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England’s Top Order fiasco and over dependence on Joe Root – An Analysis

England's top order batters average below 30 in last one year except for skipper Joe Root.

Ind vs Eng, 3rd Test 2021: Zak Crawley and Dominic Sibley have been dropped from England squad ahead of the third test against India. Dawid Malan called up.
Zak Crawley and Dom Sibley have been dropped from the England Squad. (Photo: ©Getty)

England are the reigning champions in One Day International (ODI) cricket, however, they look in distress in Test cricket nowadays. In the ongoing Pataudi Trophy against India, their batting line-up crumbled like a deck of cards in both Tests played so far except for their skipper Joe Root, who top-scored in every innings of this Test series.

England’s top order batting has been the target of criticism from former players and fans as their early wickets led to opening of floodgates in front of opponent bowlers.

English Top Order Record (1-3 Position)

In the last one year (in chart), no batsman from the English top order has recorded a 30-plus average in Test cricket. Dominic Sibley and Rory Burns have opened for England most number of times for England in the last year but couldn’t find much success.

Dom Sibley has scored 378 runs at an average of 19.89 with only three half-centuries in the given timeframe while his partner Rory Burns has amassed only 369 runs with a measly average of 28.38 with the help of one century and one half-century.

Zak Crawley and Jonny Bairstow have played at one down position for England the most number of times in the last year. Crawley has scored 423 runs at a mediocre average of 28.2 in the stipulated period while Bairstow has scored only 167 runs at a meagre average of 23.85.

English Top Order vs Joe Root

England Number 4 Joe Root vs Top Order – The Captain has scored 27.71 pc of runs for them

England Captain Joe Root who plays at the two-down position piled up a staggering number of runs in this timeframe. Root has amassed 1306 runs from 11 Test matches with a remarkable average of 65.3 with five magnificent centuries and one fifty over the last one year. The English skipper has hammered two huge double centuries and two splendid 180+ scores in the last one year.

On the perusal of the chart, one will find that Root has made 27.71 per cent of runs of England team in this period while no other top-order batsman of England has scored even as much as ten per cent of England team runs.

Partnerships by Top order

First-choice England openers Burns and Sibley could add only two 50+ partnerships in the last one year. Crawley also opened for England on the India tour earlier this year but the pair of Crawley and Sibley could never stitch a fifty partnership for England in this timeframe.

It means England never got a single 100 runs partnership in this stipulated period. Also, the one-down position hasn't seen a constant player at that position in a while, so, England batsmen could provide only one 50+ runs partnership for the second wicket in the period.

England openers recorded partnerships of less than ten runs 13 times in the last twelve months while for the second wicket England batsmen registered below ten partnership 12 times which is an awful record for any international team in the most prestigious format of cricket.

Ducks aplenty for England top order

English openers succumbed on duck on several occasions in this period like the second innings of Lord’s Test where Rory Burns and Dominic Sibley were both dismissed on duck by India's pacers.

This was the first time both English openers got out on duck against India in their 89 years H2H Test cricket encounters. This was also the sixth instance of both England openers going back to pavilion on duck in their Test history.

In the last one year, Burns has recorded five ducks, while Sibley earned this miserable record four times. Jonny Bairstow has been dismissed on duck thrice while Crawley suffered the same fate twice in the last one year.

Moreover, England have broken one of the their own unwanted record. England's top four batters have registered record 17 ducks in total in a calendar year, highest by any test playing nation. There is still four months to go in 2021.

Former English Player's Reaction

"In 57 years, I have never seen an opening pair stand like Rory Burns and Dom Sibley do. Ever! It’s comedy cricket and that is the biggest issue," David Lloyd said.

"England continuing with Rory Burns-Dom Sibley opening pair would be definition of insanity," Michael Vaughan wrote in The Telegraph.

“Not just former Test players but even club players look at Rory Burns and Dom Sibley and think they can do better," Former England captain Geoffrey Boycott wrote in The Telegraph.

Ind vs Eng 3rd Test 2021: Dawid Malan to replace Haseeb Hameed at No. 3 and Hameed to open with Rory Burns in third Test match against India in leeds. India vs England 3rd Test 2021.
Dawid Malan has been called up by England for third Test. (Photo: ©Getty)

Fallout of the Crisis – Sibley, Crawley dropped from squad for third Test against India

Following this debacle of English batting and huge criticism, the team management has dropped Zak Sibley, Dominic Crawley from the squad for the third Test against India. The team management has replaced them with Dawid Malan and Ollie Pope. Dawid Malan is likely to play at No. 3 and Haseeb Hameed to open the innings with Rory Burns.

Hameed has played four Test matches for England and scored 228 runs with an average of 32.57 whereas Malan has played 15 Test matches for England and amassed 724 runs with the help of a ton and six half-centuries.

Dawid Malan last played for England was back in August 2018. However, the only first-class match he played this season, he scored 199. Hameed was dismissed on golden duck in the first innings of Lord’s Test but he would hope to turn his fortune in the remaining Test matches of this series.

If England wants to avoid a humiliating loss in the Test series at home against India, their batsmen need to step up and assist Root to post a substantial total on the scoreboard in the next few Test matches. If England can give enough runs to their bowlers, their bowling attack led by James Anderson can be threatening for India.

England Squad for Third Test Joe Root (C), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonathan Bairstow, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Haseeb Hameed, Dan Lawrence, Saqib Mahmood, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Mark Wood.

India will play England at Headingley, Leeds in the third Test of the ongoing five-Test series between the two countries scheduled for August 25-29.


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