England’s failure in the West Indies- What went wrong?
Following on from England’s dismal performance in their series loss to the West Indies, Captain Joe Root and his side now only have two tests to get ship-shape before the Ashes in the summer.
But what went wrong against the West Indies? Runs were the biggest problem, and they have been for a while.
Even in an era where Test run-scoring is in decline, England compare unfavourably to their rivals when it comes to posting big totals.
Only once since the beginning of 2018 have England gone past 400. From the top nine Test nations, only Sri Lanka have been so averse to going big.
Read 58 all out against New Zealand in Auckland last March; 161 against India at Trent Bridge (when all 10 wickets fell in a single session); and 77 against West Indies in Barbados.
Indeed, the 16.06 runs scored per wicket lost that England have managed on the current tour of the Caribbean is their worst in any Test series for 131 years, going back to the 1888 Ashes.
Of the current top seven, only Root has a Test average above 40. Since the beginning of last year, just Tom Curran (one Test), Chris Woakes (four) and Ben Foakes (five) are averaging more than 40. None of that trio is a specialist batsman.
England are still without a stable and reliable top three. Even when Alistair Cook was still playing, he finished the 2nd half of his international career without a regular opening partner.
Now with Cook retired, and Joe Root preferring to play at number four, England now have Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow have been tried higher up the order in England’s past six Tests.
Ordinarily, the attacking strokeplay of that trio – and Jos Buttler, who has also become a regular in the side – would be a strength.
In an ideal world, none of those players would be any higher than number six. Instead, the majority of England’s batting line-up is filled with players who would rather hit than grit their way out of trouble – and who look pretty silly when gifting their wicket away in a time of crisis.
So with the Summer and the Ashes fast approaching, England’s batsmen either need to adapt to their new role and improve, or the selectors will need to look towards county cricket to find an answer to their batting crisis.