Ian Bell: These England players are letting the nation down

The Ashes-winner criticises the ‘naïve’ antics of the England cricket team and suggests Alastair Cook could be coming to the end of his Test career...


I worked with Trevor Bayliss on a successful Ashes tour, and he’s a terrific cricket man, but he just wants to coach. He wants his players to be men – to manage themselves – but they’re letting him, and their country, down.

All the incidents that are coming out of the England camp, they’re making it look like Trevor doesn’t have a tight enough rein on that squad.

He’s given the players too much freedom, and they’ve let him down again and again. Trevor doesn’t want to babysit people, he wants to coach them.

It’s a real shame, because as a cricketer you want a coach who will trust you. He just wants the players to take responsibility for themselves, but they haven’t done that.

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What’s happening is pretty disgraceful, and not fair on Trevor. He would’ve hated every minute of having to front up to the media, again. Especially as he was talking about someone on the Lions tour.

For a guy who’s not even in the Ashes squad, Ben Duckett, to be putting more pressure on the management is crazy. In Duckett’s mind, he should be thinking that there are places up for grabs.

You should be knuckling down and showing your coach your dedication and sacrifices, not making noise in bars.

It’s complacent and naïve – you have to recognise what’s going on, politically, and that any incident now will be jumped upon by the Aussies.

I’m sure Bayliss and Andrew Strauss are sick and tired of having to explain yet another situation – they want to be talking about cricket, not off-field antics. It’s not a great image for the England team to have.

Changes are needed

Bayliss has said he’ll make changes, to remove the drinkers and disrupters – but he also needs to get rid of the duds.

At Perth, which was my home ground last season, you need an exceptional batting performance to have a chance, not just steady and on par – which is something we’ve struggled to achieve as it is.

The Ashes are at stake in this Test, so there has to be changes.

We have too many left-handers, which isn’t working against Nathan Lyon, so I’d move Dawid Malan to three, even though it’s not his natural position.

He’s played quite cautiously so far, but if you can get the top three working, and through the new ball, we’ll have a chance. That would mean dropping James Vince, and getting Ben Foakes to keep wicket.

I’d also move Johnny Bairstow up the order to five, to give him the opportunity to bat with the batters, rather than stuck with the weak tail.

He’s our third best batsman at the moment, so let’s give him an opportunity to score.

Cook under pressure

When you go to Australia, your big senior players have to stand up and deliver. If they don’t, you’re not going to get close.

Even in the warm-up games, Alastair Cook didn’t find form, and that’s continued in this series. He’s mentally very tough, and has the experience to get through this – but he has to now score.

This is a massive Test for him, no doubt about it, and he’ll know that.

His form is a real concern, and the Australians will be targeting him.

There’s pressure building on Cooky and he absolutely has to score – his job is to score runs and he hasn’t yet. If you bat where Cook does and don’t score, they’ll have to find someone else.

Bairstow strange on sledging

Johnny Bairstow’s comments about the sledging were really strange – basically admitting it’s got to him. The Aussies are going to read that and think ‘let’s keep going with this bloke, we’ve got him’.

Sledging is part and parcel of Ashes cricket.

When you’re on the backfoot, you’re bound to cop plenty – Johnny just has to deal with that.

We’re not helping ourselves, with all the off-field stuff, and the Aussies will be using every bit – we’d absolutely be doing the same.

Root doesn’t trust his batsmen

Choosing to bowl first in the last Test was a surprise. It was a very dry pitch and suggested to me that Root has more confidence in this bowlers than his batters.

If you’re full of confidence, you bat because you back yourself. He’ll never admit it, but that decision said that he didn’t trust his batting line up to go out and get 400-odd, throwing the gauntlet down to Australia.

Instead, he backed Jimmy and Broady to bowl the Aussies out, and then scrap a win that way.

It was a negative, cautious approach – you can’t lose by bowling first, but you can win by batting first.

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What do you think?