Speaking on the Tuffers and Vaughan Cricket Show, England head coach Chris Silverwood suggested that it would be Zak Crawley, rather than his Kent teammate Joe Denly, who would make way for Joe Root when England’s captain returns for the second Test after the birth of his second child.
Root’s paternal duties have meant the England team management have been able to delay making a tough decision, with Crawley and Denly both displaying signs they could be a long-term top-order option for England without either nailing down a place.
The former is younger, aged just 21 years old, and rated as one of the most promising batsmen in the country. Having made his debut in the second Test in New Zealand last winter, Crawley rarely looked out of his depth, improving on his top score in each of his first five Test innings. However, he has just one half-century and an average of 27.33 after four Tests.
Denly has also been almost unerringly consistent. He has fallen inside single figures in only four of his 26 Test innings, while his ability to consume 100 balls, almost regardless of the runs scored, has been valuable for an England side that have often been crying out for some sort of platform from their top order.
However, after 14 Tests, he has just six half-centuries and no hundreds to his name, while his average sits at exactly 30, and at the age of 34, and with not just Crawley, but also Essex’s Dan Lawrence waiting in the wings, calls for his Test career to come to an end have grown.
It appears, however, that Silverwood isn’t yet ready to heed those. Denly is set to bat at No.3 in the first Test against West Indies at the Ageas Bowl, making the prospect of Root coming in as a straight swap for Crawley more likely. The England coach, when asked if it would be a shoot out for which would keep their place, suggested Denly had more credit in the bank.
“Joe is in possession at the moment, and I do believe in giving people one too many chances rather than one not enough,” he said. “He’ll be given an opportunity, he’ll be backed. Obviously we hope he goes out there and puts performances in, for him and for the team.”