Hits and Misses: England's Test & T20I Squad for the Tour of New Zealand
The Ashes have been lost which, as expected, have left a few casualties in their wake. Many fresh faces have been given a nod for the New Zealand tour on the back of their performances in the County Championship.
After some time to catch their breath following a hectic summer, the English team will start gearing up for the tour of New Zealand from mid-October. The good thing that the ECB has done is that they have announced the squads fairly early so that there is no confusion. Every player now knows where things stand and what he needs to do to make the best of the situation at hand.
The loss of the Ashes cannot be attributed to one particular thing. It was not as if that just because English cricketers were haggard post the World Cup that they were not up to the mark in the series. In fact, many of the players in the Tests were not even part of the World Cup squad.
England's batting troubles are not a revelation and had been going on for a long time. The mindset of fitting in white-ball specialists in Test cricket was never going to to pay off. Test batting is an art and one that England will have to emphasize on; to bat time and to bat sessions.
For this new stlye to settle down, it is no better time to start than the beginning of a new Test cycle. The fact that the New Zealand Tests are not part of the Test Championship further gives the team some headroom to blood in players.
As far as the T20Is are concerned, there are a lot of youngsters that have been given opportunities to prove their mettle at the highest level. With consistent performances, they can make their way into the team's scheme of things for the upcoming T20 World Cup.
England's tour of New Zealand kicks off with a five-match T20I series from November 1 which will be followed by a three-match Test series. Let's have a look at the hits and misses of England's squad for the tour:
Zak Crawley, Dominic Sibley, Ollie Pope - solid Test batsmen included
One the biggest news coming out of the squad announcement is that both Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow have been done away with after meager returns in the Ashes. Joe Denly, after a fighting 90-odd in the last Ashes Test, has been retained.
In the absence of Bairstow, Jos Buttler will don the gloves while Surrey's Ollie Pope is the back-up option, edging Ben Foakes for the role. Warwickshire's Dom Sibley and Kent's Zak Crawley, two youngsters who have impressed the most in the County Championship, have been duly rewarded for their efforts. These are proper Test batsmen, trained to counter the red ball and should plug the loopholes in the England batting line-up.
Matt Parkinson brings variety in the spin department
The inclusion of leg spinner Matt Parkinson in the England Test squad comes as a breath of fresh air. England, in recent times, have created a mould for themselves which is a finger-spinning option who is more of a defensive than an attacking ploy and comes into the game only towards the last innings. Dom Bess, Liam Dawson, Jack Leach and Moeen Ali being the examples. Matt Parkinson is a more attacking option. He might go for a few runs but will have the opportunity of taking more wickets than conventional finger spinners.
With Mark Wood and Olly Stone recovering from injuries, showing faith in Lancashire's express bowler Saqib Mahmood is also a step in the right direction.
Chris Jordan a force in T20Is
One feels that Chris Jordan is one of the best T20 bowlers that England have and has been consistent in the limited opportunities he has got. In fact, the pacer took six wickets in the T20I series against West Indies, including a four-wicket haul, and should be in England's scheme of things for the T20 WC.
James Anderson recovering
In New Zealand conditions that will assist swing bowling, England will surely miss the services of James Anderson, who is still recovering from his calf injury and is expected to be fit by the time England play South Africa. The team management is being cautious with Anderson and has decided to not rush him back to competitive cricket.
Inexperienced T20I squad
It is understandable that with an eye on the upcoming T20 World Cup, England have given opportunities to a lot of young players. However, it also means that it has left a few weak areas which can be exploited by the Blackcaps. The likes of Pat Brown, Lewis Gregory, Saqib Mahmood and Matt Parkinson are inexperienced at this level and it would be interesting to see how they fare.
Does James Vince have the power game?
The inclusion of James Vince in the T20 squad is questionable. Accepted that England cricket want to show some continuity and not ditch him right after the World Cup but Vince is more of a timer of the ball and suited for the longest format. Vince strikes at less than 120 in T20Is which is not ideal for this format.
Test squad: Joe Root (c), Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler (wk), Zak Crawley, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jack Leach, Saqib Mahmood, Matt Parkinson, Ollie Pope, Dominic Sibley, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes
T20I squad: Eoin Morgan (c), Jonny Bairstow (wk), Tom Banton, Sam Billings, Pat Brown, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Joe Denly, Lewis Gregory, Chris Jordan, Saqib Mahmood, Dawid Malan, Matt Parkinson, Adil Rashid, James Vince
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