England’s decision to omit Jack Leach from another Test eleven for the first of the five-match series against India has come under understandable fire. Many believe Root and head coach Chris Silverwood have left themselves without sufficient options should the game go the full five days. Indeed, the last time Leach turned out at home, he won England a decisive Ashes contest.
But as we watch England scratch and scurry again at the top of the order, the inclusion of the likes of Sam Curran and Ollie Robinson batting at eight and nine respectively could give them the depth of batting that has proved so vital in many of their recent victories, particularly on familiar pastures.
To put even more pressure on England’s top six with a longer tail would surely result in yet more chaos, and their four seamers are more than good enough to get the twenty wickets required. After many accused Joe Root of underselling his off-spin in India, his subsequent decision to favour his quick bowlers and back his own ability has also been met with criticism. We have to pick a lane at some point.
It is worth also mentioning that, despite some iffy performances on the reverse tour earlier this year, the Indian batsmen are significantly better at playing spin than their English counterparts. They will not have been worrying about facing Jack Leach on a relatively green, moist surface. They will, though, be thinking far more fretfully about the threats of Anderson, Broad and Robinson with the Dukes in hand.