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Despite widespread calls for captain, Alastair Cook, to be dropped from the setup, England have more or less selected the squad that crashed to an embarrassing defeat against India at Lord’s. Matt Prior has withdrawn from the squad due to fitness issues and Simon Kerrigan, the slow left-arm orthodox has been dropped. Bharath Ramaraj has a sneak peak into the squad.
Game of cricket can be full of unscripted and unforeseen events, where even a few days can make all the difference. Going into the Ashes 2013-14, English cricket was on a high. But since the 5-0 debacle Down Under, England have been on a downhill path. They seemed to be caught in a maze, while facing the fearsome Mitchell Johnson in Australia. The whitewash resulted in the exit of a few senior players and those still around like Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, James Anderson and Stuart Broad are struggling to make their presence felt.
When those 11 players took the field in the second Test against India at amphitheatre of cricket, Lord’s, it seemed more like an encumbrance for them to play the game. Despite the mind-numbing defeat at the hands of Indian team at Lord’s, the English selectors though, haven’t made too many changes for the third Test to be played at The Ageas Bowl.
There were widespread calls for skipper, Cook, to be axed as captain and even from the squad. Bell too has struggled for touch. In the end , only left-arm spinner Simon Kerrigan has been dropped. Experienced wicket-keeper batsman Matt Prior, who has also has found himself down in the dumps in recent times, has withdrawn from the setup due to fitness issues. It means that Jos Buttler, the exciting young talent in the side, will make his debut at the third Test.
It has to be said that with the Yorkshire opening batsman, Adam Lyth, in prime form in Division 1, he could have been tried ahead of Cook. There is though, a slim chance that Broad maybe rested with Chris Jordan or more likely, Chris Woakes replacing him. It is believed that Broad has been struggling with fitness issues as well.
In the pace department, Toby Roland-Jones, the Middlesex seamer hits right lengths for English tracks at decent pace. But he seems to be too old fashioned for the selectors to pick. The seamer though, has been troubled by back problems. Reece Topley, the giant left-arm seamer from Essex, is perhaps known more for Kevin Pietersen hitting his head with a thumping drive, while facing him in nets all those years ago. But the Essex prodigy is also a slippery customer and generates bounce from good length. Harry Gurney, who played One-Day Internationals (ODIs) against Sri Lanka bowls at decent clicks. Steven Finn has found a bit of form this season, but none of them seem to be in contention as of now.
Just having a glance through England squad for third Test, only Moeen Ali and Joe Root are in form in the batting department. Anderson, Broad, Liam Plunkett and Ben Stokes have bowled some good spells, but haven’t been consistent enough. With India having won the Test match at Lord’s, it is going to be an uphill task for England to script a turnaround in the Test series. The only silver lining is that it is a five-match Test series and with that there is always a scope to come from behind and win games.
(Bharath Ramaraj, an MBA in marketing, eats, drinks and sleeps cricket. He has played at school and college-level, and now channelises his passion for the game by writing about it)
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