The Questions That Arise In England: If The Width Of A Return To The XI? > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more
Cricket news - Questions facing England: Should Broad return to the XI?
England's opening Test defeat against West Indies in Barbados has put the cat among the tourists' pigeons after their recent good form in Test cricket. A 381-run defeat cannot simply be brushed under the carpet and ahead of the second match of the series in Antigua on Thursday, England have several issues to consider. Here, Cricbuzz looks at four of them:
Should England bring back Stuart Broad?
Leaving Stuart Broad out of the first Test, someone with 433 Test wickets to his name, has been acknowledged by captain Joe Root as a mistake. Broad, writing in his Daily Mail newspaper column over the weekend, says that he feels he is bowling as well as ever with his new shortened run-up and given England's bowlers wilted at the blades of Jason Holder and Shane Dowrich in West Indies' second innings at Bridgetown, it is inconceivable that Broad won't return for the second Test to provide more aggression and pace.
The more tricky decision is who to leave out. Sam Curran looked well short of being a Test opening bowler at Kensington Oval - with match figures of 1 for 123 - but, as coach Trevor Bayliss said after the match, it was Curran's first poor game after a fine introduction to Test cricket last summer against India. Adil Rashid, who bowled less overs than Root in West Indies' second dig when Holder and Dowrich were making hay, is vulnerable too. It may well depend on the surface at the Sir Vivian Richard Stadium which is expected to be slower and lower than the one in Barbados. If that's the case, Curran could be most in danger.
Is this Keaton Jennings' last chance?
Most of the focus following England's defeat has fallen on their selection for the first Test, but that had little to do with them being bowled out for 77 in their first innings and then run through by part-time off-spinner Roston Chase in their second. The batsmen need to own that one, though it is unlikely there will be any casualties in that department for the Antigua Test. In part, that is because England will probably want to give the same batsmen a chance to make amends. But it is also a product of circumstance - the squad simply does not have enough to cater for wholesale changes.
That means another opportunity for Keaton Jennings, whose lack of runs cannot go on much longer. Despite scoring a hundred in Galle on the Sri Lanka tour late last year, the left-hander averages just 25 in Test cricket after 16 matches - and only 17.50 outside Asia - which means it is probably his last chance in Antigua. If he doesn't find some form there, England's only option is Joe Denly, a batsman who has opened in first-class cricket before but not of late for his county team Kent where he has been in the middle order. Picking Denly to open would be yet another example of England filling their batting order with a square peg in a round hole.
Do England need to play three wicket-keepers?
Arguably, England's three wicket-keepers presented them with the difficult selection decisions they faced in Barbados. None of Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler or Ben Foakes could reasonably be left out of the side yet their presence gave the eleven a lopsided look with Foakes batting at eight and Curran at nine. England may have preferred to pick Broad instead of one of them, moving Curran up one place in the batting order and giving them a more rounded bowling line-up. Yet it would have been a mighty tough call to leave one of the three keepers out.
Foakes, the best gloveman of the three, was man of the series in Sri Lanka, Buttler has been the team's form Test batsman since his reintroduction to the side last summer and Bairstow is a high-class batsman who simply has to be accommodated. He also scored a hundred two Tests ago. If England do leave Foakes out for the second Test - he's the most vulnerable of the three - Bairstow would want the gloves but he would have to stay batting at three which is probably too high to do the job successfully. Perhaps Buttler could take the gloves and bat at six?
Can Moeen Ali improve his form?
Before the first Test, Moeen said he was becoming more used to the frontline spinner role after a bizarre period where he preferred thinking of himself as a second slow bowler but despite taking three wickets in three overs in West Indies' second innings to briefly threaten a collapse, he struggled otherwise. Moeen is still working on a new gather at the crease, and he bowled a number of full tosses and half-volleys, perhaps as a result of this tweaked action. He certainly displayed less control than he had in Sri Lanka, going at nearly five an over in the first innings and four an over in the second, although he may well find the pitch in Antigua more to his liking.
It is the all-rounder's batting which is causing England more concern than his bowling. An ugly pair in Barbados continues a poor run of form for Moeen who has averaged just 22 with the bat in the last two years without any three-figure scores. For someone with five Test hundreds to his name, it is a poor return although he has been messed about somewhat, being shunted up and down the order as England see fit. He has batted at three, six and seven in his last seven Tests. Uncomplaining, Moeen has taken it all in his stride but it can't have helped his returns. England need to get more out of such a talented player.
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