Olly, Ollie, Olly: Stone overcomes Wood in England’s battle of natural materials

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 fourth of the series Guerilla joint founder Nigel Walker (‘The Bear’) backs an Oll (ie/y) threesome and has good news for veteran pacemen

Openers: Burns and Sibley

It is a thought that one of the openers could be Crawley, but looking at the batting resources in the squad it makes sense to stick to a partnership that, India aside, has fared pretty well over the last year or so.

Middle-order: Crawley, Root, Lawrence, Pope

I’ll be honest here, as someone who is not a dedicated follower of county cricket I don’t know much about James Bracey, but a quick flick through Cricinfo reveals an average slightly less than that of Dan Lawrence, whom I also knew little about till this winter in SL and India, but I liked what I saw and he gets my vote. His last innings on that tour was a well-made 50 in a side that had mentally disintegrated. Zak Crawley may be the other person to lose his place to Bracey; however, in his last series in England he made a massive double ton and looks like a class act. The only question then is if Bracey takes either of those two spots, Foakes drops out and that gives Leach a spot as the spinner. I just don’t see this option being taken as I explain below.

Wicketkeeper: Bracey

This should have been an easy one but then the best keeper in the country slipped over and may now never play a Test in England. Ollie Pope took over in New Zealand two winters ago but didn’t set the world alight so let him concentrate on his batting.

Bowlers: Anderson, Broad, Robinson, Stone

This is England after the coldest, wettest May in recent memory. There will be howls and well-worn arguments for the inclusion of Leach, but unfortunately as he is not an allrounder in the mould of Moeen I very much doubt there is a spot for him in these early season games while Ben Stokes is not playing. Stokes opens up that extra bowling spot that would go to Leach. Therefore I have a four-pronged pace attack with skipper Root filling in with the spin bowling duties – after all he now has an international five-fer. Beyond Broad and Anderson who are stick-ons for this test, I choose Ollie Robinson mainly because I’ve heard good things about him, he can bat a bit and having already seen Craig Overton, I’d like to see what he can do. In the battle of the speedsters, I have seen a lot of Woody over the years and he’s a trier with extreme pace and a superb jingle, but he can often be ineffectual as he doesn’t really do much with the ball. That and his ability to break down or fall over leads me to give Olly Stone another go. Not quite as quick as Woody at full tilt, but he bowls from a higher stand point and hits the deck hard. I like the cut of his jib. We’ve never had a Stokes, Woakes and Foakes Test team but we should have an Ollie, Ollie, Olly, oi, oi, oi one.

Broadcast Schedule

England v West Indies 2024
ENG v WI 2nd Test, Trent Bridge
18th July to 22nd July
Start time: 11:00 am BST
ENG v WI 3rd Test, Edgbaston
26th July to 30th July
Start time: 11:00 am BST