STILL NOT PER­FECT

Bayliss warns win won’t pa­per over Eng­land cracks

New Straits Times - - Sport - MANCH­ESTER

ENG­LAND coach Trevor Bayliss has promised a 3-1 Test se­ries win over South Africa won’t “pa­per over the cracks” in his side’s frag­ile top order.

Moeen Ali pro­duced an­other dra­matic fi­nale, the off-spin­ner tak­ing two wick­ets in two balls to fin­ish off a 177-run vic­tory in the Fourth Test at Old Traf­ford on Mon­day for a re­turn of five for 69, af­ter end­ing Eng­land’s Third Test tri­umph at The Oval with a hat-trick.

A first home se­ries suc­cess over South Africa in 19 years also gave Joe Root a win in his maiden cam­paign as Eng­land cap­tain.

But with just three Tests at home to the West In­dies be­fore Eng­land be­gin the de­fence of the Ashes in Aus­tralia, ma­jor ques­tion re­marks re­main over sev­eral front­line bat­ting po­si­tions.

Eng­land have tried 11 dif­fer­ent play­ers as an open­ing part­ner for Alas­tair Cook since for­mer cap­tain An­drew Strauss re­tired in 2012.

Durham left-han­der Keaton Jen­nings, the lat­est in that lengthy list, en­dured a mis­er­able se­ries against his na­tive South Africa, av­er­ag­ing just 15.87 in eight in­nings.

Tom West­ley made a promis­ing start at No 3 without mak­ing a ma­jor score, while Dawid Malan’s ini­tial im­pact at No 5 was min­i­mal.

“It’s al­ways a good thing that you’re win­ning but we’re not pa­per­ing over the cracks,” said Bayliss.

“We know there are some spots which haven’t been ce­mented down and we’re still look­ing for those guys to prove their worth at this level,” the Aus­tralian added.

Asked if Eng­land were now any clearer about the com­po­si­tion of their top order than they had been at the start of the South Africa se­ries, Bayliss replied: “To be hon­est. no.

“We’ve got a se­lec­tion meet­ing later this week but I’m not go­ing to spec­u­late who might or might not be in the team. Ob­vi­ously there’s a few spots that will be dis­cussed.”

Root, who along with Cook is the only player in the Eng­land top five as­sured of their place, was left to re­flect on a first se­ries as skip­per which in­cluded a huge 340-run de­feat in the Sec­ond Test at Trent Bridge.

“It’s been very en­joy­able the ma­jor­ity of the time,” he said.

“There was a week that wasn’t quite as much fun as the other three, but that is all part and par­cel of be­ing a cap­tain,” the York­shire­man added.

“I learnt a lot through­out. It’s the start of some­thing.” AFP

REUTERS PIC

Eng­land’s Joe Root and team­mates cel­e­brate win­ning the Test se­ries against South Africa on Mon­day.

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