It’s always dangerous to read too much into a meaningless warm up game, but I’m not going to let that stop me. What does England’s 241 run win over Bermuda tell us about what is going to happen over the next few weeks?
Michael Vaughan and Ed Joyce is clearly the opening pair of preference, and it looks increasingly like Andrew Strauss is the spare man in the batting line-up. This is a remarkable downturn in fortunes for Strauss, who England were looking to take on Marcus Trescothick’s mantle as the senior man at the top of the innings.
Vaughan looks like he is going to take the responsibility to have a go in the first few overs in the Mal Loye style, allowing Joyce and then Ian Bell to play themselves in around him. It has to be remembered that Vaughan is a naturally aggressive batsman and this approach may allow him to protect his many injuries as the chance for a longer innings is reduced. He’s clearly not 100% fit, but seems to be being sensibly eased back into the matches.
With Jamie Dalrymple now assured his place at 7, England have a pretty long batting line up and three genuine all-rounders. However, it does seem ironic that Chris Read was dropped because he couldn’t be trusted to bat at 7, and Paul Nixon will end up batting at 8.
Jon Lewis and James Anderson are the opening bowling pair of preference, with Liam Plunkett and then Saj Mahmood as cover. Therefore, I would expect England’s first choice line up to be
If this is representative, and the Ireland – South Africa game was similar, then they are as slow as was promised. Therefore, the predictions of regular 400+ scores may be wide of the mark and scores of 220 may be closer to the norm. Dwayne Leverock was Bermuda’s best bowler taking the pace off the ball. England's most important bowlers may end up being Collingwood, Dalrymple and Panesar with Anderson or Lewis making way for Bopara.
Clearly Bermuda will be disappointed with their performance, which was not helped by an injury to Irvine Romaine, their captain and one of their leading batsmen. However, it must be remembered that Bermuda are one of the weaker minnows, and Ireland’s performance against South Africa gives more hope that there will be a few scares for the big boys.