I recently posted an audiocast following England’s Test match struggles, particularly with the bat…
So who can they turn to?
Dawid Malan was the one that I mentioned in that post. Even in ODI/T20I cricket, he looks like a Test player. Yes his overall stats aren’t great but he had a poor start then fell apart in the field before being dropped. He did well against India (Who we’re playing next) in the recent ODIs and did okay (Including scoring a Test ton) in Australia (Where we go after that). His experience, demeanour and tempo would relieve pressure on Joe Root a lot. I see him at number three.
Adam Lyth is an Ashes winner and has kicked on (Actually as a white-ball player) since his previous England stint. Yes it was all very predictable against a strong Australian side but remember that he did score a Test century against New Zealand. He’s also a partnership breaker and crucially, a reliable fielder.
Age is of no concern to me. It’s about winning now with one eye on the future. Of course I wouldn’t expect the entire team to be 33-year-olds but when you look at what players such as Misbah-ul-Haq achieved, I wouldn’t write off Malan or Lyth yet!
Haseeb Hameed has spent time with the squad but needs to back up a strong start to the campaign to earn an actual playing recall. I wonder what white-ball season holds for him.
I’ve always liked Ben Duckett but consistency eludes him. Having seen how others have fared, I can’t quite make a case for his return unless there’s an extreme upsurge in form. Liam Livingstone (Capped at ODI/T20I) is another. He hasn’t got going in red-ball cricket this season but is a good fielder and possibly a player who can raise his game the higher the standard.
Hassan Azad is a capable opening batsman though the runs have dried up a little. Like Hameed, I’m not sure if he’ll play much with the white ball. Kiran Carlson has improved a lot whilst Tom Abell is an intelligent all round cricketer. Are these players top order Test match batsmen though?
It’s then a familiar route to South Africa and serious consideration must be given to both Ricardo Vasconcelos and David Bedingham. Part Portuguese Vasconcelos (Could do with stopping getting run out!) is currently qualifying for England. Bedingham (And yes it’s just one early season) does actually appear to yearn for South African selection, so that may be a non-starter.
There are others (Slater, Haines, Evans) but Slater’s career record is disappointing whilst the other two need to maintain their improving performances. Recalls for the likes of Keaton Jennings and James Vince are also not out of the question but I’d probably be looking elsewhere first. There’s also Joe Clarke but recent events out of his control might mean that past demeanours are once again held against him. (*I just came to edit this. Recent events IN HIS CONTROL!)
I’m by no means writing off England’s current batters entirely but there needs to be some management/development of players and changes to the XI.
I’ve enjoyed this, writing about cricket again. I think that I’ll do a post about bowlers… because Broad and Anderson can’t go on forever… can they?!