in Kohli and England’s priority has to be to find a way to get him out cheaply. In a bowlers’ series he has 440 runs at an average of 73.33; the next highest runscorer is Bairstow with 206.

No wonder Kohli is relaxed and we learn he has had time to to Wisden Cricket Monthly on The Hundred competition, which is proposed for 2020, and they fit the normal pattern: all those employed or beholden to the England and Wales Cricket Board profess to support the idea. Everyone else is distinctly unimpressed.