Adam Lyth © AFP
Adam Lyth, the Yorkshire-man topped the averages chart in the 2014 County Championship © AFP

Adam Lyth, the 27-year-old Yorkshire opener, has finally got his England call, one that he deserved long back. Sudatta Mukherjee writes why Adam Lyth’s selection is the one positive decision England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have taken in the last one week.

Forget for a moment that ECB’s new Director of cricket Andrew Strauss and new CEO Tom Harrison got together one day and told Kevin Pietersen “sorry, your England career is over, because we cannot trust you” after he bludgeoned a triple-hundred. Forget for one moment that England sacked their head coach minutes after the new director of cricket was appointed. Forget for one moment that England cricket is in a mess. READ: Kevin Pietersen’s exclusion from England squad will not make a difference

England are to play New Zealand in a two-Test series. Prior to this day, England have had a gaping hole in their batting line-up: the lack of a specialist opening partner for Alastair Cook. In the last five years, Cook has had seven opening partners.  Apart Nick Compton, Cook’s partnership with the other six does not leave much room for the cricket fans to admire. READ: Dear Andrew Strauss, will the non-performing Alastair Cook be also axed?

Player

Player

Years

Inns

NO

Runs

Highest Partnership

Ave

Alastair Cook

Andrew Strauss

2010-2012

47

0

1741

188

37.04

Nick Compton

Alastair Cook

2012-2013

17

1

927

231

57.93

Alastair Cook

Sam Robson

2014-2014

11

0

355

66

32.27

Alastair Cook

Joe Root

2013-2013

10

0

266

68

26.6

Alastair Cook

Michael Carberry

2013-2014

10

0

250

85

25

Alastair Cook

Jonathan Trott

2015-2015

6

0

154

125

25.66

Alastair Cook

Kevin Pietersen

2012-2012

1

0

21

21

21

Cook’s last opening partner Jonathan Trott retired from international cricket immediately after the series against West Indies, citing poor performance as an eye-opener that he cannot survive much longer. He should probably have batted at No. 3. However, the crux of the matter remains that ECB really needed an opening partner for Cook. READ: Kevin Pietersen: The hero England need but do not deserve!

The problem was ECB were not looking at the right place.

Somewhere back in September 2014, after the One-Day International (ODI) series against India ended, Geoffrey Boycott expressed his frustration on Twitter. He wrote: “Paul Downtown, James Whitaker, Peter Moores and Alistair Cook you’ve got it all wrong…we were rubbish.” Michael Vaughan seconded that.

It was during this conversation that Boycott mentioned about a certain Adam Lyth.

It took ECB eight months to fathom what Boycott had mentioned in September. Nevertheless, as they say, “better late than never.” Lyth is probably the answer England have been looking for, if county numbers matter at all.

In 2012, Lyth’s First-Class average in England was 50.06. In 2014, it jumped to 70.39. In 2015, the number reads 53. Lyth has played 103 First-Class matches till now at 43.20. He has played 96 matches for Yorkshire at an average of 44.20. He scored 1,619 runs from 17 matches in 2014.

If Lyth is to play the two Tests, he will be playing the first at Lord’s and the second at Headingley, his home ground. He has played only two First-Class matches at Lord’s, but that includes a 103. At Headingley, on the other hand, he has played 23 times, scoring three hundreds and 13 fifties, but averages a mere 33.81.

An opener with a lot of potential and a huge range of shots, Lyth was supposed to get an Ashes call in 2011. However, poor performances resulted in him not getting selected.

Lyth has been in good form recently. His last five First-Class scores read 53, 23, 113, 46* and 65. He topped the averages chart in the 2014 County Championship:

Name

Team

M

I

NO

R

HS

Ave

100s

50s

Adam Lyth

Yorkshire

16

23

1

1489

251

67.7

6

6

Ed Joyce

Sussex

14

23

2

1398

164*

66.6

7

3

James Vince

Hampshire

16

28

3

1525

240

61

4

7

Daryl Mitchell

Worcestershire

16

27

4

1334

172*

58

5

4

Chris Rogers

Middlesex

15

28

4

1333

241*

55.5

4

4

Will Gidman

Gloucestershire

13

20

5

826

125

55.1

3

2

Jason Roy

Surrey

16

23

3

1042

121*

52.1

3

5

Luke Wright

Sussex

12

21

3

933

189

51.8

3

3

Will Smith

Hampshire

16

27

4

1187

151*

51.6

2

6

Sam Hain

Warwickshire

12

18

2

823

208

51.4

4

1

One can only hope Lyth lives up to his reputation and scores some runs. One can only hope that ECB stick around with him and gives him enough time to make his mark and not get rid of him at drop of a hat.

ECB have been quite frustrating in recent times in the way they have handled players and coaching staff. It still remains a mystery on why Compton was dropped. It may be true that Compton’s recent form leaves a lot to be desired and Lyth has done far better to get the much awaited England call. If Boycott feels that the Lyth should be part of the team, then there must be something in Lyth to attract the attention of England’s second best opener in Test history.

Only time can tell how far Lyth’s journey will venture and how far will the heads at ECB allow him. As someone recently said — England cricket is about the players and their recent form. It is not about ECB.

(Sudatta Mukherjee is a reporter with CricketCountry. Other than writing on cricket, she spends penning random thoughts on her blog. When she is not writing, you will catch her at a movie theatre or watching some English television show on her laptop. Her Twitter handle is @blackrosegal)