In a surprising move, England’s selectors have opted to name an unchanged squad for the final Ashes Test against Australia despite the side’s loss at Manchester which has seen the visitors retain the urn.
While the hosts find themselves trailing 2-1 in the five-match series, it could have been a lot worse for them if not for an all-time great knock from Ben Stokes helping them pull off an incredible heist at Headingley.
Several factors have hampered England in the Ashes, not least their woes with the bat. Only four batsmen from either side have averaged more than 40 in the series with the ball comprehensively winning the battle with the bat.
Four England batsmen have averaged less than 26 across the four clashes which makes their inclusion for the Oval Test all the more baffling. With a hard Test reboot looking likely for the hosts after the Ashes, these four batsmen could be playing for their red-ball futures at London.
Here, we look at who they are.
While the Kent batsman has managed to register two half-centuries in the series, he still looks out of place at the international level. Denly has managed to get off to a start in nearly every innings but his inability to make his stay at the crease last longer is not what one wants from a top-order batsman.
The right-hander has batted at both No3 and opener in the series without impressive in either role. His first-class average of 36.42 isn’t exactly inspiring while he is not getting any younger at 33.
While he can serve the Test side as a makeshift opener for the near future, surely England have better at the County level?
The England opener was flaying bowling attacks to all parts of the ground just a few weeks ago in the World Cup but he has struggled to connect with anything else ever since.
Roy’s technique and temperament for Test cricket was always going to be examined rigorously by the Australians and the results have been damning to see for the 29-year-old and England.
That the 53 runs he scored across two innings in the fourth Test is seen as a respectable return from his tells you all about the sorry series he has had previously. He has been moved down the order to No4 after being found against the new-ball but England’s vulnerable top-order means he will still be arriving early at the crease more often than not.
His Test career is probably already over and he might as well go out with a blaze at the Oval.
The England wicketkeeper batsman continues to flatter to deceive with another poor series showing. With a batting average of just 25.42 in the series, Bairstow has been one of the bigger disappointments for the hosts.
His Test graph has been on a sharp downward curve since the turn of 2017 while he is averaging only 20 in the current year. The team management has continued to back the Yorkshire man despite his meagre returns but both time and patience could be about to run out finally.
With Ben Foakes waiting in the wings, there isn’t much breathing room left for Bairstow, especially when another wicketkeeping option in the form of Jos Buttler also exists.
Buttler himself hasn’t covered himself in glory in the series with the right-hander mustering just 130 runs in eight innings at an average less than 17.
While he did manage to show some grit with the bat in the second innings at Old Trafford, Buttler’s place as a specialist batsman is starting to come under question with his returns dipping substantially after a fruitful 2018.
The failure of England’s top-order to fire has only increased the pressure on Buttler’s shoulders and he cannot always be relied upon to bail out the batting like he did against India last year.
The right-hander remains a white-ball beast first and foremost although he is one of selector Ed Smith’s better picks so far for the Test side. However, England’s current predicaments are making him stick out like a sore thumb.
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