Vaughan gives Root’s troops a nice whack after collapse
England’s batsmen have been accused of lacking ‘‘backbone and belief’’ by former captain Michael Vaughan after a Test defeat that underlined their unresolved Ashes selection issues.
An England XI for the Gabba series opener, slated to begin on December 8 as Cricket Australia continues to negotiate with governments regarding concerns about families being able to tour, remains decidedly muddled.
Joe Root’s side collapsed from 0-100 to be all out for 210 in its fourth Test against India.
Root has enhanced his reputation in a prolific series, scoring 564 runs at 94.
But, as was the case during England’s previous tour of Australia, most of the skipper’s unconvincing support cast would rightly feel uncertain about its prospects of remaining in the top six this summer.
Moeen Ali, tormented by Nathan Lyon four years ago, and Jonny Bairstow have failed to lock down their spots after recalls.
Ben Stokes, absent throughout 2017-18 because of the incident that ultimately resulted in the all-rounder being cleared of affray by a jury in the Bristol Crown Court, is on an indefinite mental health break.
Stokes’ return is uncertain, but he is expected to miss the Twenty20 World Cup.
Ollie Pope scored a promising 81 in his first dig at the Oval, but was skittled for two amid the carnage created by a devastating Jasprit Bumrah spell.
‘‘The batting in the England second innings lacked backbone and belief to play under pressure. As soon as the opposition scores more than 400, this England team does not know how to respond,’’ Vaughan wrote in his Daily Telegraph column.
‘‘The deficiencies of England’s Test team have been laid bare in batting, bowling and fielding.
‘‘Once again it was clear that England need conditions to give them a helping hand.’’
England’s strength this summer should be its attack, which will confront an unsettled Australian top six in which Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne and David Warner are the only certain starters.
But adjusting to Australian pitches has often proven difficult; it is hard to envisage a repeat of the Headingley conditions in which Jimmy Anderson and Ollie Robinson recently rolled India for 78.
England’s fast-bowling stocks are also severely depleted.
Express pacemen Jofra Archer and Olly Stone will be sorely missed in Australia, while Stuart Broad and Mark Wood are recovering from injuries.
Root flagged that 39-year-old Anderson could be rested from the final Test against India.
‘‘You have to weigh everything up . . . if he goes down injured, it leaves us in a very difficult place. Not only for the rest of the game, but for the winter as well,’’ Root said.
‘‘We have to be smart about it.’’