LOOKING at the series in the West Indies, you have got to say that the hosts have been brilliant to watch and given England a lesson in how to play Test cricket.
Test cricket used to be about hard graft for five days and digging in when you bat and then bowling with aggression and making life uncomfortable for the batsmen. That is why it is called Test cricket.
Sometimes watching England, I want to knock out the word ‘Test’ and just call it cricket.
They just play a certain way and there seems to be no thinking that the pitch might be hard to play on, so we will just tough it. England do not do that.
We did not show any determination or batsmanship to cope with it in Antigua. Looking at the West Indies’ first innings, you had to get them out and only one player gave his wicket away.
They valued their wicket all the way down to Kemar Roach at nine and that was the difference. Our guys were just blown away by pure pace.
The worrying thing is that this keeps happening repeatedly with our batting.
Looking at it, if people were to pick the best batsmen in England now to play one, two and three in Tests, the silly thing is you would have Marcus Trescothick, Alastair Cook and Ian Bell – who have all retired from Test cricket.
That is how desperate we have got at the top of the order. When England were the No 1 Test side in the world, it was the same three and it was solid.
We had Andrew Strauss, Cook and Jonathan Trott and those three could build an innings and when Kevin Pietersen and Bell came in, the score was always something like 150-2 or three.
At the minute, we have five, six and seven coming in when we are 70-5. We cannot keep doing it. Something has to be done.
We may have lost this current series, but this final Test in St Lucia is still massive for me. We have got to show some good old-fashioned values and see that players have got pride for the shirt.
We cannot be blown away again. Yes, the West Indies have some talented cricketers and youngsters. But so have we and we have just got to value our wicket more than we have done so far.
There has been a lot said about Joe Root’s captaincy in the West Indies and he has taken a lot of criticism from many people whether it be those in thought groups, the media or ex-players. I think it is a little bit harsh.
What I have seen from Joe has been an improvement, but England have got a couple of things wrong as a group in this series and I have spoken before about selection and they got it wrong again in Antigua and now all eyes are on England in St Lucia.
They have got to get selection right. It has taken them far too long.
I interviewed Joe after the game in Antigua and asked him about preparation and stuff like that, but England just have not got the selection right.
You cannot have a game when you are two down for nothing every single time. You are opening up a can of worms.
Jonny Bairstow is not really a number three, but a ‘five’. Jos Buttler was originally picked as a ‘seven’ and he is batting at five. Moeen Ali’s batting is not what it was when he was batting well 12 months ago and he is batting too high.
Ben Foakes has come in as he had a great tour in Sri Lanka, so we now end up with three keepers in the side.
If he plays, he has to bat at seven in front of Moeen. There are so many questions that England need answering moving forward.
I think they also probably did underestimate the West Indies like a lot of us did.
I thought England would come here and have a comfortable series win after events in Sri Lanka. But fair play to the West Indies, who have been so positive and have played proper Test cricket.
Looking at England’s situation, I do think there are wider problems affecting our Test side, too, in terms of the cricketers that we are producing.
We have talented players, but our downfall is that we have had such a successful run of one-day cricket under Eoin Morgan – which has been a pleasure to watch – that players now all seem to want to play that way.
Looking at the county game now, if you do not play all three forms, you do not get a contract.
A ‘stubborn’ player does not get a contract. He has to be a 360-degree batsman as one-day cricket is so important and they have to be able to play a reverse sweep over extra cover and play all around the wicket.
People are now not looking for players who can bat defensively, like Michael Vaughan used to when he first came in. Initially, he could not hit the ball off the square.
But just look what he turned into. You can develop your game as you go along.
Nowadays, we are looking for the complete player at 19 and are not creating batsmen like Cook or Michael Atherton.
Cook is the last of a generation. The only other similar player is Haseeb Hameed at Lancashire and he seems to have had the biggest fall I have ever seen.
I am just hoping he can come back next season and start well for Lancashire as he is exactly the type of batsman we need in our line-up.
Someone who values his wicket and does not give it away.