Of course, there is only one thing we are really interested in when it comes to the squad. And that is all about who is replacing Alastair Cook.
The smart money was on County Championship winning Surrey captain Rory Burns. A left-hander who has scored more opening-the-batting runs than anyone else in the last five years. Yet, somehow, hasn’t been given a chance until now. Joe Denly, a man who has not opened the batting for a few seasons has also been called up. As has the man with the worst ever record as an England Test opener, Keaton Jennings.
Jennings is liked in the dressing room because of his always positive attitude. But even he must be struggling to remain positive, considering he has gone something like 17 Test matches now without scoring a half-century.
For me, it looks like it is going to be Burns and one of the other two. At least, let’s hope it is unless Ed Smith decides to try something funky again.
Though, would it be such a bad thing if he did?
Going rogue and bringing back Jos Buttler in the Test fold could not have worked out better for Mr Ed. As Butts ended the summer looking like England’s best bat. Sure, that limelight hogger Cook got the headlines in the 5th Test but Buttler was fundamental to England winning the series.
Adil Rashid wasn’t a complete disaster either. Given there is even a possibility of England playing three (yes, count them) spinners at times in Sri Lanka, it could even be argued we’ve not seen the best of him yet.
So if Ed Smith does have a random opening plan somewhere up his sleeve should he listen to his gut?
It’s looking unlikely that he will try anything drastic. Otherwise why would Jennings be on the plane? Personally, I would have preferred to see them be a little more dynamic and take Alex Hales or Jason Roy. But hey – what do I know?
Moeen Ali has categorically been pencilled in for the number three slot meaning Root gets to bat four; which is his preference and where he finally scored a ton to end his summer. I suppose Jonny Bairstow might have stopped sulking by now to remember how to bat at five. With Ben Stokes looking technically beautiful at six. It would be nice to turn some of that beauty into runs now though Ben, eh?
The aforementioned Jos Buttler at seven is as good as you can have in the world. Then we get down to the tail. Realistically it is unlikely that Anderson, Broad and Sam Curran will all be in the same XI and then you have Chris Woakes as well. Could it actually be that Stuart Broad, one of our best ever fast bowlers, isn’t a mandatory pick for the series?
With Jack Leach also on the plane, England have got the option of that trio of spinners. Though I suspect they might actually bottle going with two front-line spinners and Moeen. More likely they will go Rashid or Leach plus Moeen and then Joe Denly and Rooty. Denly took 20 this season at 18.90 so is more than just a total part-timer.
Therefore, I reckon the 1st Test selection could line up as such;
Burns, Denly, Ali, Root, Bairstow, Stokes, Buttler, Woakes, Curran, Rashid, Anderson
What do YOU think?