@Ben_Wisden 4 minute read
Ben Gardner runs the rule over the six players who made their maiden T20I appearances in England’s 3-2 series win against New Zealand.
Facing the lightning-quick Lockie Ferguson is close to as tough as international introductions get, and with a dismissive six off the second ball he faced from the speedster, the prodigious Tom Banton suggested the pace wouldn’t ruffle him unduly. His 31 in his second knock laid the platform for England’s highest T20I total, before some DRS weirdness ended his series in controversial circumstances.
However, while a long future might well stretch in front of him, don’t be surprised if that doesn’t include next year’s T20 World Cup. Without a statement knock to make his place his own, and with returns for Jason Roy and Jos Buttler imminent, alongside a plethora of other opening options, it might be that he truly establishes himself after ‘The Big Dance’.
Thanks for coming. Twice, Lewis Gregory received the dreaded ‘TFC’ award, with England losing the first two games in which he did feature with bat and ball. A wicket with his first ball in international cricket ensured his trip to New Zealand wasn’t entirely wasted, but in the one proper chance he did get, a 15-ball 15 wasn’t what England needed. That Sam Curran was promoted above him for the final game of the series perhaps suggests where England’s thoughts lie.
With an ice-cool first over, Matt Parkinson proved he wouldn’t be overawed by the step up to international cricket, in itself no mean feat for a young leg-spinner. Three wickets in his first two overs in the fourth T20I scuppered any hopes New Zealand had of completing a record chase, before some tap from Tim Southee gave him the dubious distinction of recording the second-most expensive four-for in all T20Is. Doubts will linger over whether his tortoise-slow pace can reap sustained rewards at the top level, but this was a hugely encouraging start, and in the vast playing areas of Australia, a bit of flight, dip and rip could be exactly what England are after.
Sky Sports commentator David Lloyd’s assessment of him being a red-ball bowler might be a tad harsh, considering his exploits in the One-Day Cup for Lancashire this summer, but it’s fair to wonder if T20 might not yet be Saqib Mahmood’s game. Figures of 2-95 in his first eight overs of the series represented a harsh introduction to international cricket, and the second of those wickets would have been overturned had Ross Taylor reviewed. His second ball in an England shirt was smashed for six, and his first three in his second game all creamed for four. None of his overs passed boundary-less.
Still, if 20-over cricket isn’t for Saqib, 11-over cricket might be. In the slug fest at Eden Park, figures of 1-20 from two overs were excellent returns, and his first ball, top edged for four, was just about the first ball the Black Caps mistimed all innings. An impressive comeback, and something to take with him into the Tests, but he will still most likely be the seamer to make way when Jofra Archer returns.
Despite having earned a Player of the Series award against the world’s No.1 side last summer and having an IPL hat-trick to his name, Sam Curran had never played a T20I until this tour. He was omnipresent in this series, and with five wickets and an economy of 7.50 in the first four games, he showed enough to keep his place for the near future. New-ball swing remains his main weapon, but an eight-run penultimate over in the third game showed that he could be an option at the death too. When there’s no movement, as at Eden Park, he can look a little toothless, but that game also gave him the chance to show he could be the finisher England are after, with an 11-ball 24 giving his side vital impetus.
A six-run 20th over on debut showed exactly why Pat Brown has been the T20 Blast’s standout seamer over the past two seasons, but he wasn’t risked at the death in his second game, after being smoked for two fours and three sixes in two early overs. Coming on to bowl after New Zealand were four down chasing nearly 250 in his final appearance of the series, his figures of 1-29 tell us very little, though five wides in three overs should serve as a note of caution in declaring him the finished article. Still, Brown’s box of tricks and stellar Blast record should keep him around the side ahead of next year’s T20 World Cup.