The dust has now settled on England’s Test summer although there are plenty of questions which need answering before their next red-ball engagements against Bangladesh and then India this winter.
Head coach Trevor Bayliss has thrown down the gauntlet to players in county cricket to seize their chance and put pressure on England’s misfiring batsmen, all but confirming that changes will be made.
Opener Alex Hales scored runs against Sri Lanka earlier in the summer but only chalked up one half-century against Pakistan. He looks vulnerable but the selectors, who meet in the second week of September, may persevere with him.
In Bangladesh and India the ball won’t be swinging around as much so that may allow him to play his natural, attacking game more. Long-term I don’t think he’s good enough as a Test opener but he may avoid the axe on this occasion.
Hampshire’s James Vince has clearly struggled and averages under 20 in Test cricket. During the last clash at the Kia Oval he made a solitary run across two innings. Unfortunately, his immediate Test career looks to be over.
He’ll be disappointed but he can’t complain too much about not been given a fair crack of the whip. He needs to go back to county cricket and get to the stage where he’s banging on the door again through weight of runs.
I do, however, think he’s unlucky to miss out on selection for England’s upcoming five-match one-day series against Pakistan, which starts on 24 August. White-ball cricket is his stronger suit although I’m sure he’ll be back in contention at some stage.
Gary Ballance of Yorkshire is another who hasn’t done enough to nail down his Test place, although he does play spin fairly well at times so that may work in his favour with England due to play in subcontinental conditions.
There are definitely places up for grabs and the one-day series also provides an opportunity for players to press their case for Test selection and throw their hat into the ring. I’m thinking of Jason Roy and Jos Buttler, in particular, who are probably on the radar of selectors already.
I was delighted to see Durham seamer Mark Wood recalled to the one-day squad. He has been hampered by injury and has not played for England since last winter’s series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.
He’s had two operations on an ankle problem so it’s great to see him fit and firing. When I’ve seen him bowl this season he’s been rapid and hitting speeds of 92 and 93mph; there are very few guys in the country who can do that.
Most of England’s Test bowlers tend to be around 85mph so to have someone who can crank it up is a strong weapon. Hopefully he can play a big part in the one-day series and force his way back into the Test squad for the winter.
Time on the sidelines can be pretty miserable so I’m sure he is both relieved and excited to be back in an England squad.