Jos Buttler is set to be dropped for the final Test against Pakistan in Sharjah which would mean Jonny Bairstow taking the gloves and James Taylor being recalled. That may be the only change for England as they aim to level the series, but what other options do they have? Here are some of the permutations, in no particular order of likelihood. You are welcome to offer your own in the comments section below.

New selections in bold, positional changes in italics

1. Hail Alex?

Alastair Cook, Alex Hales, Ian Bell, Joe Root, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow (wk) Adil Rashid, Stuart Broad, Mark Wood, James Anderson

This team would involve Alex Hales making his Test debut to become Alastair Cook's eighth opening partner since Andrew Strauss retired. He would come into the XI in place of Jos Buttler, with Bairstow keeping wicket and Taylor missing out again. A greater reshuffle of the batting order would also involve Moeen slipping down to the middle order. It would be tough for Hales, he has had just one brief innings on tour, but he is at least a specialist opening batsman.

2. Back to the summer

Cook, Hales, Bell, Root, James Taylor, Stokes, Bairstow (wk), Moeen, Broad, Wood, Anderson

The model is the same balance which reclaimed the Ashes for England last summer. Adil Rashid misses out as the junior spinner, Hales fills Adam Lyth's role as a specialist opener, Moeen returns to No. 8 where he prospered throughout the English season while Bairstow moves to No. 7 with the gloves. It wasn't broke, but they tried to fix it.

3. Hit them hard

Cook, Moeen, Bell, Root, Taylor, Stokes, Bairstow (wk), Broad, Liam Plunkett, Wood, Anderson

England's strength is not in spin, that is abundantly clear, but they do have a strong stable of quick bowlers. So why not deploy arguably the quickest of them? It was an idea put forward by the Guardian's Mike Selvey and would involve one of the spinners making way. If we presume that Taylor replaces Buttler, then Rashid would have to sit this one out so that Moeen could continue to open. Liam Plunkett would then come in as a battering-ram of a fast bowler to ensure there is rarely a time when Pakistan aren't facing pace from both ends.

4. Do three spinners equal one?

Cook, Moeen, Bell, Root, Taylor, Samit Patel, Stokes, Bairstow (wk), Rashid, Wood, Anderson

Trevor Bayliss said that England had put some serious thought before the series started to playing three spinners in Sharjah - something New Zealand did last year when Daniel Vettori was recalled for a one-off Test and they won. And that would mean a Test recall for Samit Patel, three years after his last appearance on the tour of India in 2012-13. This option is now highly unlikely given the success of England's quicks, but if one were to be left out, in terms of wickets taken, Stuart Broad would be the unlucky man.

5. Bell tolls?

Cook, Hales, Root, Taylor, Moeen, Stokes, Bairstow (wk), Rashid, Broad, Wood, Anderson

Has time taken its toll of Ian Bell? The selectors don't yet think so, but his numbers are not adding up. He has averaged 20.94 since his hundred in Antigua and, though he looked more confident in his second-innings 46 in Dubai, scores of 40 and 50 aren't really sufficient for a player of his experience. In this option, both Hales and Taylor come in at the expense of Bell and Buttler, with Moeen relocating to the middle order. Joe Root, the world's No. 1-ranked batsman, is more than capable of batting at No. 3

6. The 1990s answer

Cook, Hales, Root, Taylor, Patel, Bairstow (wk), Rashid, Chris Jordan, Plunkett, Wood, Anderson

What would Ted Dexter, England's chairman of selectors during an era where consistency was not a buzzword, have done? It would never happen - not these days, at least - but, just for fun, here's an XI featuring all five squad players who haven't featured yet. Four quicks, two spinners. Rashid and Moeen could be interchangeable - as they doubtless would have been, 20 years ago.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo