England cricket has undergone significant changes since their 2015 World Cup outing. A limited-overs focused approach saw them lift the 2019 World Cup but in the meantime, their Test numbers have taken a beating. They are down to 4th in the ICC Test rankings and much of this is put down to a questionable selection approach.

Ed Smith, who has been their national selector for a while, has brought in a completely new approach to selections. White-ball players have increasingly been preferred in the longer formats of the game. Jason Roy, Jos Buttler, Adil Rashid at one time and Joe Denly were all beneficiaries of this system. But the returns so far have been slim.

Even as Roy and Denly are being criticised for their dismissals this Ashes, England have made another questionable selection for the fourth Test against Australia at Manchester. They have dropped Chris Woakes from the Test team for the Test match, instead going for Craig Overton who was brought in as James Anderson's replacement to the squad.

Read: England call up Overton for fourth Ashes Test

What is surprising is that this is Woakes' best year in Test cricket. He has 15 wickets in 4 Tests this year at an average of 20.8 including a six-wicket haul to bowl Ireland out for 38 at the Home of Cricket in July. His averages in the three years before 2019 are 28.9, 51.4 and 25.1. This year, Woakes has been exceptional with the ball and has asked quite a few questions of batsmen.

At home, Woakes also averages 38.52 with the bat and has three half-centuries and a hundred. It is as such surprising that they decided to omit the all-rounder with the series interestingly poised at 1-1.

Even more surprising is Sam Curran's omission. The all-rounder has 18 wickets in 10 Tests at an average of 30.05, alongside having a uber excellent batting average (31.8) with three half-centuries. He was outstanding with bat and ball in the home Tests against India and Sri Lanka but has been handed a raw deal by the management.

Craig Overton has 32 wickets at an average of 21.34 in the County Championship season. Notably, even his brother, Jamie Overton claimed 26 wickets at 18.88 this season.

Woakes and Curran were both way ahead in the pecking order but have been ignored at a crucial stage of the Ashes. Overton is a pacer who hits the deck hard and generates lift and bounce. On the Old Trafford deck, these qualities would be a handful but he still needs to justify his inclusion to mitigate the outcry generated over the selections.

Feature image courtesy: AFP / Adrian Dennis