The victory against world no 1 India in the ongoing five-Test series is on par with beating Australia in the Ashes, said England coach Trevor Bayliss, who suggested they might experiment in the final match starting at London on Friday. “It is right up there with beating Australia in the Ashes. Obviously India are a very good team, the number one team, and to knock them off is a very good feeling,” said Bayliss after England sealed the series with a 60-run win in the fourth Test.
“There were some difficult conditions especially on day one. We have said before, under a bit of pressure these guys have got a bit of character which is a good sign going forward.” With opener Alastair Cook announcing his retirement after this series, and skipper Joe Root eagar to bat at number four, England will have to figure out their top-order in the final Test as well as in the upcoming series against Sri Lanka and West Indies.
Moeen Ali was promoted to the number 3 spot in the second innings of the fourth Test, paving the way for Root to bat at four and Bayliss said the off-spinner might be an option in that position in the right condition. “I’m sure there will be discussions on a few things in the next couple of days. Batsmen would like to have a settled position in the order. You always find in any era or team there are one or two guys who have to be a bit flexible,” he said.
“Moeen has been that guy for us over the last few years. When Root asked him if he was keen to do it he jumped at it. In the right conditions I would not put it past him. “He works hard at his game. In spinning conditions he can cover that pretty well at the moment but his challenge will be on the faster wickets but we haven’t got any of those for a while.”
Bayliss, however, wasn’t sure if Ali would be a permanent move and hinted it was possible for Root to revert to the role. “Joe has always said he wants to bat at four. He understood where I was coming from that if we had a number three averaging 50 to allow him to bat at four, that would be handy. But I thought it was for the best of the team he batted at three,” he said.
“Hopefully we can find someone who can do a decent job at number three and he can bat where he feels most comfortable. All credit to him. He has taken that role on with no problems. He has taken one for the team in that respect.” The coach also said they will take a call on whether to field both James Anderson and Stuart Broad in the upcoming series.
“We will get together after this Test and see who is fit and available. We will definitely want to win the last Test, and I see a future with them (Anderson-Broad) at the moment,” Bayliss said. “They are the most successful pace bowlers in this series and it will go down to how their bodies are feeling. We spoke before the series if their bodies would double up in close Test matches. So we will have to wait and see how they are in 48 hours’ time.
“The numbers of Tests we have played this year have been spread out. There is another reasonable gap until we play the Tests in Sri Lanka. There is a bigger gap again and then another couple of months leading in to the West Indies. Them only playing Test cricket does give them a bit of a break.”
The fifth and final Test begins on Friday at London.