Ashes-winning captain Michael Vaughan has suggested a radical reshuffle of England’s batting order in the hope the tourists can stand up to Australia’s potent bowling attack.
England’s batsmen have struggled to counter the pace of tearaway trio Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins and the wily spin of veteran off-spinner Nathan Lyon in the Magellan Ashes, which they currently trail two-nil.
In four innings in the series so far, England’s highest team total is 302 in the first innings at the Gabba, where Test rookies in opener Mark Stoneman, No.3 James Vince and No.5 Dawid Malan posted maiden Ashes half-centuries.
But in the three England innings since, those batsmen have combined to score just 159 runs at 17.67 with Stoneman contributing more than half.
The exclusion of allrounder Ben Stokes due to his involvement in a Bristol brawl in September has thrown the England batting order out of whack, with Moeen Ali promoted to No.6 and wicketkeeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow at No.7 to bat with the tail.
The new roles have not sat well with Bairstow (average of 27) and Moeen (26.25) failing to reach fifty in four innings each, which has prompted Vaughan to call for a change.
"If I was England I’d jig the order," Vaughan said.
"I’d put Vince to five, Malan to three. (Malan) bats at three for Middlesex so that’s a position he’s used to.
"He looks to me the kind of player that I don’t think he’s going to be over-aggressive but he’d fight to get rid of that new ball.
"It would allow Vince to bat a little more freely at five.
"He is a player that likes to play his strokes and against the Kookaburra new ball, particularly against the quality the Aussies have got you’ve got to fancy they create chances.
"Also, I’d have Jonny at six. Then you’ve got four, five and six all right-handers to nullify Nathan Lyon."
Lyon has taken 11 wickets this series, 10 of whom have been left-handers.
While England coach Trevor Bayliss has hinted the same XI who lost by 120 runs in the second Ashes Test at Adelaide will likely play in Perth from Thursday, former Australia captain Ricky Ponting said the visitors may have to look outside the starting side to fix their batting woes.
"I think they’ll make a lot of changes for the next Test,” Ponting told cricket.com.au in the wake of the Adelaide Test.
"They have to, because what they’ve done so far has not been competitive.
"Joe (Root) has a lot to think about and so does (coach) Trevor Bayliss and just a lot of their players.
"They’ve got to have a good look at themselves and work out how to be competitive in this series.
"You look at their batting. Stoneman has looked OK but he looks OK then gets out. Vince is a bit the same; they play a couple of nice shots but can’t sustain any kind of period of dominance over the bowlers and have a brain fade and play a bad shot.
"Malan has been the same, he’s occupied the crease but he never looks like he’s going to hurt you.
"And Moeen has looked ineffective with the ball and Nathan Lyon has got his measure.
"They’ve got a lot of areas of concern and I still don’t think their batting line-up is right.
"Even again today, Jonny Baistow looks like their second or third best batsman, as far as I’m concerned, he’s batting at No.7 and with the gloves on.
"We hear a lot about (reserve ‘keeper) Ben Foakes being a good player so I wouldn’t be surprised if they move Bairstow up the order next week and bring Foakes into the side and maybe one of Vince or Malan misses."
2017-18 International Fixtures
Magellan Ashes Series
Australia Test squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird.
England Test squad: Joe Root (c), James Anderson (vc), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Mason Crane, Tom Curran, Ben Foakes, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ben Stokes, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Chris Woakes.
First Test Australia won by 10 wickets. Scorecard
Second Test Australia won by 120 runs (Day-Night). Scorecard
Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Tickets
Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Tickets
Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Tickets
Gillette ODI Series v England
First ODI MCG, January 14. Tickets
Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Tickets
Third ODI SCG, January 21. Tickets
Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Tickets
Fifth ODI Perth Stadium, January 28. Tickets
Prime Minister's XI
PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Tickets
Gillette T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series
First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Tickets
Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Tickets
Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Tickets
Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 14
Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16
Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18
Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21