Updated: Feb 20
Welcome to a new series on Inside Edge, where we debate around the most recent squad selections, news from the cricketing world and most importantly, some very controversial hot takes. To begin this new series, it could only really be around one player; Joe Denly. The Kent batsman has been the topic of hot debate within the Inside Edge team, and in this first edition, me and AllThingsCricket debate the recent inclusion of Denly in the T20 squad.
ATC: Joe Denly has done enough over the last few years to warrant his selection. He has dominated the T20 Blast with both the bat and the ball, he is more than an adequate back-up batting all rounder and has done well, if not spectacular in the PSL and the Big Bash. His stats are slightly twisted due to him being played out of position a lot of the time, but he can be useful in this England setup.
RR: I'm sorry, but Joe Denly does not belong anywhere near this T20 setup, one which particularly has ambitions to win back-to-back World Cups. If he has "dominated" in the Blast and performed "well" in the PSL and Big Bash, how come he hasn't nailed down a spot in the T20 team before now? He has just been dropped from the test side, and it takes a very special talent to be considered for all three formats of the game (Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer etc). Denly does not boast the same talent levels as those guys. Ultimately, England have better, more destructive batsman available to them in T20 cricket (Tom Banton, Phil Salt and even James Vince).
ATC: Bringing James Vince into this conversation is laughable. Anyways, the main reason why Denly hasn't been able to secure a place is down to him being shoehorned out of position. Denly is a player that takes a few balls to get going, he is a player that needs to be batting in the top three. He isn't a finisher, which is what he has been painted out to be. In addition, he is normally massively under bowled in T2O's, which is arguably his strong suite, as he averages 20.54, which includes figures of 4/19 on his bowling debut. He opens both the batting and bowling for Kent in T20's and could be a valuable back-up for these roles at international level. England have a shocking amount of depth in white-ball cricket, which means a lot of competition for places, but no team is made up of 100% superstars. If these younger and more suited players are better than Denly, then how come he has outscored them all in the Blast?
RR: All fair and valid points made. However, you said that Denly takes a few balls to get himself going. That's all well and good in an ODI, where there is slightly less time pressure compared to a T20, but how many dot balls realistically can you afford at the start of the innings? If he needs to bat in the top 3, he would have to replace one of Jos Buttler, Jason Roy or Jonny Bairstow. Seeing how England have built a reputation in their white-ball sides of being aggressive from the go and not backing down, I don't see that happening, ever. Yes, no team is absolutely 100% made up of superstars, but how many of the WC winning squad had made their name in franchise tournaments around the world? While 50 over and 20 over cricket are obviously different in terms of length, the mindset is still the same: score as many runs as you can, quickly as you can. In a T20 lineup, you cannot waste a spot on an "anchor". I'm not saying Denly is unfashionable, but when you look at the embarrasing amount of riches that England have at their disposal, is Denly really required?
ATC: Other notable names of players who take a few deliveries to get going include David Malan and Ben Stokes. It's not the fact that Denly has to be an anchor, its that he is simply not a finisher. The need for a few sighters to hit for one or two at the very start of an innings is very different to Eoin Morgan and Buttler, who are just freaks and have the ability to tee off from ball one.
RR: England also have to look to the future. With Morgan potentially not being around for much more than the next 18 months, we need his replacement lined up and they need to be integrated into the team. Whether that is Tom Banton, Phil Salt or even Liam Livingstone, they can all make a better claim to that spot because they will be at the top of their game for at least the next 3 years, or in the case of Banton, not even hit his peak yet. Denly could be used as a stop-gap while we find Morgan's replacement, but he seems to be a step back considering the change in approach that England made after the 2015 WC disappointment.
ATC: Given the fact that there are two T20 WC's in the next 18 months, you have to look for players that can fit in now. If you are using age as an argument, Morgan should be gone now, so should Ali and arguably so should Rashid. Age is an ugly argument and if you start looking at England's other squads, they start to get decimated because of their age. Denly's all-rounder status counts for something, and whilst I don't think he should be in the first XI, as a back-up, you can't really complain. He's done everything he could have done to be selected. If he had been given more of a chance in a position that favours him, we might have a better picture of Denly.
RR: Don't get me started on Ali. Should've been cut from all squads following the WC. In my opinion, what you've just mentioned about Denly is the main reason why so many people don't like the idea of Denly being given a chance, cos he hasn't been given a chance in the past, and therefore hasn't even cemented himself as a backup. Ask yourself this: when picking a 15-man WC squad, could you argue that Denly should be picked over Buttler, Roy, Bairstow or even someone like Sam Billings? Rashid is still showing he can improve with age, and if he needs to be replaced, we have two young, promising leg spinners in Matt Parkinson and Mason Crane waiting in the wings.
ATC: He slots in as an all-rounder wherever he is needed, and versatility is number 1 in T20. He can't replace Rashid as a frontline spinner but he is a very useful player to slot in basically anywhere and do a job. He isn't a specialist, which is partially his downfall but in a 15 man squad, he could fit in admirably. The Billings argument is amusing, as before the Ireland ODI series he generated as much internet meltdown as Denly. All of a sudden, he is golden. Very fickle fandom.
RR: Denly has been on the bad side of luck recently. Dropped from the test squad and watching Zak Crawley take away any last remaining hopes of a recall. Selected for the Ireland series, then was injured in the nets and had to watch Billings take his spot and thrive. But this is sports, bad luck is always going to be there and you have to make the most of your opportunities when you have them, no matter how big or small.
ATC: Aye, bad luck indeed. He took his chance in SA, which is why he is still around the white ball squads. He is a valuable backup to the main XI. If pretty much anyone breaks a finger, he can slot in and do a solid job.
RR: As a backup, if we had absolutely no-one else and a lack of trust in the young kids, then I would have Denly. But otherwise, it is a firm no. England simply have too much talent, which is a gift and a curse.
ATC: It's a poisoned chalice to be back-up to the WC squad. See James Vince last year. If you are bringing someone in for just one game, why would you risk ruining a young player's confidence when someone like Denly is available? Old head, wise shoulders and can do a job for you. This debate shows the two sides to the argument almost perfectly; either all in on youth and specialists (perhaps with the exception of Livingstone) or go with the versatility and experience that Denly brings, along with his genuine T20 credentials.
RR: Personally, I would always plums for specialists over versatility as more often than not, the specialists will win you a game over the versatile players.
ATC: With the need for 6 bowling options per XI though, arguably there is more options for versatility than meets the eye.
What do you think? Should Denly be involved with the T20 squad? Get involved and let us know on Twitter @InsideEdgeCrick