England took a lead in the series, in Chennai, in the rather most convincing of manners but since then, not only failed to performed but did not even arrive at the venue in the first place. And that obviously, has the whole world talking about where they would go from hereon!
Future of Rory Burns after his mid-way drop
While England seemingly had sorted their opening troubles with Dominic Sibley and Rory Burns, the performance of the latter in India has warranted several questions over his place. Could the Surrey skipper hold his place after his showing? Across the two Tests, where he featured, the left-hander's scores of 33, 0, 0, 25 made the selectors drop him from the plans for the last two Tests. However, funnily enough, his trouble was against the spinners, which is something that the English pitches won’t aid.
So come their next series, at home, Burns certainly would feature as the opener alongside Sibley, with Zak Crawley serving as the No.3 batsman in the English whites. However, if the management does insist on dropping Burns and instead open with Sibley-Crawley, they might well have exposed several troubles at once, given that they haven’t quite got their setup right with either Dan Lawrence or Ollie Pope as their No.3 batsman.
A big question certainly but something that would be brushed aside, come to the home series against New Zealand.
England’s trust-issues with Dominic Bess
While Burns' future might be sorted, given that they are playing at home next, Bess’ future would be hanging on the thinnest of threads. First, the Tests are in England, second England already possesses a world-class spinner in Jack Leach, or at least an English top-level spinner in him, so what happens to Dominic Bess? Given the trust issues, with even Jeetan Patel saying that the spinner needs to start unlearning and learning, his future seems most certain - out of the squad, right now on the basis of his confidence and skill set.
Most of it has stemmed from his inability to be consistent and showcase his skills in front of the entire world, while there are a few parts which suggest that perhaps England and the management could have treated him better during the series, which certainly will play a role in the back of the youngster's mind. As Panesar had suggested, the all-rounder would now be looking to learn about the trade innately and his move to Yorkshire might come as a blessing in disguise for the spinner.
What happens to Jonny Bairstow, their earmarked No.3 in the subcontinent
With Crawley all but set to assume the No.3 role, Jonny Bairstow might well be out of the squad for the New Zealand series, with there being no room for a third wicket-keeping option in the English squad. Bairstow was excellent during their 2-0 series win against Sri Lanka but come the Indian series, he struggled not just against the spinners but against his own mindset, where he got out pretty cheaply in three out of four innings. By cheaply, I mean he got out for three DUCKS. That’s why not giving him another opportunity would be a no-brainer for the Three Lions.
Now for certain, they don’t need another No.3 in England apart from Zak Crawley, neither do they have to look beyond the duo of Ben Foakes and Jos Buttler for a wicketkeeper, which surely means that England would end their experimental return of Bairstow, for his short-lived red-ball return might come to an end. If he had a good series, he might have been considered as an outside possibility of being named as a batsman but with three zeros, his chances are similar to his scores.
Dan Lawrence’s great showing but for what?
Daniel William Lawrence. As long as his name has been the tales from England suggesting his remarkable stroke-making abilities, which prompted a call-up for him in the Three Lions squad. In his first tour, in the sub-continent that as well, he scored a scintillating 73 and an unbeaten 21 in just his first game against Sri Lanka. But since then, he has had a shaky bit, with 3, 2, 0, 18, 9 and 26 that followed in the next three Tests and was later dropped from the third Test against India.
However, come the fourth Test, he showed England what they needed, someone with the dardelivery and skillset he had. In the first innings, the right-hander scored 46 and then later in the second innings, Lawrence scored a 50, which showed that the future is great for the youngster. But more importantly, Lawrence’s showing was great but for what? Given that Jos Buttler would walk back into the setup, where would the youngster feature in the squad with England more invested in Ollie Pope at the moment. Great showing but for what remains the question!
Ben Foakes excellent but might get dumped for Buttler
This is the part where it gets tricky, Ben Foakes has done nothing wrong to be dropped as a wicketkeeper-batsman but as a batsman who can keep wickets, he has done it all wrong. Foakes looked like the best keeper across teams, even when Rishabh Pant seemingly looked world-class. In fact, he picked up 6 catches, inflicted three stumpings, showcasing his worth behind the sticks.
But as fate would always have had it, for him, he would definitely be replaced by Jos Buttler in the setup, especially given that England doesn’t have too many spots for a specialist wicketkeeper in the playing XI. And more so when Buttler has done exceptionally well in the past two years. So as the saying goes, Foakes must feel hard done by but that’s how it was in the very first place. With Pope certain to be part of England’s playing XI, having Foakes and Buttler in the same setup would be headless and given that Buttler hasn’t done anything wrong, Foakes most certainly would sit out, once again!
Like our childhood, where stone-paper-scissor was a thing, England’s bowling trio of Jofra Archer-Olly Stone-Mark Wood is now a real thing. Three of England’s best pacers, who have the ability to trouble any batsman in any condition on any pitch, the trio would certainly be a key focus for the Three Lions management in the future. Now while Stone in his limited opportunity got it perfect, with four wickets in Chennai, Archer has not done anything to warrant himself a place in the English setup after a poor India tour.
During the tour, Archer looked less threatening than Anderson, Broad and even Stone. While his injury may have played a role during this entire tour, even when he was fit, in the first Test in Chennai, he looked far away from being threatening after his first spell that caused mayhem. In fact, his performance in the second innings was pretty poor, with Anderson getting more from the pitch than him, at 20 kmph slower. The other person who would come into focus, in the future, is Mark Wood. He arrived in Chennai before the second Test but since then hasn’t featured in the playing XI or their plans.
So who really out of the three really warrants a place in the setup for the tour against New Zealand? Stone has made a great impression, Archer not so and Wood, not even an opportunity to make any kind of impression.