Guerilla Cricket’s writers were asked to narrow the England 15 down to the XI they’d like to see step out to face New Zealand at Lord’s on June 2. In the third of the series Jason G Hiscox hopes to see some proper spin and prays that Ben Foakes doesn’t step on a football in the warm-up.
Openers: Burns, Sibley and Crawley
I’m actually going to talk about the top three, as it is easier to manage as such. If Sibley is fit then the top three is as in the India tour, namely, Burns, Sibley, and Crawley. Burns has got several fifties and now a hundred in this Championship and looks in decent nick, but keeps getting out once set in unexpected ways. Sibley did enough on tour to warrant his continued presence at the top, and Crawley still has enough credit in the bank following his debut double last year. If Sibley is not fit then I’d pick Bracey to bat at three behind Burns and Crawley.
Middle order: Root, Lawrence and Pope
In many ways the easiest selection, mainly due to the lack of alternatives in the squad. Captain Root to bat at four, followed by Lawrence and Pope, with the two youngsters having an arm wrestle to see who bats at five.
The Surrey keeper is the man in possession, and with Buttler unavailable in quarantine following his IPL return gets a long overdue run in the team in a home season. If he slips on a football in the warm up then I’d be minded to give Bracey the gloves over Pope, but fingers crossed against that happening.
Bowlers: Overton, Wood, Leach, Anderson
This is the most interesting section. Unless the wicket is an absolute greentop I cannot see England going in with an all pace attack and relying on the occasional off spin of Root and Lawrence, so Leach should play. The remaining three bowling slots amount to a set of head to heads between Wood and Stone for the outright quick option, Overton and Robinson for the steady seamer option and Anderson and Broad for the ageing legend slot. Wood gets the nod over Stone for me (Stone will surely get his chance later in the summer), Overton over Robinson and Anderson over Broad, partly for the Anderson at Lord’s factor but also for the Broad wind-up. If four seamers are preferred I’d go for blooding Robinson over the other options.