England kick off a busy year of Test cricket with the first game of their two-match series against Sri Lanka on Thursday and have ramped up their preparations over the past few days.
Intra-squad warm-up matches are something we’ve become accustomed to over the past year and Friday’s game, which pitted Team Root against Team Buttler, provided some hints about what we can expect from the Sri Lanka series.
The game was drawn but the England skipper’s side came out on top, making 184-2 from 50 overs before reducing Team Buttler to 120-6 from their 38 overs.
But who were the standout performers? We’ve highlighted six (with Jimmy just missing out because, well, we’ve almost run out of adjectives for him at this point)…
Joe Root – 74* (117)
Not only were Team Root the more impressive of the two sides, the England skipper was the pick of the batsman in the intra-squad warm-up game.
His 74 runs from 117 balls were made in trademark style, with a few dazzling strokes along the way.
Root certainly seems in good nick ahead of what looks set to be a busy year of Test cricket.
Dan Lawrence – 46* (66)
With Rory Burns and Ben Stokes absent and Ollie Pope still on his way back from surgery, Lawrence is likely to make his debut in the first Test and showcased exactly what fans can expect from him.
Coming in at four, Lawrence made a free-flowing 46 from just 66 balls – hitting the most boundaries of any player in the game – with some entertaining stroke play.
His unbroken partnership of 95 with the England skipper hinted that the duo enjoy batting together – hopefully it’s something we see a lot more of over the next few weeks.
Zak Crawley – 46 (79)
With Burns missing, Crawley is set to partner Dom Sibley at the top of the order for England and he showed his capability in the intra-squad game.
The right-hander’s high-tempo and positive 46 hinted that he could be the ideal partner to the more defensive Sibley.
Ollie Pope – 58* (91)
The 23-year-old had shoulder surgery at the end of last summer but he showed he is back fit and firing with a fantastic 58.
As he has done a number of times in his Test career already, Pope came in down the order to steady the ship for Team Buttler.
The Surrey man wasn’t expected to return to competitive action until the start of the India tour but clearly, he’s nearly back to his best.
It seems we aren’t going to see him against Sri Lanka but it bodes well for the rest of 2021.
Ollie Robinson – 2/15 from 4 overs
Even with Jofra Archer rested, England’s current fast bowling unit is not an easy one to break into but Robinson made the most of his opportunity to impress in the warm-up match.
Robinson has only been named among the reserves for the Sri Lanka tour but he outlined what an impressive fast bowler he is.
Jack Leach – 2/27 from 8 overs
Spin is usually king in Sri Lanka and with Leach was the pick of England’s spinners, taking two wickets from his eight overs.
With Moeen Ali set to miss the first Test, it seems likely both Leach and Dom Bess will play but the left-armer has done his chances no harm if the tourists opt for only one spinner.