Sadly I can’t say I’m surprised. I thought we’d get rolled over for about 200 and so it proved. Australia’s bowlers are just too good. They have four genuinely world class performers. England have just the two.

Like England’s attack in 2005 there’s never any let up in quality. If you get through Starc and Hazlewood then the next two bowlers are just as effective. Sadly, Anderson and Broad are supported by Woakes and Ball, who have been really disappointing in this game. The intensity therefore drops and the batsman can have something of a breather – especially when your spinner has a cut finger and can’t bowl properly.

What’s frustrating, however, is that at times it looked like we might set Australia a reasonable 4th innings chase. When Moeen and Bairstow, and then Bairstow and Woakes, put on reasonable partnerships, I was beginning to think we had a sniff. And then, just as hopes were raised, poor batting put us right back in the mire.

I’m afraid I don’t buy this Wobblyline excuse. Moeen knew (or should have known) where the crease was all along. So what if the line wasn’t straight? He takes his guard in the middle, and he looks down at his feet (tapping the bat on his foot etc) regularly, so there’s no excuse. It’s not like he judges where the crease it based on peripheral vision. Lyon beat him and he carelessly dragged his foot out of his ground. End of.

I was also really disappointed with Root and Bairstow’s dismissals. The skipper simply has to start converting some of these 50s into big hundreds. Joe is a more talented player than Steve Smith but he’s not in the same class mentally. How typical that he was out the ball after reaching his half-century – the ball after smiling and taking in the applause around the ground.

Personally I think Root just relaxed and switched off for a second (and thus played slightly across the line). It was such a shame and a waste. He’d done all the hard work up to that point. Steve Smith never, ever, relaxes for an instant because he knows that it only takes one ball to get out.

Jonny Bairstow’s dismissal was also hugely annoying. They’d just set the field for that very shot. Yet he hit the ball straight down the fielder’s throat. However, I don’t blame Jonny entirely. England’s tail aren’t good enough to survive against Australia’s quicks so he has to take every scoring opportunity that he can. He’s currently wasted at 7 and must swap places with Moeen at least.

As for Australia’s chase I think we all knew 170 wasn’t going to be nearly challenging enough. We just don’t have the genuine pace, mystery spin, and strength in depth, to put the opposition under enough sustained pressure.

As I said yesterday, this game has turned on two things: Steve Smith and lower order runs. The latter makes an enormous difference. I’m surprised it has taken other observers this long to start talking about it.

The problem is that this inadequacy isn’t going to go away. Tail-enders can’t handle quick bowling – the never have and they never will – whereas they can occasionally look comfortable against four medium-fast right arm seamers. This problem is going to bog us all series.

And so, as most of us feared, we’ll be moving on to Adelaide 0-1 down. And this is where the series will probably be decided. England need to pray they’ll get the best of the conditions as it’s likely to be something of a toss up under lights.

Lose at Adelaide and we’ve got another tour from hell on our hands. But if we get the rub of the green and get to Perth at 1-1 (with the prospect of Ben Stokes returning at some point?) then perhaps the series might be competitive yet.

James Morgan

2017-11-26T12:57:58+00:00November 26th, 2017|Ashes 17/18|46 Comments


  1. dlpthomas November 26, 2017 at 1:25 pm - Reply

    With regard to cut spinning fingers, I found this in a chat room. The back story is this guy had a cut on his spinning finger and decided to write to Ritchie Benaud about the “Timaru Wonder Cure’. About 6 months later, he got the reply below.

    Dear Mr Lanchbury,

    I’m sorry it has taken so long to reply to your email but I am way behind with Richie’s correspondence as he continues
    to recover from health problems related to a car accident last year.

    The finger remedy was given to Richie by a chemist in Timaru, New Zealand, who said he had found it beneficial for
    the treatment of leg ulcers for ex-servicemen, particularly if they were suffering from the after-effects of being

    Oily Calamine Lotion BPC ’54 (or whichever the equivalent is in 2014) and Boracic Acid Powder

    Rub the lotion into the wound and then gently dab off the oil which comes to the surface. Rub in the boracic acid
    powder so that it forms a waxy filling in the wound. Keep doing this as much as possible and definitely whenever there
    is a recurrence of the skin tearing or cracking. Make sure you keep the waxy substance filling the hole all the time.
    Don’t be misled by the fact it sounds very simple, but it certainly works for torn spinning fingers and we hope it
    helps you.

    Thank you for sending the four-part MCC Masterclass links. We both enjoyed watching them again.

    Kind regards.

    Daphne Benaud

    • jennyah46 November 26, 2017 at 1:49 pm - Reply

      That sounds like good old fashioned advice? Difficult to apply when out on the field 🙂

  2. oreston November 26, 2017 at 2:01 pm - Reply

    It’s definitely all over if England don’t get a result at Adelaide and may well not matter very much even if we do. Going to the WACA all square would be next to meaningless for this England team. It’s bowling attack lacks real bite on typical Aussie wickets and is already struggling to take 20 wickets. Anderson’s fitness and stamina are a concern. Perth has rarely been a happy hunting ground even during our best sorties down under. Brearley last won there in 1978. 1974? Don’t even go there. Even in ’86 we only managed a draw and England of course lost at the WACA in Cook’s (ahem) “annus mirabilis” of 2010. So no, even going to Perth at 1-1 would not fill me with a lot of optimism.

  3. Growltiger November 26, 2017 at 2:15 pm - Reply

    Woakes particularly disappointing with the ball. It as if he never watched what Australian quicks do with it, or Broad, as a model nearer home. Unfortunate about the cut finger – you can’t spin it when it is actually raw. I disagree about the fat line; you stand where you do because it is in a certain relation to the stumps, and moving two inches back of that because the line is in the wrong place would not fit into the batsman’s normal perception of length (nothing really to do with peripheral vision of the back of the line.

  4. Metatone November 26, 2017 at 2:34 pm - Reply

    Call me a grumpy so-and-so but we need to start admitting that on decks like this Broad+Anderson adds up to 1.5 top class bowlers at most, and more likely just 1. Until we do, we’ll just keep losing on decks like this.

    • Cricketcricketcricket November 26, 2017 at 4:36 pm - Reply

      Getting people to accept the truth is beyond them.. they still believe we have loads of world class players when in fact they are just decent players

      Moeen avg 35
      Stokes avg 35
      Woakes avg 35
      Paine avg 35

      So, none of these are even close to world clsss

      In all their cases as all rounders they are not even close to being world class bowlers either..

      Stokes is a world class fielder tho so I’ll give you that

      • Mark Eldridge November 26, 2017 at 7:16 pm - Reply

        Possibly – but it does ignore the fact that over time some people improve. Stokes has played 19 matches and 33 completed innings in 2016 and 2017 (one n.o.) and has averaged 43. It might be argued that this is distorted by one large score v South Africa but in 2017 in his 7 tests he averaged 44.

        I am not arguing he is a world beater with the bat but allied to his abilities with the ball and in the field he is a very good if erratic cricketer and perhaps better than “just decent”. What is more important, one might suggest, is that he can make things happen when others can’t.

        • Cricketcricketcricket November 26, 2017 at 8:46 pm - Reply

          We use cooks full stats to say he should stay but what see his numbers over the last 12-18 months ?

          The thing with stats is you have to have watched every ball to understand if some innings are meaningless or whether someone avg low because they come up against a top attack on a minefield etc

          Stokes has X factor but England don’t need that, we have white ball strikers coming out our ears.. we need technically proficient batsmen with the mental ability to play test cricket.

        • Cricketcricketcricket November 26, 2017 at 8:57 pm - Reply

          Ps, I’m not arguing that stokes isn’t in England’s front line xi btw (although, given his past conduct I’d say he son his last chance)..

          Stokes is absolutely our genuine all rounder.. it’s Just he’s not a good as people keep trying to say he is. England lack a spinner, we lack pace and we still lack test class batting.

          Vince, Stoneman and malan like stokes before showed a glimmer they realised how to bat.. then quickly went back to white ball hitting and got out (accepting on another day someone could come off but that’s not really quality batting..t hats Just luck)

          • Marc Evans November 27, 2017 at 12:11 am - Reply

            That maybe but it’s bowlers, not batsman that win matches. You can score runs in whatever fashion you like, but you still have to take 20 wickets.

            • Cricketcricketcricket November 27, 2017 at 8:12 pm - Reply

              Not sure anyone said anything different fella.

              Batters set up games, bowlers win it. Anyone sensible knows that.

              It’s why win lose format at the amateur level is a bad idea.. you immediately remove the vague of Bowlers, especially spinners

  5. Comte November 26, 2017 at 4:42 pm - Reply

    Nothing unexpected other than the game going to day 5.
    Smith has a steely determination and I don’t agree that Root is more talented – in fact the latter’s conversion rate is starting to be a problem. I fail to understand why Mo has been promoted above Jonny B when the previous order seemed to work. I get the impression that England have been physically and mentally outplayed here.

  6. Duggers November 26, 2017 at 5:27 pm - Reply

    Why select Ball as your 5th bowler after selecting Crane? In fact that Brisbane wicket played a lot like the Ageas Bowl?

  7. Marc Evans November 26, 2017 at 5:59 pm - Reply

    Conditions will certainly be better suited to this England side in Adelaide and the uncertainty around day night conditions should even the odds slightly. What has been so dispiriting about England recently is how predictable their performances are when faced with the need to knuckle down and fight. We need stronger personalities at the helm, who can motivate the team to be more Competitive as a unit. Without an in form Cook there seems to be no individual to lead from the front in adversity. When you look at the team in the field there should be no doubt who the captain is. I don’t see this with Root. Anderson, Broad and Cook still need motivating and indeed chastising if they’re not cutting the mustard. Too many easy caps are still being awarded to under-performers who are either experienced or promising. Having a couple of good days in a test wins you nothing, you need to be competitive every day.
    Captains like Illingworth, Brearley, Hussain and Vaughan, totally different characters, all put themselves about in no uncertain manner. This set up seems to operate under a committee structure as Root is so inexperienced as a leader. It’s not his fault, but your best player rarely makes your best captain in any team sport.
    At least we took this contest into the final day, something not many thought would happen, but we need to make some sort of statement tomorrow and take a few wickets to give us some momentum to build on. As a Warwickshire man I was always impressed by Dermot Reeve’s commitment to his captaincy mantra, ‘every ball is an event’. He was the most pro-active captain I have ever seen, and was able to get under opposition skins regularly. He would certainly have been psyching the bowlers up for a last push tomorrow, however hopeless it may look.

  8. James November 26, 2017 at 6:21 pm - Reply

    Let’s be honest our attack didn’t have any X factor at the Gabba. 4 right arm fast medium bowlers doesn’t work if there is no movement. We don’t have an out and out quick (because Wood isn’t fit and we didn’t pick Plunkett) so the only option is Mason Crane. I believe leg spinners have done well at Adelaide in the past though I can’t remember anything specific!

    • Paul November 26, 2017 at 6:41 pm - Reply

      Plunkett is injured as well, last I heard he had problems with his hamstring.

  9. Doug November 26, 2017 at 6:22 pm - Reply

    I’m afraid the Aussie bowling is just better than ours on these wickets. They’ve got 4 front line bowlers, we have 2 ,well maybe one an half with Anderson not fully fit whatever England say. Woakes is far better but has hardly played any cricket in the last 6months to warrant a number 8. Ball looks no better than a County Div 2 bowler (thought he’d get more bounce?) and Moen is unable to turn the ball – 6 an over says it all.
    I’d call up Plunkett for a start, of try Overton or Curran, nothing to loose.
    The bating has been discussed fully, but their tail is much better than ours, Smith has patience and Root lacks it. Why not move Bairstow to 5 instead of him batting with a poor tail? And Cook mmmm.
    Miss Stokes? Absolutely. OK I agree his test figures are not fantastic but he makes things happen, and is a genuine all rounder:bat, bowl and field. We’ve lost two players, not one.

  10. Paul Rimmer November 26, 2017 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    What frustrates me is that all the negatives mentioned about Australia actually came true while the hype surrounding theirs bowlers was proved wrong.
    They’re bating lineup has proved to be solely reliant on 2 players. Khawaja cant play spin. The wicket keeper from left field dropped a catch. All of which was predictable yet their bowing attack, which was being described as something from the 80s in the Caribbean appeared difficult but not unplayable (isn’t that the point of Test cricket)
    We huffed and we puffed for a couple of days but if players like Ali and Woakes had the same mentality as Nathan Lyon I think we would’ve had a different result.

    • Tom November 27, 2017 at 1:37 am - Reply

      It might be premature to say Australia’s batting is totally reliant on 2 players. Certainly, Smith was the key in Brisbane but maybe wait more than one innings before writing off the rest.

    • Silk November 27, 2017 at 10:19 pm - Reply

      Which two players is that, then? What was Bancroft’s average in this match?

      Khawaja failed first dig. Vince failed 2nd. Who’s to say Khawaja wouldn’t have scored 83 if given the chance 2nd time around? Who’s to say Handscombe, if he’d have batted twice, wouldn’t have exceeded Malan’s 60ish. Or Marsh, who batted well enough, first dig, wouldn’t have scored more than Moeen and Bairstow combined, if needed?

  11. Nigel November 26, 2017 at 9:56 pm - Reply

    The reality is that there’s not much separating the teams.
    If (& I’ll agree it’s quite a large if) Moeen had been fully fit, and had Cook contributed anything at all with the bat, the balance could quite easily have swung the other way. Don’t forget there were a couple of occasions when England genuinely had their nose in front.

    Imagine a fully fit Moeen bowling when the pitch was turning massively; the difference Stokes might have made if playing in place of Ball (whether or not you want to call him ‘world class’ is entirely irrelevant); what even a ground out 50 over the course of a session and a half from Cook might have done to blunt the energy of the Aussie attack….

    There is not much between these two teams.

    • Marc Evans November 26, 2017 at 11:45 pm - Reply

      Agree largely with this but it is a sad enditement of the state of county cricket in this country that we can’t produce one opening bowler to challenge Anderson or Broad, or one front line spinner. All the alternatives seem much of a muchness, without any consistent success even in county cricket. Has there ever been a time when we were so short of bowling talent generally? I can’t remember one.
      One has to ask if it is the increasing role of white ball cricket, where the priority is restricting runs to defensive fields, that has blunted the wicket taking abilities of young bowlers.

      • Cricketcricketcricket November 27, 2017 at 8:48 pm - Reply

        I agree.. to many people seem to blindly believe we have class talent and everything is fine. County Cricket is poor and this England team is poor.. the fact other teams are poor as well isn’t a good yard stick.

        Until the ecb makes county cricket mean and worth something and amateurs play draw Cricket in their top 5divs of every pyramid the decline will continue at pace

    • Tom November 27, 2017 at 4:27 am - Reply

      If there’s not much between the two teams then it’s a shocking effort for England to lose by 10 wickets. The Test was evenly poised halfway through day 3 but Australia dominated the next five sessions to romp away with it. If there’s not much between the two teams then England deserve an absolute bollocking for capitulating like that.

      • Dolly Catch November 27, 2017 at 11:02 am - Reply

        Well yes, that’s why they are getting one…

        • Tom November 27, 2017 at 12:18 pm - Reply

          What about the “take the positives” crowd?

        • Cricketcricketcricket November 27, 2017 at 8:46 pm - Reply

          are they?? All I’ve seen so far is ‘we did well’ ‘positives to be taken’

          Not once have I heard ‘yes, our three set batsmen in the first innings did well until they got to 50 the suddenly thought it was white ball and started trying to mash everything and then wonders why they got out’

    • Silk November 27, 2017 at 10:23 pm - Reply

      “There is not much between these two teams.”

      I think you are very wrong indeed.

      I think Nathan Lyon is a vastly better bowler than Ali, Hazelwood a far better bowler than Anderson, in Australia, and Cummins a far better bowler than Woakes and Ball combined. Starc vs. Broad? Take your pick.

      Given that, there’s a gulf, bowling, between these sides. Battingwise we shall see. Too early to write Khawaja and Handscombe off.

      As for Cook…well, I’m not expecting him to score big in Australia. 2010 is a long time ago, and Ben Hilfenhaus isn’t playing in this series.

      Hope I’m wrong.

      • Nigel November 28, 2017 at 12:17 pm - Reply

        Australia were 76-4 and 209-7 in their first innings.
        A fit Moeen, or a Stokes out of the clutches of the law, could easily have tipped the balance.

        • Silk November 28, 2017 at 12:35 pm - Reply

          But Stokes isn’t here. And Ali is either not fit, or not much of a spinner (or a bit of both).

          /If/ Warner hadn’t chucked his wicket away against a nothing ball from Jake Ball, Australia might have won by an innings.

          /If/ England had set Australia 300 to win, the way in which Bancroft and Warner cruised to 170 suggests they’d have made it easily.

          etc. etc. etc.

          The positives we can take out of this game are that Vince, Malan and Stoneman made a few runs and that Broad and Anderson bowled pretty well.

          Khawaja and Handscombe? I’d not draw any conclusions based on a single innings.

  12. Danny November 26, 2017 at 9:58 pm - Reply

    Playing in English conditions can mask many flaws, but also expose great strengths. England in England are a great team, because their players suit playing in English conditions. The ball swings, seams, the pitches are slower, grounds (dimensions) are smaller, and it is a more comfortable, traditional environment to play cricket in. As a pace bowler in Australia you need that extra bit of pace and bounce, as a spinner you need that extra bit of turn and bounce as well as control of flight to beat the batsman in the air. In England you do not need these things to be successful. These Australian players would have grown up playing in such a hostile, tough environment, on pitches that were not responsive. You have to have that bit extra down under, if you don’t, you won’t make it. Anderson and Broad will always do well anywhere because of their experience and accuracy. However, Anderson looks significantly less threatening anywhere outside of England. I would also argue that the reason why Joe Root has struggled to convert 50’s into 100’s in comparison to the likes of Smith, Kohli, and Williamson, is that growing up he would have found runs incredibly easy to come by. Whereas the others would have fought like anything throughout their whole innings not to give their wicket away. Subconsciously he might become slightly lazy, in his youth I bet once he got to 30 or so he would just go through the motions, scoring quickly on small boundaries with a hard Duke ball and score runs on a grand scale. You cannot do that growing up down under. Root is a fantastic player, no denying that, he has far more talent and ability than Steve Smith, and is far more pleasing on the eye, but to score big runs around the world he needs to find the focal point of why he isn’t kicking on as much as he should.

    England also have a huge problem with their bowling attack. I believe their biggest problem is that they do not have a spinner who looks like he is a constant threat to take a wicket. Australia do in Lyon. Moeen Ali is a solid bowler who has improved considerably, and will continue to do so, but he does not over spin the ball in the same manner that Nathan Lyon does. Over spin is the main threat in Australia, it beats batsmen in flight, makes length harder to judge, and generates any extra bounce from the surface. If Ben Stokes was available England could easily play Mason Crane instead of Jake Ball and still have four seamers. Crane could be used as a genuine wicket taking threat, he has that ability; he spins the ball beautifully out of the hand. Yes, he would bowl bad balls, but the good ones will be exceptional and create wicket taking chances.

    There are some positives for England to take out of the first Test. Vince has the potential to score big runs in Australia, Stoneman looks very solid, and Anderson and Broad have bowled well. The next test in Adelaide will be crucial.

    • Tom November 27, 2017 at 1:40 am - Reply

      England aren’t accustomed to playing in a tough environment? Maybe they should stay home with a cup of tea and some scones.

    • Steve November 27, 2017 at 7:19 am - Reply

      I think there is a lot of denying that Root is more talented than Smith. Its seems he’s the least talented of the four (Kohli, Smith, Root and Williamson).

      Anyway it Reminds me of people saying Mark Waugh was more talented than Steve. No Steve was as grit and determination is in itself a talent.

  13. Hungerpang November 26, 2017 at 10:02 pm - Reply

    When all is said and done, very likely we’d have won this if Stokes had been playing instead of Ball. Silly, silly boy.

    • Marc Evans November 26, 2017 at 11:59 pm - Reply

      Can’t argue with that. Would Stokes have failed to make an impact in 4 innings. Absolutely not. I hope he is stewing at home and understands the impact of what he has done, so he doesn’t repeat it. Being highly strung is not an excuse for a professional sportsman to lose the plot. He has let his team, his country and of course himself down and he needs find a way to channel his aggression.

    • Tom November 27, 2017 at 1:41 am - Reply

      England lost by 10 wickets in the end. Some of you are talking about the result as though it was close.

      • dlpthomas November 27, 2017 at 1:54 am - Reply

        I must be old – back in my day loosing by 10 wickets was a thrashing.

        • Tom November 27, 2017 at 1:59 am - Reply

          Apparently Stokes would have made all the difference.

          • dlpthomas November 27, 2017 at 3:23 am - Reply

            As an English fan I think we should spend less time talking about “what if” and more time talking about what actually happened. Asking “what if Stokes was playing” is about as relevant as asking “what if Bradman were playing” – I’m pretty sure neither is going to get a game in this series.

            Even if you accept that there is only a small difference between the teams, given that most test matches in Australia produce a result these days, the final margin of victory could be quite wide.

            • Tom November 27, 2017 at 4:30 am - Reply

              If there’s only a small difference between the two teams then do England really deserve any pats on the back after losing by 10 wickets?

              I assure you that had Australia lost by 10 wickets there would be no talk of “taking the positives”.

              • dlpthomas November 27, 2017 at 5:43 am

                By “final margin of victory” I meant number of games won in the series not the margin of victory in a game. As to whether the sides are closely matched, the margin of victory can sometimes be misleading.
                Australia lost the last series 3 – 2 suggesting two closely matched teams despite their being no close games. Were they closely matched or almost equally flawed? Fucked if I know. Anyway I think Australia re the better side in Australia and I expect them to win the series comfortably.

      • Cricketcricketcricket November 27, 2017 at 8:55 pm - Reply

        People for some reason think stokes is this great player remember. Sure he’s good and on his day he can slog a few big runs but over rated.

        Sure he’s our best all rounder but isn’t that good at batting or bowling to make a consistent difference.

        Smith showed test match mental toughness when batting.. something no other England player can seem to match as they get to 50and then go into white ball mode and essentially either come off or fail.. consistency isn’t there as they are corrupted by run rates and white ball..

        Deny all you want but test cricket is dying due to payers being brought up on limited overs slogging. Bowling is suffering as white ball promotes defensive bowlers as batters will get themselves out.

        Again, bring back the money for winning county Cricket and being back the top 4-5divs of every ecb pyramid to draw Cricket and in 10-15yeaes you’ll see a dramatic improvement in quality

  14. SimonH November 27, 2017 at 5:15 pm - Reply

    A few points about Adelaide that don’t seem to be mentioned much in the English press:
    1) Australia have won both their D/N games in Adelaide. They’ve beaten NZ and SA who, one might think, were the teams best equipped to exploit seaming conditions.
    2) The first match was quite close and quite low-scoring but the second match wasn’t. SA tried a funky declaration and Australia responded by scoring nearly 400.
    3) Hazlewood took 15 wickets in those two matches. Khawaja scored 140-odd in the last one which might earn him another chance.
    4) Australia have a better record in Adelaide since 2000 than they do in Perth.

  15. Mike Chaffin November 28, 2017 at 5:47 am - Reply

    How many all rounders have we taken to Australia in the last 30 years only to see them under perform? Even Flintoff has a so so record in Australia itself. Bresnan was probably the best of them, though he barely contributed with the bat.

    We are kidding ourselves, yet again, if we think that dibbly dobbly bowlers are going to be able to take wickets consistently after the kookaburra goes soft. There’s 50 or 60 overs where only pace, cutters or wrist spin gets batsmen out consistently, and it’s worth it even if they go for runs. Woakes and Ball are never going to bowl Australia out, frankly Anderson is unlikely to outside the first 15 overs. Currently that leaves us with Broad and a possibly injured Ali.

    Hopes that a pink ball and a day night match are going to change this seem rather unrealistic to me. As we saw with Collingwood and Pietersen even a three hundred run stand and 550d doesn’t guarantee victory unless you can bowl them out. Course dropping Ponting early on doesn’t help.

    As we don’t have anyone with express pace ( and Ball isn’t exactly slow) surely we have to bring Crane in for Woakes? The batsmen either get runs or they don’t, though if we can’t bowl them out it really doesn’t matter.

    • Silk November 28, 2017 at 12:31 pm - Reply

      Is Mason Crane really a threat to Aus? I know Woakes bowled bluntly (to be blunt) but I’ve seen novice England leggies bowl in Australia. Ugly.

  16. lijo george December 1, 2017 at 7:21 pm - Reply

    your comparison of root and smith was 100% correct, there is never a look of relaxation or satisfaction on smith’s face…

    and as far as this series is concerned, i think england are really doomed and i would be surprised if they can do any better than 0-4.

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