After a disappointing winter in Australia and New Zealand, England will be looking to get back to winning ways in the upcoming two-match Test series against Pakistan.
With a sterner task to follow later in the summer via five Tests with India, who are at the top of the ICC rankings, Joe Root knows the importance of the next two Tests at Lord’s and Headingley.
After the 4-0 drubbing in The Ashes, England then left New Zealand with both a 1-0 series defeat and the same issues surrounding the make-up of their team.
Alastair Cook scored just 23 runs in four innings in New Zealand, and whilst he still has the ability to produce mammoth innings like the unbeaten 244 in Melbourne during The Ashes, these moments of brilliance are becoming increasingly infrequent.
Question marks still remain over Mark Stoneman and James Vince, and in batting at two and three they simply haven’t produced the big scores needed from top-order batsmen in international cricket.
The likes of Haseeb Hameed, Nick Gubbins and Liam Livingstone are waiting in the wings and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see at least one change at the top of the order either before or during the series.
The rest of the top six seems to pick itself at the moment, with the emergence of Dawid Malan complementing the world-class duo of captain Joe Root and all-rounder Ben Stokes.
Jonny Bairstow will once again take the gloves this summer, but the fact that both Bairstow and Malan scored more runs than the current top three suggests that a shuffling of the pack with the batting order might be on the mind of Trevor Bayliss.
The bowling attack which ended the series in New Zealand should, barring injury, be the one that lines up to face Pakistan. James Anderson and Stuart Broad are still by far the best options that England have, especially in home conditions, whilst Mark Wood offers more variety than the likes of Chris Woakes and Craig Overton.
Jack Leach is expected to be the sole spin option against Pakistan after making his debut in Christchurch, and it is now up to Moeen Ali to produce performances at county level to force his way back into the minds of the selectors.
Pakistan are in somewhat of a transition phase as they look to fill the big gaps left by the retirements of Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq in recent times.
They have included four uncapped batsmen in their squad including Imam-ul-Haq, the nephew of their legendary former captain Inzamam.
Fast bowler Wahab Riaz has been omitted from the squad, whilst leg-spinner Yasir Shah misses out through injury. But one man who is included is the controversial left-armer Mohammad Amir, who will lead the tourists’ attack.
Rewards4Cricket provides cricket fans with fantastic opportunities to enjoy cricket for less.
We have over 4,000 partners where you can shop and bet to collect points – giving you the chance to save money at the home of one of our three county partners.
After collecting the required amount of points, supporters can receive benefits such as ticket savings on International matches at either The Ageas Bowl, Emirates Riverside or the SSE Swalec, as well as Vitality Blast fixtures and club membership packages.