@Ben_Wisden 3 minute read
England’s T20 World Cup squad is like Yuvraj Singh vs Stuart Broad in 2007, but better. Instead of six sixes, it’s got seven sevens.
While Sam Curran had looked to have nailed down the position, his injury has left things wide open. As it stands, it’s not at all clear who will fill the role come their opening game against West Indies.
Let’s take a look at the cases for each to bat at No.7. And, if you were worried about all seven picking up a niggle, leaving England without a fifth-drop, don’t worry. As ever, Liam Dawson is in reserve.
England, essentially, have three options at No.7: A batting all-rounder, a bowling all-rounder, or a specialist.
The batting all-rounders
Perhaps the favourite to bat at No.7, Moeen Ali has vied with fellow all-rounder Curran for the slot for a while now. His useful off-spin and ability to go big from ball one make him, in some ways, ideally suited for a position where time in the middle can be limited to a few balls. But, given his excellent recent form with the bat and his calibre as a T20 batter, would he be wasted so far down the order?
Much of what applies to Moeen applies to Liam Livingstone, and for a time in the summer, when Livingstone could hit any ball bowled at him basically as far as he wanted, there was a growing movement to have him ensconced at No.3. A tough IPL campaign has dampened that somewhat, and it could be that it’s he who gets pushed out of England’s packed top six, tasked with coming in at the death and smashing the seamers.
The bowling all-rounders
David Willey and Chris Woakes
We’ve combined these two because much of what goes for one goes for the other, and it’s quite tough to remember exactly why England picked both. Both are opening bowlers who are more than useful with the bat, and could top and tail England’s bowling and batting respectively. Willey has the greater T20 pedigree, Woakes the greater international pedigree. You’d want Willey if you needed six off one, but Woakes if you needed 60 off the last 10.
Lop off one Curran, and another will rise to take his place. Tom Curran isn’t nearly as bad as his detractors would have you think, and could combine well with Willey/Woakes, Chris Jordan and Mark Wood to give England batting depth and an attack that covers all bases. With the bat, as with ball at times, he has the ability to summon his best performance in a clutch moment, which a T20 World Cup throws up plenty of.
Once England’s most feared white-ball batter, and not too long ago a genuinely world-class T20 No.4, Eoin Morgan’s form has tailed off significantly, leading to questions over his place in the side altogether. If England are worried about his fading abilities, but feel his on-field influence is too precious to lose, they could slot him in at No.7, where he is unlikely to face many balls, with Moeen and Livingstone both coming in above him.
If Morgan does decide to drop himself, they have a resourceful, willing batter to replace him in Sam Billings. While he spent the second leg of the IPL warming the benches, the wicketkeeper has shown recently for England that he is an international-calibre batter, and having spent most of his T20I career batting at No.6, is used to finishing off an innings.