Humiliation at Lord’s: England’s top order on thin ice after defeat, warns Bayliss

Coach says the hosts will consider their batting options before the third Test

Afp July 20, 2015
Australia celebrate Cook’s wicket in the second innings. The England skipper was the only top-order batsman to provide any form of resistance to the Australians in either innings. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON: England coach Trevor Bayliss has told his side’s struggling batsmen they can take nothing for granted following a stunning collapse in the second Ashes Test at Lord’s.

Australia crushed England by 405 runs with more than a day to spare as they emphatically levelled the five-match series 1-1, dismissing their arch-rivals for 103 in 37 overs at Lord’s on Sunday.

On a pitch where Australia declared twice, losing just 10 wickets over the two innings, England suffered the latest in a line of top-order collapses that have plagued them since their tour of the West Indies earlier this year.

They were 30-4 in their first innings and 48-4 second time around at the ‘home of cricket’. England captain Alastair Cook, who made 96 in the first innings, is the only member of the top order who can be confident of retaining his place when the selectors meet on Tuesday to pick a squad for the third Test starting on July 29 at Edgbaston.

Cook’s opening partner Adam Lyth, Gary Ballance and Ian Bell have reason to fear for their spots in the side after managing just two fifties between them in the series so far.

Jonny Bairstow, who made a century for Yorkshire on Saturday, is pressing hard for a return, with a recall for the exiled Kevin Pietersen seemingly a forlorn hope for the star batsman’s fans.

“There are some good players on the outside and we’ve got a selection meeting,” said Bayliss, the first Australian to coach England. “I’m not going to speculate on what exactly will happen until Tuesday. Every innings we’ve been four for 30 or four for 40. I suppose that’s always a concern. But what you’ve also got to do is give the players that are in there as much confidence as possible as well.”

Bayliss, who took charge just days before the Ashes, also offered his opinion on pitch conditions. There has been repeated speculation from a number of pundits, admittedly without much hard evidence, that England have deliberately ordered docile pitches to neuter the impact of Australia’s pace attack.

But with Australia’s pacemen, led superbly by Mitchell Johnson and much faster through the air than their England counterparts, playing the series on low and slow pitches could harm the home side far more than their oldest foes.

“We’ve got no control over what the wickets are like, but certainly a flat wicket plays into Australia’s hands,” said Bayliss. 

Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st,  2015.

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