In this second part of this series for the England XII for the upcoming series against the West Indies; the team pick Number 3. The most hotly debated topic on cricket twitter at the minute! Joe Denly holds the shirt; but who would Cricket thoughts, Duke and Kookabura and Inside edge pick?
Inside Edge Cricket
The #3 position is the most interesting spot in this England line-up, and it seems there are three players battling it out to be included. Joe Denly, Zak Crawley and Dan Lawrence. With Joe Root likely to miss the 1st test, it could be that two players from this list get the nod, but for the sake of this article we’re just talking #3.
Joe Denly is in prime position for the spot and his 30 average in test cricket is passable if underwhelming. Zak Crawley flashed in South Africa but his technique makes me nervous, and despite him looking like an LBW candidate every inning, he’s mainly been victim of the moving ball having been caught behind in 4 of his 6 dismissals so far in test cricket.
Dan Lawrence is an interesting candidate and my selection for the #3 spot to face the West Indies come July 8th. Lawrence holds a very decent 38.42 first class average and is coming off a superb winter with the Lions in Australia where he scored a 190 against a cricket Australia XI, 125 against Australia A and then another 50 against New South Wales while batting at #3. He often bats lower for Essex, but I have no doubt he can do the job at #3. People point to that 38 average in first-class cricket but he plays on the tricky Chelmsford surfaces, so you can add another 5-7 batting points onto that average. I would love to see him given the chance and firmly believe he’ll take it and make it his own.
Duke and Kookabura
Zak Crawley improved with every innings in SA and looked comfortable in the England side which is a sound platform; quick scoring and competent against what pace and spin he has seen thus far he has the hallmarks of an international batsman.
His position may yet be lost to Denly however by Root's planned absence. A top four of Burns, Sibley, Crawley, Denly may be considered too green to cope with an excellent WI pace line up and so we may see the return of Bairstow in the middle or even the sight of both Buttler and Foakes to bolster the top seven. If I was Silverwood, I would pick Crawley but caution and Denly may yet win the day.
This was a shoot-out between Denly and Crawley and in my opinion, Crawley did not do enough in South Africa to displace Denly from the number three slot. Both averaged in the low 30s therefore I am forced to make this call based on gut feel. Although Denly has not made many significant scores in an England shirt yet I feel much more comfortable with him at the crease than Crawley. Crawley looked good in patches in the South Africa tour but never put me at ease. Denly, while looking unlikely to produce anything spectacular, did at least provide plenty of resistance.
Denly has often been mocked for his slow scoring rate especially in the South Africa series. This, however, was his role at number three. The key attribute of a number three is to steady the ship in the case of losing an opener early (as is often the case for England). Doing this allowed Sibley, Stokes and Pope to flourish in the latest series. Crawley while opening did not show enough of this to make my side.
As for other options Dan Lawrence is the third name being mentioned but having batted at number four for his club side, I don’t consider him an option yet. A good championship summer next year for Crawley and Lawrence would put them into contention but for now Denly retains his spot.
There we have it; 3 writers; 3 different choices. A toss up in the writing team between the veteran Denly, the youthful Crawley and the uncapped Lawrence.
Who do you think should bat 3 for England? Let us know on twitter @InsideEdgeCricket