England v South Africa, 2nd Investec Test, Trent Bridge, 3rd day July 16, 2017

Ramprakash calls for patience as England display red-ball shortcomings

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Butcher: England's uncertain order must find right tempo

The increased prioritisation of T20 cricket might be a contributory factor in England's top-order issues, according to their batting coach, Mark Ramprakash.

England have failed to adequately replace Andrew Strauss, who retired in 2012, or Jonathan Trott, who retired in 2015, in their top three, leading to a fragility in their top-order which looks set to sentence them to a seventh defeat in 10 Tests sometime over the next couple of days in Nottingham.

While Ramprakash defended England's batting in the current Test against South Africa - arguing, quite rightly, that South Africa's bowlers had harnessed helpful conditions expertly and several of England's top-order had been dismissed playing defensive strokes - he pointed out the reduction in County Championship matches per county this year (from 16 to 14 per side) to make way for something approaching a window for T20 cricket, and accepted that some of the traditional skills were less prevalent in the modern game. In English conditions in particular, he warned that could be exploited.

"With T20 being prevalent, a higher percentage of the batters we are seeing come through are gravitating to the white-ball game," Ramprakash said. "There are not as many of your tried-and-tested county openers. Look at the number of four-day games coming down in division one this year.

"The fact is that batting in the top order for England in home Test matches is not straightforward. It's just not. And top-order players play half their games in England. A couple of years ago, we saw Australia bowled out for 60. The ball didn't move all over the place. And in that same Ashes series, they chose to bat at Edgbaston and were bowled out for 130.

Ben Stokes fell for a duck in England's first innings at Trent Bridge © Getty Images

"When the ball does a little bit, you have to show due care and attention. But perhaps because there's a mix of one-day cricket and four-day cricket and the players want to be a bit more proactive.

"It is not easy to bed in players at this level when the ball nips around with overcast skies. It is not easy to get them settled and confident."

Ramprakash also pleaded for some patience with an England side he said were "learning as they go along" and suggested their level of natural talent had seen expectations rise to unrealistic levels.

"I don't think anyone is saying this England side is the finished article," he said. "Clearly, we're still trying to bed in players at two and three. We accept that. That's been the case for a while.

"The other thing is that expectations have risen because of the talent. The innings we've seen Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali play - we know they've played some sublime innings - and our expectations have probably gone up because of that. They've often played in that highly aggressive, attacking manner, which is the way they think is best.

"But if you look at Ben Stokes's fifty at Lord's, I thought he played really well, in an orthodox fashion.

"So they're learning as they go along. You have to take the rough with the smooth. Sometimes you'll see wonderful performances like we did in Cape Town and other times they might get it wrong.

"We would have liked more runs in the first innings here, of course. But when you look at England's innings, a number of players were out playing defensively. And there were a number of good deliveries. You have to give some credit to the opposition bowlers.

"The ball seamed around all day and it's always difficult to play when the ball's seaming. The guys on the one hand are trying to adapt to conditions, and on the other they want to play their own game and the way they think best so they are going to marry those together."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sthitaprajna on July 19, 2017, 12:52 GMT

    @Alex - If Rahane is a limited player , who is nt a limited player? Do u thnk rabada is a T20 bowler? Do u thnk Mcgraw was a T20 bowler?Bavuma/Cook/Strauss..? Duminy what u wil call him? Why he is failing in TESTs and have a tremendous limited overs record..Pls know that every player is tilted towards a particulr formt.Even som flawless batsmans like Root Wilaimson mst be nowing which frmt suits dem most.Its tru that Root and Williamson wil walk in to any side at moment , but provided for example a T20 side is selected for NZ u may see williamson bing rested as happnd to him in couple of IPL matches for Sunrisers. Bt williamson does play in every t20 match fr NZ.So it implies provided der r one dimensional players whose focus is only on 1 format then those palyers can easily replace other great of the games.for example Root also can be replaced in T20s if i have sm1 like Gayle or Russell at my bay

  • Sthitaprajna on July 19, 2017, 12:44 GMT

    cricket boards sole aim is to give us heroes so to popularize cricket more.Thus they mke sure same players to play across all formats so th they remen in limelight.Bt reality is if plyers r assigned formats as per der abilities cricket will bcom more exciting. We hv seen many talented guys like warne rhodes marshall akram mcgraw and sachin.more of such kind b produced regualrly provided focus is on criket n not on money.Lately Saha and Pujara batted well in Tests cos they r hardly playing t20s.Playing T20 changes ur technique and u just cant control ur shots while playing across frmts.Sunil gavaskar repeatedly says on TV tht tp players of IND team try to b aggresive andnick to slips in early overs in TESTs.Come ENG tour/AUS tour and all talks of technique will resurafce and Dravids help will be needed.Players sud be asked do they realy care abt TESTs now?

  • Alex on July 17, 2017, 20:46 GMT

    @STHITAPRAJNA Rahane is a limited player. Not because of skill but more of lack of power. In odi games you need power and he is a pocket dynamo when ball is new. when ball is old and bowlers bowl slow you don't have power. When i say good player adapt , i mean player with power as default.

  • Michael on July 17, 2017, 14:52 GMT

    Ramps is correct in what he says, though I would say that most of today the batting should they could even be bothered. t20 is like a wildfire disease taking over the game. It's overcommercialised rubbish,sensationalised to provide pseudo pleasure to crowds many of whom do not like the game even. It has one thing in its favour though,which is that it fits in with the low attention span world we livein. They say a person's attention span is now 20seconds,whereas twenty years ago it was nearer to twenty minutes.

  • ridaa on July 17, 2017, 14:28 GMT

    So we've switched from "We prioritise test cricket over ODI cricket" under Michael Vaughn to we dont play enough first class cricke, As usual England dont give the opponents credit, Most of the players in this test side dont play alot of County Cricket in any case and its like the the South Africans have been playing first class cricket for the last 2-3 months so i dont know how the number of games being reduced has any influence on the batting in this match. I just think South Africa were really good in this match

  • Ganesh on July 17, 2017, 13:39 GMT

    Oh please! England are special right? When every other side in the World manages to play both ODIs and tests without any problem, England alone cannot? Stop whining, will ya?

  • Bernard Arthur on July 17, 2017, 12:37 GMT

    Dear Ian, How I agree with you! I think it would be highly convenient for most players to specialise in either red ball or white ball cricket. There may be a few geniuses capable of ajusting with ease from one format to the other but I fear that, submitting highly promising potential Test batters such as Hameed to the requirement of rapid run-scoring characteristic of white-ball cricket may prove to be a serious error. In red-ball cricket, dominating the "leave", that is to say, not attempting to play a stroke when the ball is not going to hit the stumps, is a very important quality of many of the best batters, whilst in white-ball cricket, leaving the ball is rather a missed opportunity to score runs. So it is not surprising that a young player's thinking and technique may become scrambled whe he tries to participate in the different formats. I am an Essex supporter and am worried that Dan Lawrence's promise as a high quality red-ball batter may not be fulfilled if he plays T20.

  • Nandan on July 17, 2017, 12:05 GMT

    Wait for Windies. Even they will be all over England if selectors continue with their myopic outlook. Best England could now win is by preparing spin wickets for next 2 Tests. Even without Steyn and Rabada SA are too good for England.

  • Nandan on July 17, 2017, 11:34 GMT

    What patience, Ramps? Tests in Bangladesh, India and now South Africa- have showed England's basic technique be it in bowling or batting. The Ducketts, Jennings, Ballances, Dawsons, Rashids would never get into an English sides of 60s. They must learn to build innings. As for the County Cricket- it went for a toss when ECB made 2 divisions. Remember when Ramps stated also there was a single division of 3 days, Gillette cup and John Players league of 40 overs. Now we speak of 4 days Tests while First class matches are played over 4 days with virtually no spectators watching. Make them 3 days again.Spinners too will come in vogue. The batsmen who will graft will always be there. Only identifying them is needed as Greig identified Steele to combat Fast bowling and Trott was identified to play long innings. As I watch,the 4th days play, Jennings and Ballance have to go as should Wood and Dawson.

  • Edwin on July 17, 2017, 10:15 GMT

    With his mediocre Test average not sure Ramprakash is the right man to be either commenting on Test longevity, or be the coach for Test batsman - he was unable to convert his excellent County form to Test level, which consists of mental strength, not just technique.

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