England face Ben Stokes’ dilemma as test / day teams loom

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England may be forced to choose whether their all-format stars such as Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler will appear for test or limited teams this summer, after managing director Ashley Giles has acknowledged that two separate teams could be the best way to keep players safe when trying to return to action during the Covid-19 epidemic.

Stokes produced two of England’s best white and red ball cricket performances last summer, first for the ODI team with their unbeaten 84 in the World Cup final against New Zeeland at Lord’s, then, a month later, for the test team against Australia, where their 135 unbeaten teams sealed a thrilling one-stop win at Headingley.

But, with England confirming their plans for a return to stage training before the scheduled start of the summer test against the West Indies in July, Giles admitted that the logistical challenge of squeezing the national international calendar into a window of 12 weeks could force them to prioritize certain formats for certain players who could normally appear in both teams.

The ECB has confirmed that an initial group of 30 players will return to individual training starting next week, in seven different locations across the country, and according to protocols of social distancing, hygiene and control of strict temperatures. To further limit interaction, players will be invited to visit the locations of their training equipment, with shared spaces such as locker rooms to stay out of bounds.

“We are probably wrong on this side of creating a bubble to surround our people,” Giles told Sky Sports. “We will probably be looking to bring the 30 people back into the environment on site, so that we have everything we need from a game, a practice and a perspective of net bowling leading to a test match , probably two weeks before the first ball is thrown in this test.

“The likelihood is that if we do this and try to maintain really safe environments, we will operate two separate squads. “

England has given priority to hosting its six scheduled tests against the West Indies and Pakistan as these are the most lucrative formats when it comes to fulfilling their contractual obligations to Sky Sports. If no international cricket was possible this summer, the ECB estimated that it would consider losing £ 380 million.

However, with the T20 World Cup to be held in Australia in October and November, England recognizes that their best white ball players will need to train as much as possible if they want to match their achievements in the format of 50 and over. last season, and going even better than in 2016, when they were the losing finalists against the West Indies in Kolkata.

READ ALSO: The environment will be safer than going to the supermarket – Giles

Since the promotion of Chris Silverwood as head coach of England, the focus has been renewed on the standards of the test team, which were largely overlooked under the previous Trevor Bayliss regime, whose goal The main thing was to succeed in this World Cup campaign at home.

And after a difficult start in New Zealand, the team achieved a memorable playoff victory in South Africa earlier this year, with a group of young players such as Dom Sibley, Ollie Pope, Dom Bess and Zak Crawley trying to cement their place in the test setup.

However, a decision may need to be made regarding the multi-format players from England who will continue to be on the test team this summer, with six names for particular debate: Stokes and Buttler, as well as the two bowlers fastest of the English ranks, Jofra Archer. and Mark Wood, as well as test captain Joe Root, and Jonny Bairstow.

“At the moment we have a calendar on paper that looks great, that we can integrate everything in July, August, September, but it’s a pressure and there is a lot of cricket there,” said Giles. “” Again, this probably leads us to a place where we operate two separate teams.

“It’s a lot of people, it’s a lot of logistical and organizational pressure,” he added. “Part of it is about the high performance and the return of the sport that people want to enjoy, but there is also an economic aspect to it, a financial element. For all the game in this country, playing cricket is really important. ”

Where should England’s priorities lie?

Ben stokes
The biggest name in the English box office produced one of the biggest test heats of all time at Headingley, and in a summer where finances count, he will surely have to show up for the team. during the day, and give the best value for money in the most profitable format. Whisper him, but his T20 record is not a patch on the other two formats. Verdict: tests

Jofra Archer
Injured by overuse after debuting in the Ash Test, this layoff was arguably as timely as such things can be after the craze of his first six months as a cricketer in England . His worth as one of the most prominent T20 bowlers in the world is unquestionable, and he has already been the point of difference in a successful white ball campaign. Verdict: ODI / T20

Joe Root
He’s the captain of the Test of England, so that’s the end of the argument. Root was also their top performer at the last T20 World Cup in 2016 – and would surely have been the man in the final if they had crossed the finish line. But its importance in the other two formats has limited its opportunities since. Verdict: tests

Jos Buttler
Root upside down. Buttler is already Britain’s greatest white ball beater of all time and his most feared activist before the T20 World Cup. He is also the heir to Eoin Morgan (and who knows how the back of Morgan, who caused him problems last year, will react to this long layoff). The fact that his test form was flickering in South Africa is further evidence of where his priorities should be. Verdict: ODI / T20

Mark wood
Now here is a dilemma. Wood, by his own admission, will likely break down a few days after his return to action, his injury record is high. But that never stopped him from going full speed, and nothing gave him more joy than his recent cricket test performances, in Saint Lucia last spring and in Johannesburg in January, where he moved as a greasy flash. He would be an asset to the T20 team, but may not be a first choice. Better to let him go with his heart. Verdict: tests

Jonny Bairstow
Another dilemma, although largely due to the ripple effect of the development of the white Buttler ball. Bairstow, its predecessor as a test glove, could be the logical choice to enter the breach. But should a man who caused such a storm alongside David Warner for Sunrisers last season do his best to prepare for this T20? Nor did his recent test form pay much attention. It could depend on whether England thinks Ben Foakes’ time has come. Verdict: ODI / T20

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