“No expectations, just show us how good you are – and enjoy it”: good platitudes will serve new England

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 last of the series Chris Charlie Paul is convinced James Bracey isn’t Alec Stewart’s love-child so can keep and bat in the top order in an experimental England package.

Line up: Crawley, Sibley, Bracey (wk), Root, Lawrence, Pope, Overton, Stone, Broad, Wood, Anderson

OpenersCrawley and Sibley

Sorry Rory Burns. It is not your technique that bothers me, but I think Sibley sticks around better, and Crawley has more of an England future. This seems harsh. Burns has been good without ever being spectacular, but while Burns is reliable, Sibley and Crawley have a longer shelf life. And when Burns’ natural hand/eye coordination begins to fail, as it will in the next couple of years, there is A LOT that can go wrong with that wonderfully idiosyncratic technique of his.

Middle order: Bracey, Root, Lawrence and Pope

Word is he’ll start lower down the order but I’d play Bracey in position at No 3. He is averaging round 50 this year for his county. While he is less vaunted than the fancied Lawrence, their averages are comparable. But as Bracey plays for Gloucestershire, not a home county, expect less hype. He is not Alec Stewart’s love-child. Root, at his beloved No 4. Root is axiomatically England’s best batsmen so should bat at No 3 – but he’s convinced himself that batting there is voodoo. Lawrence – if all goes to plan – can come in at No 5 with a score on the board, and make hay down the leg-side. I’ve seen him bat straight too. Pope.

Wicketkeeper Bracey

At least we do not need to talk (again) about whether Foakes should replace Buttler. Foakes was of course due to keep wicket, until becoming the latest England player to suffer a freak injury. Socks, fishbowls, footballs, locker doors, pedalos, sunstroke…England’s mishaps over the years read like a work of surrealist poetry.

Bowlers Overton, Stone, Broad, Wood, Anderson

Overton is England’s fourth or fifth choice fast-bowling batting allrounder, but it is not that he is poor, more that Stokes, Woakes and Sam Curran are better, right? A lot to prove. Good luck to him. Broad, and Anderson start. Broad would possibly decapitate Silverwood if “rested”. Wood is enigmatic and wonderful but a workhorse he is not – rest him for the second Test. And if stays wet – Ollie Robinson. Hopefully the England management will take the pressure off and bolster the confidence of this relatively inexperienced team with edifying platitudes like “no expectations, but do show us how good you are, and ENJOY it”.