England’s first Test of the summer against New Zealand ended in disappointment when it ended in an anti-climactic draw at Lord’s.
Here, Sportsmail’s pundits – 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 in Edgbaston.
David Lloyd (L), Paul Newman (C) and Lawrence Booth have answered the big questions
Was England right to ban Ollie Robinson?
David Lloyd: He wasn’t okay, but I wouldn’t have banned him. Something that happened nine years ago at a difficult time in his life should have warranted an educational program and a remorseful apology.
I would have preferred that his statement had been short and sweet and that he had looked straight into the camera. I understand the way England did it, but I didn’t like it. I always enjoy giving someone a second chance, especially a teenager. But he really had to learn this lesson the hard way.
Paul Nieuwman: This is incredibly hard and I really feel for Robinson. Are we saying that mistakes were made that one of us made as teenagers and will now be used against us for the rest of our lives? If his regret is genuine – and I think it is in this case – then we need to draw a line under it now and move on. I’m afraid he will be banned for a long time. The ECB seems to want to hang it to dry.
Lauren’s stand: The ECB had to do something because they had just launched their new anti-discrimination campaign and the tweets were appalling. I don’t see how they couldn’t ban him. But any further punishment should be seen more as penance. The focus should now be on using Robinson to bring the game to underprivileged areas, to talk to children about mistakes made and lessons learned, and to convince boys and girls of all backgrounds that cricket is a sport for them.
Ollie Robinson will miss second test against New Zealand, ECB has confirmed
Was England guilty of a lack of entrepreneurial spirit and intent in their second innings?
position: They were guilty of both, but I don’t speak to them. Due to 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 field slow. We may wish it were otherwise, but a combination of stodgy openers, an out-of-form middle order (excluding Joe Root) and insensitivity meant that an England win would have been a miracle. You’d better keep hunting for Edgbaston.
Lloyd: I was hugely disappointed. It was a golden opportunity because we have been in lockdown for god 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 little fun?
England could still have kept quiet if they had lost five or six wickets. Had they gone for it and failed, there would have been an overwhelming ‘never mind, good on you’ from the English supporters. But we just didn’t want to play.
Dom Sibley (L) and Ollie Pope from England run away at the end of the fifth and final day
New guy: I wasn’t too offended by the way they approached that last day. Coach Chris Silverwood wants substance and discipline from his batsmen. In the first innings there was again too little of it but they were unwilling to just throw away a Test a second time in the name of enterprise and intent.
It was always probably too stiff a target, even in the T20 era. There should be room for a hard-earned draw in Test Cricket, no matter how impatient the times are in which we live.
What did you think of England’s overall performance?
New guy: The biggest plus was Robinson and now we don’t know when or even if we will see him again in Test cricket. It is now a big test for Ollie Pope and Dan Lawrence, especially as Stokes and Buttler should be available in August to beat India.
Both are serious talents with a great future, but they could really use a score at Edgbaston. James Bracey was picked for his percussion, so it would be hard to judge him on his maintenance, especially with the Lord’s wobble. But he looked good with the gloves at his best.
position: They performed as you would expect from a side that was missing key players and overly dependent on Root’s runs. Rory Burns played well, but Zak Crawley and Lawrence produced three terrible shots. Didn’t they see how Devon Conway took his time?
Rory Burns scored a century in the first innings before being ejected for 25 in the second
Dom Sibley played by type. If you want England to build a solid top order after years of chopping and swapping, you can hardly object if he bats the way he did. Robinson looked like a serious prospect, but it’s too early to appeal to Bracey – except to say he’s not a Test wicket-keeper.
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 line-up does very well in the next game.
But the coaches will work to get rid of that sloppiness. Crawley and Lawrence were hit. And Sibley’s innings were forgettable. He scored 28 runs per hundred balls in a run chase. Geoffrey Boycott was dropped for slow play after a score of 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 on six and then have four sailors and a spinner. But it would leave England in desperate need of percussion. I wonder if Bess was summoned because he can punch and Leach can skip.
But I’ve seen Bess bowling this season and he hasn’t lit anything. The only way to do it is to go with four bowlers and make sure one of them is Leach.
position: If England are playing a frontline spinner, and it looks like they will, then it would be hard to choose Bess over Leach after their respective winters. The only argument for doing this is that Bess is closest to this squad with an all-rounder, which would give them balance. But they already have a usable off-spinner in Root and Leach is spinning it the other way.
If you want four sailors and a frontline spinner, you’d have to drop a batsman (say Crawley), but that leaves a tail too long. There is no perfect solution. By now we know what Mark Wood can do, so I’d love to check out Olly Stone at his home base.
The hosts have recalled Dom Bess from the spinner for the second test in Edgbaston on Thursday
New guy: Silverwood warned us that England would be unbalanced in this series and every way he turns is now in trouble. It would be wrong for Bess to come before Leach, but Edgbaston will turn around and have to play one of them. That means the need for lower order runs is acute.
It’s 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 is your second test rig in England?
Lloyd: Burns, Sibley, Crawley, Root, Pope, Lawrence, Bracey, Wood, Leach, Broad, Anderson.
New guy: Burns, Sibley, Crawley, Root, Pope, Lawrence, Bracey, Stone, Leach, Broad, Anderson.
position: Burns, Sibley, Crawley, Root, Pope, Lawrence, Bracey, Stone, Leach, Broad, Anderson.