Mark Wood will not play any part in the final test match of the series against Pakistan. The Durham bowler has impressed so far in an England shirt, but his absence raises yet more selection issues for the visitors.
Liam Plunkett is waiting in the wings for England, should Trevor Bayliss and Alastair Cook decide to retain the current formula of four seamers and two spinners. Plunkett is a very different type of bowler to James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes. He is more likely to generate extra bounce and pace in what is likely to be a slow, lifeless pitch.
The England coach has already admitted to Sky Sports that he is thinking of adding an extra spinner to the England attack. It could be argued that given Joe Root can bowl some part-time off-spin, this might not be necessary. This, however, would be the view of someone who hasn't watched any of the test matches so far in this series.
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It is more than likely that Pakistan will look to take the pace out of this pitch and perhaps try to get the ball to turn later on in the test match. Spinners are likely to be decisive, and given how expensive Adil Rashid has been this series, including Samit Patel can't harm England's chances. In fact, not doing so could be decisive in a must-win match to level the series for the visitors.
England have other selection issues too. Jos Butler's alarming loss of form and confidence is bordering the point of making him impossible to be considered for selection. The fact that Jonny Bairstow can play as wicket keeper could open up another batting spot for the in-form James Taylor, a batsmen long overdue a chance to stake his claim for a spot in the batting line-up.
Long term, Moeen Ali has yet to show he has the qualities to open the batting in test match cricket in what is quickly becoming the poisoned chalice of English cricket. This will need to be solved before, what will be, the ultimate test of an opening batsmen's ability.
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