Former England skipper Michael Vaughan believes that, with the IPL stars rested, the New Zealand series presents a great opportunity for young England batsmen, who he believes could seal Ashes spots with big scores. Vaughan further added that he hopes to see an improved Rory Burns against the Kiwis.
England will be without the services of Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow for the two-Test series against New Zealand, but the absence of the aforementioned stars is set to provide an invaluable opportunity for younger and inexperienced members in the squad. While Dom Sibley, Rory Burns and Zak Crawley are all expected to feature in both matches in their preferred positions, the two-Test series will also see Ollie Pope batting higher up the order, with Dan Lawrence making his home debut.
According to Michael Vaughan, however, the two matches will not just be a chance to impress, but an audition for the Ashes later this year. The Three Lions, post the World T20, will be aiming to reclaim the Ashes on Aussie soil for the first time in 11 years, and Vaughan believes that any batsman who scores a ton against the strong Kiwi attack will be in the flight to Australia.
“This series is a great chance for the batsmen to seal an Ashes tour place. If you score a hundred against a strong New Zealand side then you will be going to Australia,” Vaughan wrote in his column for Daily Telegraph.
“With Chris Silverwood now in charge of selection he will take note if a James Bracey, Ollie Pope or Dan Lawrence makes a hundred. They will be pencilled in. What an incentive for these players.
“New Zealand are a high class team so these two Test matches will tell us a lot about some of the players. New Zealand will not have the pace of Jasprit Bumrah, Pat Cummins or Josh Hazlewood but they will have the quality. Neil Wagner offers a different challenge, Kyle Jamieson gets bounce and Tim Southee is very consistent so it is a quality attack full of experience and knowhow.”
One batsman who would be desperate to make a mark would be Rory Burns. The 30-year-old, who was not too long ago being spoken of as a future England captain, has been in terrific form in the ongoing County season but has looked out of touch in Test cricket since the post-pandemic restart last year. Vaughan wanted Burns to show consistency, but also hoped for the southpaw to show improvement with respect to his technique and temperament.
“It will not be easy for players under pressure. Rory Burns for a start needs to show a bit of consistency. It is hard to do that at the top of the order but he has been out lbw a lot and what we do not want to see at Lord’s is his head falling over to the off side, him playing across the front pad and getting out lbw. You also don’t want him jabbing at a fifth stump ball and caught in the slips. You want to see a bit of improvement.”
Crawley, like Burns, has not set the stage on fire since his stunning double ton against Pakistan in Southampton, and Vaughan hoped for the 23-year-old to show more maturity. The former England skipper was critical of Crawley’s shot selection in India and insisted that the right-hander should look to just spend more time at the crease.
“Zak Crawley looks outstanding and the one who could be very special but I was disappointed by the options he took in India. He took risks too early against the spinners. He did not need to gamble as much as he did. Hit the ball on the floor. Why try and hit the ball in the air all the time? It is not T20 cricket. You don’t have to always be scoring. Stay in,” Vaughan said.