Bairstow’s Back? | Venatour’s England Cricket tour of South Africa Preview
With England setting off for their forthcoming cricket tour of South Africa, it’s hard to say what the two-Test tour of New Zealand actually taught us.
England, and new Head Coach Chris Silverwood, were quite clear before the tour that there would be a more disciplined approach to the batting. This was evident from the start in the first test, and it kind of worked for a while until we saw a familiar collapse.
There were some positives. Rory Burns continued to impress and looks like he has what it takes to make it at this level. The fact that he is the first opener for years to start and finish a calendar year is an achievement in itself!
The worry is up the other end. Yes, you can’t tell after just two games but Dom Sibley’s technique is a major worry. You can get away with it in county cricket but the international game finds you out very quickly. There has to be a case for England’s out-of-favour wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow or the in-form Joe Denly to open and the other to bat at 3 against South Africa?
After the first Test, we called for Joe Root to score some runs and he duly responded in the most emphatic way possible with a superb double hundred. We take no credit for it but it will do him and the team wonders as players had started to publicly support him.
We saw glimpses of the talents of Ollie Pope in both tests. If Stokes is fit to bowl then there is a real opportunity to tie down the number 6 spot.
The slight worry was how we bowled on flat surfaces. There didn’t seem to be the fire or passion needed to take wickets when the game was just idling along. The fact that James Anderson and Mark Wood return to the squad is huge for England if they are both fully fit.
England do need to look at the way they use Jofra Archer too. Whether the speedometer in New Zealand was dodgy or not, he did look down on pace which is a concern. Fans would love to see both him and Wood, but getting them into the same team might prove tricky.
Although he missed out on the first Test in New Zealand, Chris Woakes looked the best of England’s bowlers in Hamilton. However, with Jos Buttler batting at 7, there probably won’t be room for another all-rounder.
England have the option to rotate the bowlers but the batting is still a slight concern. South Africa will be unpredictable amid the recent off-field crisis and this could be the tour, an opposition, they need to get back on track.