England coach Trevor Bayliss will consider changes to England’s unconvincing top order for the Oval Test, but has indicated Keaton Jennings’ position remains safe.
Bayliss joined the critics of his own team after their alarming 340-run defeat against South Africa by describing the performance, in Joe Root’s second Test as captain, as a “shocker”.
After England’s trouncing at Trent Bridge, he also quickly turned his attention to what can and should be done in terms of selection for next week’s third Test of four in an Investec series currently level at 1-1.
Jennings, who made a century on debut in Mumbai last winter, has mustered only 44 runs in four Test innings so far this summer – including scores of nought and three in Nottingham.
Pondering his continued inclusion – and that of Gary Ballance at number three – or whether to look elsewhere, Bayliss name-checked uncapped pair Mark Stoneman and Tom Westley as well as Haseeb Hameed as possible alternatives.
He acknowledged the quandary of whether to stick with new players if they begin to run out of form, as so many have during England’s quest for an opener alongside Alastair Cook – who has had 11 partners at the start of the innings since the retirement of Andrew Strauss five years ago.
Many of those contenders pre-date the Bayliss era, which began in 2015.
“All of those guys have been picked because they’ve done well in county cricket,” he said.
“They probably started off well and have then fallen away a little. So that’s a concern, obviously.”
The established policy is to make sure all new selections are given a fair amount of time – seven Tests seems the benchmark – to demonstrate whether or not they are up to Test cricket.
But after six defeats in England’s last eight Tests, that luxury has become questionable.
“One of the things we’ve tried to do since I’ve come in is try to give those guys a bit longer to show what they have got,” added Bayliss.
“It still hasn’t worked, to be honest. Keaton, for example, at the top of the order… if we’re consistent with our selections, he should get some more goes.”
England will name their squad for The Oval later this week, with all-rounder Liam Dawson’s position probably the most vulnerable – ahead of any of the specialist batsmen, even after the hosts were bowled out twice in only 96.1 overs in their latest failed attempt against a high-quality touring attack.
“The last selection meeting we had before this series started, players like Stoneman and Westley were spoken about at length,” said Bayliss. “Obviously, (so was) Hameed, who is a little out of form this year. So those types of guys, they are on the edge.”
Meanwhile, Ireland coach John Bracewell will leave his post at the end of this year.
The New Zealander is to move on at the end of his two-year contract, only months after Ireland were granted full-member Test status alongside Afghanistan.
Cricket Ireland announced that his departure will take place in December, after a “mutual decision was reached on his position”. The 59-year-old said: “Having been down the full-on full member road before with New Zealand Cricket, it is not my desire to do so again. While my wife and I have immersed ourselves into Ireland, we feel it is now time to return home to New Zealand and our families. I have therefore agreed with Cricket Ireland to finish up at the conclusion of my contract.”
Ireland were accorded full-member status by the International Cricket Council last month, an achievement of which Bracewell is proud – despite a mixed record on the pitch over the past year.
He added: “I have loved working with an honest group of players, whose values and work ethic have been second to none. As challenging as the future may be, they will be the first to honour the Test cap, and I am proud to have spent some time with them on that journey.”