England coach Trevor Bayliss admitted the team are “under no illusions” about the improvements they will have to make if they are to retain a lead in the Test series against India.
England took a 1-0 lead at Edgbaston, but not without some nervous moments. As well as batting collapses in both innings – they subsided from 216 for 3 to 287 all out in their first innings and were 87 for 7 in their second before Sam Curran‘s intervention – England’s slip fielding continued to cause concern with both Alastair Cook and Dawid Malan, who has been omitted for the second Test, putting down relatively easy chances by Test standards.
And, to complicate matters further, England are likely to be without Ben Stokes at Lord’s. The man who produced the definitive performance on the final day of the match, taking the key wicket of Virat Kohli and claiming 4 for 40, is due to stand trial in Bristol from Monday and, unless there is an adjournment, will miss the second Test.
That left Bayliss urging his squad to “take up the slack” left by Stokes’ absence but hoping that the confidence gained by a hard-fought win will boost his side.
“I’d be lying if I said our batting wasn’t a concern,” Bayliss said. “It always has been. We’re losing plenty of wickets in quick succession. It will be difficult without Stokes. It means that someone else has got to take up the slack. These guys are under no illusions we’ve got things to work on batting-wise and catching-wise.
“It’s been that way for a while. We’ve got things to work on and it’s taken a little longer than everyone would have hoped but it’s always good to win because it does get down to confidence. Hopefully winning this one and having that confidence will be a good thing.”
Bayliss did feel there was some mitigation for England’s performance with the bat at Edgbaston and that they deserved some credit for their performance with the ball.
“At Edgbaston, the batting has to be taken in context,” Bayliss said. “Throughout the game there were wickets falling left, right and centre. All the batters were in trouble, even Virat Kohli, who I don’t think was all that comfortable early on. It was difficult to bat, probably more difficult than it looked from outside.
“And I thought we bowled pretty well in this game. India are a very good team. But we’re very much in the hunt here. When the ball is moving, we’ve shown that a few of their guys struggle against the moving ball. I’m sure that they’ll be going away working out how they can play it as we’re going working on how to play the offspin.”
Bayliss also defended England’s slip catching, suggesting the best fielders were already in the cordon. But, after accepting that Malan had “tied his shoes on for his hands” at Edgbaston, he said Joe Root was not as reliable in the slips as was sometimes presumed and that Stokes was reluctant to field there. Instead, he suggested Jos Buttler could be the man to replace Malan.
“We’ve got our best slippers in the cordon at the moment,” Bayliss said. “That’s why Joe Root is not in there. I know Stokesy will get brought up but he’s a very reluctant slipper. And he can’t be in 10 places unfortunately.
“It is just a confidence thing. It’s just that bit of anxiety or stiffening of hands as it comes along. We’re doing plenty of work on it. It’s just disappointing, more so for them than anyone else.
“Buttler’s only just entered the team and he’s seems to be going pretty well there. I think you’ll see him in and around there a lot more often going forward. Keaton Jennings looks like he moves pretty well in there also.”