Ahead of the Test series against India, many England fans will be watching in anticipation of the first inevitable batting collapse. It is inevitable not just because it is England, but because of the packed white-ball calendar that has rendered playing first-class cricket impossible for months for many of the team’s best players.
The likes of Joe Root and Ollie Pope haven’t played in a red-ball game since the New Zealand series and Jos Buttler hasn’t batted in a first-class fixture since Chennai in February. Jonny Bairstow’s last game came in March, and Sam Curran’s was in Galle in January.
With the ECB’s new competition the Hundred being introduced into the English summer, white-ball cricket has gained another foothold over the longest format of the game. Many would of course argue that this has been happening for years, and the final nail as simply been drilled into Test cricket’s coffin.
However, it does feel that this could be the summer that the tide decisively turns towards the shorter editions of the game. England are fallible with the bat at the best of times, and to come into a series against the second best team in the world with such little match practice is a huge concern.
The minute an England batsman plays a loose shot, then, expect fingers to be pointed at the Hundred. Having played just last week in its fixtures, should the likes of Root and Buttler fall cheaply in this first Test and beyond it is difficult to argue against the notion of the Test arena’s authority being quite significantly undermined.