Batting crisis for England

LEEDS, England - England will consider bolstering their top order after their dismal performance in the fourth Ashes Test, coach Andy Flower said.

LEEDS, England - England will consider bolstering their top order after their dismal performance in the fourth Ashes Test, coach Andy Flower said.

England's numbers three, four and five - Ravi Bopara, Ian Bell and Paul Collingwood - contributed just 16 runs in the match that they lost by an innings and 80 runs to leave the series against Australia level at 1-1 going into next week's decider at the Oval.

"That was a very bad performance, it was bad from ball one," Flower told reporters.

"We have to think about the middle order. We've got one ton in this series - Andrew Strauss is holding us together."

Bopara is under particular pressure having failed to reach 50 in the series.

"Ravi Bopara has had a hard time," Flower said. "He was very confident coming in, but he's taken some knocks."

Bopara looked to have cemented his place in the team after making three centuries in a row against West Indies this year but he has struggled badly against the Australians.

England called Jonathan Trott into the squad for the fourth Test at Headingley and he could make his debut at the Oval.

"When Bopara came in and scored three tons he looked good, composed, certainly talented enough, but the jury was still out about whether or not he was a number three," Flower said.

"Trott was the next middle-order player that I, Strauss and the selectors thought would come in. He's in good form, he's been in the set-up before."

Flower said he was hopeful all-rounder Andrew Flintoff would be fit to return to the team after missing the Headingley Test.

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