With the first India v England test match due to get underway in Chennai in 33 hours time news has come through of an injury to Zak Crawley. Better news is that Ollie Pope is definitely fit, while the ridiculous news is that Moeen Ali is till being hyped for a test comeback.
REJIGGING THE ENGLAND BATTING ORDER
With Pope returning and Crawley injured, Dan Lawrence who made a decent start to his international career in Sri Lanka will come into the side. For me he goes in at number three, while Pope makes his return at no6. Thus, the team I expect to see is now: Sibley, Burns, Lawrence, *Root, Stokes, Pope, +Buttler, Bess, Archer, Broad, Leach and the team I would personally pick from those in India is: the same top six, and then +Foakes, Archer, Leach, Anderson, Parkinson. I explained in yesterday’s post why I favour the elevation of Parkinson, but I will not be especially annoyed if Bess retains his place, and I would accept a dogged insistence on strict rotation policy for the veterans. I will be furious if Moeen gets selected. Such a move would be doubly flawed: his record shows him to not be worth a place with either bat or ball, and it is a retrograde step bringing back an oldster.
TWO SPINNERS NEEDED
There is more than a possibility that India will have three front line spinners in their ranks, with the most likely trio being R Ashwin (off spin), Kuldeep Yadav (left arm wrist spin) and Axar Patel (left arm orthodox spin), although Washington Sundar (off spin) is also in the reckoning. Thus, for England to go with only one front line spinner plus Moeen as back up would be foolish, especially given that Root or Lawrence could bowl off spin if such was definitely warranted. The presence of two part time off spinners among the batters is a further reason for favouring the Parkinson/ Leach combo, maximizing the variation available to England. Without Parkinson playing the nearest England have to a leg spin option is Sibley, with a princely tally of four first class wickets to his name.
If England are up for a real gamble, and want to suggest a potential career development path to Bess, they could select all three spinners (Bess alongside Leach and Parkinson) and have Bess come in at number seven – he has shown some skill with the bat and I suspect a move up the order, maybe not so dramatically as the legendary Wilfred Rhodes, is in his future. Moeen Ali does not have enough to offer as a bowler, and very much belongs to the past. At no seven, as third spinner, where I am suggesting Bess he would be less of a disaster, but if he is at no8 in a team aiming for a more conventional balance England will be in trouble – you can only win a test match if you can take 20 wickets. It is time for my ‘spinners’ infographic to get yet another run out:
My usual sign off…