Cricket Expert & Columnist
Ashes 2019: 'No magic fix for England batting woes' after 67 all out at Headingley
"Learn from the opposition. Who has played well in this series? Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, both have left the ball brilliantly and waited for the bowler to bowl to them"
Last Updated: 24/08/19 12:56pm
Sky Sports' Nasser Hussain reflects on another disastrous England batting collapse on day two of the third Ashes Test at Headingley, looks at the reasons for Joe Root's run of low scores and ponders potential changes to the team....
You don't win many games when bowled out for 67 in your first innings.
There are extenuating circumstances. CricViz tells us in the last two days, the ball has seamed more than at any stage at Headingley ever before. Australia have a very fine bowling attack as well.
But it's not the first time it has happened to England; I can think of three eerily similar collapses over the last couple of years - Auckland, Barbados, Ireland at Lord's and now here.
It's a batting lineup that looks very vulnerable. There are batsmen out of nick, and others who are just trying to make their way in Test match cricket.
There's also the fact a lot of these lads have not been playing red-ball cricket of late, due to the World Cup. Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler etc.
I did a piece on Third Man that highlighted the dominant bottom hand with a few of the England batsmen. Technique is not everything; Graeme Smith got 9,000 Test runs with that grip and a slightly closed bat face, but he did not play too many cover drives. He tended to put that shot away.
Leave the ball. Learn from the opposition. Who has played well in this series? Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, both have left the ball brilliantly and waited for the bowler to bowl to them.
Not everyone can bat like Steve Smith, I think he is a bit of a freak and unique with everything he does, but a lot can look to bat like Labuschagne. If he can bat and have success in England, why can't we?
In conditions like today at Headingley, you should not be playing big booming cover drives early on in your innings. Give the bowler half an hour, an hour, and then look to score when it gets easier.
As Ben Stokes and Bairstow did at Lord's. England have shown they can do it in this series, in the last Test, on that last day at Lord's.
In the first two hours, when the game was in the balance, they played sensibly. They waited for the four-man Australian attack to tire and then Stokes took it to them after lunch.
This morning, after the first few balls, I could see Roy was taking a different approach. Almost an 'I'm going to get a few runs here before they get me' mentality, with a point to prove.
But he has shown in the one-dayers - against Mitchell Starc in the World Cup semi-final at Edgbaston - that he can be very organised, he can wait for the ball to come to him.
Everyone looks to Joe Root moving to No 3 - and he now has two ducks in a row - but really it's the job of the openers to see off that new ball and protect him. They have not done that.
Root is having no time to switch off after captaincy, instead of having 20 or so overs with his feet up. And when it starts going against you - with the bat, and he dropped Labuschagne - it is a very difficult job, Ashes captaincy. I've been there. It wears you down more than any series.
But one thing is for certain with Root, he is a high-quality player. He is just going through a bad period.
Beyond him, there are just too many ifs and buts in this England batting lineup. The number of all-rounders England have, and what order they should go in. That said, there is also no guarantee Dominic Sibley, Zac Crawley and all these lads that could come in would be any different.
Look at the news on young Haseeb Hameed today, being released by Lancashire. Someone who we all thought was a real find when he came in to open as a teenager on the tour of India three years ago, but he has struggled to get a run ever since.
I would have to wait and see how the second innings goes, but even if Roy comes off and smashes a hundred, that's not what I would base my thinking on. One score in 10 is not good enough; you want a more consistent opener protecting Root from that new ball.
I would move Roy to No 4 as I have said all along, possibly swapping him with Joe Denly. If they do not think Denly is good enough, then bring in Sibley or Crawley. Opener is a specialist position, particularly in England.
But there is no easy solution. England are not going to change the lineup and suddenly there will be this magic fix.
Watch day three of the third Test between England and Australia from 10am on Sky Sports The Ashes.