Skipper Alastair Cook hinted there are likely to be changes to England’s bowling unit for the second Test despite his side clinching a nail-biting 22-run success over Bangladesh in the series opener in Chittagong.
England took less than 20 minutes of the fifth morning to secure the win as all-rounder Ben Stokes claimed the wickets of tail-enders Taijul Islam and Shafiul Islam in quick succession to deny Bangladesh a first ever Test triumph over the tourists.
Victory gave England a 1-0 series lead with just one Test to play, which starts in Dhaka on Friday, and with a five-match showdown with India to follow during November and December, Cook is set to take the opportunity to shuffle his pack.
England appear likely to retain faith in their top six, but may be tempted to rest Stuart Broad, who is one short of playing 100 Tests, or Chris Woakes, with an eye on the battles ahead. Cook was adamant, however, any changes would be rotation rather than axing.
“I’m pretty sure there will be some changes,” said Cook. “If we play the same side early on in the tour, we could have a lot of guys with not much cricket under their belts coming into a crucial Test a bit further down the line.
“We were clear before we came out here that we would rotate, so I’d imagine there might be a couple of changes. It’s certainly more about rotation. In an ideal world we don’t want to get to India with people having not played much cricket.
“There are some fine players who didn’t make this team and, with how it is and energy levels, to not be playing all seven Test matches will freshen things up. It’s certainly more on the bowling side to start with.”
While Cook admitted he could have done with a fourth spinner at times in Chittagong, he also expressed contentment with the balance of the side, which suggests seamers Jake Ball and Steven Finn might be in line for a recall.
On a pitch favouring spin bowling, meanwhile, it was Stokes who came to England’s rescue and proved the match-winner. His crucial two wickets added to his haul of 4-26 in Bangladesh’s first innings and a pivotal top score of 85 in the tourists’ second.
“I now say it every single time we speak about him,” added Cook. “The guy is that X-factor cricketer which every side would love to have. And he balances our side and gives us options.
“The one thing that he has done over the last year is to improve his method against spin.”