Welcome to this ongoing series Inside Edge Picks; all 8 writers combined to pick our XI for the upcoming test between England and Pakistan.
Without further ado, lets see who we picked.
All 8 writers picked their favoured XI and the first 10 names were largely unanimous
However there was a 3 way tie with Dan Lawrence (before his withdrawal from the bubble), Mark Wood and Ollie Robinson all being tied with 4 selections in each XI available to them.
A tie breaker was held, with the vote going in favour of Mark Wood with 4 votes, Lawrence and Robinson both on 2 votes.
So the final XI
What did the writers think of our bold selections? Lets have a look; starting with Samuel Bruning
Burns, Sibley, Crawley, Root, Lawrence, Pope, Buttler, Woakes, Bess, Broad, Anderson
Firstly, my thoughts with Ben Stokes and his family in what must be a difficult time for them. Replacing our star all-rounder is difficult, but no way near as difficult as what him, and many others are going through in this challenging year. We must remember that, as much as we love it, cricket is just a game, and there are more important things in life than 'he shouldn't have played that shot' or 'why isn't he bowling this ball', especially in this, the time of coronavirus.
I'm fine with our writing's team choice, barring one selection. I would perhaps have preferred an extra batsmen, and wouldn't have dropped Anderson, but understand these decisions. The one I don't is Mark Wood's selection. I think the 30 year old Geordie is a very good cricketer. Away from home, he is key to England's success, and should (barring fitness issues) play in all of the 2021/22 Ashes tests down under. But in test matches in England, Wood averages 44.91 with the ball; it was 2015 when he last took above two wickets in a test match in England. In the only test he's played so far this summer, he returned figures of 2-110, one of which was bowling the rather useless Shannon Gabriel. This was the test v the WIndies at the Ageas Bowl, where England play the next two tests v Pakistan. Wood, despite his pace and talents, is not a good test match bowler in England, and therefore, is sadly not the right decision for the next test. Although it was a very close vote, our team got this one wrong.
Burns, Sibley, Crawley, Root, Pope, Buttler, Foakes, Woakes, Bess, Wood, Broad
Although 10/11 of my picks made the collective side, I am still not happy with how unbalanced the side is. Woakes has found some form but still feel number seven is too high given his run of low scores prior to THAT innings. The side is still a batsman short.
The batting was ropey for the majority of the first Pakistan test but the side was bailed out by two terrific innings. With Stokes missing, Crawley has to come back in with Root moving back to number four. Pope stays at five but ideally he would continue at six for now until he really solidifies his place in the side.
For me Foakes really does have to play now. Buttler was woeful with the gloves and England would have been chasing far fewer runs had Foakes been behind the sticks. Buttler finally showed us what we all knew he could do but it is time now for him to be a specialist batter. He must earn his place in the side with runs like the rest of the batsmen do and not for the leadership qualities he brings.
Woakes and Broad are locked in to my side with their bowling performances over the last few games. Wood returns to join them with Archer and Anderson rested. They both did not look their best in the series opener. Wood’s record in England is poor so hopefully he can improve on it and extract some pace out of the Ageas Bowl pitch. Bess rounds out my side but Curran plays over Foakes in the collective side. This extends the batting only very slightly and not significantly enough in my eyes to bring balance to the side.
Duke and Kookabura
Burns, Sibley, Crawley, Root, Pope, Buttler, Woakes, Curran, Bess, Wood, Robinson
After a nerve shredding run chase last week, England can gather their thoughts and look to seal the series this week against a Pakistan side surely rather bemused to find themselves trailing 0-1.
Stokes' absence means Crawley will return #3 allowing Root to drop #4 which is his preferred slot in any case; in the absence of Stokes and the likely retention of a five man attack there's more pressure still on Root/Buttler to score heavily.
Archer was mediocre and I would replace him with Wood which hasn't been seen since the first WI Test and should be raring to go. Robinson's call up is exciting and there is no point in him carrying the drinks so I would give him his debut.
Broad has played three Tests in a row and although he is in a purple patch I would rotate him out and play Curran, a man who has been a part of eight home wins in eight Tests. Bess hasn't set the world alight, but Leach hasn't bowled a ball in anger since November and it would be a gamble to replace the spinner.
The weather forecast is poor, so England may gamble on no spinner and indeed may yet pick Broad and rotation be damned in pursuit of a second series victory.
Burns, Sibley, Crawley, Root, Pope, Buttler, Woakes, Curran, Bess, Broad, Archer
England recovered superbly to win the first Test at Old Trafford, after being second-best for the majority of the first four days. With Stokes and potential debutant Dan Laurence withdrawn from the squad for family reasons, Joe Root has some selection issues to ponder ahead of this Thursday's second Test.
Consistency in selection is an attribute worth cherishing from current England set-up, despite those who believe underachieving players are given too many opportunities. One of those players in Zak Crawley, who I believe should replace Stokes and slot in at number three. It will continue his education to one day being a first-choice England opener and allow Joe Root to play in his preferred number four position.
The bowling attack may need some rotating to compensate for the loss of Stokes. James Anderson has performed solidly but without reward, this summer, and is likely to be rested at Southampton. His replacement must be the all-action Sam Curran. The youngster always makes an impact, with both bat and ball. England may be tempted to rotate both Archer and Bess. I believe this would be a mistake. A show of faith in the two up and coming talents will do their confidence wonders. If England are victorious in the second Test, the out of practice Mark Wood and Jack Leach should be considered for selection in the final game.
Inside Edge Cricket
Burns, Sibley, Crawley, Root, Pope, Lawrence, Buttler,Woakes, Bess, Broad, Robinson
Following a tremendous run chase at Old Trafford, England will head to Southampton full of confidence, but with a few questions to answer around selection. With Jos Buttler's vital knock in the 2nd inning, the talk of his imminent departure from the test team has been silenced, at least for now.
I have no issues with the batting team that has been selected by the writers. With no Ben Stokes and no Dan Lawrence (my preferred replacement), I think it's only too right that Crawley be given another go. I personally think he'll have issues at international level against the very best quick bowlers, but so far he's performed admirably if not spectacularly. So what better way to test his international credentials than to throw him in against Abbas, Afridi and Naseem Shah. We'll find out a lot about Crawley if he's selected. This also allows Root to bat in his preferred #4 spot, where he averages considerably more than when he's batting at #3.
However I do tend to disagree with the bowling attack. I would prefer to give Ollie Robinson his debut if we are indeed resting Jimmy Anderson, he continues to impress in county cricket and it would be just reward to see him handed his first cap. Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad are automatic picks, and I'm willing to give Dom Bess another chance. However Mark Wood fails to flatter on these shores and we've seen this summer that accuracy and movement trump pure pace. I'd still stick with Archer, he hasn't hit the heights we saw at Lords last year, but he has more to his game than Wood and you can sense a good game just around the corner.
Burns, Sibley, Crawley, Root, Lawrence, Pope, Buttler, Curran, Leach, Robinson, Broad
With arguably the best player in the world Ben Stokes missing for the rest of this series, there is no question that England will be worse off. How much worse they will be is down to the players picked.
With Stokes having been played as a specialist batsman for the last 2 tests, Zak Crawley has been the sacrificial lamb so that England could run with a 5 man bowling attack. With Stokes gone, and Dan Lawrence now unfortunately out of the bubble because of a family bereavement, Crawley is now almost certain to return at No.3, allowing Root to drop back to his favoured position at 4.
The other major concern after the last test in the middle order was Jos Buttler, the glovesman. After his horrific performance with the gloves over the test, many people were calling for Foakes to replace Buttler in the XI. However, with Buttler striking a crucial 75 to lead England to victory on day 4, he secured his spot in the team for this test as a batsman. Personally, I felt like the last time England played 2 wicket-keepers in the same team, it took away a spot for a specialist bowler, batsman or an all-rounder. With Stokes gone, England cannot afford a wasted spot on another wicketkeeper. While Foakes is undoubtedly the better glovesman, Buttler just edges it due to his leadership and the gained confidence of knowing he led his team to victory last time out. Doesn’t mean to say he will remain in the team for the long-term.
Now onto the most hotly debated part of the team- the bowlers. One of Sam Curran or Chris Woakes is an absolute MUST, NO DEBATE. An all rounder is needed in Stokes’ absence. While they cannot fully replace Stokes (who could?), Curran and Woakes can be the all rounder needed to hold the team together. Ollie Robinson was called up late last week to the bubble, giving the indication he will play. While he just lost the tie-break to Mark Wood, Robinson will be a crucial part of the future for England. Dom Bess is likely to be dropped if England go for an all seam attack, and personally I would’ve picked Jack Leach to showcase his ability again at international level. Stuart Broad has made himself undroppable unless injured after being left out for the first Test against WI, so no debate as who is best to lead England's attack.
Burns, Sibley, Crawley, Root, Pope, Buttler, Woakes, Curran, Leach, Broad, Wood
With Stokes having to leave the squad for personal reasons, the opens up a batting slot and that should go to Zak Crawley, who has shown impressive signs in his short Test career so far and has been unlucky not to have a longer run in the side. Another key question is whether England should stick with five bowlers and the answer is probably yes. With Stokes out, it would be risky to play just the three seamers and strengthen the batting, especially if one of them breaks down early (like Anderson at Edgbaston last year). That being said, rotation is key at the moment and I think Anderson and Archer will be given a breather after their inconsistent performances this summer so far. Sam Curran is a fine cricketer who will offer a left-arm angle and strengthen the batting, while Mark Wood’s pace and explosiveness will offer an extra dimension in place of Archer. England should also have a look at Jack Leach, with Dom Bess slightly struggling for rhythm at the moment.
All Things Cricket
Burns, Sibley, Crawley, Root, Pope, Buttler, Woakes, Curran, Leach, Wood Robinson
The team selected by the other writers is broadly in line with my thoughts, the 5 man attack with two bowling allrounders, should be more than enough to hold off this young Pakistani lineup, however my two major changes would be to rest Broad as he'll be going into his 4th test back to back and I'd really rather make sure we did not break him. Secondly Jack Leach should come in, I'm all for backing youth but Bess is too raw and his figures actually flatter him, he's bowled a number of poor spells and has been largely unthreatening.
Major questions over Buttler with the gloves, its' taken the best innings of his test match career to save his spot. He's not good enough with the spinners and has already arguably cost England a test match this summer already.
Questions over Zak Crawley also persist; being such an aggressive batsmen feels very much like a Bayliss move over the more conservative Silverwood. Plus he has 3 First class tonnes to his name, which isn't inspiring in itself.
So there we have it, that's the thoughts of the team. Who would you pick? Let us know @InsideedgeCrick