While the ECB have made the right decision in suspending Ollie Robinson while the investigation into his historical offensive tweets is ongoing, it does leave England with something of a selection problem ahead of the Edgbaston Test.
Whether or not changes would have been made anyway is irrelevant at this point but the absence of a string of our first choice all-rounders – Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Sam Curran, and Moeen Ali – means finding the right balance will not be easy.
With that in mind, we’ve outlined the options available to Joe Root and Chris Silverwood as they look to replace Robinson for the second New Zealand Test…
Replace him with either Jack Leach or Dom Bess
Historically, Edgbaston is a ground that offers something to spinners, so it looks likely that England will look to bring Jack Leach into the side having opted for just seamers and the skipper in the first Test at Lord’s.
The issue with bringing Leach in for Robinson is that while the Somerset spinner has produced some wonderful displays with the bat in his time, he’s not quite as capable as the Sussex seamer and him coming in at eight would leave us with a long tail.
As his average of 22.78 proves, Dom Bess is no slouch with the bat but Silverwood has already suggested that he’s in the squad as a back-up for Leach, which suggests the off-spinner is unlikely to be used in his place.
Replace him with Craig Overton
The most like-for-like replacement in the England squad for Robinson in terms of what he offers with bat and ball, it could be as simple as bringing Craig Overton in as a straight swap.
That would mean that Root and Dan Lawrence would have to shoulder all the spinning responsibilities and on an Edgbaston pitch that could have some turn in it, that may not be wise.
On top of that, Overton has been banned previously having used “language that vilifies another person on the basis of race or national origin”, so given the current circumstances England may not see him as an appropriate replacement – though Silverwood has not suggested that is the case.
Replace him with Olly Stone
Olly Stone is the other fast bowling option in the England squad for the New Zealand series and while he could certainly replace Robinson’s output with the ball, he is not a natural batsman.
His Test average after two games is just 5.00 and as highlighted in the case of Leach, his inclusion in place of Robinson would lengthen the tail and risk unbalancing the team.
Replace Robinson and Wood with Overton and Leach
Perhaps the most likely option on this list, ensuring the team is properly balanced may mean more than one change to the line-up.
Bringing in Overton and Leach for Robinson and Wood would mean that the skipper has a frontline spinner and Overton, who has 13 First Class 50s to his name, batting at number eight.
The issue with that selection is that England would lack the raw pace that either Stone or Wood bring, with none of the three seamers in the XI (Overton, Broady, and Jimmy) quite at that speed.
Replace Robinson and Wood with Stone and Leach
Alternatively, England may look to back their top seven batters by including Stone and Leach in place of Robinson and Wood.
While that would mean a longer tail, it would also mean that Root has both a spinner and a seriously quick bowler available to him.
On top of that, Stone is likely to be fresher and may be able to cope better with the workload that comes from being one of just three seamers than Wood.