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England are still in a muddle over their batting and bowling hierarchies | Vithushan Ehantharajah and Dan Lucas

The No8s are outperforming the top-order, Zafar Ansari is not a better batsman than Chris Woakes and Steven Finn continues to disappoint

If there is something that characterises this England side, it is the bowling pin nature of their batting contributions: little up top, a lot lower down. The numbers show as much: this year, England’s sixth-wicket average is their highest (over 80), with the seventh, averaging over 50, their next best. Not for the first time, they were bailed out again by weighty contributions down the order, as Chris Woakes and Adil Rashid put on 99 for the ninth wicket – the highest English partnership for that wicket in Asia. Instead of a tail, England had Zafar Ansari at number eight – who has opened the batting for Surrey – followed by Woakes (nine first-class hundreds) and Rashid (10). As cricket writer Dave Tickner pointed out, given the value of having a strong batsman at number eight, “it must surely count as cheating of some sort for England to have three of them”. While their army of eights haven’t quite sorted the spin department, it has given England the level of insurance with the bat that no other Test side can match. VE

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