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English cricket’s winter of discontent

by Saad Raja

If, like me, you’re a big fan of English cricket, I think we can all agree that this winter hasn’t been great. England lost 4-0 at the Ashes in Australia, lost 1-0 in the series to New Zealand and have gone 13 matches without a win away from home. The England team’s barren run is an English record, but perhaps not one they’ll be proud of. All in all – it’s not been a great season.    

It’s clear that there have been some issues. Whoever the new national selector for England is, they’ll have a big job on their hands to get our team back on a winning streak. After the team’s performance this winter, it’s safe to say a switch-up is needed. This week, I’m weighing in on the highs and lows of England’s dismal winter cricket.

Changes to be made

There is the expectation that Moeen Ali will be dropped, and that is a decision easy to justify. For all his charms, he has not scored many runs nor taken many wickets lately. This winter he averaged just under 19 with the bat and his five Test wickets have come at 126 apiece. It becomes a bit of an insult to the others if they keep picking him. In my opinion, England’s hopes of a better run will be higher without him moving forward.

Ali is not the only concern though. Former captain Alastair Cook has also been in poor form. Apart from a double hundred at Melbourne, he hasn’t had a good winter. There’s concern about his form which needs to improve to give us a chance.

Bright spots for the future

While this winter has been a struggle for the England team as a whole, there are positives to take away from it. Notably, I believe that the best part of this winter was Stuart Broad’s return to form. Broad seems to have genuinely returned to his best – bowling at 87mph and getting the ball away from right-handers and into the left-handers. In the two Tests, he took 11 wickets at an average of 18.54 and looked like his old self. All that hard work he put in between the Ashes and coming to New Zealand has really paid off.

There was a noticeable absence for England this winter. Whether right or wrong, Ben Stokes did not join the team in Australia after being arrested for affray in September. His return is undoubtedly a huge boost for the English side. As an all-rounder, Strokes brings so much to a side and I believe the team really missed his power. Although he’s being eased back into the team due to ongoing back problems, he could be the spark the team is missing.

What next?

If England are to get back to the form we all know they’re capable off, careful team selection is required. There’s much debate over what should happen in English cricket, yet one thing’s for sure – whoever fills the role of the new national selector has a tough job on their hands. I for one would like this to be the last winter of discontent for our team and the fans.

Saad Raja

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