Top-order finds 'a real bonus' – Farbrace

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Trott: Spin is the issue for England, not captaincy

England left India on the end of the a 4-0 defeat in the Test series but having found potential solutions to “a couple of gaps in our batting order”, according to Paul Farbrace – although England’s assistant coach conceded the players still need to work on their catching.

Alastair Cook’s future as captain remains uncertain but he could well have a settled partner at the top of the order for the first time since the retirement of Andrew Strauss when England return to Test cricket in the summer. Whether that is Haseeb Hameed or Keaton Jennings – both of whom made impressive debuts in India – remains to be seen but their emergence has provided some encouragement at the end of ten draining weeks in the subcontinent.

Hameed became the youngest player to score a half-century for England since Denis Compton when he made 82 in the first Test in Rajkot, before he had to return to England for surgery on a broken finger. His replacement, Jennings, then made a hundred on debut in Mumbai. Both could bat in the top three against South Africa in the summer, either alongside Cook or at No. 3.

That may allow England to return Joe Root to No. 4, which has been another problem position, occupied by Moeen Ali, Ben Duckett, Gary Ballance and James Vince in recent series.

“The one thing we came here needing to find was top-quality batters to bat with Cooky and Rooty at the top of the order,” Farbrace said. “Haseeb has shown, one huge plus from this series … there’s a young man with an unbelievable technique, a fantastic attitude and more importantly looks like he’s got the right mental approach to play for a long time to come.

“We came with a couple of gaps in our batting order, and we think we’ve probably got the right people now … so that’s a real bonus.”

Having drawn the opening match of the series, England were competitive for stretches of next four Tests but could not sustain a high enough level of performance to avoid defeat. Missed chances dogged them, no more so than in Mumbai when each of India’s three centurions received a life; Virat Kohli, who was dropped on 68, went on to score 235 as India racked up 631 to win by an innings.

“Our catching, we’ve continually talked about for a long period. You can’t keep dropping catches,” Farbrace said.

“In the Test match in Mumbai, there was a lot said about the fact we played four seamers and two spinners … we should have played three and three … [but] if we’d caught our catches, we wouldn’t have been talking about our combination; we’d have been talking about we probably had a chance of winning a game of Test cricket. But consistently, we’ve missed chances – and you can’t do that against the best teams in their home conditions.

Having suggested that the England management would like Cook to continue as captain until the 2017-18 Ashes, Farbrace also suggested that handing Root the job would be a step into unknown.

“I don’t think that anybody who takes over as captain of England, you can ever really know whether they’re ready to do the job or not,” he said. “It’s a huge job, a job that everybody in England thinks they can do better. Whether he will be the right bloke to lead England, until he starts doing it, you never quite know.

“Rooty hasn’t had a great deal of captaincy experience. One game he did captain at Lord’s, Middlesex chased down 470 – so he took a fair bit of stick from the Yorkshire boys for that, I can assure you. Until he actually does the job, no one’s going to know. It’s a bit of crystal-ball gazing, isn’t it?

Meanwhile, fast bowler Mark Wood has been added to England’s Pace Programme, which will take place in Potchefstroom in January-February 2017. Wood, who is recovering from a third ankle operation in the last 12 months, will travel along with Reece Topley, Jamie Overton and James Fuller to join the original selections for the winter training camp.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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