After an abysmal Ashes adventure in Australia and group stage elimination at the World T20, England now face an important summer of rebuilding.
A fragmented side is craving stability and a familiar starting XI. But that process will be complicated by the upcoming visits of Sri Lanka and India over the impending months. Both World T20 finalists will arrive at Heathrow on a high following their respective successes in Bangladesh.
Limited-overs champions Sri Lanka finally managed to earn a trophy from a final appearance, whilst India will want to rectify the 4-0 whitewash they were subjected to on their last tour in 2011. A losing mentality is beginning to form in the England camp, and neither of these opponents will offer an easy victory.
So how can Alistair Cook’s side recover and once again ascend the ICC Test rankings? Trusting a consistent and regular set of players would be a good start. Ian Bell, Matt Prior, Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson are household names alongside the skipper, but the rest of the line-up is more of a grey area.
Developing an established five-day side will aid England as they begin their climb back to their number one Test nation status, having been usurped by South Africa two years ago.
For now, the ECB need to make selections with conviction and stick to a recognisable team sheet. Plenty of talent and desire can be found in the County Championship, it’s just a matter of picking the right players to make the jump into the international game.
Ben Stokes’ development was a rare reward over the winter, and he will continue to improve. In addition, there is the youth of Joe Root and potentially Johnny Bairstow to pile on the runs. Graham Onions has been hampered by injuries, halting his England career, but he may be worth recalling this summer.
The England side doesn’t necessarily have to come from a pool of former and existing players though. A plethora of under-25s would jump at the opportunity to play five-day cricket for their country.
As a result, fans shouldn’t be too concerned about the future of the England cricket team. Nevertheless, a home series win will still be expected, and will signal a return to form.
After all it was only nine months ago that the Ashes were won at the Oval. A really bad run of losses - in ODI and T20 as well - has seen hopes dashed and cynicism settle in, but the next win could act as a springboard for a new and exciting era of English cricket.
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