England with Concerns as Ashes LoomsPosted By: Bill Russell | March 4, 2021
In February, England’s cricketers returned their worst performance for decades as they lost the third test in their series with India. The pitch in Motera came under strict scrutiny and we mustn’t forget the brilliance of India’s spinners but the defeat, inside two days, raised huge concerns for the visitors.
Spin-friendly conditions are never ideal for travelling English sides but the frailties inside the current batting order must be addressed for home tests later in 2021.
Five Under The Microscope
The issues for England’s test team lie within the batting unit. The good news is that in recent years, the side has produced some promising talent, all of whom are new to test match cricket. Rory Burns, Dominic Sibley, Ollie Pope, Zak Crawley and Dan Lawrence have all impressed at some stage in their brief careers but all five are lacking a key ingredient – consistency.
Zak Crawley’s stats underline this factor best of all: In 2020, the young Kent batsman made a stunning 267 against a strong Pakistan attack. Despite that effort, Crawley’s average after 18 test innings has dipped below 38. With the exception of Dan Lawrence who impressed on debut with 73 against Sri Lanka, the other batters follow similar patterns. Burns, Sibley and Pope have all made test centuries but there are too many low scores among the brief highlights.
One Eye on The Ashes
The England team may deny it officially but, in test match cricket, their preparations are always geared towards an Ashes series. On average, every two years, England and Australia will battle for the oldest trophy in the history of the sport and, for players and fans on both sides, it’s the most important challenge.
Betting markets are already in for the next series which starts in Australia in November 2021 and runs through to the New Year. Bookmakers in India are actively involved in the Ashes and those companies linked to sbo.net show Australia as the odds on favourites to retain the trophy.
The Aussies currently hold the ‘urn’ after the two sides drew 2-2 in England in 2019. Sbo.net will continue to monitor those odds and changes will be reflected as the series draws closer. Anyone looking to get involved will also find offers and promotions available so this is a good starting point for Ashes betting.
Bowlers Tick the Boxes
England’s bowling attack holds few concerns even though their two main seamers are at the veteran stages of their careers. Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad have claimed more than 1100 test victims between them and, while they won’t be in England’s long term plans, the pair will still hold a threat in the 2021/22 Ashes series.
Joe Root’s team have some potency in their pace attack too with Jofra Archer and Mark Wood both capable of bowling in excess of 90 mph. Injuries can be an issue with the pair but the selectors have capable back up in Olly Stone and others.
England’s spin department isn’t as well stocked but, on the pacier pitches of Australia, this shouldn’t be such a concern. Seamers are under the most pressure and the tourists will have the firepower to compete.
The problems for England lie in that top order where promising younger players need to offer more consistency. Captain Joe Root is returning to his best form and, with Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler also in good touch, three of the top six places are adequately covered.
That leaves three slots to fill including that of both openers. If England want greater experience, then Jonny Bairstow is an obvious choice for one of those positions. Bairstow has opened in one day cricket and has scored a test century from number three so he offers genuine class.
With fewer options remaining, England will have to keep faith with at least two of their underperforming five. Dominic Sibley, Zak Crawley, Ollie Pope, Dan Lawrence and Rory Burns are, therefore, batting this summer for their future and a place in the Ashes starting XI.
It’s a battle that will intrigue English supporters but, at the same time, Australia will see the English top order as a weak link which can be exposed as the hosts look to retain the famous urn.