The Cricket Tier
Jun 25, 2021
Cricket’s roots lie in England, but you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise after recent performances from the Test team. Historically, English cricket has boasted a fearful batting attack, with Alastair Cook, Jack Hobbs, and Kevin Pietersen showcasing the country’s talent at the crease. Those days, however, feel like a distant memory. From Test to Test, England’s batting performances appear to get worse, so let’s consider if they’re in crisis or whether it’s just a dip in confidence.
Coming Under Fire from Former Captains
Before England travelled to India for a tour-Test series, Chris Silverwood's team faced Sri Lanka at the Galle International Stadium. Had it not been for the captain, Joe Root, England’s batting line-up would likely have come under fire, with Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley, for the most part, having a torrid time at the top of the order. After a 2-0 victory in Sri Lanka, Silverwood's side travelled to India, where they suffered a 3-1 defeat.
In India, England had something of an excuse for their poor performance, blaming pitch conditions for their downfall. While this had some weight behind it, there's no excusing the 32-time Ashes winners’ display at home to New Zealand. In the second innings of the second Test, the hosts were bowled out for 112. It speaks volumes about the top orders’ confidence that Mark Wood, a pace bowler, registered the highest individual run total, scoring 29 from 38 balls.
As a collective unit, serious questions surround England’s batting attack. However, Rory Burns did come out of the New Zealand clash with some credibility, knocking 132 runs from 297 balls in the first innings of the first Test. The rest, however, were on the end of scathing criticism from Nasser Hussain, who wants Silverwood’s top order to “get back to playing normally”.
Australia Will Punish Lacklustre Displays
Hussain went on to say that England players are trying to reinvent the wheel, and few can disagree with him. Over the coming months, English cricket’s pride will be at stake, with Silverwood's side travelling to Australia for the Ashes. Irrespective of whether confidence is low, there appears to be a deeper issue in the batting attack. Michael Vaughan believes that “glaring tactical errors” were responsible for England’s loss to New Zealand. Moreover, the former captain doesn’t think green-top wins against India will transform their fortunes ahead of the Ashes tour.
If England stand any chance of pulling off an unexpected victory over Australia and winning the Ashes, the top order will need to step up and accept responsibility. However, they’ll also need time. Crawley and Ollie Pope are both 23, and between them, they’ve only played 33 Test matches. When the Ashes comes around, they’ll have their work cut out facing the likes of Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, meaning they’ll have to adapt quickly to Australian pitches. The Baggy Greens will be confident of causing England’s batting line-up problems, and they are 8/15 in cricket betting to win the 2021-22 Ashes Series, as of June 17th.
Low Confidence is Slowly Becoming a Crisis
As evident from the Sri Lanka series, England are incredibly reliant on Root. If the captain doesn't deliver, there aren't consistent batsmen to fall back on. With each underwhelming performance, the offensive confidence will diminish further, and it will culminate in a crisis if it continues much longer.