Hello and welcome to another episode of collab club. Today myself and cricket thoughts discuss the squad selected for the tour of Sri Lanka in January 2020.
England squad: Joe Root (capt), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler (wk), Zak Crawley, Sam Curran, Ben Foakes (wk), Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dom Sibley, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.
Reserves: James Bracey (wk), Mason Crane, Saqib Mahmood, Craig Overton, Matthew Parkinson, Ollie Robinson, Amar Virdi.
Recalls for Moeen Ali and Jonny Bairstow, whilst there is no room for Joe Denly and Ollie Pope misses through injury. Ben Stokes is on compassionate leave and Jofra Archer is rested.
ATC: Right, to kick things off. General thoughts on the squad?
CT: Overall slightly underwhelmed, but generally, that is going to be the case when arguably your two most exciting players are being rested. Both Archer and Stokes have played a lot of cricket and need to rest. Stokes, with the added element of his father's passing, makes it an even more obvious decision to miss the tour. What do you make of it?
ATC: I agree, underwhelming. The loss of Stokes due to bereavement leaves a hole in the squad, alongside resting Archer. The players called up in their place feel regressive rather than progressive, which we'll get to shortly! Let's start batting then; Jonny Bairstow is recalled and is pretty much guaranteed to bat 3 in the upcoming series and Dan Lawrence almost certainly going to bat 5 Thoughts?
CT: I can understand why Bairstow has been recalled with his record in Sri Lanka. However, it really isn't a good look for me. He was dropped for a run of poor scores and we could all see a glaring fault in his techniques with plenty of clean bowled dismissals. He hasn't shown a turnaround in red-ball form, but arguably hasn't been able to given he spent a lot of time in England's white-ball bubbles in the summer.
Jennings is one name I am surprised isn't included, but he would probably have carried drinks for the series with it only being two games. I haven't seen too much of Lawrence what do you make of him?
ATC: Agreed Bairstow whilst he has an excellent record against spin, has had such a torrid 2 years prior to being dropped, it comes as a kick in the teeth to anyone in the County championship, given Bairstow has shown no reduction in his ability to be bowled. Lawrence is a great talent, had an excellent Lions tour a year ago. However I can't say I know how he plays spin. Lots of chatter online thinking he's a long term number 3, with Crawley opening. I have to say given the way he plays with his wrists; I don't think that idea is vaguely sensible. Jennings I think can feel hard done by, given he was included in the squad in March and is a horses for courses pick alongside Bairstow. There's only one back up batsmen in James Bracey, who is an opener for county, but in reality a keeper. Thoughts on such slim pickings? CT: This is a big tour for Lawrence with his competition for middle-order places in Stokes and Pope missing. In the case of Lawrence scoring runs it makes him very hard to drop especially if others struggle. I can understand why there aren't many batsmen selected, as we've seen in the last week the toll that months in these bubbles take on the players with both Tom Curran and Tom Banton pulling out of Big Bash deals because of this reason. It is normally the case that bowlers suffer more injuries than batsmen. Therefore it is likely we will see rotation especially amongst the seamers as they are unlikely to have much help from the pitches. With the nature of the tour being so short it will most likely be the same batting lineup in both games I would have thought. I've not seen much of Bracey except a good knock in the intra-squad game before the West Indies series but with this seeming to be the tour of makeshift players, it seems only fitting our only backup batsman is there to cover a number of positions.
ATC: I agree on bubble fatigue, but with concussion substitutes required and the ever present risk of injury. I'm surprised they didnt take another batsmen. Another versatile batsmen akin to Joe Denly given he also bowls handy leg spin and has batted from 1-4 for England might not have been a bat shout. Bracey is talented. But a FC average of 34.9 doesn't fill me with confidence should an injury occur Ed Smith has said he fully expects Jos Buttler to be the gloveman in Sri Lanka with Foakes potentially being on the sidelines again. This seems like madness to me!
CT: I'm not sure where to start with this one. Foakes is clearly the best keeper we have and surely should be given the gloves. He was excellent on the last tour to Sri Lanka and given Buttler struggled with his keeping against spin during the summer it should be an easy decision here. During the IPL Buttler spent more time without the gloves than with them, although I'm not entirely sure why that was. The main argument I'd see is England not wanting to look like they don't back Buttler. But giving Foakes the gloves would clearly be best for the team. I'm guessing you'd be in favour of Foakes too?
ATC: Agreed. Buttlers keeping was very poor in the summer, especially to the spinners. He has precisely zero stumpings in test cricket to boot. Foakes should be the keeper and given he has a tonne in Sri Lanka and was excellent in his brief return to red ball for Surrey. He should be the first choice keeper no matter what 6 pacemen for 2 tests in Sri Lanka. What do you make of it?
CT: I can understand why they've taken a few pacers but given they are unlikely to play more than two per game it does seem excessive. Maybe I would have brought Stone as one of the reserves but maybe they intend on playing him in one of the games. I'd be very interested to see how he goes. Given the uproar last time there was talk of not taking Anderson and Broad it is easy to see why they have both been included. How many games do you expect them to play between them on the tour?
ATC: I think they've taken too many. I'm surprised Anderson is on the plane given his comments after the last tour of feeling a spare part and his injury trouble of late. Better to keep him for conditions that will suit surely? If I'm the selector I'd possibly pick Broad for a test for a controlling seamer. However for balance, I'd probably pick neither and pick Woakes for control and then Wood as a lightning rod of pace You picking either one of Jimmy and Broad?
CT: I think given how hungry Broad looked in the summer, I'd play him and probably Wood in the first game and see how they go. Then in the second game probably switch it up and give Woakes and Stone a game. But I wouldn't expect this to be how the selectors go because I wouldn't like to be the person that has to sit Anderson down and explain to him why he has been brought on a tour to carry drinks. This would be a particularly big issue for Anderson with a young family at home and now having to spend so long away effectively locked up in a hotel.
Part one of the squad reaction complete but with only one set of positions left - the spinners. That can only mean one thing! Things get spicy. Keep your eyes peeled for part two, coming tomorrow on inside edge cricket. Let us know your thoughts @InsidgeEdgeCrick