After England’s 1-0 series defeat in New Zealand, could England bring Dawid Malan back into the Test fold for their upcoming tour to South Africa?
In England’s 15-man touring party to New Zealand, Zak Crawley was the only back-up batsman included in the squad. After Jos Buttler picked up an injury prior to the second Test in Hamilton, Crawley was drafted into the playing XI despite averaging less than 32 from 36 first-class matches. In his one innings in Hamilton, he was dismissed for just one. Ollie Pope, who had previously kept wicket just five times in first-class cricket, donned the gloves in Buttler’s stead. While he kept tidily in New Zealand’s first innings, he dropped a fairly regulation chance to dismiss Kane Williamson in their second.
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) December 6, 2019
With England likely to take an extra squad member for the tour to South Africa, they may opt to include specialist top-order batting cover as well as specialist cover in the wicketkeeping department. Dawid Malan, who last played Test cricket in August 2018, could be someone who could fulfil the former role.
Speaking on the Wisden Cricket Weekly Podcast, Wisden staff writer Ben Gardner argued that there was sense in picking Malan, particularly as Dom Sibley has yet to prove himself as Test opener. “You’ve got to look at an overseas Test squad as covering for every base,” said Gardner. “The big question mark for England is still over Sibley. I think if he struggles in the first two Tests and England are 1-0 down, they are probably likely to leave him out. At which point, you probably want Joe Denly to move up to open.
“I don’t think there’s another guy who can do the backup opener job as well as him. And then you’re looking at another number three and I know that Jonny Bairstow has done it before but I don’t think he’s suited for that and I don’t think Pope is ready to move up. So I think Malan, even if it’s just for this tour, is the guy to step up into that role if needs be. It’s pragmatic and I don’t know if Malan will play another Test even but I think he should be in that squad basically just for that reason.”
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