Trevor Bayliss’ exit implies England will go with a new coach – maybe an one – however that’s not likely to be the sole change.
England’s middle order – the engine area of this negative for a long – is below the spotlight not quite firing as it was, save for Ben Stokes, who was in dazzling form this summer.
England reverted to a 5, 5, 6, 7, 8 Joe Root, Jos Buttler, Stokes, Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali after slipping 2-0 down in the West Indies earlier this year, wicketkeeper Ben Foakes the fall man as he dropped his place in the side and Bairstow retook the gloves.
“Four through to eight continues to be effective in the past and we’ve gone back to this. We have known for some time that those players are our best,” Bayliss said in the time.
The change paid off in the sense which England won the Test to prevent a whitewash from the Caribbean, however that quintet has been changed again back on home soil.
Ali was dropped from the side after a slight bout with bat and ball, Root batted at Number 3 throughout the attracted Ashes series, Stokes stepped up to no 4 in the final Test against Australia when a shoulder injury forced him to play a specialist batsman, whereas Buttler and Bairstow have reversed between 5, 7 and 6. It is hard to keep up with it all.
Playing Bairstow as a specialist batsman at No 5 has to now be as they look to find the best out of a few of their talented but now under-performing players in England’s thinking.
He has dropped 18 in Test cricket since Bairstow was granted the position back in February. One fifty, no countless and two ducks in 13 innings. Errors have been made by him however his form with the bat has fallen off a cliff.
The long-held notion is that Bairstow feels comfortable acting as a keeper-batsman because he has one discipline.
There are stats that back up that, too – he averages 37.85 at 48 Tests because of keeper-batsman but that drops to below 30 at 21 Tests when he’s playing as a batsman alone, so maybe it is slightly fanciful to suggest he is bound to score heavily playing glasses at No 5.
Bairstow has, naturally, had a summer – he was a fulcrum of this triumphant World Cup campaign and has played with six Tests in eight months. He must be knackered.
Perhaps is a separation and he’ll rock up at Mount Maunganui for the first Test against New Zealand revitalised, having more than likely been rested for its five-match T20I show that precedes it.
But it would be surprising if there was not a debate one of the selectors about the role of tweaking Bairstow and perhaps dropping him. It’s not like England are brief of keepers.
Buttler – who rediscovered his form at the end of their Ashes, heading out with 70 in The Oval – could take the gloves. He can stick with England remembering Foakes, who’s considered the finest in the world and the best gloveman of the three by Surrey supremo Alec Stewart free of 6.
Foakes is also proficient with this bat. He even scored a century in Sri Lanka on his Test debut along with his top-notch batting average is six runs higher than Buttler’s, with both having played with more than 100 matches.
You could insert Ollie Pope into the conundrum.
The 21-year-old appears the guy in line after being called up as a replacement for Jason Roy before their Headingley Test since coming from a dislocated shoulder that he suffered in 45, and scoring an 221 to Surrey at the County Championship.
Pope had a taste of international cricket if he played with two Tests against India impressing fleetingly using three scores in as many innings. Push to get a spot at No 5 or No 6 and he looks set to go to New Zealand.
If England play Foakes and Pope and it’s one from two involving Buttler and Bairstow afterward form would imply Buttler should get the nod – he is averaging almost 36 whereas Bairstow is averaging in that time.
Pope’s Surrey team-mate Sam Curran is also an option at No 7 when Stokes’ promotion to No 4 becomes permanent. He adds variety together along with his seam and then spark with his batting, even though that will indicate among Buttler or Bairstow and no Foakes supporting the stumps.
Watch England’s tour of New Zealand, that comprises five T20Is and 2 Tests, live on Sky Sports Cricket in October, November and December.
What would be your England Test middle order? Let us know in the comments form below or on Twitter @SkyCricket.
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