The Ashes 2013-14 November 26, 2013

Root most likely solution for No. 3


Joe Root is the likeliest solution to England's issue of who will bat No. 3 in the second Test in Adelaide after Jonathan Trott's return to England with a stress-related illness.

One of the less remarked upon aspects of the first Test in Brisbane was Root's confident display amid the wreckage of England's second innings as he batted confidently for around two hours and, just as markedly, seemed to enjoy the contest.

England's temptation to retain Root at No. 6, in the recognition that he has looked most settled down the order during his fledgling Test career, is offset by their conviction that they do not want to promote Ian Bell from his spot at No. 5 where he has produced some of the most gifted innings of his Test career.

With Kevin Pietersen also loath to bat at No. 3 and two reserve batsmen in Gary Ballance and Jonny Bairstow who would only come into consideration down the order, it is Root who could be asked to prove his adaptability once more in what is fast becoming a trip around England's batting order. It is fortunate that he expresses his relaxed attitude to batting everywhere because that is likely to be his fate.

Flower responded to a question about Bell's settled form at No. 5 by saying: "Moving him around the order might not be ideal. But then the Trott incident, we could not foresee that. Root played superbly towards the end of that first Test. He showed what a good, young, mature man he is and a very fine player, so he would be capable of doing the job. But we haven't made that decision yet. There are a number of candidates."

Former England captains have mixed views: Michael Atherton has called for Root to fill the role; Nasser Hussain for Bell.

England arrived in Alice Springs on Tuesday for a two-day fixture against a Cricket Australia Chairman's XI at Traegar Park. As they lost one rock - the description often used for Trott by the team director Andy Flower - they plan to visit another, no trip to the Northern Territory's interior being complete without a visit to Uluru/Ayers Rock. Well, some will visit anyway: they have gathered a quorum, comprising some players and management staff.

Tim Bresnan has not made the trip. He is poised to play for the England Performance Programme team in a three-day match against Queensland 2nd XI in Brisbane, beginning on Wednesday, in an effort to prove his recovery from a stress fracture in his back which has sidelined him since the fourth Test win against Australia in Chester-le-Street in August when England won the Ashes.

It would be a gamble to pitch Bresnan into the Ashes series after so little cricket, but there is no easy way to solve that, and if England decide to replace Chris Tremlett, who was relatively economical at the Gabba but well down on pace, Bresnan could be in the mix with Steve Finn and Boyd Rankin, although the fact that England's bowling coach, David Saker, has not stayed behind in Brisbane to watch him might be a clue about his chances. News of seven wickets might have to arrive via the bush telegraph.

With England 1-0 down in the series - and Adelaide traditionally representing one of England's better opportunities (albeit, a drop-in pitch makes its character harder to judge) - there have also been a few calls already for Ben Stokes to bat at No. 6 in Adelaide, so giving England an extra bowler. After the batting trauma in Brisbane, it would be an out-of-character gamble for England to take.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on November 29, 2013, 11:04 GMT

    England should play James Taylor. he has a good future in England team.The XI should look; 1.Cook 2.Carberry 3.JamesTaylor 4.Pietersen 5.Bell 6.Root 7.Bairstow (wk) 8.Broad 9.Swann 10.Anderson 11.Rankin. England must omit Prior and Tremlett.

    Australia must play with 1.Warner 2.Watson 3.Hughes 4.Clarke 5.Bailey 6.faulkner 7. Haddin (wk) 8.Johnson 9.Harris 10.Siddle 11.Lyon. Omit Rogers and Smith. Australia dont want to relay on Rogers, instead of they can generate new players like ferguson, for the future.

  • damien on November 29, 2013, 10:53 GMT

    @rednwhitearmy, If you are right and we only win 1 out of the next 10 , gee I hope it is another ashes win by 380 odd. Looking like fish out of water, stepping out of the line of the ball,complaining to the umps about short pitched stuff, mental disintegration and heavy heavy losses now that is pathetic. Reminds me of how England used to be during our decade and a half of domination. Whitewashes , scared batsmen, our spinner outbowling yours, reminding you of those glorious days gone by?

  • Kenso on November 29, 2013, 7:29 GMT

    England must achieve 3 things in adelaide. 1. The MUST win - Australia will more than likely take Perth especially if they go there 2-0 up. Adelaide, Melb and Sydney all suit the poms so if they play to their strengths the should still go home with the urn. 2. They must dent Johnsons confidence... This means getting him cheaply with the bat and with plans in place to put him under early pressure with the ball. He wont have the assistance he had at the gabba from the bouncy wicket. MJ without bounce is ripe for the picking. 3. The bowlers must re establish themselves as world class performers to prove to australia that the gabba was a mere blip on an otherwise impressive record

  • M on November 29, 2013, 5:01 GMT

    I don't know much about Stokes or Ballance (we don't hear much about them here) but Stokes was out cheap in the tour match against a third string Aus XI that includes a 16yo up-and-comer. Ballance looks set to make 50 but this bowling line-up can't even make State selection which speaks volumes... BTW Eng are 4/130 with Root, Carberry and Prior all gone cheaply also.

    Bresnan is a quality bowler but his recent hit out for EPP is against a Qld 2nd XI so keep it in perspective... and even then the batsmen facing him said he is a quality bowler under-prepared... I wouldn't be rushing him into Adelaide unless it is a do or die match as far as Eng are concerned.

    I also noted that at the MCG the home side were just dismissed for 118 so looks like that pitch will provide yet another result this season.

  • Sean on November 28, 2013, 23:43 GMT

    1. Cook 2. Carberry 3. Root 4. Pietersen 5. Bell 6. Prior 7. Broad 8. Bresnan 9. Swann 10 Anderson 11 Finn/Rankin (whoever's got the best bouncer)

  • Colin on November 28, 2013, 19:52 GMT

    England need to be bold at Adelaide - which they won't! I do think that MJ is bowling consistently for once and as such I am not sure we'll have the firepower at Perth. However, we should play to our strengths and I can see England doing well at Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne. At Adelaide, we need to win and although the Aussies seemed pumped up after Brisbane, they have only won once in a blue moon and still have a very suspect batting order. England need 5 bowlers as Adelaide is a road, so Stokes should come in. I know his batting is way off Test quality at the moment but I think we should gamble and try to inject come attacking intent into our team. I'd also pick Bres at Adelaide and perhaps Finn or Rankin at Perth.

  • Patrick on November 28, 2013, 19:05 GMT

    Where are all the Eng fans who bemoaned Clarke hiding down at 5??? Nothong to say? No I didn't think so. Is there anything FFL has ever said that Eng haven't yet proven to be baseless nonsense. No, I think they've covered everything now!

  • Owen on November 28, 2013, 13:30 GMT

    @brusselslion - agree with pretty much all of that, although I will add that there are advantages and disadvantages for either Bell or Root at 3. Bell is a solid player now, but has only proven that at 5. Given his history with the mental side of things, could he handle the psychological aspect of batting 1st drop? For Root, plenty of potential yes, but if he bats like he did in the home series then it will be disastrous for him and the team.

    I'd have Balance in at 6. I don't think Stokes' bowling would be used (too expensive), and what's a batting line-up without balance? *groan

  • disco on November 28, 2013, 10:13 GMT

    Everyone is expecting a bounce back from England but, I don't think that is going to happen due to the weight of expectation. Bell couldn't cope with the pressure to be the saviour in Brisbane, Prior is shot and Anderson's heroics in the home series seem to have knocked the stuffing out of him. Plus it looks like they are going to do their best to put a bit of pace into the drop in pitch. It will be interesting to see how Lyon performs compared to how he played when Faf played that monumental innings.

  • Sean on November 28, 2013, 8:26 GMT

    Australia will win 1 of their next 10 games. pathetic.