Everyone panicked! We’re going to lose our five-game winning streak 6-0. Steve Smith is the new Bradman, Pat Cummins is the new Dennis Lillee, and Nathan Lyon is the grenade-throwing genius. In fact, we might as well raise the white flag now. England is the Frank Spencer of world cricket, while Australia has the cunning and mighty strength of Carlos the Jackal.
give me a break.
To be honest, losing ten wickets in Brisbane is pretty normal. Few teams are left with anything but losses. Unfortunately we surrendered on days 1-3 despite slow ascents. The groundskeepers sneered at England, but we wrinkled our noses at it. In this case, it’s all very disappointing, but it’s not the end of the world. Do you remember Perth’s 2010/11 season? We won the next race by a mile.
Because I did all the bad luck ahead of the series – so there’s no need to talk about Australia’s extra firepower and England’s inability to take wickets on the real surface – today I’ll be looking for solutions and trying to think of something positive. As a freshman Fresh out of the ECB’s media management course, I could run into myself, but who cares.
The first issue is developing a plan to appease the attack in Australia. For Nathan Lyon, the solution was obvious. He doesn’t have Doosra, so we shouldn’t hesitate to attack him with more feet. Yes, he’s a good bowler, but he’s far from the best madman England have had of late. He’s not Shane Warne, he’s not Murali, he’s not even Saeed Ajmal. You don’t have to be afraid of anything here.
Even at the best of times, however, dealing with a 90 mph throat ball can be a little daunting. But that doesn’t mean we have to be lambs to be slaughtered. We can still do something. Stark and Cummins are dangerous bowlers, but they’re not Mitchell Johnson or Jeff Thompson on steroids.
While England should not be passive, I think we need to avoid pulling and seducing. We lost at least two crucial wickets at critical moments trying to smash short balls (1st innings Maran and 2nd innings Cook) so my advice would be for Steve Waugh – to leave the ball in the locker inside. There are many other higher percentage ways to score on a true Australian wicket.
That’s obviously tough against 90mph bowlers — who probably shit like American POWs playing Russian roulette in a Viet Cong prison — but older batsmen should have the ability to dodge and weave. The Australians only had four in attack; so any penalties would be in England’s favor. We need to attack Lyon, get the Mariners to throw more balls, and then wait for their speed and accuracy to drop.
When the batsman is attacking, we have to take every opportunity (within reason, of course). Kookaburra balls don’t wobble for a long time, and the seams soften quickly, so it’s easier to play on than at home. That’s probably why James Vince was so good in Brisbane’s first innings. He likes to cover.
For backfoot strikes, we need to use a cross racquet. On Australia’s wickets, chipping in is a relatively easy stroke. Returns and punches are harder, which makes hitters more susceptible to higher-than-anticipated bounces. We also have to let the ball land better. Most good long balls will bounce off the Australian obstacles.
The last thing our hitters need is more focus. With no Ben Stokes and tails potentially blown away, each hitter must take personal responsibility for hitting big shots. Six or seven hits is basically all over; so the top 7 has to be hay. You can’t count on someone else to pull the team out of the woods.
The management can’t do anything about the people. The inclusion of Ballance won’t improve anything, so it’s up to the incumbent to get the job done. Also, let’s not forget that Stoneman, Vince and Malan all did well in Brisbane. This is a good sign.
However, one area where we can make things happen is bowling. After his stellar performance at Gabba, it’s time to kick Bauer out…if you’ll excuse the rather obvious pun. I’m sure the selectors chose Ball because they thought he might be Chris Tremlett’s second term. The problem, however, is that he’s nowhere near Tremlett.
Mike Selvey once wrote that Ball “looks good” as a fast bowler. I think he needs to double check. I personally don’t mind Bauer, but he struggled for the wickets, looked awkward, and he’s as much of an athlete as Rodney Trotter. He doesn’t look like a natural fast bowler in my opinion. An average of 114 after four Tests (43 after sixteen ODIs) probably tells us all we need to know.
It seems like a no-brainer that Craig Overton should play in Adelaide. I didn’t expect much from Overton, but he couldn’t be worse. If Mark Wood is fully recovered (he wasn’t last summer), he should be in the all-time starting lineup. We desperately need an injection of speed, and short spells of snappy and bouncy wooden bowlers could make a big difference.
Another thing to consider, of course, is the choice of Mason Crane. Although Adelaide is played under the lights, there are no guarantees of ball swings and long queues. Remarkably, last year Australia scored almost 400 goals in the third innings against South Africa in Adelaide. In Brisbane, it would be a mistake to play four right-armed Mariners because every attack requires change. Crane may be raw, but if selectors don’t think he’s ready, they shouldn’t be picking him.