It’s been a mixed first Test match at Lord’s against Sri Lanka for the England newcomers with some showing they have the potential to be international greats while others may not be up to the task after all.
More than half of the side that took to the field could be classified as new-boys, even though Joe Root already seems to be an established member of the side and his Yorkshire team-mate Liam Plunkett represented his country before he was cast into the international wilderness.
Plunkett featured in nine Tests over a two-year period before losing his place and it was seven years since he lost took a wicket before his recall.
However, he has been revitalised by his move to Yorkshire, one of the favourites with bet365 to win the County Championship Division One title this year, and has shown he can be dangerous with both the bat and ball against Sri Lanka, while Root’s double century has cemented his place in the side after his own and the team’s disastrous winter tour of Australia.
Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Matt Prior and Ian Bell are now the only members of the old guard that guided England to success around the world until the disasters of the last six months, but what of Chris Jordan, Gary Ballance, Sam Robson and Moeen Ali?
Jordan has looked the part from the word go. He impressed in recent one-day games and took that swashbuckling form into his Test debut, scoring freely and frequently looking dangerous with the ball on a flat and unyielding Lord’s wicket.
Ballance too has been a major plus point for England and his century in the second innings showed that he has the technique to knuckle down when needed. He also has the flair to score runs freely when the need requires though. His race to his century just before the close of play on Sunday when he sent the ball soaring into the stands for a six was a joy.
It’s not been such good news for Moeen Ali and Robson though. England are obviously struggling for a top-quality spinner who can score a few valuable runs following Graeme Swann’s retirement, but Cook does not appear to trust the Worcestershire man.
He seems steady rather than a match-winner and does not appear to be the answer to England’s long-term aim to replace Swann.
Meanwhile, Robson has really struggled with his technique at the highest level. The Middlesex man has struggled on his home ground and does not appear to be the answer to one of England’s problem areas since the retirement of Andrew Strauss.
Nuwan Pradeep got him out in the first innings with a fullish ball just outside off stump which Robson could have left but simply nicked through to the wicketkeeper.
In the second innings Robson appeared to have learnt his lesson as he left several balls in the same area before playing the ball onto his stumps – not an auspicious start to a Test career that does not look set to be a long one.