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England's Test batting is a complete mess and it has been for a few years




Michael Vaughan tweeted "India 92 all out ... Can't believe any team would get bowled out for a hundred these days!!!!" after India collapsed for 92 in the 4th ODI against New Zealand in 2019. That tweet didn't age quite well as England were all out for 68 in the 2nd innings of the 3rd Ashes Test.


The startling stat is that England have been all out for below 100 four times since Vaughan made that tweet and 6 times since 2018. The English batsmen haven't been up to it in this series. They haven't been up to it for a long time.


But this collapse feels a bit different from the others. In the past, it was quite astonishing to see England get bowled below 100. They were just counted as an aberration and they quickly bounced back in the next game. The other three times they scored below 100 since 2019 was 85 against Ireland, 67 against Australia and 81 against India.


Even though they were bowled out for 85 against Ireland, they scored 303 in the 2nd innings and won the test match. The 67 all out against Australia at Headingly was followed by a record chase of 359 thanks to Ben Stokes. Their 81 against India was on a rank-turner in Ahmedabad as the Indian batsmen didn't fare that well either.


But this capitulation against Australia cannot be termed as an aberration. It is quite surprising to think that it has become unsurprising to see an England collapse. The performance was in keeping with the England batting in this series.


The batsmen aren't doing the basics right. The two primary traits for a test batsman are technique and temperament and the batters are lacking both. The technical flaws are apparent but they haven't made any attempt to correct them.


There is also too much quirkiness in the batsmen, like Sibley and Rory Burns for example. The number of movements and exaggerations they make before the ball is bowled are too many and there does come a point where they become too much. While this may help the batsmen like Smith and Labuschagne, they are exceptions rather than the norm. They may get away with it in County cricket but at the International level, they are being found out.


It is surprising to see that the batting coaches haven't intervened at any point in their careers to correct these technical flaws. There is talk that the coaches don't feel confident enough to talk about techniques. This is an unacceptable argument considering the number of resources and money the ECB put into grassroots and County cricket, that they are not able to appoint quality coaches.


The batsmen with their technical deficiencies are being thrust into International Cricket. They may taste success early on but with the amount of footage and analysis there is now, they will be worked over. Ollie Pope is a case in point. After his first 10 tests, he averaged 43.38. But now after playing 22 tests, it has slipped to 29.79.




The batsmen aren't improving even after making their International debuts but are actually regressing. But why are the management allowing this to happen? These days, the amount of support staff that travels with the team is actually more than the players themselves.


The other issue is the ability to occupy the crease and bat for long periods of time. The English batsmen apart from Root and Malan haven't been able to do it. The kind of innings that Jos Buttler played in the 2nd test has been very rare from the English batsmen.


Part of the reason for it can be attributed to T20 cricket. The difference in skill between T20 and Tests is colossal and players like Buttler and Bairstow, who are brilliant limited-overs batsmen, haven't been able to make the switch between ODI's and T20's to tests.


We could make an argument that apart from Root and Stokes, none of the batsmen are test standard. Since Root's debut in 2012, close to 40 players made their debuts and none of them has averaged more than 40.


The pitches in county cricket aren't too batting-friendly either because they are prepared to more or less force a result. This has hampered player development across the counties and the England team are suffering its after-effects. With the average totals in County Cricket dropping to 200 to 250, the players aren't managing to post huge totals at the International level.

The thought of England scoring more than 400 has become far-fetched. England's test average this year is 24.8 and the last time it was this lower was back in 1999. God forbid about winning the Ashes but at least England were expected to compete going into the series. But the way they have capitulated in every single innings shows that this may be one of the worst batting performances by English batsmen in Australia ever.


We see Joe Root and the England players talking about batting with freedom and expressing themselves on the field. So far apart from him, none of the other batsmen has been able to do that.


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