Joe Root
England captain Joe Root will be aiming for a consolation win in the third Test (AFP Photo)

England batting coach Mark Ramprakash has added his voice to the concerns over conditions in country cricket that are negatively affecting their quest for quality top-order batsmen in red-ball cricket.

Recently, former captain Nasser Hussain had raised questions over the quality of pitches after England’s batting debacles in West Indies saw them lose the opening two Tests by huge margins and thus surrender the ongoing Wisden Trophy.

Ramprakash, who played 52 Tests for England between 1991 and 2002, said the emphasis on white-ball cricket and green pitches are the two major reasons behind the batting struggles.

“I’m trying to be diplomatic here but the stats would say fewer batsmen are getting 1,000 runs, let alone 1,500, in county cricket,” Ramprakash told Sky Sports. “Is that a lack of skill? Maybe – but I’d suggest it is more to do with ‘a quick game’s a good game’. We are playing four-day games in April when conditions are tough, pitches have a lot of grass on them.”

He continued, “I went to Lord’s last year on July 25 for Middlesex versus Warwickshire and the pitch was indistinguishable from the outfield and Middlesex were 70-7 at lunch. That was after five weeks of 30-degree heat. It’s just inexplicable – I don’t know how groundsmen can possibly justify the pitches we are playing on at the moment.

“We are looking for batsmen with good technique and concentration to bat time – to get through the new ball and build an innings. Are we creating the right conditions for that, with four four-day games in April, four in September and not much in between?

England scored 77, 246, 187 and 262 across the four innings of the first two Tests against West Indies. They lost the first Test by 381 runs and the second by 10 wickets.

Ramprakash, 49, also differs with the approach of England batsmen to counterattack their way out of tough situations. It’s a strategy which has worked for the tourists in the past but has fallen flat in West Indies though.

“There is a huge emphasis on white-ball cricket, the excitement, smacking it into the stands. It’s great to watch but is it to the detriment of the art of batting? I would suggest yes,” he said.

He further added, “You look recently at Kumar Sangakkara, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, Rahul Dravid, people with a very good defence and concentration who are prepared to play the long game.

“… you have to accept that there will be periods where good bowlers get it right and it is very difficult to counter attack – you might have to absorb pressure and back your defence. Mentality is important in recognising those periods of play and getting through them.

England were also criticised for not playing a proper warm-up match ahead of the series as they opted for two two-day practice games instead.

“I am always a little bit wary of the modern-day tours and the opportunity players have to have match practice. I guess when you go into the first Test, get knocked over and the batters don’t get much time at the crease, suddenly you can look at that and think: ‘Am I a bit short of practise?’ You don’t really want players thinking in that way so that is one element I think we should reflect on,” he said.

“You don’t really want players thinking in that way so that is one element I think we should reflect on. You can try and bring nets and practice alive as much as you can but, and I know it sounds very old-fashioned, time in the middle is so handy.