One-Off England vs. Ireland test match at Lord’s saw an embarrassed England lose their game. It was hard to see the World Cup 2019 winners thud back to earth with batting issues rearing its head once again. The first day of summer test cricket even saw Jonny Bairstow dismissed for a duck. The game of cricket can be extremely volatile and can confound anyone.
While England’s batting frailties in Test cricket are not unknown, the team, before lunch at 23.4 over’s of play was just at 85, which is even poorer than their recent standards. Batting coach Graham Thorpe did feel that there was no real excuse to have been bowled out at such a small number against Ireland. But given that the visitors bowled tremendously well, on a surface that offered the ball just about enough movement, England’s batsmen were left wanting.
Yet, since five of the top seven players in team England were part of the World Cup victory, there is enough to say that they are most likely still, fatigued. In just a few days of red-ball nets, it is rather hard to erase the grooving white-ball technique that they had been practicing for at least three months. Before the game was scheduled, they were all asked if they would be able to play, for which, the team responded positively. A straight ball was missed by Joe Root, which was uncharacteristic of him, and a frazzled Jonny Bairstow was out for a duck. There were some timid edgings by Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes; together they could come up with not more than seven runs.
Thorpe did admit that this was a rather challenging mental examination and still many win a world cup and begin playing a test match a week later. The team entirely wanted to play with the management still trying to address a change in the format. He reminisced that with different players having dissimilar headspaces, they had only hoped for the best, which eventually was not to be. England would have opened themselves up to criticism for a lack of preparation ahead of the Ashes if the likes of Root, Bairstow and Jason Roy had been given the week off, as Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler were.
The next test at Edgbaston is approaching soon and is looking rather tricky. There are high possibilities of things turning ugly at the time as well. Before they face an examination by Pat Cummins and co which, with all due respect, is likely to be far tougher than that posed by the Irish bowlers today England’s batting order has one more chance to gain some confidence. There is hardly time to address the long-standing problems that have dogged their Test match batting. At this point, team England can do nothing but to hope that their focus is sharpened over time. The retirement of Andrew Strauss has hit their top three rather badly and seems to be the root cause of their issues. These positions will now be occupied by Rory Burns, Roy, and Joe Denly against Australia next week. Still, they have to work at their games and establish themselves as test players. It is also expected the new players will enjoy their growth even with the element of pressure. They have to be given enough confidence and must receive support.
It is expected that the England team will not press the panic button and will respond while staying calm. While some of them would have liked to stay on cloud nine, it is a situation that brought them back to earth. There is a second innings in the offing and the England team is gearing up to put some good runs on the scoreboard.
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