Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Tourists' Bid to Bulldoze England Rebuilding Plan

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Tourists' Bid to Bulldoze England Rebuilding Plan

Article excerpt

Byline: CRICKET Will Macpherson

AND so begins another Test summer before a backdrop of navel-gazing over the format's future and value. Pitches, the toss, touring and the dominance of home teams not to mention the Hundred and the poverty of England's winter showing all cloud the big picture.

Come 11am tomorrow, though, the big picture will be forgotten. England need victory. The changes they have made following a winter in which they lost five Tests and drew the other two are not seismic but they give a fresh feel to Joe Root's side.

Jos Buttler is back at the right time, while 20-year-old Dom Bess will become their youngest spinner since 1931. A fully functioning Ben Stokes will be a big boost for Root, too. The captain will leave it late to decide between Chris Woakes (who brings extra swing) and Mark Wood (extra pace) for the final bowling spot.

At home, where James Anderson and Stuart Broad are so strong, England will feel the opposition Pakistan now, India later are there for the taking. England have not lost a home series since 2014 and have won 16 of their last 24 home Tests. But they always give their opponents a chance.

Pakistan have enjoyed great moments on these shores over the last two summers. There was the drawn series of 2016, which briefly propelled them to the top of the Test rankings, and last summer's Champions Trophy triumph.

They are younger, fitter and, according to coach Mickey Arthur, even more positive than in 2016. They will set up with five batsmen and five bowlers, with keeper-batsman-captain Sarfraz Ahmed between them. In Shadab Khan, the spinner who at 19 is even younger than Bess, and Faheem Ashraf they have a pair of bowlers who bat.

Two Alis Rahat and Hasan compete for the final seamer spot alongside Ashraf and Mohammads Amir and Abbas. Opener Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq, at No4, are charged with holding the batting together.

"The emphasis is on taking wickets and scoring [quickly]," said Arthur. …

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