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England boast all-rounders but too many Swiss army knives will blunt them | Tim de Lisle

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Stokes, Woakes, Moeen, Roland-Jones, the Currans, Rashid and Bess provide options and, while packing the team with them would not work, they can help make England better travellers

How many players are there in a cricket team? The simple answer, as you know, is 11 but when the team in question is England’s Test side, things are seldom simple. The true answer is anything from three to 15.

In the last Ashes series, Joe Root had only three players coming up with the sportsman’s favourite abstract noun – consistency. One of them was himself – five Tests, five 50s, Mr Reliable (If A Bit Frazzled). Another was Dawid Malan, superb on hard surfaces, as Ed Smith noted the other day when dropping him because of his travails in home Tests. The third was Mr Inevitable, Jimmy Anderson, who bowled the most overs, took the most wickets (17) and conceded only the fourth-most runs, giving Root some semblance of control.

Related: Trevor Bayliss urges Ben Stokes to issue public apology over Bristol brawl

Related: Ben Stokes has embarrassed the ECB? Usually it doesn’t need anyone’s help | Marina Hyde

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