The unique Test summer is over.
England have two series victories and Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson have their 500th and 600th Test wickets.
But what have we learned? Sportsmail’s experts have the answers…
: First-innings runs. Bowlers win you games but big totals set it up for them. The emergence of Zak Crawley at three has added to that.
Crawley. He just looked the part as soon as he came into the side. Big tick to the selectors for picking someone averaging 30 in county cricket.
Crawley. They began without an established No 3 and have unearthed a player who can bat there — or open, if needs be — for years.
Two series wins! They achieved what they set out to do. England need to win at home and they’ve done that against West Indies and Pakistan.
I’m looking ahead to the tours of India and Australia and I’m not confident in Rory Burns and Dom Sibley. I can’t get away from their unorthodoxy. Surrey’s Alec Stewart is full of knowledge, known to both of them and could provide them with a little re-think.
The slip fielding. With the bowlers England have, the cordon needs to be settled. Ben Stokes is a fabulous slipper but even he was sloppy this summer.
: England will need to decide whether to stick or twist with Dom Bess, whose three wickets against Pakistan cost 78 apiece. Sri Lanka, India and Australia will be rubbing their hands.
The rest and rotation policy. As soon as things went wrong in the first Test, and Stuart Broad exploded on Sky, future planning went out the window.
Jofra Archer. I still don’t know what his role is. He bowled at decent pace in this Test but overdoing the short ball is so predictable. His most lethal delivery is the occasional short one.
It depends on conditions. In England, he should replace a bowler — Archer, on this evidence. In Asia, a batsman, because England will need as varied an attack as possible.
It has to be a bowler, particularly as Crawley is now undroppable and there is a case for Jos Buttler to play as a specialist batsman. This winter, if they play in Sri Lanka and India, it has to be Chris Woakes.
If he’s fully fit he comes in at five or six and a bowler misses out. And away from home it has to be one of Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad or Jimmy Anderson.
He looks special and needs to play sooner rather than later to be an Ashes candidate. It’s hard to see where, unless England jettison one of the openers, and that would be harsh right now.
Crawley’s runs have put the openers under a bit of pressure and if they don’t go big, Crawley could move up and Lawrence come in at three. But let’s not get on the case of Burns and Sibley just yet. They have done OK.
: He will need someone to get injured or lose form, unless England are so desperate to get him in that they leave out an opener and promote Crawley.
He gets in at three with Crawley replacing one of the openers. Lawrence is in the same category as Ollie Pope and Crawley when it comes to potential.
No. I accept Jos Buttler has work to do but he balances the team perfectly. He’s a player opposing sides are very wary of.
It’s tempting because Buttler is yet to take a Test stumping. But Buttler is now an integral part of the batting line-up, so bringing in Foakes means messing with an already delicate balance.
No, not just after Buttler became man of the series against Pakistan. He knows he has work to do on his keeping standing up and I understand the argument for Foakes, but I stick with Buttler.
Yes. He was sensational in Sri Lanka in 2018 and has been desperately unlucky since. As soon as he was let out of the bubble this week, he scored a century for Surrey. This winter, at least, Buttler plays as a batsman.
He’s too good a player to write off either as a batsman or batsman-keeper. The cupboard isn’t that full with batsmen so if he gets a shedload of runs there will be another opportunity for him.
I hope so. We experimented with Jason Roy as a Test opener, why not Bairstow? He opens in one-day cricket and he’s got six Test hundreds! You want a radical change? Bairstow to open with Crawley and Lawrence at three.
I’m a big fan of Bairstow and, like Foakes, he’s been unlucky. He was doing little wrong in the position he craves as batsman-keeper but suffered partly because Buttler is perceived as a better team man. Jonny will be back.
It looks as if he’s falling between two stools: Buttler is growing in stature as a batsman but if the selectors are fretting about his glovework, then Foakes appears next cab off the rank. And it’s hard to see how Bairstow gets in as a batsman at the moment.
I’m a massive Rashid fan and I do know that dialogue is ongoing. He’s a grand lad who can be a bit vulnerable but the last time I saw him bowl he was brilliant. He spins it both ways and I’d be moving heaven and earth to get him to play Test cricket.
Yes. I’d try to persuade Rashid to give Test cricket another go. England desperately need a spinner who can turn it both ways. In seven Tests in Bangladesh and India in 2016-17, he took 30 wickets for goodness sake.
Leach seems another victim of the rotation policy. I get Bess is learning but I just look ahead to Australia and shudder to think how he will go. Rashid is the best of them but I’m not sure he would relish being sole spinner.
My point on Rashid hasn’t changed: he has to convince the England management he wants to be a Test cricketer before he’s considered. Bess has still got a lot of work to do but we need to give him a chance to learn in sub-continental conditions.
This winds me up. Archer’s role is to take wickets, whether that’s bowling fast or banging it halfway down. I hate the enforcer tag. We used to hear that with Broad too before he started taking wickets bowling fuller. The key for Jofra is that he or Mark Wood need to give England something different when it goes flat.
Something has gone wrong with Jofra this summer. Whether it’s the management of him or the fault lies with the player, I don’t know but he has looked nothing like the bowler of last summer. That’s still a big worry for me.
I don’t know about enforcer but short, sharp bursts seem sensible in the current set-up. He’s struggled this summer without the new ball. Once he gets that back, he’ll be fine.
If you’re a fast bowler, you need to bowl fast. I could give you plenty of examples. I don’t get how he can bowl 83mph one game then 93 the next.
I think of him as a genuine all-rounder and he could be very useful as a fourth seamer overseas. It’s unfair to just think of him as a home specialist.
The stats suggest that but Darren Gough thinks Woakes is improving away. Don’t pigeon-hole him just yet.
Mainly, yes, but there were signs over the winter that he had worked on his game with the Kookaburra. England shouldn’t give up on him overseas just yet.
I’m intrigued by his improvement with the Kookaburra ball after working with Gough in New Zealand, but I’m afraid if we play three English-type bowlers in India and Australia we will lose heavily. So he misses out.
It depends how fit they both are at the end of the 2021 summer. But you can imagine the headlines if England’s new-ball attack at Brisbane has a combined age of 74 — and struggles.
I’d be surprised. Jimmy will be nearly 40. But you never know with Anderson and he has proved plenty of people wrong over the years. Broad should still be around but it’s probably a bridge too far for Jimmy.
Their quality, longevity and sheer force of personality ensured they both played five out of six Tests this summer and long may they reign — at home. History tells you if they run out together at Brisbane, England will struggle.
Absolutely they can! There are no signs either of them are losing their nip or fitness. If you want one who could come in with a wet sail — Ollie Robinson. All the England batsmen rate him, just as in 2003 they were all saying, ‘This bloke Anderson’s a handful.’
Pretty much. I want Crawley in there and I’d like room made for Lawrence. The only big question for me is the spinner. Burns (or Sibley), Crawley, Lawrence, Root, Stokes, Pope, Buttler, Bess (or Rashid), Broad, Archer, Wood.
What did we say last time? How about Crawley, Bairstow, Lawrence, Root, Stokes, Pope, Buttler, Broad, Rashid, Wood, Anderson.
Burns, Sibley, Crawley, Root, Pope, Stokes, Buttler, Rashid, Broad, Archer, Wood. Sorry, Jimmy, but England will need pace to win in Australia.
Not too much has changed from the evidence of this summer. At the moment I’d go Burns, Crawley, Lawrence, Root, Stokes, Pope, Buttler, Rashid, Broad, Archer, Wood.