x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

England batsmen have point to prove

England were victorious in their first four Tests this summer, but only the most partisan fans would not have been concerned at the cracks in the batting line-up.

Seven days ago Andrew Strauss was living the dream. Four wins out of four from their home Tests with Bangladesh and Pakistan had left the England captain and his team full of confidence for their upcoming Ashes defence in Australia this winter. But a week can be a long time in cricket and one well-deserved four-wicket victory by a rejuvenated Pakistan has suddenly led to questions being asked of Strauss and his players ahead of to the fourth Test match at Lord's, which starts today.

While England had been victorious in their first four Tests this summer, only the most partisan fans would not have been concerned at the cracks in the batting line-up that were masked by the team's bowling. But Pakistan's superb bowling at The Oval showed the world, and more importantly the Australians, just how fragile England's batting line-up really is. Collapses in both innings were the cause of the defeat and the form of the top six is a concern.

Only Matt Prior, the wicketkeeper-batsman, can be satisfied with his performances with the bat this summer, racking up centuries against Bangladesh and Pakistan and looking composed, whether counter-attacking or working with the tail. But there are serious questions about the form of Strauss, Cook (despite his gutsy 100 at The Oval), Trott, Pietersen, Collingwood and Morgan, who have all struggled with consistency.

The batsmen need to knuckle down over the next five days and prove their worth for the challenges they will face in Australia. gcaygill@thenational.ae