#insideedgepicks - England team for 1st Test vs Sri Lanka

Updated: Feb 20

Happy New Year everyone and welcome to the first Inside Edge picks of 2021. In this instalment we are picking our England team to play the first Test against Sri Lanka. The Test runs from the 14th to the 18th January at Galle International Stadium, unfortunately behind closed doors as COVID-19 continues to run riot. Nevertheless, it is great to have Test cricket back on our screens and the guys at Inside Edge have selected their respective teams to take on Sri Lanka and given a brief explanation why they have chosen their sides. Check them out below and let us know what YOU think on Twitter - @InsideEdgeCrick.


Samuel Bruning (@SamuelBruning)

Sibley

Crawley

Lawrence

Root

Buttler

Foakes (wk)

S.Curran

Bess

Leach

Broad

Anderson


Choosing this side was difficult. England's batting is hampered by the absences of Ben Stokes (rested), Ollie Pope (injured) and Rory Burns (paternity). Therefore, Zak Crawley moves to open, with the exciting Dan Lawrence debuting at three. Jos Buttler plays at five, with Ben Foakes edging out Jonny Bairstow at six given his better glovework. The bowling attack also proved difficult. Galle turns, but offers more than most in Sri Lanka for the quicks. Ideally, I'd have two quicks and three spinners, with Ben Stokes as third seamer. However, with him absent, and Joe Root/Dan Lawrence able to bowl some spin, I go with Dom Bess and Jack Leach, which I'm not particularly confident in, as this lacks the variety of the Moeen Ali/Adil Rashid/Jack Leach attack from last time. Sam Curran plays, his all-round ability will be needed, with both Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson starting for their reliability, edging out Mark Wood, who could toil if the pitch offers little pace.


AllThingsCricket (@things_cricket)

Sibley

Crawley

Lawrence

Root

Buttler

Foakes (wk)

Bess

Wood

Stone

Leach

Parkinson


My XI is not your standard XI and the headline is no Jonny Bairstow. For me, whilst he has an excellent record on the subcontinent, his reselection is everything wrong with England cricket. Bairstow averaged less than 19 for a whole year before being dropped and was told to go away and sort out his technical issues. Having played only a handful of red ball games in the summer and not scoring heavily, his inclusion is not justifiable. Not being able to play Chris Woakes means the tail is longer than I'd have wanted with Bess coming in a position higher than I would have liked, but needs must. The 2 pacemen are raw pace, I wouldn't be annoyed with picking Stuart Broad given his excellent 2020.


Sean Wilson (@WilsonFC2012)

Sibley

Crawley

Bairstow

Root

Lawrence

Buttler

S.Curran

Bess

Broad

Wood

Leach


With Rory Burns unavailable, Zak Crawley joins Dom Sibley at the top of the order, while Jonny Bairstow gets a go at No. 3 due to his skill against spin and success on the last tour, where he hit 110 from that position in Colombo. Dan Lawrence will strengthen the middle-order, with Jos Buttler remaining as the first-choice keeper. Moeen is ruled out so Sam Curran would be an excellent all-round option at No.7. Dom Bess and Jack Leach should be the two frontline spinners, while Stuart Broad brings control and Mark Wood offers valuable pace.


Rob Rush (@robrush99)

Sibley

Crawley

Bairstow

Root

Lawrence

Buttler

S.Curran

Bess

Leach

Crane

Wood


This England touring group is significantly weakened in the batting department compared to the summer Tests at the Ageas Bowl and Old Trafford, with Rory Burns, Ben Stokes and Ollie Pope all missing from the top 6 for one reason or another, with Jofra Archer also rested in the bowling department. Therefore, begrudgingly I pick Jonny Bairstow to bat at 3, even though in normal circumstances I would have him nowhere near this Test team. Zak Crawley jumps up to open with Dom Sibley, with Dan Lawrence getting his much awaited chance at number 5. Jos Buttler retains the gloves and bats at his preferred position at 6, with Sam Curran providing the all-rounder option with no Stokes, Ali or Chris Woakes available for selection. A trio of spinners in Dom Bess, Jack Leach and young Mason Crane are picked to try and make the most of the spin-friendly conditions in Galle, with Mark Wood providing express pace in short, sharp bursts.


Duke and Kookaburra (@d_ktalkballs)

Crawley

Sibley

Lawrence

Root

Buttler

Foakes (wk)

Curran

Bess

Leach

Parkinson

Anderson


The temptation to see a Lawrence debut was stronger than Bairstow's experience and prowess against spin; Lawrence deserves his shot. Three spinners are needed, there must now be doubts if Moeen will play at all this tour so Parkinson gets the nod. England will take heart from their last visit and will win two zip.


Cricket Thoughts (@cricthoughts)

Sibley

Crawley

Bairstow

Root

Lawrence

Buttler

Foakes (wk)

Bess

Wood

Broad

Leach


First off, I have to say I am not happy about being in a situation where I am almost forced to pick a player I do not believe should be on this tour. Jonny Bairstow in the last year that he played test cricket (2019) averaged less than 20. If it weren’t for Rory Burns not travelling to Sri Lanka, Bairstow wouldn’t have got a look-in. The reason I feel forced to pick Bairstow is that without him in the side, debutant Lawrence would have to bat at three and the rest of the batters moving up one place resulting in the tail starting at number seven. With England’s famous history of collapses, I wouldn't risk that short a batting line-up. The rest of the batting order effectively picks itself with Crawley shifting up to open in place of Burns. Lawrence should also play and will hopefully find some form after a fairly poor BBL stint. For me, Foakes simply has to play and keep. He was outstanding on the last tour and if horses for courses selections means Bairstow is picked it would make sense to hand Foakes the gloves. Buttler’s batting was brilliant in the summer but his keeping was fairly poor. If England want to win this series, they need to be taking chances when the spinners create them. In terms of the bowlers, I think two frontline spinners plus some part-time stuff from Root and Lawrence should be enough. So, the decision here was fairly easy to go with the two best spinners England have in Bess and Leach. For the pacers, it is fairly unlikely they will play both games, so I have picked a mixed attack of the pace of Mark Wood alongside England’s best bowler of the last couple of years, Stuart Broad.


There you have it, a lot of varying teams amongst the team ahead of the first Test next week. Who do you think had the best team? Who would you play against Sri Lanka? Let us know on Twitter @InsideEdgeCrick





1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

You've made a great choice!