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 seventh of the series Guerilla’s new boy Jacob Jaffa (great name for a cricket commentator) backs a debutant and a clock-chewing centurion to give England early impetus
Line-up: Bracey, Sibley, Crawley, Root, Lawrence, Pope, Billings (wk), Robinson, Stone, Broad, Anderson
Openers: Bracey and Sibley
Bracey has been next off England’s batting production line for a while now, having spent the winter subcontinental tour and last year’s domestic summer in the Test team bubble. With a healthy average of 53.11 this county season he is well placed to breathe fresh life into a top order that took a battering in India. Sibley’s winter was more turbulent, showing flashes of brilliance, but generally screwing with his Test average. A fractured finger at the start of the county season has made it a tough year so far but he has oodles of potential and will be looking to add to his collection of clock-chewing centuries.
Middle order: Crawley, Root, Lawrence, Pope
The absence of damp marble floors around the Lord’s shower block should hopefully prevent a repeat of the freak injury that kept Crawley out of the first two India Tests in between spells of being hopelessly exposed against left-arm spin. Back on English soil, Crawley will hope to recreate a knock like his 267 against Pakistan last summer. So long as Mitchell Santner isn’t playing. It would be nice if England’s captain would continue the run of form he found in Sri Lanka but ultimately there’s not much to be said here. He’s a great batsman and nobody will remember what he does in this series as long as he wins the Ashes. A recent county century showed Lawrence’s potential but that has yet to be realised against a quality attack. New Zealand will provide a stern test, which he will hopefully pass as a future England star. Tapped as a future record breaker by Ben Stokes, Pope struggled on tricky pitches in India and will look to regain some fluency back home. A double-century for Surrey suggests he might not struggle too much with that
Wicketkeeper: Foakes (oops)/Billings
Well not much doubt on this one until he fell over. It could be Bracey but if he’s opening that puts much on his shoulders.
BowlersBroad, Stone, Robinson, Anderson
While leaving him out worked against the West Indies last summer, he doesn’t have Ed Smith to direct his wrath at anymore. That and the fact that he seems to be some of the best form of his career makes him a certainty to play one, if not both, New Zealand Tests. With all the media hype around him and the fact that he’s taken 214 first-class wickets at 17.68 since the beginning of 2017, Robinson is more than deserving of an England debut and looks a tidy bowler. It’ll be interesting to see if he can make the step up with ease. With Archer out and Mark Wood a known quantity, this series seems a perfect time to try out Stone. He bowled well in his one match in India, taking four wickets in the match, and provides the pace factor which may well get him on the plane to the Ashes. If that is the case he needs game time. Recently citing Tom Brady as one of his inspirations, it wouldn’t even be a surprise at this point if Anderson plays until he’s 46. The Burnley Lara should play one of the New Zealand Tests and then be rested in favour of the very deserving Craig Overton, saving his stamina for the India series and Ashes.