England have already identified the replacement for Jonathan Trott in their batting order for the rest of the Ashes series. Trott was due to arrive home on Monday night after leaving the tour of Australia because of a stress-related illness.
The only saving grace for England, already embattled after losing the first Test by 381 runs and with acrimony between the sides at a dangerous level, is that they have 10 days to regroup before the second Test at Adelaide.
Andy Flower, the England coach, said: “We’ve got an idea but Trott only left last night so we’ll be having a few more discussions. There are options but I can’t discuss them.”
The obvious candidate is Ian Bell, the side’s most technically accomplished batsman, but he has flourished so much at No 5 that the selectors may hesitate. But Bell himself might be slightly miffed if Joe Root were elevated because of his experience as opener against the new ball. Were Bell to move up to No 3, Root could move to No 5 and Jonny Bairstow could come in at 6, although he had limited success during the summer before being dropped for the final Test. Gary Ballance and Ben Stokes are the alternatives to Bairstow to bat at 6 but neither have been pulling up trees so far on the tour.
There is no likelihood of Kevin Pietersen moving up from four to three and it is improbable that any of the other batting candidates within the squad would be slotted into a blue-riband berth. At present, England are not calling up a replacement for Trott.
Flower has to try to reinstil his side’s belief after a heavy defeat they did not expect. He also has to deal with the increasingly ill-tempered nature of proceedings. England have hardly been blameless but both sides risk allowing the sledging to sour the contest.
“It’s competitive with two proud nations trying to win a series,” said Flower. “That rivalry is exciting. But we also have a responsibility to behave. Our leaders must be role models for their own players, for their players. There are a lot of people watching. It must be played in a certain spirit and it must be competitive. Like most things the right balance must be struck.”
With Trott going home, the game for one reason or another becoming too much, it may give both teams pause for thought as England go to Alice Springs today for a five-day break and a two-day match.
England possible team for Adelaide test
1. A N Cook
2. M A Carberry
3. I R Bell
4. K P Pietersen
5. J E Root
6. J M Bairstow
7. M J Prior
8. T Bresnan
9. G P Swann
10. S C J Broad
11. J M Anderson