England told to be "smart" and "pick older players" in bid to address poor form

Since the start of 2015, England have handed Test debuts to 37 different players of which just three have been aged 30 or over.

Mark Stoneman and Sam Billings were both 30 when they made their debuts, while Joe Denly was 32 when he was given his first Test cap in 2019. In the process, Denly became the oldest batter to make his Test debut for England since Alan Wells back in 1995.

As a result, it is clear that England tend to favour giving young players their debuts in the hope that they will become long-term success stories. However, modern-day superstars like Alastair Cook, Stuart Broad, Joe Root and Ian Bell who all debuted in their early 20s and have gone on to play over 100 Tests are rare.

For most players, the prime of their career begins when they reach their late 20s or enter their early 30s. Australia, for example, had success when they handed Adam Voges his Test debut at 35 and gave Chris Rogers a recall at 35.

Voges may only have gone on to play 20 Tests but he was extremely prolific, scoring 1485 runs at an average of 61.87. Rogers, meanwhile, added a further 24 caps to the solitary one he earned in 2008, retiring aged 37 with 2015 runs at 42.87.

And new Hampshire signing Ben Brown believes England should do something similar and look to "pick older players" as they bid to address a woeful run of form which has seen them win just one of their last 17 Test matches. Brown, 33, is one of the most prolific run scorers in county cricket at the moment, averaging 45.43 and scoring 17 centuries in first class cricket since 2015.

Brown believes it would be "smart" for England to consider selecting more players over the age of 30, with their extra experience an asset. Speaking to Wisden, he said: "If England are smart, they’ll pick older players than perhaps they have in the past because with fitness and health these days I think people are going to play for longer and longer.

"Guys my age should continue to hope and continue to drive their standards to play for England. I certainly won’t be giving up and I know my record stacks up. I’ve just got to continue to play at those standards and see where it gets me.

"You’ve got to work out how to score runs and I think method is more important than technique. There’s a lot of talk about technique from commentators and probably not enough reference to method. Method is how you apply your technique in different scenarios.

"I feel sympathy for the young players being thrown into Test cricket who are having their techniques pulled apart by people. Perhaps it’s the method they haven’t fully understood because they haven’t had that time to learn the art of run-scoring in different scenarios."

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