Ashes 2015: Trevor Bayliss says England changes are in order

Head coach admits changes will be made for third Test

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The Independent Online

England are ready to make significant changes in their batting order to save the Ashes campaign. The places of both Ian Bell and Gary Ballance are under threat, with the selectors aware that urgent change may be needed to stop the series sliding inexorably towards Australia.

Trevor Bayliss, England’s new coach who took over a few days before the series began, is prepared to make sweeping adjustments to the team after the defeat by 405 runs in the second Investec Test at Lord’s. He is only one of the four selectors who will meet on Tuesday with the director of cricket, Andrew Strauss, but his voice is bound to carry weight.

He said of probable changes: “It could be. It’s one of those things I’m sure all of the players know – it wouldn’t be a surprise to any player in the team – that when you play badly positions are going to be looked at and discussed. And I’m sure it certainly will be.

“All I’ll say is two Tests ago they were selected for these first couple of Tests because they were considered the best players in the country. That doesn’t necessarily change after only four innings. It’s a concern that we are 3 or 4 for 40 and they know that. They understand that as well. Sometimes they’re almost trying too hard.”

England’s upper-order collapses have persisted throughout this year and they have almost invariably been three or four wickets down before the total has reached 100. Although Ballance and Bell both scored hundreds on England’s tour of the West Indies in the spring, their contributions since have been paltry.

Bayliss may be confounded by the lack of options. Not only are there few valid candidates in a poor summer for many county batsmen, but his knowledge of them is restricted because he is an Australian who has never worked here before. He is aware of Jonny Bairstow, however, and with his fifth hundred for Yorkshire in their current mach, Bairstow has made an unanswerable case for selection.

Ballance.jpg
Gary Ballance's place is under threat

The pitches prepared for the series so far, especially the benign surface at Lord’s have alarmed Bayliss and he appeared to be imploring groundsmen that this should not happen again. His justified argument is that the flatter the pitch the more it plays into the tourists’ hands.

“I’m quite happy for the groundsmen to produce the wicket,” Bayliss said. “I’d like to see a typical English seaming wicket against the Australians. To take 20 wickets I think that would suit our bowlers. That might make it more difficult for us to bat on it, but if we’re able to take 20 wickets even if they take 20 wickets then we’re still in with a chance of winning.

“I think the flatter the wicket is and the slower the wicket is, it actually plays in to the Australians’ hands. We know what style of batters they have in their team and the flatter the wicket with their big tall fast bowlers, who can get good bounce out of the wicket and variations because they hit the deck hard, they’re still able to get something out of it.”

Woe betide any groundsman from now on who errs on the side of blandness. England have at last realised that they have to take a risk by preparing sporting pitches with which Australia are unfamiliar. It is a risk worth taking.

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