Trevor Bayliss, the England coach, rued his Test side’s tendency to collapse in a heap, and put it down to a lack of mental discipline.
England were bowled out for 77 in the first innings of the first Test against the Windies. Then, they lost six wickets for 31 runs in the second, wasting a strong start to slip to a chastening 381-run defeat on Saturday, 26 January.
The team’s inability to build partnerships when under the pressure of a few fallen wickets has been a complaint that’s come up often in recent months. Last year against New Zealand, they folded for 58. Against India, they went from 54-0 to 161 all out within a session at Trent Bridge – one of several stumbles in that series, although they still went on to win.
“It gets down to a bit of guts and determination to get through those tough periods,” said Bayliss after the defeat in Barbados. “It’s not the first time that we’ve succumbed in a short space of time. The boys are in the dressing room hurting and I’d be worried if they weren’t.
“Do they lack mental discipline? Personally, I think so. You don’t have to have perfect technique to be able to score runs or take wickets, it’s how you go about using it. On this occasion, we’ve certainly been lacking in that department.”
The Windies bowled well, the coach acknowledged. “But every time a team does that, we shouldn’t be expecting to get knocked over for 77. In the second innings, the guys looked like they were trying, we made good starts but at this level, you have to be able to bat longer than that,” he said.
At a loss to explain what can be changed, he added, “It’s not the first time this has happened. Every time we lose a wicket it’s the beginning of a collapse. And to be honest, I don’t know how to explain it. There’s nothing that stands out in your preparation or the lead up to the game that is any different to when we win.
“We have to work out what’s the difference between when we put on a partnership after losing a wicket and losing eight or nine quick ones.”
England’s choices in the playing XI also came in for criticism from pundits, and the coach admitted they’ll have to be more careful about selection. That might mean Stuart Broad comes back into the side for the second Test.
“One of the advantages of playing someone like Stuart is that he doesn’t go for too many runs, hopefully picks up some wickets, but gives us control,” he said. “That stood out in this match, with only [James] Anderson and [Ben] Stokes being able to provide that line-and-length bowling and a bit of pressure on the opposition. We’ll have to revisit that in the next match.”