England’s squad for the first Test agains India has been announced and there are a few surprises. Here are the talking points:
Yorkshire’s Rashid has been an integral part of England’s one-day revolution, which began in 2015. He has offered excellent control in the middle overs, as well as providing a genuine wicket-taking threat with his plethora of variations. 62 wickets in 36 matches since the start of 2017 tell its own story.
His Test career has failed to go anywhere near as smoothly. Despite taking 23 wickets on England’s Test tour to India in 2016, Rashid found himself axed from the Test side and has not featured in the longer format since. This, in part, has been down to his decision to sign a white-ball only contract with Yorkshire, emphasising his commitment to one-day cricket.
However, England coach Trevor Bayliss said last week that Rashid could be tempted back into Test cricket and the selectors now feel that his excellent white-ball form can be transferred back into the Test arena. It is a selection that will and has already caused much debate.
Moeen endured a torrid winter for the second time in a row. After averaging 60 with the ball on turning pitches in India in 2016, he then took just five wickets at 115 in Australia, consistently being outbowled by his counterpart, Nathan Lyon (21 wickets at 29.23). Moeen’s lack of form subsequently led to him being dropped for the second Test in New Zealand and has not played a Test since.
In Moeen’s absence, Somerset off-spinners Jack Leach and Dom Bess have been given a go. However, the former broke his thumb and has been in poor form for Somerset this season, taking just five wickets in five matches. In addition, despite the positive impression during the Pakistan series, Bess has suffered from poor form also, leading to him recently being dropped to Somerset’s 2nd XI.
Leach and Bess going off the boil has left the door open for Moeen, who took eight wickets in Worcestershire’s recent loss to Somerset and the selectors feel the time is right for him to return to Tests, particularly after his strong showing in the ODI cricket this year.
Debut Call-Up For Porter
Essex seamer enjoyed a sparkling rise to prominence during his county’s Division One title-winning campaign last season, taking 75 wickets at 16.82 – the most of any bowler in the division. The 25-year-old has been slightly less prolific this season, taking 28 scalps at 26.82 but has performed well for the Lions last week against India ‘A’, taking three wickets and offering good control with the new ball.
Porter does not offer express pace but is accurate and capable of making the ball talk. And with James Anderson and Stuart Broad coming towards the twilight of their careers, the selectors want to see Porter’s credentials in the Test arena as a potential replacement for one of England’s two finest ever seamers.
No Room For Burns
There has been no change in the batting department for England, which means no room for Surrey captain and opening batsman, Rory Burns, who has been banging the door down for a Test place with some outstanding form for Surrey this season (875 runs at 72.91 – the most by a distance in Division One). The 27-year-old offers excellent application and patience at the crease, two traits that have been perhaps missing from England’s Test side for some side now.
Unfortunately for Burns, Keaton Jennings was recalled for the second Test against Pakistan for the out of form Mark Stoneman and it would be virtually impossible to drop the Lancashire opener after just one test (in which he looked reasonably solid). There could have been a potential opening at number three, had England decided to move Joe Root back to number four. However, the England captain stays at first drop.