England news July 19, 2017

Who's next, as England attempt to solve batting woes?

England will need at least one new face in the batting line-up for the third Test against South Africa after Gary Ballance suffered a broken finger
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Are changes needed in England's top six?

England will need at least one new face in the batting line-up for the third Test against South Africa after Gary Ballance suffered a broken finger. Here are five candidates to address the on-going issues they have at the top of the order

Mark Stoneman

The Surrey opener, who moved from Durham over the winter, appears the frontrunner for a call-up. He was close to selection for the beginning of the series after an impressive start with his new county. He is averaging 58.53 from eight Championship matches, including three centuries with a high score of 197, but it is also the runs he scored for Durham, often in seamer-friendly conditions at Chester-le-Street where he averaged over 53 last season, which stand him in good stead. At 30 he has had time to groove a well-rounded game.

Dawid Malan

Malan has moved up England's red-ball pecking order over the last few months despite not having the most stand-out figures among the batting contenders. It has been Malan's character as much as his runs which has impressed. He made his England debut last month in the deciding T20 against South Africa, where he starred with a series-winning 78 off 44 balls in Cardiff. Like Stoneman, he was a contender at the start of the Test series before the selectors went for the more conservative option of recalling Ballance.

Tom Westley

Often mentioned as a potential Test player over the last couple of seasons, Westley has enjoyed a timely prolific run with three centuries in his last six first-class innings, the most recent being an unbeaten 106 for England Lions against the South Africans. That hundred continued a notable record of making runs against touring sides: last season he scored 108 against the Sri Lankans to follow a 99 against the same opposition in 2011, while in 2015 he scored 144 against an Australian attack including Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon.

Haseeb Hameed

Hameed looked to have the opening berth sewn up for the foreseeable future after a polished start against India, where his composure stood out. However, a broken finger in suffered in Mohali - which didn't stop him making a defiant 59 not out in the second innings - meant he missed the final two Tests of the series. He returned for England Lions in Sri Lanka but didn't pass 15 in four innings and the lean run continued in the County Championship for Lancashire, where he hasn't reached fifty this season. He isn't the first young player to have suffered second-season syndrome but there is also the concern that a few technical issues may have been exposed. With the Championship currently suspended for the T20 Blast, his chances to impress are limited, but he did score a century for the 2nd XI this week.

Sam Robson

Another player with previous Test experience - having played all seven Tests in the 2014 season against Sri Lanka and India, including a century in his second match - Robson remains a prolific county scorer who is pushing hard for a second chance at the top level. He has scored 534 runs in nine innings this season, either side of suffering a hamstring strain, and was part of the England Lions side. His tally would have been even more impressive but for a pair in his most recent outing against Warwickshire.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Shay on July 20, 2017, 17:48 GMT

    So in ENG T20 fifty's gets you a Test cap!

  • lekhjo0830397 on July 20, 2017, 11:25 GMT

    Hameed should be in the England team as he has the temperament England need. England shouldn't go for a player who is 30 and averages 34, they need Hameed in the ashes. 1. Cook 2. Hameed 3. Jennings 4. Root 5. Westley 6. Bairstow 7. Stokes 8. Moeen 9. TBJ 10.Broad 11. Anderson

  • lekhjo0830397 on July 20, 2017, 10:51 GMT

    Hameed has a very good temperament and thats what england need not a 30 yr old with a average of 34

  • A on July 20, 2017, 10:39 GMT

    Putting novices in as openers is not a good a plan - any 'future stars' should be groomed into test cricket by batting six. If Jennings or Hameed fit this bill - they should be used as such. Jennings' career, confidence etc. is now in the balance given what's transpired in this series. In South Africa, this is used as a tactic to permanently destroy careers. Surprisingly - after throwing him under the bus in NZ - selected de Bruyn at six at Lord's and should do so too with Markram. Markram in particular may very well become an excellent opener in time.

    SA have taken the pragmatic approach and have selected two experienced grinders - to negate the new ball threat and have done so with aplomb in England - given that there are no genuinely talented experienced opening batsmen in SA. Elgar's runs are not pretty but exceptionally valuable. England could learn from this.

  • andrew on July 20, 2017, 10:18 GMT

    As a Middlesex fan I have to say it would be a huge punt to select Malan. He's a real one-day asset but just doesn't score enough runs in first class games. From Middlesex Robson would be a much better option - but I'd go for Stoneman based on his consistent form this season and last.

  • Ray on July 20, 2017, 10:11 GMT

    A few years back, Peter Crouch was playing for Liverpool and hadn't scored in about 15 games. Liverpool fans then started a tongue-in-cheek campaign to get Crouch elected as 'Sports Personality of the Year'. I can only assume those calling for Ian Bell's return to the England Test team have started a similar campaign.

  • Ray on July 20, 2017, 10:10 GMT

    Averages don't tell the whole story but they do give an indication of a player's form. Stoneman is averaging 50 over the past 2 seasons which suggests he's in consistently good form. Unfortunately, the opposite is true of Hameed.

  •   RanilHerath-uk on July 20, 2017, 10:07 GMT

    The best bet is Stoneman, he has been knocking on the door & was unfortunate not to be selected over Ballance at the beginning.

  • riaz on July 20, 2017, 9:56 GMT

    My posts have not been getting through but hope this one does. It is crucial that Root, as captain, show the mental fortitude to go back to 3 and takei t on the chin. That frees up a middle order slot, rather than have yet another opener in the side and have him come down at 3.

    It should look like Cook, Jennings, Root, Bairstow, Ali, Stokes

  • Saifullah Farooqui on July 20, 2017, 9:42 GMT

    Averages of english batsman shows that they lack temperament .

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