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Obsession with batting depth

January 5 2018 at 7:57 AM
Lew  (Login Lewis_116)

Anyone else finding Englands batting issues very frustrating?

I am struggling to see the logic in the batting line up. I am wondering if they are being influenced by the huge reliance these days on the 6/7/8 to contribute to the total and missing the point?

Firstly, regardless of batting line up - We would have lost this series. However, get your best batsman in the top 4.

Why wait until we are 2/3/4/5 down to get your best batsmen in? Not only does it add pressure to the incoming batsman, it also means they face a bowling attack with their tales up.

For me, England's best batting line up should be as follows. I would get Hameed in now and leave him under the batting tutalidge of his Dad. Bairstow has done a good job with the gloves, but he is a world class batsman and must focus on this.

I also hope now we have blooded them that C. Overton, T. Curran and Crane get a good run in the squad.

Cook, Hameed, Root C, Bairstow, Malan, Stokes, Foakes WK, C. Overton, J. Overton (if fit), Crane, Anderson

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Dave Morton
(Login DaveMorton)

Re: Obsession with batting depth

January 5 2018, 10:39 AM 

Yes, it is a modern obsession.

Sixty years ago (when England was undisputed world number 1) we almost always selected 5 specialist batsmen, with fast-medium all-rounder Bailey at 6. Wicket-keeper Evans was usually at 7, and I would guess his batting skills were on a par with Andy Hodd's, being most generous to Evans. Then 4 bowlers, two fast, two spin.

We were number 1 because those four bowlers were all world class, whichever combination they selected, with Bailey not far behind them.

Of the bowlers, Lock, Wardle, Tyson and Trueman had some batting credentials - on a par with Broad, perhaps - while Laker, Appleyard and Statham did not.

Back in 1956 or 1957, England seemed quite happy to have, say, Tyson at 8 and Lock at 9, or Lock at 8 and Trueman at 9. Batsmen were selected to score runs, the wicket-keeper kept wicket, and the bowlers took wickets, supported by world-class close-to-the-wicket catching, by the way.

Australia, at the time, had fine all-rounders in Miller, Davidson and Benaud, and their wicket-keeper was at 10 or 11, if I've remembered Tallon, Maddocks and Langley correctly. Oz were strong, but they were blown away by our attack, in Australia 1954/55 and in England 1956. W Indies, with the three Ws, Sobers, Gilchrist and Ramadhin were slaughtered in 1957.

Back to the present, we can take encouragement from the classy performances of Malan, and by ballsy debuts from Craig O and Curran the Elder, and perhaps by Crane, if he continues as he started today. I suspect, Lewis, that you did not see Hameed bat in 2017? He looked awful, even in 2nd XI games, and I hear that Lancashire have shown his father the door. Still, a return to the Hameed of 2016 would be a boost to England.

Meanwhile, I expect Stoneman to do well, to turn starts into scores against lesser attacks. And I would rather we picked Joe Clarke than mess around with Bairstow, who does want to keep wicket, at which he is already far superior to Prior, for example.

I think we will give a strong NZ a good run for their money, especially if Stokes plays, and we will win both series in England this summer. Sri Lanka, away? I'm not confident.

Idle man
(Login Idle_man)

Re: Obsession with batting depth

January 5 2018, 6:06 PM 

I think you are being generous to Evans, DM, but more so to one or two others. Evans scored 2 test centuries (top 104), 8 fifties, and averaged 20.4. Broad is not dissimilar, having passed 50 12 times, averaging 20.7. Broad has seldom if ever batted no.7 however, has he? He was at no 9 when he got his 169 against Pakistan.

Of the others, Fred had a test average of 13.81, with no score over 50. Statham's 11.4 wasn't that different. Lock averaged 13.74, though he scored 3 fifties. Wardle averaged rather better, 17.78, but only 2 fifties. I know pitches were very different, and any tailender's average is always a bit of a lottery, because the no. of not outs they have is variable.Fred would no doubt have said that he was often left out against the weaker sides, who might have allowed him to slog a few more.

Batting orders have certainly changed. To look at one of Fred's best and one of his worst games: At Headingley in 1961, the tail was Murray, Trueman, Lock, Allen, Jackson. By Headingley in 1964 Parks had come in for Murray and Fred was down to no. 9. Later than that, at the time I start having clearer memories, England always seemed to be being rescued by Illingworth at 7 and Knott at 8, and even at times by Snow at 9.

Two interests on the side regarding Headingley in 1964. Fred was dropped after the game, having according to John Arlott fed Peter Burge a string of short deliveries to allow Australia to run up a winning score in their first innings. I'm sure it's true to some extent, but his figures? 24.3 - 2 - 98 - 3. And finally, to give you something to think about: England used 6 bowlers in that innings. No looking up, who were they?

This message has been edited by Idle_man on Jan 5, 2018 6:48 PM

(Login BrickyardBoy)

Re: Obsession with batting depth

January 6 2018, 10:31 AM 

I admit to managing only to score 3/6 before checking the scorecard.

Equally interesting, having left Fred out for the 4th Test (at Old Trafford), Australia rattled up 656 for 8 dec and England replied with 611 all out, before Australia had 2 overs of a second innings, before time ran out, resulting in one of the great "bore draws" of Test history. England employed 8 bowlers. Quiz questions follow:

1. Who were the 8 bowlers?
2. Who were the three players who did not bowl?
3. Which team bowled the most overs?
4. Who bowled the most overs for England? (How many? Bragging rights only awarded for a correct number)
5. Which Australian bowled the most overs in the match? (How many? Again, bragging rights only for the number)
6. How many hundreds were scored in the match?
7. Who top-scored for Australia? (How many? Bragging rights)
8. Who top-scored for England? (How many? Bragging rights)

Interestingly, England played 5 batsmen, a wicket-keeper batsman at No.6 and five bowlers (2 quick, 1 medium and two spinners).

9. Who were England's bowlers?
10. Which England bowler was never selected again to play in a Test match?

Finally, the thought occurs to me that this was perhaps one which Fred (secretly) was happy to have missed.

This message has been edited by BrickyardBoy on Jan 6, 2018 10:43 AM

Leg Glance
(Login legglance)

Re: Obsession with batting depth

January 6 2018, 10:32 AM 

The obsession with batting so deep, isn't it just a tacit admission of planning to fail?

Judging by this tour they have succeeded.

Opening stand
(Login Openingstand)

Re: Obsession with batting depth

January 6 2018, 12:33 PM 

Only seven bowlers employed during the mammoth innings…

This message has been edited by Openingstand on Jan 6, 2018 12:39 PM

Benny Fishel
(Login Bennyfishel)

obsession with batting depth.

January 9 2018, 9:19 AM 

I agree with you,Bairstow is a world class batsman.....No7

Idle man
(Login Idle_man)

Re: Obsession with batting depth

January 9 2018, 10:28 AM 

Jonny should not be at 7, but if Stokes had been playing, he would have been 6, I suspect, and Jonny 7. Earlier on the forum, someone suggested, and I was in agreement, that the no 7 experience may have influenced his call on the night watchman issue this time.

However, Jonny has not batted regularly above 5 for Yorkshire, never mind England. The nature of modern cricket seems to me to produce mid-order stroke-players, rather than 1-3 accumulators. I've even seen it suggested that Root's best position would be 5. They can't all bat at 5! In the old days, England's middle order, or at least no's 3-5, was made up of people who batted 3 or 4 for their counties, and ideally wanted those berths if they got in the test side. Dexter, May, Cowdrey, Graveney, Barrington, none of them would have chosen the no 5 slot, and most, if not all, would have preferred to bat at 3. And actually, with the exception of Barrington, they were all stroke-makers.

Once Cook goes, no's 1-3 are completely up for grabs. The current suggestion is to promote Malan. Maybe, but I'm inclined not to tinker with what has been successful. On the other hand you can see the argument - only if Hameed returns to his form of 2016 is one of the top 3 places likely to be satisfactorily filled.

Assuming we have Root at 4, and with Stokes back, who should bat 5 and 6? If the answer is Bairstow and Stokes - which I think it is, does that mean Malan goes up to 3?

Opening stand
(Login Openingstand)

Re: Obsession with batting depth

January 9 2018, 11:18 AM 

Dexter, May, Cowdrey, Graveney, Barrington, none of them would have chosen the no 5 slot,...

Not so, idle man.... see the 1958-59 ashes tour, when May was captain and Cowdrey vice-captain.


Dave Morton
(Login DaveMorton)

Re: Obsession with batting depth

January 9 2018, 12:57 PM 

My memory of the 1958/59 tour is that England were scared to death of Alan Davidson, left-arm over and with sharp inswing; a largely forgotten great from the past. The idea was to pack the top-order with left handers to counter this; it didn't work! He was unplayable, and supported by two 90 mph draggers and throwers. With the ageing Lindwall in addition, and a Benaud in his prime, plus Aussie umpires, they were unbeatable.

I wonder what ball they were using in Australia in those days.

By the way, I've got Barrington inked in at 3 - nay, chiselled in! - in my all-time team. How we could have used him in 2017/18.

Idle man
(Login Idle_man)

Re: Obsession with batting depth

January 9 2018, 6:41 PM 

Opening Stand,

I didn’t say they never batted elsewhere, simply that they all saw themselves as no 3 or 4 batsmen. Obviously they couldn’t all bat 3, any more than this lot can all bat 5.

Opening stand
(Login Openingstand)

Re: Obsession with batting depth

January 9 2018, 7:38 PM 

On the 58-59 tour the captain and vice-captain saw themselves as batsmen who bolstered the middle order - not that it worked out as planned...

This message has been edited by Openingstand on Jan 9, 2018 7:40 PM

Idle man
(Login Idle_man)

Re: Obsession with batting depth

January 10 2018, 10:16 AM 

This got me interested, so I looked the 58-9 Ashes up.

Four batsmen I named, May, Cowdrey, Dexter, Graveney, (Barrington hadn't yet arrived) were the basis of the middle order, though Bailey batted 6 once, and Dexter was twice left out in favour of Watson, another man who surely saw himself at county level as a no 3 or 4. Watson batted 3 once and 6 once.

The point I was making was that these were county no 3 or 4 batsmen, selected for England together, so that obviously someone had to bat at 5, and often 6.

Any of these players would be an automatic choice at no 3 for the present England side (Dexter getting in occasionally at no6??). Instead, we have automatic choices who most commonly bat at 5 for their counties - Bairstow and Stokes. I don't think either Vince or Malan bat regularly as high as 3 for their counties. So we finish up with a collection of middle order batsmen, usually going in with 2, 3, or 4 wickets down fairly cheaply. And in trying to solve the problem, we made a complete mess of Gary Balance.

Extraordinarily of course, the 1958-9 side, with that batting line up (openers no better than ok, Milton and Richardson?) and a bowling attack with Trueman, Statham, Tyson, Laker and Lock, got absolutely panned. And yes, I know it was by a bunch of chuckers.

(Login ThirdUmpire)

Re: Obsession with batting depth

January 10 2018, 11:09 AM 

The example of Bairstow and Stokes isn’t quite as simple as that as they are both all rounders so England and mos test teams tend to favour them not batting in the top 4. Kallis is the only exception that springs to mind of a keeper or all rounder who batted in the top 4 for his country, possibly Alec Stewart when he was doing everything including skipper.

So it’s the quality of the pure batsmen that’s the issue. Where is the Trott or Bell in the county game - is it Malan as I don’t think it’s Vince, Westley, Ballance or Livingston. Surely Root or Malan has to move to 3 and get Bairstoe and Stokes at 5/6 and then bring in Foakes at 7 as a batter initially to see how he does before asking him to take the gloves longer term

(Login sid-don)
Assistant Moderator

Re: Obsession with batting depth

January 10 2018, 11:27 AM 

I still have faith in Hameed but three remains a problem spot.

Assuming fitness and appropriate form, I'd go with, Cook, Stoneman, Hameed, Root, Bairstow, Stokes, Foakes when playing in English conditions.

I've seen nothing of the Ashes (no BT sport). Malans numbers are good but having seen him bat several times against Yorkshire I'm yet to be convinced. After the winter defeat I suspect we'll look to stack the deck in home conditions by preparing wickets to suit our attack, my prediction is that Malan will suffer if/when this occurs.

Idle man
(Login Idle_man)

Re: Obsession with batting depth

January 10 2018, 11:29 AM 

Yes, I accept all that. Dexter was often fourth seamer, and occasionally third. Bailey sometimes opened. Times have changed however, so I wouldn't want to push the comparisons too far.

I also recognise your point about all-rounders. Nevertheless, my feeling is that a developing batsman now sees himself in a different way, with a style more suited to batting 5 or even 6, than 3 or 4. One reason is that you don't want to be left out of your county side for a big chunk of the summer. If you can't play white ball cricket effectively, that's what will happen.

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