Plenty has been written in the aftermath of an excellent test victory at the Bay Oval. It was in fact the 99th such win so we sit on the cusp of a significant milestone. Loads of positives for New Zealand not the least the inauguration of our latest test match venue. But what about England? A quick report card:
- Rory Burns – actually looks the part and on the back of a baptism of fire in the Ashes looks set for a decent run in the side. Poor shot in the second innings as the direct result of having a tired mind. Plays and misses an awful lot, probably a positive?
- Dominic Sibley – First test on the back of some prodigious runs in the county championship. This is different. Very leg side and another tired shot second dig. Will get a run in the side. Not sure he took his short sleeve jersey off all game, it was hot.
- Joe Denly – I really want to like him for his determination, maturity and occasionally looking like an international batsman. Then all of a sudden he looks right out of his depth. Late to this level of the game, hope he hangs around but needs to show more, but 109 runs in the match was a good start to his winter.
- Joe Root – Horrible match, looks bang out of form and some of the tactics looked a bit odd. Clearly has the ability but in a dark hole at the moment.
- Ben Stokes – England’s best cricketer, easily. Poor drop of BJW but he cares and it shows. May get a shot at the captaincy sooner rather than later.
- Ollie Pope – Like Sibley has scored well in the County Championship and making his way at this level. Another guilty of a dreadful shot in the second innings. Will get more chances.
- Jos Buttler – After 37 tests still fails to convince in the format. Only 1 test match 100 and the grand total of 6 in first class cricket. OK with the gloves but absolutely no BJ Watling, in either discipline. OK match but that second innings leave was criminal.
- Sam Curran – At 21 already has 12 tests to his name but by his own admission he will find it hard to nail down a spot. Handy left armer who does swing it but is medium pace at best. Decent bat, who loves a scrap, has faced adversity in his young life. I actually back him to play a lot more for England. Will suffer at the hands of the selectors on a semi-regular basis.
- Jack Leach – cult figure in the UK for his obdurate lower order batting including stints as a night watchman. Offers up orthodox left arm spin, gives his all and his captain an element of control; much like his boss (Ashley Giles) used to. Needs to grasp the fact that he can ask for a review if he doesn’t believe he is out.
- Jofra Archer – Not a great match for the new super star of English cricket not helped by a moron in the crowd. Finding out that cricket in the southern hemisphere can be a bit different. Showed some nice flourishes with the bat in the second innings.
- Stuart Broad – Quiet game from the elder statesman. Economical with the ball but lacked penetration, much the same as everyone else, but offered his captain control. Now batting at 11 with 3,150 test runs.
England will be much improved in Hamilton, professional pride let alone spots on the plane to South Africa are at stake. If they didn’t realize it before, playing in the southern hemisphere with the kookaburra on flat decks is a lot different to feeling the welcoming seam of the Dukes ball on a dank day at Trent Bridge.
And they really need to get over the obsession with the Ashes; it is 2 full years until that series resumes in Australia. Try focussing on the here and now.
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