There is no need to beat around the bush. England are in grave trouble Down Under at the moment, being 0-2 down in the Ashes 2017-18. While the holders, England, need to draw the series to retain the Urn, Australia are just a win away from bringing it back home. The fashion of the defeats in Brisbane and Adelaide is grievously indicating England’s second consecutive whitewash in Australia. The touring party, certainly, needs to make several alterations before they enter the Perth Test next week. England’s from overseas has not gone down overnight; ever since their glorious series win in India in 2012-13, they have won four and lost 16 of their 27 Tests away from home.
To begin with, as many stalwarts have pointed out, England’s batting order is needed to be re-done. It is high time England Captain Joe Root kept his comfort level behind and step up in the order at at No. 3 spot. James Vince, who had just seven Tests under his belt prior to the Ashes, was given the crucial No. 3 position as England was left with no choice. Courtesy of an early dismissal of Alastair Cook, Vince was out in the middle within 15 minutes into the play in the first Test. The Sussex batsman began the series with a bang; he was the top-scorer for his side with 83 runs in the first innings; however, he has failed since that knock, which was followed by scores of 2, 2, and 15. Therefore, England needs its best batsman, Root, at the traditional No. 3 spot which might help them in putting a decent total on the board.
While Root has complexed the top-order with not agreeing to bat at No.3, he has also got the lower-order in the batting line-up wrong. After Root and Cook, England have a dependable batsman in their wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow. England needs their best players up the order and it is very evident that Bairstow is being wasted at No. 7. He needs to spend more time at the crease than he has been off late. There have been discussions that Bairstow has been pushed to No. 7 because he knows the art of batting with the tail and the team needs an experienced batsman late down the order. Also, since Moeen Ali is a left-handed batsman, considering the left and right combination, he has been opted to bat above Baistow.
James Vince – 38.42
Dawid Malan – 37.34
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When you look at the Australian side, the majority runs have come off the top six batsmen so there is a lesson learnt for England from there. When the top six batsmen can do the most of the job for you, the tail can be chosen in a lenient way. Bairstow has trailed only Root and opener former captain Cook in the runs since the Ashes 2015. Root has scored 2,665 Test runs at 51.25 since England triumphed in the Ashes, while Cook has added 2,345 runs at 44.24. Meanwhile, Bairstow has scored 2,185 runs at 45.52, some 500 runs more than Moeen.
Bairstow, whose First-Class and Test average is way better than the likes of Moeen and David Malaan, must be promoted at No. 5, ahead of the two. Apparently, Bairtsow gets nervous when he comes out to bat at No. 5. His numbers also suggest that. He averages 30.15 from 19 innings at No.5, compared to 45.91 in 25 innings batting at No. 6. He has spent the most time at his current spot of No. 7, with 33 innings for 1176 runs at 40.55. However, England’s current scene Down Under is demanding Bairstow to adjust at No.5. England cannot let their top players refuse to bat at a position that would suit the team’s well being. He can take confidence from the fact that batting at six, he had registered his highest Test score of 167 not out. That came against Sri Lanka at the prestigious Lord’s in 2016.
Surely England must promote Jonny Bairstow up to no. 5 or 6.
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Bairstow has opened in the limited-overs so he is among the ones who can deal with the second new ball. Even if Baistow is sent at No. 6, he will surely have more time than a No. 7 batsman to settle down and aim for a longer innings. That way, he can also lead the tail, maybe, with more of a free mind than his usual No. 7 mindset. The trend of the current cricketing world is that when the bowlers are in form in their home conditions, it’s really difficult to win then these days. Bare minimum England can do is get the batting order right and put up a fight to not make the Ashes an one-sided affair in the favour of Australia.