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England set for fresh approach in New Zealand.
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The PCA’s England Test Most Valuable Player Rankings resets on Wednesday night as the Three Lions take on New Zealand in the first of two five-day fixtures down under.
The fixture, which will be the first international Test Match to be held at the Bay Oval in Tauranga, sees England return to the longest format just over two months after the final game of their memorable 2019 Ashes series against Australia.
Following the conclusion of that encounter at the Kia Oval, which saw England level the series at 2-2, Stuart Broad claimed the Test MVP for summer 2019 thanks to his 33 cumulative wickets across the Ashes and the single Test against Ireland at Lord’s.
He had followed 2018/19 winter Test MVP Moeen Ali, who finished top of the pile after a series of outstanding performances against the West Indies and in spinning conditions against Sri Lanka.
A mixture of new and established faces will look to follow in Broad and Moeen’s footsteps during England’s latest assignment, with Dom Sibley set to make his full international debut and Ollie Pope returning to the side after a one-year absence.
Opener Sibley was a revelation for Warwickshire throughout the Bears’ indifferent 2019 season. His 1,324 Championship runs at 69.68 earned him a nomination for both the NatWest PCA Players’ Player of the Year and PCA Young Player of the Year awards at the Association’s 50th awards ceremony in early October.
The 24-year-old will join old friend Rory Burns at the top of the order on Wednesday night as England look to solve their long-standing batting issues in red ball cricket.
Pope, 21, has been blighted by a shoulder injury since he made 54 runs across his first two Tests which both came against India last summer. His return to the Surrey first XI at the back end of the season, however, saw the young batsman return scores of 221 not out and 106, and he has since impressed in England’s warm-up game against New Zealand A, making 88.
He and Sibley will join the likes of Broad, Joe Root and Ben Stokes at the beginning of a winter schedule that contains two Tests against New Zealand, four against South Africa and two against Sri Lanka, meaning the Test MVP will be named come 31 March 2020.
As the Test MVP gets underway, the PCA will continue to keep track of England’s most valuable player across all formats via the Overall MVP table.
Dawid Malan, who recently signed for Yorkshire on a four-year deal, leads the way after an impressive T20I series against the same opposition saw him average 15.65 MVP points per game. He leads from limited overs skipper Eoin Morgan in second and the mercurial Chris Jordan in third.
The upcoming fixtures should change the complexion of the Overall Rankings, though, given the difference in personnel between the T20I and Test squads. Of the 14 players to have represented England across the recent five-match T20I series, which the away side edged 3-2 in dramatic fashion after another Super Over, only Sam Curran has been named in the XI for the game starting on Wednesday.
He has been picked ahead of fellow all-rounder Chris Woakes, adding a left-arm seam option to England’s bowling attack and solving England’s most debated selection conundrum for this Test.
The final XI gives an indication of what the future of the England Test side could look like as Chris Silverwood takes charge of his first game in that format since he succeeded the outgoing Trevor Bayliss at the beginning of October.
With the new coach publicly backing his side to change their approach to Test cricket, with more of an emphasis to be placed on batting long, it remains to be seen whether England’s top-order batsmen will be able to make an impact on the PCA’s MVP Rankings.
View the England MVP Rankings here.
Keep up-to-date with all the latest MVP news by following the @pcaMVP on Twitter.