Spin conundrum tops Bayliss' list
Trevor Bayliss has admitted England will need to adapt and improve if they are to win in the UAE. While England won the Investec Ashes 3-2, they suffered two innings defeats in the series and now face a daunting schedule of Test tours to the UAE and South Africa.
Bayliss, the England coach, believes some of England's inconsistency is due to the team's relative youth and inexperience and believes that as they play more - and with some selection changes - their results will improve.
But he also accepts that some changes will be required if they are to challenge in the UAE. In particular, he suggested England will require a second spinner in the side and did little to encourage Adam Lyth's hope of retention. Lyth, one of England's opening batsmen, averaged just averaged 12 in the Ashes and failed to reach 40 in any of the five Tests.
"We're not going to paper over the cracks," Bayliss said. "There are some areas we need to get better at and the game at The Oval was a reminder of that. We have got to be more consistent with our performances.
"The inconsistency has come more than anything from their inexperience. I believe that will come with experience. It's learning from these situations.
"I'd like to think this group of players, especially the batsmen, will be in a different league once they have 40 or 50 Tests behind them. They will know their own games better, they will know what is expected at this level and they will know how to play on the different wickets and against different opposition.
"With any young player, the inconsistency is there at the start of their career and the more they play the more consistent they get. I'm enthused by the talent that they have."
There are various ways to find room for a second spinner in the UAE. One would be to move Moeen Ali, third in England's batting averages in the Ashes, up to the top of the order. But while Moeen has tended to bat at No. 3 in county cricket, his apparent fragility outside off stump would probably render such a move a short-term ploy at best.
Another option would be to select a second spinner - probably Adil Rashid - in place of either one of the top five batsmen. To accommodate him, Moeen could move up to No. 5 with Rashid slotting in at No. 8. Alternatively, England could replace a fast bowler and go into a match with Ben Stokes operating as the third seamer.
England are likely to try a new opening partner in any event for Alastair Cook in the UAE, with Alex Hales a strong contender, following Lyth's poor series.
"We all wish him well going forward I'm sure he'll play again at some stage," Bayliss said. "Adam hasn't scored as many runs as he would like. He has come up against two very good bowling attacks this summer and it's a sign to the rest of county cricket that it's a big step up from one level to the next. There is a selection meeting in a couple of weeks and I'm sure that position will be looked at.
"It won't come as a surprise that in the UAE, the possibility to play two spinners will be at the forefront of everyone's thinking," he added. "We'd have to change the team to get a second spinner in.
"Could Moeen open in the UAE? Possibly, yes. He is probably the type of guy who could bat in a few positions in that top six or seven. I'm sure that will definitely be a discussion point. We've had Rashid in this squad and we have to work out how to fit him in and what the balance of the team will be."
Bayliss will be reliant on the advice of his fellow selectors. Having only arrived in England at the end of May, he has had almost no opportunity to watch county cricket and make any judgements about potential Test players.
"I'm not exactly sure of the depth that is there," Bayliss said. "We've got a lot of pace bowling depth, but as for spin bowling and the next batters, there is an opportunity for players in county cricket to stand up.
"You need that depth in your squad and the winter tours are going to be very difficult. Most teams playing away in the last few years have struggled.
"We've got some hard work to do but we've got some very good young players who, with experience, will be able to handle that pretty well."
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo