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England facing selection dilemma

England facing selection dilemma

LONDON: The England selectors have much to ponder after the hosts slumped to a crushing 405-run defeat by Australia in the second Test at Lord’s on Sunday with calls for change in the top order coming a week after the team were lauded for their first-Test victory.

After producing an excellent all-round performance to pull off a surprise 169-run win over their arch-rivals in Cardiff, England were completely outplayed on a similarly flat pitch.

What was the same in both games, however, was England losing top order wickets cheaply — the difference at Lord’s being that the middle order did not come to the rescue.

Batsmen Adam Lyth, Gary Ballance, Ian Bell and Joe Root failed twice and although Root’s place is not under threat following his brilliant century in Cardiff, the inability to get off to a good start is clearly a major concern.

England have traditionally been renowned for making knee-jerk changes to the team but under new coach Trevor Bayliss they will be reluctant to go down that route again.

However, loyalty only goes so far and Jonny Bairstow, who has been in prolific form for Yorkshire, could be brought in with Root perhaps promoted to number three.

“I am not really sure,” said England captain Alastair Cook when asked about potential changes to the order. “It is something the selectors might have to look at.”

There are question marks over the bowling attack too. James Anderson failed to claim a single victim at Lord’s while Ben Stokes also failed to take a wicket as the fourth seamer.

Stuart Broad did bowl well and earned his reward with four wickets in Australia’s first innings.

Anderson needs pitches with more life than those prepared at Cardiff and Lord’s, though Cook insists England have not been asking groundsmen to prepare flat, slow wickets.

Published in Dawn, July 21st, 2015

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