Sri Lanka v England 2011-12 March 30, 2012

England batsmen: The replacements

With change in the air for England's batting line up, ESPNcricinfo runs the rule over the men waiting in the wings
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In the wake of England's fourth consecutive Test defeat, Andrew Strauss refused to be drawn on the need for changes to the top order. Jonathan Trott scored England's first Test hundred of the year, a superbly constructed 112 to show what is possible, but among the other batsmen poor shot selection again proved costly.

Strauss, whose own survival is now openly under question, and team director Andy Flower, have put a huge emphasis on loyalty during their time working together since 2009. That was easy when England had been winning consistently. Alastair Cook had a lean summer in 2010, Paul Collingwood was carried in the closing stages of his career and Strauss has not scored a hundred since Brisbane 16 months ago. But until now they have been the exception rather than the rule.

England have one more Test remaining in their overseas season and then resume against West Indies on May 17. Wholesale changes will not happen, that is not the way of this England set-up, but with a tour to India next November the current batting problems need to be addressed. If another space becomes vacant in the top order what have the selectors got to choose from?

Ravi Bopara - Age 26, first-class average 41.66)

The other batting option in this squad, Bopara must be wondering what he has to do to earn a chance. Until picking up a side strain during the second warm-up match he was going to return to the side at No. 6. Now he has watched Samit Patel jump ahead of him. In first-class cricket his average is solid and he hasn't had the opportunity to show whether he has improved in the longer format since being found out by Australia in 2009. If he doesn't get that chance next summer he may never.

James Taylor - 22, 49.82

Consistently tagged as the next-big-thing, Taylor is firmly on the selectors' radar but is not pre-ordained to have a successful Test career as some suggest. He scored one half century in 10 one-day games in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka earlier this year - the tours didn't include any first-class cricket - and he faces an important season having made the move from Leicestershire to Nottinghamshire. Expectations are high but playing home matches at Trent Bridge won't make life easy. But that is a good thing. Succeed early in 2012 and that path to Test cricket becomes ever wider.

Jonny Bairstow - 22, 45.14

Bairstow has already shown he's a quick learner. In the Twenty20 series against Pakistan he became bogged down in the first match as England failed to complete a run chase but in the second game hit a match-winning unbeaten 60 which showed clear thinking, clean striking and a calm head. He struggled in India during October's one-day series and his talent is still raw but already his first-class career includes a double century.

Ben Stokes - 20, 43.64

Hasn't been seen in representative colours since the end of the English season due to a badly broken finger that stopped him from bowling. He then needed further extensive treatment. The injury hampered him during his debut series against India and, like many young England batsmen, he was befuddled by spin but there is no doubting he is one of the most exciting cricketers on the domestic circuit. England also want balance in the team and Stokes, now fit to bowl again, could be just the ticket.

Jos Buttler - 21, 32.08

He is a freakishly skilful batsman, something that has so far been best demonstrated in one-day cricket. The T20 series against Pakistan was a struggle for him and the much-vaunted scoop shot let him down. But his hand-eye coordination, when on form, is something to behold and few young English batsmen have shown his flair. Too soon for Test cricket at the moment but a good first-class season for Somerset could hasten his arrival.

Michael Carberry - 31, 44.45

Carberry is not one of the young brigade but if England wanted an experienced domestic player who has done the hard yards he should be high on the list. If it had not been for a career-threatening illness suffered in late 2010 he may have added to his one Test cap earned against Bangladesh. When he returned midway through last summer he averaged 56, including a triple hundred, and is back to full health.

Joe Root - 21, 35.03

Compared in style to Michael Vaughan, Root is tipped to become a Test cricketer in the near future. That may be a little optimistic, but he is certainly in that clutch of young batsman vying for attention. Reports from those who have watched him suggest he plays with hard hands that could cause trouble against the spinners. A winter with the Lions in the subcontinent enabled him to work in that aspect of his game.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | April 2, 2012, 14:36 GMT

    @5wombats, welcome back, we've missed you the last 4 tests.

  • POSTED BY 5wombats on | April 2, 2012, 11:40 GMT

    Looks like we have another joker to contend with. Don't worry Aussies - you'll all have your chance to run for cover again next summer. Bring it on.

  • POSTED BY kensohatter on | April 2, 2012, 10:43 GMT

    I think most Australian cricket fans were actually somewhat relieved on 26th Dec 2010 because a lot of us were worried that our dominance would end interest in test cricket. At least this way you feel like champions of the world despite the fact you are yet to win on the subcontinent, a world cup in the last decade or produce a truly great player since botham (and lets be fair even he was the third best all rounder of his generation... behind Imran Khan and Richard Hadlee)

  • POSTED BY 5wombats on | April 1, 2012, 22:36 GMT

    @RandyOZ - December 26 2010 - bless that day. I would have thought that 3 Innings defeats was still ringing in your ears. Or did you forget?

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | April 1, 2012, 22:15 GMT

    @CS - Maybe shot is the wrong word , but I'd say it must be much easier to come into a confident batting line up like EM and RB did in the summer than the one that seems shot of confidence now?

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | April 1, 2012, 22:05 GMT

    @kensohatter on (April 01 2012, 07:46 AM GMT) Thankyou for your kind words

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | April 1, 2012, 22:05 GMT

    @Posted by Sanjiyan on (April 01 2012, 10:21 AM GMT) We'll see. Eng had a magnificent home record for the past 3 years and Eng/SA are always had close , hard fought series and of the last 6 series Eng have won 2 , SA won 2 , 2 draws with the score standing at 8-8 in tests. We have been awful in UAE/SL and if we play like that at home vs SA then we'll be in huge trouble. But people say Eng can't play spin , can't play in SC and are home tigers etc. Well this series is at home , not on turning pitches and SAs forte is not spin. I think any England regular fan on these boards has full respect for SA and knows it will be a very tough series which could go either way. Nothing but respect between the 2 sides despite some from elsewhere trying to stir it.

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | April 1, 2012, 11:09 GMT

    @kensohatter - absolutely brilliantly put, and oh so true. 8 series I guess that is still ringing in their ears.

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | April 1, 2012, 11:07 GMT

    @JG2704 - Taylor I think is the way to go. From what I have seen I think he is the perfect guy to replace someone like Bell.

  • POSTED BY Sanjiyan on | April 1, 2012, 10:21 GMT

    I love all the English fans thinking SA will have to pull out all the stops to beat them. SA has a very solid batting lineup with enough reserves and the same goes for their bowling. England are the ones who will have to play out of their skins in order to tie, let alone win a test match. England have had the luxury that collingwood was able to save them on many occasions. His mentality and workmanship is something the english seem to be lacking atm( barring Trott imo). While the bowling looks good i also have one or 2 question about weather or not they can take 20 wickets in testing conditions. Anderson is class, Swann too. Broad is decent but nothing to go wild about and panasar is too much of a fielding liability to be afforded a spot in the team. All in all the English team has quite a bit of fine tuning to do before they can honestly say they are ready to beat anyone.

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | April 2, 2012, 14:36 GMT

    @5wombats, welcome back, we've missed you the last 4 tests.

  • POSTED BY 5wombats on | April 2, 2012, 11:40 GMT

    Looks like we have another joker to contend with. Don't worry Aussies - you'll all have your chance to run for cover again next summer. Bring it on.

  • POSTED BY kensohatter on | April 2, 2012, 10:43 GMT

    I think most Australian cricket fans were actually somewhat relieved on 26th Dec 2010 because a lot of us were worried that our dominance would end interest in test cricket. At least this way you feel like champions of the world despite the fact you are yet to win on the subcontinent, a world cup in the last decade or produce a truly great player since botham (and lets be fair even he was the third best all rounder of his generation... behind Imran Khan and Richard Hadlee)

  • POSTED BY 5wombats on | April 1, 2012, 22:36 GMT

    @RandyOZ - December 26 2010 - bless that day. I would have thought that 3 Innings defeats was still ringing in your ears. Or did you forget?

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | April 1, 2012, 22:15 GMT

    @CS - Maybe shot is the wrong word , but I'd say it must be much easier to come into a confident batting line up like EM and RB did in the summer than the one that seems shot of confidence now?

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | April 1, 2012, 22:05 GMT

    @kensohatter on (April 01 2012, 07:46 AM GMT) Thankyou for your kind words

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | April 1, 2012, 22:05 GMT

    @Posted by Sanjiyan on (April 01 2012, 10:21 AM GMT) We'll see. Eng had a magnificent home record for the past 3 years and Eng/SA are always had close , hard fought series and of the last 6 series Eng have won 2 , SA won 2 , 2 draws with the score standing at 8-8 in tests. We have been awful in UAE/SL and if we play like that at home vs SA then we'll be in huge trouble. But people say Eng can't play spin , can't play in SC and are home tigers etc. Well this series is at home , not on turning pitches and SAs forte is not spin. I think any England regular fan on these boards has full respect for SA and knows it will be a very tough series which could go either way. Nothing but respect between the 2 sides despite some from elsewhere trying to stir it.

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | April 1, 2012, 11:09 GMT

    @kensohatter - absolutely brilliantly put, and oh so true. 8 series I guess that is still ringing in their ears.

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | April 1, 2012, 11:07 GMT

    @JG2704 - Taylor I think is the way to go. From what I have seen I think he is the perfect guy to replace someone like Bell.

  • POSTED BY Sanjiyan on | April 1, 2012, 10:21 GMT

    I love all the English fans thinking SA will have to pull out all the stops to beat them. SA has a very solid batting lineup with enough reserves and the same goes for their bowling. England are the ones who will have to play out of their skins in order to tie, let alone win a test match. England have had the luxury that collingwood was able to save them on many occasions. His mentality and workmanship is something the english seem to be lacking atm( barring Trott imo). While the bowling looks good i also have one or 2 question about weather or not they can take 20 wickets in testing conditions. Anderson is class, Swann too. Broad is decent but nothing to go wild about and panasar is too much of a fielding liability to be afforded a spot in the team. All in all the English team has quite a bit of fine tuning to do before they can honestly say they are ready to beat anyone.

  • POSTED BY HatsforBats on | April 1, 2012, 9:07 GMT

    This article puts to bed the illusion of the great English depth that her fans have been weaving of late. Besides Bopara & Carberry (neither of whom have shown they cut it at test level) the options are 20-22yr olds with potential. Personally, I would love to see a new young prospect get a crack at making his mark; drop Strauss, it's time for Cook to start building his team.

  • POSTED BY kensohatter on | April 1, 2012, 7:46 GMT

    Australia will continue to be ruthless with their selections until we are left with a team that can dominate. Yes we have gone a fair few middle order players because we expect a lot from our national side and failure to perform will not be tolerated. These players like Ponting, Langer, Hayden etc etc will come back stronger. Id rather a few lows and then 3 world cups in a row and almost a decade of dominance in test cricket rather than being an average cricket side for eternity like England. Nothing speaks louder than this websites England all time XI the majority of which havnt played cricket in the last 3 or 4 decades! For a country that invented the game it sure takes you a while to adapt! We may well have lost the last few ashes series we would never stand for 8 ashes series losses in a row and then give out MBEs for a solitary series win! Enjoy your day in the sun I imagine in less than a year it will be over unless South Africa can unearth some more talent for you to poach!

  • POSTED BY on | April 1, 2012, 6:32 GMT

    Joe Denly is turning a new page. Should be given a chance, Among the six mentioned above Jos Taylor can do well against Steyn and family.

  • POSTED BY Nutcutlet on | April 1, 2012, 5:26 GMT

    I suggest that the selectors don't just consider the technical make-up of England's next Test batsmen. Sure, technique is important & all players are well-grooved by bowling-machines dishing up identical deliveries to french-polish the cover-drive, for instance, but it's not enough. Netting endlessly may do marvels for muscle-memory, but it never replicates the match situation. No, the selectors need to look long & hard at the man himself and consider two factors above all: temperament & cricket intelligence (this would include sensing the right context of the match situation). There are several players who promise more than they deliver in the middle; likewise, there are others who may look less gifted, but will play above themselves under fire: players who use their head; have a taste for the battle; know their limitations and play rigidly to them - tough warriors like Barrington, David Steele, Peter Willey. England misses such character in its batting-line-up, though Trott has it.

  • POSTED BY jmcilhinney on | April 1, 2012, 3:33 GMT

    @jonesy2 is right. If only we had a Phil Hughes to bring in. Oh hang on, he got dropped. Well, if only we had an Usman Khawaja. Hang on, he got dropped too. Well, if only we had a Shaun Marsh. Surely he didn't... oh he did, didn't he. Oh well, at least Australia have Peter Forrest now to come in and save them. Why can't we England fans enjoy depth like that?

  • POSTED BY PBs09 on | April 1, 2012, 0:40 GMT

    Maybe England needs someone like a Collwingwood back. Despite a lack of obvious batting talent, you could be sure of some steel in the middle. Although having said that, the English have actually got some real batting talent right now and rather than a major overhaul, they might be better served to get their batsmen to work facing of spin bowling. If they do manage that, they might just become the legends they can be.

  • POSTED BY Patchmaster on | March 31, 2012, 23:36 GMT

    Carberry in for KP. Why is it that KP is hardly ever mentioned when it comes to dropping players, yet he has performed so badly in the last year. I would keep Strauss, drop KP, bring in Carberry. Drop Bell (who time and time again keeps proving his lack of ability against spin bowling.....) and bring in a youngster, start blooding them early, if not, then go back to Morgan. Bopara isnt the option, he just doesn't have that extra wow factor that test players need. He's not, bad, but just never seems to be great.

  • POSTED BY simon_w on | March 31, 2012, 22:10 GMT

    @Saffalicious -- "Despite this, England are still the #1 side collectively across the formats as they have 358 ranking points from the 3 formats. South Africa should take that over soon though as they are on 356 at the moment." -- and fair play to them if/when they do. I, for one, will not be carping constantly about how they don't deserve to be #1. This England side won't go down alongside the great Australian team of the 90s/2000s, or the great WI side of the 70s and 80s, but they're not _still_ #1 for no reason. It will be a tough English summer for SA. If England's confidence is not too badly dented by a run of four bad Test matches in a row (which is all it is), and if they can play like they have consistently done at home and in, e.g. Australia, over the last few years, SA will need to play out of their skins. Looking forward to a great series.

  • POSTED BY CricketingStargazer on | March 31, 2012, 19:42 GMT

    Morgan has a mediocre First Class record and averages only about 30 in Tests after plenty of games. Averaging 30 might have been fine 30 years ago, but it is far below what a specialist bat should average now and, unlike Bopara (or, back a bit, Collingwood, Gooch or D'Oliviera), he doesn't even offer useful occasional bowling to add to his runs. He is a fine player in ODIs and T20, but he just doesn't cut the mustard in the longer formats. People around Middlesex couldn't believe his promotion when he was in the middle of an awful season for them and, to be honest, they are surprised that he has been given this long.

  • POSTED BY on | March 31, 2012, 18:54 GMT

    Eoin Morgan is only 25, and I don't think he should be ignored. He certainly has a lot of work to do, but I don't see many of the people on this list as being much better than him. Before the disastrous Pakistan tour (and he wasn't worse than the English team as a whole), he had a fairly decent, even if not spectacular, English home season, with a century and 3 50's against Sri Lanka and India.

  • POSTED BY CricketingStargazer on | March 31, 2012, 18:09 GMT

    hhillbumper et al., he always answers this :-)! One of his more remarkable comments this Australian summer was "the natural order has been restored. Australia are back". After losing to New Zealand at home and being dismissed for 47 against South Africa not all of us were sure what natural order he was referring to. The sad fact is that not many Test sides have much to boast about right now and most are in a re-building phase. What is nice though is that there is a very substantial England batting pool bubbling through just below the surface and the chance is there for someone to make his mark. There is always the chance though of a left-field pick with no great First Class record (Marcus Trescothick, Michael Vaughan, ...) coming in and doing far better than any of the highlighted players.

  • POSTED BY CricketingStargazer on | March 31, 2012, 17:44 GMT

    @JG, is the whole unit shot? Form and confidence are contagious, as is failure. In the short term Andrew Strauss's place will come up for grabs. The place at 6 is up for grabs and whatever the question is, the answer is not "Morgan", "Bopara", or "Patel". You don't have to change all the top 6... changing 2 will happen, probably this summer, and will refresh the unit. There are three names not here who are worth adding: Adil Rashid (almost forgotten now), Chris Woakes (averaged almost 50 in CC1 last season) and Craig Kieswetter. Any one of them could enter the equation with a good start to the season. Kieswetter is not everyone's cup of tea, but his First Class record is good and he has been willing to adapt. Rashid is due a big season and, for Woakes, it is almost more a case of when rather than if. Someone will score big runs early and the door is open. Incidentally, I would not promote a CC2 batsman like Taylor or Bopara: make your runs at a higher standard, please, to play.

  • POSTED BY mikey76 on | March 31, 2012, 16:12 GMT

    Almost as thin Australian resources Jonesy. How many batsmen have Australia tried only to see them fail miserably (Khawaja,Marsh,North etc) England batsmen have a poor series and they're journeymen, the aussies were all shocking in the ashes except Hussey but they're all brilliant?? Oh and Swann doesn't seem to be finished either does he. We have young batsmen such as Taylor, Root and Hildreth who have yet to play test cricket so who knows how thin or fat our resources are. The reality is is that these players will score a stack of runs in the summer against the WI and SA. We tour India after where they will probably improve but not enough to win. And journeymen dont average 50.

  • POSTED BY Raki99 on | March 31, 2012, 16:10 GMT

    what does this prove? It proves that there are only few players around the world who can play on any pitches and any conditions. For e.g rahul dravid , sachin, kallis lara , viv richards and some others great. That is the reason they were greats. All this players would fail too against quality spin.

  • POSTED BY on | March 31, 2012, 14:44 GMT

    "Bopara must be wondering what he has to do to earn a chance" - Lets put this into context. Bopara has played more times for England than Jonathan Trott or Tim Bresnan. He has played over 100 matches now. He has been poor whenever the opportunity has been there to earn a place on merit. He was rubbish every time the spotlight was on him last year at County and A-team level. He has a terrible international record in all formats.

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | March 31, 2012, 13:13 GMT

    The problem is , I think the whole unit is shot and it must be hard to come into a side under so much pressure. I'm not convinced any of this lot will do a job but then again I'm not saying there is anyone better out there either. I mean Bairstow has prob played about 10 inns for Eng in the T20s/ODIs and shone in 2 and the rest has been mediocre. JT and JR weren't overly great in the Lions tour. JB excelled in that tour but looked ordinary each time he played for the seniors. BS wasn't great when I saw him for the seniors either. Maybe they would step up to the mark but the 1st thing I would do is change the formation so at least there's 1 more quality bowler added (where we do have more depth) and then maybe if there were only 5 places available for the batsmen the current players might raise their game.

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | March 31, 2012, 13:13 GMT

    @mikey76 on (March 31 2012, 03:31 AM GMT) - Truth is that last calendar year our batsmen were amazing and if we changed things then the "too much cricket" notion would be cited for lack of runs. I think the one thing I'd maybe add/change is for our contracted batsmen to try and get some SC cricket before the next tour and hope they develop a mentality to play the game. Although the 2 Lions tours (Bang and SL) had different results I think these sorts of things will help in the long run. Hope so anyway

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | March 31, 2012, 13:12 GMT

    @Tigg on (March 30 2012, 16:29 PM GMT) Hildreth would prob be in there now had he not had a woeful 2011. The last thing Eng want to do is pick a talented but badly out of form batsmen. We have enough of those already. Unfortunately the best form player of last year is too old for Eng now and retired from test cricket anyway , but from the same team Nick Compton had a fairly decent 2011 and maybe has the temperament to succeed. He is kind of old to start playing for Eng at 28 but younger than Carberry and only a year older than Hildreth.

  • POSTED BY Behind_the_bowlers_arm on | March 31, 2012, 13:04 GMT

    Bell & Cook from the mid 2000's are the last English born batsmen to establish themselves at Test level. If not for the recruitment off the veldt England would be facing what Australia has for the last 5 years. That is an underpowered domestic competition stripped of Test players that isn't producing players of the technique & temperament for the longer game. Of those in your list I have seen most seem to have made their reputations as big hitting limited over batsmen. I believe there are some longer format games between Aust A & the England Lions scheduled mid year after the Australian ODI tour of England. They could be very interesting to answer the question of next in line.

  • POSTED BY stormy16 on | March 31, 2012, 12:07 GMT

    Interesting only last summer Eng were boasting of a top 7 who all averaged in the 40's with one all time great team ETC ETC. 4 tests later and its its suddenly looking for options for their captain and someone who can handle spin!

  • POSTED BY on | March 31, 2012, 10:27 GMT

    Tom Maynard.. just watch this guy develop

  • POSTED BY hhillbumper on | March 31, 2012, 8:19 GMT

    Jonesy 2.Yeah you have real depth don't you.If it weren't for Ponting and Hussey,Clarke you would be well stuffed.

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | March 31, 2012, 7:34 GMT

    Where are the likes of @landl @hillbumper @5wombats? Why have they gone quiet just like during the Pakistan series? They will no doubt come along soon and talk up these journeymen.

  • POSTED BY Saffalicious on | March 31, 2012, 6:58 GMT

    This article forgot to mention all the other options that England have a little further south. There are tons of Saffas that are much better than this lot, but that will not make it to the SA side. Despite this, England are still the #1 side collectively across the formats as they have 358 ranking points from the 3 formats. South Africa should take that over soon though as they are on 356 at the moment.

  • POSTED BY jonesy2 on | March 31, 2012, 6:34 GMT

    wow resources are unbelievably thin. these surely are not the best they have to come in?

  • POSTED BY ihaq1 on | March 31, 2012, 6:05 GMT

    Strauss seems tobe aging i think at 34 and when u cant play your standard strokes than u should drop down teh order...england also have a problem of attempting alrounders in teh middle when they have a good bowling attack...they should play thee seamers and two spinners on a spinning track and three and one spinner on a fast track..Finn should have played at Galle...trott or bell can open with cook with strauss at four so that he can know how to play with pietserson at five.. although teh middle order is hard to reconstruct ...Bopara/davies can play at six...with prior at seven..i suppose finn,anderson, bresnan and swann..

  • POSTED BY mikey76 on | March 31, 2012, 3:43 GMT

    .....and Michael Carberry is only 31. I think we get a bit stupid over age in this country. He could realistically play until he was 38 so he has plenty of time ahead of him. The aussies picked the likes of Colin Miller and Brad Hogg in their mid to late 30's during their dominant years, he is the most viable option at the moment. It does make you wonder how Strauss's career would have panned out if Trescothick hadn't gone into exile.

  • POSTED BY mikey76 on | March 31, 2012, 3:31 GMT

    It seems to be the lack of championship cricket being played our batsmen is having a negative effect. They just dont seem battle hardened when they go into these tours on the back of no meaningful cricket. There are many good spinners on the county circuit now, both international and domestic and regular exposure to this on varied pitches would no doubt help. The last generation of players such as Thorpe, Hick, Hussain or Ramprakash to name a few were all accomplished players of spin who thrived in the sub-contintent. These guys all played in the championship as well as in the test matches so were able to develop against spin. Our current crop of batsmen just aren't getting enough regular exposure against slow bowling. Its like having 6 Robin Smiths in the top order, excellent against pace but woeful against spin.

  • POSTED BY RohanMarkJay on | March 30, 2012, 23:44 GMT

    England does have players who used to be very good players of spin bowling Gower, Gatting, Gooch, Thorpe and Nasser Hussain. Not to mention Andy Flower who was outstanding in the 1990s. Really they have goto people there who could help England become better at playing spin which is vital if they want to become successful in the subcontinent.England won in subcontinent in 2000/01 as they had very good players of spin bowling at the time in Graham Thorpe and Nasser Hussain.It is good that Graham Gooch is now full time batting coach with Graham Thorpe etc. This should make them better players of spin bowling.So that the next winter tour to the subcontinent should hold them in good stead.I guessed Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss were hell bent in beating Australia in England and then in Aus. Which is great, but something went wrong in their training program. Playing in Subcontinent took a back seat which is tougher than touring Australia. So the results show.England struggles since 2000/01.

  • POSTED BY SDHM on | March 30, 2012, 21:08 GMT

    Charlie - I agree; it's the one area we don't really have much exciting talent coming through. I could reel you off a long list of potential middle order batsmen, but openers? Apart from Root, the only other young openers I can think of are Moeen Ali, Varun Chopra and Alex Hales and, like Root, all of them have underwhelming first class averages. Then again, so did Trescothick and Vaughan when Fletcher brought them in, and they turned out all right! Carberry is a solid player, but in his one test in Bangladesh he struggled horribly against spin, so if we're looking to change that up then he isn't the answer. In the short term it you would probably move Trott up to open, Bell up to three and bring the new face into the middle order. I second Tigg - Hildreth had a fairly average season last year, but he was banging out runs for fun before that, he has a calm head and is comfortable against pace and spin. He seems more likely to succeed than a youngster at this moment in time.

  • POSTED BY Alexk400 on | March 30, 2012, 17:30 GMT

    joe root , jos butler and ben stokes should get chances than ravi bopara. ravi never played critical inning yet.

  • POSTED BY Tigg on | March 30, 2012, 16:29 GMT

    James Hildreth anyone? Has he vanished completely from all conciousness?

    He's a class act that can and should thrive in the Test match environment.

  • POSTED BY on | March 30, 2012, 15:59 GMT

    Surely it is time to encourage some healthy competition in the batting ranks, as it has shown to be very beneficial with the bowling attack, as we have Onions and Bresnan and Finn and Tremlett on the sidelines.

    They do tend to treat the batsmen with kid gloves.

  • POSTED BY Charlie_Ellis on | March 30, 2012, 14:47 GMT

    Lots of potential 5 and 6s for the Test team amongst this bunch, to which I'd add Morgan, who may yet come again. But few top order options aside from Carberry, who is hardly one for the long-term future, and plenty of quick-scoring big hitters, which is hardly what the team is lacking at the moment. Need more quality players who can marry sound defence and temprament with their attacking strokes, like Trott managed in the Galle 2nd inns. I think Bopara needs a proper opportunity to show he can hack Test cricket, and if he fails then it's time to blood Taylor or Bairstow.

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  • POSTED BY Charlie_Ellis on | March 30, 2012, 14:47 GMT

    Lots of potential 5 and 6s for the Test team amongst this bunch, to which I'd add Morgan, who may yet come again. But few top order options aside from Carberry, who is hardly one for the long-term future, and plenty of quick-scoring big hitters, which is hardly what the team is lacking at the moment. Need more quality players who can marry sound defence and temprament with their attacking strokes, like Trott managed in the Galle 2nd inns. I think Bopara needs a proper opportunity to show he can hack Test cricket, and if he fails then it's time to blood Taylor or Bairstow.

  • POSTED BY on | March 30, 2012, 15:59 GMT

    Surely it is time to encourage some healthy competition in the batting ranks, as it has shown to be very beneficial with the bowling attack, as we have Onions and Bresnan and Finn and Tremlett on the sidelines.

    They do tend to treat the batsmen with kid gloves.

  • POSTED BY Tigg on | March 30, 2012, 16:29 GMT

    James Hildreth anyone? Has he vanished completely from all conciousness?

    He's a class act that can and should thrive in the Test match environment.

  • POSTED BY Alexk400 on | March 30, 2012, 17:30 GMT

    joe root , jos butler and ben stokes should get chances than ravi bopara. ravi never played critical inning yet.

  • POSTED BY SDHM on | March 30, 2012, 21:08 GMT

    Charlie - I agree; it's the one area we don't really have much exciting talent coming through. I could reel you off a long list of potential middle order batsmen, but openers? Apart from Root, the only other young openers I can think of are Moeen Ali, Varun Chopra and Alex Hales and, like Root, all of them have underwhelming first class averages. Then again, so did Trescothick and Vaughan when Fletcher brought them in, and they turned out all right! Carberry is a solid player, but in his one test in Bangladesh he struggled horribly against spin, so if we're looking to change that up then he isn't the answer. In the short term it you would probably move Trott up to open, Bell up to three and bring the new face into the middle order. I second Tigg - Hildreth had a fairly average season last year, but he was banging out runs for fun before that, he has a calm head and is comfortable against pace and spin. He seems more likely to succeed than a youngster at this moment in time.

  • POSTED BY RohanMarkJay on | March 30, 2012, 23:44 GMT

    England does have players who used to be very good players of spin bowling Gower, Gatting, Gooch, Thorpe and Nasser Hussain. Not to mention Andy Flower who was outstanding in the 1990s. Really they have goto people there who could help England become better at playing spin which is vital if they want to become successful in the subcontinent.England won in subcontinent in 2000/01 as they had very good players of spin bowling at the time in Graham Thorpe and Nasser Hussain.It is good that Graham Gooch is now full time batting coach with Graham Thorpe etc. This should make them better players of spin bowling.So that the next winter tour to the subcontinent should hold them in good stead.I guessed Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss were hell bent in beating Australia in England and then in Aus. Which is great, but something went wrong in their training program. Playing in Subcontinent took a back seat which is tougher than touring Australia. So the results show.England struggles since 2000/01.

  • POSTED BY mikey76 on | March 31, 2012, 3:31 GMT

    It seems to be the lack of championship cricket being played our batsmen is having a negative effect. They just dont seem battle hardened when they go into these tours on the back of no meaningful cricket. There are many good spinners on the county circuit now, both international and domestic and regular exposure to this on varied pitches would no doubt help. The last generation of players such as Thorpe, Hick, Hussain or Ramprakash to name a few were all accomplished players of spin who thrived in the sub-contintent. These guys all played in the championship as well as in the test matches so were able to develop against spin. Our current crop of batsmen just aren't getting enough regular exposure against slow bowling. Its like having 6 Robin Smiths in the top order, excellent against pace but woeful against spin.

  • POSTED BY mikey76 on | March 31, 2012, 3:43 GMT

    .....and Michael Carberry is only 31. I think we get a bit stupid over age in this country. He could realistically play until he was 38 so he has plenty of time ahead of him. The aussies picked the likes of Colin Miller and Brad Hogg in their mid to late 30's during their dominant years, he is the most viable option at the moment. It does make you wonder how Strauss's career would have panned out if Trescothick hadn't gone into exile.

  • POSTED BY ihaq1 on | March 31, 2012, 6:05 GMT

    Strauss seems tobe aging i think at 34 and when u cant play your standard strokes than u should drop down teh order...england also have a problem of attempting alrounders in teh middle when they have a good bowling attack...they should play thee seamers and two spinners on a spinning track and three and one spinner on a fast track..Finn should have played at Galle...trott or bell can open with cook with strauss at four so that he can know how to play with pietserson at five.. although teh middle order is hard to reconstruct ...Bopara/davies can play at six...with prior at seven..i suppose finn,anderson, bresnan and swann..

  • POSTED BY jonesy2 on | March 31, 2012, 6:34 GMT

    wow resources are unbelievably thin. these surely are not the best they have to come in?