Joe Root’s England must sort out their batting order and end all the shuffling

ENGLAND’S batting order has more rotation than a revolving door and more shuffling than a Las Vegas croupier.

For goodness sake, sort it out.

Since the start of 2016, England have lost their first four wickets for 100 runs or fewer in 31 of their 62 innings — precisely half.

 Skipper Joe Root is far and away the best and most reliable batsman for England

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Skipper Joe Root is far and away the best and most reliable batsman for England

That is a shocking record!

Joe Root’s team remain unsure of their best combination and will enter the Fourth Test on Thursday ready to make more changes.

Our man JOHN ETHERIDGE analyses the options, the flawed thinking and names the best batting order to face India in Thursday’s Fourth Test at Southampton.

 Joe Root bats at No 3 for England, even though No 4 is his best position

Getty – Contributor
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Joe Root bats at No 3 for England, even though No 4 is his best position
 Ben Stokes seems certain to play the final two Tests before his disciplinary hearing

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Ben Stokes seems certain to play the final two Tests before his disciplinary hearing

Good question. Root was persuaded to bat at No 3 by head coach Trevor Bayliss but has always preferred No 4. He averages 41 at three and 52 at four — and 73 at No 5!

The world’s other best batsmen — Steve Smith and Virat Kohli — operate at No 4 and the frailty of England’s openers means Root is usually exposed far too early to the new ball.

 Surrey star Rory Burns is next in line to be called in as an England opener or No 3 - but being left-handed against world-class Indian spinners is a big disadvantage

Getty Images – Getty
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Surrey star Rory Burns is next in line to be called in as an England opener or No 3 – but being left-handed against world-class Indian spinners is a big disadvantage

It is a good theory. The next opener in line is Surrey’s Rory Burns but, like Alastair Cook and Keaton Jennings, he is a left-hander.

Having three lefties in the top three against India would be daft because Ravi Ashwin and Ishant Sharma bowl brilliantly to them.

Nope. Bairstow has batted all over the place. At the start of the summer, he was re-invented as a wicketkeeper/batsman at No 5.

Now, if, as Bairstow expects, he recovers from a broken finger, there will be another change for the Fourth Test and he will bat at four with Jos Buttler keeping wicket. If he is not fit, James Vince will get the job or maybe even Moeen Ali.

I think Bairstow should be No 3, a position England have not successfully filled since Jonathan Trott retired.

This will allow Root to bat in his preferred position of four. Do not forget, Bairstow opens in the one-day team.

 England have not settled on where to play wicketkeeper-batsman Johny Bairstow

Reuters
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England have not settled on where to play wicketkeeper-batsman Johny Bairstow

Pope has never batted higher than No 5 for Surrey but is being asked to fill the No 4 berth for England.

His nervous, adrenalin-fuelled swishes in his three innings so far suggest he would better at No 6.

Stokes will play in the final two Tests before his disciplinary hearing.

He tweeted this week he wants to bat at No 6 but his innings at Trent Bridge — at No 5, by the way, because of Bairstow’s injury — shows he has the patience, discipline and technique to come in when a third wicket falls.

 Ben Stokes will keep his place in Joe Root's England team for the last two matches after returning for the heavy Third Test defeat against India

Reuters
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Ben Stokes will keep his place in Joe Root's England team for the last two matches after returning for the heavy Third Test defeat against India

There is little to choose between Bairstow and Buttler here.

I reckon Bairstow has the edge although England’s theory is that Buttler is better standing back while Bairstow is superior up to the stumps.

Come this winter’s tour to Sri Lanka, where spin will dominate, Surrey’s Ben Foakes could get the job.

Alec Stewart, his boss at The Oval, says Foakes is the best in the world and he is a useful batsman, too.

 Ben Foakes is rated the best wicketkeeper in the world by former England batsman Alec Stewart and could get a winter call-up against Sri Lanka

Getty Images – Getty
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Ben Foakes is rated the best wicketkeeper in the world by former England batsman Alec Stewart and could get a winter call-up against Sri Lanka

Buttler scored his maiden Test ton after keeping wicket for 66 overs as Bairstow’s replacement.

Bairstow has never reached three figures in Test cricket after having kept wicket earlier in the match.

If Foakes keeps wicket in Sri Lanka, Bairstow stays with Buttler in danger.

Cook, Jennings, Bairstow, Root, Stokes, Pope, Buttler, Woakes, Rashid, Broad, Anderson.

Simple, eh?
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ENGLAND’S batting order has more rotation than a revolving door and more shuffling than a Las Vegas croupier.