Wisden writers pick England’s bottom six for the Pakistan T20Is
Several first-teamers have returned to the England side for the upcoming T20I series against Pakistan and while the top five are fairly settled in their roles, questions persist over who fills out the lower half of their XI.
England are likely to line up with a familiar top five of Jason Roy, Jos Buttler, Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow and Eoin Morgan. Here, three Wisden writers fill in the rest of the XI.
Ben Gardner, Wisden.com managing editor
Liam Livingstone, Moeen Ali, David Willey, Chris Jordan, Adil Rashid, Saqib Mahmood
This is most harsh on Lewis Gregory, who arguably improved his standing within England’s pecking order more than any other player during the Pakistan ODIs. He belied an unpromising action to bowl skilfully, accurately and incisively with the new ball, and showed exceptional game-sense to play exactly the innings required of him both times he was called upon with the bat.
But with Saqib Mahmood and David Willey to work their magic in the powerplay, that leaves little room for the Somerset all-rounder with the ball. And while his T20 numbers with the bat are impressive, England have identified Liam Livingstone and Moeen Ali as potential T20 World Cup finishers, and for good reason. The welcome good weather means an extra spinner is handy, so I’ve got both in my team (rather than Matt Parkinson, who bowled the ball of the summer in the ODIs and was let down by several drops, but is still a little way from England’s first-choice team). Here’s hoping Moeen can recapture some of that glory of old.
Aadya Sharma, Wisden India editor
Liam Livingstone, Moeen Ali, Chris Jordan, David Willey, Adil Rashid and Saqib Mahmood
A rare top-order hiccup in the second T20I against Sri Lanka gave Livingstone the opportunity to calmly steer a small chase and demonstrate his batting flexibility. In his short career thus far, he has shown all the attributes of a handy utility package – neat tweakers accompany his ability with the bat – and he could be useful ahead of the World Cup.
Always a flexible batting presence, Moeen would hold the middle order together, especially with his proficiency against spin. Last year, his 33-ball 61 against Pakistan ended a batting slump and demonstrated his value as a finished.
Jordan might have blown hot and cold this year, but he is still a key factor in England’s World Cup chances, and continues to be indispensable at the death for them.
David Willey and Saqib Mahmood wrap up this pace attack – Saqib deservedly reclaims a T20I spot based on a standout performance in the ODIs, while Willey was typically tidy with the new ball in the Sri Lanka T20Is.
Despite Matt Parkinson being in the mix, Adil Rashid, England’s first-choice spinner, should get as much game time ahead of the T20 World Cup as possible.
Rohit Sankar, Wisden India staff writer
Moeen Ali, Lewis Gregory, David Willey, Chris Jordan, Matt Parkinson, Saqib Mahmood
Moeen Ali should ideally be a floater in the England T20I setup, moving up the order to take on the spinners alongside Bairstow, and he slots in right after the formidable top five.
England will likely have only one of Willey or Gregory in a full-strength squad for the T20 World Cup, so this could be the opportunity to see the two side-by-side in a shootout of sorts.
England missed an opportunity to try Parkinson out in India and in the build up to the T20 World Cup getting as much game time out of him as possible is a decent ploy. This means sitting out Rashid, who will obviously start at the World Cup. Saqib’s incredible ODI series, where he was so effective with the new ball, means he slots in with Chris Jordan.
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