Who Will Score England’s Runs This Winter?

With Ben Stokes nursing a broken hand, a bruised ego, and a ruptured reputation, England might find themselves short of runs this winter. However, one unintended consequence of long batting line-ups is that individuals sometimes lose focus and don’t take responsibility for scoring big runs. Instead they assume that someone else will dig the team out of trouble somewhere along the line.

Consequently it’s possible – and I admit this is just a tenuous theory – that losing Stokes might actually help the team build big totals. Every batsman will be forced to dig in and make every innings count … because they’ll know there isn’t as much batting to come.

With this uncharacteristically optimistic hypothesis in mind, I’d like to ask you who you think England’s star batsman might be this winter? Will it be Root, who often switches off once he’s well set? Will it be Cook, who must be desperate to cement his legacy as (ostensibly) a modern great? Or perhaps one of the less heralded batters will suddenly blossom. Could Mark Stoneman do a Chris Broad? Stranger things have happened.

So with rose tinted glasses firmly in place, here are the runners and riders …

Joe Root – Forget Root’s baptism of fire down under in 2013. Forget the fact the Aussies will set a point, two gullies, hang the ball outside off-stump, and wait for Root to commit hara-kiri. Joe is England’s best batsman for 30 years. He’s bound to come good, right?

Alastair Cook – Forget the fact he’s only played well in one Ashes series out of six. Forget the fact he hasn’t scored a century against Australia for seven years. And forget all those articles claiming he’s past it. The Aussies fear Cook. They know what he can do. And he’s a master at silencing critics.

Johnny Bairstow – Despite scoring runs consistently over the last two years, no English cricketer has properly ‘arrived’ until they’ve bashed some Aussies. Although Jonny might be a little vulnerable to deliveries moving back into him, he’s a fine player with a pugnacious game that could thrive down under.

Moeen Ali – With a promotion to No.7 likely, Mo will have more opportunities to score big runs. With his elegant driving and propensity to flail wildly outside off-stump, Mo’s the closest thing we’ve had to David Gower for years. And here’s the good news: Gower averaged more in Australia than he did in England!

Dawid Malan – He might not have played much test cricket but he’s a mature cricketer with the ability to concentrate for long periods. And maybe the selectors have got something right for a change? The law of averages suggests one of their punts will come good eventually.

Mark Stoneman – He’s not afraid to play his shots and he’s got nothing to lose. Stoneman doesn’t have any obviously weaknesses so he’s got a chance.

James Vince – Erm, he bats a bit like Michael Vaughan? Got to admit I’m struggling here.

Gary Ballance – If you look at things from a certain perspective, and squint hard enough, it’s possible to argue that hell might freeze over one day. And if that’s possible then why can’t Ballance be the leading run scorer in the Ashes? Food for thought my friends. Food for thought.

Chris Woakes – Why not? He has a sound technique, a calm head, and often looks more composed than the so called specialist batsmen. He might be the closest thing we have to a like-for-like replacement for Stokes. He might relish the extra responsibility too!

What do you think?

James Morgan

2017-11-14T11:40:32+00:00 November 14th, 2017|Ashes 17/18|12 Comments


  1. James November 14, 2017 at 12:07 pm - Reply

    You forgot James Anderson!

    I think you need a new pair of rose tinted specs, James, those ones keep letting reality in. The fact is that someone needs to score big 100’s for England to do well, and the Aussie bowling attack (Starc, Cummins, Hazlewood and Lyon) looks more dangerous than the English one. Michael Vaughan was saying last night that England have to get a result in Brisbane, and we certainly don’t need a genuine fast bowler (which the Aussies have, and we don’t) winning the series in one test (think Johnson last time out, or Patterson in Jamaica 1985/6).

    I’d expect Root to be England’s leading scorer, but I’d love it to be James Vince. Just, double pretty please, don’t let Gary Ballance in the team. He can’t play good fast bowling.

  2. Rooto November 14, 2017 at 12:31 pm - Reply

    I’d still put money on it being Colly.

  3. AndyB November 14, 2017 at 5:39 pm - Reply

    I look at the Australian pace attack and, oddly, my concern is not their speed. I am pretty sure most of our bats can deal with 90mph+. My fear is what they cannot handle is Starc battering them with pure (and sometimes wild) pace from one end and then having to face the line, length and movement of Hazlewood at the other. It is that transition, from being able to leave many balls on line or length, to being forced to play at 5 an over which will find any chinks in technique. On that basis I find it hard to look past Cook – but I hope I am wrong.

  4. Marc Evans November 15, 2017 at 2:33 am - Reply

    Well James, after numerous articles castigating many of these England batsmen and spreading a fair amount of doom and gloom, what’s prompted this relatively optimistic outlook, more balance with the exception of Mr Ballance.

  5. Doug November 15, 2017 at 9:12 am - Reply

    It’s not really the batting that’s the main worry although if Cook is out of form we’ve probably had it. Losing Stokes is almost 3 players, bat, bowl and exceptional fielder. We lack pace in the bowling. Can we take 20 wickets? Maybe if Woakes can step up a bit more. So far we’ve been playing really county 2nds at best on pitches unlike what the tests will be. OK for a bit of practice but hasn’t really told us much. Why Plunkett is not in the squad God only knows. Ball has to play, he has a bit of extra bounce. Anderson now has a niggle and Broad doesn’t look like worrying anyone. Expect Curran in, at least he doesn’t get injured, but again lacks pace. God luck England anyway!

    • AndyB November 15, 2017 at 9:44 am - Reply

      I understand claims that Stokes is an important bat, since he will produce the odd exceptional match winning innings. It is unfortunate that he is so poor in between that his test batting average is little better than that of Woakes. Where I take exception is the suggestion that he is so important to the bowling (other than providing the balance of a 3rd all rounder). Woakes is (and has been for all of his FC career) a far superior bowler to Stokes. It is a disgrace that he had to wait so long for his test chance (his few odd tests from 2012-15 were mainly on billiard tables) when Stokes early inadequacies were accepted with no consequences for his selection. And now we are seeing a similar pattern. Woakes spent 5-6 years being told he was too slow as a bowler (when he averaged 81/82 as a teenager), but the likes of Curran (and Porter when fit) are now lauded as potential test bowlers despite being even slower and without Woakes batting ability.

      It is the complete lack of consistency in treatment of players that brings disgrace on the selectors. I agree with James’ many past comments about our selectors. Jokes with multiple conflicts of interest. (But I do agree we will miss Stokes’ fielding at point).

    • SimonH November 15, 2017 at 6:49 pm - Reply

      ” if Cook is out of form we’ve probably had it”.

      England’s best away result since the 3-1 in Australia was winning in SA and Cook averaged 23 in that series.

  6. Jamie November 15, 2017 at 11:09 am - Reply

    Cheer up James! The headlines of this site are becoming increasingly morbid of late…. how about a positive one?

    I really think Root is growing into the role and I can see him leading from the front. His scoring rate and positive approach is perfectly suited for taking the game to Australia.

    Cook is a worry but I feel Stoneman and Malan might both prove shrewd picks for this tour. Vince is more a concern for me but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for now. Ali and Bairstow are key players now and have the experience so expecting good things. Stokes is a major loss for all the reasons that people have already given but his absence isn’t insurmountable.

    I’m actually expecting a very good series; the bowling seems in pretty decent shape (Overton may well prove to be a find and Woakes coming into some great form) so I think it’s about England putting together a few key team performances.

  7. Paul November 15, 2017 at 6:12 pm - Reply

    Hopefully some Aussie blokes will be Bowled Woakes caught Foakes…. (very original)
    Leaving Bairstow to concentrate on batting to the win cause no-one else is going be up for it.

  8. Cricketcricketcricket November 15, 2017 at 11:48 pm - Reply

    Only moeen can’t oay short bowling … uh oh.. bouncy wickets and two players 90+..does t bode well for moeen the flashy flashy Nicky Nicky batsmen

  9. lijo george November 16, 2017 at 6:03 pm - Reply

    really looking forward to chiris woakes’ performance in the ashes… he has truly come of age in the last couple of years… lets see if he can continue on the high tide!

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