England need to turn things around in India, but how do they do it?

How do England get out of this mess? Our experts – including NASSER HUSSAIN and DAVID LLOYD – discuss how Joe Root’s team can turn the Indian tide after their third Test horror show and rescue the series

  • England need a quick bounce back following their horror show in the third Test 
  • Joe Root’s side lost by 10 wickets to India in the day-night test in Ahmedabad
  • England are staring down the barrel of another defeat unless they change things
  • Sportsmail’s experts discuss what can be done before Thursday’s fourth Test 

England need to turn things around sharp if they are to leave India with a series draw next week, having been on the receiving end of a thumping 10-wicket defeat in Ahmedabad. 

Joe Root’s side failed to adapt to incredibly difficult conditions with the match lasting just two days – the quickest Test match post World War Two.

Sportsmail’s experts come together here to discuss how England can get out of the mess they find themselves in, as Nasser Hussain, David Lloyd, Paul Newman and Lawrence Booth share their ideas.  

England need to turn things around quickly if they are to recover the series against India

What can England do to recover and how do they play Axar Patel?

Nasser Hussain: They have to shut out the noise and all the talk about the pitch, the TV umpire and two-day Tests. Then find a method to play on these pitches, address the repetitive nature of their dismissals and try to find rhythm. It’s not just been Patel. Go back to Sri Lanka and Lasith Embuldeniya was getting everyone bar Joe Root out. England have been very poor against left-arm spin. Patel has been doing them on the inside, so they have to presume the danger ball is the one that slides on and is trapping them lbw and bowled.

David Lloyd: I listened to Kevin Pietersen in this Test. He had problems against left-arm spin and worked it out. Get on the phone and ask him how it’s done. He’s been advocating drills, plans and clarity on talkSPORT. What England have to remember is that a win in the last Test and a drawn series would be a bloody good result. When I was a coach I used to say at times like this, ‘Play like you’ve never played before. I want you to play well!’

Axar Patel’s left arm spin tore through England’s batting order with ease over the two days

England’s batsmen could ask Kevin Pietersen for advice as to how to play left arm spin

Paul Newman: Thanks Bumble! The only hope might be India preparing a flat pitch and playing for the draw that would see them qualify for the World Test Championship final, but I can’t see it. Listen, we all expected England to lose — I tipped India to win 3-1 — but what is worrying is the way batsmen we consider top-class are playing Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin. Can they change in time for the fourth Test? I don’t think so. And England haven’t done themselves any favours with rest and rotation. I can only see another emphatic India win.

Lawrence Booth: If the pitch for the fourth Test turns as unpredictably as the third, I agree England can’t recover: they just aren’t equipped to deal with these conditions. The only positive is the ball will be red: England believe the shiny lacquer on the pink ball made it skid through for Patel. But they must be more wary of his arm-ball: too many batsmen got done on the inside edge. Make India bowl a jaffa to get you out.

If the fourth Test pitch poses the same problems, England will struggle to rescue the series

Have England started thinking the world is against them?

Lloyd: There’s an element of that. You know what I feel about the last two pitches and I wouldn’t blame England for agreeing. I said before a ball was bowled umpiring would become an issue, with an all-home panel. The third umpire has been trigger happy but I don’t think England went as far as Virat Kohli did in showing dissent. England should concentrate on not giving them as many decisions to make. As KP said, practise without pads. They will learn to get their legs out the way of the ball then.

Hussain: Let’s be fair Bumble, no-one in the camp has been complaining publicly about pitches. Although Chris Silverwood said yesterday he will discuss whether to do so with Root. And England went through the right channels in the way they tackled the lack of consistency of the third umpire. They were a bit in the umpire’s face in the field and if you’re going to have a go at Kohli for that you have to ask if Root, Stuart Broad etc went too far. But no-one has been reported by the umpires so they must be satisfied. They should leave the ICC to worry about pitches and umpiring.

England have been unhappy with the state of the pitches and certain umpiring decisions

Booth: I sat through a 25-minute press conference with Root after Thursday’s defeat and two things were clear: he thought India outplayed England and — though he didn’t say it in so many words — that the pitch wasn’t good for Test cricket. Both can be true. It’s an easy dig to say England are whingeing. I don’t think they expected anything else in India. How they respond in the fourth Test will tell us a lot about their mental strength.

Newman: I don’t think England are whingeing. I was critical of Kohli’s dissent after the second Test, too, but England were justified in their questioning of the TV umpire on the first day and didn’t go over the top on the field. The extent of the turning pitches has surprised England and I’ve certainly never seen anything like these on three Test tours of India.

The tourists have been accused of whingeing but are justified in their questioning of decisions

Aren’t the umpires actually doing a decent job in very tough conditions?

Hussain: The on-field umpires are doing very well. Their job is at its hardest when the ball is spinning like this. Look at Root’s overturned one on the second day. Crikey, the TV umpire had 50 replays and still couldn’t be sure he touched the ball. I do think the third umpire requires different skills and needs training. Umpires have a millisecond to make an on-field decision but need to learn to take their time off the pitch.

Newman: I have been impressed with Nitin Menon and to an extent Anil Chaudhary but our old friend Chettithody Shamshuddin seems to think he knows best all the time. I remember being on that one-day tour of India in 2017 when he drove Eoin Morgan to distraction. At least the ICC haven’t let him loose on the field.

Booth: I’ve been impressed, too. Turning pitches make an umpire’s job even harder and the on-field officials got almost everything right. The fact Menon gave Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma out to marginal lbws should deal with claims 50-50s are benefiting India. Even Shamshuddin improved. The problem is any iffy decision will be perceived by some as bias, and it is odd the ICC can’t arrange neutral umpires when touring parties are travelling.

Lloyd: The umpires are under enormous pressure and that comes from players, management, BCCI, crowds and the media. They even get it from people outside their houses. This was one series the ICC would really have wanted to use the very best in the world — like Marais Erasmus and Aleem Dar. The Indian umpires have actually been a bit better than I expected.

Is Root England’s second-best spinner or should Dom Bess play next week?

Booth: Moeen Ali would have played had he been available. But on that pitch, Root was a better option than Bess because he bowls fewer hit-me balls. England have to decide whether Bess is the long-term bet. He’s only 23, and spinners tend not to be in their prime until they’re 30.

But now they’ve dropped him and the captain has urged him to work on his game, I don’t see how they can bring him back. England’s mistake was not going in without Bess; it was too many seamers when they could have played an extra batsman.

Joe Root has emerged as a credible spin option for the tourists heading into the next game

The England skipper took five wickets on the second day in a surprising performance

Lloyd: If Joe gets five for eight in six overs, that tells you all you need to know about the pitch. But he is England’s best option alongside Jack Leach. Trouble is, he’s the captain and the best batsman. That’s a heck of a workload without being a frontline bowler, too. I don’t think he can sustain that but he’s the best option for the final Test.

Hussain: This is the real debate. The uncomfortable truth is that Root really is the second-best spinner. Bess has 17 wickets at 22 but England have lost faith in his control. But if conditions are the same for the fourth Test, I can’t see how you avoid playing that second frontline spinner unless you go with an extra batsman.

Newman: I understood why England went in with four seamers. There were so many imponderables with the pink ball under lights in a new stadium. They were playing to their strengths and, yes, I agree that Root is a better spinner at this stage than Bess. They got themselves in a pickle by admitting they asked Moeen to stay on.

Root may be England’s second best spinner while doubts remain over youngster Dom Bess

Pick your team

Hussain: If England think Bess has the yips, they should play an extra batsman in Dan Lawrence. What they don’t need, if conditions are the same, is four seamers.

Crawley, Sibley, Bairstow, Root, Stokes, Pope, Foakes, Bess (or Lawrence), Archer, Leach, Anderson (or Broad)

Lloyd: I have to remember who’s on their holidays because I would’ve had Jos Buttler and Moeen in if they’d been there. Now I’m told I can’t have Chris Woakes because he’s going home for a rest. He hasn’t played all winter!

Crawley, Sibley, Bairstow, Root, Stokes, Pope, Lawrence (or Wood), Foakes, Archer, Leach, Anderson

Dan Lawrence may earn a recall if England drop a seamer and introduce an extra batsman

Newman: It’s like the old joke about the man being asked for directions saying, ‘If I were you I wouldn’t start from here’. England must back their best batsmen. Root, for this game at least, has to be second spinner with a bit of Lawrence filth thrown in.

Crawley, Sibley, Bairstow, Root, Stokes, Pope, Lawrence, Foakes, Wood, Leach, Anderson

Booth: If it’s another turner, I’d play that extra batsman. I’d stick with Bairstow, who deserves a chance to put right his shocker. And I’d bring in two fresh seamers.

Crawley, Sibley, Bairstow, Root, Stokes, Pope, Lawrence, Foakes, Stone, Leach, Wood

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