Hameed, Hales and other players England can bring in to fix the weak links against West Indies

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England coach Trevor Bayliss conceded that issues remain with the batting personnel, so here’s who’s in contention to earn a place in the England XI against the West Indies next week…

HASEEB HAMEED

England have made little secret that the 20-year-old Lancastrian is their preferred long-term option to be recycled as Alastair Cook’s opening partner. Hameed made an impression in India before injury struck last year – and returned to form for Lancashire this week.

Whether that is enough to restore the necessary confidence in time for the impending daynight Test against the West Indies is open to question.

Haseeb Hameed

Haseeb Hameed

MARK STONEMAN

The selectors have appeared curiously cool about the Surrey opener’s credentials, despite his 761 runs, at an average pushing 60, in his first season at The Oval.

Like Dick Whittington, in his case a few miles further from Durham, Stoneman has made the trip to the capital to further his quest for fame and fortune. It may well yet pay off for the lefthander, but some influential people still seem unconvinced.

Mark Stoneman

Mark Stoneman

ALEX HALES

He has carried his prolific white-ball form into the County Championship, with a run-a-ball double-hundred in his new preferred position in the Nottinghamshire middle order.

Hales is this country’s current in-form batsman, and he is a conceivable alternative for either Keaton Jennings or Dawid Malan – because his previous statistics alongside Cook are not the worst of the 11 different partners tried in the last five years.

Alex Hales

Alex Hales

GARY BALLANCE

The finger he broke in England’s 340-run trouncing at Trent Bridge is likely to keep him out of the reckoning for Edgbaston next week, and such was his onedimensional approach at times on his short-lived comeback at No3 that many will moan at the mere mention of Ballance’s name.

He remains a favourite of captain Joe Root’s, however, from their days growing up at Yorkshire – and it is far from impossible he will be back at some stage.

Gary Ballance

Gary Ballance

CHRIS WOAKES

You do not have to replace a middleorder batsman like-for-like in England’s current team. Woakes’ ongoing recovery from injury may preclude an immediate return on his home ground.

But Bayliss has pointed out that England’s extra batsman in the last two Tests was a contingency for prevailing conditions. Bowling all-rounder Woakes, with nine first-class hundreds to go with 48 wickets in 17 Tests, can help balance a team that bats down to the roller but is flaky up the list.

Chris Woakes

Chris Woakes

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Axar Patel to replace Ravindra Jadeja for third Test against Sri Lanka

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Axar Patel.

Spinner and batsman Axar Patel will replace suspended Ravindra Jadeja in India’s squad for the third and final Test against Sri Lanka, the team said on Wednesday.

Patel, 23, has played 30 one-day internationals and is now in line for his debut Test if he is picked for the match in Pallekele, starting Saturday.

Jadeja, the world’s top Test bowler, was slapped with a one-Test ban for a dangerous throw during his match-winning performance in the second Test in Colombo.

He was also docked half his match fee by the International Cricket Council over the incident, which was his second transgression within a 24-month period.

The Virat Kohli-led India are eyeing a series sweep after taking an unassailable 2-0 lead when they completed an innings win in Colombo on Sunday.

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Blow for Sri Lanka as captain Rangana Herath is ruled out of Pallekele Test with back pain

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Influential: Captain Herath.

Key bowler Rangana Herath has joined Sri Lanka’s growing injury list ahead of the start of the third and final Test against India starting on Thursday, in a blow to their hopes of a consolation win.

The 39-year-old spinner, Sri Lanka’s number one and the world number three in Tests behind India’s Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin, is out with a back injury, chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya said.

“Herath will not be able to play in the third Test,” Jayasuriya said. “He is suffering a stiff back.”

Sri Lanka have already suffered crushing defeats in the first two Tests and losing Herath compounds their problems.

All-rounder Asela Gunaratne and bowler Nuwan Pradeep picked up injuries in the first and second Tests respectively.

Skipper Dinesh Chandimal missed the first Test after being hospitalised for pneumonia, and fast bowler Suranga Lakmal was ruled out before the series.

Herath’s place is likely to be taken by left-arm spinner Malinda Pushpakumara.

India will also be handicapped by the one-match ban slapped on Jadeja by the International Cricket Council for dangerous play.

The left-arm spinner was reprimanded for a dangerous throw in the second Test in Colombo. He was also docked half his match fee and given six demerit points by the ICC over the second incident in a year.

After the final delivery of the 58th over, fielding off his own bowling, Jadeja threw the ball back at batsman Dimuth Karunaratne, who had not left his crease.

The ball narrowly missed him in a manner which the umpires deemed “dangerous”, the ICC said. Jadeja took five wickets to help dismiss Sri Lanka for 386, as India triumphed by an innings and 53 runs to wrap up the series.

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