Latest failure adds to scrutiny on tourists’ methods and approach
Bairstow, who made 35 after being recalled to the side in place of Ollie Pope, pointed to the loss of the toss being a key factor – with England also keen to bowl first on a grassy surface. But he conceded they needed to “get tougher with our dismissals”, starting with the second innings in Melbourne.
“If you look at the toss, obviously it didn’t go our way,” he said. “That’s something, we would have also looked to have bowled in that first session. Yes, we lost a couple of early wickets but the partnership between Dawid [Malan] and Joe was really good again and naturally disappointed to lose Dawid on the stroke of lunch. That potentially changes things if that [wicket] doesn’t go down there. We’re still searching for that big score, but both teams were looking to bowl on that pitch, with the help of the conditions and a tinge of green.
“We’ve got to get a bit stronger and tougher with our dismissals. We know that, we’ve spoken about that. That’s just us being honest with ourselves. We need to keep doing that, as we saw in that second innings at Adelaide we batted for a period of time and put a lot on our wickets, when it comes to the second innings here that’s exactly what we’re going to have to do.”
England have yet to reach 300 in five innings in Australia, with Root and Malan the only batters to pass 50 individually. Footage from the nets in the build-up to the Boxing Day Test showed the likes of Haseeb Hameed balancing on one foot while taking throwdowns, and Bairstow admitted they were still looking for answers.
“I can tell you now everyone’s trying – different methods, individual methods, individual training techniques,” Bairstow said. “Why’s it so difficult? Look, with the pink ball, we know it’s not easy with losing the toss [in Adelaide]; both sides were going to bowl first [in Melbourne], and like I mentioned it was overcast with the weather conditions this morning, and the pitch was green.
“I think that when you’ve guys that are still bowling 138, 140, 144 [kph], it makes you make decisions a lot quicker. That’s part and parcel of the game, I thought they bowled well, but we can come back in the morning and we can apply that same pressure that they applied to us.”
Asked about the dismissals of Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler, both of whom fell to attacking strokes with the team in trouble, Bairstow refused to be critical.
“Obviously it’s individuals going out and playing in the way in which they foresee is the best way, and that’s exactly what it’s about. Naturally the execution wasn’t there today, but the amount of times we’ve seen those shots being executed and going to the boundary is high. It’s a day we’ll look back on and probably reassess next time and potentially take a different option.”
“That’s an individual decision,” he added of Buttler attempting to hit his second ball from Nathan Lyon over the top only to pick out the leg-side boundary rider. “If that’s the gameplan, to take the offspinner on and put pressure back on, potentially put the fielders back – that’s the gameplan that was taken.”
Bairstow also conceded that, whether through technical or mental improvements, England’s batters had to come up with better methods of staying out in the middle for an extended period of time.
“It’s about finding a way of scoring runs individually,” he said. “You look amongst techniques that have scored runs over here over many years, there’s not one method that works – there’s many different methods. It’s about finding a way, there’s different techniques throughout both sides. There’ll be people that have analysed people’s techniques and gameplans as to how they foresee the best way of scoring runs but at the end of the day it does come down to scoring runs and spending time out in the middle.”