Three Talking Points from the England Squad Selection
India vs England is shaping up to be one of the biggest test series of recent times, as the World’s No.1 side (India) try to win a series in a country where they traditionally struggle. Nonetheless, England have been under constant strife over the past two years with only three batsmen (Alastair Cook, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow) and two bowlers (James Anderson) consistently holding their places in the side.
Thus England’s squad selection on Thursday was quite an interesting event as new chief selector Ed Smith made a few controversial choices.
Most prominent among these was the selection of Adil Rashid, who had ‘retired’ from first-class cricket earlier this year and had refused to play for his county team Yorkshire.
This and many other controversial decisions will help decide the fate of the test series. So what are some takeaways and talking points from this squad selection.
Note: All Statistics compiled from ESPNCricinfo
#1 England’s Middle Order Continues to be Weak
Over the past three or four years, nothing has been more common in English cricket than the inevitable upper middle order collapse. While England has one great batsman in Joe Root, the rest of their middle order has struggled on numerous occasions.
After the dismissals of Cook and Root, most opposition teams have sensed blood and taken advantage of England’s relatively weaker players at No.4 or No.5 (since Root now plays as a No.3).
This will likely continue in the series against India as England have likely selected Dawid Malan, Johnny Bairstow, Ben Stokes and Jos Butler for the slots from No.4 to No.7 (if England decides to go with five pure bowlers then Moeen Ali could be elevated to No.7 and Malan dropped). This is rather risky considering that they average 29.00, 38.40, 34.85 and 35.00 respectively.
Moreover, Malan and Buttler have scored a single hundred between them, showing an inability to play long (apart from one Malan knock at Perth). Furthermore, the temperament of all these players is naturally attacking and this may cause issues.
Only Bairstow is a really reliable option and thus England may encounter some middle-order struggles (in addition to their traditional issues regarding Cook’s opening partner). However, England will be hoping that their relatively strong lower order (with Ali, Stuart Broad and possibly Sam Curran) makes up for this weakness.