NASSER HUSSAIN: England’s Dom Sibley needs to add some style to his stubbornness… while Zak Crawley and Dan Lawrence need to rein it in a bit
- Dom Sibley showed stickability at Lord’s but needs more strings to bow
- He was mentally strong to keep batting with unique technique but needs style
- Zak Crawley and Dan Lawrence will need runs next week with stars returning
I get that England have gone into this game without a couple of pillars of their middle order in Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler. But it’s allowed a decent look at some of the younger generation of batsmen — and there have to be one or two causes for concern.
While Dom Sibley could do with adding some strokes to his repertoire, both Zak Crawley and Dan Lawrence need to learn to rein it in a bit. In English conditions, against an attack as good as New Zealand’s, you sometimes just have to give half an hour or more to the bowlers.
If you don’t, you see the kind of strokes that proved their undoing in this game — Crawley out to two big drives against Tim Southee, and Lawrence attempting a cover drive that looked more like he was aiming to mid-on.
Dom Sibley (L) needs to add some strokes to his repertoire after stubborn display in first Test
Sibley scored 60* on the final day – with his unique technique – but needs some more style
There’s lots to be excited about in this new breed of English batsmen, but with Stokes and Buttler set to return to the Test team later this summer, you have to say that both Crawley and Lawrence will need runs in next week’s second Test at Edgbaston.
At least Sibley ground out a score on the last day after his first-innings duck. I do like the way he looks to occupy the crease, and I appreciate that’s the way Chris Silverwood and Joe Root want to go — a top order that can set up the game for the strokemakers.
England have tried top-order dashers, and they haven’t worked. We can’t complain that we’ve had no openers since Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook, and then moan when one of them suddenly shows a bit of stickability.
But there has to be a balance between, say, Jason Roy and Sibley. And while Sibley must clearly be mentally strong to keep batting the way he does with his unique technique, he needs a couple more strings to his bow.
Meanwhile, Zak Crawley (left) and Dan Lawrence (right) need runs next week to keep places
At least Rory Burns proved what is possible when you bat in an idiosyncratic fashion. To have been hit five times on the head, as he has been in his Test career, and appear unfazed by it all, says a lot about his resilience. I was really pleased to see him make that first-innings hundred.
I did think it was a little odd, though, that England made absolutely no effort to chase the runs on the final afternoon.
It was an excellent declaration by Kane Williamson because he could easily have settled for a bit of bowling practice ahead of the World Test Championship final. Instead, he wanted to push his team.
So it was a shame England never picked up the gauntlet. I thought they could have attacked until they had lost four or five wickets, and then shut up shop if they were worried about losing.
Their problem, clearly, is that not enough of their batsmen felt in good enough nick to challenge a target of 273 in 75 overs.
With Ben Stokes (pictured) and Jos Buttler returning this summer, both need to stake claim
Instead, the approach seemed to be that we’ve just lost our last three Tests in India, so we need to steady the ship.
I would like to add a word about Ollie Robinson — the cricketer. I knew he’d be impressive, but that was still an outstanding performance on debut both with bat and ball.
And he formed an important part of England’s excellent bowling on the fourth evening, when New Zealand could easily have been 50 for five, not 62 for two. That was as good a bowling stint as I can remember from an England seam attack, and Robinson looked completely at home.
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