Remarkable stat on England’s eleven suggests they may be going in circles

After England made three changes for the second Test against India at Lord’s, with Haseeb Hameed, Moeen Ali and Mark Wood coming in for Zak Crawley, Dan Lawrence and Stuart Broad respectively, the side has a strange sense of familiarity about it.

Indeed, with those changes England’s team for Lord’s now has more players who played in their first test defeat in India on the 2016 tour than in their last Test defeat on the same trip in 2021. What does it all mean?

It is well broadcast that England’s batting lineup is below par when it comes to their averages compared to their lofty objectives as a side. Many players, such as Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler – who are clearly wonderfully talented cricketers – may not have been granted the second, third and fourth opportunities they have enjoyed had England accomplished more.

Moeen Ali, brilliant though he is, would probably not have been seen in the whites of the Three Lions again after that 2017/18 Ashes tour had he been playing for a team on the path to success that England had initially mapped. It is by no means the “wrong” move, but it could certainly be argued that England have had similar problems for quite some time, and are finding the same solutions. That, perhaps, is more of an indictment at the depth within the domestic game.

In spite of this, cricket has always been a somewhat cyclical sport, and giving Crawley and Lawrence a break from its most pressurised dimension does, to me at least, give England a slight freshness, despite what some onlookers would describe as the upcoming, or perhaps even overlooked, sell-by dates of some of their selections.