After the winter of discontent what now for England?

As any fan of the England cricket team knows to say 2013-14 was a winter of discontent would be an understatement. Whitewashed 5-0 in the Ashes by an Australian team we’d beaten 3-0 only the previous summer, then beaten 4-1 in the one day games and 3-0 in the 20 20 games. We then went off to the World 20 20 championship in Bangladesh where we won only one match – albeit against the eventual champions Sri Lanka – and then put the tin lid on the shambles by losing to Holland. Oh and one player retired mid tour (Graeme Swann) one went home with a nervous breakdown (Jonathan Trott) and another was dropped for good (Kevin Pietersen). Add to that the loss of two coaches (Andy Flower and Ashley Giles). All in all a shambles that made its political equivalent (1978-79 under James Callaghan where ironically the cricket did go well – England beat Australia 5-1 – just in a winter of non stop strikes and non stop snow everything else went wrong – look like a teddy bear’s picnic by comparison).
But the winter is over now. It is summer. England have a new coach in Peter Moores and a week tomorrow they play their first Test since that awful winter against Sri Lanka at Lord’s. The selectors meet today to pick the team and will announce it tomorrow. So who should they pick? Every cricket
fan in the UK has his/her opinion so I reckon I should reveal mine. So here it is. My England team to play Sri Lanka at Lord’s a week tomorrow:
1.Alastair Cook (Captain)
2.Sam Robson
3.Joe Root
4.Ian Bell
5.Gary Ballance
6.Ben Stokes
7.Matt Prior (wicket-keeper)
8.Stuart Broad
9.Chris Jordan
10.James Anderson
11.Monty Panesar
Plus two more bowlers to make up a 13 man squad: Liam Plunkett and Steve Finn.
Now this comes with a caveat. They might not all be fit. Matt Prior and Ben Stokes might not be. In that case James Foster would replace Prior and Moeen Ali would replace Stokes. In that case Liam Plunkett would replace monty Panesar for team balance.
So the reasons? There are five certain picks in my opinion – Cook, Bell Root Broad and Anderson. As for the rest for Cook’s opening partner I’ve looked to the future. Michael Carberry and Nick Compton have failed and Robson has been in good form for the England Lions (England’s second XI) although Yorkshire’s Adam Lyth was close. Root bats no 3. it is high time this young man was given a regular role. He has been moved all over the shop. He has opened, batted at 3,5 and 6 – give the kid a break! Bell our best player wants to bat at 4 so let him. Ballance has started well at yorkshire and Stokes was the only good piece of news in an awful winter. Jordan was the star – with bat and ball – of the recently completed one day series with Sri Lanka and Panesar is in because we should always pick a spinner and he is the beat we have in a very bare cupboard.
I also think we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water. We’ve lost three experienced players already. My team contains six experienced players (Cook Bell Prior Broad Anderson and Panesar) two new caps (Robson and Jordan) two others who first appeared during the winter (Ballance and Stokes) and one 23-year-old who first played in 2012 (Root). A blend of youth and experience. Just what is needed after the winter of discontent.

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