Eng­land bats need to pro­duce more

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

ENG­LAND’S mis­fir­ing top-or­der will be un­der pres­sure to de­liver in the se­cond and fi­nal Test against Bangladesh start­ing to­mor­row, aware their places could be up for grabs when the team moves on to In­dia.

After win­ning the nail­bit­ing first Test in Chittagong by just 22 runs on Oc­to­ber 24, the tourists will be keen to ex­tend their 100 per­cent record against their hosts when they face off again in the cap­i­tal Dhaka.

Eng­land’s win in Chittagong was due in large part to the bat­ting hero­ics of the mid­dle or­der, with Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes all play­ing cru­cial knocks to re­pair the dam­age from top-or­der col­lapses.

The top four bats­men – Alas­tair Cook, Ben Duck­ett, Joe Root and Gary Bal­lance – man­aged a com­bined to­tal of just 96 runs in both in­nings.

Their fail­ures were all too fa­mil­iar and un­der­lined how Eng­land have strug­gled to make solid starts in a star­tling num­ber of re­cent Tests.

Bal­lance’s place is par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­a­ble given that he has made just two half-cen­turies in his last 10 Tests, while Duck­ett will be des­per­ate to make his mark after scores of 14 and 15 on his de­but in Chittagong.

Even the nor­mally pro­lific Cook and Root have been stut­ter­ing, with both men each hav­ing scored a soli­tary half­cen­tury in their last six in­nings.

Eng­land coach Trevor Bayliss made clear he was ex­pect­ing more from the top or­der, who all strug­gled against spin in Chittagong, while in­di­cat­ing that he will keep faith with them in Dhaka.

“I don’t think there’s any rea­son to change the top six at this stage,” Bayliss told re­porters.

“The top four guys found it very dif­fi­cult against the new ball fac­ing the spin­ners ... on a wicket which some­times bounced up around your shoul­der and some­times skid­ded straight through. I’m sure all the bat­ters will be bet­ter for it.”

For­mer Eng­land cap­tain Nasser Hus­sain is among the voices call­ing for Bal­lance to make way, with the likes of big-hit­ting Jos But­tler and the teenage opener Haseeb Hameed wait­ing in the wings.

Both of them were named on Oc­to­ber 25 in the squad to play five Tests in In­dia on a tour which be­gins im­me­di­ately after the Bangladesh se­ries.

Bayliss was also against the idea of us­ing four spin­ners, some­thing that would be a rare de­ci­sion for Eng­land in a Test match.

With thoughts al­ready turn­ing to the tour against the world’s num­ber one Test side, Eng­land could also be tempted to hand a de­but to left-arm spin­ner Za­far An­sari.

With Moeen’s bat­ting vi­tal to the team, the vet­eran Gareth Batty is the most likely to miss out if Eng­land opt for An­sari given the 39-year-old’s lack of po­tency in Chittagong on his re­call after an 11-year ab­sence.

The Dhaka pitch is again ex­pected to turn but Bayliss was cool on the idea of drop­ping a seam bowler and play­ing four spin­ners.

“There’s al­ways an op­por­tu­nity [of us­ing four spin­ners], I sup­pose,” Bayliss said.

“But it’s a bit like play­ing five pace bowlers on a green seamer. If three or four can’t do the job, well...”

Bangladesh’s line-up will def­i­nitely see changes with 27-year-old Subashis Roy likely to be brought into the side after pace­man Shafiul Is­lam was rested.

Bangladesh have also called up bats­man Mosad­dek Hos­sain as backup to Sab­bir Rah­man, who was suf­fer­ing from a stom­ach prob­lem after his valiant in­nings of 64 in the se­cond in­nings of the first Test.

Man­ager Khaled Mah­mud told AFP that Sab­bir un­der­went an en­doscopy yes­ter­day, but it did not re­veal any se­ri­ous prob­lem.

“Hope­fully he will be fine be­fore the se­cond Test,” said Mah­mud.

Photo:AFP

Eng­land’s Steven Finn (right) bowls to Ben Duck­ett at nets dur­ing a train­ing ses­sion on the eve of their first cricket Test match against Bangladesh at the Zahur Ahmed Chowd­hury Sta­dium in Chittagong on Oc­to­ber 19.

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