England v Pakistan: Key talking points ahead of the second Test

Last Updated June 01 2018, 10:00Cricket
James Anderson and Stuart Broad
James Anderson and Stuart Broad

Richard Mann looks ahead to the second Natwest Test match at Headingley on Friday and discusses the key talking points.

Can coach Trevor Bayliss survive another series defeat?

When Trevor Bayliss edged out Jason Gillespie to become England cricket coach in 2015, the Australian was hailed as the big new hope by the ECB and media alike; a no-nonsense character with a glowing CV who would transform England's modest fortunes in white-ball cricket.

It that respect, Bayliss has been a huge success with England's ODI side currently sitting at the top of the world rankings having led the way with a fearless brand of attacking cricket that has continued to dominate.

Even a shock semi-final defeat at the hands of Pakistan in last year's Champions Trophy wasn't able to dampen the enthusiasm around the limited overs teams but while all this has been happening, the Test side has seemingly gone backwards.

Bayliss has overseen some crushing defeats, particularly away from home, and even Joe Root's appointment as captain - apparently heralding a more positive approach from the side - has failed to see results improve consistently.

Last winter's 4-0 Ashes to defeat in Australia, for the first time, saw questions raised about Bayliss and a subsequent loss in New Zealand followed by last week's humiliation at Lord's has seen the pressure on him ramped up.

Defeat at Headingley would mean England will have lost three Test series on the bounce and anything other than victory could mean the end for Bayliss.

Joe Root and Trevor Bayliss
Joe Root and Trevor Bayliss need England to produce a big performance in Leeds

It is really time for England to wave goodbye to Stuart Broad and James Anderson?

An extended lean run of form has seen Stuart Broad under pressure for some time now but in recent days, James Anderson has also been mentioned as a possible for the axe.

Let's start with Broad; 411 Test wickets, multiple Ashes winner and one of the most experienced campaigners Root can call upon.

However, his numbers since the beginning of 2017 don't read as well, with an average of 34.44 markedly worse than his overall career return of 29.15.

There is no doubt Broad has suffered a loss of form and confidence, a collapsing of his front leg on release hindering his pace and not keeping the wrist firmly behind the ball, affecting his ability to move it sideways.

To his credit, Broad has worked hard on these deficiencies since returning from Australia and though he didn't pick up the wickets he would have liked, the Nottinghamshire quick looked much closer to his old self at Lord's.

Broad's opening spell on Friday was most encouraging, he bowled sharply and with good control and he looked to be moving the ball both ways.

Broad has never been a huge swinger of the ball but he is mighty dangerous when moving the ball late, and the signs in London were good.

As for Anderson, the idea England could even consider dispensing with the services of their all-time leading Test match wicket-taker seems staggering.

Notwithstanding the fact that someone with Anderson's record deserves more rope than most, along with the knowledge that opposition batsman still fear and respect him the world over, Anderson arrives in Leeds in as good a form as ever.

In fact, despite playing in a side short of confidence, short of quality slip fielders, and short of runs to defend, Anderson has takes 68 wickets at an average of 19.36 since the start of 2017. Those numbers include a bruising trip to Australia last winter - where he was forced to carry an otherwise impotent England attack with the unresponsive Kookaburra ball - and he still picked up four wickets at Lord's despite seeing two catches put down off his bowling.

England have tried to blood possible replacements for Anderson in recent years; Jake Ball, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, Craig Overton, Chris Jordan,Tom Curran have all been tried but none have been able to hold a candle to the Lancashire paceman who, even approaching his 36th birthday, remains England's most potent weapon.

Anderson remains as hungry as ever, as fit as ever, looks to be operating at his optimum pace and still seems to be evolving his incredible skill set.

Make no mistake, if England were to leave out Anderson in Leeds - a 35-year-old opening bowler - they would be effectively retiring one of their most prized assets with huge home series' against India and Australia on the horizon.

England have major problems in the Test side but their two champion opening bowlers, and particularly Anderson, are the least of their worries.

The time for sensible selection is now.

James Anderson: Top of the world rankings
James Anderson remains a key man for England

Can Keaton Jennings finally fix the opening batsman problem?

Since Andrew Strauss retired in 2012, England have searched tirelessly for a new opening partner for Alistair Cook. The likes of Sam Robson, Michael Carberry, Adam Lyth, Alex Hales, Haseeb Hameed, Keaton Jennings and Mark Stoneman have all been tried with varying degrees of success.

Stoneman is the latest casualty with Jennings now back into the fold following a promising start to the new season with Lancashire.

Jennings announced himself on the international stage with a Test debut hundred against India in Mumbai in 2016 but was left out of the side at the end of last summer having been given a torrid time by Vernon Philander.

Philander thoroughly exposed his technical frailties in that series but there is no doubt that Jennings is a very good player - his first-class record when opening the batting at Durham for so many years tells you that much - and he is the type of character who will have worked tirelessly since.

More significant is the fact that the England management have clearly seen something they like in Jennings. To bring him back so soon after discarding him would suggest he never really disappeared from their radar and he is reportedly highly respected by his fellow players.

Nevertheless, respect from his peers and a good reputation won't keep Jennings in the team. He has to nail down his place with runs and England desperately need him to make plenty of those.

Keaton Jennings
Keaton Jennings returns to the fold

Is Mark Wood the 'enforcer' England have been looking for?

When Mark Wood burst onto the international scene at Lord's back in 2015, England looked to have found the missing link to their bowling attack: pace, bounce, heart and a skiddy action that caused New Zealand's batting line up plenty of problems.

Five more wickets followed in Leeds and Wood would go onto to play a key role in England's Ashes victory later that summer.

However, Wood has been plagued by injury problems ever since with a troublesome ankle keeping him out of the game for extended periods.

Wood's genuine pace was sorely missed in this winter's Ashes defeat, the seamer not thought to be fit enough to make it through five days of cricket having returned from yet another injury.

Wood did return for the New Zealand Tests, though, and despite looking a little short of top speed, he still bowled with hostility as England tried desperately to force a series-levelling victory in Christchurch. He gave Joe Root another mode of attack in that game and England looked a better-balanced side for his inclusion.

Still, 30 Test wickets at an average of 41.73 highlights that Wood still has plenty of work to do in order to secure a regular place in the side. He acknowledged as much at Lord's, where two wickets put him back under scrutiny and gave voice to the argument that Chris Woakes should replace him this week.

Should Wood get the nod, he will know he needs to produce a big performance.

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