The departure of Jonathan Trott from England’s Ashes tour poses a number of selection problems for England ahead of the crucial second Test in Adelaide.
Who Bats at No. 3?
The most obvious and primary issue to deal with is who will directly replace Trott at No. 3. With Kevin Pietersen predisposed against moving from his much-favoured position at No. 4, as batting coach Graham Gooch acknowledged in a press conference, it is a choice between Ian Bell and Joe Root. Bell has batted at No. 3 before in his career, and Root, of course, opened the batting in the last Ashes series.
From the evidence of the warm-up match in Alice Springs where Root moved up to open, it will be he who ascends up the order in Adelaide. Such a decision would make sense considering how recently, albeit not without trouble, Root has batted at the top of the order, and also considering the success Bell has had at No. 5.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Bell move up, however. England have been keen to stress the need for improvement from the top three, and moving Root back to the top having been demoted less than a fortnight ago could be seen as counter-intuitive. But it does remain more likely that that will be the case.
Who Bats at No. 5 or No. 6?
Regardless of whether it is Root or Bell who move to No. 3, their ascension will require a new selection to bat at No. 5 or No.6. The contenders for the role are Gary Ballance, Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes.
It is unlikely that Bairstow will be the man of choice considering he seems to have slid down the pecking order since being dropped after the fourth Ashes Test in England; his position at No.7 in the batting order in the warm-up match in Alice Springs reaffirmed this fall.
Thus it is a contest between Ballance and Stokes, and indeed the decision may well depend on conditions. If the management feel the pitch is particularly flat then the bowling offered by Stokes might nudge him into the side. If the pitch is not deemed so flat, then Ballance could be the choice.
Ballance was the only player to impress with the bat in Alice Springs, scoring a composed 55 on the first day, but aside from that innings he has not had much time in the middle on the tour.
Who is the Fourth Bowler?
James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann are, as ever, certain selections.
Chris Tremlett played in the first Test and bowled okay without ever looking menacing. He performed his role as a third seamer well, but now with Tim Bresnan back in the squad and a dry pitch expected in Adelaide, his place in the side is looking vulnerable.
Indeed, the dry pitch has led to murmurings that Monty Panesar may be included in the side. If the pitch is not as dry as reports suggest then, fitness permitting, Bresnan will probably play.
Possible England Line Up: Cook, Carberry, Root, Pietersen, Bell, Ballance, Prior, Bresnan, Broad, Swann, Anderson