11 January 2014

Early season form will be critical

As you'd expect there's been loads of debate about the make up of England's team when they next get back to playing Tests in June.   Alastair Cook, quite rightly, has not given any assurances to anyone about their position.   But nevertheless I'm with Alec Stewart in as much as I wouldn't cull all the senior players.   As the likes of Tufnell, Harmison, Hughes and Vaughan have indicated, there's a few positions up to grabs depending on who hits early season form.   So any predictions made now are likely to change but for what it's worth, here's mine:

Carberry/Compton/Root/Lees/Robson/Ali (depending on early season form)
Carberry/Compton/Root/Lees/Robson/Ali (depending on early season form)
Cook (c)
Prior (although I'd be keeping a very close eye on Foakes with England Lions)
Borthwick (which makes it more likely that Root or Ali will be picked as opener to bowl some overs)

There's plenty of others who could pressure their way in though which is what makes it interesting.   The likes of Bopara, Morgan and Buttler will be thinking that a few decent ODI performances could put them in contention.   Bresnan isn't out of the mix, and Taylor will want a few early season hundreds to force himself into consideration.   Equally, pretty much all English spinners are in with a shout - Rayner, Rafeeq, Ansari and Rashid must all be hoping for a slot.   And in the pace department Jamie Overton and Chris Jordan will be hopeful.

So it actually makes early-season weather-affected County games important which will be interesting...but, as Ed Smith points out, freshening up the approach doesn't mean a team of youngsters necessarily.

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