Batting failures once again define England’s performance in the Ashes
We dont yet know the exact nature of the position England find themselves in after the first days play at Lords against Australia – being Test cricket it could be anywhere from disastrous to advantageous on the sliding scale – but what we can be certain of is that the same frailties were evident.
England lost the toss and were put into bat by Australia captain Tim Paine – a move which the history books suggested was a bold one.
Every other time that has happened since 2007 the hosts have made hay, posting scores of 553-5 dec, 593-8 dec, 377, 505, 446, 486, 474-8 dec, 575-9 dec and 389.
Such is their current state, a repeat performance was never on the cards. Even if hed known Paine wouldnt have hesitated.
In the end England mustered 258 and were grateful for it. Josh Hazlewood, brought in for James Pattinson, showed just why he was preferred to Mitchell Starc, challenging Englands ragged top order with some high-class probing.
Jason Roy faced three deliveries from Hazlewood (3-58) and looked like getting out to all of them. After wafting at a wide one and missing another he was drawn into an entirely predictable outside edge. On a day in which many were getting A-level results it was a grim failure for Roy.
According to analytics platform CricViz, Englands latest hope has now edged or missed 29 per cent of the balls hes faced in Test cricket – a record worse than every other opener, bar one, to have played more than three innings in the last 12 months.
From then on in it was a case of familiar problems as only Rory Burns (53) and Jonny Bairstow (52) prospered among a litany of disappointment.
Joe Root (14) was pinned lbw by some seam movement from Hazlewood, Joe Denly (30) was outdone by a picturebook away-swinger from the same bowler and Burns was caught brilliantly at short leg by Cameron Bancroft before the real underperformances came.
Rot sets in
There wasnt much swing, seam movement or spin for Australia to play with and yet Jos Buttler (12) and Ben Stokes (13) managed to give their wickets away. Buttler contrived to edge Peter Siddle behind before Stokes was plumb lbw trying to lap-sweep Nathan Lyon from in front of his stumps.
Right now, and for some time, England have needed to prioritise grit and substance over style and speed – and yet they look either incapable or unwilling to play an old-school innings.