Updated: Feb 19
Hello and welcome to our latest episode of Inside Edge picks. The series where the eight writers put our heads together, or lock horns over our preferred XI for the upcoming series.
This time it's T20 time. England play 3 T20Is versus South Africa starting on Friday and with the array of batting talent available how do you balance an XI?
The squad for the XIs is as follows: Eoin Morgan (Middlesex) (captain), Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), Jofra Archer (Sussex), Jonathan Bairstow (Yorkshire), Sam Billings (Kent), Jos Buttler (Lancashire), Sam Curran (Surrey), Tom Curran (Surrey), Chris Jordan (Sussex), Dawid Malan (Yorkshire), Adil Rashid (Yorkshire), Jason Roy (Surrey), Ben Stokes (Durham), Reece Topley (Surrey), Mark Wood
So lets get to it. Who got what votes
Eoin Morgan 8/8
Buttler 8/8 - 6/8 as opening the batting, 2/8 as a middle order player
Bairstow 8/8 - 4/8 as opening the batting 4/8 as a middle order player
Sam Curran 6/8
Tom Curran 4/8
Moeen Ali 1/8
Tom Banton 1/8 (listed as a reserve)
Those of you paying attention will have realised that there is no clear first 11, with a dead heat between Tom Curran and Jason Roy. It was left to me; All Things Cricket, to make the call as I write this recurring series and therefore I am Ed Smith. For the sake of squad balance and for the fact that the lofted on drive is one of my favourite shots; Jason Roy was my pick. Tom Curran is 12th man.
The XI is as follows
So what did our writers think? Reaction from Samuel Bruning, Cricket thoughts and All Things Cricket
Let me start by saying that it's great to see England's best six t20 batters make the side (Roy, Buttler, Bairstow, Malan, Morgan, Stokes). I know there has been some discussion in the IEC group about Stokes and Roy, but both make the 11, and rightly so. The only issue with our batting line-up is the order, with two slow starters at 4 and 6 putting pressure on other batters; three right handers being followed by three left; and I'm still not convinced Buttler should open. But, I shan't moan, as the top six is exactly how I voted!
Sam Curran is a very good number 7. He did well in the t20 warm-up (I have no clue whether this is meaningful), and was the sole Chennai player to impress in the IPL, if slightly overhyped. But, it is not yet time to replace Moeen Ali. I was the sole IEC writer to vote for Mo, and I'll admit that I'm quickly running out of confidence in his ability. But, given his impressive performances in the South Africa t20s last time, which was only in January of this year (remember that 11 ball 39?), I'm willing to give him another go. Although, should he struggle, I will finally let him go.
The rest of our bowling attack (Archer, Rashid, Jordan Wood) is fine by me. Archer is one of the best t20 bowlers going, Rashid is a great leggie, and both are obvious picks. While Jordan doesn't always fire, his death bowl is pretty decent, and it's right that he's included. I have about Mark Wood as a t20 bowler, believing his pace would allow him to be hit too easily. However, his performance against Australia in the summer eased those, as he took three wickets in 12 overs at an economy of 7.8: good enough for me.
Given the only change from my XI is Sam Curran for Mo Ali, I'm pleased with our selection. Hopefully, this series will further allow players to cement their spots ahead of next year's world t20.
Overall satisfied with the side selected. With the tied votes for Tom Curran and Jason Roy I was heavily in favour of playing the extra batsman as the side looks fairly light on batting had Roy not been included. This would have Sam Curran batting at 6 which I feel currently is slightly high for him given England’s fantastic record of batting collapses. Having said that, it must be acknowledged that the older Curran has made a strong case for making the side with good performances in both warmup games. Runs and wickets in the 40-over game and more wickets in the t20 game.
Stokes slotting in number 6 would be the best place for him considering England’s riches in top order batsmen currently. From the looks of the intra-squad games, it seems Roy and Buttler are likely to open over Bairstow as the Yorkshireman batted at number 3 in the t20 game. It is hard to say which order Malan and Bairstow will bat in but could be a decision based on the match situation. Malan could be sent in to rebuild after an early loss and Bairstow to continue any carnage the openers cause.
The full-time bowlers received almost unanimous support from our selectors representing good clarity of thinking as to the preferred starting lineup. Olly Stone looked back to his best in the t20 intra-squad match, however, is not in the t20 squad but I would be wanting to have a look at him in place of Archer or Wood in case of injury or taking an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.
All Things Cricket
The headline for me: Moeen Ali has been nearly unanimously dropped from the XI in favour of Sam Curran. From polls on social media, Moeen still seems to have the general publics backing, however his form in T20s has been very poor, with two batting performances, one against South Africa earlier this year and one against Pakistan in the summer being the sole positive aspect of his game for what is nearly 18 months now in all formats.
Tom Curran also misses out; he is economical however his lack of wickets lead me to pick the extra batsmen in Jason Roy; who has been in very variable form throughout this pandemic stricken year since his torrid introduction into test cricket.
Sam Curran is a very effective cricketer and deserves his change in T20Is. He had a good IPL in a dire team and it'll be good to see how he goes and what his role will be. He's being pencilled in as a potential new ball bowler; ala David Willey who is injured. However the stats don't back this up; his strike rate in T20I powerplays is the worst in the world for the year according to CricViz.
That's the piece! What changes would you make to our XI? Did I, Ed Smith mk 2 make the wrong call? Let us know @InsideEdgeCrick on twitter