Many reason for England batsmen’s struggles says Martyn Moxon
The Yorkshire director of cricket has pinpointed technique, mindset, the challenge of flitting between the different formats and even batting guards as factors in the national side’s struggle for consistency.
England’s batsmen were heavily criticised after their supine display in the final Test against New Zealand, when they were bowled out for 122 in their second innings to lose the series 1-0.
It was a continuation of their erratic form of recent years, with Joe Root’s men handed a lesson by the team who are now the world’s No 1-ranked side in the International Cricket Council rankings.
Asked why England’s batsmen are struggling at Test level, Moxon, who played 10 Tests during a distinguished career, said: “I think there are a number of reasons, to be honest.
“I think for a number of years now it’s been a case of the mentality, the desire to dominate, and trying to get that balance between absorbing pressure, trusting your technique to do that, and putting the onus back on the bowler is a very fine margin.
“Also, it’s not easy for players because, on the one hand, we’re trying to coach them to bat for six hours and get big hundreds in the County Championship, and then you want them to score at eight/nine an over in T20.
“It’s not easy to shift between the red and white-ball formats and no doubt it is causing challenges in terms of the differet mentalities required.
“At the same time, I do believe that the talent is there (in the England team). All the batsmen who were playing at Edgbaston, for example, have all produced really good innings in the past –Lawrence, Crawley, Sibley, Burns, they’ve all shown that they can do it.
“It’s just the consistency because you don’t win series against good teams by scoring one hundred every ten innings, say, and you need both the technical and mental side to be right to be consistent at any level, let alone at Test level.
“So it’s not that they can’t do it, it’s just that they’ve got to decide, I think, as to whether their techniques are working properly.
“If the answer is yes, then stick with it. If the answer’s no, then you’ve obviously got to review their set-up.”
It is that set-up which Moxon fears is working against players as they attempt to counter the movement on English pitches by covering the stumps when taking guard at the crease.
However, by taking guard on, say, off stump instead of on the traditional leg, middle or middle-and-leg, that is potentially creating another set of problems and arguably causing more difficulties than it solves.
“There is definitely a modern trend to bat on an off stump, or middle-and-off stump guard,” added Moxon.
“This is something we’ve been talking about at Yorkshire and questioning for a long time now.
“Some of ours do it, and I completely agree with what some pundits have been saying about the effect that batting on off stump, or middle-and-off stump is having.
“Because, if you trace the bat path, it’s coming across the line of the ball, and then you’re susceptible to edging balls and also playing across the line and getting out lbw and bowled.
“The idea, and the theory behind it, is to try and help batsmen to line up the off stump better and not to nick off, so that that danger area, off stump or just outside off stump, is better protected.
“But the problem is, if the ball is straighter, or it nips back, then the angle of the bat is coming across the line of the ball, so batsmen have to work out what works for them – they have to take ownership of their own games, after all – and, if it’s not working, it has to be readdressed.”
Rain washed out Yorkshire’s T20 Blast match against Durham at Emerald Headingley last night.
Yorkshire return to T20 action tomorrow when they host Derbyshire.
Joe Root returns for the hosts as they seek to build on an impressive start to the competition that has brought three wins, one defeat and now one no-result.