It has been common knowledge that England have been in turmoil since last summer’s home Ashes victory. A whitewash down-under was followed by under par performances in the West Indies and in the World T20.
But some positives have come from this period, namely a crop of young players who have taken well to the International stage.Chris Jordan was a shining light in Australia, and has been making his name ever since. Gary Ballance also proved his endurance and versatility over the same period, and both look set to make the transition from One-Day cricket to the Test arena.
Other players have continued, or come into good form, namely the likes of Ian Bell, Jimmy Anderson and Joe Root, who will be important in England’s re-emergence this summer.
The long wait for the First Test of the summer has also given players a chance to push for a place via County Championship cricket. With places to play for at the beginning of the year, many players picked up their form and banged on the door.
James Vince, Smait Patel, Michael Carberry, Nick Compton, James Taylor and Daryl Mitchell have all put their hands up to be counted in the batting department. While the likes of Adil Rashid, Scott Borthwick and Steven Finn have all proved their worth with the ball. But Engand instead plumped for two players who were both earmarked for greatness from a young age…
Sam Robson would probably have played Test cricket for Australia, instead of his mentor Chris Rogers last summer, had he decided to pledge his allegiance to the ‘Baggy Green’.
However, his wanted to play for England meant that he had to wait a little longer, and score a few more runs before being put into the side. His technique and grinding determination, as well as that, that he has learnt from Rogers will help him in the toughest arena of International cricket.
Liam Plunkett was also predicted to succeed in the Test arena, and it looked as though this would come to fruition when he made his debut against Pakistan in 2005. But, after 9 Test matches over a two year period, his Test career was put on hold. His return to recognition now is a testament to his ability, and determination to succeed and turn his career around.
He bowls at good pace, often touching 90mph, and is a very capable lower order batsman (he will be hoping to take over the Graeme Swann mould, when the spinner used to play with freedom and success in the early part of his Test career).
If all things come together like they should, then England should be celebrating a successful change in fortunes in the early part of this International summer. The squad looks very capable, and the mix of youth and experience looks promising for both the present and the future.
Predicted XI for First Test - Cook, Robson, Ballance, Bell, Root, Ali, Prior, Plunkett, Jordan, Broad, Anderson
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