Reckless England invite questions about Bayliss Test input

Trott: England will be bitterly disappointed with this performance (3:20)

England capitulated to India on the final day of the fifth Test, thereby ending the series at 4-0 (3:20)

Perhaps it was fitting that it ended this way.

Perhaps it was fitting that a year that has been characterised by England's "positive" style of play ended with a defeat brought about by reckless batting.

As if Jonny Bairstow's dismissal, caught at deep midwicket - yes, deep midwicket - was not bad enough as England battled for a draw, Moeen Ali then wasted his previous efforts with an absurd attempt to loft Ravindra Jadeja over the top. The ball only made it as far as mid-on.

Suddenly, the door that was almost closed on India was opened once more. England lost their last six wickets for just 15 runs.

Defeat means they have lost four Tests in succession, five out of seven on this tour and six out of their last eight. It also means they have equalled their record for most defeats - eight - in a calendar year. It can't keep being an aberration.

Losing to India is no disgrace, of course. Just as losing to Bangladesh in Dhaka was no disgrace. Playing in Asia may well be the toughest test for England players and there was probably no combination of players available to England that would have won this series against a fine side.

"England have to be prepared to grind and graft as well as thrash and bash."

But the manner of some of these defeats is a concern. Just as losing 10 wickets for 64 runs in a session in Dhaka, or 10 for 83 in the second innings in Vizag or six for 15 in Mumbai should not be accepted with a phlegmatic shrug, nor should this collapse.

It came, after all, on a surface on which England laboured for more than 190 overs for seven wickets. And it came with the hard work almost done.

But England seem to have lost the ability to bat time. They seem to have forgotten that defence is every bit as important as attack in Test cricket. They seem to have concluded that the way to deal with every challenge thrown their way in Test cricket is to smash it into the stands.

It wasn't just Moeen and Bairstow here. Joe Root was leg before attempting to sweep and Adil Rashid was caught at point attempting to flick into the leg side. Straight bat strokes might not have been as positive, but they would have been safer.

You would have thought India had taught them by example. You would have thought they had proved that it is not 70s or 80s that win Tests, but 100s and 200s and even 300s. England have to be hungrier. They have to be greedier. They have to be prepared to grind and graft as well as thrash and bash.

Why would Moeen be trying to hit over the top in these circumstances? Why, with no hope of setting India a target, would such an aggressive approach be appropriate or helpful? The answer is that it wasn't appropriate and it may well have been a manifestation of a lack of belief in his own defensive technique. It was a point picked up by Virat Kohli in mid-series. England try to run because they know they can't walk.

It would be a mistake in such a situation to look for quick fixes. England have a structural problem when it comes to dealing with Asian conditions and it is probably beyond the whit of any individual in a captaincy or coaching position to change that. Alastair Cook may be the current target for those wanting change, but his sacking will alter almost nothing. It certainly won't conjure two brilliant spinners out of the ether and it might overburden Root, who already plays all three formats and is still learning his trade as a batsman.

But it won't do to ring our hands and say 'nothing can be done.' For half the Test world play in these conditions (the Caribbean, increasingly, offers low, slow surfaces). These pitches were far from extreme and England had the advantage of winning the toss in four Tests. Unless England are to settle for a future where they mug sides at home on green pitches - as they did for much of the Sri Lanka series - and struggle away, they have to find a way to combat such surfaces.

Part of the problem here may well be the messages coming from the coach. Trevor Bayliss has made no secret of his view that he prefers "attacking-style batters" and that, at times this series, he feels England have suffered for being too defensive with the bat. "When we have been a little bit more defensive, we look like wickets waiting to happen," he said in mid-series. "As soon as we're a little bit more positive, rotating the strike and hitting a boundary when the opportunity comes, it puts pressure on the opposition. Yes, it might get you out once or twice. But with the batting order we've got, there's going to be a number of guys that do score runs."

This is puzzling. You would have thought that a coach would want to point out that each batsman has to take responsibility to get the job done. As Moeen proved here, life for the new man can be far more difficult. Bayliss' somewhat gung-ho approach seems to risk leaving the job to the next man. It doesn't seem especially responsible.

Indeed, increasingly Bayliss' whole approach to Test cricket looks naive. It may well be fine for limited-overs cricket, where uncompromised aggression seems to have become the order of the day. But more subtlety is required in the longer-format and Bayliss hasn't demonstrated much of that.

The problem with his laissez-faire approach - he is well known for saying little and interfering less - is that sometimes a coach needs to interfere. As Australia have shown in recent times, creating a cosy dressing room environment is fine up to a point, but when the ball starts to swing or spin, a coach also need to be able to help with technique. Otherwise they are just a bystander.

"Both Haseeb Hameed and, to a lesser extent, Keaton Jennings have impressed as old-school openers, not the aggressive type that Bayliss professes to prefer"

It would be premature to say we are in this category with Bayliss. He really wasn't dealt a handful of aces on this tour and it isn't so long since England were a win or two away from becoming the top-ranked Test side.

But, if he doesn't know the players from county cricket, he can't really select. And if he really is wedded to this aggressive approach with the bat, he isn't going to help many of the batsmen. Meanwhile, since he took over and dispensed with fielding coaches to take on the responsibility himself, England have dropped a series of vital chances. And with an attack that creates so few, that is costing them dearly. His recent comment that the team "haven't got a lot of natural athletes" sounds dangerously like a workman blaming his tools.

It is an irony that one of the positive of this tour for England has been the emergence of two new options for batsmen at the top of the order. Both Haseeb Hameed and, to a lesser extent, Keaton Jennings have impressed as old-school openers, not the aggressive type that Bayliss professes to prefer. It would be no surprise if both of them featured in the top three when England next play Test cricket in July.

Bayliss can't really take credit for either of them. He had never seen Jennings bat until they reached Mumbai and he preferred Ben Duckett to Hameed at the start of the tour. Indeed, if you question which of the Test players have progressed due to his input, answers are not immediately obvious. Maybe, just maybe, it is time to consider appointing a different coach for the Test and limited-overs teams? England's schedule is ridiculous. It might make life better for all concerned.

There seems little chance that will happen in the short term. Andrew Strauss has too much staked on Bayliss and, to be fair, England's limited-overs resurgence might vindicate his appointment. It's the main reason he was hired and he is making a success it.

But England's Test squad leave India with many more questions than answers. They need to work out how to bowl on flat surfaces - in particular, how to gain lateral movement - and how to bat against the spinning ball. They need to develop spinners and start thinking about replacements for an ageing seam attack. And they need to decide if their coach and captain are the men to lead their progress. None of the answers are obvious.