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How often have James Anderson and Stuart Broad combined to bowl out the opposition?
The end of the Anderson overseas debate? It should be
The first thing to say is that, of the seam-bowling options available to Silverwood and Root, there is a huge gulf in experience between Anderson and Broad and the rest. That is true of most settings but particularly in Asia, where England's next most-successful fast bowler is allrounder Ben Stokes, followed by another big gap to Mark Wood (who has been rested for the first two Tests). Jofra Archer will likely get his first taste of bowling in the subcontinent, because of the extra pace he can provide, while batting ability adds to the claims of Sam Curran (also rested for the Chennai Tests) and Chris Woakes.
An average of 29.10 seems steady, and puts him roughly mid-table among quicks to have taken 40 wickets in Asia since 1990. But narrow it down to bowlers from overseas and he's in good company - not to mention above a host of those with local knowhow, such as Wahab Riaz, Ishant Sharma, Lasith Malinga and Zaheer Khan. No current seamer can compete with his miserly economy rate of 2.61.
Anderson was, of course, described as "the major difference between the two sides" by MS Dhoni after the 2012-13 Tests - India's last series defeat on home soil. It is perhaps the level of control he offers that makes Anderson England's key seamer once again, a decade later. His recent injury record means he will need looking after - and may add weight to the idea that he and Broad should be rotated - but his reliability and enduring fitness levels, as well as the apparent flaws in England's spin attack, mean he is just as likely to fulfil a holding role as to cut a swathe with the new ball; in the first innings in Galle last month, only Jack Leach delivered more than Anderson's 29 overs.
It was Broad, however, who got the nod at the start of England's six-Test subcontinental odyssey, and figures of 26-14-34-3 on a classic Galle dustbowl suggested he has added a dimension to his game. That haul doubled his career wicket tally in Sri Lanka, from three previous visits, and took his returns in Asia to 44 at 36.31 - though most of his success has come on skiddier surfaces in the UAE. In India, his record to date is not pretty - ten wickets at 53.90 - but late-stage Broad has shown an unstinting appetite for honing his cutting edge.
Alan Gardner is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick