Sri Lanka v England: Michael Vaughan predicts fluid batting order

England have a number of batsmen who could bat at three - here is their middle order, strangely listed by their first name in many instances by the Pallekele scoreboard operator
England have a number of batsmen who could bat at three - here is their middle order, strangely listed by their first name in many instances by the Pallekele scoreboard operator

England's Test team may break with tradition and go without a regular number three in their batting order, says Michael Vaughan.

Ben Stokes became the ninth man to bat at first drop in less than five years on the first day of the second Test against Sri Lanka.

"We're going to have to get used to England not having a number three set in stone," said ex-captain Vaughan.

England posted 285 in Pallekele with Sri Lanka closing on 26-1.

Stokes looked reasonably comfortable in making 19 but his failure to convert his start to anything more substantial means England have now gone 50 Test innings without their number three scoring a century.

England's top order once again struggled as the tourists fell to 134-5 and 225-9 on Wednesday, before fluent half-centuries from Jos Buttler and Sam Curran elevated them to a total which appears to be above par.

Moeen Ali failed at number six, after being demoted from three, while skipper Joe Root - the last England batsman to score a Test century at three - was bowled for 14 on a pitch that turned from ball one.

England's last successful number three - a position considered to crucial to a strong batting line-up - was Jonathan Trott, who averaged 45.72 in 46 Tests before vacating the spot during the 2013 Ashes.

"It just may be they have different number threes," added Vaughan, who scored almost 1,500 runs batting at number three.

"What England have is a huge amount of depth. As a bowler, when you look at a batting line-up and see so much strength going down to number nine, you know you might be out there for a long period of time.

"I just think this Test match team might surprise us with a few decisions and batting formations over the next few years, but we'll just have to get used to it.

"We've almost got to rip up tradition with this group England have and accept there'll be personnel changes, different tactics. They've got so many options.

"It'll be fascinating to see and exciting to watch."

Name the nine batsmen to bat at number three since Jonathan Trott?

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