Barbados thumping a reminder of perennial problems in the English game

James Anderson was made to toil Getty Images

Imagine how it felt to be James Anderson on Saturday afternoon.

He mentioned, after the first day of the game on Wednesday, how weary he was, having claimed four wickets as England fought back with the ball. But little more than two-and-a-half hours after West Indies' first innings had ended on day two, he was forced to pull on his boots once more. He gave his all and looked, at times, close to exhaustion on an unresponsive pitch, under a hot sun and against a batting line-up that put a high price on their wickets. He didn't take a wicket but he couldn't have tried harder. Nobody can ask for more than that.

But imagine how he felt as he watched his team-mates in their second innings. Imagine how he felt as he saw them squander their wickets as if this were a benefit match. Imagine how he felt, having being blunted by a batting line-up who gave him nothing, seeing his batsmen show all the fight of a pacifist kitten in the fourth innings.

"There were a few very soft dismissals in there," Joe Root admitted afterwards. "There wasn't a huge amount on offer for West Indies and it was disappointing to see some of the dismissals."

England have suffered several batting collapses in recent years. Three times - in Dhaka, Auckland and Nottingham - they have lost 10 wickets in a session. You only have to go back to Thursday for an example of an occasion when they lost nine. It's hard to deny the conclusion they are brittle.

On each of those occasions, however, there was a degree of mitigation. On each occasion, they were faced with either outstanding bowling, demanding conditions or a combination of both.

It would be hard to claim that was the case here. Roston Chase bowled nicely enough. He has excellent control, he bowled in good areas and he gave England no 'release' deliveries. But the pitch offered him little and, before this game, he had a Test average of 47.61. To lose eight wickets to him - eight: more than Malcolm Marshall or Joel Garner ever claimed in Test cricket - spoke of an alarming lack of application from England's batsmen.

It was, in its own way, as poor a display of batting as England have produced in Trevor Bayliss' reign as coach.

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Chase's bowling was, to some extent, simply the straw that broke the camel's back. He was the beneficiary of a performance that had seen Kemar Roach and co. dismantle England for 77 on day two and a double-century from Jason Holder that both exhausted and dispirited England in the field on day three. They had been set 628, for goodness sake. They might as well have been set a unicorn.

But it was alarming how they capitulated. It's all very well to talk of aggression and positivity, but teams need discipline and fight, too. England didn't show enough of either here, losing their last six wickets for 31 in a sequence that included a catch on the midwicket boundary, a stumping, two slashes to slip and two forces into the leg side.

We should retain some perspective. Going into this match, England had won eight of their nine previous Tests including an away series cleansweep in Sri Lanka and a home series victory over the No. 1-rated team, India. They can still win this series. "We're better than this," as Root insisted. "We're still a good side."

But this was a reminder, if any were needed it, that they have a long way to go before they can claim to be the best side in the world. To see West Indies' seamers gain life from a surface that appeared dead to England's and to see England's spinners thumped out of the game while West Indies' bamboozled batsmen were reminders of perennial problems within the English game. It is not producing enough fast bowlers or spinners. Focusing on white-ball cricket - and the heart of the season now belongs to the white-ball game - dilutes the skills required for Test cricket. The Championship hasn't produced an indisputably top-class Test opening batsman since Alastair Cook a decade-and-a-half ago.

In the immediate aftermath of this defeat, attention will fall on England's selection. And it is true, Sam Curran and Adil Rashid had disappointing games. The latter may even have played his last Test. Stuart Broad may well have offered more with the ball than Curran, who endured his first poor game, and Jack Leach would have offered more control. The selectors almost certainly got it wrong.

Ben Foakes may also feel pressure in the coming days. With England having other keeping options within the squad, there will be talk of dropping him and asking Bairstow to keep in order to make way for another bowler.

But it should not be forgotten: England were bowled out for 77 in the first innings and lost eight wickets against gentle offspin in the second. It is the batsmen who failed. No one is suggesting the likes of Ben Stokes or Jos Buttler be dropped, but their career averages are 33.33 and 35.77 respectively. England need more from their Nos. 5 and 6. Equally, Keaton Jennings averages 25.86 after 16 Tests and Moeen Ali is averaging 17.56 since the start of the Ashes, in November 2017, and 9.75 since the start of the Sri Lanka tour a year later. More is required of all of them if England are to achieve greater consistency.

Anderson, as is fitting, was the undefeated batsman on Saturday afternoon. Some of his team-mates would do well to reflect on his commitment, discipline and desire.