My England Team to Compete in Australia part 2
For those who don’t know this is a brand new three part series in which i dissect and explain my Xi which i believe would be able to compete in Australia. The word compete is the crucial part here as England haven’t competed in their past 2 tours and this time around it’s vital they do so. I explain this more in the first part https://www.therunoutblog.co.uk/post/my-england-team-to-compete-in-australia-part-1 Anyway I have already discussed my top 3 and why I chose them (again part 1). I opted for Sibley, Burns and Crawley as my top three.
Today I am going to work on my middle order, the engine room. The batsmen that make 150-2 500-5. The middle order is important all over the world and this is no different in Australia. These are the guys who, when the ball is old and the pitch is flat, can cash in and make the starting count (although history may beg to differ). If you look at England's 2010/11 series Down Under a lot of the dominance came from their middle order. Whether it be Priors 80 odd in the first test to keep them in the game, Pietersen's doubles at Adelaide or Bells ton at Sydney, the middle order played their part and if England have hopes of competing this time around they need a repeat performance.
So number 4,5,6,7. Well three are obvious picks and one slightly more debatable. As a great man once said “lets tuck in” (i’ll let your memory decide who said that).
At number 4 it’s Root. Root at his best is a cheeky Yorkshireman who just bats and bats, his elegant footwork will mesmerise bowlers whilst his def touch and remarkable strokeplay pierce any field set to find the runs he needs. Joe Root at his worst is a tangled mess who seemingly has copious amounts of superglue not only to his feet but the idea that he needs to bat like his competitors. Joe Root has shown glimpses of his best (most notably stepping down the pitch to Mohammad Abbas and subsequently working him through mid wicket), and now his 18th test match hundred; this feels like a monumental year for Root to gain on his competitors. Having batsmen such as Pope, Crawley, Sibley, Stokes and Buttler will help Root as not all the pressure to deliver is on him and he can build some truly great partnerships. If England have Root back to his best their side will be so much stronger especially in Australia. We all know about the personal demons Root faces down under and how much he wants to right those wrongs and I believe he will. A win as captain and 2 hundreds will be a successful series for Root and I firmly believe he can achieve this. There’s not much to say about Root so let me leave you with this. Root is England's best batsmen, he is England's best captain and he is the life and soul of our side so if you love him at his best, support him at his worst, and even then he’s still pretty bloody good.
Number 5 is Ian Be… no wait it’s Ollie Pope; my bad. I went for Pope in the number 5 position as our number 6 will be bowling some overs so he needs a bit longer to rest. Pope is developing into the true test match player we all know he can be and despite a quiet summer, which included two vital fifties in the circumstances and some absolute jaffas, he has really made himself invaluable to the side. Surrey's ginger golden boy is a wizard at short leg, an artist through the off side and a workman at gathering runs. Every shot in the book was seemingly written by Pope and he plays them all to great effect. On a flat deck with England say 100-3 in a bit of a stutter Pope is just the man to come in and steady the ship and with 9 test matches against India he has plenty of time to build his reputation before he dons the three lions in Australia. Pope is also no stranger to the conditions with the stories of his success during his club days providing England fans with another reason to be excited about this young batsmen. Pope plays, any questions? No? Ok next!
At number 6 it’s Stokes. Now I am going to keep this short. Stokes missed the last Ashes trip and by god will this force of nature make sure he is on that outfield in the middle of November.
At number 7 and keeping wicket I went for Jos. This is the one contentious choice for the side but i don’t quite think it should be. We all associate Jos with the power hitting, the shot making and the raw white ball talent. But in the red ball arena Buttler is a different beast. Buttler showed it this summer in his 60 odd against the West Indies when he was going at a somewhat slow rate of 18(53), and then he manipulated the field to his liking and whacked Rahkeem Cornwall over cow corner for consecutive 6’s. That's what Buttler can do in test cricket when he is allowed to bat. This idea that he needs to be 150(75) Buttler, in test cricket is absurd, he’s a world class batsmen and when he is allowed to bat and build a large partnership with the other batsmen in with him he has the ability to really take England up to the huge totals. Butlers 150 against Pakistan was case and point. Jos didn’t smack it, he didn’t shuffle across to off stump and try to hit it 10 rows back; Buttler worked the singles, trusted his defence, picked up the runs where necessary and built a monumental partnership with Crawley. Furthermore in Australia Buttler is a good enough keeper to pace for him to bat at 7 and keep. Buttler is a magnificent cricketer who I adore and I want him in my Ashes squad without question.
When thinking about the middle order I did realise just how many middle order options England have, Dan Lawrence very nearly persuaded me to make Pope keep wicket with his 6 earlier this morning, whilst both Johnny Bairstow and Dawid Malan had an impressive series last time out. So honorable mentions to those few and what not.
So part 2 is done! Do you agree with my selection? Is there anyone who you feel could really press for a starting spot at the Gabba? Let me know @therunoutblog1 on Twitter.