A Summer Awaits
England recently announced a three-match Test series against West Indies in July and a series against Pakistan in August.
As they look to build toward those games England named a 55 man squad. If they do end up playing white-ball cricket and test matches in close proximity, there will be serious selection decisions to be made over some prominent names.
Last time out we looked at three bowlers that could feature over the course of the summer. This time it is the turn of the batsmen. How England choose to deploy their options will be interesting with Joe Root likely to miss at least one test. Jos Buttler is also considered an all-format batsman.
But if he has to play only limited-overs – arguably his best format, then who could replace him in the test team? In this article, we look at three batsmen who could feature this summer.
Ben Foakes – #1 in the group of batsmen who could feature
Should Ben Foakes be in the Test side? The debate had been raging prior to the improvised schedule and calls for him to be selected could only intensify if Buttler is chosen as a limited-overs specialist.
Regarded as the best pure wicketkeeper in the country, the 27-year-old has impressed when given the opportunity. He looked assured on his test debut – scoring a century against Sri Lanka in Galle. While guiding the ODI side to victory over Ireland demonstrated that he has the temperament for international cricket.
Ordinarily, a player with an average of 41.50 after five Test Matches would find themselves as a lock to make the side. However, the number seven position for England is one of uncertainty. Jonny Bairstow has become one of the best ODI openers in the world at the cost of his red-ball form. Buttler is undoubtedly one of the most talented batsmen on the planet but has failed to perform consistently in test cricket. Despite playing 41 Tests, Buttler and Foakes have scored the exact same number of hundreds – just one.
The Surrey batsman, admittedly, didn’t have the best 2019 county championship season. However, he has shown that he belongs in international cricket, in the little chances he has been given so far.
If the series in Sri Lanka had not been cancelled, then it is possible Foakes would have been the man in possession of the gloves, heading into the summer. Could he be the star in the group of batsmen who could feature for England?
Dan Lawrence :
If indeed Joe Root does miss a game due to the birth of his second child, then England may require a middle-order batsman. There are plenty of options available. Whether that is moving Denly (again), moving Crawley further down the order or handing out a test debut.
Should they decide the latter, it would be hard to overlook Essex’s rising star.
Like Dominic Sibley, he has a strong leg-side technique and will need to be mentally strong to overcome critics.
In terms of raw numbers and stats, Lawrence’s career hasn’t lived up to the billing as of yet. A first-class average of 38.42 with 10 centuries is solid but not spectacular. However, the recent England Lions tour to Australia saw his stock rise exponentially. It was an outrageous tour by any standards, as he contributed with bat and ball, across all formats. He averaged 98.60 with the bat.
The uncertainty around the county season may have stalled the momentum that he built up during the winter but a spot in the training squad is a sign that England has their eye on him.
Will Jacks :
Getting into the England white-ball sides as a batsman might be one of the hardest tasks in cricket right now. The depth and talent are unprecedented.
With an average of 20 across all formats, the selection of Will Jacks is surprising.
The 21-year-old shot to fame after scoring a 25 ball century in a T10 game against Lancashire. Regardless of it being a pre-season contest, such ball-striking ability is impressive.
Clearly, this is what has caught England’s attention. A strike-rate of 149 across 23 matches puts him among the best in the country. It may be time now for his talent to turn into performances.
Jacks has long been viewed by England as having potential given his progression through the player pathway programme. Despite this, an international cap seems unlikely at this point.
While he may not feature this season, he is one to keep an eye on for the future. It would not surprise me if the Surrey man was considered for the franchise circuit. A couple of centuries have demonstrated Jacks’ talent. Now it is about finding a way to harness the talent into performances.
Major changes to the Test side seem unlikely. The players who debuted during the winter will likely still require more time to fit into the test side.
Currently, England has plenty of exciting and dynamic players. From the likes of Billings to seasoned players from the franchise circuit like Laurie Evans. It is likely we see a lot of new faces playing in coloured clothing over the summer.
Due to the uncertainty, England may be forced to find their next generation of talent if they want to successfully defend their World Cup in 2023. For now, they have an exciting and talented group of batsmen who could feature for them this summer.
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