Welcome to this article on what did we learn from this summers tests. Lots of controversy online; however the three writers: Duke and Kookabura (DAK), Sean Wilson (SW) and All Things Cricket (ATC) give their thoughts on what we learnt and how the players did from the two series victories over West Indies and Pakistan.
Please let us know your thoughts @InsideEdgeCricket on twitter.
ATC: Right starting with the openers; what do you think we've learnt going forward?
SW: Sibley looks good again. Couple of ducks but more often than not is seeing off the new ball and is doing his job. Needs to work on converting starts and improving his game against spin, but positive signs there. Burns has plenty of potential to be a good Test player but is having technical issues to do with him planting his front foot towards mid off and losing his balance. Needs technical help but should get the winter to get back in the runs.
DAK: Burns had a good series v WI where he didnt notch any outright failures, then the polar opposite v Pakistan where he never got going. As Crawley can open, you'd suggest Burns was more vulnerable to rotation for team balance this winter. Sibley's bowling will probably not be seen again, but he enjoyed his batting this summer though he will want to do more work on his tendency to flirt with legside tempters. Made himself England's patient rock.
ATC: I agree. Burns averaged 46.8 Vs the West Indies. His technical flaw was ruthlessly exposed by Shaheen Shah. He would have scored a hundred if they weren't going for the declaration in the 3rd test too. Sibley excellent against the West Indies, fought hard in difficult conditions against Pakistan. Anybody tempted to drop Burns or Sibley for the subcontinent?
SW: Absolutely not. Burns is vulnerable but should get the whole winter
ATC: Yeah agreed, this dropping after one bad series is a nonsense Yeah agreed, this dropping after one bad series is a nonsense
DAK: No. Both men to open in Galle or wherever we next play!
ATC: Fair fair. What about #3? Is Zak the long term #3 we've needed? Or would you consider him still not necessarily a lock
Because whilst he should get the winter; I'm not entirely sure you can say he's our forever 3. His innings was a brute. But was kind out from nowhere.
Also I feel sorry for Denly. One match in rank conditions and dropped. Not quite sure why you're going to pick a player if they're that vulnerable
SW: I’ve liked the look of Zak Crawley ever since I saw him in SA. He makes batting looks pretty easy and times the ball better than a lot of players I’ve seen. He’s improved his technique too, opening up his stance and becoming more balanced at the crease. He could be a serious player going forward. Definitely could be the solution at No. 3. Let’s see how he does this winter
DAK: Crawley's monster 267 has inked him in place for the foreseeable. Scored at a good clip, assured against pace and spin he is our #3 until a desperate run of form demands his removal; it was a terrific innings. I watched him in SA and although they are struggling at the moment, he took to Tests immediately. Could be a serious player.
ATC: Yeah I think that's the prevailing thoughts on him. And #3 to be honest. Hopefully he goes better than a certain Kent player with a test match double tonne!
How do we think Root did this summer?
Averaged 43 and 31 with the bat. But 2 series wins. His batting continues to be a concern for me. He's rapidly becoming an average middle order player
SW: Poorly. Did a piece on this and I think he’s a big concern. Is he a class player? Yes. But he has technical problems and the captaincy may be weighing him down. He’s averaging around 40 since Aug 2016, which by his standards is below par. He needs to change something because it’s more than just a dip in form. I don’t have much faith in the batting coach(es) to help him so maybe he should see someone who can. England are doing fine without his big runs but things would be even better if he got back to the Root we know.
DAK: As captain, the results are good of course, two series wins as well as three wins and two washouts. As a batsman, nothing has changed for Root. The only knock where he looked totally freed up was that 60 odd chasing declaration runs v WI. Still has technical issues, gets squared up, and although it's been said before painfully obvious captaincy is hitting his run making, but that's a debate for another day! Sad truth is unless you want to give it to Stokes (no) then who else is guaranteed their place? So we are back to Root.
ATC: Yeah his captaincy was better this summer I think. Still some very questionable calls still
What's better; sliced bread or Ben Stokes?
SW: Haha. Stokes is Stokes. Just an awesome cricketer who’s so valuable to this side. His 176 vs WI was a serious knock and he’ll slot straight back into the side, presumably at 5, for the winter tours. Slip catching could do with some work but he’s in the form of his life.
ATC: That's a good point. The further Stokes is from the cordon the better
DAK: Stokes is an animal. That 176 was controlled brutality. Even on one leg he took two wickets cheaply when he had no right! Stokes' form the last 12 months has been outrageous, he is pivotal to the team and balances the attack. Worth his weight in gold.
ATC: Ollie Pope had a pretty rank summer after his SA performances averaging 20 Vs Pakistan and 33.5 against West Indies. A torrid time for the youngster. Have we broken him? Overhyped? Whats up with Ollie Pope?
SW: Pope is going to be the key to this middle order for a long time I feel. Just a superb talent. I have some concerns with his very side on technique and issues against spin but hopefully that will improve as time goes on.
DAK: He had a quiet summer, I think so much is expected of him, that it's a surprise if he doesn't succeed. Made a good 91, but that was his only knock of note. Done a couple of times by Yasir on the back foot and that's always fraught with trouble, on the subcontinent you gotta get forward. I am not concerned about Pope, he will come good. The winter will be good for him and a few other young guns in our line up.
ATC: Yasir had him in knots.
Anyone dropping him for the subcontinent to allow a Buttler and Foakes 6,7? Or would you guys drop someone else first if you were going to go that way
DAK: The top seven is more solid now than it has been for some time, Foakes just can't find a break!
SW: Nope. I don’t see how Foakes gets in at the moment without unfairly dropping someone. Stokes will come back at 5 with Pope and Buttler moving down one. Stick with what’s working
ATC: Given his torrid time with Yasir, I'd be interested to see how he went in the warm ups that are pencilled in before Christmas before I made a definite statement I think.
Bags of talent, got a few horrible balls. But I think we can start to ask more of him
Buttler the batsmen is a revelation, or is he still vulnerable?
SW: Since he made that technical change of opening his stance and not planting his front foot, he’s been a revelation. Should he continue like this, he could be a great No. 7. Good player of spin too, so I expect him to get a few this winter. Great to see him finally coming good
DAK: I think this summer may well have been his personal breakthrough. It's obvious his technical tinkerings have freed him up literally and mentally to be the Test batsman Ed Smith backs him to be. He's always been very good against spin, honed on the turning decks of the IPL, so he is a must on tour this winter, as he played Yasir with assurance.
ATC: Yeah agreed. He's a new man
However; is Jos Buttler good enough with the gloves? And should he keep the gloves for the subcontinent? He arguably cost them the one game they lost with dropping Blackwood and dropped many more
DAK: Buttler has much to do with the gloves. The likes of Pujara and Kohli may only offer one chance and it must be taken; otherwise much leather chasing will ensue. The fact is unless we get funky it will need gymnastics to get Foakes and Buttler in the same side. Dropping Blackwood was probably the moment the first Test of the summer was lost, although as a general rule against the seamers he seems mostly fine.
SW: I think he’s a decent keeper but there are some issues there. Obviously Foakes is the better gloveman but what’s more valuable in the subcontinent: runs or taking chances? I’d say runs and Buttler is in form so he stays on. Also, like I said, I don’t see how Foakes and Buttler play together. Unfortunate for Foakes but it is what it is.
ATC: I actually disagree here.
One way or another Foakes must keep in the subcontinent. Buttler dropped 6 or 7 chances and missed a stumping. Despite his time as England keeper he's never even completed a stumping... Foakes has 2 already.
I'm not sure Buttler would score so many more runs than Foakes to make the concept of picking Foakes unviable
DAK: If we want Foakes to keep then one of the batsmen has to go. Seems to me a shootout between Pope and Burns. If Burns, then Crawley opens with Sibley.
SW: How does Foakes get in? I think most would like him keeping but I genuinely don’t see how you play both Jos and him.
ATC: If unwilling to drop Pope or Burns. I'd be ruthless and drop Buttler. His keeping was below county standard really.
And when we are likely to be second favourites, every chance will be more important
DAK: Dropping Buttler after the summer he's had would knock him badly. He has to play if even as a batsman. For me it's a call between Burns/Pope if you want Foakes behind the timbers.
ATC: A tricky one, but I don't think Buttler should have the gloves really. He was dreadful.
SW: Dropping Buttler would be a crazy decision
ATC: Hey I didn't say I'd do it! But if you won't let me drop someone else on the subcontinent. I'd be ruthless
SW: So in other words, you can’t fit him in!
ATC: Moving on before there are tense words on the inside edge team!
Before this summer started, a lot of people would have Curran > Woakes in the English conditions all-rounder Is Woakes the heir to Anderson? Isn't his batting returning nicely.
And what to do with Sam Curran?
SW: Woakes has had a great summer. Good to see his batting come good again after a woeful run. He’s a brilliant bowler in England but obviously concerns remain about his away skills. He was pretty good in SA so maybe he’s finding a way. Curran is always an solid option but the competition is very fierce at the moment. Not sure we will see much of either this winter DAK: Woakes' away numbers should come with an 18 certificate. But perhaps he is finding a way, seems to have added a yard of pace and his batting has been resuscitated. Whether it's a straight fight between him and Sam Makes Things Happen Curran is a debate, but given the likely location of the Tests, will we see both in the same side? Chances are England will play two or even three spinners so makes competition for places at #8 tougher still.
ATC: I think Woakes is slightly unfairly maligned with away numbers. He's played one away test every year since 2016
He did perfectly fine in NZ and did well in his appearance in SA
He's a different bowler now. Having picked up a thing or two. Sam Curran suffers from being not quite quick enough or tall enough to get something out of a flat pitch and that is a ongoing drawback. His batting would be far better if he didn't try and hoick everything to the fence. Woakes a golden summer. Curran will remain a bit part player.
Jofra had a pretty bad showing. Is he unfairly maligned? Overrated? Mismanaged? A bit of everything? And how does Mark Wood take playing 1 test in a deck that didn't suit him at all, all summer? DAK: Archer's wickets cost 45 this summer. That's King of Spain-esque. It's a conundrum, I applaud Root's recent adherence to the four overs at full tilt then off type of spell. But maybe Archer is not yet confident after his elbow injury? Is he unsure as to how best to bowl? Mark Wood is the unlucky victim of rotation this summer. I am a real fan of Wood, he had a brilliant winter and I thought he had cracked the case. I still think both men will win Tests for England, esp away from home and on roads.
SW: I don’t know what his role is and I’m not sure he does either. Is he meant to bowl short, quick spells or carry on the discipline. England need to have a clear plan so they can get the best out of him. I don’t know why he goes back and forth from 83mph to 93mph. He’s a massive talent who will be very useful away from home but at the moment I’m not sure there’s a clear idea on how to best use him Wood has been very unlucky. Think he’ll get more of a chance away from home, where pace will be more valuable. Competition is very high at the moment
ATC: Yeah I feel sorry for Mark Wood. Archer was the man in possession of the quick man shirt. But to be averaging 45 just isn't up to standard. England have to work out what they're doing with Jofra and Jofra needs more time working out his own game too. Because if he feels he can maintain only 83mph for test match cricket. There are other options waiting their chance.
Dom Bess averaged 78.66 against Pakistan. You both picked him in our #insideedgepicks series Is he still your number 1?
SW: He’s not had a great summer. But I sympathise with him a lot because he’s young, not had a lot to work with in the conditions, and has shown positive stuff. He’s inconsistent at the moment but will need time to develop. I think Leach is the better bowler at the moment but I’d like to see both play in the subcontinent. However, I wouldn’t be against Rashid featuring at home as he turns it both ways and and took 30 wickets on the 2016 subcontinent. Amid Virdi looks good too. There are options.
DAK: Yes I did, as he had done well last winter. His figures would be rather better if he hadn't suffered those three missed chances, which tells you that he is creating opportunities, which is much better than had he simply been offering a buffet. He looks like the right character, offers more than Leach with the bat and in the field (probably why he is looked upon favourably)and is still learning. Both Bess and Leach get in my team for the India tour. It will be a steep learning curve for Bess, who isn't the finished article.
ATC: Rashid surely has to play some domestic red ball first? Chronic shoulder injury and last time he played in England he was anonymous largely
SW: Yes I agree. Needs some game time behind him
ATC: I picked Leach in that series. I still think he's the better bowler. There's pacemen options who can hold a bat. Leach is far better with the ball, hence why Bess had to leave Somerset on Loan in the not too distant past
Bess lack of consistent line and length is the most frustrating thing. It's also why he can't hold an end either I think he should go to the warm ups but if someone bowls better than him like Viridi or otherwise. I don't think his place is safe at all even in a 2 spinner situation
DAK: One thing I will say at this stage is no way should Moeen Ali be parachuted in as a "spinner". His Test career is over in my opinion, horses for courses is all well and good but I draw the line at a Moeen recall.
ATC: Moving on Who's dropping Jimmy or Broad to their face? Anyone?
SW: Can’t see them both playing together but they’ll be good options to have. Pace and spin will be key to bowling sides out over there but their control will be useful. Expect Archer and Wood to play important roles
ATC: Yeah agreed. We may see games where neither of them play also. Would be a great test of Archer
DAK: We will see one or the other. Both have delivered a superb riposte this summer, and we can ration their workload this winter. Archer/Wood will play bigger roles.
ATC: Broad is up to second in the ICC rankings for bowling I believe. I think he's a top 10 all rounder now too with his rediscovery of batting
Is Englands fielding up to scratch?
DAK: England's slip cordon if allowed to stay at this level will cost them dearly in India. The outfielding seems largely okay, even if we do have a penchant for buzzes but the catching has to go up several notches. The slips were at different times this summer too close to each other and the batsman. Much work to be done.
SW: Not at the moment. Slip catching is a big issue and Buttler’s keeping has been inconsistent. England are a side who usually pride themselves on fielding so they’ll want to address this quick. Stokes’ return should help but it’s a concern.
ATC: I think Stokes is a culprit isn't he. Has a catching percentage of sub 75%!
Crawley and Burns seem to be less than great fielders also
SW: Thought Burns was pretty good in the gully and then they moved him
ATC: So did we learn lots from this summer. Or was it wasted as some others suggest Or could we have learnt more?
SW: Think we learned that this is a really promising side that still needs work. But the eleven is taking shape nicely and there are plenty of options in and around the squad too. Winning in India and Australia will be absolute mammoth tasks and I say we’ll know more after this winter
DAK: It was not wasted. The ECB deserve credit for staging the Tests so well and the WI and Pakistan deserve our humble thanks for touring. The Test side is evolving and developing, more still to be done for sure. After seven subcontinental Tests we can reconvene and see what more has been learned. Overall though Root and England must be satisfied.
ATC: Yep agreed, I think we can all agree that Pakistan and the West Indies deserve massive praise
So there we have it; we've had our say. We did learn about England and where they are. A team that is a work in progress. What do you think; let us know @InsideedgeCrick on twitter.