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.”
Nkrumah Bonner says footwork is key to West Indies overcoming spin
The West Indies have little time to turn things around.
Why Shane Warne thinks Cricket Australia have opened themselves up to ridicule
Are Australia becoming a laughing stock?
India on top in tight first Test battle against the Black Caps
Axar Patel’s five-for put India back on top.
Pakistan bat themselves into control of Test against Bangladesh
Pakistan’s openers were unmoved.
Michael Vaughan apologises for hurt Azeem Rafiq has gone through in racism case
Vaughan has been taken off the BBC’s Ashes coverage amid the racism claims.
On this day: Australia batter Phillip Hughes dies at age of 25 after being struck by ball
Hughes died from a brain haemorrhage after being hit by a ball while batting two days previously.
Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2021 called off over COVID-19 fears
The qualifiers will now be decided according to the team rankings.
West Indies to blood young stars on white ball tour of Pakistan
Allrounder Odean Smith is among the uncapped players in the squad.
ECB chief Tom Harrison: Cricket must look at alcohol culture
The ECB released details of the game-wide action plan to tackle racism and discrimination in the sport on Friday.
ECB unveils action plan to tackle discrimination, what is next for cricket?
The game-wide response to racism was finally published on Friday after two delays this week.