England hold a 1-0 lead over Pakistan ahead of the final Test against Pakistan.
It comes after the second Test was ruined by poor weather and lighting resulting in a draw.
Sportsmail’s experts discuss the main questions going into the third and final Test which starts on Friday.
Azhar Ali and Joe Root embrace at the end of day five of the second Test that ended as a draw
England’s second Test with Pakistan was hampered by bad weather and ended in a draw
Who’s to blame for the lack of play in the second Test – and what’s the answer?
Nasser Hussain: We all have to take responsibility. It stems from the amount of cricket played historically. You have players, umpires and groundstaff pushed to the limits, and whenever they’ve had the option to go off, they have taken it.
But this summer is different. With everything that has gone on to enable cricket to take place, that mindset has to change. It’s the right time for everyone in the game to look at themselves and say, ‘Whenever possible, we have to stay on’.
That means starting at 10.30am if you’ve had a stoppage the day before. And making lunch and tea more moveable feasts. The last Test would still have been a draw with a more positive attitude but give yourself the best chance to stay on.
Paul Newman: The whole attitude of the decision-makers has to change, starting with the umpires. They should take a look at Law 2.7.1 which says ‘conditions should not be regarded as either dangerous or unreasonable merely because they are not ideal’ when looking at bad light.
And how about the playing regulation which says the first bad light reading ‘may’ be a benchmark for the rest of the game rather than ‘must’.
Use common sense. Remember how important it is for cricket to grab this chance in the spotlight and how big the viewing figures have been.
Play must carry on under floodlights, but I’m not sure about the pink ball. It’s just not good enough quality for Test cricket. Play on with the red one.
Lawrence Booth: The problem lies in the ICC’s guidelines for bad light. They state that the umpires’ objective is to ‘maximise play’, yet also provide a host of factors that might lead them to conclude conditions are ‘unsafe’.
These include: ‘Do the fielders chase the ball late?’ and ‘Are lights in and around the ground really bright?’ Crucially, they add: ‘It is best to suspend play a fraction early rather than too late.’ It’s too fussy.
And too often, the umpires are slow to encourage groundstaff to start clearing up. It’s a question of perception. Right now, fans think cricket is off the pace.
David Lloyd: The onus should be thrown back on the players and their associations. I had a message from a senior TV producer from abroad who insisted players remain complicit in coming off.
He said if they were suddenly faced with having their wages halved because of reduced TV rights fees, they would quickly change their view on bad light.
I do think players will need to sign disclaimers giving umpires, boards and the ICC indemnity in the event of injury. Otherwise, we are looking at litigation. But I have never seen an injury because the outfield was damp. It’s a myth.
England take a 1-0 lead into the third and final Test after bad weather hit the second Test
And our bowling? Aren’t we meant to be building a pace attack for the Ashes?
Booth: I was surprised they left out both Jofra Archer and Mark Wood, but not because of the Ashes, which we’re too obsessed with. There are supposed to be 10 Tests against India before that, for goodness sake.
And if England don’t string together series wins before then, they can kiss goodbye to winning in Australia anyway. In Southampton, we learned the bowlers are mainly excellent, but still have a tendency to lose the plot.
Bumble: We’ve always been searching for pace abroad but you have to treat Wood with kid gloves because his action is extreme and he will get injured. As for Archer, if he’s a fast bowler, he is going to have to bowl fast more regularly.
That’s all there is to it. So there may be chances for others such as Saqib Mahmood, Olly Stone and Jamie Overton to fill that role.
Nasser Hussain said he would consider Mark Wood (above) or Jofra Archer to play in final Test
Hussain: I was surprised they didn’t pick one of Archer or Wood. It was, of course, because of the Ben Stokes factor — and with another inexperienced batsman in Zak Crawley coming in, they felt they needed another batting option in Sam Curran.
The balance always has to be struck. Do England try to win in the conditions in front of them or have one eye on the future? Now they are winning this series, they may stick with what they have — but I would consider Archer or Wood on Friday.
Newman: It was in New Zealand last winter that Joe Root and Chris Silverwood said they would always have one eye on overseas conditions and the Ashes. But short-termism and the quality and force of personality of the big two — Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad — has taken over again.
Broad may have been left out of the first Test against West Indies but at least Stokes had the courage of those convictions as temporary captain in picking Archer and Wood for that match.
One of them has to play in each Test — as long as Jofra is used as he should be: a proper fast bowler. If England’s seam attack in Australia in 18 months’ time is Anderson, Broad and Chris Woakes, they will lose heavily. And it’s the Ashes which England are heavily judged on.
Is Bess the right spinner? He’s bowling very little. What about Rashid?
Newman: Tricky one, this. I’d always be loathe to go into any Test without a specialist spinner and Dom Bess will not learn if he’s not playing. But Ed Smith got it right when he brought Adil Rashid back for Test cricket a couple of years ago and he needs to do it again now his shoulder is fully healed. He is the best option.
Hussain: Yes, but you always become a better player out of the side and Test cricket has to be for players who want to be there. Does Rashid really want Test cricket? You can’t have any doubt about it being what you want.
Shane Warne talks about leg-spin in Australia but it is an unforgiving place if you’re not 100 per cent certain you want to be in that Ashes battle. The initial move has to come from Rashid. I don’t think England should be going cap in hand to him.
Bess will only get better by playing — but there’s no point including him if you’re not going to use him. And that’s nothing to do with Root — it’s to do with the conditions. I would still always like a spinner in my team, because conditions change during a match.
Adil Rashid could become an integral part of the jigsaw if England get him to play Test cricket
Bumble: I hope the dialogue is ongoing with Rashid. I’d be moving heaven and earth to get him to play Test cricket if I were England coach because he could be an integral part of their jigsaw, especially away from home.
You could argue Jack Leach could have played at home this summer. Bess is a young spinner still learning his trade. John Emburey had been playing for England three years or so before he sussed off-spin.
Booth: The problem is pitches this summer keep starting as dry. Imagine if Yasir Shah won a Test for Pakistan, and England had opted to leave out a frontline spinner. Bess is a good bowler, but he’s still raw and England’s next 17 Tests will be against Sri Lanka, India and Australia, who all eat offies for breakfast.
Leach will clearly tour Asia, but Rashid would be the bold option, because he turns it both ways. He’s 32 now, in his prime, and he has seven Test hauls of four wickets or more in 19 games. England have to get over their historical mistrust of leg-spinners.
Burns and Sibley have had a tough time. Are we concerned about the top two?
Booth: Opening the batting in England in the past few years has been one of the toughest gigs in world cricket, so you have to accept there will be low scores. But Burns averages 33 and Sibley 39, which is a damn sight better than all the other openers during the Alastair Cook years.
I don’t care if they have quirky techniques. What matters is that they both want to improve. Stick with them. They’ve both done enough to show they can hack it.
Bumble: Yes, Lawrence is right that it’s desperately difficult to open the batting in England these days against the Dukes ball. I accept that. But England can’t be that static at the top of the innings.
You should always be looking forward and Crawley will emerge as the perfect man for one of those two opening spots, with Dan Lawrence worth trying at No 3.
Newman: Burns has shown he is a quick learner and can adapt and he will do so again. He belongs at this level. Sibley has made a good start to his Test career but has to show he can learn now bowlers such as Mohammad Abbas are actually bowling for a catch behind down the leg-side. In the longer term, like Bumble, I can see Crawley opening in place of one of them.
Burns has to be given some leeway despite disappointing in the last Test match for England
Hussain: Questions haven’t been raised this summer about them, for me. Sibley has been a consistent scorer throughout. But if he keeps getting caught down leg he has to think about that. Burns got a good nut in the last Test — that happens. It has been tough at the top of the order, we have to give them some leeway.
Any changes for the final Test match?
Bumble: If Wood is fit I would bring him in, probably in place of Curran even though he would be unlucky. Or maybe leave the spinner out. Otherwise unchanged.
Hussain: My starting point from the previous Test was that I would have played someone with pace. But now England have played Curran I don’t see why they would change on the same ground and in probably similar conditions. Otherwise you would be saying the selection of Curran was wrong.
Newman: Wood has been desperately unlucky to only play the first Test after finishing so strongly in South Africa. He plays instead of Curran for me now England have insisted he’s fit. But if there ever was a case to leave out your spinner, this is it.
Booth: I’d bring in Archer for Curran, and leave it at that. There’s an argument for saying England will need Ben Foakes behind the stumps for the winter tours, but the selectors are not going to take the gloves off Jos Buttler for the last Test, especially when his batting is showing signs of improvement.