Sportsmail's experts analyse England's tactics and Robinson race row

We shouldn’t be more boring than Boycott! Sportsmail’s cricket experts analyse England’s stodgy tactics and Ollie Robinson race row after draw with New Zealand at Lord’s

  • England and New Zealand played out a  draw in the first Test at Lord’s
  • Joe Root’s side decided not to try and chase down 273 on the final day
  • Ollie Robinson will miss the second Test after being suspended for old tweets

England’s first Test of the summer against New Zealand ended in disappointment as it fizzled out into an anti-climactic draw at Lord’s. 

Here Sportsmail’s experts — former England coach David Lloyd, Cricket Correspondent Paul Newman and Wisden Editor Lawrence Booth — answer the big questions ahead of the second and final Test at Edgbaston. 

David Lloyd (L), Paul Newman (C) and Lawrence Booth have answered the big questions

David Lloyd: He was bang out of order but I wouldn’t have banned him. Something that happened nine years ago at a difficult time in his life should have warranted an education programme and a contrite apology. 

I would have preferred his statement to have been short and sweet and for him to have looked straight into the camera. I understand the way England did it but I didn’t like it. I always like to give someone a second chance, especially a teenager. But he has really had to learn this lesson the hard way.

Paul Newman: This is incredibly harsh and I really feel for Robinson. Are we saying any mistakes any of us made as teenagers are now held against us for the rest of our lives? If his remorse is genuine — and I think it is in this case — then a line should be drawn under it now and we should move on. I’m concerned he will be banned for longer. The ECB seem to want to hang him out to dry.

Lawrence Booth: The ECB had to take some kind of action, because they had just launched their new anti-discrimination drive, and the tweets were awful. I don’t see how they couldn’t ban him. But any further punishment should be thought of more as penance. The emphasis now should be on using Robinson to take the game to under-privileged areas, to talk to kids about mistakes made and lessons learned, and to help convince boys and girls of all backgrounds that cricket is a sport for them.

Ollie Robinson will miss the second Test against New Zealand, the ECB has confirmed

Were England guilty of a lack of enterprise and intent in their second innings?

Booth: They were guilty of both but I’m not holding that against them. In the absence of Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler, their line-up lacked two essential qualities to chase the runs: experience and explosiveness. 

Imagine if they had gone for their shots and fallen in a heap; the criticism would have been deafening. New Zealand’s attack was excellent and the pitch sluggish. We can wish it were otherwise but a combination of stodgy openers, an out-of-form middle order (Joe Root excepted) and callowness meant an England victory would have been a miracle. Better to stay in the hunt at Edgbaston.

Lloyd: I was desperately disappointed. It was a golden opportunity because we have been in lockdown for goodness knows how long and we all need a lift. There were no World Test Championship points at stake. Why not go out and have a bit of fun?

England could still have shut up shop if they had lost five or six wickets. If they had gone for it and failed, I’m sure there would have been an overwhelming ‘never mind, good on yer’ from England supporters. But we just didn’t want to play.

Dom Sibley (L) and Ollie Pope of England walk off at the end of the fifth and final day 

Newman: I wasn’t too offended by the way they approached that last day. Coach Chris Silverwood wants substance and discipline from his batsmen. There was too little of it again in the first innings but they were not prepared to just throw a Test away in the name of enterprise and intent second time round.

It was always likely to be too stiff a target even in the T20 era. There should be room for a hard-earned draw in Test cricket, however impatient the age we live in.

What did you make of England’s overall performance?

Newman: The biggest plus was Robinson and now we don’t know when or even if we will see him in Test cricket again. It’s a big Test coming up now for Ollie Pope and Dan Lawrence, especially as Stokes and Buttler should be available to face India in August. 

Both are serious talents with big futures but they could really do with a score at Edgbaston. James Bracey has been picked for his batting, so it would be harsh to judge him on his keeping, especially with the Lord’s wobble. But he looked adequate with the gloves at best.

Booth: They performed as you might expect from a side who were missing key players and are over-reliant on Root’s runs. Rory Burns played well but Zak Crawley and Lawrence produced three dreadful shots. Were they not watching how Devon Conway took his time? 

Rory Burns scored a century in the first innings before being dismissed for 25 in the second 

Dom Sibley played according to type. If you want England to build a solid top order after years of chopping and changing, you can hardly object when he bats as he did. Robinson looked a serious prospect but it is too early to make a call on Bracey — except to say he is not a Test wicketkeeper.

Lloyd: I’ve been in this situation with a young team. It’s two steps forward and one back. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same batting line-up does very well in the next game. 

But the coaches will be working on getting rid of that sloppiness. Crawley and Lawrence fell to sucker punches. And Sibley’s innings was forgettable. He scored at 28 runs per hundred balls in a run chase. Geoffrey Boycott got dropped for slow play after scoring at 31.6 on the first day of a Test England won by six wickets!

Zak Crawley had a very disappointing Test, scoring just two runs in both England innings

England have called up Dom Bess. Would you choose him or Jack Leach?

Lloyd: If Silverwood is really brave he would drop a batsman, put Bracey at six and then have four seamers and a spinner. But it would leave England desperately short of batting. I wonder if Bess has been called up because he can bat and he might leapfrog Leach.

But I’ve watched Bess bowl this season and he didn’t set anything alight. The only way you can do it is go with four bowlers and make sure one of them is Leach.

Booth: If England play a frontline spinner, and it looks as if they will, then it would be harsh to pick Bess over Leach after their respective winters. The only argument for doing so is that Bess is the closest this squad has to an all-rounder, which would give them balance. But they already have a serviceable off-spinner in Root and Leach turns it the other way.

If you want four seamers and a front-line spinner, you would have to drop a batsman (say Crawley), but that leaves too long a tail. There is no perfect solution. Meanwhile, we know what Mark Wood can do, so I would like a look at Olly Stone on his home ground.

The hosts have recalled off-spinner Dom Bess for second Test at Edgbaston on Thursday

Newman: Silverwood warned us England would be unbalanced in this series and any way he turns now has issues. It would be wrong for Bess to come in ahead of Leach but Edgbaston will turn and one of them has to play. That means the need for lower-order runs is acute.

It is almost like the Oval against New Zealand in 1999 when England fielded ‘four No 11s’ in Caddick, Mullally, Tufnell and Giddins. New coach Duncan Fletcher said ‘never again’.

What’s your England second Test line-up?

Lloyd: Burns, Sibley, Crawley, Root, Pope, Lawrence, Bracey, Wood, Leach, Broad, Anderson.

Newman: Burns, Sibley, Crawley, Root, Pope, Lawrence, Bracey, Stone, Leach, Broad, Anderson.

Booth: Burns, Sibley, Crawley, Root, Pope, Lawrence, Bracey, Stone, Leach, Broad, Anderson.


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