Why England have real cause for concern over woeful Test match form after series loss to West Indies

ENGLAND lost a fifth Test series in a row when the West Indies wrapped up the deciding third Test by 10 wickets on Sunday.

TROUBLED: England Test captain Joe Root Picture: Gareth Copley/Getty Images
TROUBLED: England Test captain Joe Root Picture: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Here, we look at the losing run and the factors behind it.

Results speak for themselves

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Only once before have England lost five series in a row – and even that run, from 1992 to 1994, included a one-off Test in Sri Lanka as one of the “series”.

England's Saqib Mahmood, right, and team-mate Jack Leach performed batting heroics in England's first innings in Grenada - but it couldn't prevent defeat. Picture: AP/Ricardo Mazalan

Pakistan won a five-Test series in England 2-1 in the summer of 1992, with a 3-0 defeat in India in early 1993 preceding March’s loss in Colombo. Australia won the Ashes by a dominant 4-1 scoreline that summer before a five-match tour of the Windies brought a 3-1 series defeat.

England lost four series in a row and six out of seven in 1998 and 1999, again featuring a single Sri Lanka Test, but in terms of multi-Test series their current run is the worst in their history.

Since winning the first Test in India last February, England have won only one of 17 Tests as they went on to lose that series 3-1 and lose 1-0 at home to New Zealand - with the second Test drawn - before India repeated their success with a 2-1 win in the return series in England.

Australia won the Ashes 4-0, prompting changes in the managerial positions and talk of a “red-ball reset”, but after some encouraging signs in a pair of flat-track draws in the Caribbean England were beaten by 10 wickets on the first pitch showing signs of life.

One final caveat remains, with the postponed fifth Test of the home India series to be played in July - win that game at Old Trafford and England will draw that series and retrospectively break the losing run.

Batting woes continue

That defeat in Grenada could have been even more emphatic but for Jack Leach and Saqib Mahmood’s last-wicket stand of 90 in the first innings, with the pair coming together at 114 on that occasion and 116 for nine second time around.

That continues an alarming sequence which sees England’s average innings score across their five losing series stand at 230. Even with three declarations in that time, plus batting out for draws against New Zealand and Australia, their average per wicket is only 23.5 runs.

Captain Joe Root’s 1,640 runs in that time astonishingly remain more than 1,000 clear of any other England batsman, with Ben Stokes on 633 and Jonny Bairstow one run further back as the only others to pass 600.

Excluding two-cap tail-ender Saqib and his 52 runs for one dismissal, Root’s average of 48.23 is more than 50 per cent higher than any of his team-mates - Bairstow is the only other man to break 30 in that time, and just barely at 31.60, with Chris Woakes next in the batting averages but struggling to produce in his primary skill as a bowler.

Travel sickness

England’s away record is particularly concerning at the moment, with no wins and eight defeats in their last 11 overseas Tests.

They lost three in a row on tour against India and only a combination of rain and tail-end heroics in Sydney earlier this year prevented an Ashes whitewash before their latest winless trip for the Botham-Richards Trophy.

The Three Lions did enjoy back-to-back away series wins in South Africa and Sri Lanka, although they were separated by 12 months due to coronavirus lockdowns, but have won only three of their last 11 and four out of 17 away series dating back to 2013.