A week can be a long old time in sport, and that is certainly the case for England’s cricketers right now. A fortnight ago they were the talk of the town following their crushing of Australia in Cardiff, and now the shoe is on the other foot following the Aussies’ 405-run dismantling of the Three Lions at Lords.
So honours are even then heading into the third Ashes rubber at Edgbaston, but the real worry for England is the damaging psychological affects that the Lords hammering has on their top order batsmen. A quick look at the stats reveals that three of England’s top four – Adam Lyth, Gary Ballance and Ian Bell – have scored just 56 runs between them in their last six innings. Something has got to give it seems.
Time For Change
There can be no doubting that changes need to be made to find more consistent run-making in that all-important top four. As captain, Alistair Cook’s place in the team is secured, and so those other three are walking a bit of a tightrope at the moment. Australia made changes to their team for the Second Test and that had a positive effect, so it’s likely that England will take inspiration and do the same.
Gary Ballance looks the most at risk: the left-hander’s technique, or lack of it, has been ruefully exposed by this vibrant Aussie attack. Ballance’s inability to get his front foot forward leaves him vulnerable to the fast, swinging full ball, and keeps him trapped on the crease for Mitchell Johnson’s terrifying bouncers.
He is likely to be replaced by his Yorkshire teammate Jonny Bairstow, who has already scored five centuries in County Cricket this season ad looks set to be the first Englishman to pass the 1000 run mark in domestic cricket. He also has 14 Test caps to his name, which could prove to be invaluable experience.
There’ a possibility that Lyth could be replaced by Alex Hales too. Lyth’s two dismissals in the Second Test also belied a weakness of playing away from the body off the back foot, and whilst Hales is uncapped in the Test arena the fast-scoring opener certainly has the X Factor which could help to swing this series back in England’s favour.