England’s batting statistics are terrible, and the more you watch, the worse they get.
Here’s a snapshot – Joe Root has six of England’s seven Test hundreds in 2021 and 1,052 runs more than the next-best batsman.
Yes, it is a one-man show.
And, unless others start contributing, this Ashes series is headed for a hammer and a potential 5-0 whitewash.
Head coach Chris Silverwood spoke about the ‘talent’ and ‘character’ in the batsmen, but even he couldn’t believe his performance was good enough.
This is arguably England’s worst batting performance in living memory.
Whether it’s Rory Burns’ strange technique, Ollie Pope’s cat-on-a-hot-tin-roof sharpness or Jos Buttler’s unfinished brilliance in Test cricket, there are problems everywhere.
Even Ben Stokes, who is often a dreamer, is tolerating a barren year and looks less prepared and less confident.
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And if England wants to make a change?
Well, the reserves in Australia are Jack Crawley, Dan Lawrence and Jonny Bairstow, who have struggled hard in Test cricket in 2021.
England were bowled out for 147 in the first innings at Brisbane and lost eight for 74 in the second.
Discussions about the dismissal of bowlers Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson led to him being crushed by nine wickets.
Perhaps the most worrying thing is that his condition seems to be deteriorating.
Burns and Pope are going backwards while older hands like Stokes, Butler and Bairstow are falling.
England have not consistently produced a world-class batsman since Root’s debut in 2012.
It is not that Silverwood, who is now the chief selector and coach, is picking the wrong people.
It’s just that no one else is making a compelling case for selection.
England lost seven out of ten Tests, drew two and won just one.
There are many theories as to why England batsmen struggle.
The most likely reason is the preference given to white-ball cricket, typified by the mock New Hundred competition, in which red-ball matches take place at the beginning and end of the summer.
Silverwood said: “We have a good group of players capable of winning the Ashes, so that’s what we’re focused on.
“We know it is going to be tough so we have to give the players the confidence we can to win the series.
“We had a good conversation in the dressing room after losing the first Test.
“There are clear areas we need to improve on, like capturing and building out great partnerships. We reset and go again.
“They are hurting but they believe they can win the series,” he said. We have already gone 1-0 down and have come back. We have players to match the Australian players.
“It’s disappointing for all of us that we haven’t been able to make big totals. We keep working on that, focusing on those first 20 balls in the nets.
“I don’t think confidence is an issue because they are all good players, they are all capable of scoring runs and taking wickets, and they are capable of beating the best teams.
“If you look at who we have played in those last ten Tests, they are good sides like India and New Zealand, which are the best in the world.
“Believe we can compete with Australia and that’s exactly what we intend to do.”
England could have a better chance in the second pink ball Test in Adelaide starting Wednesday night as it suits Broad and Anderson.
Both were released to Brisbane to make sure there was no chance of injury before the day/night match.
But England is already one down, so it worked out well, didn’t it?
Silverwood said: “Stuart has been great. He was disappointed not to play but understood it was a long series and everyone would play a role at some level.
“We had a good conversation with Stuart before taking any decision and he was 100 percent on the board.
“Stuart and Jimmy are fit and ready to go for the second Test.”
Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting believes that England could be wiped out.
He added: “Things are only going to get better for Australia. The pitch in Brisbane was quite English. If England doesn’t win in Adelaide, it could be shades of 2006-07, when we won 5-0.
There was some good news for England, though Josh Hazlewood was ruled out of the second Test.
The Australian pacer, who suffered a minor side strain in the first Test, flew to Sydney while the team prepared to travel to Adelaide.
It is not believed that Hazlewood’s injury is serious but Australia do not want to risk further damage.
Rising fast bowler Jhye Richardson is ready to take his place.
Opener David Warner, hit in the ribs by a ball from Ben Stokes, took no part in the first Test after the second day.
He is said to have felt uncomfortable but is expected to play in Adelaide.