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India v England

What would England’s Test XI look like, if they had the equivalent of India’s Gabba absences?

Ben Gardner by Ben Gardner
@Ben_Wisden 3 minute read

India’s recently concluded tour of Australia will, in a way, have been familiar to many an England fan.

Marred by off-field drama, copping a barrage of unsavoury abuse on and off the pitch, and with a trio of brutal fast bowlers breaking bones left right and centre, India arrived for the final Test with virtually a whole first-choice team missing. They were left to field a bowling attack greener than a seasick frog out on the ocean during a thunderstorm, with a batsman dropped after the first Test recalled because they simply didn’t have anyone else left.

That will all bring memories of Ashes tours past screaming back for generations of whitewash-scarred England fans. The only thing different was the result, with India somehow emerging with a triumph for the ages, earning a 2-1 win and toppling Australia’s fearsome Gabba stronghold all in one.

We’ve already looked at what Australia’s Test XI would be if they had had the equivalent of India’s fourth-Test absences. We reckoned they would need to be shorn of their best batsman to equate for Virat Kohli being away, another first-choice bat after Hanuma Vihari tore his hamstring, and a back-up batsman with KL Rahul injuring his left wrist. In England’s case, that means Joe Root, Ollie Pope, and Jonny Bairstow – like Rahul, a sometime keeper – all miss out.

Hardik Pandya’s inability to bowl denied them of their premier all-rounder, meaning England lose Ben Stokes. But it’s on the bowling front that things really get hairy. India were without their best two spinners – R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja – and their best five quicks – Ishant Sharma, Jasprti Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. So England lose all of Dom Bess, Jack Leach, James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood. Perish the thought.

The bowling attack we’ve alighted on would at least have more experience than India’s at the Gabba, with Ollie Robinson the only uncapped player coming in. Moeen Ali would bring some much needed wisdom, while Jos Buttler, who’ll be back in India with the white-ball set-up by the time the fourth Test kicks off, has shown he’s a capable captain in ODI cricket. It’s the top four that looks thin, with only one of the quartet having played in Asia before this winter.

The encouraging thing for England fans, however, is that going by recent history, they can expect a rousing fourth-Test win to secure a series victory for the ages with the following XI.

England’s India-Gabba-absences-equivalent XI

Rory Burns
Dom Sibley
Zak Crawley
Dan Lawrence
Jos Buttler (c)
Ben Foakes (wk)
Sam Curran
Moeen Ali
Ollie Robinson
Mason Crane
Olly Stone

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