Chris Silverwood admitted his England side had let themselves down after a desperate display with the bat left them on the precipice of a thumping defeat at the hands of New Zealand.
A spirited performance from the four-pronged bowling attack kept the Black Caps’ first-innings lead down 85 – a significant but not unmanageable deficit – but the game was all but lost by stumps with the scoreboard reading 122 for nine.
England were almost put out of their misery inside three days but will return on Sunday morning thanks to lower-order runs from Mark Wood and Olly Stone, who helped their side squeeze in front by 37 runs.
There have been suspicions for a while that the batting is not as robust as it needs to be to consistently challenged in Test cricket and even the absence of the injured Ben Stokes and the rested Jos Buttler cannot paper over cracks this bad.
As it stands there are serious concerns over the failing form of several members of the top six, most notably, but not exclusively, Zak Crawley and Ollie Pope.
“It was obviously not good enough,” said Silverwood, who spared his charges the post-play media round.
“It’s disappointing and it’s not what we wanted. We need to work on our batting, there’s no point running away from it. We need to get in the nets and figure it out.
“We always knew it would be a tough ask with the young batting line-up we have but there were plenty of lessons out there to learn from.
“There’s things to work on without a shadow of a doubt, no one’s going to hide from that or deny it.”
Asked if the clock was running out on some players, Silverwood effectively put them on notice and made it clear it would not be a difficult decision to bring back the established performers.
“I’m not going to lie, I thought it was a great opportunity for some of the younger lads to come in and stamp their mark on the game,” he said.
“I’m sure one or two will be disappointed they haven’t been able to do that.
“Things will change naturally once you get Stokes and Buttler back, things will change naturally. It’s certainly something we’ll be looking at in the conversations I have with the captain and assistant coaches.”
“So, if people are getting runs, I’ll be taking notice.”
While reliable run scorers are in infuriatingly short supply, the competition among the seam bowlers remains strong.
Stuart Broad was excellent for figures of four for 48, while Olly Stone and Mark Wood bowled with pace and hostility as they tried in vain to drag the game back for their side.
“I always feel for the bowlers because I’m an ex-bowler,” he said.
“It’s part and parcel of our game plan, to get big first innings runs on the board and then have enough runs to be able to bowl sides out.
“We know we have the bowling attack that can do that but we are trying to put those big runs on and we haven’t this time round.”