England will discuss whether to drop any out-of-form batsmen at a selection meeting today after their embarrassing 405-run defeat against Australia at Lord’s.
Coach Trevor Bayliss was forthright in his assessment of that poor performance against his native country, as Australia levelled the Ashes at 1-1 in just the second match of his tenure.
Yorkshire pair Gary Ballance and Adam Lyth appear most at risk from the drop, in an announcement expected to be made tonight, having again figured centrally in a top-order collapse – an unwelcome Test trend England have established this year.
Stalwart Ian Bell has also been badly short of runs, apart from in a much-needed half-century to help England take an initial lead in the Investec series in Cardiff.
But Bell has a bank of world-class performances in his 112-Test career, and it would be a big call to leave out the 33-year-old former vice-captain on his home ground at Edgbaston next week.
Bayliss made it clear, as he reflected on England’s descent to a second-innings of 103 all out and a landslide defeat inside four days, that he and his fellow selectors will give particular thought to whether they can remedy the top-order malaise without a change of personnel.
“I’m sure all of the players know, it wouldn’t be a surprise to any player in the team that when you play badly positions are going to be looked at and discussed,” he said. “I’m sure it certainly will be.
“It’s on the mind of anyone when the team is not playing like you would like – those things are always in the back of the coach’s and selectors’ minds.
“There are some good players on the outside.
“All I’ll say is two Tests ago they were selected for these first couple because they were considered the best players in the country.
“That doesn’t necessarily change after only four innings.”
The contenders to replace anyone omitted for Birmingham are headed by Yorkshire wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow, who continued his brilliant run of form at Scarborough against Worcestershire with his fifth Championship century of the summer.
Should he return, for his 15th Test after an 18-month absence, it would surely be as a specialist batsman, with incumbent wicketkeeper Jos Buttler of such obvious value to the team batting at No 7.