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NEW DELHI: Experiencing a series defeat to India in the ongoing Test series, former captain Michael Vaughan opines that the Ben Stokes-led team has encountered setbacks in their last three series primarily due to the underperformance of their batting lineup.
India clinched an insurmountable 3-1 lead in the five-match series with a five-wicket victory in Ranchi, marking England’s first series loss under the leadership of Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum.Preceding their tour to India, England had previously secured a 2-2 draw against Australia at home and a 1-1 draw with New Zealand on their home turf.
“It’s a huge week for several of England’s batsmen. When we think of this England team, we think of their wonderfully dynamic batting. But when you look at why they haven’t won any of their last three series, it’s down to the batting.”
“There never seems to be much scrutiny or noise around England’s batsmen. Even last week I chuckled. They lost in Ranchi in large part because they didn’t bat well enough, but there was lots of finger-pointing at Ollie Robinson, a bowler who scored an important half-century!”
“He looked well short of a gallop with the ball and dropped a catch, but I thought it was ironic ‘batsmen v bowlers’ stuff,” wrote Vaughan in his column for The Telegraph.
Vaughan anticipates a potential alteration in England’s batting lineup following the conclusion of the Dharamshala Test scheduled to be held from March 7-11.
“The whole batting lineup has known week in, week out on this tour that it will be playing the next game. That is about to change because after this tour Harry Brook will be back.”
“He has to bat at No. 5 because he should be the bedrock of their batting with Joe Root. Does that mean England’s statement moment is coming? Consistency of selection is such a fine balance in team sports.”
“Making people comfortable is right, and England have generally batted well over the last two years. There comes a point, though, where when it’s your batting that is costing you the biggest series you can’t keep sending the same guys out there every week.”
Vaughan then touched upon the cases of wicketkeeper-batters Jonny Bairstow, set to play his 100th Test match, and Ben Foakes, who has been a part of some gritty partnerships in the series, but both of them have failed to get a big individual total in India.
“Jonny Bairstow plays his 100th Test in Dharamsala and I am delighted about that. It’s a great triumph of resilience and, even in terms of sentiment, I believe that if you get to 99 caps you deserve the moment of your 100th. However, you can’t escape that he could miss out on his 101st. He hasn’t played well enough across the 10 Tests he’s been back in the side, especially in India.”
“I also look at the ‘keeper, Ben Foakes. He has kept magnificently in India, but I get the sense that he’s not in the inner circle with this setup and that his batting still doesn’t suit them. The last Test was a good example: he is great in partnership with a batsman, but struggles kicking on with the tail.”
“Once again, his batting might not be enough however good his keeping is. England could give the gloves back to Bairstow at No. 7, where his batting is more dangerous, or they could look elsewhere. They’ve got a strong crop of young keeper-batsmen coming through, like (the other) Ollie Robinson, Jamie Smith and James Rew.”
“Overall, as a batting unit England have seemed in need of a reminder that Test cricket is a two-innings game. They have consistently been batting well in one, then screwing up the other.”
“In times gone by, being ahead on first innings just about won you the game, but teams fear chasing less now and can turn games around more easily. Ultimately, the game is about winning and England are struggling to do that against the very best sides.”
(With inputs from IANS)


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