The next marquee series in the international cricket calendar is undoubtedly going to be India's five-match Test series in and against England beginning on August 4. While India had beaten the three Lions in their home conditions earlier this year, the hosts would like to do the same in this bilateral arrangement. However, it won't be that easy against this Indian lineup who is in the United Kingdom from June owing to their ICC World Test Championship final. This means that they have got enough time to acclimatize themselves to English conditions and have even played a practice match against County Select XI other than quite a few intrasquad matches.
Prior to the five Tests, here is a look at the five England players who can really make a mark on this series and help the three Lions return the favour to India by winning in their home conditions. The series also marks the beginning of the 2021-23 World Test Championship cycle.
1. James Anderson
In the little part that he had to play in completely different conditions in India, England speedster James Anderson was superb. However, in England and with the brand new Dukes ball, playing Anderson will be a completely different ballgame. He will be the lion at his own den and will challenge the techniques of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane among others. Even the slightest of errors in judgement from Indian batters could be enough to get out against the pacer with the most scalps in Test match cricket. Anderson is also set to go past India's Anil Kumble, in the highest test wicket-takers list, and is currently sitting on 617 wickets, two behind Kumble's tally of 619.
2. Jos Buttler
Jos Buttler didn't have much to do in the Test series between the two countries earlier in the year as he came back early owing to the England and Wales Cricket Board's selection policy. However, he is likely to get most matches, if not all, for this series against India and his form could be critical in deciding the fate of the series. While the England batting order might appear a bit fragile, the form of Buttler can be the difference between a solid middle order or a vulnerable one which risks exposing the tale of the batting unit.
3. Jonny Bairstow
The right-handed batter had a Test series to forget in India. But since then he has been in tremendous white-ball form, scoring runs for fun in limited-overs cricket. He would now look to translate some of that form into red-ball cricket as the clock seems to be ticking as far as his Test career is concerned. In 74 Tests so far, he has scored 4197 runs at a decent average of 34.12. However, one would expect more from him, if he has to be a regular top-order batter for England in test match cricket.
4. Stuart Broad
Although Stuart Broad did not leave behind a significant impact in the Test series against India earlier in 2021, this will be a new beginning in England and expect the champion bowler to hit the difficult line and lengths. It is one of the better sights in world cricket to see Anderson and Broad bowling well together in tandem and if they are in full flow, it could mean difficult times for the India batters. Given that some of their own former players have backed India to win the series, Broad's performances could go on to determine if that turns out to be the case or not.
5. Joe Root
Even in the four Tests in India, captain Joe Root ended up as the leading run-scorer. In fact, in the match where he scored a double hundred, England ended up winning. In contrast, when he struggled to get going, so did the English batters. To sum up, the English batting revolves around his presence in the middle and they will look up to the captain to deliver when they meet India for these five Tests. The biggest advantage of Root is that he plays the spinners with equal efficiency as the pacers, a big reason as to why he did well in that subcontinent tour earlier. He will look to dominate the Indian spinners throughout the series.