With Ben Stokes nursing a broken hand, bruised pride and tarnished reputation, England could be sidelined this winter. An unintended consequence of long-hitting lineups, however, is that individuals sometimes lose focus and don’t take responsibility for hitting the big stick. Instead, they assume that someone else will at some point save the team from trouble.
So it’s possible — and I’ll admit it’s just a flimsy theory — that losing Stokes could actually help the team build big bucks. Every batsman will be forced to step in and count every inning… because they know they’re running out of at-bats left.
Given this wildly optimistic scenario, who do you think will be England’s star batsman this winter? If it is set, will root often shut down? Will Cook be desperate to cement his legacy as a (supposed) modern day great? Or maybe a less popular hitter suddenly blooms. Can Mark Stoneman be like Chris Broad? Strange things happened.
So put on tinted glasses, here are the runners and riders…
Joe Root – Forget Root’s baptism of fire in Australia in 2013. Forget the fact that the Aussies put up a spot, two ditches, and hung the ball over the stumps waiting for Root to commit seppuku. For 30 years Joe has been England’s top batsman. He’ll be fine, won’t he?
Alastair Cook – Forget the fact that he only played well in six games in the Ashes series. Forget the fact that he hasn’t scored a century in Australia in seven years. And forget about all the articles claiming he’s over. Australians fear Cook. You know what he can do. He is a master at silencing his critics.
Johnny Bairstow – Despite scoring consistently over the past two years, no English cricketer has really ‘beat’ him until he has beaten some Australians. While Jonny might be a little vulnerable to deliveries coming back to him, he’s a solid fighting game player who could thrive in Australia.
Moeen Ali – With a possible move up to No. 7, Mo will have more chances to make big moves. With his graceful riding and penchant for bumping over tree stumps, Mo was the closest to David Gower in years. The good news: Gower’s average grades in Australia are higher than in England!
Dawid Malan – He may not have played much Test cricket but he is a mature cricketer who can stay focused for long periods of time. Maybe the selector made some changes in the right way? The law of averages suggests that one of their bets will end up being good.
Mark Stoneman – He’s not afraid to take the shot and has nothing to lose. Stoneman has no glaring weaknesses, so he has a chance.
James Vince – Hmm, he hits a bit like Michael Vaughan? I have to admit I have a problem here.
Gary Ballance – If you look at things from a certain angle and you squeeze hard enough, it’s arguable that all hell can freeze in one day. If that’s possible, then why shouldn’t Ballance be the Ashes’ leading scorer? Thoughts my friends. Worth pondering.
Chris Vox – why not? He’s solid, level-headed and often more composed than so-called professional hitters. He’s probably the closest equivalent Stokes replacement we have. He might enjoy the extra responsibility too!
what do you think?