3 England batting castoffs make case for Test-side return

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The excitement, and resulting disappointment, of an enthralling World T20 final now passed, attention turns to the County Championship and England’s summer of Test match cricket against Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

After a series win over South Africa in the winter, which included some spellbinding performances from the likes of Ben Stokes, Stuart Broad and Jonny Bairstow, it would be natural to assume everything was rosy as far as Alastair Cook’s side is concerned.

However, victory over the Proteas masked a poor return from the batting department in that series, something that Cook himself eluded to in its aftermath.

Places in the top order are far from guaranteed, while the sad news about James Taylor’s enforced retirement means there will be at least one change in the batting department for the first Test of the summer.

Thankfully, a number of hungry reserves are using the County Championship to try and force themselves into the reckoning. Here’s a roundup of some of the faces making a case for inclusion:

Ian Bell – Warwickshire

The 34-year-old veteran looked to have been put out to pasture when he was overlooked for the tour to South Africa, but has regularly made his desire to regain his Test place public.

He began letting his bat do the talking in his first Championship knock of the summer, scoring 174 for the Bears against Hampshire at the Rose Bowl last week.

He would be the high-class choice to slot into Taylor’s number five slot against Sri Lanka.

Adam Lyth – Yorkshire

Lyth was the only ever-present batsman in last summer’s winning Ashes side that failed to make a telling contribution. His place went to Alex Hales in South Africa as a result.

With Hales also struggling to adapt to the longest form of the game in the winter, he could find himself under immense pressure to remain Cook’s opening partner.

Back with Yorkshire, Lyth has set about scoring the weight of runs needed to force his way back into the selection conversation, with a ton, also against Hampshire, in his first outing.

Sam Robson – Middlesex

On the long conveyor belt of partners Cook has had in the last few years, Robson actually preceded Lyth.

He was the man in possession the last time Sri Lanka toured, scoring his only Test ton against that opposition at Headingley.

A lean spell against India later that summer saw him dropped from the side but he looks to be back in fine fettle with a superb 231 against Bell’s Warwickshire at Lord’s.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.