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Wisden writers pick their England XIs for the fourth Test

by Wisden Staff 5 minute read

England go into the fourth Test at Ahmedabad with the series still alive. Four Wisden writers pick the XIs they think England ought to pick.

Yas Rana, Wisden.com head of content

Dom Sibley
Zak Crawley
Jonny Bairstow
Joe Root
Ben Stokes
Ollie Pope
Ben Foakes
Dom Bess
Jack Leach
Olly Stone
James Anderson

Despite totalling fewer than 200 runs across their two innings in the third Test, I’m sticking with the same top seven. It’d be harsh to drop Bairstow just one Test after his return, the openers have done enough to retain their spots amid minimal competition, though I would contemplate taking Pope out of the firing line, like Root was at the end of the 2013/14 Ashes.

If the pitch is anything like it was for the day/nighter, which Foakes says England expect, then they have to bring in an additional spinner. Bess was poor in the second innings of the first Test, but he’s generally made a positive contribution one way or another in most Tests that he’s played; more often than not he’s risen to the challenges presented to him.

Then it’s Anderson and Stone as my two quicks for the simple reason that they’ve been the best England seamers on show this series. Stone’s performance in the second Test went somewhat under the radar, but it was one of the most exciting moments of England’s winter.

Sam Dyer, Wisden.com staff writer

Zak Crawley
Dom Sibley
Jonny Bairstow
Joe Root
Ben Stokes
Ollie Pope
Ben Foakes
Dom Bess
Jack Leach
Olly Stone
James Anderson

Despite his pair in the third Test, it makes little sense to immediately drop Bairstow for the man he replaced in Rory Burns. The other potential No.3, Dan Lawrence, has faced struggles of his own on the tour, having scored just 58 runs in six innings since the first Test in Sri Lanka, so I’d opt for knowing what you get with Jonny.

A second spinner is a must, and despite being prone to delivering full tosses, Bess has provided superb returns so far this winter. Olly Stone’s excellence in the second Test earns him the other quick berth alongside Anderson.

Ben Gardner, Wisden.com managing editor

Dom Sibley
Zak Crawley
Jonny Bairstow
Joe Root
Ben Stokes
Ollie Pope
Ben Foakes
Dom Bess
Jack Leach
Jofra Archer
James Anderson

Just the one change, then, from the team that got historically smashed in the third Test, with Bess returning to restore balance to the bowling attack on what looks set to be another turner. This is dependent, of course, on how he’s bearing up; it’s possible that, behind closed doors and in the nets, the England management don’t view him as hugely selectable. He’s cited his “competitiveness” as his biggest strength before. Now that hunger for the fight could face its greatest Test.

While ahead of the day/nighter I felt England shouldn’t have picked Bairstow, and in a way he’s done nothing to keep his spot, the only thing harsher than asking him to face up to Ashwin and Axar at first drop on a bunsen with basically no prep time is dropping him three balls faced later. If this is to be another low-scoring

shoot-out with pacers peripheral, then he’s as likely as anyone except Root to steal a scenario-shifting 70-odd.

Taha Hashim, Wisden.com features editor

Dom Sibley
Zak Crawley
Jonny Bairstow
Joe Root
Ben Stokes
Ollie Pope
Ben Foakes
Dom Bess
Jack Leach
Jofra Archer
James Anderson

England’s attack will surely need rebalancing after their third Test debacle. In comes Dom Bess to round off what’s been an up and down winter for him. Beyond his off-breaks, England’s lower order will look far stronger, too. Out drops Stuart Broad, who has had a couple of Tests to forget.

It may look foolish sticking with the same batting line-up, but the men on the sidelines – Rory Burns and Dan Lawrence – have failed to take their opportunities in the series. The current crop may as well be given the opportunity to learn from their errors last week.

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