Trevor Bayliss hopes Jason Roy, Joe Root can solve England’s top order problems ahead of Ashes

Traditionally, the best batsman in a Test side has come in at number three but England captain Joe Root (pictured), the most talented member of his side’s top order, prefers to bat at number four. (AFP)
Updated 27 July 2019

Trevor Bayliss hopes Jason Roy, Joe Root can solve England’s top order problems ahead of Ashes

LONDON: England coach Trevor Bayliss accepts the Test side’s top order has been their Achilles heel “for the last six or seven years” as he looks to World Cup winner Jason Roy to make a success of the position during the Ashes.
After Andrew Strauss retired in 2012, England great Alastair Cook got through a dozen opening partners of his own before calling time on his Test career last year.
Meanwhile the vexed question of who should bat at number three has been another long-running issue during Bayliss’s four-year reign, which will end after an Ashes series that starts in Birmingham next week.
Fears about England’s fragility at the top of the order were reinforced by their first-innings collapse to 85 all out in the first session of their inaugural Test against Ireland at Lord’s this week.
That their bowlers bailed them out of trouble by dismissing Ireland for just 38 on Friday to seal a 143-run win did little to allay the longstanding concerns over England’s specialist batsmen.
Bayliss, asked if England’s top order presented the team’s biggest problem, replied: “You don’t have to be Einstein to work that out.
“They have been for the last six or seven years, but it didn’t stop us (winning the Ashes) four years ago,” the Australian added.
The top three who played against Ireland — Test debutant Roy, Rory Burns and Joe Denly — have all been retained in a 14-man squad for the first Test against Australia that begins at Edgbaston on Thursday.
Burns averages just 22.28 in seven Tests and Denly 24.16 in three.
Now England are hoping Roy can follow the example of Australia’s David Warner by taking his white-ball form into the Test arena.
Fresh from playing a key role at the top of he order in England’s victorious World Cup campaign, Roy made 72 in his second Test innings against Ireland.
The 28-year-old has played the bulk of his first-class career with Surrey as a middle-order batsman and doubts remain about his ability to cope with new-ball seam movement.
“Like any debutant, he looked nervous but to score 70-odd in your first Test was a good effort,” said Bayliss.
“There was a bit more in those wickets than I’m sure he’s been used to in white-ball cricket over the last few years but runs are runs. He wouldn’t be the first player to look scratchy and eke out runs. In fact, that’s a good sign, I think.
“We want him to go out and play his natural game but in red-ball cricket you have to be a little more selective. You’ve got to make a conscious effort to say to yourself, ‘I’m not going to go for the big cover drive on the up until I’m really settled, the wicket is flat or the ball’s not doing as much’.
“Jason probably looked a little scratchy but he got 72 and helped us win the game.”
Traditionally, the best batsman in a Test side has come in at number three but England captain Joe Root, the most talented member of his side’s top order, prefers to bat at number four.
But this means the Yorkshireman has started many of his recent Test innings with England in trouble having lost two cheap wickets.
“Joe knows how I feel,” Bayliss said. “It’s been my thought for a few years (that Root should bat at number three). “But he’s the captain and he’ll make the final decision.”


NBA star Lebron James: Free speech comes with a cost in Morey-China row

Updated 15 October 2019

NBA star Lebron James: Free speech comes with a cost in Morey-China row

  • ‘Yes, we do have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negative that comes with that too’
  • NBA telecasts have been pulled from Chinese television in the aftermath of the dispute

LOS ANGELES: Basketball player LeBron James waded into the dispute between the NBA and China on Monday, saying he believes Daryl Morey went too far when he tried to exercise his right to free speech.
The Los Angeles Lakers star criticized the Houston Rockets GM, saying he was “misinformed” and needed to be educated after Morey tweeted his support for the Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters.
“I don’t want to get into a word or sentence feud with Daryl Morey. But I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand and he spoke,” James said before the Lakers exhibition contest Monday against the Golden State Warriors.
“So many people could have been harmed not only financially but physically, emotionally and spiritually, so just be careful with what we tweet, and we say, and we do.
“Yes, we do have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negative that comes with that too.”
James’s Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets were thrust into the controversy when the clubs arrived in China last week to play two exhibition games on October 10 and October 12 amidst turmoil after Morey tweeted, “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.”
Morey’s tweet was in support of the protesters fighting a move by China that would allow extraditions from Hong Kong to mainland China. Human rights has long been an issue in China well before the former British colony returned to mainland control in 1997.
Hong Kong has been rocked since June by protests that were ignited by a now-scrapped plan to officially allow extraditions but snowballed into a movement calling for more democratic freedoms and police accountability.
James said Morey was thinking of himself when he made his comment.
“There are ramifications for the negative that can happen when not thinking about others, when you are only thinking about yourself,” he said.
James also has a lifetime endorsement deal worth tens of millions with Nike, which does big business in China. James has made about a dozen trips to China with Nike.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver stressed last week that he regrets Chinese NBA fans are upset but would not apologize for Morey’s tweet.
“I don’t come here, either as the commissioner of the NBA or as an American, to tell others how they should run their governments,” Silver said.
“We’re not apologizing for Daryl exercising his freedom of expression.”
As for having NBA telecasts pulled from Chinese television, Silver said, “It’s unfortunate, but if that’s the consequences of us adhering to our values, we still feel it’s critically important we adhere to those values.”