Opinion: Predicting England's Test candidates
<b>Lizzy Ammon</b> looks at the runners and riders in line for England selection and makes utterly unscientific predictions about their percentage chance of playing in the first Test.
A month into the English domestic season, and a little over a month away from the first Test match of the English summer, <b>Lizzy Ammon</b> looks at the runners and riders in line for selection and makes utterly unscientific predictions about their percentage chance of playing.
<b>Alastair Cook</b>: He's had a rest, done some lambing, had a baby, sacked his batting coach and scored some division 2 runs. It's his team and he's in it.<b>Chance of selection: 100%</b>
<b>Ian Bell</b>: No worries here. Bell has scored. The only question is where he'll bat. Uncharacteristically, Bell has actually strayed off the fence and rather than say, "I will just be happy to be playing for England," which is the usual answer cricketers give when asked where they want to bat, Bell has come out and said he'd prefer to move into the spot vacant Kevin Pietersen spot at number 4. <b>100%</b>
<b>Joe Root</b>: Back from injury and scored some runs on his return to first-class cricket. He will play – the only question is where he will bat. Likely to be at 3 as Bell is the senior man so he's more likely to get what he wants. Root too has said he'd prefer to bat four but at this point Bell trumps Root. <b>100%</b>
<b>Sam Robson</b>: Robson is almost certainly the opener elect. After a particularly impressive winter with the Lions where he scored three centuries, Robson has continued this form into the English season already amassing 300 runs. There is, perhaps, some concern that he's too similar to Cook and Bell in terms of being slow and 'stodgy' but a bit of stodginess is pretty much exactly what England need at the moment to start posting the sort of large first innings scores they used to when Cook, Strauss and Trott were at their peaks. <b>96.7%</b>
<b>Gary Ballance</b>: Having scored over 400 runs so far this season, including a very impressive century in front of selector Gus Fraser, Balance has almost certainly cemented his spot. Probably batting at number 5. <b>98.9%</b>
<b>Eoin Morgan</b>: When Paul Downton persuaded Morgan it would be beneficial to him to forego the IPL this season to concentrate on red ball cricket, there was clearly a message to him that they were looking at him as one of the possibles for the middle order. As it is, he may miss out – he has only scored 148 and hasn't scored a century – unlike some of his competitors. And now he will be off on England one-day duty and may not get the chance to show that he really is the man for the job in Test cricket. <b>42%</b>
<b>Nick Compton</b>: I defy anyone to want it as much as Nick Compton. He's absolutely desperate to force his way back into the side after being dropped following what was deemed too slow an innings against New Zealand at Headingley in 2013. He would certainly be a solid opener or number three, he knows where his off stump is, he leaves well and was in the side the last time England actually managed to score more than 400. However, you feel that England have probably moved on from him and only century after century for the next three matches will push him back into contention. <b>37%</b>
<b>James Taylor</b>: After not really doing anything much wrong in the two Test matches he played in, Taylor has been somewhat left out in the cold. The previous selection panel had concerns over some technical issues they perceived he had. So far this season he's scored 120 runs in 4 innings, probably not enough to force his way back into contention. <b>11%</b>
<b>Michael Carberry</b>: Didn't disgrace himself during the winter – relatively speaking – but has subsequently done a fair bit of damage to his chances with his controversial interview. He clearly feels he wasn't going to be selected anyway. Graham Gooch has been working closely with him over the last few weeks but Gooch has just been sacked so that's probably irrelevant. <b>14%</b>
<b>James Vince</b>: The 25-year-old Hampshire batsman has been talked about for a number of years as being supremely talented with a probable international career. With one of the best cover drives on display and with over 400 runs under his belt so far this season, he must be at least looked at. However, it's hard to see where he might fit in with the other contenders further up the rank than him. <b>22%</b>
<b>Samit Patel</b>: The Nottinghamshire all-rounder has started the season well but fell out of England's Test plans some time ago. His chances of a return are slim [insert obvious joke here] <b>12.3%</b>
<b>Ben Stokes</b>: Due to an unfortunate interaction between a dressing room locker and Stokes's fist, he has been out of action and Peter Moores has been very cautious about his prospects of a return anytime soon. If he's fit, he'll play but that's a big IF. <b>100% (if fit).</b>
<b>Moeen Ali</b>: There's no doubt that England see Moeen as someone very much in their plans. They are minded to play him as an all-rounder and for him to be the spin combination with Root in the absence of an obvious candidate for the frontline spin role. He may bat at six or eight (depending on the fitness of others) but it looks very likely that he'll play. <b>97.5%</b>
<b>Chris Woakes</b>: Could be a very viable replacement for Ben Stokes (if he isn't fit) as a fourth seamer and lower middle order batsmen. Woakes has started the season modestly with the bat but better with the ball, taking 12 wickets in the 3 matches he's played. <b>43%</b>
<b>Matt Prior</b>: If he's fit, he'll play. Prior started the season scoring a century against Middlesex playing just as a batsman but has since been unable to play because of his Achilles problem. If he can get through a match without it flaring up, England want to pick him, but with every passing week, it looks less likely he will be fit. <b>If fit 100%. At the moment 55%</b>
<b>Jos Buttler</b>: Buttler's move to Lancashire was with the express intention that he had more time keeping in first-class cricket. He will, of course, be missing for a chunk of it to undertake England limited overs duties and the accepted wisdom is that he needs at least a full season being the number one keeper for his county before any sort of Test call up. But someone has to keep if Prior is injured and England may see him as the future glove man and bring his call up forward. <b>52%</b>
<b>Jonny Bairstow</b>: If being 'the man in possession' counts for anything – and it probably doesn't under a new regime – Bairstow is the second in line for gloves. He's only just returned to playing after sustaining an injury in pre-season. If he gets runs over the next couple of rounds, and if Prior remains unfit, Bairstow is a distinct 'possible'. <b>68%</b>
<b>Craig Kieswetter</b>: Kieswetter's keeping has improved a great deal since he last played for England. He sustained some heavy criticism during his last stint with England for not being good enough with either
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