England v Pakistan: All you need to know

Your complete guide as hosts England take on Pakistan – a nation Australia will take on this summer Down Under

What: England continue their action-packed home summer with a four-Test series against Pakistan, followed by five one-day internationals and one Twenty20.

When: The first Test begins this Thursday, 11am local time (8pm AEST) at Lord's. It will be closely followed by the second Test at Old Trafford, Manchester, on July 22, before the third Test (Edgbaston) from August 3 and the fourth (The Oval) from August 11.

The five ODIs will be played between August 24 and September 4, before the sole T20 on September 7.

The Test squads

England (first Test only): Alastair Cook (c), Moeen Ali, Jonathan Bairstow, Gary Ballance, Jake Ball, Stuart Broad, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Joe Root, Toby Roland-Jones, James Vince, Chris Woakes

Pakistan: Misbah-ul-Haq (c), Mohammad Hafeez, Shan Masood, Sami Aslam, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq, Iftikhar Ahmed, Sarfraz Ahmed, Mohammad Rizwan, Yasir Shah, Zulfiqar Babar, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Rahat Ali, Sohail Khan, Imran Khan

Quick Single: Broad questions Anderson's omission

The form: England were dominant across all formats against Sri Lanka. Led by the bowling efforts of James Anderson and Stuart Broad and the batting of gloveman Jonny Bairstow, the hosts romped to comprehensive victories in the first two Tests before the final match ended in a rain-affected draw.

For Pakistan's last Test outing, you have to look as far back as last November – also against England, in the United Arab Emirates, where the hosts won 2-0. Since landing on English soil, Pakistan have recorded draws in their two warm-up matches against Somerset and Sussex, but Mohammad Amir (more on him below) and Azhar Ali were particularly impressive, with the latter scoring centuries in both tour matches.

The players to watch: Joe Root slipped to fourth in the ICC's Test batting rankings after an unusually quiet series against Sri Lanka, in which he averaged 21.75 across the three matches. It's unlikely the 25-year-old will stay quiet for long, especially on his home pitches, but the right-hander from Yorkshire will have the added challenge of a move up to No.3, taking the spot vacated by Nick Compton.

It might be obvious, but for Pakistan, all eyes will be on Amir in his first Test match since he deliberately bowled no-balls at the same venue during a Test in 2010. He sounded an ominous early warning to England batsmen that he will be a handful this summer when he tore through defences in Pakistan's warm-up match against Somerset. Amir finished with 3-36 as Somerset were bowled out for 128, and claimed 1-42 in the second innings, while he was rested from Pakistan's second tour game against Sussex last weekend.

Quick Single: Amir-zing spell has England on notice

The injuries: England spearhead Anderson has been ruled out of the first Test due to an ongoing shoulder injury. The paceman had been fighting a battle against time to be fit for the opening match of the four-Test series after aggravating stress fractures in his bowling shoulder in the third Test against Sri Lanka.

Allrounder Ben Stokes is also absent after undergoing knee surgery in late May. The allrounder has returned to action for Durham but has not bowled for his county since returning. He posted a half-century against Hampshire earlier this week.

The last time they met: In the two sides' last encounter in the longest format, a three-Test series in the UAE last November, Cook and Root led England's run-scorers but couldn't prevent a 2-0 series defeat as the rest of their batting line-up struggled, particularly against the spin of Yasir Shah.

The coverage: Fox Sports has confirmed it will broadcast the series. For the many without access to Fox Sports subscription service, will continue its comprehensive ball-by-ball live scoring service for the tour as well as daily news and features coverage from our team at home and abroad.

What they said: "There is one thing that is not in doubt when you discuss Amir – he can bowl. He is going to be a real challenge for us as a batting unit. Take away all the off-field stuff, he will be a real challenge. He's an exceptional talent." – England captain Alastair Cook.

"We know that England is struggling with their middle order. Joe Root is one of their best players and he has to take the responsibility, so that's why he is at No.3. But I think the other batting is fragile. If you get Cook and Root quickly, you can really put pressure on them, but you can't take things easy against them." – Pakistan quick Wahab Riaz.

Quick Single: England's middle-order is fragile: Riaz

The tip: England to claim the Test series 3-1. Trevor Bayliss's side was dominant against a Sri Lanka team lacking star power early in their home season. Pakistan will certainly present a far tougher challenge, but the task of beating England in their home conditions has become one of the most difficult ones in world cricket in recent years. 

Pakistan currently sit third in the Test rankings, one spot higher than England and boast two of the world's most experienced and accomplished Test batsmen in captain Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan. 

But while several Test squad members including Mohammed Hafeez and Azhar Ali have played county cricket, it remains to be seen how Pakistan's batsmen will handle England's seamers and the Duke ball on their home turf. 

The only member of the squad to have scored a Test century in England is Younis, who scored 173 at Headingley in 2006, while Misbah, amazingly, has never even played a Test in England.

However, the fiery Pakistan pace attack could trip England up at some point during the four-Test series, particularly as England once again look to settle their batting line-up following the return of Gary Ballance and as James Vince continues to find his way in Test cricket.

Meg Lanning Steve Smith