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England v India

How undercooked is England’s Test squad for the India series?

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

England will enter their home series against India with less recent red-ball practice under their belts than the visitors.

While India have contested an intra-squad friendly and a first-class fixture against a County Select XI in preparation for this series, the England group – with the exception of Haseeb Hameed – have been unable to get any meaningful red-ball practice under their belt in the lead up to the five-Test encounter.

This summer’s calendar has seen only a handful of County Championship matches take place in the last two months, giving the majority of the England squad little opportunity to find form ahead of a series against one of the best sides on the planet. For some, it’s been months since they’ve played any red-ball cricket at all given England white-ball and IPL commitments.

Here’s a look at quite how undercooked the England squad are ahead of the series opener at Trent Bridge:

Joe Root

Like the majority of his squad, Root has only played white-ball cricket since the 1-0 defeat to New Zealand earlier in the summer. Root has batted in seven games (four T20s, two ODIs and once in The Hundred) since his pair of failures in the Edgbaston Test. He did get in five County Championship matches prior to the New Zealand series, averaging 36.37 across eight hits.

James Anderson

Doesn’t bother with the short stuff these days. Anderson’s two appearances since the New Zealand series both came in the County Championship. In the first of those, he passed 1,000 first-class wickets while picking up career-best figures of 7-19 against Kent. He didn’t get a bowl in the second as the Roses clash was abandoned with Lancashire two down in their first innings.

Jonny Bairstow

Unlikely to play at Trent Bridge, Bairstow hasn’t played any form of first-class cricket since the final Test of the India tour all the way back in March. Bairstow has played just two first-class matches on English soil since the 2019 summer.

Dom Bess

Bess has enjoyed a quietly productive summer after a testing winter, picking up career-best figures in July against Northants. An ever-present for Yorkshire in the County Championship, Bess, like most of the squad, hasn’t played first-class cricket in the last three weeks.

Stuart Broad

Like Anderson, Broad doesn’t really do white-ball cricket any more. His sole appearance since the New Zealand series came in a drawn County Championship game at Chester-le-Street.

Rory Burns

Arguably in the form of his life earlier in the summer, the India series could prove to be career-defining for the Surrey skipper. He’s kept himself busy since the New Zealand series, appearing in both Surrey County Championship games and as well as being a regular for their T20 side. The worry will be that he may have lost his early season momentum – he’s reached 15 once in four first-class outings since the New Zealand Tests.

Jos Buttler

Like the other IPL players, Buttler hasn’t played first-class cricket since England’s tour of Asia at the start of the year. His most recent first-class appearance was in England’s win at Chennai which, for many reasons, feels like a long time ago.

Zak Crawley

Crawley has been very busy since the New Zealand series, enjoying a productive Blast, impressing in his maiden ODI series against Pakistan and hitting 64 in his sole innings in The Hundred. Unfortunately, his only first-class knock was ended by Anderson six balls in.

Sam Curran

Almost certain to play at Trent Bridge given the absences of Stokes and Woakes, Curran, remarkably, hasn’t played any first-class cricket since the second of England’s two wins in Sri Lanka all the way back in January.

Haseeb Hameed

The one player with recent first-class match practice. Hameed is a man in form, recently hitting two hundreds in a week – one in a first-class fixture against India, the other in a List-A game against Warwickshire.

Dan Lawrence

Endured an up-and-down series against New Zealand and hasn’t hit a red ball with meaning since. Lawrence was pulled out a County Championship game to carry the drinks for England’s ODI side against Pakistan.

Jack Leach

Averages 23 in the County Championship this season and took 6-43 in his most recent first-class outing. Leach has dabbled in a bit of limited overs action for Somerset, appearing in the only two T20 appearances of his career so far and a List-A game in the past six weeks.

Craig Overton

Another who received a surprise ODI call-up after a spate of COVID cases threatened to derail England’s series against Pakistan. Has bowled just 12 overs in first-class cricket in the last two months.

Ollie Pope

An injury doubt for the first two India Tests, Pope has played five T20s since the New Zealand series and nothing else.

Ollie Robinson

Robinson took a short break from the game after off-field events took attention away from his accomplished on-field performance on Test debut at Lord’s. Since his return, he’s turned out in a handful of T20s and a solitary first-class game for Sussex.

Dom Sibley

One of a number of England batsmen under pressure going into the India Tests, Sibley seemed to find some form in his most recent first-class outing, registering 80 and 41 against Worcestershire at New Road.

Mark Wood

No first-class action at all since the New Zealand series, just a handful of white-ball outings against Sri Lanka. Wood played three County Championship games for Durham prior to the New Zealand series.

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