Strauss admits batting ‘concerns’ ahead of Ashes


England’s director of cricket Andrew Strauss admits they have batting “concerns” ahead of the Ashes series in Australia later this year.

The opening slot, where captain Joe Root should bat and the number five position are questions that still have to be answered even though England beat South Africa and West Indies at home this summer.

They now travel Down Under for what is an English player’s greatest challenge as they look to repeat the success they had under Strauss the captain in 2010-11.

Strauss said: “The concerns I have are the concerns most people have, which is we haven’t been able to establish a team where 11 players are fully established.

“There are two or three places up for grabs, which is never ideal, and our consistency hasn’t been what we want.

“I’d be lying if I said we were going to Australia with absolute clarity on what our best XI is. We’re just not in that position at the moment.”

What has become a common trend recently is that when a player is picked, especially a batter, he would start off well and then fade away and lose his place.

Keaton Jennings, Sam Robson and Adam Lyth – all opening batsmen – hit hundreds within their first two Tests but have all lost their places due to poor form.

Gary Ballance has been dropped and recalled to the international stage on three occasions but is finding it difficult to score runs consistently.

Strauss continued: “There has been a bit of a trend with a lot of those players,” he said. “They have proved they are capable of playing at that level and can score runs but the issue for a lot of them is that their form has dropped off after an initial high.

“We have to ask ourselves why is that the case? Maybe it is technical, maybe it is mental. So can we do more to prepare them for the off-field stuff around Test cricket, such as the attention, expectation, media and pressure because that plays a part in this as well.

“I would resist any narrative that says we have been chopping and changing. Most of these guys had a good length in the team and would hold their hand up and say it wasn’t a bad decision to remove them for a bit.

“I think the reality is that the secret to a long England career is not how good you are, it is how consistent you are and those guys have not been consistent enough.”