Perhaps the most important person in explaining England’s predicament on the first day in Ahmedabad spent most of the day sitting on a chair in a bib, in between running onto the outfield to deliver drinks. It was not meant to be this way for Dom Bess in Ahmedabad. From the start of 2020 until the first Test in Chennai, Bess played 11 out of England’s 12 Tests and was established as England’s first-choice spinner. He was, as he openly admitted, “learning on the job”. The previous year’s investment in Bess was aimed squarely at this moment: hoping he could lead England’s attack in India, the most arduous tour in world cricket. In the first innings at Chennai, England got their reward: a terrific spell to Virat Kohli, culminating in a fusion of drift, turn and bounce getting Kohli’s inside edge, snaring him caught at short leg. For the English spin bowler, such moments are fleeting and to be cherished. By the second innings, Bess was unfurling three successive full tosses to Kohli. After inconsistency throughout England’s first three Tests in Asia, even if it had been masked by 17 wickets, England decided that Bess needed a break. Moeen Ali duly returned to the XI for his first Test in 18 months. By taking eight wickets in the game - even if his command of line and length was itself erratic - and top-scoring, Moeen added to his claims to being a better Test batsman and off spinner than Bess. But under pre-arranged plans Moeen went home after the second Test. All of which meant that England arrived in Ahmedabad in a bind. If they wanted to pick a second spinner - as the pitch seemed to demand - they had to recall a man who had just been dropped. India vs England, third Test: live scoreboard in full England all out for 112: first day in Ahmedabad as it happened Instead, England saw what they wanted to see. A combination of a day-night Test and a wicket with more green than the norm in India encouraged England to field a four-pronged seam attack for the first time this winter. In the process, they blithely ignored what the hosts were doing: after their comeback victory in Chennai, India retaining a three-pronged spin attack, even if the identity of the third member changed, indicated that they intended to double down on the approach that brought them their series-levelling win. England’s underlying strategy was simple: with the series locked at 1-1, they wanted to trust in their best attack. For England, this meant ending the policy of rotating Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad this winter and instead selecting both alongside Jofra Archer. If the gambit to maximise every iota of assistance that the pink ball could offer seam was to work, it would need to defy history: not since 1977 had England won a Test in India with only one specialist spinner, and even then they had Tony Greig’s off breaks in support of Derek Underwood. Sir Geoffrey Boycott: England need to find a new way to play spin Another upshot of England’s selection was to field a tail that evoked ghoulish batting collapses of yore. Archer, with a Test average of eight, found himself batting in the same position. It felt inauspiciously like a redux of the infamous Caddick-Mullally-Tufnell-Giddins quartet at The Oval in 1999, when England aptly fell to bottom of the world Test rankings. Even if England wanted four seamers, picking Chris Woakes over Broad - who did not get a wicket in the second Test - would have lent more solidity to the batting line-up. The sight of India’s spinners claiming nine wickets, and Jack Leach being England’s threat on the opening evening emphasised that England had erred in the composition of their side. As Zak Crawley, who made a fine 53, pithily observed: “It was easier to bat against the seamers”. All that Bess could do was look on ruefully about his twist of fate: from first-choice spinner, picked even on the most seamer-friendly tracks in England, to unwanted on a track offering appreciable first-day turn in two weeks. For all his struggles on the final day in Chennai, Bess has already displayed his resilience throughout his Test career: in the second Test in Galle, a widely-criticised wicketless first innings gave way to a match-winning 4-49 in the second innings. Indeed, so conducive were conditions to seam that if Bess was deemed unelectable, then even the gamble of an alternative as second spinner - one of Amar Virdi or Matt Parkinson - would have been preferable to the balance that England did field.