Buried – Day 3 at the SCG

England’s attack in this game consists of an ageing Jimmy, a washed up Broad, a county medium pacer, a part time off spinner having a mare, and a 20 year old leggie who’s only played a handful of first class games. The result? 479-4. It’s hardly a surprising outcome when you think about it. The cupboard is so bare it’s embarrassing.

Although Anderson has generally bowled pretty well on this tour, the conditions don’t suit him. This has left us really exposed. The other members of the attack simply aren’t international standard. Stuart Broad clearly was once, but he can’t do it with any level of consistency anymore. 80mph when you don’t really do much with the ball (unless the pitch is helping you) simply isn’t going to cut it. See Bird, Jackson.

I really can’t be bothered to do this all over again in detail, so I’ll just link to George Dobell instead. It’s good to see that many of the issues we’ve discussed again and again on this blog are getting some national and international attention. I’d like to ask Tom Harrison how he can possibly think English cricket is in rude health when decent but hardly world beating players like Khawaja and the Marsh brothers are taking us to the cleaners.

This blog’s raison d’etre is to focus on England, rather than Australia, but I will say one thing for the Aussies: they’ve completely out-thought us both on and off the pitch. I suspect that the policy of preparing slowish pitches that give the seamers very little has been a deliberate ploy. And it’s a very clever one.

Everyone knows that teams need genuine pace or high class spin to take twenty wickets on lifeless surfaces. By preparing such wickets Australia have completely neutered England’s attack and simultaneously mollified their own batting flaws.

Obviously this strategy also gave England’s batsmen more of a chance, but obviously not enough of a chance – partly because our senior guys haven’t performed, partly because momentum (and scoreboard pressure) has been against us, and partly because we’re not as good as many people thought we were.

Overall this tour has been a thoroughly depressing experience. But everything in English cricket’s garden is rosy, right?

James Morgan

2018-01-06T12:48:01+00:00 January 6th, 2018|Ashes 17/18|114 Comments

114 Comments

  1. Tom January 6, 2018 at 1:12 pm - Reply

    Khawaja? Pfffttt… Who’s this guy? Wouldn’t even get a game for England. Right?

    • Steve M January 6, 2018 at 1:55 pm - Reply

      strawman argument. again

    • Cricketcricketcricket January 6, 2018 at 2:50 pm - Reply

      Troll. James, isn’t about time this guy was banned as it’s constant trolling ??

      • Mike Chaffin January 6, 2018 at 3:19 pm - Reply

        If you have to claim it is satirical then it probably isn’t old bean.

        Just saying…

        • Tom January 6, 2018 at 3:22 pm - Reply

          How does that work?

          If you describe something as satirical it automatically isn’t?

          Your magic rule makes no sense. You are truly incoherent.

      • James Morgan January 6, 2018 at 3:31 pm - Reply

        Tom is allowed to call me out for criticising Khawaja previously. Just like I can point out that he thought Shaun Marsh was a terrible pick when I thought he was a good one! 🙂 It comes with the territory.

        I watched the first three hours last night (up to 3.30am) and I still didn’t see a high class player. Khawaja hit the bad balls, which any international batsman should, but he might have been caught 3 times if England had employed a gully / backward point when the spinners were on, plus he was ‘lbw’ off that borderline Crane no ball.

        I think the straw man argument comes from the fact that Khawaja would probably not be in the reckoning if he was English – due to his unsuitability to English conditions (as highlighted by his modest record in country cricket: 31 in division one, and 39 in division two). Of course, on the basis of this test match you’d have Khawaja in the side ahead of James Vince at 3, but it’s all rather moot because Khawaja would probably not be on the selectors’ radar if he was English.

        • Tom January 6, 2018 at 3:38 pm - Reply

          Indeed, the selection of Shaun Marsh has paid off. That said, based on the evidence available at the time, it was very hard to justify. But he’s far exceeded those performances, so the selectors have been vindicated and the likes of me must eat humble pie on that one.

          I don’t know what “straw man” you’re referring to. A straw man is when you exaggerate what someone has said to make it easier to rebut. I’m not aware of having done that. Have I?

          The reality is that Khawaja has a Test average in the high 40s and just smacked 170. But he’s not good enough to play for England. As you point out, you’ve got James Vince at #3.

          • James Morgan January 6, 2018 at 3:45 pm - Reply

            Moot might have been a better term than straw man but I knew what Steve meant (I think).

            No I don’t think Khawaja is good enough to play for England for the reasons I gave above. His record in county cricket is poor so he’d never have scored enough runs to get noticed by the selectors. However, in these conditions, on a pitch like the one in Sydney, he would indeed get into a hypothetic England team ahead of Vince.

            Having said that, I’d like to see how many Vince might have scored (indeed any of England’s batsmen) against a medium paced Curran, a part-time offy, and a rookie legspinner … none of whom, by the way, have good records in county cricket either!

            • Tom January 6, 2018 at 3:57 pm - Reply

              You are making an argument about how Khawaja might or might not be selected, sidestepping the question of whether he’s good enough to play for England, which he clearly is.

              You must have a very high opinion of the English batsmen to turn your nose up at a bloke who averages 45 at Test level.

              Or maybe, as you suggest, England’s attack is so bad that runs against them don’t really count. Like when Matthew Hayden made 380 against Zimbabwe.

              • Dave January 6, 2018 at 4:19 pm

                I think James made it crystal clear that he doesn’t think Khwaja would be good enough to play England’s home tests, as evidenced by his weak county averages.
                Conversely, he should comfortably get into the current England touring side ahead of Vince.

                Simples

            • SimonH January 6, 2018 at 4:16 pm - Reply

              It’s dubious to judge international players on their CC records. Lyon didn’t do well – neither have FDP, Philander and Rabada to name a few off-hand.

              There’s a difference between dropping in to play a few games and earn some bucks and if it is your pathway to an international future. Also, the CC tests the ability to play medium pace and finger-spin on slow, low wickets in front of three men and a dog. It’s at best an imperfect guide to how someone will go at Test level.

              • James Morgan January 6, 2018 at 8:14 pm

                Khawaja played approx 20 county championship games in 2011, 2012 and 2014 for Derby in Div 2 and Lancs in Div 1. I think that’s a significant sample size. It’s a season and a half.

  2. Steve January 6, 2018 at 1:20 pm - Reply

    Aus planning on baking Eng in the 40 degree Heat and sun tomorrow for 2 sessions by which time the pitch should be a paradise for Lyon, and the Eng team barely able to concentrate.

    Generally while conditions haven’t favoured Eng I also question how much time the Eng pace attack has spent trying to get wickets by bowling shot of a length hard to play but unlikely to get a wicket balls. Seems to have been a lot of this which I think had worked in the past with many Aus teams wanting to score 3.5 an over or more but Smith and even Warner now are considerably more circumspect and happy to leave. It’s made for some slow but ultimately relentless innings from Aus.

    • Mike Chaffin January 6, 2018 at 10:21 pm - Reply

      Question is has England restricted the run rate with their tactics, or is it an Australian tactic anyway?

      It’s the latter. They’re happy to score at 2.5 rpo and grind it out knowing that we aren’t going to bring the field in to attack them as our plan is ‘working’. They’ve produced perfect batting wickets and still ground it out rather than trying to dominate.

      The England bats start looking nervous if they aren’t scoring a 3 rpo or higher, the Oz ones just have a sunbathe whatever their strike rate.

  3. SimonH January 6, 2018 at 1:26 pm - Reply

    One of the lines our so-called media keep trotting out is that at least it’s not as bad as last time.

    Last time, England took 77 wickets in the five Tests. So far, the tally this time stands at 55.

    • Cricketcricketcricket January 6, 2018 at 2:51 pm - Reply

      Last time the Aussies had a 92-4mph rocket bowler in full flight and a 90mph bowler on song.. both would walk in this attack.

      Plus, Aus had better players last time too. England last time weee a good team Just declined., this team is crap and can only play at home which isn’t good enough for a test cricketer

      • SimonH January 6, 2018 at 4:24 pm - Reply

        Oz had better players last time? A best XI of the two teams: Warner (2018), Rogers, Khawaja, Smith (2018), Clarke (c), one of the Marshes, Haddin, Johnson, Starc, Harris, Lyon (2018). That’s a pretty even split between the two.

        • Cricketcricketcricket January 6, 2018 at 7:48 pm - Reply

          Warner, Lyon were in both so why are you picking them as 2018..just ignore them. Suddenly you have just starc.

          Marshes, let’s wait and see before declaring them great as they’ve just filled their boots but boost modest to poor records

          • Nigel January 7, 2018 at 12:12 am - Reply

            Lyon is undeniably a better player in 2018.

            • Cricketcricketcricket January 7, 2018 at 9:28 am - Reply

              Sigh.

  4. BobW January 6, 2018 at 1:56 pm - Reply

    I did enjoy watching Mason Crane bowl. He was genuinely unlucky last night. I cannot believe Hampshire were not using him much last summer.

    • Cricketcricketcricket January 6, 2018 at 2:52 pm - Reply

      Can not believe ??? Seriously ??

      How is a leggie going to get wickets in April/May and sept ??

      • Silk January 6, 2018 at 3:06 pm - Reply

        Rashid would. 😉

        • Cricketcricketcricket January 6, 2018 at 7:49 pm - Reply

          If you say so.

  5. SimonH January 6, 2018 at 2:58 pm - Reply

    Brett Lee was fascinating on commentary last night about the shortcomings in Curran’s action and why he can’t generate more pace. He highlighted both the lack of height in Curran’s leap into his delivery and the lack of drive in his left-arm in his delivery stride. Boycott was commentating with him at the time and, annoying as Boycott can be at times, his genuine appreciation of Lee’s insights was quite touching (and in sharp contrast to ear-bleedingly dire commentary of Swann all day).

    What exactly is Loughborough for if they apparently either can’t notice things like this or do something about them? I had a very similar feeling when Michael Holding was commentating on Mark Wood’s debut and he noticed immediately that Wood’s technique would make him prone to ankle injuries. Two years of ankle injuries later Wood’s method has not been changed (and it doesn’t require a re-modelling of his action – just a change to his run-up so he doesn’t push-off on his left-foot so strongly all the time).

    • Mike Chaffin January 6, 2018 at 3:26 pm - Reply

      Lol.

      Loughborough are very proud of Curran’s action! They even post slow motion videos of it as an example of their excellence.

      That someone who bowls fast can point to the flaws in their approach shouldn’t surprise anyone.

      But yes I have to agree. An ex Aussie player showing a real touch of class by giving pointers to the opposition and Boycott returning that class is in stark contrast to Swann’s bleating ( has he read the no ball law?) or Vaughan’s droning.

      On the whole the Australian commentators have all been superb.

    • Nigel January 7, 2018 at 12:16 am - Reply

      I actually like Boycott, despite his manifest faults.
      He is unusual amongst septuagenarians in that he appears willing still to learn.

  6. Silk January 6, 2018 at 3:07 pm - Reply

    This can’t be right. Everyone in the media think England are basically fine.

  7. Tom January 6, 2018 at 3:12 pm - Reply

    What should be the England XI to face New Zealand in March?

    • James Morgan January 6, 2018 at 3:36 pm - Reply

      We’ll get to that at some point.

      • Tom January 6, 2018 at 3:42 pm - Reply

        I think it’s an interesting thing to project because the reality is that, although England might lose 4-0, there aren’t that many obvious changes. And that’s instructive when the discussion invariably turns to what England have done wrong in Australia.

        If you replaced Ali with Stokes and maybe Curran with Woakes, wouldn’t that basically still be England’s best side?

        • James Morgan January 6, 2018 at 3:47 pm - Reply

          But of course, the lack of depth in English cricket, and therefore the lack of potential replacements, has nothing to do with the ECB in your view?

          • Tom January 6, 2018 at 4:11 pm - Reply

            That would be a straw man argument, James.

            The case that I have made throughout this series is that where you and others love to bang on about the ECB, the Ashes defeat was more due to the poor performances of England’s senior players. The likes of Cook, Root, Ali, Broad etc were always going to be picked. It wasn’t a “mistake” to pick them. Nor was it the fault of the ECB that they didn’t perform. That is my view.

            The question about depth and replacements is multi-faceted. And the reality is that you’re never going to replace guys who’ve played 100 Tests with someone who is immediately better. Do you expect to replace Broad with someone who is straight away an upgrade? That’s probably not going to happen.

            But fundamentally, you have to first establish who should actually be replaced. Who should get the arse? The batsmen who had question marks over them – Stoneman, Vince and Malan – have, in my view, been good enough to warrant perseverance. So who should be dropped? Not Cook. Not Root. Not Bairstow. Basically, you’d bring in Stokes for Ali and that’s your top 7.

            Likewise, with the bowling, the two seamers who debuted haven’t been terrible. I thought Overton was pretty good – that’s another judgement call the selectors got right, isn’t it? Curran has been less impressive but if England are going into a transition phase where Broad gets eased out, you’re probably going to have to give him more opportunities. But would dropping Broad make the side better? I doubt it.

            So, again, I ask: who should actually be replaced?

            • SimonH January 6, 2018 at 4:29 pm - Reply

              NZ are no pushovers at home and Boult, Southee and Wagner is a decent attack (assuming they’re all fit). England have drawn with NZ in the last two series.

              That said, both Australia and SA won their last tours of NZ. Anything less than an England win should not be treated as acceptable.

              I’m looking forward to TRJ being fit and then not selected because he “has to earn his place”.

            • Dave January 6, 2018 at 4:38 pm - Reply

              This is drivel.

              Check out the original touring party (go on, I’ll wait.)

              Did you see Overton’s name? How about Curran’s?

              Ball was there though, and Ballance, and Vince. No sign of Leach, because he ‘cheats’ by taking wickets on strips that offer turn(!)

              Overton and Curran were desperation picks – neither the ECB, nor selectors deserve credit for how they’ve turned out.

              You might be interested to learn that Broad and Anderson became new ball bowlers back in 2008, replacing some guys you might not know about: Hoggard and Harrison? They took a few wickets between them (ask your Dad.)

              The ECB have singularly failed to develop any bowlers to replace Broad and Anderson of Hoggard/Harmison class, or even Caddick/Gough quality.

              In the last few years, here are a few of the first-change bowlers England have used: Jordan, Finn, Woakes, Ball, Roland-Jones, and so on.

              The only one who is consistently selected is Woakes, whom you have dismissed.

              Still think the selectors deserve plaudits?

              • Tom January 6, 2018 at 4:48 pm

                I didn’t say they deserve “plaudits”. I said the guys who were 50/50 calls have been decent.

                Of course I recall Hoggard and Harmison. But what’s your point? Was Broad an immediate upgrade on these guys? I don’t think so.

                And you didn’t answer my question: who should be replaced?

                You wade into pretty hard but have nothing sensible to say.

            • James Morgan January 6, 2018 at 8:19 pm - Reply

              Tom. The point you keep ignoring is that England can’t replace these senior players even when they need replacing. That goes back to ECB and the lack of depth in English cricket. We have to keep playing guys because there are no viable alternatives.

              Just because they’re ‘senior’ players doesn’t mean they’re any good any more. Moeen is ‘senior’ but only because we don’t have another spinner. Broad is ‘senior’ but we can’t drop / rest him because the alternative is Ball or Curran. Do you see?

              • Tom January 7, 2018 at 4:03 am

                Well, I’d say Ali is the only open and shut case of a senior player who should definitely go. You replace him with Stokes and pick Crane/Rashid as the spinner. Why isn’t that feasible?

                Why isn’t Overton an acceptable replacement for Broad? That’s not to say he’ll be as good immediately. But that’s the reality when you replace guys who’ve played 100 Tests.

            • Doug January 6, 2018 at 9:24 pm - Reply

              Well after this series some would say replace the whole bloody side. It wouldn’t be any worse! And while we’re about it restructure and refocus the whole of English cricket management starting from the ECB down. Quite frankly you can’t talk up England this series, its been a complete disaster from start to finish.

              • Tom January 7, 2018 at 8:54 am

                Who’s trying to talk England up?

    • Silk January 6, 2018 at 7:31 pm - Reply

      I’d go with Robson, Stoneman, Cook, Root, Malan, Bairstow, Livingston, Woakes, TRJ, Anderson, Helm

      I know nothing, mind you.

    • Mike Chaffin January 6, 2018 at 8:52 pm - Reply

      It doesn’t really matter.

      England have good players, lots of them, but they’re playing bad cricket.

      • Cricketcricketcricket January 7, 2018 at 9:33 am - Reply

        Englsnd don’t have lots of good test players .. that’s the utter PR BS that is fed.

        Stoneman isn’t test quality and never will be
        Cook was but declining now but there is no one to replace him
        Vince nope, never will be
        Root is a number 5 ideally given his lack of ability to convert
        Malan will be average, nothing more
        Bairstow seems to be bakc to his previous purple patch state so might end up with a average test avarage of about 40-45which shout worthy now,

        Moeen .. get a grip if you think he’s ever test vlsss
        Stokes.. all rounder st 7

        Anderson 35. So needs replacing sadly
        Broad seems shot
        Curran.. lol
        Overton .. lol
        Ali … lol
        TRJ.. lol

        Ballance.. lol

        Yeah, this team isn’t good but there aren’t any county players to replace them which means nit onky is s this team not good but the whole game isn’t good.

  8. Mike Chaffin January 6, 2018 at 3:17 pm - Reply

    The series was epitomised for me when Crane was having a right go at Root.

    Whatever you think of a young player voicing his concerns on the pitch it showed that England have been out thought and out played before a ball was bowled.

    Whilst England were cooing over Vince drilling balls through the covers no-one asked why the convicts hadn’t put someone on the boundary to stop the flow of runs. What would have happened if he were playing on the other side? I think we know the answer.

    Seems we expect our bats to score at 3 runs an over or more and expect our bowlers to concede as few runs as possible. Which is all quite valid in one days games.

    Australia on the other hand are happy to grind on dull surfaces and quite happy for Starc to go at 5 an over. Everything we’ve talked about fits the same theme. Bowling too short, batsmen not going on to get big runs. Everything talked about in the press conferences fits it too. They didn’t get away from us, we’ll work hard, execute our plans…

    Australia are playing test cricket, England some strange one day hybrid. We pat ourselves on the back for restricting Warner but we don’t get him out. We pat ourselves on the back for bowling with discipline at Smith, but we don’t get him out. We keep the runs down then wonder why we’re in the field for 150 overs yet again.

    This is a strategic failure. The players have worked their socks off and done what they’ve been told.

    So to see the young leggie arguing with his captain actually gave me hope. At least someone appears to have learned.

    We pick a bunch of dashing quick scoring bats for a grind fest and some grindy bowlers ( outside of the ball swinging) when we need firepower. And then we ask that they don’t leak too many runs whether they take wickets or not.

    So with a bit of flair finally into the bowling attack we see all sorts of pop ups and chances go begging because the boundary riders weren’t there to scoop the chances up.

    The truth of the matter is that you could switch the bowling attacks around and we would still have lost. “Starc stuck to line and length outside off stump really well today but we just couldn’t force the breakthrough and Smith batted really well” or thereabouts from Root in a mythical press conference.

    Maybe we should blame the players, that they can’t score faster and for longer than their opponents, that they can’t take wickets whilst keeping the runs down. Seems legit!

    How can it be that a 20 year old has noticed this but all the back room staff and strategists haven’t?

    And yes, that is most definitely the ECB’s fault.

    • James Morgan January 6, 2018 at 3:37 pm - Reply

      Root’s captaincy has been poor in this game. I simply couldn’t believe it when he opened up with Moeen yesterday morning. Khawaja was on 93, so he would have been nervous. Three Mo long hops later and he’s cruised to his ton without breaking sweat. It was unbelievably bad captaincy.

      • Silk January 6, 2018 at 7:35 pm - Reply

        Khwaja plays off spin badly. Ali was the last person he wanted to face.

        • Steve January 6, 2018 at 9:18 pm - Reply

          While he got out in Brisbane to him, he plays what Mo has been dishing out well enough. At best Mo has been a holding bowler this series and hasn’t really threatened to take many wickets.

          I would agree if he had been putting on Graeme Swann at his peak, but no the Mo we have bowling at the moment.

        • Mike Chaffin January 6, 2018 at 10:29 pm - Reply

          Yes and no.

          There’s a big difference between playing a spinner badly if you are trying to force the runs or merely sitting there collecting what comes your way.

          He might well play spinners badly if asked to score at x off them, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the judgement to stay in against one who is rarely threatening the stumps.

          At the end of the day Khawaja has been asked to anchor and Ali has been asked to prop up an end. Can’t really criticize either player as they’ve both done what was asked of them in the main.

      • Mike Chaffin January 6, 2018 at 9:00 pm - Reply

        Bit harsh to pin it on Root.

        He has no captaincy experience bar a few tests for England hence is relying on the back office team. Remember the assistant coach saying that their plan was monotonous line and length? Root has stuck to that. The PR has all been about how hard they are working, which we all agree with.

        On a more strategic level the plans, selections and tactics have been completely wrong.

        I doubt Moeen wants to bowl like that. The same ball and expecting different results as Vaughan put it recently, though I think I took the piss some time ago. Moeen is merely executing the plans and strategy supplied to him. The coaching he’s received and the ideas of how to get wickets in Australia are little more than a joke.

      • lisa January 7, 2018 at 1:01 am - Reply

        or bowling two feet outside off stump to a 7:2 field really is that his best plan?

        BTW James its a bit rich to criticise the tabloids when your blog constantly tolerates Mike Chaffins racist tabloid comments.

        We will also see how dead the scg pitch is when England bats. Its a classic SCG pitch been the same for 30+ years (go ask your Dad Mike)

        • Mike Chaffin January 8, 2018 at 12:33 pm - Reply

          Bit harsh to call scousers a different race I feel.

  9. Doug January 6, 2018 at 4:09 pm - Reply

    Well I think it’s all been said by now.
    To be fair we tried hard but we are not good enough. A better team has outplayed us in all areas, like it or not. We are nowhere need as good as we thought we were.
    The pitches have been slow, but we play on puddings at home so that’s no excuse. Stokes incident, poor selection, appalling management from the top down, awful PR, injuries (in fact taking 3 carrying injuries), off field incidents, old boys club mentality etc etc. Malan ok, Jimmy superior with no back up bowling of note. Even he can’t seem to get wickets now.
    They ain’t no “positives” here ECB. A thrashing and a disaster. Shame.

    • Tom January 6, 2018 at 4:13 pm - Reply

      May I ask, what is the “poor selection” you refer to?

    • Doug January 6, 2018 at 5:11 pm - Reply

      Yes Tom: Broad, Woakes, Moen, Ball, Vince to start with.
      Plus no front line spinner or pace bowlers. Fair enough Wood is never fit, but what’s wrong with Plunkett? Or try a rookie, there are some fast bowlers in county cricket but the selectors, team captain and ECB don’t watch it. Meaker, Footit, Porter, oh hang on he only took 70 wickets last season, Garton. Cupboard bare? Mmm

      • Tom January 6, 2018 at 5:24 pm - Reply

        Surely Ali, Woakes and Broad had to be picked? They haven’t played well but is that really the selectors’ fault? Likewise, has Vince been that bad? Who should have been picked instead? I think, on balance, the unproven trio of Stoneman, Vince and Malan have justified the gamble.

        • Silk January 6, 2018 at 9:48 pm - Reply

          Ali and Woakes didn’t have to be picked if they weren’t fit. English cricket are a bunch of liars, of course, so we’ll never know, truly, whether they were or not.

          Broad didn’t have to be picked on the basis of his record over the last 12 months.

          Ball shouldn’t have been anywhere near a Test squad at all. Nor should Vince (though I also thought Malan was a bad pick)

          England had some bad luck. TRJ got injured. So did Finn. Stokes was Stokes. But if you know Ali isn’t going to work as a bowler in Aus, then you give Mason Crane, or Rashid, or Leach, the full Test series against the Windies.

          You get Plunkett playing red ball cricket for Yorks so you have a Test proven quick available.

          You know Wood isn’t fit, so you make sure Footit, or Helm, or whoever, is bowling fast spells with the Lions. Not fecking Curran and Overton.

          Lost faith in Tom Westley? Then you shouldn’t have bloody jettisoned Robson, Compton, and, dare I say it, KP just because you thought Gary Ballance had the technique to play Tests at 3.

          Cook should have dropped down to 3 in 2015, when it was patently obvious he’d lost his mojo.

          Wtf happened to Chris Jordan? He was rapid. His Test career wasn’t too bad. Face didn’t fit?

        • Mike Chaffin January 6, 2018 at 10:56 pm - Reply

          Why?

          Oh because they have central contracts. The ECB decided some time ago that we would play a part time fingers spinner, a used to be fast bowler now down on his pace and a swing bowler in Australia.

          Broad might have been a surprise to us but shouldn’t have been to the ECB.

          You need seam up pace in Australia or else you can’t pitch the ball up.

          The ECB decided to rest and wrap medium pacers in cotton wool rather than a single fast bowler.

          Which is pathetic.

  10. Dave January 6, 2018 at 4:14 pm - Reply

    The ECB/selectors seem to continue to value the ‘bowl dry’ philosophy, when playing overseas.

    While he hasn’t developed in the way it might have been hoped, it is interesting to compare the averages and (perhaps more importantly) strike rates of Broad, Anderson and Finn.

    Finn: 30.4 (avg); 51.2 (SR)
    Broad: 29.1; 58.6
    Anderson: 27.35; 56.3

    If Broad had Finn’s strike rate, he’d have more than 450 wickets by now.

    Of course, the very best bowlers have low averages *and* strike rates (Steyn, for example, is around 22 and 41 respectively) but on this tour, and the previous one, England have been crying out for wicket-takers, not unthreatening, parsimonious stock bowlers.

    You’d like to think that different criteria will be used when picking bowlers for future tours to Aus, the Indian subcontinent and, increasingly, WI.

    We’ll see.

    • Tom January 6, 2018 at 4:58 pm - Reply

      If Broad had a higher strike rate, he’d have taken more wickets. Wow. Truly illuminating stuff.

      In other news, if Root scored more runs, he’d have a higher average. Wonders never cease.

      • Dave January 6, 2018 at 5:10 pm - Reply

        Thanks

        • Tom January 6, 2018 at 5:33 pm - Reply

          You should have your own show where you explain how stats work.

          I’m sure it would be “interesting”. If your blindingly incisive analysis above is anything to go by.

          • Dave January 6, 2018 at 7:20 pm - Reply

            Excellent. I must start a vlog.

    • Mike Chaffin January 6, 2018 at 10:57 pm - Reply

      I think Finn strikes at under 50 in Oz.

  11. SimonH January 6, 2018 at 5:50 pm - Reply

    A certain national newspaper is reporting that the plan to rest Root and others from the T20 series has been junked and he will be playing. There is also a reference to other senior players also playing in the T20s which I guess may mean Moeen Ali as well and possibly Bairstow. Instead players may be rested from the NZ ODIs. Even more incredibly, Root is supposedly considering going into the IPL draft this year.

    The article also mentions that only Vince, Ball and Ballance will be discussed as possible candidates for replacement on the NZ leg of the tour. I won’t name the paper as the mere mention of it can make trigger some to need their safe place – let’s just say it contains the line “Alastair Cook gave what is described as an excellent talk to the squad after the Duckett incident” and anyone interested will know where to look.

  12. SaxophoneAlex January 6, 2018 at 7:20 pm - Reply

    Can we have a “Most Annoying Commentator of the Series” ? Graham Swann has to be a candidate. He was a fine bowler, but really comes across as a nasty piece of work. So immature too.

    • Silk January 6, 2018 at 7:41 pm - Reply

      No. There is no contest. Swann wins hands down.

    • Hungerpang January 6, 2018 at 9:23 pm - Reply

      First person ever to make me stop listening to TMS. Dreadful. And you’re right about both the “nasty piece of work” and immaturity, too. What’s remarkable is that in spite of this being so transparent, and it usually being something that gets people kicked out of team sports, he managed to form a clique so strong with Anderson and Broad that it was Pietersen (one of the few who refused to tolerate it) who ended up being tarred with exactly the same brush and kicked out of the side.

      • Mike Chaffin January 7, 2018 at 4:27 am - Reply

        He reminds me of a drag act I saw in some cheap Spanish resort once.

        I wonder whether he sings?

        • Hungerpang January 7, 2018 at 9:53 pm - Reply

          Bet he does. Wasn’t he the main protagonist in the wretched, cringeworthy “Sprinkler” song/dance? I bet he thought pissing on the pitch at The Oval was a jolly good laugh, too.

      • SaxophoneAlex January 7, 2018 at 5:19 pm - Reply

        Well said, Hungerpang. I too suspect that Swann was part of the clique that got KP out of the picture. No matter that on the 2013-2014 tour, when Swann went home early, it was KP who actually pulled strings with his contacts in Dubai to provide Swann and family with accommodation for a break before facing the press back in England. Swann did once acknowledge this, but he loves to get in digs at KP when he can. KP probably was vain, self-absorbed and foolish at times, but he was far more sinned against than sinning, and I still loathe the way he was made the scapegoat for the failures of the last Ashes tour.
        I’m also annoyed with Ed Smith, when he sneered “naaah” ie no, at Melbourne when Simon Mann or one of the others was suggesting that Jack Leach be given a chance.

      • Stephen January 7, 2018 at 8:51 pm - Reply

        yes. I have always thought that! Glad that I’m not alone!

  13. Hungerpang January 6, 2018 at 9:26 pm - Reply

    Anyone else reckon we could be in for a really top-class England collapse here? 300 behind and rolled for 110, maybe?

    • Silk January 6, 2018 at 9:39 pm - Reply

      Nah. The tail will slog a few.

      I can certainly see us scoring less than 180.

      A draw? Very, very hard to imagine. Maybe if Australia lose early wickets and get bogged down tomorrow, and England manage to get a lead.

      If Aus bat for another 40-50 overs, England are going to be 300 behind and I can only see them losing from there.

      • Hungerpang January 6, 2018 at 9:54 pm - Reply

        You’re probably right. Even the Aussies look like they can’t really be arsed and Starc’s not fit. It’s about as much fun as nicking sweets off an 8 year old. Mo will probably make a sublime 80. I just want it to be over.

  14. Silk January 6, 2018 at 9:36 pm - Reply

    Tom.

    Australia have played really good cricket this series. They deserve huge praise for what they have done, 1 – 11. Particularly noteworthy performances from all four bowlers, the Marshes, and Smith, but everyone has done a bit when it matters (e.g. Paine in the first Test when Aus were in a little bit of a pickle and everyone was asking why he was selected)

    But England have now lost 8, soon to be 9, of their last 10 Ashes Tests in Australia. They never looked like winning any of those Tests, at any stage. The lost 4-0 in India, lost a Test in Bangladesh (as did you), keep losing heavily in UAE, couldn’t even win in Voges’ Windies and look in worse shape now (going forward) than they did 4 years ago. 4 years ago we were promised everything would be fixed, and it was the fault of a few bad apples. Now we’ve got Tom Curran bowling for us.

    Do you understand why we are pissed off?

    • Tom January 7, 2018 at 4:08 am - Reply

      Supporters will always be pissed off when their team loses.

      The question is how you attribute blame and what course of action makes the most sense in the future.

      There seems to be some appetite for wholesale changes. However, if you want to reclaim the Ashes in 2019, how much of a clean-out can you really afford?

      • Mike Chaffin January 7, 2018 at 4:25 am - Reply

        Getting rid of Tom Harrison would save us £607,000 a year!

      • Silk January 7, 2018 at 9:27 pm - Reply

        If we want to win the Ashes in 2019, then you drop Anderson for a year but keep him on a central contract, you similarly wrap Woakes in cotton wool, you drop Mason Crane forever, and you field Stokes plus whatever 3 medium pacers get the most movement (either off the pitch or through the air) in English conditions. You play The Ashes at Headingley, Trent Bridge, Edgbaston, Lords and Headingley again (but disguised as The Oval in the hope the Aussies don’t notice).

        I don’t want to win the Ashes in 2019. I want England to build a side, like the one they had between 2010 and 2012, capable of winning on every surface in the world.

        Which is exactly what the ECB won’t do.

        • Tom January 8, 2018 at 10:37 am - Reply

          You don’t want to regain the Ashes next year? Ok. I wonder how you’ll feel should the Australians oblige.

          • Mike Chaffin January 8, 2018 at 2:55 pm - Reply

            The Australians?

            Strange thing for a convict to say. It’s almost as though someone is merely pretending to be a convict…

  15. Mike Chaffin January 7, 2018 at 12:12 am - Reply

    Bit of inexperience from Crane this morning.

    He’s trying to beat set batsmen with the turn, but because it’s turning a lot he’s having to pitch it very full. Hence a couple of steps down and it’s a full toss.

    From his seam position I don’t think he’s trying to get much drift and he’s a little wide on the crease to the right hander for my liking. Not sure why he’s round the wicket to the lefty either.

    Even on a turner you won’t beat quality batsmen with turn alone, you have to do them in the flight first. He isn’t varying his pace as much either and the outfield seems like lightning now.

    Difficult day ahead…

  16. JohnB January 7, 2018 at 12:21 am - Reply

    I don’t think the state of the pitches is a result of any policy. Melbourne, Sydney and Perth have been pretty flat for a while. Adelaide doesn’t have a standard character at the moment, as they try to work out what to prepare for day night games, and the weather leading up to the game affected the Gabba (it was the coolest and dampest November since 2010 – and England fans will recall how flat that pitch ended up).

    On a more positive note – someone commented how much better the Australian commentators are. You are obviously getting different Australian commentators than we get in Australia. One highlight yesterday was Mike Gatting joining Shane Warne and Ian Healy on the TV commentary here. Gatting looked more than a little like a very pink Buddha (the rotund Chinese type, not the ascetic SE Asian) but what a decent and charming man (rebel tours notwithstanding). Inevitably talk focused on the “ball of the century” and both sides actually handled it well. The bit I wanted to mention was that Warne said how much he appreciated Gatting (and Gooch) writing him letters at the end of that season saying how much they’d enjoyed the contest and wishing him good luck in the rest of his career. Class.

    • Mike Chaffin January 7, 2018 at 12:48 am - Reply

      Gilchrist and Ponting were notably good. Pretty obvious that they’d like to see a competitive series but didn’t expect one. Can’t say I could pick a bad one, they’ve all been excellent.

  17. Mike Chaffin January 7, 2018 at 3:15 am - Reply

    Chances of seeing a 5th day?

    Interesting to hear Sir Geoffrey mirroring what we’ve said on here. We didn’t stand a chance before we even got here.

    Imagine if Sri Lanka sent a tour side to Australia but left their spinners at home. Some good medium pacers and attacking batsmen but not a hope of getting a result.

    No doubt they’ll bowl us out before the end of the day and on to New Zealand.

  18. Simon January 7, 2018 at 5:37 am - Reply

    I have watched the 2014 and 2018 Sydney tests live. On the plus side, this is nothing like the tour four years ago. That time it was clear at Sydney they’d given up. Here, in horrendous heat, they were giving their all (Anderson especially deserves a medal). It’s just they were rubbish. Then last night, we got a few media commentators claiming that yesterday was a success because England never gave up and they will learn from this experience. And I thought that this was an ashes test match and the objective was to win. Just a reminder, yesterday Australia scored around 300-2 on a sharply turning wicket.

    Despite the fact that as I watch we are collapsing again, I don’t think the batting is a huge problem. Every one of the top six has the talent to be a test player. They just need to be given a proper run to learn how to build innings. And they need to be encouraged to get experience around the world.

    The bowling, though, is pitiful. True, we have at least four seamers out injured. But does that really mean Tom Curran is the seventh best seamer in England? And I accept that broad has bowled more match winning spells than even Anderson during his career, but would any other country still select a bowler who hasn’t taken looked threatening for eighteen months? How can the cupboard be so bare of seamers? Then there are the spinners. Ali looked shot – he needs a rest. But don’t believe all the hyperbole about crane. True, he has promise. But on a turning wicket, he took 1-190, which was about right. Again, how can we be so short of spinners? He should be spending the winter playing club cricket in Calcutta, then spending next summer trudging up and down the country bowling leg spin in all sorts of different conditions. He shouldn’t be learning his trade playing against a rampant Australia team in front of 50,000 baying Aussies at the scg.

    Because English conditions are as unique as those in India, we are still powerful at home. But what’s that worth if we can’t win a test away from home? The ecb wants to prioritise white ball cricket. I think that’s wrong – even now teams are judged by winning test series in England, Australia and India, not by how many t20 and 50 over games they win. But despite distinct improvements in the last two years, England are still hardly white ball world beaters, despite the ecb’s best efforts. Meanwhile the championship is sidelined more every year and we produce fewer and fewer bowlers who can take wickets on anything except green tops on cloudy days.

    The ecb is incompetent and something has to change. If not, first class cricket could be dead in England within a decade and we might not even win test series at home.

    • Tom January 7, 2018 at 9:15 am - Reply

      Baying Australians! Oh my word. Poor England.

    • Cricketcricketcricket January 7, 2018 at 9:40 am - Reply

      Totally disagree that these players have the capacity for test cricket

      Stoneman
      Vince
      Ali
      Curran
      Overton
      Ballance
      TRJ

      All are adequate but are not and unless they have drastic mental and some technical changes won’t ever be good enough.

      They should never be given ages to ‘learn” playing for your nation… Jesus, that’s what county Cricket is for… it’s test cricket not a development school.

      You’re letting the team and the ecb off so much.

      Ps, it won’t chsnge and there aren’t the players to chsnge anyway so it’s all mute.

      • Tom January 7, 2018 at 10:18 am - Reply

        All mute?

        • Cricketcricketcricket January 7, 2018 at 4:06 pm - Reply

          Troll

          • Tom January 8, 2018 at 10:39 am - Reply

            What should be the England XI for the 2019 home Ashes?

      • Silk January 7, 2018 at 9:32 pm - Reply

        You fight the war with the army you have, not the army you want.

        Which is another way of saying I’d rather have KP than Ali, but we have Ali and he’s scored Test tons and taken a lot wickets. I wouldn’t have him as my first choice spinner, but he’s won Test matches for England, so in some sense he;s already ‘good enough’. Like Khawaja is, perhaps, ‘good enough’ for Australia (though he plays a different role).

        Not sure about TRJ. He did really well when he started. Premature to write him off purely on the grounds of pace. Bresnan wasn’t the fastest.

        Agree about the rest, but again, Stoneman has to be stuck with for now, simply because there’s no one demanding his spot in the side.

        • Tom January 8, 2018 at 10:41 am - Reply

          Well, what army will England have in 2019? It could well be shaped by decisions made in the next 6 months.

  19. Silk January 7, 2018 at 8:53 am - Reply

    Is it worse to lose because the team has given up, or because they are rubbish?

    In 2014 a change of coach (tick) and a change of captain (oh dear) plus a bit of fresh blood (Steven Davies would have been an obvious choice) could have put England back on track. They had Stokes, after all.

    Right now? 1, 2, 3, 5 (I think Malan will fall away, could be wrong), 2 quicks and a spinner all look mediocre at best.

    Who comes out of the tour in credit? Malan. Anderson. That’s it.

    Crane? He’ll bowl worse and get more wickets (if he plays another Test) but did he bowl better than Malan?
    Ali, Ball, Curran, Broad, Vince, Woakes all look like absolute crap, and Cook is barely better.

    That’s shocking.

    • Metatone January 7, 2018 at 9:50 am - Reply

      I think Ali and Woakes can both come back, although I think Ali in particular needs time out of Test cricket to work on his game. Woakes I think shouldn’t expect to play unless one of Anderson/Broad is not playing. We don’t need a 3rd bowler who is just as dependent on conditions as they are.

      • Tom January 7, 2018 at 10:58 am - Reply

        What is Ali’s role?

        If you have Stokes at 6, Ali basically has to be play as a bowling all-rounder at 8. And it’s unclear whether his bowling is good enough to warrant that.

        • Dave January 7, 2018 at 2:46 pm - Reply

          It’s been shown, broadly, to be good enough in home condition – wasn’t he man of the series against SA?

          So far, it’s wholly inadequate on tour.

          • Dave January 7, 2018 at 2:52 pm - Reply

            In fact, Jonathan Liew recently wrote in the Indy that Stokes and Ali work effectively together: the idea being that Stokes can bat more freely knowing that the no.8 batsman has the capacity to score Test centuries, while the presence of a 4th seamer means Ali can attack more with the ball.

            Not sure about this but it certainly reinforces the fact that Ali in England is a very different cricketer from the one we’ve seen this series.

            • Tom January 7, 2018 at 3:24 pm - Reply

              I think for England to move forward, they need to pick a front-line spinner. If Ali bats at 8, he’ll forever be a bowler picked for his batting. And that will continue to be a liability.

              • Dave January 7, 2018 at 6:09 pm

                Agreed. A whole host of issues have been masked by relative success in home series.

                As you, rightly, highlight for England to progress, which should mean winning away, they need to develop a frontline spinner. And genuine quick bowlers. And an opening batsman or two. And someone to succeed at no3.

          • Cricketcricketcricket January 7, 2018 at 3:20 pm - Reply

            So you’re just ignoring away performances now ? As long as he’s good at home All is good ??

            No.. test match quality is being able to adapt. He’s shown he can’t as well as being too loose and unwilling to bat time when needed.

            For me, he literally fails on all counts

            • Dave January 7, 2018 at 5:26 pm - Reply

              The question was whether or not Ali’s bowling is good enough to justify his place as a no.8 all-rounder.

              Based on recent home results, the self-evident answer is, ‘yes’.

              Of course, he has been pretty ineffective in the last two winters (although, he did score a century in India batting at 4), which leaves the selectors with a dilemma, the solution to which will reveal how highly they prioritise away wins.

        • Silk January 7, 2018 at 3:16 pm - Reply

          It’s the Giles role. Unfortunately, legend though he was, England never won, and would never win, a test series in Australia (or India) with Giles as the spinner.

        • Nigel January 7, 2018 at 5:44 pm - Reply

          The only productive role for Ali is as a batting all rounder – and I’m not convinced he’s ever going to be quite good enough as a batsman.

          • Silk January 7, 2018 at 9:35 pm - Reply

            He’s good enough if he’s better than anyone else who can bat at 3 or 5 for England (the obvious vacancies) and he’s not if there’s someone better than him.

            Which is blindlgly obvious, but sometimes people miss that in the desire to move on.

            (He’d not make my best XI right now, with or without Stokes, but he can come again, as a batsman, perhaps)

  20. Cricket-Now January 7, 2018 at 11:17 am - Reply

    England need changes big time!

    • SimonH January 8, 2018 at 11:04 am - Reply

      The only way any serious change is going to be even slightly possible is if the white-ball team tank (preferably with Morgan making a ton of runs because otherwise all the flak will be directed at him because don’t think they’ve forgotten Bangladesh).

      Thank heavens this low-priority cricket is now over and we can start the stuff that really matters – like ten ODIs….

  21. SaxophoneAlex January 7, 2018 at 5:45 pm - Reply

    New Zealand will be relishing the chance to beat England and, with their good seam attack, who would bet against them at the moment ? They deserve more than these very short series.
    I think only Malan and Anderson come away from this disastrous series with any credit. Before it all started, I had predicted 3 -1 to Australia, but now 4-0 looks most likely. Anderson hasn’t had any sustained support and there’s only so much he can do on his own. Malan has had his moments, including a maiden test 100, and he deserves to stay in the side.
    Cook helped England to draw at Melbourne with his undefeated 244 but has done little else, however the powers that be will keep him. Stoneman started the series quite well but has gone down hill and Vince, for all his classy cover drives, seems to lack a brain between his ears. Could a really good sports psychologist work with him to improve his attitude and concentration ? I have no idea. Root has tried but still keeps getting himself out to poor shots and I don’t think his captaincy has been good really.
    Bairstow has had his moments, but even he throws his wicket away too easily at times, however I wouldn’t drop him. Moeen has been appalling with ball and bat and should not have played at Melbourne or Sydney. Curran and Overton have had their moments but where’s the pace ? Broad is on the decline and though he tries, he is just not penetrative enough any more. I hope Crane can work on his technique and get some advice from former leggies, as he has been doing with Stuart McGill. It was always going to be hard for him coming into a demoralised team that is being outclassed.
    But no doubt the wonderful ECB will be “taking the positives” as usual ! Blazered farts is too kind a phrase for them.

  22. Hungerpang January 7, 2018 at 10:09 pm - Reply

    I think some of the comments regarding Ali are a bit unfair. He’s not been fit all tour, but he’s had to struggle on because the squad selection was so bizarre, with only an uncapped 20 year old as an alternative. I saw some footage of Ali during the 2nd test alongside some from last summer, and his action was noticeably different even to my untrained eye, presumably because he was protecting a side muscle injury. Add in the fact that he has an injury to his spinning finger that presumably can never heal properly because the matches are so close together, and you have a pretty good explanation for his abject performances. Granted he’s been poor abroad before, but he could easily have cried off mid-tour. Instead, he’s stuck it out. I wouldn’t abandon him yet. His record as a spinning all-rounder who bats 8 still isn’t bad.

  23. Cricketcricketcricket January 8, 2018 at 1:36 am - Reply

    Wow.. finally the penny has dropped this series with root, Bairstow and too very much lesser degree ali..

    One session down but that’s proper test batting fellas. Learn from it and show it game in game out

  24. Steve January 8, 2018 at 3:51 am - Reply

    And that wraps it up.

    Joe not well enough to delay the inevitable a bit longer.

    Most telling stat for me is the fact that all Australian bowlers took 21+ wickets. It really speaks to the fact that the presure was relentless. Its also telling that the Australia quick bowlers took their wickets at a lower average but worse economy rate (than Broad and Anderson) suggests that the bowling dry tactic Anderson and Broad have consistently pursued is part of the problem. Against a patient opposition you need to attack the stumps (or in cummin’s case the batsmen) even if it means you go for runs sometimes.

    Would be interested in the % of balls bowled that forced the batsmen to play for both sides. I suspect its a considerably higher % for Aus.

    Injuries aside I would expect the same Aus bowling attack to visit the UK in 18 months which should make for an exciting series. The question is who will be bowling for England. Perhaps Anderson’s last hurrah? Australia will bat worse against the seaming wickets but I also suspect they will do better than last time. Of more interest is whether the Marsh renaissance will be more than a few tests long. Australia still needing to plug a consistent openning partner for Warner.

    • Silk January 8, 2018 at 8:05 am - Reply

      You’d not back any of Bancroft, Renshaw, Khwaja, Handscombe or either Marsh to make runs in England.

      BUT

      You’d not have backed either Marsh in this series, and they did it. So who knows?

      • SimonH January 8, 2018 at 10:51 am - Reply

        The Marshes made more centuries in this series than the entire England batting!

  25. nigel January 8, 2018 at 1:12 pm - Reply

    Good article by Vic Marks, but I was highly amused by this:
    https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2018/jan/08/england-selectors-heat-ashes-joe-root-trevor-bayliss
    “If Bayliss was a football manager he would have been sacked by now but the division of responsibilities in cricket is inconveniently complex for those who like a quick scapegoat….”

    Further comment unnecessary.

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