Batsmen challenged to prove worth
England coach, Trevor Bayliss, has thrown down the gauntlet to county batsman, urging players to use the remaining matches in the domestic season to earn a place in England's touring teams.
Places in the England Test team are up for grabs, after a string of poor performances by James Vince and Alex Hales have left them looking threadbare at the top of the batting order.
Speaking after the drawn series against Pakistan, Bayliss said: "Hales and Vince have definitely had a decent run at it,
"We're still looking for consistent contributions from some of the middle order. We're due to meet in about the second week of September to select the Test and ODI squads for those winter series and there will be some tough decisions to be made.
"There's a month to go in the county season and there's a challenge out there for some of those other guys to put their hand up and keep scoring runs. There doesn't seem to be anyone crying out to be selected above anyone else.
"There's a number of guys we've seen score some runs earlier this season under a bit of scrutiny when their names are mentioned about the possibility of getting into the team. Some of them have dropped off."
Bayliss identified that there is a gap between domestic cricket and the international game, meaning good county players don't always perform at Test level.
The coach continued: "The two or three guys we've got in the team have been very good players at county level over the last two or three years,
"But they have found it tough to jump up to this level. They have shown bits and pieces but I think it just proves that the jump between first-class cricket and Test cricket is a big one.
"Moving Stokes, Moeen and Bairstow up the order is one of the things I've been thinking of and I'm sure the other selectors have thought along those lines as well.
We did give Moeen a go in the UAE a lot higher than the middle order and it didn't quite work. But that's the issue: they score so many runs at five, six and seven, do you risk them not scoring those if you put them a bit higher?
"The way we've been going, putting them a bit higher is definitely an option. It certainly worked with Joe Root going up to three. That's high on the agenda, I would have thought."
While Hales has suffered from a loss of form, his outburst at the third umpire during the Oval Test will not count against him.
Bayliss added: "It was silly, really. I don't really understand being on Twitter, but going into the third umpire's room, that was just wrong,
"Whether the decision is right or wrong, it's something that shouldn't be happening, especially from Halesy who wants to be an umpire in years to come. But it won't count against him in selection. It will get down to the number of runs and whether he deserves to be in the team."
The Australian would also like to see a marked improvement in the consistency in his team's fielding after fifteen catches were dropped in the four Tests against Pakistan: "We can be very, very good and we can be poor as well both with our batting and our fielding. We're inconsistent,
"A lot of that has something to do with concentration. Some of the catches we dropped in this game were fairly simple and that can only be concentration. It's not a technique thing.
"Concentration, especially when slip catching is involved, is a big thing. I think there are parallels between concentration with our catching and inconsistency with our play. Maybe concentration is something that we've got to make sure we get right."
The coach praised the efforts of Jonny Bairstow who improved tremendously behind the stumps after struggling in South Africa and against Sri Lanka.
Bayliss praised the Yorkshire keeper: "He dropped a few early against Sri Lanka, but during this series I thought he's kept very well,
"He's been working on some technical issues. If he has confidence with his batting, he is doing the other pretty well. At the moment, his batting is top-class. He still has work to do with the keeping but I think he has made some strides."
England's next assignment should be a tour to Bangladesh, pending the outcome of a security assessment, followed by a trip to India in November.
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