12 The Daily Telegraph Wednesday 1 July 2020 *** Sport Pick of the bunch Cricket Bairstow and Moeen eye chance for Test recalls CHIEF CRICKET CORRESPONDENT By Nick Hoult Pair hoping to impress in warm-up as Buttler keeps place Three spinners compete for one spot against West Indies Chris Silverwood, the head coach, worked with Lawrence at Essex, but such an inexperienced top four of Burns, Sibley, Crawley and Lawrence would be a gamble against a West Indies side boasting its most potent pace attack since the 1990s. So the next three days could be a shoot-out between Denly and Bairstow – the kind of opportunity the latter relishes; a hundred this week would put him back in contention for a Test recall. The selectors will trim the squad from 30 to around 22 on Saturday, although the inflated size of that squad will give few clues to the final XI. Moeen has not played Test cricket since he was dropped during the Ashes last summer, but is committed again to the format and has a strong record at both this summer’s Test venues. Bess took five wickets in his last match in Port Elizabeth and held up an end for Root to rest his seam bowlers, and the decision between him and Leach will reveal whether England are being pragmatic about this summer or investing in Bess for the Ashes series in 2021-22. “You know the people who are the mainstay, the engine room, but it is a great opportunity for some of the others to be in and around the group and show us what they can do in this game,” said Silverwood. “We’ve mixed the sides up to make it as competitive as possible and to have a good game going into this first Test.” England confirmed yesterday that Root would isolate at home for seven days and rejoin the squad for the build-up to the second Test at Emirates Old Trafford. one team before replacing Root next week, with Jos Buttler leading the other. Buttler will be vice-captain for the first Test, confirming his position in the team as firstchoice wicketkeeper. Next week’s Test at the Ageas will be the first Root has missed since being dropped for the final match of the 2013-14 Ashes series in Sydney, breaking a run of 77 games. In his absence, England have a decision to make over whether to pick Joe Denly, Dan Lawrence or Bairstow for the one slot in the top four. Rory Burns and Dom Sibley will open and Zak Crawley showed enough promise in the winter to keep his place, scoring 91 and 105 in his last two England games in Sri Lanka. Denly lacks the runs to command a spot, but his belligerence in blunting the new ball in South Africa was greatly appreciated by England. England’s cricketers will take the field today for the first time since March 13 with Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali looking to force their way back into the Test side. It is 110 days since England wrapped up a warm-up game in Colombo early so they could fly home as Covid-19 lockdowns swept across the globe. Neither Bairstow nor Moeen were on that tour; Bairstow had been left out, while Moeen turned down the trip. Joe Root’s absence from the first Test against the West Indies due to the impending birth of his second child opens an opportunity for Bairstow to work his way back in, although only as a specialist batsman, while a refreshed Moeen is in contention with Dom Bess and Jack Leach for the solitary spin-bowling position. England’s only practice match before next week’s first Test will be more than 11-a-side with 27 of the 30 players in the lockdown camp at the Ageas Bowl set for a run-out of some kind over the next three days. Only Amar Virdi and Jamie Overton were not considered for selection. While England have opted for one practice match, the West Indies will have had two over three and four days. England will run through various scenarios, but perhaps the most important is Ben Stokes captaining Who will bat at number four? Joe Root’s absence from the first Test opens up a gap at number four. The likeliest option is Joe Denly (left) moving down to four, and Rory Burns, Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley all playing, but Jonny Bairstow could mount a late case to be selected as a specialist batsman. Our boys are better than yours How England’s two sides line up Team Buttler Team Stokes Rory Burns James Bracey Joe Denly Dan Lawrence Ollie Pope Jos Buttler (c) Sam Curran Chris Woakes Dominic Bess Mark Wood Jofra Archer Stuart Broad Matthew Parkinson Ollie Robinson Dominic Sibley Keaton Jennings Zak Crawley Jonny Bairstow Ben Stokes (c) Ben Foakes Moeen Ali Lewis Gregory Craig Overton Jack Leach Olly Stone James Anderson Saqib Mahmood Which spinner will England choose? With Moeen Ali now available for Test cricket and Jack Leach fit once again, England have two compelling options to replace Dom Bess (right); Leach’s left-arm spin is attractive given the number of right-handers in the West Indies top order. But Bess took 5-51 in his last Test and is likely to be retained. UV light would help sterilise ball, says virus expert How England pick team despite lack of action By Tom Morgan as possible and hopes the Government will give permission for a resumption by the end of the week. If that happens, club cricket could restart as soon as July 11. Heneghan added that cricket has “nowhere near” the risk levels of football or rugby. “What needs to happen here is a consistency of approach, because otherwise it’s going to be a problem. We can’t say we’re having tennis, but we’re not having other sports; we’re having horse racing, but we won’t have cricket. I think the sooner the better we get it on, because in the summer we are seeing this is a disease that’s changed.” Since then, has launched a campaign that has been backed by England’s Ben Stokes and other leading cricket figures, politicians from Conservative and Labour, as well as a string of former sports ministers and scientists. The respected scientist, a critic of the Government’s overreliance on “crystal ball-gazing” virus modelling during the pandemic, says summer sports are less dangerous because of increased UV light. The Government recognised more than a month ago that being outdoors in sunshine will help prevent people contracting the virus. However, Johnson last week quashed hopes that club cricket could resume from July 4, describing the ball as a “vector of disease”. Last night, Heneghan questioned the science behind that theory as he suggested sunshine would severely reduce the risk of the virus being transmitted. “UV light is used as a sterilisation,” he said. “UV light on Covid disrupts the cell membrane and helps kill the virus.” The England and Wales Cricket Board has submitted detailed plans for how cricket can be made as safe Bring back as anyone who has observed recent England and England Lions squads would have anticipated. In many ways, that was the point. Over the past two years, Ed Smith and Mo Bobat, England’s national selector and performance director respectively, have tried to introduce greater rigour to selection for all representative sides, with the ultimate aim of increasing the national team’s options. This has been the driving force behind the scouting process introduced by Sir Andrew Strauss when he was director of cricket. In 2018, England’s scouts compiled a total of 1,200 reports on 209 players, with the aim of providing greater knowledge of players’ development. The same is true of England’s greater use of weighted averages, a Strauss’s scouting process has helped selectors choose a squad with great strength in depth, writes club cricket! Tim Wigmore Playing cricket in sunny weather is as low-risk as team sport gets while the Covid-19 crisis eases, according to a leading clinical epidemiologist, in support of campaign to save the club game. Prof Carl Heneghan, director of Oxford University’s centre for evidence-based medicine, said there is no science to support the Prime Minister’s resistance to easing restrictions on the sport. “I would put cricket at the lower end of lowrisk sports,” Heneghan said. “You are more at risk sharing cucumber sandwiches and the cup of tea than playing the game itself.” F or England’s selectors, it has been a novel experience: picking a team when there has not been any cricket. With no English first-class fixture of any sort since the tour of Sri Lanka was called off on March 13, England have faced a new challenge selecting their 30-man training group for the first Test. Ordinarily, an enlarged England squad would have thrown up surprises. This time, there was a predictability to the whole exercise. The 30 players were almost exactly The Daily Telegraph’s The Telegraph
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