Here, Press Association Sport looks at the key issues.
THE STOKES EFFECT
It would be fanciful to think England’s cricketers will be distracted by events at Bristol Crown Court, huddling anxiously around a screen to hear the latest dispatches from Ben Stokes‘ affray trial. His absence from the side does have the ability to destabilise the team, though. As he proved on the final morning in Birmingham, the Durham man is a cricketer desperate to be involved in the pivotal moments and the Ashes proved how crucial his all-round skill-set can be. There is no like-for-like replacement available so everyone will have to take their share of the water.
POPE ON THE FAST TRACK
The swift promotion of Surrey’s latest prodigy, Ollie Pope, to the international arena represents Ed Smith’s most radical act in the selection hot seat. Those who have seen him in full flow – a relatively slender number given he has played a grand total of 15 first-class matches – purr at his fluency at the crease but this is a serious ask. He is pegged to bat number four, despite regularly coming in two places lower for his county, and the intensity of the occasion is sure to be step up. But in shelving the experienced Dawid Malan for a 20-year-old rookie, England are making a conscious effort to future-proof their middle-order.
SPIN IT TO WIN IT
It came as something of a surprise to see both sides field solitary spinners in the series opener, particularly after England’s long, hot summer. With Ravichandran Ashwin enjoying great success last time out India will surely be minded to fall back on an extra tweaker at Lord’s and have Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav both waiting in the wings. England face a trickier balancing act. They have the option of slotting Moeen Ali in as Stokes’ stand-in, and he would provide some dependable off-spin overs, but Chris Woakes has also been drafted into the squad and he comes closer than anyone to maintaining the match-winning formula.
ROOT’S UNLUCKY 13
England captain Joe Root‘s consistent ability to churn out half-centuries is as admirable as his inclination to falter before three figures is frustrating. Nobody is more aware of his modest conversion rate than the skipper, who has frequently spoken of his desire to become more ruthless when he is set. He has waited almost a year, and 22 innings, to go from 13 to 14 Test tons and a ground where he already has three entries on the honours board could be the perfect place to put that right.
CAN PUJARA BE KOHLI’S FOIL?
Kohli must wonder what more he can do after reeling off 200 runs in a losing cause. The answer is, not a lot, but the same is not true for his top-order colleagues. India badly need somebody to knuckle down and chip in with a major contribution and the most likely candidate could be the man who sat out at Edgbaston. Cheteshwar Pujara made a good decision in signing for Yorkshire to acclimatise to English conditions but his lack of red-ball form in that stint ultimately counted against him. Yet he still averages over 50 in Test cricket – considerably more than Murali Vijay or Shikhar Dhawan – and looks ripe for a recall.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) officially sanctioned the second season of the T10 League which will be held in November.
The 10-over event begins from November 23 at Sharjah Cricket Stadium that will see eight franchises compete in an expanded 10-day competition.
Last year’s inaugural edition had been approved by the ICC and T10 League chairman Shaji Ul-Mulk said the sanctioning is important for their growth.
“This sanction from ICC for T10 League gives our partners, stakeholders and more importantly the players a much-needed boost,” he said. “Having said that, it additionally gives us responsibility to ensure we keep growing year-on-year and make this format globally acceptable.”
Salman Iqbal, T10 League president, added: “The sanction from the ICC will only add further shine to the global appeal of the event. We believe that value creation for the new teams will see a positive growth from year one. From four-day league to a ten-day league with more teams and larger pool of international players is a testament of faith shown by fans and stakeholders.”
Following on from last year’s success, which was won by Eoin Morgan’s Kerala Kings side, the 2018 edition has so far attracted some of the biggest names in cricket.
Afghanistan teenager Rashid Khan (Maratha Arabians), Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi (Pakhtoons) and Shoaib Malik (Punjabi Legends), Morgan (Kerala Kings), New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum (Rajputs), West Indies’ Sunil Narine (Bengal Tigers), Darren Sammy (Northern Warriors) and Australia’s Shane Watson (Karachians) have been named as icon players. Team owners will finalise their squads in early September.
All three balls have different characteristics. Kookaburra balls are the hardest and retain their shape. However, they offer very little help to the bowlers and on flatter wickets, they lose their seam quickly and struggle to aid spinners or seamers. The SG ball tends to go out of shape quickly and deteriorates alarmingly, making it an unreliable ball.
Which brings us to the English Duke. Widely considered as the best all-round cricket ball, the Duke has a pronounced seam that last longers, retains the shine for a greater duration and gives enough encouragement to seamers and spinners.
Which is why after the pulsating first Test between India and England, there were suggestions that Duke balls should be used across the globe.
“It would be nice if all Test cricket is played with Duke ball,” England coach Trevor Bayliss said. “It means you will always get a bit of sideways movement.”
Test cricket in Eng is in my view consistently the best contest between bat and ball. The dukes balls plays a part in this, but so do groundsman willing to produce a 'fair' wicket. It is these types of games and match conditions that would allow Test cricket to thrive everywhere.— Ed Cowan (@eddiecowan) August 3, 2018
And Duke balls offer a fair chance to everyone. With the Kookaburra, finger spinners can almost forget any help on flat surfaces once the seam goes and swing becomes almost non-existent.
As officials scramble for ideas to maintain interest levels in Test cricket, the idea of using Duke balls across the globe – suggested by Mike Atherton – makes great sense. You never know, even the traditional flat tracks in Australia and parts of the sub-continent might begin to see results with both seamers and spinners in the mix.
.@nassercricket says the first #ENGvIND Test was a great template for Test cricket – but he believes Thursday starts and the Dukes ball being used around the world are a must.— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) August 4, 2018
Watch highlights from an Edgbaston cracker here 👉 https://t.co/PzqVF4AKKZ pic.twitter.com/94HWq3kQiL