Five questions that England must answer before the Ashes

No. 3
The decision to recall his old friend, colleague and housemate Gary Ballance may well be the first major call of Root's spell as captain. While Ballance is only one game into his recall, it feels as if he is already under pressure with the selection panel understood to have been split on his suitability. It certainly seemed an unlikely scenario at the end of the India tour, where Keaton Jennings and Haseeb Hameed had emerged as strong candidates for top three positions and Ballance had slipped back into the pack after a poor tour of Bangladesh.

He performed respectably at Lord's - Root reckoned his second innings of 34, made on a deteriorating surface, was worth double in normal conditions - but until he makes a couple of significant scores, the pressure is unlikely to disperse. It is, after all, nine Test innings since he last made a half-century and he has made only two in his last 23. The criticism of Ballance tends to focus on his slightly unusual technique and his decision not to change it after his most recent spell in the Test side. But all four of Ballance's Test centuries have been made from the No. 3 position - which was vacated when Root decided he wanted to return to No. 4 - and his record in county cricket this season, where he is averaging almost 100, rendered him a more than reasonable choice.

Cook's opening partner
With a century and half-century from his first three Tests, Keaton Jennings has earned the sort of extended run in the side that the likes of Adam Lyth, Sam Robson and Alex Hales enjoyed. He has made a sound enough start, too, and looks to have the game to succeed in Australian conditions. We're not there yet, though. England have failed to find a long-term replacement for Andrew Strauss, who retired at the end of the 2012 English season, with many candidates tried and discarded before Jennings. Indeed, he is the 11th opening partner Cook has had since Strauss.

The top 3
Even if Ballance and Jennings settle, there will be those who feel England's top three is too defensive-minded for their own good. Trevor Bayliss, the head coach, memorably once said he would prefer two of the top three to be relatively quick-scoring players. But with England's top-order notoriously brittle in recent times - in the last three years and 65 innings, they have lost their third wicket for 55 or fewer 23 times - they may well prioritise stability over style or aggression. Batting Root at No. 3 might have helped, but he feels he will be more productive at No. 4 which gives the current top three an unfashionably stolid feel. It might be considered a price worth paying if they can prevent those top-order collapses, though.

First-choice spinner
The choice of Liam Dawson as No. 1 spinner took most by surprise. Few would claim he is the best spinner in the country - he has not always been considered the best at his county, Hampshire - and he has a relatively modest first-class record. But there is some logic in it: as a man who is more adept than most at tying up an end and bowling economically, Dawson is seen as the sort of bowler who can give Root control in the field and ensure the pressure exerted by the seamers is not released. He can also, perhaps, take a bit of the pressure of expectation off Moeen Ali which, on the basis of Lord's, has some merit. It is also clear the England management like his spirit and character. He made a quietly efficient start to his Test career in India, conceding three an over while Adil Rashid conceded more than five, but looked a little nervous at Lord's and, after a half-century in his first Test innings, has now suffered three successive ducks. With Moeen looking more secure in the side than ever, England may have to decide whether they require another spin-bowling allrounder or whether they might be better served with a specialist at some stage.

The seamers
While James Anderson's record renders him an automatic pick for Australia, there are mounting concerns over his long-term fitness. The window between injuries - and there have been an array of those in recent times - appears to be shrinking and there has been some loss of pace. The skills and the control remain, however, and it is worth remembering that, in first innings at least, Anderson was effective on the 2013-14 tour. But Australian pitches are unforgiving for ageing seamers and any drop of pace could leave him vulnerable. More importantly, England have to see how he gets through this summer: back-to-back Tests are a tough proposition for a bowler with as many miles in his legs as Anderson and it has been noticeable how little he has bowled in training over the last couple of days. The other issue with England's seam attack is the lack of variation: nearly all contenders are right-arm, fast-medium, with Mark Wood and Chris Woakes just a little quicker than the others. They would love one of the quicker bowlers - the likes of Jamie Overton - to come through before the Ashes, but for now it seems England will be heavily reliant upon Anderson's experience and hoping it doesn't prove a tour too far.