Inside Edge Picks: 1st Test V NZ

Ahead of the first Test between the Three Lions and the Blackcaps at Lords which starts on Wednesday, the Inside Edge team have chosen their respective England XI's for the game. With Ben Foakes' injury throwing a spanner in the works, who do the team pick as WK? Does Gloucestershire's James Bracey drop to 7 and keep on debut, or does Sam Billings appear from the wilderness to debut and keep? Check out the teams below!


Snicked Behind (@SnickbehindATC)


Burns

Sibley

Bracey

Root

Pope

Lawrence

Billings (WK)

Overton

Robinson

Broad

Leach


Unorthodox XI, with some rather large omissions. With the rotation policy in full swing, this is where I'm at. Burns and Sibley are the best openers in the country, so maintain their spots. James Bracey is a better player than Crawley; yes his 267 was marvellous, but since then he's fallen off a cliff in form, he had a torrid winter and the start to the county season led to some good scores but an average of 37 isn't knocking the door down. Bracey was keeping and batting 3 and averages 47, including scores against the best county attacks in the country. Root bats 4. Ollie Pope after a very average 12 months in test cricket, should be under more pressure than he seems to be. Stat padding a double century against the worst bowling attack in the country aside, his county form was mixed. Lawrence maintains his place after a mixed winter. Sam Billings is a dreadful selection by England given he's played 2 first class games in 2 years and shouldn't have been selected given he was in the India and IPL bubbles. But given James Bracey has never batted 7, I think it's unfair to select Bracey there. Billings is supremely talented and can probably make the grade. Craig Overton and Ollie Robinson are the best county bowlers in the country and given they both are bowling all-rounders, they add batting depth. Jack Leach is picked as England's spin option, which I think is necessary given Joe Root's relative struggles batting at home. Stuart Broad is in, because it's Stuart Broad. I think he should be rotated with Anderson for the second Test. So yeah, I don't like it, but covid bubbles lead to strange world's.


Duke and Kookaburra (@d_ktalkballs)


Burns

Sibley

Crawley

Root

Pope

Lawrence

Bracey (WK)

Robinson

Leach

Stone

Anderson


With Foakes' withdrawal - how many ladders has he walked under? - Bracey will earn his Test debut but it won't be at #3 where he's scoring his runs for Gloucs but at #7 because there is A) a vacancy and B) England want to back their incumbent top three of Burns, Sibley, Crawley, therefore the top seven will likely read Burns, Sibley, Crawley, Root, Pope, Lawrence, Bracey.


The bowling attach is likely a straight fight between Overton and Robinson - the Sussex man for me and then the Somerset man deserves his chance - at #8. The forecast warm weather means Leach will likely play and I would also select Stone and Anderson; England will rotate one of the speedsters and one of the veterans for this two Test series.


Joshie Green (@joshie_green)


Burns

Sibley

Crawley

Root

Pope

Lawrence

Billings (WK)

Overton

Broad

Anderson

Wood


Although I have been sceptical of Rory Burns, his current form in the CC has been sharp, although he has consistently struggled to perform on the international stage. Personally, I see no reason to drop Crawley at this moment, where in his 12 matches, he has scored 4 fifties and his historic 267 against Pakistan at the Ageas Bowl last summer. The wild card pick in my squad is Billings at 7. Although he would typically bat higher, he averages almost identical to Bracey in FC cricket, also adding experience and an international century against a strong Australian side to his name. Experience and confidence will be key for this role, towards the bottom of the innings, where they will need to be comfortable facing the likes of Kyle Jamieson. As Sam Billings has played IPL and BBL, along with T20 Blast, he will have faced more spicy bowlers from around the world, rather than the likes of Tim Murtagh and Darren Stevens in the County Championship.


With Billings batting at 7, it would seem foolish to only pick 3 seamers for English pitches, therefore I'm going with Broad, Anderson, Wood and Overton, and utilising Root’s golden arm possibly later in the game. I have picked Overton over Robsinson, purely because of Overtons new 5-10mph that he has found out of the blue. He also has carried Somerset with the bat a number of times, proving he is a handy option at no. 8.


Samuel Bruning (@SamuelBruning)

Burns

Sibley

Crawley

Root

Pope

Lawrence

Bracey (WK)

Overton

Robinson

Broad

Anderson


To be honest, this is a pointless exercise. A combination of injuries and IPL resting mean key players are out, and debuts are likely. Furthermore, given the unproven nature of those in the side anyway, England will likely lose. The question is, do they lose with one batter too few, or one bowler too few? I’ve decided on one bowler too few, because I think the New Zealand bowling is better than batting - although both are very good! This means my XI is: Sibley, Burns, Crawley, Root, Pope, Lawrence, Bracey (wk), Overton, Robinson, Broad, Anderson.


So, Dom Sibley, Rory Burns and Zak Crawley all retain their spots in the top three. None have proved great, none have proved awful, so dropping them isn’t right. And, while I love Haseeb Hameed, he ought to have had more time with Nottinghamshire before his return, given his F/C average is 32.9, despite his talent. On that though… Hameed, despite his low average, is very talented. England will pick players based on talent for this Test, in Crawley (32.54), Dan Lawrence (38.45) and James Bracey (36.78) despite their low(ish) averages… The middle order is composed of Joe Root, Ollie Pope, and Dan Lawrence, three guys who I really hope make runs. Then, top-order batter James Bracey is at seven, because…actually I don’t know why, but I can only pick an XI out of the squad, and while I love Sam Billings, Bracey is a better F/C option. Bowling wise, I wanted Olly Stone to play, but with just the four quicks, I couldn’t risk someone who would need short spells. So, Craig Overton, aided by his batting ability returns, and the impressive Ollie Robinson debuts. And, of course, Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson are expected to be as brilliant as usual. I can only apologise to Jack Leach, who remains unlucky.


Rob Rush (@RobRush02)


Burns

Sibley

Crawley

Root

Pope

Lawrence

Bracey (WK)

Overton

Leach

Broad

Anderson


When news of Foakes' injury broke out last week, England had two options: call-up Jos Buttler and end the selection crisis at WK, or send for Sam Billings, who has played 1 F/C game for Kent since 2019, doesn't keep in the CC and was in the IPL bubble. They chose the latter, even though Billings was with the Delhi Capitals in their "bubble", and England selectors saying they wouldn't rush guys who were in the IPL back into Test cricket. So much for that huh? You can take England away from Ed Smith, but you can't take the Ed Smith out of England....


Zak Crawley can breathe a sigh of relief, for if Foakes wasn't injured, he was making way at three for James Bracey in my team. Having endured a fairly torrid start to the season with Kent, he is given another chance to show his worth, with Rory Burns and Dom Sibley rekindling their opening partnership after Burns was unceremoniously dropped in India, for Jonny Bairstow of all people; that's England logic for you. Joe Root picks himself, quite literally, and Ollie Pope moves up to cover for Ben Stokes' injury-enforced absence. After a horrible time in India, Pope needs big runs this summer in order to silence his doubters ahead of the Ashes this winter. Without Stokes, there is no correct way to balance this side, but seeing as Stokes has not bowled as much as he used to in his recent Test exploits, I've gone with the extra batting in Dan Lawrence, who has enjoyed a very good start to the CC this year averaging 55 for Essex. At 7, I'm picking Bracey to debut and keep. He's enjoyed a very good start with Gloucstershire this year, helping them climb up towards the top of their group, while also being very handy behind the stumps and averaging around 50 with the bat. Even though he has said both he and England see his long-term future as a top 3 batsman, I'm not picking someone to debut and keep who hasn't played FC cricket in basically 2 years and doesn't even keep for his own county in red-ball cricket. While Bracey will be out of position for his debut, I still back him to come good and this to be the start of a successful Test career for him.


With the bowlers, it's a straight shootout between Craig Overton and Ollie Robinson for the number 8 slot, with no Stokes, Chris Woakes or Sam Curran to fill the all-rounder role. I've gone with Overton purely on the basis that he's played Test cricket before, with the added caveat that he's found some extra pace for Somerset this year. With England carrying on with the controversial "rest and rotation" policy, plus Robinson on a verbal promise from the ECB that he will debut against NZ, I'm expecting both men get one game each against Kane Williamson's side. Jack Leach is England's spinner, no questions about it and unless the pitch is an absolute green top, I'm not confident picking an XI without a first line spin option, so he's in for me. For the final two spots, part of me really wanted to pick either Olly Stone or Mark Wood, but not at the expense of England's two greatest seam bowlers in Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad. With a sizeable gap between the end of the NZ series and the start of the India Tests, there is no reason to split them up bar injury, and with Anderson saying he's the fittest he's been, you can put those hypothetical questions to bed. In England, you play your best bowlers all the time when available (unless your name is Ed Smith).


Thanks for reading! What do you think of our XI's? Let us know by tweeting us at our personal handles or @InsideEdgeCrick on Twitter



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