Trevor Bayliss has admitted England’s batting is “a concern” and warned that “60s aren’t enough” if they are to win the Ashes.
England’s batsmen recorded five half-centuries on the way to victory over a modest Cricket Australia XI in Adelaide. But none of them went on to score more than 63 and, at one stage in their second innings, they lost four wickets for three runs and seven wickets for 47.
With the Test series beginning in Brisbane on November 23, Bayliss has implored his batsmen to make use of the final warm-up match (against the same opposition, starting in Townsville on Wednesday) to find some form.
“Sixties aren’t enough,” Bayliss said. “We need 160s. Batting collapses have been a concern for us for a little while. We have games like that, where we lose wickets like that, and it is a concern. The batsmen realise they have got to do better and they are working hard to do that.
“By all accounts the wicket in Townsville is a pretty good one. It’s quite flat. Hopefully that will help our batters make some big scores. Not just spend time in the middle, but make hundreds. That’s definitely what we will need throughout this Test series.
“It would be great if we could have some hundreds, that’s for sure. Obviously once the Test series comes around, the intensity of that competition, hopefully that really kicks our batters into gear.”
Bayliss did take some encouragement from the form of England’s more inexperienced batsmen, though, and insisted he was not too concerned about Alastair Cook‘s struggle for runs.
“Our more inexperienced batters have actually spent some time in the middle,” he said. “Before the series they were the ones under pressure the most because they don’t have a great deal of experience in Australian conditions.
“The wicket in Adelaide was a bit slow and the longer grass on the outfield certainly slowed the ball up. Seeing the ball racing away on a shorter outfield gives you confidence and we weren’t afforded that. There were a few mediocre scores but it was good to see a number of guys spend time in the middle.
“I don’t have too many concerns about Cooky at the top of the order. It’s probably fair to say he always looks a bit rusty. He’d be the first to admit that.
“He would like to be scoring a few more runs, but he’s played almost 150 Tests, I’m sure he’s been through this before. He’s hitting plenty in the middle of the bat in the nets.”
Bayliss was also encouraged by the improvement shown by the bowlers in Adelaide. While he seems bemused by the apparent epidemic of injuries to bowling options – he admitted that Mark Wood, Tom Helm and Liam Plunkett might all have been selected ahead of George Garton as cover in Townsville – he was optimistic about Jake Ball‘s recovery and impressed by Craig Overton.
“We got our lengths a lot better here,” Bayliss said. “In Perth, we bowled a lot of half-volleys and a lot of long-hops. In this match we got the lengths better and put pressure on the opposition.
“This is the first time I’ve seen Craig up close over a long period of overs. He’s not necessarily quick but he bowls a heavy ball and good lengths. And he’s consistent with that.
“Jake is fairly confident. It is possible he could be fit for the game in Townsville but we will probably rest him there and make sure that he is right for selection for that first Test. He should be fine in seven to 10 days.
“Why did we call-up George Garton? Because he’s fit. Wood and Helm were our first two choices. They are coming out with the Lions but aren’t quite up to game speed. They have only been bowling in the nets for a week or two so we were a bit concerned about them in a four-day game. Plunkett missed the last game in the BPL with a slight hamstring strain so it’s down to Garton or Josh Tongue, who were both coming out with the Lions. Garton will join us for the Townsville game then go back to the Lions camp. The Lions will come to some of our training sessions in Brisbane or Perth.”
He did reiterate his disappointment at the standard of opposition in the warm-up games, but accepted that Australia would find similar circumstances in England.
“It’s just the way it is,” he said. “Australians would say the same when they come over to England. Some of the county teams are full of second XI players. Both sides would love to come across a stronger outfit to really be tested out. But you go round the world and it’s the same everywhere.”
England flew to Townsville – via Brisbane – on Sunday. While they have confirmed that Moeen Ali and Stuart Broad will play in this week’s game, it remains unclear which other bowlers will join them. Both Chris Woakes and Overton have intimated they would like to play, but the England management may be reluctant to risk them with their options so limited and the Test series so close.