合乐888登录平台:Tom Westley and Dawid Malan wait for England chance in crunch third Test
England’s Test cricketers reassembled for training at The Kia Oval on Tuesday after a week spent stewing on the defeat at Trent Bridge, with two fresh faces in the squad and their firebrand vice-captain, , of all people urging a more sensible approach.
Tom Westley, the Essex No3, has already been assured of making his debut in place of the injured Gary Ballance when the Investec series with South Africa resumes on Thursday, while the similarly uncapped Dawid Malan of Middlesex was also pressing his claims in the nets in the hope that England bolster their batting at the expense of a bowler.
Conditions will dictate this – a green pitch uncovered in the morning was soon shaved back by the Surrey ground staff – but whichever way they go, Joe Root’s side have a considerable point to prove after seeing the , one that squandered the 1-0 lead they secured at Lord’s, met by some stinging criticism.
Leading this was Root’s mentor and the former England captain, Michael Vaughan, who questioned whether their approach to batting in Test cricket was suffering from a lack respect for the longer format, attributing it to an attacking mentality transferred over from white ball cricket.
Whether this diagnosis entirely met the symptoms is up for debate, not least given five of England’s top seven were out to poorly executed defensive shots during the first innings 205 all out that ultimately cost them in Nottingham, rather than the 133 they managed second time around chasing a fanciful 474 to win.
But Stokes, among the shot-makers in what is a naturally attacking middle order that sits beneath a fragile top three, has conceded that individuals do need to remember the meaning of aggression – the mentality preached by their head coach Trevor Bayliss.
“Aggression doesn’t always mean scoring at a strike rate of 80 or anything like that,” said Stokes. “It is about how you do things. Being aggressive can even be leaving a ball, a decisive defensive shot and being committed to all the movements in the shot your decide to play.
“It’s backing yourself whether you are going to be aggressive or rein yourself in, not taking a negative approach but a more sensible one.”
The challenge presented by South Africa this week at The Oval, which hosts its 100th Test, will only ratchet up further with the return of Kagiso Rabada, that was triggered by telling Stokes to “fuck off” during the first Test at Lord’s and will slot back into the attack at the expense of the profligate Duanne Olivier.
Stokes, who has two points on his own disciplinary record following incidents during the winter and must also be mindful of a possible ban, said there is no “bad blood” between the pair, with the incident simply the result of two passionate cricketers going hammer and tongs.
He said: “We are similar. There is no beef it’s just that there are two personalities like ours and sometimes it will start something. But it is good to be in a battle and I think spectators want to see that. I would be very surprised if he calms anything down - that is what makes him the bowler he is. It is part of his repertoire, being quick and aggressive.”
How England’s bowling attack shapes up this week remains to be seen, with Mark Wood straining in practice to prove he should be retained ahead of the uncapped Toby Roland-Jones despite a disappointing second Test in which he went wicketless and struggled to consistently hit the 90mph mark that sets him out as a point of difference.
Stokes understandably backed his Durham team-mate, describing him as an “important weapon” when fully firing and pointing to an improved final spell at Trent Bridge. Paul Farbrace, England’s assistant coach, admitted the 27-year-old effectiveness hinges on his fitness, with a tacit admission that the sore heel he took into the match was an error.
Farbrace said: “We want him bowling flat out. Wood at 80 mph maybe doesn’t have the skills that other bowlers would. But at late 80s to 90mph he can be a game-changer. We want him around for a long time - not just for the next few games but for the next seven years.
“So we have to manage him carefully. And if he does have an injury that restricts his speed, we have a decision to make about whether he plays or not.”