The England head coach, Trevor Bayliss, is ready to discuss changes for next week’s third Ashes Test at Edgbaston with his fellow selectors when they convene on Tuesday, as they consider the manner of the four-day defeat to Australia at Lord’s.
While the 405-run loss led to the Ashes series being levelled at one apiece, the manner of the capitulation – Alastair Cook’s side were bowled out for 103 in the space of just 37 overs, needing to bat five sessions to save the Test – and a continuation of their top order issues means there is much to discuss.
Gary Ballance will know his position at No3 will be discussed by Bayliss, the national selector James Whitaker and panellists Angus Fraser and Mick Newell, having struggled to back up his breakthrough international season last summer, when he averaged 70.4 in seven Tests. The left-hander has scored just one half-century in his last 13 first-class innings, leading to his technique being scrutinised.
Opener Adam Lyth and No4 Ian Bell are similarly vulnerable after lean starts to the series, although a raft of changes look unlikely with Bayliss insisting there is every reason to fill the current personnel with more confidence rather than hook them from the stage.
“[Changes are] on the mind of anyone when the team is not playing like you would like, those things are always in the back of the coach’s and selectors’ minds,” he said. “But what you’ve also got to do is give the players that are in there as much confidence as possible as well.
“They are obviously good players and the reason they are in the team is because they are thought of as the best players in England at the moment. There are some good players on the outside and we’ve got a selection meeting, I’m not going to speculate on what exactly will happen until Tuesday.”
Bayliss has suggested that he, his backroom staff and the players may have placed too much emphasis on how Australia would respond to their defeat in the first Test in Cardiff and assured supporters this would not be the case come the Edgbaston Test, which begins on 29 July.
“We knew Australia would come back hard at us and maybe we didn’t concentrate on what we were doing like we did in Cardiff,” Bayliss said. “In Cardiff we were very focused on what our jobs were individually, maybe we spent a little bit too much time thinking about how hard Australia would come back. So I think going forward to the next game that we get back into that mode and just worry about what we’re doing.”
While Bayliss claims to have had no input into the surface at Lord’s, his message to the head groundsman at Warwickshire, Gary Barwell, is that seam movement would be appreciated, with slow, flat decks suiting Australia’s quicker bowlers. “We’ve got no control over what the wickets are like, but certainly a flat wicket plays into the Australians’ hands,” he said.
“I think if the wicket has got a bit of seam in it – we want to win this series and for anyone to win a series you have to take 20 wickets per match. And I think a flat wicket suits not only their batters but also the bowling attack they’ve got more so than it does ours. So I’d like to see a wicket with more in it. That might make it more difficult for us to bat on it but if we’re able to take 20 wickets, even if they take 20 wickets, then we’re still in with a chance of winning.”