England have “no chance” of regaining the Ashes in Australia if their batting continues to be “fragile”, says former captain Michael Vaughan.
Joe Root’s side face a series defeat by New Zealand after being reduced to 122-9 – leading by 37 – on the third day of the second Test at Edgbaston.
England play five Tests against India before the winter tour of Australia.
“They now have just five chances to sort the batting out before the Ashes,” Vaughan told BBC Test Match Special.
“They can’t arrive in Australia with a batting line-up this fragile – they’d have no chance.”
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.
“England have tinkered too much,” said Vaughan, who captained England in 51 of his 82 Tests and led them to victory in the 2005 Ashes.
“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.”
England fought back with the ball on the third afternoon at Edgbaston to bowl New Zealand out for 388 and limit their first-innings lead to 85.
However, 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.
“It’s not good enough,” said England coach Chris Silverwood. “We need to improve. There’s no doubt about that.”
Zak Crawley, aged 23, made 17 in the second innings at Edgbaston, his second-highest score in his past 12 Test innings.
Ollie Pope, 23, has gone eight Tests without a half-century, while 25-year-old Dom Sibley has passed 16 only twice in his past 11 innings.
“This batting line-up is fragile and we have to now start looking at players and wondering if they are good enough, because they keep getting out cheaply,” said Vaughan, who averaged 41.44 and made 18 centuries in Tests.
England’s all-time leading run-scorer Alastair Cook, who captained England to two Ashes series wins, told TMS: “You always watch England thinking that if they lose one wicket then they could easily lose two, three or four.
“When the pressure comes on, whether it’s inexperience or the players just aren’t good enough, they can’t withstand the opposition’s bowling.”
Silverwood said he hopes the young batsmen will feed off the return of injured all-rounder Ben Stokes and rested wicketkeeper Jos Buttler.
“We have got a very young batting line-up with limited experience,” said Silverwood. “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.”