After conceding over 550 runs, England’s batting stumbled as they faltered to 30 for 4, before recovering somewhat to end the second day at 85 for 4, with skipper Alastair Cook and Ben Stokes at the crease. Even though England won the first Test of the series at Cardiff, their top order woes have existed for a while now. They haven’t found a stable opening partner for Cook, having tried Sam Robson, Jonathan Trott and now Adam Lyth over the last year. Also, Ian Bell and Gary Ballance have struggled in recent games, making matters worse for England. We take a look at England’s top-order troubles in numbers.
Sam Robson: He opened the innings for England with Cook, from June to August 2014. During this period, he managed only one century, and a half-century, and was subsequently dumped. In those matches, he scored 336 runs at an average of only 30. His other scores included 1, 19, 24, 17, 7, 26, 13, 6 and 37.
Jonathan Trott: Having posted a few impressive scores in domestic cricket, Trott was recalled to the Test side, and made to open in West Indies. Although he got a half-century in the second Test at St. George’s, Trott had a torrid time, with him being targeted by the short ball. Trott looked mentally out of shape. He never got into double-figures in five of his six innings. His scores in the series read -- 0, 4, 59, 0, 0 and 9. The numbers made it clear that he longer was good enough to play international cricket. Admitting the same, Trott retired after the Test series.
Adam Lyth: Following the retirement of Trott, England brought in 27-year-old Yorkshire man Adam Lyth for the New Zealand series. Lyth had a forgettable debut at Lord’s. He looked extremely nervous, and managed only 7 and 12. However, in the second Test at Leeds, he registered his maiden Test hundred making 107, and looked good during his 24 in the second innings. He hasn’t fired in the Ashes as yet though. In the opening Test at Cardiff, he made 6 and 37, a start which he should have converted. In the ongoing Lord’s Test, he was out second ball in the first innings, and will be under pressure when he comes out to bat for the second time.
Ian Bell: The veteran Englishman has had a torrid time of late. Since the hundred against West Indies at North Sound, he has done precious little of note. Bell made 11, 1, 0 and 0 in his other knocks against West Indies. Against New Zealand, he made 1, 29, 12 and 1. Bell got a half-century at Cardiff, but has been dismissed for 1 in his other two knocks.
Gary Ballance: He got half-centuries in both innings of the second Test against West Indies, but has struggled since. He made 18 and 23 at Bridgetown. Against the Kiwis, his scores read 1, 0, 29 and 6. Like Bell, he had a fifty at Cardiff, but made 0 and 23 in his other two visits to the crease.
--By A Cricket Analyst