Welcome to live if brief coverage of day five of the third Test. England are on the verge of a commanding victory which will seal their comeback to win the series 2-1 and leave them, after the torpid nadir in the Caribbean and their resounding hammering in the Ashes, with a fabulous record of 6-1 for the Test summer.
There are some familiar grumblings about the nature of their victory, as if there are right and wrong ways to win Test matches, and the usual reductive fears of what this might mean for the Ashes. One of the major problems of the last 20 years has been this preoccupation with the Ashes and the cycle, ‘Anderson and Broad won’t make it to 2017/2019/2021 so we must get rid of them’. Instead, refreshingly, and perhaps only with the freedom rock bottom brings, Ben Stokes’ doctrine has been simple: win this Test in the most entertaining manner possible, celebrate it and try to do the same again next time out.
I would be surprised if all who have played this summer are not in Pakistan for the three Test series after the World Cup barring Jonny Bairstow who will still be recovering from his broken leg, and Stuart Broad whose first child is due to be born. They will need another spinner, perhaps Moeen Ali if he decides to come out of retirement, perhaps Matt Parkinson or Rehan Ahmed. A spare opening batsman should be on the trip – Keaton Jennings and Haseeb Hameed have flourished in the past on Asian pitches but I suspect Bob/Baz/Ben will be keen to give Lees and Crawley first dibs for the first Test. They will also be mustard keen to take an express bowler with them depending on how Mark Wood and Olly Stone fare over the next couple of months.
From being bowled out by Kyle Mayers and Jayden Seales in Grenada to this in less than six months is worthy of the highest praise. Let’s worry about Hazlewood and Cummins another day.