Are England Dead Ducks?

Everyone panic! We’re going to lose this five match series 6-0. Steve Smith is the new Bradman, Pat Cummins is the new Dennis Lillee, and Nathan Lyon is a genius who bowls hand grenades. In fact, we might as well raise the white flag now. England are the Frank Spencer of world cricket while Australia have the cunning of Carlos The Jackal and the strength of Hercules.

Give me a break.

In all honesty a ten wicket defeat at Brisbane is pretty much par for the course. Few teams leave the Gabba with anything other than a loss. It’s just a shame that we capitulated despite the pitch being sluggish on days 1-3. The groundsman gave England a sniff, but we turned our noses up at it. It was all extremely disappointing in the circumstances but it’s not the end of the world. Remember Perth in 2010/11? We won the next game by a country mile.

Because I did all my doom-mongering before the series – so there’s no need to bang on about Australia’s extra firepower and England’s inability to take wickets on true surfaces – I’m going to look for solutions today and try to think of some positives. There’s a danger I’ll come across as a debutant who’s just been through an ECB media management course but what the hell.

The first problem is coming up with a plan to mollify the Aussie attack. When it comes to Nathan Lyon the solution is obvious. He doesn’t have a doosra so we shouldn’t hesitate to move our feet more and attack him. Yes he’s a good bowler but he’s far from the best spinner England have faced in recent times. He’s not Shane Warne, he’s not Murali, and he’s not even Saeed Ajmal. There’s nothing to be scared of here.

Combatting 90mph throat balls, however, is a little scary at the best of times. But that doesn’t mean we’re necessarily lambs to the slaughter. There are still things we can do. Starc and Cummins are dangerous bowlers but they’re not Mitchell Johnson or Jeff Thompson on steroids.

Although England shouldn’t become passive, I do think we need to eschew pulls and hooks. We lost at least two important wickets at crucial times trying to smash short balls (Malan in the first innings and Cook in the second) so my advice would be to do a Steve Waugh – just leave the shot in the locker. There are plenty of other higher percentage ways to score runs on true Australian wickets.

Facing 90mph bowlers is obviously hard for the tail – who probably shit themselves like an American POW playing Russian roulette in a Vietcong jail – but the senior batsmen should have the wherewithal to duck and weave. The Aussies only have a four man attack; therefore every dot ball is to England’s advantage. We need to attack Lyon, make the seamers bowl more overs, and then wait for their speeds and accuracy to drop.

When the batsmen do go on the offensive we need to drive at every opportunity (within reason of course). The kookaburra ball doesn’t swing for long, and the seam goes soft quickly, so playing on the up is easier than it is back home. That’s probably why James Vince did well in the first innings in Brisbane. He loves a good cover drive.

When it comes to back foot strokes we must play with a crossed bat. The cut is a relatively simple shot to play on Aussie wickets. Playing back foot drives and punches are harder, and they leave batsmen more vulnerable to balls that bounce higher than expected. We also need to leave the ball better. Most good length balls bounce over the stumps down under.

The final thing our batsmen need to do is concentrate harder. With no Ben Stokes, and the tail likely to get blown away, every batsman needs to take personal responsibility for scoring big runs. Six or seven down is basically all out; therefore the top seven need to make hay. They can’t rely on someone else to dig the team out of a hole.

In terms of personnel there’s very little the management can do. Picking Ballance isn’t going to improve anything, so it’s up to the incumbents to get the job done. What’s more, let’s not forget that Stoneman, Vince and Malan all did ok at Brisbane. This is a good sign.

One area where we can move things around, however, is in the bowling. And after his underwhelming display at the Gabba, it’s time to kick Ball out … if you excuse the rather obvious pun. I’m sure the selectors picked Ball because they thought he could be the second coming of Chris Tremlett. The problem, however, is that he’s not nearly as good as Tremlett.

Mike Selvey once wrote that Ball “just looks right” as a fast bowling prospect. I reckon he needs to look again. I’ve got nothing again Ball personally but he labours to the wicket, seems rather ungainly, and he’s about as much of an athlete as Rodney Trotter. He doesn’t look like a natural fast bowler to me. An average of 114 after four tests (and an average of 43 after sixteen ODIs) probably tells us all we need to know.

It seems a no brainer that Craig Overton should play at Adelaide. My expectations for Overton aren’t exactly high but he can’t be any worse. If Mark Wood is fully fit (like he wasn’t last summer) he should be propelled into the starting line-up tout suite. We’re crying out for an injection of pace and a buoyant and bouncing Wood bowling short spells could make a significant difference.

The other thing to consider, of course, is picking Mason Crane. Although Adelaide will be played under lights there’s no guarantee that the ball will swing and seam for long periods. It’s worth noting that Australia scored nearly 400 in the third innings at Adelaide against South Africa last year. Playing four right-arm seamers was a mistake at Brisbane because every attack needs variation. Crane might be raw but if the selectors didn’t think he was ready then they shouldn’t have picked him.

The final reason for optimism is that Ben Stokes was spotted at Heathrow airport with his England kit yesterday evening. The ECB said he was flying to New Zealand to see family and this had no bearing on a potential recall … in the same way that I’m pressing buttons on a keyboard but this is no indication I’m about to publish a blog post.

It has since emerged that Stokes is in negotiations with Canterbury about playing some domestic cricket for them. He might even play in the world’s most aptly named T20 tournament: the Burger King Super Smash.

It seems pretty obvious what’s happening here. If the fuzz give Stokes the all clear – which seems more likely now they’ve allowed him to travel abroad – then he’ll be nearby with some competitive cricket under his belt. This seems thoroughly sensible. Denying it, on the other hand, probably isn’t.

Getting Stokes back in the team won’t solve all England’s problems but it will raise morale, improve our batting, bowling, and fielding, and increase our chances of being competitive. Stokes is one of our few batsmen capable of playing extreme fast bowling well – as he showed at Perth in 2012. Having him back would be great.

James Morgan


  • I agree Ball adds nothing to the team. I would replace him with Overton rather than Crane who would be in danger of getting smashed all round the park. In terms of batting options certainly not Balance. At this stage I think we have to stay with the same top seven. If a change is needed later on perhaps go with Foakes as a specialist keeper and promote Bairstow up the order. On performance to date Cook looks the least capable batter but I doubt that they would drop him!!

    • I would prefer to see Foakes with the gloves and Bairstow coming in at 5. Malan could conceivably fill the 3 spot although it’s not ideal while he is still bedding in at 5. However, Jake Ball apart, it does make sense to field the same team for Adelaide at least. A bit of consolidation is required.

    • I’m afraid that your attitude to Crane is exactly the reason that we have NO INTERNATIONAL CLASS SPINNERS IN ENGLAND. English county captains look upon spinners to hold down an end. Great captains always use spinners to attack, and lets face it, Crane couldn’t possibly have been less effective than our second string attack, and he’d have a far better chance of finding the outside edge.

      • Hopefully an Australian coach might tip the balance here.

        Crane might go round the park seems to be the current opinion.

        I hope he does!

        We want them playing shots at him, want them to attack. Because the alternative is to just let them pick off bad balls from the seamers. Doesn’t matter what plans or fields you come up with, set batsmen on good Australian wickets are difficult to get out if they’re circumspect.

    • I would like Mason Crane to be an international class spinner.

      I would like a promotion, and a free house.

      England must not lose at Adelaide. Tossing in a debutant leggie whose wickets in England come at 44 would be … brave.

      Now if Leach was there, I’d be all for it. But the selectors, in the infinite wisdom, have picked Crane, safe in the knowledge that no one would be bonkers enough to actually pick him until the series was lost. And don’t get me started on what Adil Rashid has done wrong…

  • Smith might not be Bradman but it might be an idea to actually get him out at some point in the series (which would also mean getting him in in the second innings).

    At the moment even if he gets a pair next time he’ll be heading into the third test averaging 70, so a 50 would make him pretty Bradmanesque.

    BTW the police can’t stop you leaving the country if you haven’t been charged with anything, they’d have to ask for your passport as a condition of bail.

  • Not sure what all the doom and gloom is about myself, Australia are fifth ranked in the world and look it.

    If you were a convict watch 31 test centuries and the purveyor of daddy double hundreds walking out to open the batting you’d be nervous. Cook will fire, it’s just a case of when. Though Adelaide with it’s short square boundaries would be nice..

    I don’t like the idea of the entire team refusing the short ball. It’s a dominance thing and restricts the bowlers options if you cart them. We have some excellent players of the hook and pull ( Cook, Stoneman, Root and Malan ) so why not use them?

    They’ve got decent bowlers but nowhere near as frightening as they think they are. Starc is either fast or accurate, and seems to get most of his wickets with Yorkers in Sheffield Shield. The other two do look good but all quicks go around the ground when they don’t get it right.

    How is Craig Overton going to offer anything that Woakes or Ball don’t? He isn’t faster than Ball, can’t bat better than Woakes and doesn’t have the even limited experience. Ball will learn, he’ll have to, whilst a bit ineffective he didn’t per se bowl badly at Brisbane and did well in the warm up matches. For all we know he followed the bowling plans given to him exactly. Woakes… just looked unthreatening.

    Crane on the other hand has to play. How many wrist spinners, never mind foreign ones, get into NSW’s team? Presumably they dropped one of Starc, Cummings, Copeland or Lyon to play him. With Ali potentially under cooked and injured we can’t go into a game with merely medium pacers. Also South Australia, Adelaide’s home side, never seem to play without a wrist spinner. He’s certainly a lot better than Zampa.

    So I’d drop Woakes and bring Crane in, give Ball another shot. If it seams it’ll spin so Jimmy + Crane is enough. Can’t see Woakes making runs, just like every other all rounder we’ve brought to Australia for the Ashes. The problem in Brisbane was not being able to take wickets at key moments. Ball is the better bowler to mine eyes, even if marginally so.

    For once though England would have to allow Crane to attack, with the seamers keeping it tight if he flies around the ground. Generally we give even wrist spinners a job of stuffing up an end, which is pointless.

    Lehmann is saying Adelaide is now the fastest track in Australia so we can expect a sub continental turner with ankle high bounce.

    • I’m pretty sure Starc, Lyon, Cummins and O’Keefe were with the Australian team in India when Crane was picked for NSW.

      • Yes, on the whole.

        I think we have to play our best bowlers regardless of batting ability. Ball is better bowler to my mind, though neither of them shined at he Gabba. Twenty wickets needed and all that.

        Woakes failed rather dismally with the bat, not exactly the first time one of our all rounders has done so in Australia. His first innings dismissal was especially poor.

    • I’ll take money that Cook won’t fire. There’s nothing in his record in Australia that suggests he will.

      “The other two do look good”. Yeah. Josh Hazelwood, with 122 test wickets at 26 sure “looks good”.

      The suggestion that Mason Crane, a guy who’s wickets come at 44 in English county cricket (remind me how well English batsmen play leg-spin?) is going to bowl the Aussies away is fantasy stuff.

      I don’t think England are doomed, but if they are going to claw a way back into this series, it will be Broad, Anderson and, if the ball swings, Woakes doing the clawing. Plus a big innings from someone (Root, most likely).

      • The enemy gets a vote.. Particularly with the wickets they prepare.

        I can’t see the convicts playing into our hands by giving any seam movement to work with. Might as well cut their own throats if they did. Hoping for such is madness.

        Crane is a flighty and attacking wrist spinner. He isn’t someone who will prop up and end and go for 2 runs an over. Spinners like that are great for breaking partnerships and one of the few ways to take wickets in Australia other than hoping that set batsmen get themselves out.

        Whether Overton, Woakes, Ball etc other than being crafty or restricting the convicts between overs 30 and 80 you don’t really have an attacking option. Prop up an end, bowl the odd bouncer or bore them around off stump.

        The only genuinely positive and attacking option is play Crane, which given that we have to win is a no brainer.

    • ” Cook will fire, it’s just a case of when. ”

      It this Alastair Cook, averaging 25 vs Australia since 2011 we’re talking about? ROFL

    • Not sure why you expect Cook to “fire” he has’t score a century vs Australia since 2010/11 including two series you won at home and averaged 27 in the last in the last three series in Aus. Basically they (Ryan Haris) figured out his weakness in not being able to off drive and he’s been under control ever since. He’ll get some runs at some point but I wouldn’t pin my hopes on him.

      • Well that’s one way to describe one of the best batsmen England have ever had.

        May I presume he would instantly be a god, invincible and ready for a knighthood should he score a Daddy hundred at Adelaide?

        Personally I can’t think of many openers from the entire history of English cricket I’d rather see walk out to open the batting in the Ashes. Matter of perspective I guess.

        • “Personally I can’t think of many openers from the entire history of English cricket I’d rather see walk out to open the batting in the Ashes. Matter of perspective I guess.”

          A very peculiar thing to say given his poor Ashes record.

          In India, he’d open for me, with Hobbs. He’s a brilliant player on slow pitches.

          In the Ashes I’d take, in no particular order

          – Grace
          – Hobbs
          – Sutcliffe
          – Hutton
          – Edrich
          – Edrich
          – Boycott
          – Gooch
          – Vaughan
          – Tresco

          ahead of Cook.

  • A week ago England had a 50:50 chance winning the Second Test even if they had lost the First.

    They have not been helped by their off-field leadership – first in that leadership’s mismanagement of the last 4 years, second in that management’s innate spinelessness.

    They should have stood side by side with Stokes. Campaigned on the basis of Stokes’ action to protect the vulnerable at his own physical risk. Challenged the press if they had called for his suspension. Called out the police: ‘he is selected and travelling’. ‘What are you going to do about it?’ Got Clarke to put whatever bail was necessary if they had charged him. Communicated to the Aussies through this that they would (pun intended) take no prisoners on this tour. Picked three 90+ bowlers to fight fire with fire. Responded to the Perth incident by calling out Australia for making a fuss about of ‘bit of players’ banter’. Told everyone they trusted the players and expected them to enjoy this tour off the field so they can play tough and uninhibited on it. Taken inspiration from the British Lions’ “99” call.

    A ‘society girl’ was asked yesterday why OEs like American girls – look it up. And she told them how the likes of those that went to Radley and Uppingham have the fear of taking risks beaten *into them* from prep school. It was not the time to lecture the side moments after coming off that field. Or to ‘gate them’. It was the time to stand by them. It was not the time to go first into a presser but to wait for the Australians to comment first and to given them and any complaining press two barrelloads.

    As it is, we have behaved like ‘Poms’ are expected to behave. Basically those that have not capitulated have been told to capitulate. If we don’t now have that 50:50 chance we have our management to blame.

      • Dobell reinforcing my point in his piece today, “Have the ECB done enough to alter this narrative? By instigating a curfew, haven’t they reinforced the impression there was a culture of late-night drinking within the team. By stating the players needed to be “smarter,” hasn’t Andrew Strauss implied they were less than smart in the past? By saying the players shouldn’t “put themselves in a position to be targeted,” hasn’t he somehow conceded that they might have done so?”

        The policy and the comms have been dire. And is in the same vein begun with Stokes.

      • You have a huge budget, total control via central contracts, you have two (if not four) years to plan and get 4 X 150kph bowlers onto an aircraft by Nov 2017.

        And here is the list Gough compiled in 2015: (Stuart) Meaker, (Chris) Jordan, (Chris) Woakes, (Steven) Finn, (Mark) Wood, (Liam) Plunkett, (Ben) Stokes, (Mark) Footitt, (Jamie) Overton, (Matt) Dunn, (Tymal) Mills and (Stuart) Broad

        • It’s laughable that Woakes is on that list. Just laughable.

          And there’s no way Broad is bowling at 150kph these days. Finn? 150 kph? Really?

        • Again.. pipe dreams … I’m sure the odd ball can reach 90mph but their operating speed is mid 80’s

  • I must say, I was a little concerned about Australia going into the first Test with four bowlers. But then I saw England had gone in with just two!

    As for the positives, I agree England shouldn’t shit the bed just yet. But if you’re going to build an entire post-mortem around playing down the quality of this Australian team (Lyon isn’t Warne, Starc and Cummins aren’t Thompson etc), it’s a bit of a stretch to then look for silver linings in a 10-wicket defeat. England capitulated against a team you don’t rate. If the result was reversed, I’d wager Australian fans, press and players wouldn’t be “taking the positives” after being flogged by a mediocre England side. I guess that’s just one of the inherent differences between Poms and Aussies.

    Halfway through day 3, England had their noses in front. Australia then dominated five sessions in a row to turn an arm wrestle into a romp. That turnaround was initially due to a lack of support for Broad and Anderson, which allowed Australia to scrounge a first-innings lead. And then the Australian attack, which you insist is nothing special, comprehensively outplayed England to keep the fourth-innings chase under 200. England’s lack of bowling depth was then further illustrated by the fact Australia chased 170 for no loss.

    Now, you’re welcome to “take the positives”. I agree there’s little point panicking. But the manner of that defeat should also send up some red flags for England. The fact Australia found that extra gear at the crucial moment and then steamrolled England should be a concern. The lack of support for Broad and Anderson should be a concern. And the power and variety of the Australian attack should also be a concern, particularly if it means England’s tail doesn’t hang around, let alone score handy runs.

    So yeah, no need to panic. But you’d want to bat first in Adelaide and score 400+. Because even average Australian teams can become powerful front runners once there’s blood in the water.

    As for the headbutting “scandal”, the English team management and tabloid press have been sold a classic Australian wind-up. Watch out for the drop bears! Although it makes you wonder why Joe Root wasn’t as resilient as Cameron Bancroft when met by a “glancing blow” at The Walkabout in 2013. I guess that’s just another one of those inherent differences between Poms and Aussies.

  • ‘…Mike Selvey once wrote that Ball “just looks right” …’
    Perhaps the most damning comment yet.

  • I’ve think the over-reaction against the over-reaction is, well, an over-reaction.

    Brisbane was a very poor performance by the England attack. Ball, Woakes and Ali were all very blunt indeed. Putting faith in debutant Overton, not-very-impressive-in-his-international-career-so-far Wood (his international performances have not been stellar) and a leggie with 75 FC wickets @ 44 is … optimistic.

    Of course England /can/ fight back. The signs of from the first Test are not all that encouraging, particularly given Hazelwood appeared to have shaken off the cobwebs by the time the 2nd innings came around.

    Also, w.r.t. Lyon, “There’s nothing to be scared of here.” ignores reality. Nathan Lyon is a bloody good offspinner who beat the bat regularly in the first innings and could easily have had more wickets than he ended up with. Play more positvely against him, by all means, but also accept he’s a fine bowler who needs to be treated with respect. Peak Swann (2010) took 64 wickets in a year, at 26. This year Lyon has 51 at 23. Wanna bet against him getting another 14 before the end of 2017?

    • There does seem to be a weird disconnect in the English reaction to this result.

      On one hand, they want to find the silver lining in a 10-wicket defeat. On the other hand, they want to minimise the quality of the Australian side that inflicted it on them. It’s not easy to walk that tightrope.

      For mine, I agree that this is not a great Australian side. But the bowling attack is powerful and varied and pretty effective in home conditions. Compare it to England having two effective bowlers and it’s ‘advantage Australia’. And I also agree that Australia’s top 7 has some obvious question marks hanging over it. But so does England’s.

      So by all means shrug off the result of the first test because “this Australian side is nothing special”. The English commenters might even be right about that. But what if the English side is even less special?

      • Tom. Most England fans agree that we’re not special. The pre-ashes discussion was about two flawed sides but with Australian having the advantage because they’re at home. Some people branded this as defeatism and getting our excuses in first I seem to remember ;-)

        • No, most England fans and media believe we have many world class players ! This England side is over rated and below average in terms of test cricket. Luckily, the Aus side is just as bad

          • How can a team that wins by 10 wickets after losing the advantage of the toss, on a pitch that was more suited to the opposition bowlers on the first 3 days be called a bad side? Gee whizz folks, be real here – a good side won, beat what was in front of them, adapted to a pitch that wasn’t in the script and planned for, took the opportunities when they were presented. England were not bad for two and half days, neither was Australia, both were in it, but a good side had to take the initiative and Australia grabbed it first, like any good side should in those moments. You have to be good to sense it, grab it and don’t give it back.

        • And I stand by that. It’s straight from the English pre-series playbook to make excuses in advance.

          But now we’ve had one match, surely you react rationally to the result. To this end, I’m not sure you can just “take the positives” from a 10-wicket loss to a side no English fans seem to rate.

          Lyon’s not Warne. Starc and Cummins aren’t Thompson. Smith isn’t Bradman. OK, that’s all true. But maybe they don’t need to be.

          It’s a five-Test series so England can undoubtedly recover but there are some genuine red flags. It’s not “defeatism” to identify them.

    • I’ve said many times that Lyon is a fine bowler. He was one of the reasons I backed Australia to win the series. But good batsmen shouldn’t be ‘scared’ of an orthodox off-spinner without a doosra – in exactly the same way that Australia shouldn’t have been scared of Swann in the past. Lyon is not Shane Warne or Murali.

      • For sixty percent of the England batsmen Lyon is not an off-spinner, James. Going out to the pitch of the ball is one thing when the stock ball is turning into the pads, quite another when it is threatening to beat the bat on the batsman’s vacant off side. He has some decent dip, very little variation other than ‘natural variation’ when the ball lands on leather more than seam. Despite the long pre-match article about changes he has made recently, there was no underspin on show.

        The England left handers are playing him in the same way KP began to play left-armers, mid career, making sure they get leg side of him and allowing the ‘good ball’ to beat the outside edge.

      • Lyon doesn’t have an arm ball either so he should be less dangerous than Swann particularly against left handers.

        • and yet them wickets keep coming. Against India, against the Saffers, against England…

          He must be doing something right.

  • Losing by 10 wickets is never a good result and no amount of verbal spin can change that.
    Ball offers so little. Overton? I just don’t know. Crane – something that might be needed to lift
    the team out of the brown stuff in which it will find itself. Wood – absolutely not, unless he is 100%
    fit. I expect one change at the most. In the meantime, chaps, stay away from the nightclubs and
    late night bars. It’s not a lot to ask given the megabucks you’re being paid.

  • I’m not seeing too many positives. We played very well and managed to lose by TEN WICKETS. They’re batsmen did what we all knew they would do and rely on Smith and Warner. The fact that the bowlers didn’t do anything special but bowled us out twice is very worrying for what’s to come.

  • Who’s “Geoff Thompson”? I remember Jeff Thomson. Used to bowl a bit quicker than Dennis Lillee.

    • Geoff Thompson was Jeff Thompson’s grandfather. He bowled left arm rapid for Victoria and St Kilda. He brushed his teeth with beer and slept with over 6,000 women. Either that, or I just wrote a stupid typo and am now trying to cover up the mistake.

  • Yet again everyone is ignoring the reality

    Both sides aren’t very good at all and yet people boast about how world clsss most of them are..


    That’s 7 out of 11 who the fans and media spout as being world class.. really? The Aus side is also just as bad btw

    This game was a really enjoyable test match, the wicket was flat but it was hard to score on which kept it interesting. Stoneman, Vince and malan player wounderfully for their 50’s then all three decided to go white ball and shock horror got out (Vince was comically dropped on 53 was it??). Moeen isn’t good enough to bat above 8 and yet people here call him a test batsmen !! The tail acted like a tail

    Australia has just the same batting issues.. only difference was smith stayed in test match mode and was supported by a test innings by Cummings ..

    Second innings England just came out playing white ball shots and got cleaned up.. clueless and brainless Cricket. The reality is that these players simply aren’t good enough to be able to mentally play test cricket and that’s why the game will die and decline in qualiyb

    • The real measure is how world class are they against this opposition in recent series (ie since 2013 when many of these players have played against each other).

      Cook :Av 27
      Root :Av 40.65
      Stokes: Av 30.00 (bat) Av 33.07 (ball)
      Bairstow: Av 24.76 (bat
      Ali: Av 37.10 (bat) Av 45.92 (ball)
      Anderson: 33.7 (ball)
      Broad: 25.22 (ball)

      So, We have Root (batsman), Stokes (allrounder) Ali (batting allrounder) and Broad who are really world class with good support from Anderson.
      Broad and Stokes being the two standouts.

      ( Incidentally if you exclude 2 games played in Nottingham both Broad and Anderson’s figures are materially worse! I’d suggest conditions in Aus won’t really match those at trent bridge but I have left it in)

      Compare with (Same period and opponent)
      Warner 47.68
      Smith 50.8

      Hazlewood 25.75
      Starc 29.54
      Lyon 29.75

      So When you compare the players actually here (ie not stokes). You really have a much better set of figures for Australia with 5 clear world class players. To Englands 3-4. (Root, Ali and Broad + Anderson). And the Australian ones have generally better figures overall with the balance of games being played in England so you would expect the conditions to have favoured England generally).

      • World class for a batter is 50+ average
        Bowling isn’t high 20’s plus

        That just shows how much people are quick to call players world class..

        • World class is merely a player who would get into any side in the world now. It is not merely to do with stats, hence Stokes presence there. There is not one team in the world who would not include him in all forms of the game now. Root and Anderson are the only other Englishman with similar claims.

          • Would ali get in a world team ???

            I’m not sure Anderson walks into all teams either

            Stern, philander, starc, Rabada All might say they are above him for a start

  • Valiant effort James. I’m pessimistic but England have surprised me before, sometimes by playing complete rubbish one match then fine the next and vice versa too.

  • “Few teams leave the Gabba with anything other than a loss”.

    True enough – the Gabba is the toughest ground for visitors anywhere in the world since 2000 – but there are losses and there are losses. Let’s look at how the teams who’ve played there since England’s last visit did:
    1) India – had a big century by Murali Vijay to cheer and took six Australian wickets as the home side chased 130-odd.
    2) NZ – had a big century by Kane Williamson to cheer (although their bowling was absolutely clattered).
    3) Pakistan – had a big century by Asad Shafiq to cheer and they came within 30 runs of chasing down nearly 500.

    In short, everyone else put up a better fight than England.

    A word also about the crowds – there was some adverse comment about the attendances, especially on Day Four. There were 20,000 in the ground on Day Four which is more than most English grounds can hold and 125k overall crowd is a record for the Gabba. There’s very little positive media coverage of this sort of good news and, whether by accident or design, this fuels the agenda of those who want to kill off Test cricket. I bet Tom Harrison’s first thought was he wished this Test was four days!

  • My opinion:
    2nd Test: Cook, Stoneman, Vince, Root, Bairstow, Foakes, Ali, Woakes, Broad, Crane, Anderson.
    Bairstow MUST bat higher up the order, and give Foakes the wicket, he’s the best around by a mile. If we could go with 4 bowlers then Malan comes in for Woakes who is not doing it. But we can’t so Malan misses out, but again Foakes is a better bat. Try 2_spinners at Adelaide otherwise why is Crane in the squad?
    If they are fit Wood and/ or Plunkett for the subsequent tests. Otherwise we’re paceless.
    Not sure why Rashid is being mentioned, wouldn’t touch him in the test side.

      • Because Aussie played Crane in the Sheffield Shield and rate him highly. We do this every time: hardly ever play young promising players because they are ‘not ready’. When will they be ready?
        Rashid bowls too short and too many 4 balls, and the last time I saw him in a floodlite County 4 day match at Headingly , Sanga. blasted him all around the park.
        We have to win at Adelaide and playing Ball and Woakes ain’t going to do it.

        • Everyone rates Crane highly, but he doesn’t seem to take many wickets. Rashid has a better record in this, even if his control can be iffy. Promising should not be enough to earn test caps.

          • I can’t figure out why his strike rate is so high.

            Not that a wicket every 68 balls is bad, he just looks a lot better than that.

            KP reckoned the Ageas was the best track to bat on in the country and the boundaries aren’t that big… Don’t think it quite explains it though.

            He’s only bowled 800 overs.

        • So an the basis of the NSW selectors we are going to pick Crane, whose FC wickets come at 44?

          Just guessing, as I haven’t seen him bowl, but with a FC average of 44 I’m guessing there are plenty of 4 balls in there.

          As for Rashid getting destroyed by Sangakarra, well, in case you hadn’t noticed it, there’s a very good argument that, since he stopped being keeper, Sanga has been the best batsman in the world since Bradman, or since G Pollock, at least.

          EVERYONE got destroyed by Sanga this summer.

          • Saw Mason Crane twice in four day cricket last summer (16 wickets at an average of 57). He was dispatched a fair bit no question but came through in the T20s against SA, so if picked may go ok or at least not get stage fright.

            His wicket taking on tour so far comes a similar cost. There is very little domestic 4 day cricket in the second half of the English summer on which to judge him, or for him to have developed for that matter.

  • Been looking up some fairly depressing stats regarding our Ashes results in Oz over the last 20 years.
    Played 25 tests. Lost 18. Won 5 Drawn 2.
    In only 1 of those 5 series did we win more than 1 test.
    Everyone knows we have to be competitive for 5 days, not just 3.
    Everyone knows we have to find a way of restricting Warner and Smith.
    Everyone knows we have to convert 50’s into 100’s.
    Everyone knows we have to bowl as a unit.
    Everyone knows they have a vulnerable batting line up.
    Everyone knew all the above before the start of the series.
    Yet we were well beaten in the end because we failed to capitalise on any of them.
    Australia maybe number 5 in the world test rankings, but at home against us that is irrelevant.
    I still believe we can win this series, but we have to believe. For this reason I would not make changes, except for tactical purposes. I do not believe any of the alternatives are significantly better. This 11 knows why they’re up against and should be given the chance to get to grips, without worrying that their place in the side is constantly under threat.
    You don’t replace someone because he can’t be any worse. You replace him because it will make the team better. International sport is littered with players who’ve only been allowed fleeting appearances before being discarded, as the fear factor takes over. If you select a player in the first place have the courage to show some faith, even in adversity.

    • Ah blind hope .. love it

      You say everyone knew but I’m nit sure everyone does.. people really do rate our payers and make all sorts of excuses for them when they fail .

      I’ll pick on stokes.. avg’s crap.. ‘oh but he avg’s more in the last x’ or ‘but he scored that 200 once (forgetting it was a road and against an attack who were t playing well at the time)
      Not forgetting that part of being a test player (which should be you’re the best we have) is about consistency. Everyone blissfully accepts now white ball mentality of ‘smash em’ or ‘skittled’..

      Essentially, not everyone knew because they really believe this team is good

      • Averaging 35 at 6 is fine, if you offer a wicket taking threat, which Stokes does.

        The thing which, mildly, annoys me is that Bairstow (certainly) and Ali (probably) are better batsmen than Stokes, but we will still push at least one of them down the order to accomodate Stokes at 6.

        But seriously, if Stokes can average 35 with the bat and 32 with the ball over 100 Tests I’ll be very happy. That’s an impressive showing. There aren’t many cricketers with better numbers than that.

      • Blind hope is what drives most supporters in team sports. Why do people turn up week in week out to watch teams with little prospect of more than the occasional success. At the start of every game blind hope tells you there is a 50-50 chance. Sport is littered with improbable results, mostly brought on by either form lapses from the favourites or inspiration from the underdogs. If everything were to go according to ratings no one would watch. Anyone who supports a team properly is in it for the long haul, thick or thin, which for most is thin. Look at Leicester City for the ultimate improbability factor, and this season Burnley. Every season there’s a team that comes from nowhere. It’s more difficult in cricket as the game lasts longer and there’s more chance for class to tell, but the improbability factor is still there.
        I rate our present team man for man as able as theirs, and I think we’d be favourites in England. We have to adapt to conditions just like any touring team and on a few occasions we did that well in Brisbane, looking a competitive outfit. However I think it’s self evident where we fell short, it’s just about believing we can improve.

  • Flash flood warnings in South Australia… Seems Adelaide itself isn’t quite included, but all surrounding areas are.

    Might give the groundsman some headaches…


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