Sportsmail’s expert selection panel bring Lees in and make Parkinson the No 1 spinner


England have hit rock bottom with another 4-0 thrashing in Australia and action is needed before they face West Indies in a three-Test series in March.

Sportsmail appointed its own panel — former England captain Nasser Hussain and former England coach David Lloyd — to select a squad for the Caribbean. 

Cricket correspondent Paul Newman is in the chair…

England endured a dreadful Ashes Tour, losing the series 4-0 against fierce rivals Australia

Paul Newman: Gentlemen, clearly we have much to discuss. What are we going to do to sort out this Test mess? Let’s start with the openers.

Nasser Hussain: Well, I should point out there are some young players I’ve only seen a few times in the flesh but have watched on county streams. So I will give you options. Zak Crawley stays but I would move away from Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed and leave Dom Sibley to carry on working on his game.

I would go with one of Alex Lees, who I have seen quite a lot of, Rob Yates, who looked good in the Bob Willis Trophy final, or Tom Haines, who I’ve heard a lot of good things about. Lees has been consistent and probably knows his game a bit better now.

David Lloyd: I’d draw a line completely through Burns and Hameed and go along with the options suggested by Nasser. Lees is a good, steady, player although I did hear of one coach who said ‘thank goodness I won’t have to deal with Alex Lees again’ when he left Yorkshire. The likely lad I’m going with alongside Crawley is Yates.

Rory Burns faces scrutiny over his position as an England opener after a torrid time in Australia

Rory Burns faces scrutiny over his position as an England opener after a torrid time in Australia

Newman: I was leaning towards Lees and I think England might do the same. OK, Lees is in and we call time on Burns and Hameed.

Lloyd: The Durham guys, and Beefy Botham is one of them, do say Lees is the best out there.

Hussain: Let’s be honest, when it comes to openers in recent years, it’s been a complete lottery. They have picked lads who have scored runs in county cricket like Burns and Hameed and taken a punt on others like Crawley. You are guessing to an extent and the concern over Yates and Haines is making sure they’re not one-season wonders. From what I’ve seen of them I don’t think they will be.

Newman: How about the middle order. I think we are all agreed on Joe Root and Ben Stokes at four and five. How about three and six? And the wicket-keeper?

Lloyd: Are we going to agree it was wrong for Jonny Bairstow to lose the gloves in the first place? We’ve messed him around like you wouldn’t believe. He would jump at getting them back. Dawid Malan is in possession at three but I suspect West Indies pitches won’t be quick.

James Vince looks a real player and should have cemented a place in the side but hasn’t. He’s an alternative. I’ve banged the drum about Liam Livingstone and I think you’ve got to take a punt on him. He’s a strong, no-nonsense character. I’d mention Josh Bohannon, too, but I hesitate because I’m Lancastrian and I do watch a lot of them.

Zak Crawley has shown enough in his appearances for England to stick with him for now

Zak Crawley has shown enough in his appearances for England to stick with him for now

Hussain: It’s not Bumble being biased. Bohannon looks a good player. He’s a short lad who likes to cut and pull and is well organised. As for Livingstone, it would not be a case of bringing in a white-ball player to do a red-ball job he’s not used to, as we saw when Jason Roy opened the batting in the Ashes.

Livingstone just hasn’t played that much red-ball cricket. He would be familiar with No 6 and we know Caribbean pitches can take a bit of spin these days. He gives you another option there. Malan did fade in Australia but he’s got credit in the bank.

Ollie Pope just looks completely scrambled, maybe by listening to too many theories. He needs to go back to Alec Stewart at Surrey to sort out his technique and mind. I would give Bairstow the gloves, but I know you’re keen on Foakes, Mr Chairman.

Lloyd: The murmur about Foakes is he doesn’t work hard enough at his batting.

Newman: I think Foakes’ time has come. He’s one of the best keepers in the world and was good enough with the bat to make a century on Test debut. But I have no issue with Jonny doing the job as he did nothing wrong in that keeper and No 7 batsman role.

So, Jonny starts and Foakes is back-up. We play Livingstone, and Bohannon is in the squad. Sorted. Now, What about the bowling? There’s been a suggestion England should move on from Jimmy Anderson?

England captain Joe Root faces an uncertain future in his role at the helm of the national side

England captain Joe Root faces an uncertain future in his role at the helm of the national side 

Hussain: I don’t think you can lose the Ashes 4-0 and say the problem is Anderson. He has been phenomenal in the last few years. I go back to what I said here last week. Pick your best team to win the Test in front of you.

The seamers virtually pick themselves. Mark Wood is a must after the Ashes tour he’s had. I still favour picking one of Anderson or Stuart Broad for each Test and Ollie Robinson is a definite in the Caribbean where you need tall, hit-the-deck bowlers. He just needs someone on his shoulder making sure he’s fit enough. Saqib Mahmood is the right type of bowler for the West Indies.

Lloyd: There are strength and conditioning coaches who should be on Robinson’s case all the time. And if they don’t think he is fit enough, he simply must do extra work until he is. He’s a quality bowler and the penny will drop. I’m playing Anderson and Broad as much as I can while we still have them. You wouldn’t worry about taking the same seamers to West Indies but I do like Mahmood. He’s got reverse swing and pace.

Newman: The only other seamer I’d like to talk about is Matthew Fisher because I gather England were impressed with him on the Lions tour in Australia.

Lloyd: He’s got to have a full season fully fit first. He gets loads of injuries does Matt.

Newman: OK, so he misses out and we stick with the big guns, but Mahmood is on the trip. How about spin?

Dawid Malan batted at No 3 for England but questions will be asked over his place in the side

Dawid Malan batted at No 3 for England but questions will be asked over his place in the side

Hussain: I’ve seen Matt Parkinson bowl beautifully at Old Trafford, I’ve seen his brother Callum at Leicestershire and I think Dan Moriarty is one to keep an eye on at Surrey. I’m not sure any of them are world-beaters but Matt Parkinson has impressed Shane Warne and he’s a pretty good judge of a spinner. Thing is, I am not sure England have given Jack Leach a fair crack. But if they do not feel he’s good enough, Parkinson could be the one.

Lloyd: I want someone who spins it both ways against West Indies and that’s Matt Parkinson. I wouldn’t have Leach because I’ve got Root and Livingstone for finger spin.

Newman: Parkinson is in. Great. We’re getting there. So who’s our captain and coach?

Hussain: Well, I see you’ve already sacked the lot of them in Monday’s paper, Mr Chairman! I like Chris Silverwood and half his reign has come in Covid bubbles. I’ve got a lot of sympathy for that. I also didn’t like Gary Kirsten almost applying for the job while Silverwood and his family were in isolation, although I appreciate he was just answering a question on radio.

But too many mistakes have been made and Silverwood is accountable because of the extra responsibility he has for selection. You can look at the system but county cricket doesn’t make you bat first at Brisbane and leave Broad and Anderson out on a green Gabba pitch.

Mark Wood's heroics for England mean that his place in the team is assured moving forward

Mark Wood’s heroics for England mean that his place in the team is assured moving forward 

Ricky Ponting could be the ideal candidate to take England forward in their rebuild

Ricky Ponting could be the ideal candidate to take England forward in their rebuild 

It doesn’t make you leave out your spinner in Adelaide and it doesn’t make you leave Test squad players out of the Lions game when they desperately need match practice. You can’t take the same management team to the Caribbean and tell them to carry on as if nothing has happened. With a heavy heart I say move away from Silverwood.

An alternative? I like Ricky Ponting. Everything I see about him impresses me. He might not have a lot of international coaching experience but he’s got a great cricket brain. There are a few out there — unfortunately, not many of them English. Justin Langer might be available soon, too, so you never know! I would just about stay with Joe Root.

Lloyd: If Ponting is available he’d be perfect. He cares about cricket and cricketers, he knows the game inside out and has gravitas. He wouldn’t muck about. I’d go with the same two, Silverwood and Root. But Nass, if you want to go for Ponting, I’m with you. I will say the circumstances for Silverwood have been unprecedented so I’d give him the rest of the winter.

England won’t suddenly start winning if Root is replaced, I can’t see anyone else as skipper. The biggest problem has been horrendous selection but that goes back to Sam Curran being preferred to Broad on the last tour of the Caribbean. It’s hardly a new thing.

Liam Livingstone could be a contender to come into the side and face West Indies

Liam Livingstone could be a contender to come into the side and face West Indies 

Hussain: And you, Mr Chairman?

Newman: Well, as president of Chigwell Cricket Club I’m clearly better qualified than you two to make these big calls! Sadly, I agree Silverwood has to go and I’m looking at Kirsten because I just can’t see Ponting in an England track-suit. But it’s two-to-one so Ponting gets it.

For me, Root’s race is run. I said on Monday give it to Stokes and I’m delighted to hear he’s pulling out of the IPL to concentrate on Test cricket. But I worry about him being captain on top of everything else. Root keeps it two votes to one.

Lloyd: I can tell you, at this juncture of the meeting Raymond Illingworth would be calling for another bottle. Then we’d chat about it all again.

Newman: I’m with him on that one. Well, we’ve got our squad, captain and coach. Thank you gentlemen.

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