It is not exactly a ringing endorsement of England’s controversial rest and rotation policy.
First Zak Crawley slipped on a marble floor and was ruled out of the first two Tests with a sprained wrist, while Jonny Bairstow, the obvious man to replace him at No 3, was back home in Leeds.
Now Jofra Archer is out of Saturday’s second Test in Chennai, with Mark Wood, the ideal candidate to step up, resting in Ashington to make sure he is fit and fresh for the white-ball matches against India that conclude this tour.
England have to make a decision over the rotation policy following a series of injuries
No wonder that Joe Root said on Thursday he is happy to make a ‘few changes’ to the side who won so thrillingly and decisively in the first Test. He has got to make at least two.
It is a pity Jos Buttler is missing for the rest of the series just when he has finally established himself with bat and gloves at Test level. But at least, in Ben Foakes, England have a world-class keeper and a batsman good enough to make a century on Test debut.
Zak Crawley slipped over and was ruled out of the first two Tests with a sprained wrist
while Jonny Bairstow (R) the obvious man to replace him at No 3, was back home in Leeds
The absence of Archer, for what is expected to be just this Test, with an elbow injury is more complicated because England want a bowler of real pace to play in every Test in India and in next winter’s Ashes. And that leaves them with a puzzle now.
In the absence of Wood, the only bowler in the squad who fits the bill is Olly Stone and it would be a big call to throw him in at the deep end now for only his second Test, with the first coming in very different circumstances against Ireland at Lord’s.
And England would have had a better idea of Stone’s readiness for the big occasion if they had only played him in Sri Lanka ahead of this series, which they came close to doing in the second Test in Galle.
So, unless they take a big gamble on Stone or even the untried Ollie Robinson, England must decide whether to throw both Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad into the fray or turn to the forgotten man of this sub-continental winter, Chris Woakes.
Woakes is a proven new-ball bowler and would add depth to the batting, so it would not be a surprise if he got the nod now, with England’s biggest gun Anderson being saved for the day-night third Test in Ahmedabad.
Now Jofra Archer (above) is out of England’s second Test in Chennai due to an elbow injury
Mark Wood is resting to make sure he is fit and fresh for the white-ball matches against India
What is certain is that Broad will play, with Root confirming his return before MailOnline broke news of Archer’s absence on Thursday.
‘Stuart is fit and firing and ready to go and it will be exciting to see him back out there,’ said the England captain.
Broad was in the form of his life last summer after being left out of the first Test against West Indies and continued his purple patch in Sri Lanka before being left out in favour of his old strike partner for the last two Tests.
‘But it wasn’t as if Stuart had been dropped though, was it?’ said Root.
‘We talk about the rotation policy being crucial for the team’s performance but it’s also to make sure we get the best out of Stuart, Jimmy and the rest of our fast bowlers.
As a result, Joe Root said on Thursday that he is happy to make a ‘few changes’ to the side
Jos Buttler absence is a shame as he has established himself with bat and gloves at Test level
‘Stuart has been extremely professional about things and has been a great example to the rest of the guys. He’s not just gone about his own thing, he’s bought into the whole bowling group and he always adds a huge amount.
‘Whenever he has a point to prove or hasn’t been playing, he always wants to be the main man and have a real impact.’
England will today decide whether that rotation policy extends to the spinners and Dom Bess, who has been a regular wicket-taker this winter but ended the first Test bowling a worrying number of full tosses.
Moeen Ali stands by on the Chennai ground where he made a century in England’s defeat more than four years ago.
‘Everything is on the table,’ insisted Root. ‘You pick a squad for these conditions and you have to be brave enough to trust that, if any of the guys have an opportunity, they can win you the game.
England will decide whether that rotation policy extends to the spinners and Dom Bess
‘I look around the squad and every one of them is capable of delivering something special over the next couple of weeks.’ Now England’s challenge is to make sure they can cope with the disruption of injuries and unavailability and ensure one of the greatest of all their away Test performances was not a one-off.
‘There’s no reason why we can’t continue the way we have been playing,’ said Root, who remains the key figure in England’s hopes of winning this series. ‘We will keep looking to push the boundaries of what people might consider are our capabilities.
‘We have won six Tests in a row now away from home and we are consistently improving in these conditions. There’s no reason why it should come to an end now.
‘The whole point is that we keep gathering momentum, keep looking to get better and keep challenging ourselves. When you have got to 60, 70 or 80, make sure you go on to a double hundred.
‘When you have the ball in your hand, go and change the game like Jimmy Anderson did on the final day (in the first Test). It’s really important we all step up.’
Now we will really see how good England’s Test team are becoming.