As mentioned in a wedding that these things tend to end in death or divorce, it seems rude to point out the realities of the situation in England in The Oval.
They have won next to the No. 1 event in the series, after all.
And, inevitably, this match will be, in part, a celebration of the remarkable career of Alastair Cook. It would be understandable if there was a sense of satisfaction around the camp in England.
But it would be a mistake if that were the only approach. For England, finish this international season with as many questions as answers at the beginning.
Maybe not since 1982, when Geoff Boycott, Graham Gooch and Wayne Larkins – who opened the batting in Tests in the last few months, went on a rebel tour, has there been so much uncertainty about the opening partnership of England? They remain unclear about their first choice spinner, their first choice goalkeeper, their batting order, their slip cord, their choice of n. ° 3 or how to accommodate all your bulldozers and in what order. And, gnawing all the time, is the realization that, sooner or later, they will have to find a succession plan to face life after James Anderson.
Men with more to show at The Oval are probably Keaton Jennings and, at least with the bat, Moeen Ali. With an average of only 19.87 in five events since his retirement alongside, Jennings can be considered very fortunate to have retained his place. Particularly as one of his rivals, Rory Burns, spent 1000 championship races in a season earlier this week – he is the only man to have achieved the milestone this season – and could have had a debut in his homeland.
But Jennings looked safer in the second inning at Southampton, was finally hit by a brute from a ball that slipped into the field, and has been given one more chance to prove his worth. The English starters of a previous generation – like John Stephenson (a Test in 1989), Hugh Morris (three Tests in 1991), Steve James (two Tests in 1998), Graeme Fowler (whose last four Test entries were 49, 201 , 2 and 69) to name four of many, you may be forgiven for wishing to have such opportunities.
"Keaton has a great opportunity this week to show everyone how good he is," said Joe Root. "It's been a very challenging summer for the hitters, I thought the way he played in the second shot was brilliant, let's hope he can take confidence in that and really set a score now."
Root made it clear, however, that "we have not seen part of this series" in terms of selection, so Jennings will know that this may be his last chance.
Moeen's challenge is different. Having largely reestablished his credentials as a bowler with a nine-pitch course in Southampton, he has now been given another opportunity to establish himself as a first-rate hitter. With Ishant Sharma, something of a nightmare for the batters on the left, in the opposition, he will have to work hard to succeed, but it would solve many of England's problems if they could accommodate one of his athletes in the higher order. The sense persists that Moeen has been asked again to accommodate what is best for others instead of giving him the opportunity to do what is best for him. He currently averages 12.25 out of five Tests (eight entries) among the top three.
"Moeen has had an exceptional performance in Worcestershire in that position," Root said. "He brings out the best in him as a complete cricketer, it's just for this game right now, we'll make a decision on Sri Lanka at the end of the series, No. 4 is my favorite position, but do not think anything is written in stone ".
There will also be scrutiny in Adil Rashid. However, despite all the conversation that has become irrelevant, he has taken seven terrains in the series, including that of Virat Kohli, at an average of 32.42 each. It does not compare very badly with Ravi Ashwin's 11 in 32.72. It would be a surprise if Rashid is not among the spinners on the Sri Lankan tour. Moeen and Jack Leach will surely join him.
England can, at least, have helped put an end to the uncertainty about maintaining the position of this game. By making it clear that Jonny Bairstow was to remain the custodian of the event and Jos Buttler the limited goalkeeper, team management should have reassured both men and at the same time reduce the chances of suffering exhaustion. It seems a sensible solution.
"Jonny has had gloves for a long time and has done exceptionally well for a good period of time," Root said. "I think he deserves the chance to keep the wicket on Test Cricket, I also think Jos has done exactly the same thing in white-ball cricket.
" So, why mess with something that has worked so well for so long? ?
"You watch the programming of all international cricket in all formats and share that the workload could be really key in terms of keeping everyone fresh and ready and at the top of their game."
However, it was largely a problem of its own making. While Bairstow would accept that he had to give the gloves to Buttler for the Ageas Bowl test, he had a broken finger, seems to have become restless from the conversation about the decision. In particular, he was annoyed to hear that Root offered no guarantees of his return once he recovered and was upset when he heard his coach, Trevor Bayliss, suggest that "it always helps to have a vice captain standing behind the stumps" so they can offer advice. tactical; Buttler is the vice-captain of England. Bayliss also named Ben Foakes, who is clearly an outstanding goalkeeper, as another viable option.
Nobody's position can be guaranteed in professional sports. It always depends on the performance. But it seems unnecessary, and contrary to his policy towards other positions, to have spoken of the precariousness of Bairstow's role. The spirit of the continuity of the selection has been developed to ensure that players feel as valued, relaxed and comfortable as possible in the world of professional sports high pressure. Show so much patience in Jennings, for example, but undermining Bairstow so publicly seems to be a strangely inconsistent direction.
So, Bairstow's concern was understandable. He has worked hard on his maintenance since he returned to the team in 2014 and has improved all recognition from the low point of the South Africa tour. It would be strange for England to make such an investment and then make a change just when it started to pay.
But there may be more than that. Many of them feel that having two ropes in their bow allows them to relax and perform at their best. So any suggestion that he could lose the gloves could leave Bairstow vulnerable on the side and much more tense than has been the case in recent months.
Later it seems that there was some recognition that Bairstow – like everyone else on the side – required a balance of motivation and reassurance in his role. Each player is on trial every time he goes out to play, but it probably does not help to remind them of the fact.
England has many holes to fill and many questions to answer. Choosing an area that seems to work quite well is an unnecessary distraction.