Crickets are a drug – a bad drug. After two years of crap, Cardiff was the high point we sorely needed. I snorted. But God sent me back to Earth. I have a dry mouth and a headache. This is the ultimate lineage.
I can hardly imagine a more frustrating, intense and humiliating defeat – or a worse England performance – than this. While Australia played well and looked more like oldies, England sucked. In fact, garbage is also very good. We are very poor.
Our cricketers have no excuses. Every time we win a friendly, we fall to the ground. Have we become complacent? Are we starting to believe the hype? I started to think so.
While we lost an important toss at home, our performances on the field were lackluster. It’s almost as if we’re expecting success and assuming good things will happen automatically (as if by magic) when in reality they don’t. Every bowler is improving. A harsh judge might say this reflects a lack of effort. At least it exhibits an unforgivable lack of intensity.
On the other hand, perhaps we have to admit that our teams are fickle: they do their best, but their best isn’t always good enough. We won Cardiff with a good performance and we lost the game with a poor performance at Lord. so what? This is a game played with three. Brace yourself, guys.
I personally disagree with the latter view. I know I’m not the first to say this, but the way England were beaten was so brutal and instinctive that it was hard to come back.
The problem is that in the Lord we have suffered more than one loss. If we’d just been voiced, we’d probably chalk it up to a bad day at the office: “Next time it’ll be someone different”. But that didn’t happen. England was crushed. Our batsmen looked terrified. We are psychologically devastated.
Stuart Broad suffered a head injury against India last year and it took him months to recover. Some might say he hasn’t recovered yet. Should helmet-battered Joe Root, Mohn Ali, Gary Ballance and Ian Bell recover within weeks?
All of these hitters have had horrible makeovers. They’re restless, neurotic, and—that’s another word—frightened. Johnson and Stark startle them. Even Alastair Cook, who was so heroic in the first inning, was physically beaten and ended up looking like a broken man.
England suffered such humiliating defeats on a regular basis in the 1980s. West Indies fast bowlers have invaded our minds. It’s a whole new red-ball game when the batsman’s physical fitness is at stake.
Chris Broad, once England’s top batsman, looked relieved to have been sacked in an illuminating Test match. He was hit so horribly that Pavilion offered a welcome respite.
How many current batsmen in England would feel the same way?
Ian Bell looked completely unmotivated, Jimmy Anderson failed to take a wicket in the game, and Alastair Cook, despite batting with great determination in the first innings, looked Like a player who is struggling with his own limits and trying to avoid the carnage around him to get to know him.
While Chris Rodgers and Steve Smith scored with ease, England rock needed every ounce of its famous mental toughness to survive. Perhaps that best represents the rift between the two teams.
Ferocious bowling often plagued Bell and Cook. The pair are under 40 against Australia in 30 and 27 Tests respectively. History has taught us that in the cauldron of crickets we cannot always count on them. If the seniors are defeated so decisively, what chance does the base have?
England desperately need Joe Root to score if we are to be competitive. Let’s hope our future captain doesn’t suffer from his bang on the helmet and maybe gets a promotion. If Root folds, we’re screwed.
So what can England do? In terms of selection, I’m all for continuity, but choosing the exact same 2, 3 and 4 at Edgbaston will be good for Australia; so we avoid conservatism, copy Australia’s post-Cardiff blueprint, and reorganize the squad repair.
The first option is to pick the exact same XI, but change the batting order. Root can go to 3, Bell 4 and Balance 5.
The next option is to simply make changes at 3. I hate to say it because I believe he is a talented player, but Ballance cannot play against top bowlers with the methods he has. He is a sitting duck. He’s been hitting the ball long enough to show everyone what he’s capable of. He needs to catch his breath and work on his technique.
The next option is to drop Lyth and Balance, or even Lyth, Balance, and Bell. The latter would smell of panic, in my opinion. With Kevin Pietersen banned by a board that decided to punish him for embarrassing them, we don’t have a proven international batsman waiting to step in – let alone three.
So my personal preference is to continue with Lyth (who scored 100 goals a while ago) and give Bale one last chance at Bale’s home ground. I’m afraid Ballance is doomed, though. I’ll turn Root to 4, Bell to 5, and pick a freshman to come in third.
Unfortunately, no obvious candidates made it to the site. Alex Hales might be worth a shot, but I’m not sure his skills are good enough. He often seems unsure of moving the ball in ODIs. Unfortunately, none of the other obvious contenders such as James Vince, James Taylor or Varun Chopra got enough marks this year.
The only other possible option I can think of is James