Vice-captain James Anderson insists there is no need for a “big upheaval” after England’s 4-0 Ashes series defeat.
The tourists’ unsuccessful campaign concluded in Sydney where they lost by an innings and 123 runs after being bowled out for 180.
James Vince and Mark Stoneman’s positions are likely to be the most contentious after maiden tours of Australia that saw them average well under 30 in England’s top three.
The likelihood nonetheless is that, when the squad is named in Sydney tomorrow, both will be given the opportunity to restate their cases before the home summer.
Vince especially has come under fire for failing to cash in when set, and perhaps contributing to his own downfall on several occasions during the 4-0 series defeat in Australia.
Assistant coach Paul Farbrace did not mince words when asked to assess the flashy No 3’s future prospects.
Farbrace said: “There’s no doubt James Vince needs to score more runs if he’s going to play international cricket for England.
“Of course 25 isn’t an average that any top-order batsman wants. He’s shown some decent starts, he’s showing some glimpses, and we all think, ‘crikey, this could be the innings’.
“But there comes a time when ‘this could be the innings’ has to stop – and he has to score hundreds.
“The blunt answer is he knows he has to score more runs if he’s going to have a future with England.”
It is hardly a ringing endorsement of Vince’s efforts – yet in calling for more productivity the implication is that he may be granted a chance to do just that in what remains of the Test winter.
If there is to be a change from England’s Ashes squad it may well be that reserve batsman, Yorkshire’s Gary Ballance, is not asked to undertake the trip this time.
If so, the uncapped Liam Livingstone is at the head of the queue among Lions contenders with fellow strokemakers Joe Clarke and Dan Lawrence close behind.
Several of England’s regulars have failed to deliver in Australia, with all-rounder Moeen Ali the highest-profile under-achiever.
But he too will stay in the Test squad after a short rest – along with wicketkeeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow – during the Twenty20 Tri-series that falls between one-day international assignments in Australia and New Zealand over the next two months.
After defeat in Sydney, it fell to Anderson to address the press in the absence of captain Joe Root, who was belatedly able to resume his attempted rearguard for only an hour up to lunch before retiring ill again on 58 with severe dehydration and then having to sit out the post-match ceremony.
Anderson said: “It doesn’t feel like a series where there should be a big upheaval.
“It doesn’t feel like a completely disastrous series. But we’re hurting and we know we’ve got to improve.
“We’ve just not capitalised on the key moments, making big scores, taking a couple more wickets that would get us on top.
“They’ve played the pressurised moments better than us.”
England’s problem has been sustaining peaks of performance, something at which their hosts have been highly adept.
“Getting to 60 and 70 with the bat is not good enough,” said Anderson. “You’ve got to get big hundreds as they have done.”
He remains full of admiration for Root. “He’s not had any sleep, he’s not eaten, he’s had diarrhoea and he’s been vomiting... so I guess he’s not in a great state. To get to the ground was a great effort, and to strap his pads on and bat for as long as he did showed exactly what sort of person he is.”
Root’s defiance was in vain after they resumed on 93-4 – still 210 runs short of making Australia bat again. He continued his innings after his replacement, Moeen, was dismissed after an hour of defiance, receiving a standing ovation as he strode out, but he could not do so again after lunch as the tourists subsided in his absence to Pat Cummins (4-39) and finished 180 all out, Bairstow having kept out 142 balls for his determined 38.
Ashes verdict: Page 19.