Matches (15)
IPL (1)
WI vs SA (1)
ENG v PAK (W) (1)
County DIV1 (5)
County DIV2 (4)
CE Cup (1)
USA vs BAN (1)
ENG v PAK (1)
News

Ollie Robinson makes way for Mark Wood as England retain two spinners

Bashir and Hartley both retained in spite of expectation of seam-friendly conditions in Dharamsala

England have opted against reinforcing their seam-bowling contingent for the fifth Test against India in Dharamsala, and have named an XI featuring just one change - Mark Wood for Ollie Robinson - from the side that lost by five wickets in Ranchi last month.
The talk in the lead-up to the Test had centred around the likelihood that England would play at least one extra seamer, given the cold conditions anticipated in Dharamsala, and the fact that the surface for this match is the same as was used when all 36 wickets fell to seam in a recent Ranji Trophy match between Himachal Pradesh and Delhi.
However, following a final inspection of the wicket, carried out by the management team of Ben Stokes, Brendon McCullum, Marcus Trescothick and Jeetan Patel, England have opted to retain the balance that kept them competitive in Ranchi, with Shoaib Bashir's offspin retained alongside Tom Hartley's left-arm spin.
That is despite a cut to Bashir's spinning finger that he sustained in the course of his 70-over workload in the fourth Test, but which England do not believe will hinder him unduly. However, they are a little wary of stomach complaints which meant neither Bashir nor Robinson were present at England's last training session of the tour.
Both woke up on Wednesday morning with "slightly upset stomachs", and the decision was made to leave them back at the team hotel to prevent the bug spreading to rest of the squad.
"You don't want to put anybody at risk so we've decided to keep them away from the team," Stokes explained. "It's the sensible thing to do. When you've got so many people contained in the same space all the time you want to limit the chance of it spreading. So to keep the two guys who are slightly unwell back at the hotel away from the guys is the sensible thing to do."
Stokes strongly believes Bashir will get over the illness, with no contingency plan set in stone. Fast bowler Gus Atkinson and Dan Lawrence, who bowls part-time off spin, are the other two members of the now 14-man group.
"If that's the case [that Bashir is too ill to play], we'll have to consider what we think is best. I've not thought too far ahead. It's not a major issue, we just wanted to safeguard against anything spreading to someone else."
Robinson's omission, a decision made before Wednesday morning, comes after a fallow performance in the fourth Test, in which he suffered a back strain while batting in England's first innings and was not used at all in India's successful run-chase. He makes way for Wood, England's fastest bowler, who was rested in Ranchi after a heavy workload at Rajkot.
"It looks like a wicket that could have a bit of pace and carry in it," said Stokes. "Having a fresh Mark Wood on a wicket that you feel is going to offer some pace - it's something that's been consistent whenever we've gone with two seamers. Looking at having a bowler like Jimmy but wanting to have some pace and firepower to break the game open. With having two spinners, it allows us to play either conditions at different times throughout the Test."
The absence of a specialist third seamer hints at a return to bowling fitness for England's captain, Stokes, who has been increasing his workloads in the nets on this tour, having undergone knee surgery over the winter. Stokes, however, dismissed that notion: "Every time we've picked the team this tour it hasn't been with any expectations of me bowling. If I do bowl any overs in this game it will again be a bonus."
England's attack will once again be led by James Anderson, who will be playing his fourth consecutive match of the tour at the age of 41, and who needs two more wickets to reach 700 in Tests.
"It's phenomenal to think about, especially as a seam bowler," said Stokes of the milestone. "An amazing career to date, and I can't see him stopping.
"I have played with Jimmy for a long time and I've never seen him as physically fit as he looks right now. Being 41, showing that hunger and desire to get better every single day is a testament to his attitude and commitment to the game."
England XI 1 Zak Crawley, 2 Ben Duckett, 3 Ollie Pope, 4 Joe Root, 5 Jonny Bairstow, 6 Ben Stokes (capt), 7 Ben Foakes (wk), 8 Tom Hartley, 9 Mark Wood, 10 James Anderson, 11 Shoaib Bashir