Top talking points ahead of the fourth Test between England and India.
Sam Curran coming back in for the injured Chris Woakes was always on the cards after rumours started circulating over Woakes’ thigh strain. Curran will be eager to get among the Indian batsmen again after good form in the first two Tests.
After scoring plenty of runs for Worcestershire in a recent encounter against Yorkshire, Moeen Ali gets his call-up back into the team to replace specialist batsman Ollie Pope. This follows the news that Jonny Bairstow will keep his place in the team but will have to give up the gloves to limited-overs wicketkeeper Jos Buttler.
Opinions are likely to be divided on this, but only time will tell how wise the decision to replace a specialist batsman with a bowling all-rounder will prove to be for England.
Bairstow will also be under a lot of scrutiny as he has been promoted up the order to the key slot at No 4 even though he is still recovering from a finger injury. This offers a compelling contest as the Indian bowlers have vowed to put Bairstow’s finger under close examination.
Mohammed Shami commented that ‘when you see that a batsman has a weakness and he feels uncomfortable in some way, you’d prefer to work on that aspect. It’s not just me, any fast bowler will want to target his weak zone. So, we will definitely look at that’.
Meanwhile, Bairstow is the latest Englishman being thrust into batting in a position they’re not accustomed to after Pope made his Test debut at Lord’s batting at four, which is higher than he’s ever batted for Surrey.
‘I’ve not really batted higher than five for Yorkshire,’ said Bairstow.
One questions once again whether these are inspired, courageous decisions from the selectors or if they are hasty and panic-stricken changes in response to rising pressure from the media. Only time (and will the result from the fourth Test) will ultimately decide.
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