England take on India in their 1,000th Test this week. Reason for celebration you may think. But who will be doing the celebrating at the end of a long haul of five matches in six weeks?. Here, in the second of two articles, the Guerilla experts give you the lowdown on how it will (*might) turn out.
Guerilla Cricket commentator and betting counsellor
Got a bad feeling about this, everyone. Back in 2016, when England were getting mullered in Mumbai and Chennai-hilated, many of us assumed we'd have our revenge when Kohli et al had to endure a load of English greentops.
But then a few things happened. Firstly, the hottest summer SINCE RECORDS BEGAN (which was surely 1066) has sucked any moisture out of those erstwhile seamers. Secondly, Kohli and Shikhar have warmed up nicely in the white-ball formats and Che Guevara-Pujara is waiting in the wings, although his attempt to hone his game in the shires has gone slightly awry. Thirdly, the English batsmen have about as much chance of reading Kuldeep Yadav as I have of reading the original of Anna Karenina. And that's before Ashwin and Jadeja return.
We're still a long way from being a top Test side, and I expect a more settled, solid India team to come away victorious.
Final result: 2-1 India, with England's victory coming at Nottingham.
Jack Leach/Jos Buttler. Leach, when he belatedly gets his chance, will turn the ball away from the majority of India's top order. His excellent temperament – honed through being aggressed by gigantic farm hands as a young boy in the Somerset leagues – will stand him in good stead here. And the Universe Jos will make himself a permanent Test fixture, batting at No 5 by the end of the summer.
Kuldeep Yadav. The twirlyman could have a massive series. With conditions to suit, and some of England's batsmen as clueless against his left-arm wrist spin as Inspector Clouseau, we may well witness the emergence of a genuine worldy onto the Test stage.
Yogi Bairstow/Chris Woakes. Don't get me wrong. I love YJB like a brother. But I sense his juggernaut will be halted this summer. Signs from the one-dayers suggest that he's not reading the spin well, and a five-Test series is a far more rigorous examination of any technical flaws than the white-ball carnival. Woakes, meanwhile, hasn't been quite the same bowler since his breakthrough summer of 2016. My fear is that he'll be taken apart by Indian batters who will be largely untroubled by his straight-up-and-down style. Under ten wickets at 45+.INDIA
Ravichandran Ashwin. Whaaaat?? England's destroyer-in-chief in 2016? I know, madness. But our batters at least have the advantage of familiarity. They'll play Ashwin like a medium pacer and garner more success that way.
Guerilla Cricket co-founder, anchor and senior pastry taster
Ed Smith loses his nerve and bypasses the brave Adil-Ali squad selection, preferring Joe Root (who finished top of the bowling averages for England in India in 2016-17 – look it up if you don't believe me) as the answer to the team's spin problems after his career-best in the Roses match. Purveying low-slung round-armers that would shame Kedar Jadhav, his filth accounts for a bewildered Indian order on the parched plains of Birmingham and London NW10.
Shamed, the Indians call up Kedar Jadhav from the third Test onwards, along with Jayant Yadav, drop all their seamers and unleash a spin quintet on a shellshocked hosts, levelling with wins at Trent Bridge and the Rose Bowl.
The Oval, which has been crumbling in the extended heatwave, finally breaks up completely to reveal huge reserves of oil, along with the body of legendary groundsman Harry Brind, under the square. When enormous quantities of shale gas are found at the Vauxhall End, energy companies are allowed to frack the fuck out of the OCS stand, raising sufficient money to ensure county cricket is safeguarded for the future and plans for The Hundred are shelved.
Final result: 2-2 draw. Shades of Headingley '75 as the fifth Test is abandoned without a ball being bowled because of crude on the pitch.
Joe Root. Makes the Duke ball talk although 40-over spells but the pressures of captaincy take their toll and he agrees in consultation with Trevor Bayliss to drop himself to No 8 in the order to help shepherd the tail.INDIA
Kedhar Jadhav: England show some mastery of the classically-styled if southpaw Kuldeep, but find they are no match for Kedhar in what becomes known as the summer of the roundarm rollers.
Chris Woakes: returning after the jettisoning of Jamie Porter and Ben Stokes after one Test, he is hypnotized by Sky Sports' addition to its length barometer, the Slot, pitches almost every delivery into it and disappears beyond far pavilions from Nottingham to Southampton.INDIA
Umesh Yadav: dropped after an unrewarding first two Tests as India threaten to exceed their Yadav/Jadhav-cap.
Guerilla Cricket commentator and visiting lecturer
We haven't had a lot of long hot summers; my mind goes back to 1976, with Tony Greig's grovelling comments, batting masterclasses from Sir Viv, and the quick, straight, deadly bowling of Holding et al. I feel that the batting may be the same here – Root, Kohli etc. could put on a show, but it think there will be draws. Lots of them.
Final result: Honours even at 1-1.
Mark Wood: "Do you know Mark Wood/He is an England bowler, quite..." ordinary so far, but I expect him to step up and become the next No 1 bowler as we reach the end of the Anderson and Broad era and Jamie Porter proves county quality only. With lots of baked, flat pitches, he could be the man – a bowler quick enough through the air when swing is minimal.INDIA
Guerilla Cricket commentator
It will be a taut and stressful six weeks in which maintaining a stable line-up will be a near impossibility, especially as alcohol, long hours on the jingles desk, and school holidays take their toll on the commentary team...
Sorry, the cricket.
Well, it will be a taut and stressful six weeks in which maintaining a stable bowling attack will be a near impossibility, especially as long stints, decidedly un-English punishingly hot weather, and three-day breaks between Tests take their toll. Ultimately, home conditions will tell.
Final result: 2-1 to England.
James Anderson: If he can carry his form over from the last couple of years, England should be able to keep doing at home what they comprehensively fail to do away – take 20 wickets in a match.
Virat Kohli: Losing out to Suresh Raina in 2011, following the latter's dropping he proved his value in the subsequent tour to Australia. Even so, he only averaged 13.4 in 2014, a scant improvement of 0.28 runs per dismissal over the man he replaced. Another failure in English conditions would likely hole his team below the waterline.
Guerilla Cricket co-founder, technical director and ridiculous optimist
Although it's been dry as a bone and hot as hell all summer, turning grounds into a potential spinners' paradise and striking The Fear into England, I remain positive. The length of the tour, injuries and India's flimsy lower order will save the home side
Final result: 3-1 to England
Joe Root. ObviouslyINDIA
Virat Kohli. Obviously
Ben Stokes. After a wicketless first Test, which also includes a king pair, things go equally badly for the Durham destroyer when he goes up before the beak in Bristol. Sajid Javed consults Theresa May before declaring that they have no objection to the death penalty.INDIA
Ravichandran Ashwin. The much-vaunted spinner is haunted by the ghosts of summers past, falling apart to a freshly oiled-up Ian Bell who, called up in the absence of Stokes, flays him endlessly and elegantly through the covers.
Guerilla Cricket commentator. London, via Delhi and Melbourne.
From jellybeans on the pitch to MS Dhoni opening the bowling after lunch to Bell being recalled amid boos, India's tours have been eventful over the years and this year presents a new opportunity for this rivalry to continue in a five-Test series.
It's a challenge for an Indian side to win abroad; Kohli's men played well in South Africa yet lost, while England, though in sketchy form, have the experience and players to dominate in home conditions. They must go in as favourites with India not helped by injuries to strike bowlers Bhuvi Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah, and wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha.
Final result 2-1 to India or 3-1 to England. The Indian fan in me says India will win but head says England
Alastair Cook/James Anderson. We keep hearing Cook needs to retire yet he continues rolling out the runs and adapting his game. He will play a critical role in blunting India's new-ball attack and expect him to play well as he seeks to leave the game on his terms. Anderson can be counted on to make early strikes.INDIA
Ravichandran Ashwin/Dinesh Karthik. The bowling allrounder has spent time in county cricket and with the unseasonal heat in England may well see his name on the honours board at Lord's with other great Indian A's such as Ajit Agarkar and Anil Kumble. Karthik is my smokey to do well with the bat in the absence of Saha, not so much with the gloves.·
Ben Stokes. Will struggle to find his rhythm this summer after it is disrupted by his absence for the second Test.INDIA
Shikhar Dhawan. The opener will be out of the team by the third Test.
Guerilla Cricket commentator
Cricket is a sport more at the mercy of the weather gods than most, but English cricket in particular has a funny relationship with it, owing to our intemperate climatic conditions. Which makes 2018 different – it's too hot and could give rise to a quite literal Indian summer.
England struggle against spin, which most non-subcontinental sides do these days. India struggle against seam and swing, which most subcontinental sides do these days. With England basking in a long hot summer, conditions are tipping towards favouring spin over swing. These will be the most Indian conditions India will ever face in England, and King Kohli knows it.
Final result: Not given
Joe Root. Although he will need to start converting his starts to steer England home.INDIA
Jos Buttler. Rohit Sharma would struggle. Put simply, while a sublime white-ball batsman, he is a poor red ball one. Ultimately Jos may prove the same.INDIA
Rohit Sharma. Put simply, he's not been selected.
Guerilla Cricket commentator and fastest finger in the West
India have an intriguing mix of youth and experience in the spin department. The inclusion of Kuldeep Yadav after his one-day exploits to complement Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja is intriguing. The prospect of drier-than-usual wickets baked through June and July by the UK's record breaking heatwave may provide dustier surfaces to engender turn and bounce. The power and dexterity of the batting order with Kohli, Vijay and Dhawan, backed up by a hard-hitting middle order, can put big runs on the board and quickly enough to allow time to work through the opposition.
However, England are buoyed by their one-day win. They have power to burn with their batting, a pace attack that can extract any home advantage when the weather breaks, as it surely must, and encouragingly some strong spinning options of their own if Moeen Ali can rediscover form and confidence and any one of Leech, Bess or Rashid can fulfil their promise.
Final result: 2-1 England. It's a five-Test series, which can test the form and resolve of any touring side.
Ben Stokes: Since Bristol-gate we've yet to see him really deliver big with ball or bat. A home series is time for him to step up to the plate.
Murali Vijay. If he can see off the new ball against Anderson and Broad, he has the ability to post daddy hundreds and set a platform for the likes of Kohli to build on.
Moeen Ali. Reluctant to name anyone on either side who will have a stinker, but Moeen is a confidence player and if that confidence gets knocked we have seen his form collapse dramatically before.
Virat Kohli. He has a point to prove in English conditions and England will be targeting him. I don't expect him to fail but if he did, it could be spectacular.
Guerilla Cricket commentator, arts critic and professional Scouser
Spin will play a critical role with pitches unusually dry and water tables low. India will have the edge in bowling, but not enough to compensate for batsmen too keen to swing at the new ball.
Final result: 2-2. India will be pleased to force draw, England disappointed not to win at home
Joe Root. He will need to score centuries as England will need to bat seven sessions in Tests more often than not.
Kuldeep Yadav. He must play, having bewitched English batsmen in white-ball cricket. England will have to find a way of scoring against him and resist the pressure of a predatory close field.
Ravichandran Ashwin: Will we see him at all?