London: England coach Trevor Bayliss has insisted his side won’t be heading Down Under to “make up the numbers" when their Ashes defence in Australia begins in November.
And following England’s nine-wicket win over West Indies at Lord’s on Saturday, which saw them end their home Test season with a 2-1 series victory, Bayliss said his native Australia’s line-up was “far from stable".
England, however, started this season with major doubts over positions number two, three and five in their batting order and those problems remain as they consider the composition of their Ashes squad.
A strong middle-order featuring Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali may continue to bail England out of run-scoring trouble but that could prove wishful thinking in Australia.
Alastair Cook has had 12 different opening partners since former England captain Andrew Strauss retired in 2012.
Mark Stoneman, the man currently alongside Cook, averages 30 in Test cricket and he is likely to be walking out to bat with the former captain in the Ashes series opener at Brisbane.
England could go back to Haseeb Hameed who made his debut in India last year and averaged 43 in six innings before injury ruled him out of the rest of the tour.
The 20-year-old Lancashire opener did not play a Test this season after a poor start to the domestic county campaign but Hameed has yet to fail at Test level.
Westley’s 44 not out in pursuit of a victory target of just 107 on Saturday may not have been enough to secure his Ashes spot after a run of five single-figure scores.
Dawid Malan made two fifties against West Indies and showed a willingness to graft his way out of trouble.
“That’s the big question. Whether the three guys we have been speaking about all summer (Stoneman, Westley and Malan) have done enough," said Bayliss.
“I am sure they would have loved as much as we would for them to come out and make a couple of hundreds and then there’s nothing to talk about.
“They have shown that they are good enough, but are they good enough for long enough — are they tough enough especially for an Ashes series?"
One solution to the issue of number three, would be to promote England captain Joe Root from his berth at four.
“Joe is comfortable batting at four," said Bayliss.
“I think he will end up at three at some stage in the future because he is by far our best player and I believe that is where your best player should be."
Root’s first two series as England captain both ended in victory after he started with a 3-1 win over South Africa.
Bayliss said the Yorkshireman had done “fantastically well" as skipper, adding: “He is a positive player and that shows through in his captaincy."
James Anderson, who took his Test-best figures of seven for 42 at Lord’s on Saturday — a haul that included his 500th Test wicket — had a brilliant season.
His 39 wickets in seven Tests at just 14 apiece were the most by an England bowler in a home season since Jim Laker back in 1956.
But the Kookaburra ball used in Australia is unlikely to swing as much as the Dukes.
Anderson took 24 wickets at 26 apiece during England’s victorious 2010/11 Ashes tour but a mere 14 at 44 during a humiliating 5-0 defeat in 2013/14.
Nevertheless, Bayliss said: “The ball will swing a bit early particularly somewhere like Brisbane — we have a day/night game (in Adelaide) and it might swing around a bit there too.
“I think when you get to Australia the main thing is your consistency and accuracy. He (Anderson) gets wickets but doesn’t go for a lot of runs."
But even Anderson needs support from his fielders and the fact England dropped 16 catches in three Tests against West Indies is a cause for concern.
“The catching has been terrible, especially in the last couple of Tests," said Bayliss.
“Dropping easy catches is usually down to concentration."