It’s the same old story for England. They had a very disappointing winter in Australia before showing a few signs of fight in New Zealand. But familiar problems resurfaced in the first-Test thrashing by Pakistan at Lord’s last week.
There simply isn’t any consistency from the batting department. Apart from Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root, most of the guys are lacking it – and that goes for Alastair Cook too, who scored a double-hundred in Australia but is not offering as much as he used to.
There isn’t the depth of batting in the country any more. There are guys scoring the odd hundred, but there’s no one smashing down the door by scoring 1,500 runs every year.
England are picking guys on form – Keaton Jennings has got back in by making three centuries this season and Mark Stoneman before him scored a few runs – but when they step up the struggles come.
When the ball is moving about the likes of Dawid Malan and Stoneman are not adjusting their feet and they’re getting out in the same way, much like James Vince before them.
The whole team needs to be a little bit more ruthless, even with the senior players. If they’re not performing then they need to be put under more pressure. If that means dropping the likes of Stuart Broad, then so be it.
There seems to be a little bit of complacency. They need to ask themselves if they’re hungry enough. Broad and Cook have achieved a lot in the game, but they’re not performing to previous levels. You have to look at their mental states. Are they really up for the fight as much as they were 10 years ago?
England have to be a lot harder on themselves to turn it around, because this is a series which they should have won ahead of the challenge of playing India.
Root is the best player and the right man for the captaincy, but I don’t think it comes naturally to him. He made simple mistakes in the first Test.
It’s harsh, but he’s learning on the job and it’s difficult. Root has got to take the bull by the horns, confront senior players, apply bowling plans and set fields. He needs to be a lot harder and really take charge, even though he’s an inexperienced captain and younger than many of his team-mates.
Pakistan completely out-bowled England at Lord’s, but they didn’t do anything fancy. Mohammad Abbas was bowling at 80mph, keeping it simple, nipping it around and creating chances by making the batsmen play the new ball. That’s something England didn’t do enough.
England have brought in Jennings for Stoneman, who has looked nowhere for a while now. Last year Jennings was guilty of making similar mistakes to the man he’s replaced, prodding outside his off-stump, so hopefully he’s gone away and made changes.
The left-handed opener needs to have a ruthless, positive mindset and not get carried away with run-scoring.
England have been guilty of going too hard too early. They’ve been scoring quickly but losing wickets; they need to take it back to basics, see off the new ball and blunt the opposition’s attack. Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler are capable of compensating later in the innings.