England missed it in Brisbane and must be allowed bowling in Adelaide | Ashes 2021-22


ADelaide has always been a good surface, the kind a hitter might look and think, “I like that.” A good pitch with constant bounce should provide the right balance between bat and ball, providing good cricket play – which is exactly what England need to play if they are to return to the series.

I remember going on the day-night test as a batting coach four years ago and worried that the twilight period would be difficult, the transition from natural sunlight to evening. Batsmen can be very fragile, and there has been a lot of worried talk about the ball leaping into the limelight. I have no idea what the science is saying, but sometimes I feel like when the sun goes down and the temperatures drop, the terrain speeds up and the ball slips.

At the end of 2017, I remember the wickets were reasonably evenly distributed over each session, but the hitters didn’t seem to have enough confidence in their defense and didn’t rely on long stretches of time. The impact was that the players wanted to be fairly proactive, trying to score quickly before they had a good ball. Even though the surface looked excellent, both teams played an aggressive game, scoring points at a reasonable pace but with wickets falling steadily.

In many ways it’s not an ideal frame of mind, but in fact I think it might help England – because it’s the same that they might adopt in typical English conditions, where with the ball darting around the lower order, they would be licensed to play a few strokes while the top hitters would appear to be busy, looking for quick singles, hanging on to any width or something short and trying to put the bowlers under pressure.

But this approach flies in the face of the model England are supposed to use, which is the only reasonable explanation for Joe Root’s decision to strike Brisbane first: hitting big in the opening innings, putting their opponents under pressure, then eliminate them twice. Maybe that’s the one they were forced to rethink anyway.

England must simply play the conditions in front of them and their forces. In Brisbane, Root won the toss, took the green pitch and heavy cloud cover and made his decision horribly wrong. If he had been faced with an identical surface and predictions to Edgbaston, he would have gone first and chosen a heavy attack; in Australia he left out the best part of Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad’s 1,200 test wickets, picked a spinner who can’t play in England and decided to strike.

Jack Leach looks sure to make room after Australia attacked his left arm spin in the first test at Gabba. Photograph: Patrick Hamilton / AFP / Getty Images

I would have thought the decision would have involved a series of discussions with the experienced coaching staff, senior players and the analyst. We have been told regularly that this Ashes campaign has been in the works for two years and yet, despite all of this, England completely missed the advantage of winning the draw and briefly seizing the initiative. If the team does not recover, those involved must take responsibility.

Wrapping two senior bowlers in cotton for the day-to-night game is a dangerous bet, as they go undercooked in it while players with useful match experience might be forced out. There is a lot of historical evidence that suggests that if you lose 1-0 in Australia you are in big trouble, so doing anything other than selecting your best possible team for this game is extremely stupid – and without a doubt England does. has not played for their strengths, which is bowling.

England need a new strategy to give them the best chance of winning this test match with the players they have. Back in the day, when I was playing there in 1994-95 and 1998-99, Jack Leach would certainly have been picked over some pretty slow, spinning pitches, but under those circumstances I would be very surprised if he stays. they’ll surely go with four crimps, but if everyone’s fit and shooting it’s hard to imagine how the same people who picked the squad for the first test can include both Anderson and Broad for the second.

I expect the top seven to stay the same, leaving four spots for bowlers. Of the three seamers who played in Brisbane, Mark Wood played well and on pace and Ollie Robinson also impressed and took wickets. Leaving out Chris Woakes weakens the batting lineup and with a little cricket under his belt he should be fitter and sharper. This leaves Broad and Anderson fighting for a spot. In Adelaide, there may be times when the ball is spinning and bowlers moving at attack lengths to entice the batters to come forward, and other times when the dressmakers will have to step back and do some hard yakka, what England is capable of doing. The path to victory is to strike with precise tailoring bowlers.

That’s why Josh Hazlewood’s injury will help England. He may not have taken as many wickets as some of his teammates in Brisbane, but he played well, as he did in Adelaide on England’s last visit. The one who comes to replace him, Hazlewood is a proven performer and an important cog in the Australian attack. Her absence could be quite significant in the context of the series and she should give England a boost. Despite the first Test, and especially its first day, there are reasons for optimism here for tourists – but they will have to change their approach if they are to seize them.


Comments are closed.