England’s T20 side: Nasser Hussain and Michael Atherton on selection dilemmas ahead of 2021 World Cup

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1:29 Michael Atherton looks at England’s opening options and backs Bairstow and Buttler to get the nod

MICHAEL ATHERTON: I am not sure it is quite a given that Buttler opens, though I suspect they will go with that. If Buttler is opening, I think his partner will be Jonny Bairstow. He has been in excellent form and is a very strong, powerful player. If Buttler and Bairstow open, it could mean leaving out someone like Jason Roy, who had a tricky summer, getting injured and not playing much.

I think England will go with Bairstow but I don’t think it is a straightforward equation. Do you use Buttler as a floater? My broad principle is to get your best player in at the start of a T20 game but because England are so top heavy, it is not a completely obvious solution. It’s like offering someone diamonds, emeralds, rubies or pearls – whatever you get, they are all gems.

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NASSER HUSSAIN: I was for Buttler opening in IPL cricket but England have so many options at the top of the order that I wouldn’t be averse to having Jos as a floater, like Athers says. If Roy and Bairstow walk out to open in T20 cricket, is anyone going to be disappointed? No. They have proven how dangerous they are. You have that box ticked and then another box ticked by having Buttler, one of the great finishers, with Stokes, another great finisher, at the end.

England are going to have to make a decision because that 50-over side that won the World Cup had virtually 10 places in their order decided before the tournament – Jofra Archer then came in late. Whatever they do now, they must stick to it. I would like Buttler to open but fully understand if they go the other way.

Should Joe Root be involved?

3:46 Dawid Malan tells The Hussain and Key Cricket Show that you never ‘deserve’ a place in a team and just wants to make the most of his England opportunity

NASSER: It’s remarkable how strong England are in white-ball cricket now that there is a squad without Root in it. Make no mistake, Root is one of the great players have produced in any format, but with the emergence of Malan at No 3 and the amount of batsmen they have got, they have gone down this road, even though [National Selector] Ed Smith has said the door is not shut on Root.

Malan has done seriously well. He scored an outstanding hundred against New Zealand in Napier [in November 2019] and carried on this summer. He is quite brilliant in the role that he plays – he picks up spin well, slog-sweeps well. He doesn’t just get pretty twenties and thirties, he goes on to get fifty. He has nailed down that spot and is keeping Root out of this squad.

England T20 squad for South Africa series

Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Reece Topley, Mark Wood

ATHERS: If Malan keeps his strike rate over 146, his average near 50 and playing the way he is, then I don’t see how you can leave him out. I like to keep cricket simple – if you are doing your job and winning matches you stay in the side. At the moment that is what is happening with Malan. You have a suspicion that his performances may have been slightly better than he is and he might revert to the mean, but at the moment he is getting runs at a good lick and England are winning games.

SHAUN POLLOCK: England may feel the game of T20 has become more explosive than what Root can maybe do and that’s where Malan, a left-handed option as well, brings something to the party. Root works his angles very well and, in the IPL, Kane Williamson showed how guys of that nature can still be very effective. You don’t have to bludgeon it out of the ground. I don’t think the door is closed on Root but from what we have seen of Malan over the last 18 months the decision is probably justified.

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Who forms the pace attack?

ATHERS: Given we are saying this is England’s strongest T20 side, the interesting name is Topley, who has obviously had some of the most horrendous back issues you could possibly experience. Smith has spoken unbelievably highly of Topley. I think they see a chance for him not to just get into the squad but the team.

With the proviso over conditions, you are looking at Jofra Archer and Mark Wood but maybe they will give Topley a go in their first-choice team, as they would quite like to have a left-armer who has variation. That makes Sam Curran an option, too.

Chris Jordan has had a wonderful time of it and is a good death bowler and Tom Curran has proved his mettle in tight situations. You’d think Tom Curran and Jordan would be ahead of Topley but I just thought the way Smith spoke about him was almost lining him up for a place in the team.

England white-ball tour to South Africa

  • Nov 27: First T20I, Cape Town (4pm start)
  • Nov 29: Second T20I, Paarl (12.30pm start)
  • Dec 1: Third T20I, Cape Town (4pm start)
  • Dec 4: First ODI, Cape Town (11am start)
  • Dec 6: Second ODI, Paarl (8am start)
  • Dec 9: Third ODI, Cape Town (11am start)

NASSER: The bowling has to be a little bit more horses for courses. We saw that against Australia last summer. When the pitches got tired, the Curran brothers came into it – Sam Curran with his cutters on a used pitch is very useful.

I think Topley would come into it then, not only because he has the left-armer angle but he is clever at taking pace off. On certain pitches in India, where the next T20 will be held, it can be quick and you have Archer and Wood steaming in. They also have Jordan. England want every base covered along with the spinners Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid.

Watch every game of England’s white-ball tour to South Africa live on Sky Sports Cricket, starting with the first T20 international from 3.30pm on Friday, November 27.

Sourse: skysports.com

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