Twice last May, we wrote about England’s overwhelmingly reactive batting approach. First we described Kevin Pietersen as being England’s only proactive top order batsman; the only one prone to trying to set the field while at the crease. A week later, Pietersen wasn’t playing and Jonny Bairstow took on the role.
Even then, we were concerned that the batting was a bit one-dimensional. If that was the case, what do we have now? Sam Robson’s another steady opener and Gary Ballance is pretty meat-and-potatoes, three-an-over as well. Cook, Root, Bell – all are more likely to respond to what they’re confronted with than to really try and take the initative.
This isn’t about one approach being better than another and nor is it about having some lunatic coming in to try and hit sixes. It’s about having a balanced batting line-up. There’s a simple reason why teams look to field a balanced bowling attack and batting is no different. There are times when one approach doesn’t work, in which case it’s good to have summat else up your sleeve.
All the best sides have had batsmen who complement each other. We worry that England’s Test batsmen are all a bit samey and that the side’s still courting one-dimensionality.