England Cricket

Who Should Replace Jonathan Trott for England in the 2nd Ashes Test?

Mark PattersonUK Staff WriterNovember 26, 2013

Who Should Replace Jonathan Trott for England in the 2nd Ashes Test?

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    Scott Barbour/Getty Images

    Jonathan Trott's Ashes tour came to a sad end when the 32-year-old admitted that he had been struggling with stress issues, and needed to return home to his family.

    The No. 3, for four years now a dependable fixture of the England team, had been struggling for form and been exposed by Mitchell Johnson as vulnerable to the short ball.

    His departure from Australia will allow another player an opportunity, but the selection of another batsman will require some considerable thought from coach Andy Flower and captain Alastair Cook.

    Here we weigh up the best available options.

    All statistics and records are taken from Cricinfo

Who Bats at No. 3?

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    Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

    This is probably the simplest of the selection issues to resolve.

    Whichever batsman comes into the team for Adelaide will have had little or indeed no experience at Test level—and the pressure-cooker environment of Ashes cricket is not the place to parachute a rookie in at No. 3.

    Were it not for Jonathan Trott's consistent excellence since his arrival in Test cricket, it seems almost certain that Ian Bell would have been promoted back up the order to do that job.

    In fact, in the last Test that Trott missed—two Test matches against India in 2011—that's exactly how England reshuffled their batting order.

    This allowed another batsman (Ravi Bopara) into the middle order.

    Joe Root could in theory be another candidate, but having been shunted down the order from opening the batting in between series, it seems counter-productive to move him around again.

    The question surrounds who England are likely to bat at No. 6. 

Jonny Bairstow

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    Gareth Copley/Getty Images

    Right-hand bat, middle order

    Reserve wicketkeeper

    Age 23

     

    Record

     MatInnsNORunsHSAveBFSR100504s6sCtSt
    Tests122025449530.22112848.220470260

     

    What counts for him

    Experience. Matt Prior's injury scare ahead of the series led to him playing the final warm-up match, so he has some time in the middle to his name. Combined with his England experience, it would be an easy decision to give him the responsibility.

    With Prior also being desperately out of form with the bat, a hypothetical situation in which Bairstow scored runs in Adelaide would give England an option should they decide to drop the vice-captain (however unlikely).

     

    What counts against him

    Experience. Just 12 Tests into his career, Bairstow has not yet played the kind of innings that reassures England he has the confidence or technique to be a permanent fixture in the side.

    He was backed for the summer series at No. 6, and was dropped by the final Test. Have England seen enough to throw him back into the fray?

Gary Ballance

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    Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

    Left-hand bat, middle order

    Age 24

     

    Record: Has not played Test cricket.

     

    What counts for him

    He's a batsman, he's fit and he's in the squad. Beyond that, not an awful lot else counts for Ballance. He won his place on tour fair and square with a first-class average of over 52, but...

     

    What counts against him

    He has no runs to his name. His international career is just two balls old, having had a very short stay at the crease in his only one-day international to date. He has been given two chances to impress in warm-up matches on this tour, and scored a combined four runs. 

    Ballance clearly has talent, but this is surely a fight for a place that he cannot win. 

Ben Stokes

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    Gareth Copley/Getty Images

    Left-arm batsman

    Right-arm bowler

    Age 22

     

    Record: Has not played Test cricket yet.

     

    What counts for him

    He bowls. England looked short with a four-man attack, and if Stokes can maintain his place in the side as a batsman, the bonus of his bowling would neatly balance the team.

    He's also been given backing by the likes of Michael Vaughan and Steve Harmison, according to the BBC.

     

    What counts against him

    Again, an underwhelming contribution in his only tour warm-up, where he managed a single wicket and scored four runs.

    While his bowling is an asset, England will also be watching to see if Tim Bresnan can show he is fit again when he plays with the Elite Performance Programme team in Brisbane this week.

    If Bresnan shines, the selectors may consider swapping in Bresnan for Chris Tremlett as a more effective way of balancing the side.

The Most Likely Scenario

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    Gareth Copley/Getty Images

    Sometimes you only see how crucial a player is in his absence, and despite Trott's dearth of form, it's clear that he leaves a big hole to be filled.

    Ian Bell should be backed to do his job at the top of the order, but the space that then creates in the middle order is problematic.

    England have a warm-up match between the Tests in the sweltering heat of Alice Springs, and all the candidates for the job would be expected to play.

    At present, Ben Stokes seems the likeliest to get his Ashes Test debut, but a match-turning score from Jonny Bairstow or Gary Ballance would be enough to put the others in front.

    The X-factor player in all this is Tim Bresnan—his fitness (or lack thereof) could influence who gets chosen as well.

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