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Two Players that Must Perform for England Against the West Indies and Sri Lanka this Summer

Sri Lanka this Summer

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As England prepares for a crucial summer of cricket, the spotlight is squarely on the leaders of their new-look squad for the series against the West Indies and Sri Lanka. There are two newcomers into the squad in the form of Nottinghamshire seamer Dillon Pennington and Surrey batsman Jamie Smith, while Gus Atkinson, Shoaib Bashir, and Matthew Potts are all extremely inexperienced on the international scene. Add to that the absences of the likes of Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow, and it’s clear to see that the English aren’t the force of old.

They currently find themselves at rock bottom of the World Test Championship standings, with just one victory in ten games over the course of the last 18 months. That has seen the latest online cricket odds install them as +250 underdogs for their Ashes series against arch-rivals Australia next year. However, this summer, they will surely be favored for their two home series’ and with six victories certainly possible, the chance to resurrect their test championship campaign is being dangled in front of their eyes.

With so much inexperience in the squad, there has never been more pressure on the team’s leaders. So, who are the two players that must perform for them this summer?

Chris Woakes

Following the retirement of Stuart Broad and the upcoming retirement of veteran Jimmy Anderson, Chris Woakes is England’s only recognized senior bowler. The likes of Jofra Archer, Mark Wood, and Ollie Robinson are all unavailable for the first two tests against the Windies, meaning that the Warwickshire seamer has plenty of pressure on his broad shoulders. If his MVP-winning performances against Australia 18 months ago are anything to go by, he should be up to the task.

Woakes’ all-round abilities have made him an invaluable asset to the current England squad. With his ability to swing the ball both ways, he is expected to exploit the early English summer conditions effectively, and he is his country’s main in the upcoming tests at Lord’s and Trent Bridge. He has consistently demonstrated his wicket-taking ability with the ball, especially on home turf, and he will be among for more of the same this summer. 

His ability to bowl disciplined lines and lengths while generating movement makes him a constant threat to any batting line-up. Against the West Indies and Sri Lanka, teams known for their attacking style, Woakes’ control and precision will be crucial. His knack for taking early wickets can put the opposition on the back foot, providing England with a significant advantage, and that’s something that he is now charged with the responsibility of doing thanks to the departures of no fewer than five key names from the international seen.

Apart from his bowling, Woakes’ contributions with the bat are also important. Batting lower down the order, he has often played crucial innings to rescue his teammates from precarious situations. His ability to score quick runs and build partnerships can be the difference between setting a competitive total and falling short. England will be hoping that not too much responsibility falls onto him with the bat considering his bowling obligations, but he has proven in the past that he can be a reliable last line of defense when the going gets tough.

Ben Stokes

There can be no denying that Ben Stokes’ is England’s talisman. He has played countless knocks that have dragged victory from the jaws of defeat for his country, and he was certainly missed at the recent T20 World Cup. Now as captain, no one has more responsibility than him.

The iconic all-rounder is the very definition of both resilience and tenacity, and he has proven that time and again. This summer, however, it’s his leadership that is required more than his blistering ability, and he will need to provide his new teammates with the confidence that allows them to shine in the pressure cooker that is international test match cricket.

Stokes’ aggressive batting style is well-suited to putting bowlers under pressure, especially in England. His ability to take on the opposition and play match-winning innings is a known quantity, and both the West Indies and Sri Lanka will be aware of their need to neutralize him as early as possible. Should they allow him to build up a head of steam, then he could very well hit them around the park all day long. He can change the course of a match single-handedly, as evidenced by his heroics in previous series such as that iconic third test against Australia at Headingly in the summer of 2019.

Stokes’ bowling, especially in crunch situations, adds another dimension to his all-round capabilities. Known for his aggressive and hostile spells, he can break partnerships and create opportunities for England. His role as a fourth seamer provides a balanced attack, giving the captain flexibility in managing the bowlers.

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