We're less than 24 hours out from the 3rd test between England and India, and if the rumours are true, England have made a couple of big decisions at the top of their lineup.
According to multiple online outlets including ESPN, Chris Silverwood and Joe Root have made the decision to leave Rory Burns and Dan Lawrence on the sideline in favour of the returning Jonny Bairstow and Zak Crawley.
With the 3rd test due to be a pink ball day/night test, many people had this test circled as the one which would favour England more. However, if you've seen the pitch today you'll realise that a green-top paradise it is not. In fact, it looks an awful lot like the Chennai pitch which caused a stir in the 2nd test.
Rory Burns has bee struggling for form since his ankle injury and is averaging just 14 in 4 innings this year, his score of 33 in Chennai was followed by two disappointing ducks and a 25 in the 2nd inning of the 2nd test. It's a small sample size, but when you consider that he averaged less than 30 through the 2020 calendar year, this won't come as a huge surprise.
Burns has been one of the most dominant domestic players for Surrey over the last few years, amassing runs for fun. However, when you consistently fail to hit that 30 mark you're always in danger of being dropped. You only have to look at England's history over the last few years to see evidence of this. Sam Robson who averaged just over 30, dropped. Michael Carberry who averaged just under 29, dropped. Mark Stoneman, averaged around 27, dropped.
He'll be replaced by Zak Crawley, who's currently averaging 38.50 in test cricket. Zak was unfortunate to trip and injure himself prior to the two tests in Chennai, and despite struggling in Sri Lanka being dismissed by Lasith Embuldeniya on all four occasions his 267 against Pakistan at the Rose Bowl is still fresh enough for us to have hope that he can continue to develop his game. He had significant trouble with Embuldeniya a left-arm off-spinner, so it'll be interesting to see how he copes with Axar Patel, who's also a left-arm off-spinner.
Dan Lawrence started his international test career with a bang with a 73 and 21* during the first test in Galle, but has struggled ever since. His average has plummeted to 21.71 as he's been asked to play out of position batting at #3 on difficult surfaces against an outstanding attack. I'm always in favour of backing your players, but with the ball set to spin instead of seam during the 3rd test, Bairstow does make some sense.
Bairstow is a much-maligned character in the England set-up, his struggles against seam are well documented and in seam friendly conditions I'd be 100% against this decision. However, Bairstow does have good experience in India, playing in spinning conditions due to his involvement in the IPL. After amassing scores of 47, 35*, 28 and 29 in Sri Lanka, he'll be looking to stake his claim further by passing that 50 mark. Although I'd still be sceptical about him batting at #3 anywhere but the sub-continent.