Assistant coach Graham Thorpe urges England batsmen to show their ‘desperation’
England’s faltering batsmen have been told to show their “desperation” to stay in the side by assistant coach Graham Thorpe.
The Test team are mulling over a first home series defeat in seven years after collapsing against New Zealand at Edgbaston and it is not hard to see where the problems lie.
The top order has been worryingly short of form across eight Tests in 2021, with captain Joe Root out on his own in terms of runs scored.
The bare numbers are eye-catching and damning. Root’s tally of 891 puts him a massive 562 ahead of his nearest rival Dan Lawrence and – while he has two double centuries and another single to his name – there has only been one other three-figure score, by Rory Burns.
The averages for the year reveal the same stark concerns, with Lawrence (29.90), Ollie Pope (21.54), Dom Sibley (21.35) and Zak Crawley (10.25) all struggling to keep their heads above water.
Root, who has also faced more balls than any of his team-mates to the tune of 500 deliveries, suggested at the weekend that those players still represent the brightest talent around and would benefit from a prolonged show of faith.
But Thorpe, who has the responsibility for preparing the batsmen under head coach Chris Silverwood, wants to see some give and take as the returns of Ben Stokes (broken finger) and Jos Buttler (rested) tighten the field.
“These players have to show a desperation to stay in the side, they’ve got to earn the right to stay in the side,” he said.
“They will be fully aware of that, because we’ve got some players who will come back into that team and there are others on the outside putting pressure on too. There is competition for places which is a healthy thing for a team.
“That competition should drive the individual on so when they get in, they smell that opportunity to perform and go and do it. You do have to keep producing and your right-hand (runs) column is very important; it’s what keeps you in the team.”
Crawley’s case is perhaps the most curious among those who are currently under the microscope. He was picked on potential despite a modest first-class record but showed huge reserves of class when he scored 267 against a strong Pakistan team last August.
Having been tipped as a star, he has been dismissed in single figures nine times from his last 12 attempts.
“He’s young, both in terms of age and his Test career,” said Thorpe.
“If he goes away and keeps working at his game I’m sure he will be successful, but you do have to learn from these moments so that when you come back you are better for it.
“As coaches that is what we are looking at: do you have the game, (and) the mental fortitude to improve and learn and push yourself forward when you have a bump in the road?”
England would love to see their batsmen bank some big red-ball runs before taking on India, but there are just two rounds of the LV= Insurance County Championship before the series starts on August 4.
Instead, the Test contingent will tune up for India by playing in the inaugural season of The Hundred.
The formats could hardly be more different and while techniques are hardly likely to be honed over a 100-ball thrash, Thorpe believes simply removing the shackles could bring its own benefits.
“It is about adapting, I hope what it does is allow them to free up and enjoy their cricket and help them relax, free up the hands and the arms,” he said.
“I hope it gives them a mental break, they go and enjoy their cricket and the ones that come back into the Test squad, come back with that hunger and desire to be better.”
David Saker backs England bowlers to make splash at Twenty20 World Cup
He has been working closely with the team over the course of an entertaining back-and-forth series.
Phil Salt grateful for England backing after starring in big win over Pakistan
The opener had scored just 59 runs in his first five innings on tour but blazed 87 not out to guide England to victory over Pakistan on Friday.
Phil Salt powers England to emphatic win over Pakistan as series goes to decider
Opener Salt scored an unbeaten 88 as England won by eight wickets.
Unbeaten Babar Azam gives Pakistan shot at wrapping up England series
Babar held court throughout the 20 overs and guided his team to 169 for six.
Liam Norwell saves Warwickshire as Yorkshire suffer relegation to Division Two
Norwell’s career-best nine wickets for 62 runs sealed a five-run win over Hampshire on a thrilling final day of the season.
DCMS hearing on discrimination in cricket pencilled in for December 13
Azeem Rafiq and Lord Patel are set to be asked to appear.
England captain Jos Buttler ‘learning lots’ despite not playing in Pakistan
Buttler has a calf injury, which has ruled him out of the T20 series so far, but he insisted on travelling and has been observing throughout the trip.
We’re a better team than that – England’s batting disappoints Moeen Ali
The tourists were unable to make 146 in their Twenty20 chase against Pakistan.
Moeen Ali heroics in vain as Pakistan take series lead over England
The tourists failed to chase 146 in Lahore.
Warwickshire up against it to avoid relegation as Yorkshire nervously watch on
The Bears need to beat Hampshire to overhaul Yorkshire.