5.9k Share this

Not so long ago, we were all wondering how England were going to scrape together a top order worthy of the name. Now, we’re wondering who’s going to miss out when Joe Root returns from paternity leave for next week’s second Test against West Indies.

That’s a good position for England to be in, and it reflects well on the approach taken by new coach Chris Silverwood, and Root himself. They decided to go with a more old-fashioned approach, picking guys at the top who could lay a platform for the strokemakers lower down.

And when you look at the way England won those last three Tests in South Africa, you have to say it worked.

Joe Denly needs to grind out a big score with so much competition to get in the team

Joe Denly needs to grind out a big score with so much competition to get in the team

Joe Denly needs to grind out a big score with so much competition to get in the team

Rory Burns looked an organised player before he was injured playing football in Cape Town and Dom Sibley — after a slow start in New Zealand — dealt very well with South Africa’s strong pace attack.

I’ve also been impressed with his single-minded decision to lose some weight and keep up with the fitness of his team-mates. Andy Flower always used to say that the work you do off the field allows you to feel one step ahead of the next guy when you make it on to it. For Sibley, the penny has dropped, and that can only be a good sign.

Zak Crawley has quickly grown in stature and Joe Denly has used up a lot of time, paving the way for the likes of Root and Ben Stokes. You have to applaud all that, even while you’re trying to work out the way ahead.

Dom Sibley's commitment to losing weight is laudable and shows the penny has dropped

Dom Sibley's commitment to losing weight is laudable and shows the penny has dropped

Dom Sibley’s commitment to losing weight is laudable and shows the penny has dropped

For me, it’s not quite as simple as saying Wednesday’s first Test is about Denly v Crawley. Sibley can’t afford to have a bad series and Burns hasn’t played any serious competitive cricket since the Boxing Day Test at Centurion. Because of his idiosyncratic methods, he needs to hone his game as much as anyone.

Yes, Root automatically returns. But there’s also Dan Lawrence of Essex waiting in the wings. 

These are good problems for England to have. Having said all that, Denly is 34 now, and if he gets left out of this side it’s very hard to see how he gets back in. I like what I’ve seen from him so far. Apart from a couple of occasions when Australia went hard at him with the short stuff, he’s always looked a good Test match player.

Joe Root is still to come back and England have a nice selection headache on their hands

Joe Root is still to come back and England have a nice selection headache on their hands

Joe Root is still to come back and England have a nice selection headache on their hands

The biggest compliment I can pay him came in Cape Town. The team were netting before the match and I headed over to watch Root. Except it wasn’t Root: my eyes had failed me. It was Denly — which told me something about the smooth rhythm of his batting.

But — and it’s a big ‘but’ — he’s got to be more ruthless. He’s had 26 Test innings now, reached double figures in 22 of them and only twice got to 70. He could look at it and say: ‘I’m 34. Every run I score is a bonus at this time of my career.’

I’d prefer him to flip it round and tell himself: ‘I’ve waited a long time for this and I’m damned if I’m going to give my place up to a youngster now. I’m going to make them wait their turn.’

Denly bats with a great rhythm and will know he needs to be ruthless in securing his position

Denly bats with a great rhythm and will know he needs to be ruthless in securing his position

Denly bats with a great rhythm and will know he needs to be ruthless in securing his position

Denly needs to remind himself that he could have six Tests this summer on two good batting tracks in Southampton and Manchester.

It’s true that Test selection is partly about investing in the future, and if the selectors find it hard to separate Crawley and Denly come the second Test in Manchester, then it’s the 22-year-old Crawley who would represent that investment. Lawrence, who is 23 next week, also has to come into the mix.

That’s why Denly has to be ruthless and grind out a big score — both for the benefit of the middle order and for his own future in this Test team.

Source:

5.9k Share this
You May Also Like

Christian Association Alerts Nigerian Government, Says Society Turning Into Land Of Dry Bones

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Taraba State chapter has said that…

Ruling Party, APC Aspirant, Olawepo-Hashim Withdraws From 2023 Presidential Race

A presidential aspirant in the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr.…

2023: Governor Uzodinma Teams Up With Senate President, Submits Lawan’s Ruling Party, APC Nomination Forms

The Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma, appears to have shifted grounds on…

Fired UK Cop Faces Jail for ‘Grossly Offensive’ George Floyd Memes

A now-fired British police officer and former prison guard faces imprisonment for…

Trans Ideology Has Ruined Credibility of Gay Activism: Stonewall Founder

One of the co-founders of the far-left LGBTQ charity Stonewall has accused…

Statue of Margaret Thatcher is FINALLY lowered into place in Grantham amid threats from protesters

A statue of Margaret Thatcher in her home town of Grantham has…

Pro-Abortion Protesters Call for ‘Mandatory Vasectomies’

ARLINGTON, Virginia — Pro-abortion protesters outside George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law…

Woman dog walker, 41, and three dogs are killed in Chelsea road crash

Woman dog walker, 41, and three dogs are killed in Chelsea road…