England v India, 1st Test, Lord's

Teams face selection dilemmas

Both teams have choices to make about who their third seamer will be for the first Test, but England's greater bowling depth could prove to be the difference over the course of the series

Andrew McGlashan

July 20, 2011

Comments: 41 | Text size: A | A

Stuart Broad bowls in the nets, Lord's, July 20, 2011
Stuart Broad is favoured to edge out Tim Bresnan for the third seamer's spot in England's playing eleven © AFP
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The ICC's recent all-time fans' eleven has been roundly criticised and ridiculed because of the players who weren't included, but there is unlikely to be as much fall out when England and India name the teams that will take the field for the 100th Test between the two teams and the 2000th in the game's history. That isn't to say the final choices won't be debated, but the sides only have one spot with any question marks.

For both captains and coaches the final piece of their jigsaw revolves around who fills the third pace-bowling position. In England's case it's a shoot-out between Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan, while for India it will be either Praveen Kumar or the volatile S Sreesanth with MS Dhoni having already ruled out Munaf Patel. Whomever gets the nod will support two strong new-ball pairings so they need to be adaptable in their roles.

The decision for Dhoni and Andrew Strauss is whether to stick to what they know or trying something different. Broad, despite being dropped for the final one-day international against Sri Lanka, remains the man in possession in the Test team and is favoured to see off the challenge from Bresnan. Dhoni, meanwhile, has seen Kumar perform well in the three Tests against West Indies where he took 12 wickets at 21.16 in his first Test series and for all his lack of pace - often around 78 mph - he has wonderful control of swing. He's the type of bowler that could easily frustrate England's stroke-makers who like extra pace on the ball.

In Sreesanth's favour is the x-factor he can provide. However, he didn't do himself any favours in the warm-up game against Somerset (although he wasn't the only one) as his 28 overs went for 141 runs and brought just the wicket of Arul Suppiah after he had made 156. On the flip side he has shown wicket-taking skills on flat pitches in India and caused Jacques Kallis trouble in South Africa.

There are plenty of similarities between Broad and Sreesanth. Both bowlers have inflated averages (Broad 36.25, Sreesanth 35.16) and have a handful of match-winning spells. For Broad at The Oval and Durban read Sreesanth at Johannesburg and Kanpur. They are also combustible characters who don't need much to be pushed towards boiling point. They may keep the match referee on his toes.

Neither captain gave anything away. "I'm pretty clear [on the team]," Strauss said. "It's a tough decision; all 12 players have very strong merits to play. That's a good position to be in but always makes it a difficult decision over who to leave out." Dhoni was even briefer when pushed on who would make the cut, saying "That's up to us."

Strauss, though, did expand on the qualities that Broad and Bresnan can bring to the team. He also continued the theme of recent days in following Andy Flower, the England coach, in clarifying Broad's role after he'd been described as an 'enforcer' by David Saker, the bowling coach, during the Sri Lanka series.

"Very simply, Stuart's role in the side is not fundamentally different to anyone else, it's to bang out a length consistently and work in conjunction with the other bowlers to take wickets," he said. "One aspect to his game that gives him an edge is that he has a very good bouncer and can make life difficult for batsmen. But that doesn't mean he's the enforcer all the time, it just means there are spells where he might go short. The majority of the time he's no different to the other bowlers."

"One aspect to his game that gives him an edge is that he has a very good bouncer and can make life difficult for batsmen. But that doesn't mean he's the enforcer all the time, it just means there are spells where he might go short."

One issue that isn't up for debate, though, is that if Broad keeps his place he has to start rewarding the faith shown in him with decent hauls. He took eight wickets in three matches against Sri Lanka and those match-turning spells at The Oval and Durban, which are always cited as examples of what he can achieve, are becoming increasingly distance memories. Meanwhile, there are a host of pacemen breathing down his neck with the fit-again Bresnan topping that list ahead of Steven Finn, who couldn't even make this squad.

Bresnan's situation is an interesting one. He played such a vital role in securing the Ashes with incisive spells at Melbourne and Sydney that a place seemed there for the foreseeable future. Then the curse of many pace bowlers - injury - struck in Australia, and again at the start of the season, meaning Broad regained his place and Finn earned another chance.

"It's a great position for English cricket to be in, having two guys who can do the job," Bresnan said. "Not just two, but a very strong crop of seamers where, if there are injuries, people can come in and do the job. I just need that one chance to show everyone what I've got again, get back in that side and, hopefully, cement down a place."

England's attack had an ideal balance at the end of the Ashes series: James Anderson's swing, Chris Tremlett's bounce and Bresnan's nagging accuracy and the latter's role hasn't been forgotten. "He's answered every question that has been asked of him during his career," Strauss said. "He did fantastically in Australia and did very well in the World Cup as well. He's improving all the time as his confidence grows. He adds something to the squad and would certainly add something to the side if he played."

The other aspect to consider is that whoever makes the playing elevens on Thursday morning is far from guaranteed their position for the series. Four Tests in six weeks is a tough workload and somebody will fall by the wayside. Then it will be about the bench-strength of both teams. In that respect England have the advantage and that could yet prove the difference.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by AABIRSABEEL on (July 21, 2011, 9:35 GMT)

sreeshanth should play ahead of praveen kumar,dravid should open with gambhir,both yuvraj and raina should be played ahead of mukunth, My team for first test GAMBHIR, DRAVID,LAXMAN,TENDULKAR,YUVI,DHONI,RAINA,HARBHAJAN,ZAHEER,ISHANTH and SREESHANTH

Posted by   on (July 21, 2011, 8:43 GMT)

i think india should pick sreesanth ahead of praveen kumar ince praveens lack of pace could cost india dearly.even sreesanth can swing the ball well and he also has the extra pace which could handy in british condition and he also can bowl wicket taking ball like the one against kallis. anyway india will win the series

Posted by   on (July 21, 2011, 8:29 GMT)

For England it will definately be Stuart Broad gets the nod over Bresnan and so is Praveen Kumar will be the third seamer for India.But for me Absence of Sehwag will be the major factor and huge bonus for english bowlers

Posted by smudgeon on (July 21, 2011, 8:24 GMT)

I thin Praveen has earned the opportunity to keep a spot in the starting XI, even if he hasn't nailed it down by a long shot. A good performance against an average Windies batting lineup may not be an indicator of how good he actually is (England's batsmen are a class outfit), but his figures there suggest he has something going on. Sreesanth I find rather average and one-note. Zaheer-Ishant-Praveen-Bhaji sounds like the best attack India could take into this match, and some variety too.

Posted by   on (July 21, 2011, 8:03 GMT)

In my opinion India must go with Sreesanth instead of Praveenkumar. Praveen's performance in WI was good enough. It must be noted that he got in the side because of injuries to Zaheer and Sreesanth. Wickets in WI were much more conducive to pace and our bowlers performed. There is nothing to write about so highly. Infact bowlers with more pace would have done better than praveen kumar in windies. It is agreed that he is a good swing bowler but he lacks extra pace to trouble the class batsmen of England (WI batsmen were below par). You need pace and bounce to trouble good batsmen than military medium pace swing bowling.

Posted by skidmarks on (July 21, 2011, 7:51 GMT)

it seems obvious that finn shpuld be picked. he is a real wicket taker that india's big three could find hard to handle, englands loss.

Posted by   on (July 21, 2011, 7:39 GMT)

I feel that Zaheer, Sreesanth and Ishant sould be the three pacers of the playing xi. Sreesanth and Zaheer are both swing bowlers. Both can swing the ball both ways and can reverse it as it gets old. Also Sree has everything positive in him to put himself wayward above Kumar. I feel bad when the extremely talented Kerala Express not justifies our expectations with his talent! Ishant is not able to move the ball and just has the height advantage ie only pace n bounce which he cant get use of to a good level. Just remember that he did well against a low rated WI team. Kumar too the same. So don't rate them above Sree. Both haven't done anything as compared to Sreesanth who has been terrific on dead tracks too! So I prefer to see Zaheer sharing the new ball with Sreesanth. Best of luck Master blaster to get ur 100th international ton and for Team India who's playing their 100th test vs england and 2000th in test match history!

Posted by aarpee2 on (July 21, 2011, 7:24 GMT)

Irrespective of the team combinations , a lot will rest on how India bat in the first innings of the Lord's test. If India manage 350+ it will set the trend for an interesting series and a good contest between two good teams.

Posted by jimbond on (July 21, 2011, 7:12 GMT)

If England's third seamer is going to be Broad, I dont see how England's depth of Bowling is any superior to India. This is because Praveen Kumar, Sreesanth and Munaf are all better bowlers than Broad.

Posted by thebarmyarmy on (July 21, 2011, 6:44 GMT)

Bresnan over Broad. Look at both form and stats!!! Come on England!

Posted by MeeraKrishna on (July 21, 2011, 6:08 GMT)

Traditionally Eng havent played leg spinner well..I would like to see Mishra playing..This would bring the best out of Bajji also like he did when Kumble was around...

Posted by   on (July 21, 2011, 6:02 GMT)

Bresnan, Praveen kumar, Abinav Mukund must be in, Yuvraj sorry to be left out... Spare both Dravid and Yuvraj for popening which they cnt handle well.

Posted by rsurya on (July 21, 2011, 6:00 GMT)

Praveen has the ability to take early wickets. sreesanth cannot control his deliveries he can't take early wickets and if England lays a good foundation then every match will lead to draw. so sack sreesanth and play praveen. But our Astrologer Dhoni will play sreesanth. when will we change this inclusion of intuition.

Posted by akshayaram on (July 21, 2011, 4:42 GMT)

I think that India should go with Praveen instead of sreesanth. Praveen is in good form and will be able to use the overcast conditions better than Sree.Praveen has got more control with his line and length than sree.

Posted by landl47 on (July 21, 2011, 3:21 GMT)

With Tremlett and Anderson in the side, I'd take Bresnan over Broad. Anderson and Tremlett are both attacking bowlers and England needs a third seamer who can tie up an end. Bresnan is reliable and strong, whereas Broad might be very good or pretty poor. In the long run Broad will be the better bowler, but right now Bresnan fills England's need better. He's also a more consistent bat than Broad. India won't open with Yuvraj, Dravid or Tendulkar if they have any sense. They brought an opening bat and they'll open with him. Raina batted Yuvraj out of a place in the Somerset game. Praveen's game seems well suited to English conditions and he did well against WI (and Sree chucked pies at Somerset) so Praveen gets the place. Hopefully the weather stays fine and the pitch will have some life so we see a good game. Best of luck to both teams.

Posted by ramab on (July 21, 2011, 2:24 GMT)

India should go with Praveen Kumar to reward his performance in WI. If I were England I would go with Bresnan because I think he matches up well with India. I wonder what happened to Graham Onions? He seems to be nowhere in the picture these days especially after the SA trip?

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on (July 21, 2011, 2:11 GMT)

Just saw the video of Dhoni's prematch conference. Mukund is in guys.....Common sense prevailed. When a second year resident goes on sick leave a second year resident will fill in but not the program director or department's chairman. Thank God, common sense prevailed. I'm relieved for India and for Dravid and Sachin. Game on folks........

Posted by TeamSelector on (July 21, 2011, 0:30 GMT)

I think Gerard called it right for India ...

India:- 1-Gambhir, 2-Dravid, 3-Laxman, 4-Tendulkar, 5-Yuvi, 6-Raina, 7-Dhoni, 8-Bhajji, 9-Zak, 10-Ishant, 11-PK

England:- Bresnan was England's third seamer in the Ashes before he got injured. Broad & Finn filled in for him until he recovered. He's now fully fit again & that should be the end of the story.

Posted by   on (July 20, 2011, 23:56 GMT)

as an indian fan i wouldnt want YS to open hes not experience in anylevel when it coms to opening let mukund open with gambhir and my pick would be broad and sree for their teams both hav good pace which would be beneficial for the teams and teams should be decided on the basis of the condition not how their form is.

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on (July 20, 2011, 23:53 GMT)

@Ramakrishna Aduri, agree with you. No more dilemmas. PK/Sreesanth is the only dilemma. I prefer Sreesanth over PK because Sreesanth can be both a new and old ball bowler unlike PK. But PK is much better than Sreesanth when it comes to keeping it right up there close to the batsmen. Any bowler is ok for me at the end of the day. As far as batting is concerned there are no dilemmas in my mind that this tour is not the place for experimentations, accomodations and emotions. If Mukund doesn't get to play, Dhoni should first explain why did India take three openers to England. Rookie excuse regarding Mukund is no good. Don't we know that during selection? Redundant and moot points.....Sorry Yuvraj Singh please sit out and let Raina and Mukund play and none of the Indian batting legends are pushovers that you push them around to somehow accomodate Yuvraj Singh, who anyway didn't set the ground on fire in the practice game or in test cricket thus far.....Hope Dhoni is listening....

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on (July 20, 2011, 23:46 GMT)

I don't understand this hoopla of Right-Left combination. What's the point? Aren't Cook and Strauss both lefties? What's this fascination with right-left combination when it comes to Indians? Didn't the world see two righties opening? Aren't we seeing two lefties opening for England as we speak? Get over it. We picked three openers for a reason. Should any of the openers sustain an injury, the third will get to take that spot, not for Dravid or Sachin to fill that and disturb the balance of the entire line-up. It would be the grand daddy of all follies to ask Sachin or Dravid or Yuvraj Singh or any precious non-regular opener to open when BCCI bought tickets for three regular openers to go to England. Just get over this emotional stuff of oh Mukund is new, Dravid opened before, we have to fit in Yuvraj Singh somehow, so let us fit him in somewhere and push Dravid/Sachin to open..just get over it folks..may be we may risk non-precious non-regular opener like Dhoni to open.

Posted by MacFry on (July 20, 2011, 23:36 GMT)

Selection dilemmas? Far from it. Bresnan for England and Praveen Kumar for India. Broad and Sreesanth are a good comparison because they are both complete waste of space when Bresnan and Praveen Kumar are around.

Posted by 5wombats on (July 20, 2011, 23:32 GMT)

@Alexk400; - that's a very unfortunate turn of phrase you've used there that some people might find offensive - particularly female cricinfo fans.

Posted by stationmaster on (July 20, 2011, 23:23 GMT)

How can Broad be selected over Bresnan ? I would love to know exactly what Broad has done of late, to 'get the nod' ? Broad should be embaressed to be selected over Bresnan, of that happens.

Posted by   on (July 20, 2011, 22:56 GMT)

My word Bresnan for England and PK for India. No more dilemmas please

Posted by GHemrajani on (July 20, 2011, 22:36 GMT)

Sounds like Bresnan will play. He was brilliant in the Ashes and should get the nod. @ Cricfan2007 - Swann is not overrated and is better than Harbhajan. May not be a Shane Warne but will be tricky to face even for the Indians.

Posted by Nampally on (July 20, 2011, 22:17 GMT)

Yuvraj opening the innings is not a good idea because he has not done it in his lifetime in any major match. Either stay with Mukund or go with Dravid who bats at #3.econdly Yuvraj is very rusty after his long lay off on the injured list.So Raina is far better choice compared to Yuvraj especially after his form in WI.. Yuvraj did not bowl well in the game against Somerset. Hence he needs more practice before he can lay claim as an all rounder. As regards pace bowlers, Zaheer & Ishant pick themselves, even though Zaheer bowled very poorly in the Somerset match .The third paceman is likely to be Kumar, despite his lack of pace. He is generally a boeler with good length & direction while Sree could be wild and temperamental. Also Kumar is coming out of good performance in the WI test series. As for England, it does not matter who they pick between Broad & Bresnen. Both are good bowlers.India batsmen need to play themselves in before going for any risky shots. This is essential to do well

Posted by TheRivals on (July 20, 2011, 22:07 GMT)

India should try yuvi ahead of mukand for first test atleast. and PK ahead of sree. that is probably the strongest combination in the absence of sehwag. but indian selectors have made bad decisions in past. I thing India will bat first no matter who wins toss. it will be fun to watch strong english balling againd batting might.

Posted by TheUpperCut on (July 20, 2011, 21:45 GMT)

Can't wait for this series to start! India should play Praveen as he is capable of picking 2-3 wickets in an innings with his swingers which is what Sreesanth might end up with as well but with Praveen we can be sure there will be no antics

Just read Sreesanth's interview before he started from India and look at what he did in the tour game against Somerset. India cannot rely on a seamer who might come good once in 5 games!

India for sure will miss Sehwag

Posted by   on (July 20, 2011, 21:45 GMT)

For a one off I would open with Dravid and Gambhir right and left hand combination, Laxman at three folowed by Tendulkar, Raina, and Yuvraj, Dhoni, Harbajan followed by PK, Ishant and Zak

Posted by arjun27 on (July 20, 2011, 21:25 GMT)

English bowlers are overrated .. they'll be hammered by our lengthy, experienced and Awesome batting line-up .. as far as the bowling is concerned we are not too bad and they are not too good .. we have an answer for each of their bowlers .. Zak vs Anderson, BhaJJi vs SwaNN, Ishant vs Tremlett and Sreesanth/Pk vs Broad/Bresnan... the playing XI according to me should be Mukund/Yuvi, Gambhir, Dravid, Sachin, VVS, Raina, Dhoni, Harbhajan, Zak, Ishant, Sreesanth .. and Tendulkar will be making his 100th ton and creating History in the historic 2000th test match tomorrow at Lord's .. We will be Winning the Series, after all we r the No.1 test team and the World Champions .. <3 INDIA .. !

Posted by AnotherCricketFan on (July 20, 2011, 21:22 GMT)

Yuvi opening? Wow we can guarantee 0-1. He is a flat track bully! Mukund may be a risk but worth taking than experimenting YS. Raina would dislodge him easily and they have to find a place for YS - that is hero worship. He is a gr8 ODI player no doubt, not Test quality batsman - I mean YS. Praveen should be automatic. Even with lack of pace if he can swing it at will - as he claims - he will be a threat. But SS has pace and has the knack to swing it late. PK does not have that. Though I dislike Broad hope he comes alive. All this rubbish about his bowling need to go away. It is Lords and where is the comparison between Harbhajan and Swann? We need a quality spinner despite HS's 400+.

Posted by Praxis on (July 20, 2011, 21:21 GMT)

Quite frankly I'll be shocked if Broad gets selected ahead of Bresnan. Even if Broad manages five wicket haul in both innings I'll maintain my opinion that Bresnan is far better and consistent than him. Given the current form of Broad, its surprising that he managed to get in the 12 man squad, not Finn.

Posted by JustIPL on (July 20, 2011, 21:18 GMT)

Kindly please no comparisions with Broad for Sree. Why are we so afraid of Broad? Broad can be very lethal with bat as well. So, Engllish have are doing right to draft him in the side as there is already fear about him in the Indian camp.

Posted by Vilander on (July 20, 2011, 21:17 GMT)

Now that is clear, bresnan is playing ahead of broad, india should plan for him.

Posted by Vilander on (July 20, 2011, 21:15 GMT)

sreesanth ahead of PK, and Yuvi should not open, but must play.

Posted by   on (July 20, 2011, 20:04 GMT)

Yuvraj must open even if he is suspect against swing bowling. If he clicks after surviving first few overs Sehwag will not be missed. Rookie Mukund is good but unfair to throw him in such a test straightway. Then Dravid/Tendulkar/VVs/Raina/Dhoni are automatic selections. Ishant/Zak/PK may not be as good as English bowling but they r not far behind.

Posted by A_Vacant_Slip on (July 20, 2011, 19:46 GMT)

Looks like Bresnan is going to get the nod then....

Posted by Alexk400 on (July 20, 2011, 19:34 GMT)

Broad bowling will help india. He just have the immortal would of 6 sixers. it is like he is a rape victim that do not forget the rapist. He just do not have mental strength against india. We all know what happened to chetan sharma. Pls england do not play broad.

Posted by cricfan2007 on (July 20, 2011, 19:30 GMT)

I think English bowling is over rated. They don't have genuine swing bowler who can do that in unfavorable conditions. I really doubt england will make a very swing friendly pitch because indian bowling is very good at that. Only edge england might have is in extracting bounce. Without swing, only bounce might trouble indians early but they have too good batting line which can overcome that very quickly. Swann is most over rated bowler I have ever seen. Eng is trying to make an image of shane warne in their own player but that is funny. I would like to see how swann does against ind.

Posted by sunildjoshi on (July 20, 2011, 19:27 GMT)

Not sure when Munaf was ruled out?? Definately a tough choice between Praveen and Munaf.. but tougher is between Yuvi and Raina..Not sure why Andrew is not addressing that..

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Andrew McGlashan Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.
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