Recalls for Haseeb Hameed and Moeen Ali will be discussed by Chris Silverwood and Joe Root on Tuesday as England’s head coach and captain ponder changes for the second Test against India at Lord’s starting on Thursday.
The final-day washout at Trent Bridge forced the two sides to settle for a draw but it is England who head into the follow-up match this week with more headaches. Chiefly these stem from a batting unit that was bowled out for 183 on the opening day and only stayed competitive in the match through Root’s scores of 64 and 109.
As such it sees Hameed pushing to win his fourth Test cap and a first since 2016 – Zak Crawley’s flatlining average of 11 at No3 this year makes him most vulnerable – while adding Moeen to the squad would give the option of a spin-bowling all-rounder in a five-man attack.
Silverwood, who has made big first-innings runs his mantra since being appointed in 2019, said: “We have to address and accept we are not getting those runs, so we have to look at the why. The question has been posed to the batting coaches as well – how do we make sure we give them the best opportunity to be successful?
“But ultimately if it isn’t working, I have to take a view on why and how do I change that. Ideally, we get the guys scoring runs again, get the confidence back in them. But if that doesn’t happen, obviously I have to have a look.”
Hameed’s sparkling breakthrough as a teenager in India nearly five years ago was first cut short by a broken hand and then followed by a maddening slump in form back at Lancashire. The opener, who also represents an option at first-drop, has rediscovered his confidence since moving to Nottinghamshire in late 2019.
This summer has seen the 24-year-old right-hander return three first-class centuries, including 112 for the County Select XI that provided warm-up opposition for India in Durham last month. Notably the attack that day featured Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur and Ravindra Jadeja, all of whom played in the first Test.
Silverwood said: “I’m confident he’s as ready as he could be. I think he is making a very strong case and at some point, we may make a decision and give him an opportunity.
“He did put his best foot forward in Durham when he scored that hundred. What he did early season in the Championship shows there’s a lot of class there as well. So I think he’s done everything he possibly can to be ready and taken every opportunity.”
Like his predecessor, Trevor Bayliss, Silverwood said he subscribes to giving players “one Test too many, rather than one too few” and the question for Crawley is whether this has already come and gone with scores of 27 and six in Nottingham last week.
The 24-year-old’s 267 against Pakistan last year still points to a player of promise and a reprieve may yet follow. But it felt telling when Silverwood publicly stated that both Crawley and the coaches must address his current issues outside off stump.
Silverwood gave a stronger endorsement of the role performed by Dom Sibley in Nottingham after a partnership of 89 with Root in the second innings. But having contributed just 12 runs to this, and 46 from 203 balls in the Test, it is clear that, for all his mental resilience, concerns are growing over the opener’s lack of scoring options.
England are also wrestling with how to best get a spinner in their side when, as is the case right now, both Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes are unavailable. Jack Leach, their leading wicket-taker during the subcontinental winter, is yet to feature this summer given this would entail playing just three seamers or lengthening the tail.
As a spin-bowling all-rounder who averages 37 batting at No 7 in Test cricket, Moeen would allow England to replicate the same five-bowler template that India get through Jadeja. Moeen, 34, is not in the squad at present but Silverwood confirmed Covid-19 protocols would permit his inclusion before Thursday and a call will be made after waiting for him to play for Birmingham Phoenix in the Hundred on Monday.
Silverwood said: “Moeen is certainly under consideration, he always has been. That’s something Joe and I are going to chat about at Lord’s [today] when we sit down with a coffee and go through the potential XI. We know he is a fine cricketer and is showing fine form in the Hundred at the moment. I appreciate it’s a different format [but] I think it’s something that has to be in our mind.”
Drafting Moeen into the XI is not without a trade-off, however, given it would mean asking Dan Lawrence to step aside and push wicketkeeper Jos Buttler up to No 6. Last week was Buttler’s first outing against the red ball since February and an 18-ball duck, followed by leaving a straight one on 17, did not scream “promotion”.
It may yet be that for the fourth time this summer – and a sixth in 21 Tests under Silverwood – that England stick with just four seamers. This offers no guarantees for Lawrence, however, with Ollie Pope approaching fitness after a recent thigh injury and the head coach impressed with how Jonny Bairstow looked during scores of 29 and 30.