Lisa Keightley’s options for Chelmsford
Tomorrow, Wednesday, England will complete their multi-format series against India. If India win the third T20 at Chelmsford, they will draw 8-8. That would be a huge setback for England. We will learn a lot about English structures of command and policy from the side that is picked.
This is Lisa Keightley’s last chance to examine the justice of her selections.
It’s the bowling that must come under the microscope: when will England’s greatest opening partnership finally call time? Anya Shrubsole hasn’t appeared in the T20 series and Katherine Brunt had a game to forget at Hove.
Will Keightley take the plunge and omit both these champions? Put it another way: why include Tash Farrant if her sole task is to run H2O on to the field?
Selectors are always faced with a twin concern: the next match and the coming campaign(s). The latter come under the heading team-building, and England’s schedule is unusually full. Only one entirely new name was introduced at the start of the series, Emily Arlott; she didn’t appear in the ODIs nor is she in the T20 squad. A reminder of that group:
Of the 14 Farrant, Shrubsole and Wilson have not yet appeared.
The batting choices are relatively straightforward; if Wilson is picked, who drops out? Not so the bowling choices.
It was a concern that England took only 4 wickets in the Hove match. That is most unusual in the short-format game, where batters have to take big risks towards the end of the innings. Keightley has Brunt, Freya Davies, Nat Sciver and Tash Farrant to offer different types of seam-up, but no Kate Cross. None of them comes in the category of fast bowler, but that is a rare breed.
Farrant’s asset is her left-arm over approach; her disadvantage is the white ball which needs a lot of coaxing to retain any swing. She would at least provide the Indian batters with a less familiar challenge.
Keightley opted for three spinners in the current squad, Ecclestone, Glenn and Villiers. Each offers a different test of batting skills, but Heather Knight treats Villiers as an optional extra. She is the least experienced of the trio, but returned an economical analysis at Hove and captured a wicket off her first ball. By contrast, Brunt was allowed a third over and went for for an extravagant 34 runs.
Does Keightley keep her powder dry and leave any more adventurous selections for a less demanding series against Pakistan? (But it is away!) Then the Kiwis are due in town late in the year.
We shall find out shortly before 6.30 tomorrow evening.