It’s not rocket science, is it? England are losing friendlies because our top order is as fragile as a toddler’s temper. You can’t win friendlies if you’re 40-3 all the time. Everyone knows this.

Somewhat overlooked, however, is the importance of Australia’s top three. They are practically as important as England’s leaders – if not more so.

If England’s front three were blown away, ie if Lyth fell a goal behind, Ballance was unmasked and Alastair did absolutely nothing wrong other than a poor shot, England would have to emulate the relative solidity of Root and Stokes.

Australian mid order actually has a softer underside. Adam Vogels doesn’t look like a Test match batsman so far, while Mitchell Marsh is talented but far from a finished article. They also had a debutant at 7 years old.

On top of that, Australia needs the top order more than England. Had Anderson and Broad fired Rodgers, Warner and Smith early on, the Aussies would have been shunted by shit without proper tackle.

So the first class at Edgbaston is absolutely crucial. I hope it sets the tone for the entire Test race. England can breathe a sigh of relief if Lyth can stay with Cook long enough and the captain can fight for his mark. On the other hand, an early wicket would put Bale under unbearable pressure. When that happens, I think we all fear the worst.

However, Anderson and Broad could bring momentum back to England if England win important shots and capitalize on the Australian. David Warner’s record in this country isn’t particularly stellar (for now), so Rodgers holds the key. If we can remove the aging limpet and get Smith in touch with the new ball, then I’d evaluate our chances.

Steve Smith is a very good player, but fighting a deflated offense at speeds over 80mph on a calm field doesn’t make his outlandish methods incomprehensible. I can’t think of a batsman who can hit the ball consistently with trigger action in British conditions like Smith. we will seeā€¦

If England can get Voges to bat before lunch then we will be in a fantastic position. Of course, if we can sack Australia cheaply, our batsmen won’t be under the same pressure as they were at Rhodes.

Australia’s opener has been one of England’s biggest problems for years*. I used to hate Taylor and Marsh so much, but it was nothing, absolutely nothing compared to my disdain for fucking Michael Slater. He always makes me despair.

Then came the Hayden and Lange era. ah ah ah. Just one look at Hayden’s gum cup is enough to raise my blood pressure to dangerous levels. As for Lange, don’t get me started. There’s nothing worse than a guy in a baggy cuckold pretending to be a nice guy. You’re not kidding, Justin.

The past few years really haven’t been that bad. Simon Katich doesn’t do enough to keep me annoyed, and Shane Watson, who looks like he came straight out of a Home and Away scene, never really scores enough points to earn cult villain status.

However, Rodgers and especially Warner are really starting to grind my gears. How dare they be so nice?

If you’re reading this, Jimmy and Stewart – the pixies at the end of my garden have led me to believe you’re a regular TFT reader – then I hope you’ve got top Australian orders in Birmingham. The whole test may depend on it.

By x59ok

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