4 Issues That England Must Resolve Before 2015 Ashes
England may have defeated India 3-1 in the five-match Test series; coming emphatically from behind to do so, however, before the 2015 Ashes, there are still a number of issues that Alastair Cook's team need to resolve.
In this slideshow, I will analyse the issues that still plague this England team.
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Alastair Cook's Opening Partner
Since Andrew Strauss retired in August 2012, England have struggled to replace him at the top of the order. Joe Root, Nick Compton, Michael Carberry and now Sam Robson have been tried in the role, and as of now, none of those four have convinced the selectors or pundits that they are adequate replacements.
Robson made his debut in the first Test of the summer against Sri Lanka and scored a hundred in his second Test at Headingley. However, aside from that one innings, he has generally struggled to perform at the highest level, recording scores of 1, 19, 24, 59, 17, 7, 26, 13, 6 and 37.
Robson is certainly under pressure; aside from his century he's not been consistent enough. It must be hoped that the selectors will afford him more time to make his case; opening the batting in Test cricket is not easy, and perhaps those seeking to make their way in the role should be given extra leeway.
Whether he is given more time or not, what is certain is that the role of Cook's opening partner is far from settled.
Moeen Ali's Role
Moeen Ali has been instrumental in England's series victory. However, it's not in the way many would perhaps have envisaged.
His 19 wickets, taken at an average of 23 were crucial to England's deconstruction of India's powerful batting lineup.
His prominence as a spinner raises questions as to his role in the side, however, especially when you consider his poor returns with his more specialist role as a batsman in the series.
Ali averaged 20.66 with the bat over the five Tests, and although his bowling certainly guarantees him a place in the side currently, his place feels less secure when you take into account his poor batting that should really be his strong-suit.
Were his bowling returns to suddenly drop off, which is not hard to imagine considering he is not a front-line bowler, it would be his batting that many would look to to save his place in the team—currently he is not scoring enough runs to do that.
Ali is not close to being dropped, nor should he be, but his position will continue to feel fragile as long as he fails to score runs in Test cricket.
It's not that he isn't good enough; his hundred against Sri Lanka in Headingley proved he is. But he has to replicate that on a more consistent basis if he is to become the lynchpin his talent suggests he could be.
Alastair Cook's Captaincy
It may seem strange, or unfair, to question the captaincy of a man who has just led England from the abyss of a 1-0 series deficit at Lord's to a remarkable 3-1 series victory. However, it must not be forgotten that England were 1-0 down in this series, and they were beaten by Sri Lanka earlier in the year, and Cook's captaincy was a conspicuous issue during those defeats.
He is never going to be a tactical genius, and although his batting form has returned somewhat, he is still searching for that elusive hundred. India were truly, truly awful; and although England can only beat who they are put up against, their ineptitude must be taken into account when considering England's brilliance.
Cook deserves enormous credit for leading England in this superb turn around—and he does seem to be becoming more tactically astute. However, Cook's faults have not disappeared, and Australia will pose a far sterner test next year. England cannot afford to forget that.
What Is England's Best Attack?
This is not necessarily a problem England should be concerned with having. However, behind James Anderson and Stuart Broad, it is still unclear what England's first-choice seam attack is.
Chris Jordan, Chris Woakes and Liam Plunkett have all played and performed with varying degrees of success this summer. Jordan and Woakes have ended it in the team, but it's only really by default, thanks to Plunkett being injured.
Were England to pick their best XI, which two extra seam bowlers would make the team remains unclear.
Of course, conditions largely dictate which bowling line-up is picked, and the problem of whether to select Jordan, Woakes or Plunkett is one England should be glad to have. They have a strong and large pack of bowlers; all of which have proved themselves at the top level. It's an issue, but it's not a bad one to have.
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