With the end of test cricket for the summer, England now look forward to 2 tests against Bangladesh and 5 against India. Bayliss and the selectors must resolve three key issues if they are going to be successful this winter:
1) Finding a stronger opening partner for Cook
2) Finding stronger middle order batsmen
3) Higher Quality spin bowler
To open with Cook there is only one opener in the county scene which has been consistently putting in strong consistent performances over the past 12 months. Haseeb Hameed already has 1287 first class runs in just 16 first class matches at an average of over 53. The likes of Robson, Lyth, Lees, Bell-Drummond and Duckett have not put in figures anywhere close to what Hameed has. If this was any other country this would not be a question. Clearly Haseeb is highest performing opener we have in the county game so why should we pick a lesser player just because he is older.
I think a top 3 of Cook, Hameed and Root is strong. However Vince and Ballance at 4 and 5 really struggled. Vince has had 7 tests in the side and top scored with 42 averaging under 20 so doubt he will get longer in the side. Gary Ballance at least has a very strong test record and in his four tests still managed to make a contribution with a 70 in the 3rd test. I doubt with Hales and Vince likely getting the axe that a third batsmen will get the chop. Borthwick is on course to get to 1000 runs for fourth season in a row at number three and has earned his chance in place of Vince.
Bairstow has shown this summer that he is the perfect number six for us and is a pretty solid keeper as well.
In the subcontinent we will most likely be playing 3 seamers and two spinners. Moeen will surely keep his place and Rashid has had a pretty decent run in the one day side and there are not too many strong options in the county scene.
Broad and Anderson pick themselves which leaves Stokes and Woakes to fight over the final place. Woakes is clearly the better bowler so should be selected ahead of Stokes.
Another option is to drop Balance and bring Bairstow or Moeen up to 5 and have Stokes bat at 6 or 7. I think the 3 seam options we have for the sub continent is more than enough. Therefore the question you have to ask yourself is whether a 5,6,7 of Bairstow, Moeen and Stokes is stronger than that of Ballance, Bairstow and Moeen.
Let me know your thoughts.