NASSER HUSSAIN: It was the same old story for England’s flimsy batsmen

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It was the same old story for flimsy England… from somewhere they need to find specialist batsmen who contribute big runs

  • England’s batsman looked flimsy yet again in the second Ashes Test at Lord’s
  • This was just a normal Test pitch and somehow England found themselves 138-6
  • Jason Roy is a top talent but his best position in Test cricket is in middle order 
  • Joe Root is also a worry because he is getting out more and more times lbw

It was the same old story from England. How often have we seen batsman after batsman getting in and then out again leaving them needing some lower order runs to bail them out. They just looked really flimsy yet again.

Only one person in this side is averaging in excess of 40 – Joe Root – and that tells you everything you need to know about the on-going batting problems of this England side.

That’s why it made me cross when England seemed to be considering bringing another all-rounder in Sam Curran in for this second Specsavers Test instead of their No 4 in Joe Denly. Somewhere they need to find specialist batsmen who can contribute big runs.

England need to find specialist batsmen from somewhere after a flimsy showing once again

England need to find specialist batsmen from somewhere after a flimsy showing once again

Yes, Josh Hazlewood bowled brilliantly when this match finally got under way on Thursday but this was hardly a repeat of those times, like against Ireland here just a couple of weeks ago, when there has been plenty in the pitch.

This was just a normal Test pitch that did a little bit and somehow England found themselves 138 for six. They do not help themselves either with their lack of attention to those little details that have to be right if you are to succeed at Test level.

I still think opening the batting in a Test in England should be a specialist position yet someone like Jason Roy will probably only come off once in about 20 innings playing the way he does at the top of the order.

He is obviously a special talent in white-ball cricket but at this level against the moving ball I maintain Roy’s best position in Test cricket is in the middle order.

Equally, England should not be chopping and changing every other Test as they did in the bad old days of the 80s and 90s so I could understand it if they want to give him a longer chance than this as an opener to get it right.

Roy is a special talent but I maintain his best position in Test cricket is in the middle order

Roy is a special talent but I maintain his best position in Test cricket is in the middle order 

You are allowed, though, to have a re-think and there will have to be a discussion among the selectors as to whether Roy at the top of the order is working. No-one is saying he cannot go out and smash a hundred as a Test opener but it is the consistency of grinding out runs and whether he can leave the ball better and play with softer hands.

Denly actually played well and got out to a very good ball but the challenge he faces, along with Rory Burns, is that the more the opposition see of you the more ways they will find to get you out. Hence the effective short stuff here.

Root is a worry because he is getting out more and more times lbw. The captain has changed his trigger movement slightly to back and across because he was getting out in the channel outside off-stump but the problem now is that bowlers are going straighter to him and having success. It is something Root must look at and iron out.

Another one of those finer details can be found in the order because you cannot tell me Jos Buttler is currently a better red-ball batsman than Ben Stokes. I couldn’t see any reason why Stokes should not bat at five, particularly as he hasn’t bowled for some time. I could understand it if he’d just bowled 30 overs and England were batting second but not on Thursday.

You cannot tell me Jos Buttler is currently a better red-ball batsman than Ben Stokes

You cannot tell me Jos Buttler is currently a better red-ball batsman than Ben Stokes

Buttler had his success against India last summer by shuffling down the pitch as the bowler ran in and meeting the ball before it moved but now he seems a little stuck on the crease. He spent so much time preparing for that World Cup that he hasn’t had any focus on red-ball cricket and now he looks short of confidence and out of nick.

I would have batted if I’d won the toss because the pitch is dry and I think it will take more and more spin but with the shortened game and more rain around on Friday maybe both captains felt the best way to win the game was to try to bat once.

Also, Tim Paine would have thought about an England batting line-up struggling for confidence and decided he would have a little look at them early on. And it could have been worse for England than 258 all out if Australia had held their catches.

 

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