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. First up is Ian "Forthy" Forth, who contemplates upsetting Ben Foakes, but finally settles for riling England's leading wicket-taker.
Line-up: Sibley, Crawley, Bracey, Root, Lawrence, Pope, Foakes, Overton, Wood, Robinson, Broad
Openers: Sibley and Crawley
How seriously is this series being taken? Since New Zealand are in the World Test final and England aren't, not to take it seriously would be akin to Everton fielding some youngsters to see how they go against Man City. But cricket plays by a strange book of rules, especially English cricket and everything we're hearing from Chris Silverwood is that this is the start of an Ashes audition.
The problem at the top is you can change the batsman by taking a quick single but you can't change batting ending with the suffix: ey. England are finally emulating the Australia of Warney and Gilley at precisely the moment when Australia are radiating un-emulat-ability. How James Bracey must wish he was a Bracewell. Since Rory Burns is currently sitting on the dropped step, it's unclear why he would be reinstated just yet (despite not answering to Burnsy) – but he probably will anyway.
Middle order: Root, Pope, Lawrence, Bracey
When a debutant batsman enters the Test team at the start of an English summer, he carries with him the hope of another Sutcliffe or Hammond or Hobbs. Even if he were to get a pair, we will stroke our chins and recall the debuts of Hutton and Gooch. Why, even Bradman was dropped after his first Test, and he turned out all right, in time. Statistically, of course, the newbie's far more likely to prove a Hayes or a Lathwell, a Stephenson or a Terry, but for now it's late May and we can dream a little longer.
Root is captain. He plays. Pope is the next Ian Bell. He plays (unless Crawley moves to 3 and Burns opens). Those with an interest in behavioural economics will be familiar with "peak-end" theory. We remember the most intense and the final incidents in any experience most vividly. Despite the shambolic end to the Indian series, I have a distinct memory of Dan Lawrence knocking off a 50 in the last innings of the tour with an immaculate technique and bolt-vertical bat. Good enough for me – he plays.
Ben Foakes. Let's not overthink this one, shall we? Sure James Bracey can keep too, but so could Marcus Trescothick. Probably means we'll end up with Ollie Pope again in an attempt to emulate Michael Clarke's funkiness.
Bowlers: Broad, Wood, Robinson, Overton
Fast bowlers need to be handled with care and never was that more the case than with Mark Wood. Even if Ollie Stone (who bowled well, if rarely, in India) is preferred, with at least one senior statesman in the bowling line-up as well in the shape of a Broad or an Anderson, it rather looks as if four quicks will be the go (might as well start with Broad to kick the reaction can of his being rested a little further down the road). Jack Leach will have found another way to miss out while Joe Root's actually not at all ignominious off-breaks will be called upon. As the camera pans to Jack sitting forlornly on the balcony in a hi-res vest, Mike Atherton will have a chance to embark upon his favourite homily to Jack's resilience.
This seems as good a time as any to have a look at Ollie Robinson, who is 6ft 5in, naggingly accurate and averaging 17 of late. Which seems to leave a spot for Craig Overton. Perfectly respectable bowler, decent No 8 or 9, but forever emitting a Bresnanian aura which fails to set the heart racing. Still Bresnan it was who took four wickets on Day 1 in Melbourne in 2010, so Overton it is. After all we are, apparently, building for the Ashes, you know.