The curious cases of English all-rounders
The ongoing India- England series has seen unexpected heroes emerging from England with the all-rounder’s contributing with the bat and ball consistently. Such dominating individual performances in each Test have been hard to ignore. The irony though lies in the fact that the individual all-rounders have not participated in the subsequent Tests, either getting dropped or injured. It can prove to be a panacea for the team management given the ongoing struggles in the fragile batting lineup and over dependency on the two premium bowlers- Anderson & Broad.
Sam Curran, Chris Woakes , Ben Stokes & Moeen Ali all have been the wreckers in chief in the first, second, third and the ongoing fourth Test respectively. In the first Test, Curran, with his majestic quick-fire 65 in the second innings changed the course of the entire match that had been dominated in most sessions by the touring Indians. He also picked up 5 crucial wickets in the match being duly rewarded with the “Player of the Match” award. Two Tests later, he was dropped in order to "accommodate" Stokes who was returning after a court trial. In the second Test held at Lords, Woakes scored a match winning majestic 100 that turned the tide in England's favour. He also chipped in with the ball bowling some unplayable deliveries picking up 4 wickets in the match. Such a dominant performance meant that he forced his way back into the playing XI. Destiny though had other plans though. A knee injury forced him to sit out of the playing XI for the fourth Test.
Ali in the ongoing 4th Test is on a roll. He proved his detractors wrong with a rescuing 40 in yet another top-order collapse becoming the rescuer for England along with Curran. Later, he followed it up with a fifer in the first innings triggering an Indian collapse where he brought back the scars of 2014 series, in which he had then become the unexpected tormentor for India with the ball.
It is a shame that all these players haven’t regularly played together for England in the series so far either due to injuries, court cases or being dropped. Ali has yet again proved that he should be the first choice spinner for England in this format ahead of Adil Rashid. Rashid’s test selection and his use by the captain continue to remain an unsolved mystery and he didn't bowl a single delivery in the Lord's game, which again reinforces the fact that Ali should be the first-choice.
England has to somehow find a way of including all these 4 all-rounders in the playing XI who certainly add a great value to the team .This move can make wonders for the struggling team. Individual performances have stood out so far for England in these 4 Tests but it is time now that the team performs together as a unit. The problems are plenty for the think-tank but the solution could lie in these new discovered all-round performances.