England swatted Sri Lanka away in an underwhelming start to the cricketing summer and now face a far stiffer opponent in the shape of Pakistan.
The two nations have a chaotic cricketing history, littered with controversy and confrontation.
If Mike Gatting’s famous finger-wagging with umpire Shakoor Rana in 1987 wasn’t bad enough, Inzamam-ul-Haq then refused to lead his team onto the pitch at the Oval in 2006.
And, as mentioned elsewhere, the fixture most recently had to endure the infamous spot-fixing scandal of 2010.
With Mohammad Amir returning to the Test fold for the first time since his ban – and three months in prison – the stage is now set for another fiery series.
Amir hasn’t played long-form cricket for six years, but he seems to have lost none of the ability that saw him become the youngest bowler to 50 Test wickets at just 18.
He terrorised batsmen with pace and swing at the World T20 earlier this year, and his three wickets in a rain-affected match at Somerset last weekend show he’s at home again with a red ball in his hand.
Having been named man of the series in 2010, and facing a shaky England top order, I think he’ll thrive again.
Amir is 7/4 with Betway to be top Pakistan bowler, which I will be backing.
Despite Amir’s form, England are a force to be reckoned with at home.
Once Jimmy Anderson and Ben Stokes get fit they are a match for any and, looking at the series, should have enough to beat a Pakistan side who only have one win here since 2001.
While they’ll be made to work for it at times, I think England will have enough to douse any hopes of overall Pakistan victory.
Over the four matches, I think England will be able to take at least three wins to claim the series.
That leads me to recommend buying England series at 2.1 with Sporting Index.
Amir, Pakistan top bowler, 7/4, Betway
Buy England series wins, 2.1, Sporting Index