English Uncertainty Could Offer Hope To Pakistan
England start their summer test series against Pakistan this week with the rare occurrence of most of their line up either playing for their place of embarking on a new role within the starting line-up. A poor winter that saw a heavy loss in the Ashes and then a further series defeat against New Zealand has saw the English hierarchy looking to freshen things up for the two-test series against Pakistan before England take on India later in the summer.
Both openers in Cook and Stoneman will have the focus on them. Cook has been a fantastic performer for over a decade but endured a very difficult winter where aside from on fantastic innings he struggled to score and after 12 years of playing at the highest, its been questioned how long he’d go on if his struggles continue this summer. Along side Cook is Mark Stoneman – a player who has not grabbed his opportunity at the top of the order and gets another go due to lack of other candidates as opposed to weight of runs.
The surprise selections of Buttler and Bess has meant that the move of Joe Root to No 3 in the order has gone slightly under the radar. England’s best player has long stated his preference to bat at 4 in the order which has caused long debate about whether that is best for the team with England not having found a 3 since Trott’s retirement and England’s problems at the top of the order. A similar situation is the No 5 spot where Johnny Bairstow gets moved up from No 7 and is now going to utilised as a front-line batsman to go with his keeping. Ben Stokes makes a return to the England line up at home, since his much-publicised absence after a night out in Bristol and a difficult IPL where he didn’t not perform to the standards he has in the past.
Most eyes will be on the two most stand out selections of Jos Buttler and Dominic Bess. Buttler is selection that no one really saw or predicted with his amazing form in the IPL being rewarded with a call up for the England test match side. He is a fine talent who has not quite nailed test cricket yet and will intriguing to see how he goes this time. Bess is another fascinating pick, at 20 years of age and with only 16 first class games under his belt it will be very interesting to see how he handles test match cricket and how Pakistan attempt to play him and if they attack the young debutant when he gets his first bowl in a test match atmosphere.
England are rightly favourites with an excellent record at home and with conditions usually favouring their new ball attack of Anderson and Broad who have excelled at home for years on end. The pitch at Lords is usually pretty good for batting and does not tend to deteriorate much over the course of a game. A good first day or two for Pakistan (especially with the bat) could well put some pressure on an England side where there are a lot of question marks over a lot of players and see some good potential for a few in-play bets depending on the state of the game. Either it will be interesting to see how England’s players perform with quite a few points to prove.
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