Bayliss believes Root is answer to England’s search for No 3 berth

England's Tom Westley hits four runs during his innings during day three of the Third Investec Test match at Lord's.
England's Tom Westley hits four runs during his innings during day three of the Third Investec Test match at Lord's.
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England coach Trevor Bayliss believes the national side already have an answer in their search for a player to fill the problematic 
No 3 spot.

Ashes places are still up for grabs with a new generation of top-order batsmen yet to nail down their places.

Mark Stoneman, Tom Westley and Dawid Malan played their part in the series victory over the West Indies, which was clinched by a nine-wicket win inside three days at Lord’s on Saturday, but Alex Hales, Keaton Jennings, Haseeb Hameed and Gary Ballance are also in contention.

The search for a long-term partner for opener Cook as well as numbers three and five remain priorities, but Bayliss is convinced the right candidate for at least one of those positions is already firmly on board in the shape of skipper Joe Root.

He said: “I would always have him at three. Joe is comfortable batting at four ... [but] I think he will end up at three at some stage in the future. He is by far our best player, and personally I believe that is where your best player should be.”

England will head Down Under on the back of home series victories over South Africa and the Windies, and determined to return with the urn still in their possession despite having issues to address.

Bayliss said: “We are not going over to make up the numbers. We are going to leave here with a view to win, simple as that.

“One thing this group has got is plenty of fight and character. As I have said a few times, we have lost games and been disappointed, but we have been able to come out the next game and win.”

If Root’s men are to prosper in Australia, they will need to hang on to their catches, something they at times failed spectacularly to do during the most recent series when 14 went down in three matches.

Bayliss said: “We are not going to go there and win anything dropping that many. It always concerns me – the catching has been terrible, especially in the last couple of Tests.

“It is not from a lack of practice. We were catching quite well up until the last three Tests, and some of the catches we dropped were quite easy. Dropping easy catches is usually down to concentration. Some of the grounds in this last series haven’t been the greatest viewing grounds, but still they are professional players and should be grabbing hold of some of those they’ve dropped.”

Meanwhile, Bayliss revealed a full-time replacement for bowling coach Ottis Gibson may not be in place until next summer as England run the rule over a series of potential candidates.

On Saturday’s defeat, West Indies skipper Jason Holder said: “It is not overall disappointment” and insists West Indies “have got the best of the lot right now” in their team, despite the reported possibility that a clutch of famous players such as Chris Gayle may soon be ready to return in Test cricket as well as for limited-overs campaigns.

“I think we’ve got a lot to be proud of,” he added.

“Credit must go to our bowlers ... and obviously Shai (Hope) was outstanding in this entire series, and Kraigg [Brathwaite] did a hell of a job too – especially at Headingley.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t get more batsmen to carry on. Lots got starts ... and we let ourselves down by dropping quite a few chances and giving good players two opportunities to bat.

“In international cricket, they’ll make you pay for that.

“We’ve still got a lot of room for improvement. But I’m extremely proud, and can’t fault the guys for their effort.”

Lancashire’s James Anderson has leapt to the top spot in the International Cricket Council Test bowling rankings after a scintillating display in the 
nine-wicket win over West Indies at Lord’s.

Anderson delivered a swing bowling masterclass as he recorded career-best figures of 7-42 – which included his 500th Test scalp – to steer England towards victory in the Investec series decider.

The 35-year-old’s nine-wicket match haul sees him leapfrog India left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja to reclaim the number one spot he last held in August last year.

He is now the oldest bowler to go to the rankings summit since Sri Lanka spinner Muttiah Muralitharan in July 2009, capping a memorable summer for the Lancastrian, who has taken 39 wickets in seven Tests at an astonishing average of 14.1.

Ben Stokes moved up to 20th and 21st in the batting and bowling rankings respectively after a fine all-round display in the first innings at HQ, following up a six-wicket haul with an important half-century in a low scoring game.

England’s 2-1 win over the Windies keeps them third in the Test standings, behind India and South Africa.