head coach Trevor Bayliss is heartened that England have hit on a winning formula against India even without Ben Stokes.
Chris Woakes proved a highly able deputy for England’s premier all-rounder – with a maiden century in his comeback Test after injury and a match haul of 4-43 too – as the hosts went 2-0 up in the series with an innings victory at Lord’s.
Stokes’s ongoing court case in Bristol is set to have a bearing on his future availability although after Woakes’s success there is no obvious need for England to change a winning team for the third Test at Trent Bridge on Saturday.
Bayliss had every reason to smile as he reflected on a Lord’s win that owed most to the sixth-wicket stand of 189 between Woakes and Jonny Bairstow – and the brilliant bowling of James Anderson.
Asked if he was happy with the balance of the team in Stokes’s absence, he said: “I think so, but it depends on where we play.
“We were all set to play the second spinner in this match if conditions suited, but with the weather around we didn’t have to make that decision. We went with the extra quick and it worked out.”
England were out of sight at Lord’s, thanks to Woakes and Bairstow, having had an epic battle to go 1-0 up at Edgbaston.
Bayliss added: “The first Test was a dogfight and this one looked like being the same at four or five down in the first innings.
“(But) Jonny and Chris Woakes batted extremely well and then the bowlers did the business again.”
They can, therefore, clinch the series with two matches to spare by winning in Nottingham.
But captain Joe Root has already warned against complacency.
“India are doing everything they can, but we’ve given them nothing,” he said. “I don’t see any lack of fight or lack of trying.
“Obviously it would be a dream to put in five complete performances and have five wins. But it’s important we don’t get complacent, arrogant.
“If you get too far ahead of yourself this game has got a funny way of biting back at you.”
Meanwhile, Anderson’s stunning match figures of 9-43 have taken him past the 900-point mark in the International Cricket Council’s latest rankings.
The 36-year-old remains ahead of South Africa’s Kagiso Rabada at the top of the standings and becomes just the seventh England bowler – and first in 38 years – to breach 900 points.
India captain Virat Kohli has fallen to No 2 in the batting rankings after two low scores at the Home of Cricket with Australia’s disgraced former captain Steve Smith at the top once again.
Root has every right to be optimistic “special commodity” Anderson can stick around to keep helping England win Test matchesa.
England’s all-time leading wicket-taker was pipped for the man-of-the-match award by Woakes, but Root made no secret of his delight to have Anderson’s skills at his disposal.
England prevailed by an innings and 159 runs on the fourth evening of a rain-ravaged match as India were bowled out for 130 – and Anderson and Stuart Broad shared figures of 8-67.
Asked about evergreen record-breaker Anderson, Root said: “He’s a special, special commodity, isn’t he?
“He’s something that doesn’t come along very often and we’ve got to enjoy him while he’s around. Time and again he puts in fantastic performances. For him to be performing as he is, is something else.”
Lancashire’s Anderson, who has become the first bowler to take 100 Test wickets at Lord’s, is showing no signs of stopping any time soon.
“There’s been chat about his longevity, but at the minute he’s bowling better than he ever has,” added Root.
“Even though the conditions suited you’ve still got to ask the right questions of the batters.
“Throughout the whole game he did just that.”
Root warns, however, England must not assume their world No 1 visitors are washed-up.
“Obviously, it would be a dream to put in five complete performances and have five wins. But it’s important we don’t get complacent, arrogant...
“If you get too far ahead of yourself, this game has got a funny way of biting back at you.”
Root’s opposite number Kohli has his own aches, pains and concerns about how to galvanise his team.
Kohli spent time off the field because of a bad back. “It was not great,” he said. “The back is one thing that can be very tricky... but the good thing is I have five days before the next Test.”