Trevor Bayliss has admitted Jason Roy is “probably” batting out of position in England’s Test team.
Roy has spent much of his first-class career in Surrey’s middle order but, after impressing as an opener in ODI cricket, has been given his opportunity in the Test side at the top of the order. So far, with 40 runs from four Ashes innings, it has appeared he lacks the technique to combat the new ball in Test cricket leaving Bayliss to admit it is “not quite the same as opening in a white-ball game”.
But while Bayliss, the England coach, accepted the team management would discuss changing the batting order ahead of the third Test, he hinted they were likely to stick to the same order utilised in the second innings of the Lord’s Test.
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“Personally, I think Jason probably is suited to the middle order,” Bayliss said as England arrived for training in Leeds ahead of the third Test starting on Thursday. “We’ve selected him at the top of the order because of his form in the one-day team, but it’s obviously not quite the same as opening the batting in a white ball game.
“We think we’ve got the best seven batters in England available to us at the moment. Whether we can change the order round and make it any better, I’m not sure. But we’ll certainly have a discussion about it. Just because they’re not scoring runs doesn’t mean it’s not the right or wrong spot for them.
“At the start of Jason’s one-day career, he missed out a few times as well and it took him a little while to get the hang of it. So the possibility of him playing again at the top of the order doesn’t really concern us. We know what he can do when he does play well.
“At this stage, we do expect that same batting order. We have been moving players around over the past couple of years. I’d like to see a little bit of continuity around the team we have.”
Reading between the lines, it appears there is disagreement within the England management over the best usage of Roy. While Bayliss and Joe Root, the team captain, would appear to believe he is best suited to a middle-order spot, the chief selector, Ed Smith, is keen for Joe Denly to be given an extended opportunity at No. 4, meaning the only space for Roy remains as an opener.
The fact that Dom Sibley was on standby at Lord’s as a potential top-order concussion replacement (Ollie Pope was the middle-order option) suggests he is next in line if England do, in time, decide they require a change at the top of the order.
Roy endured some uncomfortable moments in training on Tuesday. He sustained a blow to the side of the head while batting in the nets, against Marcus Trescothick armed with the dog-thrower, but was able to continue without treatment.
While Bayliss also suggested England would consider drafting in Sam Curran for Chris Woakes for Headingley, it remains likely they will be unchanged with Ben Stokes batting at No. 5 and Jos Buttler at No. 6, as was the case in the second innings at Lord’s. Woakes was the only one of the seamers utilised at Lord’s who bowled in training on Tuesday.
“Sam is ready and raring to go if he’s given the nod,” Bayliss said. “We started off the series thinking that we would play most of our bowlers that are in the squad.
“There’s nothing wrong with Woakesy. He’s had a long summer through the one-dayers and now Test cricket. Do we give him a break? Do we keep going with him? It’ll be a decision we have to make leading into this Test match.”
Bayliss also suggested he was confident that James Anderson, who started a 2nd XI game for Lancashire on Tuesday, would be fit to return to the side for the fourth Test at Old Trafford.
“It’s certainly looking that way,” Bayliss told the BBC. “He’s got to come through this match and have no problems. He was bowling last week during the Lord’s match and he has to test that out in match conditions. He’ll be assessed after that match leading into the Manchester Test.”