England Cricket: Horses for Courses
It’s difficult not to get ahead of ourselves when we see England as dominant as they were in the last 3 Test Matches in South Africa. Let’s be honest, South Africa were pretty weak throughout with only Quinton de Kock, Rassie van der Dussen and Anrich Nortje showing any sign of form. They sadly needed their big guns to fire and none of them did.
With England it was a different story. Joe Root captained the team better in this series than he has done since taking on the reigns in 2017. He has literally been learning on the job, but it finally looked like he had a plan for each player in his side and the South Africans.
After 3 ODIs and 3 T20s, the Test team will head to Sri Lanka in March for 2 Test Matches. This is a whole different task and a new one for quite a few of the current team.
We could see the return of Moeen Ali who will be making a decision after the white ball series in South Africa. Dom Bess will deservedly lead the spin attack but England will play at least 2 front line spinners with Root and Joe Denly also there to ball a few overs if needed. The last time England visited Sri Lanka the spinners outperformed the Sri Lankan team. The wickets could be a little less spin friendly this time around.
There could be a recall for Keaton Jennings who excels in sub-continent conditions. However, being a two-match series, I would be surprised if they messed around with the top order. That said, they will have to do so when Rory Burns is fit again. There is also Jonny Bairstow waiting in the wings to take his opportunity. Let’s not for get what he did the last time England were in Sri Lanka.
Both Zac Crawley and Dom Sibly looked good in South Africa, as did Denly most of the time but he looks caught between scoring too slowly to trying to be too aggressive. He needs to score big runs soon as he will probably be the fall guy when everyone is fit.
Jos Buttler will be looking over his shoulder, but we expect him to play. We also expect Ben Foakes to be in the squad who also had a fantastic time on his debut tour to Sri Lanka in 2018.
As bowlers go, we could see both Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson out of an England team for many years. Mark Wood showed great speed and control in South Africa and will be fast anywhere in the world. He has to play. A fit Jofra Archer should also start. The luxury England have with Ben Stokes batting at 5 and bowling 90mph should never be underestimated. This frees up a place for an extra batter, bowler or spinner.
From starting the South Africa series with illness, injuries and other off-field situations, England seem to have lots of depth and options moving forward. And that is very exciting.
Venatour Test Team to start in Sri Lanka: