England face tricky decisions on and off the pitch ahead of New Zealand series decider

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England face tricky decisions on and off the pitch ahead of New Zealand series decider
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 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

England were today mulling difficult decisions on and off the field ahead of tomorrow’s deciding Second Test against New Zealand here.

The series has been clouded by the emergence of racist tweets from nine years ago by Ollie Robinson, who made an impressive debut in the draw at Lord’s before being stood down for this match.

Since, further evidence of offensive tweets have emerged, ranging from one unnamed player who was 15 at the time of sending a racist tweet, to James Anderson, Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler whilst they were professionals. The ECB said last night that in addition to their investigation into the suspended Robinson, they will look at the issue in a broader sense. Their board was set to meet imminently to discuss the matter.

“Given the concerns which have been raised are clearly now broader than a single case, the ECB Board will discuss how we deal with issues over historical social media material in a timely and appropriate manner,” read a statement. “Each case will be considered on an individual basis, looking at all the facts. We will assess cases with the Board before making further statements.”

England have difficult selection decisions, too, as they look to put the matter to one side and win the series.

James Bracey, who made his debut as wicketkeeper last week, took a blow to the hand in training yesterday but is not considered a doubt. The uncapped Sam Billings is on standby, but Bracey kept to Mark Wood — England’s fastest bowler — at training this morning.

Wood looks set to sit out, with Olly Stone joining James Anderson and Stuart Broad in the pace-bowling ranks. Those three arrived late for a gentle training session this morning, suggesting they are likely to team up. Unlike last week, England could opt to pick a spinner, with Jack Leach coming in for Robinson but Craig Overton is a candidate, too if they go for a like-for-like change.

 (MARTY MELVILLE/AFP/Getty Images)
(MARTY MELVILLE/AFP/Getty Images)

It lengthens England’s tail, but that only strengthens the case for the top order to stand up. That Overton has an accusation of racism in his past arguably does not help his cause.

New Zealand all-rounder Mitchell Santner has been ruled out with a finger injury and some of their seamers who played at Lord’s will be rotated, with Trent Boult set to come in. Captain Kane Williamson has a worrying elbow injury, too.

Read More

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Dowden and No 10 put pressure on English cricket body over Robinson suspension

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson a doubt for Second Test against England but Trent Boult to return

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