Despite the hammering England suffered at the hands of Australia in the 4th test at Headingley last weekend there is no reason for wholesale changes and major panicking as the series is 1-1 going into the final test with all still to play for – a position everyone involved in the England set up would probably have gladly taken if offered at the start of the series.
Yes, the batting line-up does look in disarray and badly struggles without the steadying hand of Kevin Pietersen, England’s only true World class batsman. The selectors will probably point to the fact that England have scored over 375 in all three of their 1st innings in this series before Headingley saying that the batting can’t be that bad.
The facts are though that the tail in all of the 1st three tests has had to bail out the batsmen in getting the total to respectability, it’s a team game after all the selectors would probably rightly argue. Only Andrew Strauss though (once) has scored three figures in any of the four tests in this series, and for the top five that just isn’t good enough.
As stated above this is no time for panic and wholesale changes, team changes should be kept to minimum – that is for sure. If the situation dosen’t improve at The Oval and the top 5 buckle under the pressure yet again though it should be a different matter.
The time will surely have arrived for a rethink in the batting department before the South Africa series and with Andrew Flintoff going as well England can start looking at rebuilding the team. How many times now have the likes of Cook, Bell, Collingwood and now a new face in Ravi Bopara failed against the major test playing nations.
If the feeble nature that they continuously surrender isn’t bad enough the brainless shot selection and ill discipline and apparent inability to think on their own two feet and learn from previous mistakes and experiences is enough to drive an England supporter mad.
For me changes need to be made at the end of this series, I applaud the selectors for their loyalty and reluctance to chop and change at the drop of a hat like in the really bad old days (which I’m not for a minute suggesting we are in now), but you get the feeling that this current batch have been shown a bit too much faith.
Haven’t we been here before, Collingwood was on the verge of getting dropped last season against South Africa until he got his 100 at Edgbaston in the 3rd test. Bell has done nothing since his 199 in the 1st test at Lord’s in the same series. Alastair Cook could easily have gone after the 1st test in West Indies ealier this year when Bell was dropped after England’s diabolical 51 all out.
Again I’m not suggesting wholesale changes but a rethink is certainly needed. All in the England set up seem to think Ravi Bopara is going to be a good test player and I’m not going to disagree with them, the problem is he looks like he might be better suited down the order, maybe at No.5 or 6.
Is Pietersen willing to move up to No.3? If not that is a long standing problem. Opener Alastair Cook has 3 hundreds since December 2007 (two of which against West Indies), not good enough for a test opener! Could he bat at No.3 if another opener could be found? England have a lot of questions to answer, they can’t go on stumbling around hoping things will put themselves right.
It’s great caning the West Indian and New Zealand bowling attacks around in English conditions – a task not much tougher than playing against county cricket attacks – but when it comes to the big boys they are continuously found wanting.