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 fifth of the series, Guerilla joint founder Nigel Henderson (‘Hendo’) barracks on behalf of the new generation of pace bowlers and a forgotten man behind the stumps
Line-up Burns, Crawley, Bracey, Root, Lawrence, Pope, Billings (wk), Overton, Robinson, Leach, Stone
Openers: Burns and Crawley
Tricky one this. As a batting purist I need some flair in my opening pair while understanding that, India aside, the Sibley/Burns axis is a resolute one. However, I can’t help thinking that the two of them look awkward even when batting well while Crawley looks attractive even when batting poorly, so I can only leave out one and Burns edges out his former Surrey colleague on form.
Middle order Bracey, Root, Lawrence, Pope
Root and Lawrence pick themselves as the two batting successes of the winter, albeit one seriously more successful than the other. Pope has work to do; his class has been apparent for a couple of years but India must have shaken everything he thought he knew about batting and, despite one or two scores for Surrey this year, when I’ve pulled him up on the live stream, I’ve not been convinced he’s quite rediscovered his mojo. Bracey is solid and fluent but if you’re going to burden him with the No 3 role on debut it’s probably not fair to ask him to take on wicketkeeping as well, so…
Most of us have assumed that Bracey would step into Foakes’ slippery socks but some people were reporting that Sam Billings is the direct replacement for the unfortunate Surrey man: some of us had simply forgotten that Billings was a wicketkeeper at all. As a side note, with Crawley having arse-over-titted his way to a two-Test absence in India and Foakes slithering himself out of contention similarly for this series, is it time for the England management to ban not only the warm-up football, but walking itself? Billings has been around the periphery of high-profile teams long enough and he’s a highly intelligent cricketer. Time to put him in the spotlight.
Bowlers:Robinson, Stone, Overton, Leach
Broad or Anderson? Or Anderson or Broad? Why not neither? Leave them on the Lord’s dressing-room balcony to bicker at each other over their legacies rather than into a friendly reporter’s ear. It’s not like we don’t know what they can do and, besides, we are in experimental times, we have admitted that, so let’s go the whole hog. Without England’s senior citizens to advise them – except during intervals – we’ll find out if there’s nous behind the numbers for Overton and Robinson and ticker to match. Stone, because he’s fiery and, injuries permitting can make himself a leader of the pack for the new generation, and Leach, because, well, he deserves to have played more Tests, brings a touch of diversity to the attack and is a superior nightwatchman at the home of cricket.