Peter Moores, moreover, always likes to have a left-handed and right-handed opening combination to disrupt the line of the opposition’s new-ball bowlers. And Carberry did nothing to further his case in his two games for England this season: an innings of six in the one-day international against Sri Lanka, and seven in the T20 international.
Sam Robson, by contrast, has been showing the ability of late to “go big” with five centuries for the England Lions during the winter. The first two, against state second XIs in Australia, were not much to email home about because the standard was ordinary. But three centuries in Sri Lanka, two of them in the ‘A’ Test series, made as powerful a case as an opening candidate could make.
Peter Moores' England Test side, with three new caps, will have plenty of batting potency and be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed – Courtesy: The Telegraph (U.K.)
Robson, in his seventh season in English cricket, bats at his best in a style which is the best of both worlds: he looks to bat all day, like an old-style English pro, a Cook or a Boycott, but he is also assertive in accordance with his Australian roots. He looks to put pressure on the bowler after “giving him the first hour”, in the old pro’s phrase, of reconnaissance.
Robson is lucky to have his Test debut on his home, or at least adopted, ground, and if he goes well against Sri Lanka he will have two of his first four Tests on his home ground. Carberry has been unlucky, in similar proportion. But, ultimately, he painted himself into a corner in Australia by not learning how to push his ones and twos.
Moeen Ali is the second of England’s three new caps, and while at the moment he is a batsman who bowls, England need him to evolve into a complete all-rounder. England are back to “the dark ages”, as Tom Moody would say, as far as spin bowling is concerned post-Swann – except for Moeen Ali, who has a doosra in his offspinning repertoire.
The doosra is still viewed with disapproval by officialdom in England, and unofficially banned, but the time will come when England are playing abroad, perhaps in Asia, and need such a bowler In the meantime Moeen Ali has to show that at number six he can make Test centuries.
Chris Woakes has come on significantly as a bowler since his debut in the fifth Test last summer, when he batted capably but was below Test-standard in his bowling. If Stokes has to be rapped over the knuckles, then Woakes is the right replacement, now he stands up strongly at the bowling crease and hits the mid-80s mph consistently.
Liam Plunkett is more likely to be a 12th man. You would not want to have two pace bowlers – Chris Jordan, the third new cap, well-deserved after his white-ball displays, and Plunkett – who could have trouble with the Lord’s slope and bowl erratically. Jordan, from the Pavilion end, and Woakes, from the Nursery end, would make a steadier combination.
Like all teams coached by Peter Moores, this one will be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, to the point of zealous in their fielding. Matt Prior has done just enough to recover from his Achilles injuries to return and orchestrate England in the field. Whether this team has the class, wisdom and street-fighting qualities to overturn Australia little more than a year from now, only time will tell.