Chris Woakes and Ben Stokes can play together

Chris Woakes and Ben Stokes can play together if England is ready to sacrifice a batsman.

Normally, England plays with two spinners and three fast bowlers out of which two are the specialist fast bowlers and one is a fast bowling all-rounder which leaves the space for only one of Woakes and Stokes and not for both.

Mostly, Stokes plays for his dynamism and Woakes is more of his understudy who fills for him when he leaves the position vacant.

But, after the first game of the series against Sri Lanka, the England coach Trevor Bayliss might trust Woakes more now in terms of what he can do with the bat as his 96 was as good a One Day knock as any you will see in the lower order.

Woakes’ first class stats actually qualify him as a better batsman than Stokes. Stokes is about aura and heroism. You never have any idea what is coming off him. He can take his brilliance to the ridiculous levels, but, the sense of stability is always missing with him.

Woakes, however, doesn’t surprise you. There is no fanciful quality. But, what Stokes doesn’t give you, Woakes does and that is the stability and that’s why, he can bat even in top 5, not only in ODIs, but, in tests too. In fact, he has batted at 6 in tests before. Read more »

Alex Hales has been picked by England

Alex Hales has been picked by England for their upcoming test series against Pakistan.

Hales had been a heavy run scorer in the recently finished English county season, but, after his dismal showings in the One Day International games against Australia, it was believed he might be overlooked in favour of somebody else for the Pakistan tests.

The selectors, however, did not take Hales’ limited-over form into account that much and rewarded him for his numbers in domestic Cricket.

Hales can turn out to be a bit of an enforcer for England at the top of the order. He is an explosive batsman by nature and he plays the same way in red ball Cricket too.

However, in Emirates, his biggest challenge will be to tackle the spin bowling. He would not have seen too many of turning pitches so far in his career and would not have faced the quality of spin either which Pakistan would dish out to him.

He is considered a good player of spin though when he plays domestic Cricket in England. He uses his feet well to loft the ball and also, likes to sweep, but, to execute these shots when the ball is turning square is no child’s play.

Another uncapped player who has been named in England’s touring party is Zafar Ansari. Read more »

Joe Root believes the set of players that England presently has for the shortest format

Joe Root believes the set of players that England presently has for the shortest format of the game is quite capable and they will have to rise to the occasion in the coming World Championship in India next year.

As per Root, inexperience can’t be used as an excuse at the highest level of the game.

In an interview to a British television network, the deputy skipper of the Three Lions said, “When you are up against the teams at the World stage, you need to ensure you produce the goods. Yes, you want to learn and make progressions as a Cricketer, but, at the same time, it’s also very important to win games because ultimately it’s that which would give you confidence.”

“Our aim is to play consistent Cricket in all forms and clinch trophies. There are so many ambitious individuals involved in this group at the moment.”

When asked about England not having played that much of Twenty 20 Cricket of late and whether that is a concern leading to India, Root said, “Yes, we haven’t had too many games under our belt in that format in the last couple of years, but, we would be playing quite a few against Pakistan and South Africa in the coming weeks and I think that would help us sort our combinations keeping the big picture in mind.” Read more »

Some great batting by James Taylor and Jason Roy helped England secure their first win

Some great batting by James Taylor and Jason Roy helped England secure their first win in the 5-match One Day International series against Australia.

While, Roy scored a quick fire half century, his second in the series, Taylor got to three figures and the English managed to post a decent score to the Aussies after batting first at Old Trafford.

And, then the spinners played their part as they accounted for five dismissals in helping conditions and restricted the opposition far behind the target.

Winning the toss benefitted England as the pitch just kept getting drier and drier and more difficult for batting especially to the slower bowlers.

301 had looked like a score which could be chased with the firepower in Australian batting and the openers were in mood which got the visitors off to a fine start.

Aaron Finch, who was making a comeback, was happily taking the aerial route on regular occasions and was collecting boundaries down the ground with ease.

But, as the shine went off the ball and the spin bowling came into play, the game changed.

The spinners put the squeeze on and the fielders did their bit as well with fully committed efforts.

There were no easy singles on offer in the inner ring and with the number of remaining balls getting lesser in comparison to the number of runs required to be scored, the batsmen started trying to manufacture shots and the wickets tumbled. Read more »

Ben Stokes in good flow

Ben Stokes, who is being seen as England’s biggest trump card in this year’s Ashes, was in pretty good flow yesterday in Cardiff as he played a flamboyant innings of 52 and stitched a very good partnership with the centurion Joe Root to take his team to the position of solidity.

Stokes later got a beauty from Mitchell Starc which cleaned him up, but, he had already shown his array of strokes.

Before actually getting dismissed, the left hander was in no trouble whatsoever. He was tight in his defence and whenever he was opting to go for his shots, there was full commitment in that.

The Australian bowlers needed something special to get rid of him and Starc did that with the older ball which was starting to reverse a little bit for him.

He came up with an absolute peach which totally outfoxed Stokes.

It swung in first and then, held its line. Stokes was looking to clip it through the leg side with the swing, but, got deceived and the bells were off.

Had he stayed there, Stokes, with the rate at which he was going and the comfort with which he was putting the balls away, he would have put England in real command at the end of the day, but, it wasn’t to be.

However, there is still quite a big role to play for Stokes in the Cardiff test match. Alastair Cook would be relying on him to bowl a couple of tight spells when his main quicks would need a breather. Read more »

Moeen Ali has had as an off spinner so far in his test career

The success that Moeen Ali has had as an off spinner so far in his test career, he himself would be surprised by that.

He was picked in the test team for the first time primarily for his batting. The selectors knew that he would bowl a bit of off spin and would allow the captain to rotate the pacers around him for a little while, but, that was not the reason behind his selection.

Since, he was good enough to bat at the no. 6 position, he got the nod and in his very first test series against Sri Lanka, he got a fabulous hundred.

But, ever since, the contributions with the bat have been minimal. It’s the ball with which Moeen has rocked the opposition sides.

He has won England test matches as a bowler. Yes, as a bowler.

It can’t be a fluke. Flukes do not keep happening for such a long time.

When he got wickets against India at Southampton, he was considered ‘just lucky’. But, he repeated it at Manchester and then, at Oval, thrice in a row.

Still, not many gave the credit. It’s because of the arrogance of the Indian batsmen that he’s succeeding; that’s what people felt. Read more »

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