5 Changes England Should Consider for 2nd Test vs. Sri Lanka
England may have named an unchanged squad for the second Test with Sri Lanka that gets underway at Headingley Carnegie on Friday; however, the selectors would be wise to consider a number of personnel changes from the team that drew the opening contest at Lord’s.
As despite a number of encouraging displays at the home of cricket, especially from the Yorkshire duo of Joe Root and Gary Ballance, there are still a number of huge question marks hanging over certain individuals after the home team’s failure to force a result against the tourists.
And so as head coach Peter Moores prepares his men for the deciding Test of this two-match series, the new man at the helm may want to ponder these five possible alterations for Leeds…
Nick Compton for Sam Robson
Anyone who heard former England opener Geoff Boycott’s typically no-nonsense views on how the young Middlesex star got on at Lord’s will have been left in absolutely no doubt as to whether or not the Australian-born batsman is ready for Test cricket yet.
"Sam Robson has a problem around off stump and unless he shows something different I think his place is in jeopardy already,” Boycott told Test Match Special after Robson made seven and 19 in his first-ever Test appearance on his home ground.
And while there is no disgrace in failing twice on your debut, Boycott was right in highlighting Robson’s obvious weakness in and around the corridor of uncertainty.
So surely England would be better served returning to former opener Compton at Headingley, while at the same time allowing Robson the chance to go back to his county side and work on his technique.
And let's face it: The experienced Somerset batsman definitely deserves another crack at the whip at international level after being dropped prematurely from the team this time last year.
With scores of 1 & 19 against a Sheffield Shield strength pace attack Sam Robson continues the tradition of PomAussies. #EngvSL— Malcolm Conn (@malcolmconn) June 15, 2014
Steven Finn for Liam Plunkett
The Yorkshireman made his first Test appearance for England in seven years at Lord's in the opening encounter of this two-match series.
However, while the paceman could not be faulted for any lack of effort, when it came to class, Plunkett unfortunately came up short.
And with the giant Middlesex fast bowler having begun the new season in encouraging fashion—Finn has so far captured an impressive 32 wickets at 27—it surely makes little sense holding the 25-year-old back for India later this summer when there is a series to be won at Leeds this week.
Cricket (@SkyCricket) June 16, 2014
Ben Stokes for Chris Jordan
To many this may seem like a highly contentious suggestion following the eye-catching start to his international career that the 25-year-old has made since September, including an excellent Test-match debut against the tourists at the Home of Cricket.
However, the balance of the team is obviously still not right, with England in desperate need of the return to their line-up of Stokes, and with the Durham all-rounder's inclusion then allowing the home team to also include a front-line spinner, as well as four quicks.
Meanwhile, the Barbados-born fast bowler can then continue his international education in both the 50-over and Twenty20 arenas, equally importantly giving Stokes the chance to build on the hugely impressive start he made to his Test career in Australia last winter.
Kevin Pietersen exclusive #2: I find it incredible that Stokes and Buttler are not in the England Test squad http://t.co/cJ2ZzhILhW— Telegraph Sport (@TelegraphSport) June 8, 2014
Samit Patel for Moeen Ali
While the graceful Worcestershire middle-order batsman played well in tricky circumstances for his first-innings 48 against Sri Lanka at Lord's, the manner of his two dismissals—especially when the home side were tottering in their second innings—will have caused a few alarm bells to ring amongst the England coaching team.
And with Ali also doing no more than a steady containing job with ball in hand, albeit as a part-time spinner, then Moores and Co. would be better advised going with the in-form Patel instead in this deciding Test match.
The Notts all-rounder has already clocked up a mammoth 791 runs so far this campaign, including two centuries. With almost 60 appearances to his name in all three forms of the game during the last six years, Patel also has the required international experience that England are so desperately in need of at present after losing a plethora of big-name players recently.
Mores runs for Samit Patel. Could he push Moeen Ali for the all-round spinning spot in the first Test? Between those two rather than Monty— Paul Newman (@Paul_NewmanDM) June 1, 2014
Alex Hales for Alastair Cook
OK, so there is obviously no chance of the England selectors making such a bold move, either now or at any point during the summer in fact.
However, it is also abundantly clear that the skipper is woefully out of form, as he has been for the past year now, with Cook’s last Test hundred for his country coming against New Zealand at Headingley last May.
Kevin Pietersen just went ahead of Alastair Cook in the test batting rankings. If that doesn't make you laugh, you have no soul.— Simply Sean (@SimplySean_) June 17, 2014
And while it would be both highly unconventional and hugely contentious for the captain to go back to Essex, or even just the nets, to try to refind his old balance and touch at the wicket, it may just do Cook some good in the long run.
At the same time, though, England would be able to then have a good look at the tall Notts opener—who has begun the new campaign in great form for his county, including one sensational recent knock of 167—to ascertain whether Hales can indeed make the step up from T20 to Test cricket like David Warner has done so successfully for Australia.