England face a first series defeat under Joe Root by New Zealand after ending day 3 on 122-9, leading the Kiwis by only 37.
This is a worrying turn of events. With England playing five Tests against India, followed by the winter tour of Australia, a batting line up that collapses on a flat pitch in good conditions will send alarm bells ringing through the England camp.
Throughout 2021 England have rotated their squad, a policy they say is designed to combat a packed schedule and the coronavirus-enforced conditions matches have been played in.
If they lose, this will be England's fourth defeat in five matches. An astonishing record, given the resources available to England cricket.
On Test Match Special, former England captain Michael Vaughan said the following:
"Everything has gone downhill for England since they went up 1-0 in India. Don't muck about with Test cricket. England aren't a good enough team to muck about."
Despite limiting their first-innings lead to 85, they found themselves 30-3 and 76-7, needing a stand of 44 between Mark Wood and Olly Stone to take the game into a fourth day.
England coach and Head Selector said the following:
“It's not good enough”. "We need to improve. There's no doubt about that."
"We have got a very young batting line-up with limited experience."
"Getting the experience of Buttler and Stokes back will help them."
Silverwood, who is also responsible for selection, said he will look elsewhere if players outside the team make a claim to be called up.
"I'll be keeping my mind wide open," he said. "If people are getting runs, I'll be taking notice."
Can England pull off a miracle? We don't think so, but stranger things have happened…
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