As we enter October, The Three Lions are gearing up for a crucial tour to the UAE. Beaten 3-0 in their last trip, England know that they must begin winning on the sub-continent to be considered a top team once again Alex Hales will open the batting, in place of Adam Lyth, for the series – as the Nottinghamshire batsman looks to grab his first opportunity in international Test cricket.
Starting on October 13th, England will play 3 Tests, 4 ODIs and 3 Twenty20 matches against Pakistan. Having regained the Ashes in the summer, they will be aware of the increased expectancy back home. The home series’ earlier in the year against New Zealand and Australia, helped the English public fall back in love with their team – as the Three Lions played an exciting, new brand of attacking cricket.
However, Pakistan will be a key series in determining just how far Trevor Bayliss’s side have come. It is no secret that England struggle on the sub-continent, and if the team is to fulfil its potential – they must prove they can win away from home. Sri Lankan legend, Mahela Jayawardene, has been added as a consultant by the ECB, as England look to utilise his vast knowledge of conditions in this part of the world.
England has included 3 spinners in their test squad – Moeen Ali, Samit Patel and Adil Rashid. Youngster Zafar Ansari had been set to make a first appearance in the squad, but injury struck at a cruel time when fielding for county Surrey. His time will come, and his misfortune has given Patel an opportunity. Also, Liam Plunkett may be in with a chance of starting the first Test, after his success against India last summer and James Anderson returns. Whilst on the batting side of things, Alex Hales is included as mentioned, and James Taylor has also been selected to make up part of the touring squad.
Another new aspect of English cricket is that shorter formats of the game have been handed greater importance. Having beaten New Zealand in the one-day and Twenty series, and Australia in the Twenty 20 series before narrowly losing to the world champions in the one-day games – a team of young players, captained by Eoin Morgan, have improve vastly since crashing out in the World Cup group stages earlier in the year. A few may be looking to impress in Asia, in the hope of earning an Indian Premier League contract.