ormer bowler Graeme Swann believes England are “mad” to have strayed from the batting lineup that won them the 50-over World Cup by promoting Jos Buttler to opener as they look to add the T20 crown to their collection.
For the first time in recent years, Morgan has a full-strength squad to choose from in the shortest format, sparking debate as to how best to utilise his embarrassment of batting riches.
The skipper’s dilemmas include where to find a place for Dawid Malan, the world’s top ranked T20i batsman, and whether to include World Cup-winning opener Jonny Bairstow as an extra batsman at no4 ahead of one of his all-rounders, Sam Curran or Moeen Ali.
One certainty, however, is that Buttler will continue to open, despite calls from many pundits, including Swann, for him to bat in the middle order, where England have fewer options and as he does to great effect in the ODI side.
“I don’t see why there’s a massive scramble to get him opening the batting,” Swann said. “Don’t get me wrong, he is an amazing opener, although he didn’t have a great IPL this year, but the amount of times I’ve seen him do incredible stuff in the middle order for England, I think it’s crazy to think of him batting anywhere else.
“In 50-over cricket, I would much rather see him come in with 30 overs to go and guide the tail and win a game that way. We should just let people like Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy do the whacking through the circle at the top of the order.
“It’s mad to think of changing the top order when we’ve just won the World Cup with a brilliant template: Roy and Bairstow at the top and then that middle order of Morgan, Stokes and Buttler. Just don’t mess with it.”
Morgan will have Jofra Archer in his side for only the fifth time in T20 cricket, with the fast bowler in terrific form after a stellar IPL campaign.
Archer was named the tournament’s MVP despite his Rajasthan Royals side failing to qualify for the play-offs and Swann, who was in the UAE covering the competition, is excited about his potential in the South Africa series.
“I’ve had the pleasure of watching Jofra Archer every couple of days as an IPL pundit this autumn and it’s so much fun,” Betfair ambassador Swann said.
“He’s genuinely fast, and he bowls very, very straight, so even players who have been absolutely smashing it against all other teams have been getting out to him within two or three balls.
“And he wasn’t just getting them out in ways that you might say they were unlucky, he was simply too quick for them. I know we always say he’s fast, but he’s getting international standard players in the top form of their lives out.”