First of all, apologies about the length of time that I have been absent from writing, I have been absolutely snowed under at work and at times, much to my chargrin, writing does have to take a back seat on such occasions. TLG and Danny (who assures me that he has returned to normal sleeping patterns) have both covered the fall-out from the Gabba Test in some detail and as a result, I don’t want to cover in too much detail that which has already been written. That being said, it is unavoidable at these times not to touch on the events in Brisbane as this could well prove to be a pivotal Test in the series.
As TLG so succinctly put, it only takes one glance on Twitter or in the media to see that many fans are divided into those who think that we’re going to collapse to a catastrophic 5-0 defeat or those that feel it is but a blip and this ‘new and young’ English team will turn it around spectacularly. I must admit that I am more on the pessimistic side than the optimistic side and have been ever since the Test squad was announced, though this is also probably due to experiencing 2 whitewashes out of the last 3 Ashes series in Australia. As someone said who is much wiser than me “it’s not the losing that hurts, I can deal with that, it’s the hope that kills me”.
From the little bits that I have read in the media, the main gripe of many of the journo’s has been around the batting, which is undeniably weak. Indeed many of Katie Price’s numerous marriages have looked less flimsy than our middle order at times. This however, is not exactly a surprise, we have had the same issues since the expulsion of a certain famous South African born batsmen, and no matter how many times Director Comma may have tried to gloss over this, very few people are fooled any more. Alastair Cook has been in what feels like terminal decline for the last 3 years. Root, although without doubt England’s best player, has seen his conversion rate from 50 to 100 decline alarmingly over the past 18 months. Moeen and Jonny B are just as capable as scoring a quick ton as they are getting out cheaply to a ropey slot. James Vince has spot at second slip with his name on it and Stoneman & Malan are pretty new to International Cricket. As I have mentioned, this has been mentioned many times before, so shouldn’t really be a surprise to anyone and as such I want to move the focus away from the batsmen and over to the bowling unit.
The bowling is where myself and TLG differ in terms of our assessment of our bowling attack. For me, the English selectors (and they merit a lot blame here) have got this horribly wrong again. The folly of choosing 5 right hand over, medium pace seam bowlers on pitches that historically don’t tend to swing is right up there with picking 4 very tall, sometimes quick but not very good fast bowlers as England did in 2013/4. The bowling attack looks anything but balanced, it looks slow, ponderous and pretty predictable. Now I’m fully aware that there might be the odd howl from individuals that these are the best bowlers that England have and we don’t have any other options, and I agree to an extent in the spin department (although I really wouldn’t have picked Mason Crane); however I think they’ve again missed a trick with regards to our fast bowler make up. It can be rightly argued that Jimmy, Broad and Woakes are the best overall bowlers that England has, but this again misses my point as only Stuart Broad has a decent record in Australia, if you remove the 2010 Ashes series, which any bowler worth their salt would have made hay against that particular batting attack. Jimmy struggles when it doesn’t swing and Woakes has looked pretty toothless in all his Test matches away from home. As for Curran and Jake Ball, they are the A-typical English medium pacers who have limited success in anything but helpful swing conditions. It confounds me massively that one of our quickest bowlers in Liam Plunkett, seems to have been to consigned to the dustbin that is white ball cricket, when he is someone with the pace to trouble what is a mediocre Australian batting line up once you take away Steve Smith. This would not certainly be a long term pick, but it fits in with my personal opinion that it is vital to have a balanced attack in Test Cricket (be it a left armer, a pace bowler, a swing bowler and someone who hits the pitch hard) just to add some variety to the attack when the ball isn’t swinging.
I also feel it is quite pertinent to ask why an older Liam Plunkett (and a young lad from Sussex who has only played a handful of County games) are the only true fast bowling options that we have in our system right now? Do you remember when Steven Finn could bowl fast before David Saker got his hands on him? Or Mark Wood before the England medical department got their hands on him? Can you remember anyone else who has been in contention in the last few years that has been a truly quick bowler? I’m struggling. So what is it that is preventing our system from developing quick bowlers that aren’t of a certain type – is it Loughborough? Is it the counties who would prefer to play a medium pacer on a stodgy pitch? Is it the pitches in England, as the two historically quick cricket pitches at Old Trafford and the Oval are anything but quick these days. My guess that it is a mixture of all three. I wouldn’t trust the guys at Loughborough to make a cup of tea let alone manage our new crop of fast bowlers, which combined with a horribly long county season (which is about to get even longer) means that there is a very real issue of burnout and injury for anyone young quick pounding in and bowling at 90MPH. The ECB also have to take a fair share of the blame too. There have been too many occasions where either a green seamer has been prepared for Test Matches to provide England with the competitive advantage or a road of a pitch with little bounce has also been prepared to ensure the Test lasts 5 days (yes Mick Hunt, I’m looking at you). The result of this? Well you can see it in our bowling attack for the first Test Match at the Gabba, a group of hardworking individuals who are great in English conditions but do not have either the skill or the know-how to bowl effectively on different wickets were completely out-bowled by a far superior Aussie bowling unit.
I hadn’t actually meant for this piece to be that negative, so apologies for this, but I absolutely feel that this will be a recurring theme until something is done about it. I believe that in a series where both teams have flakey batting line up and which I believe would be decided with the ball prior to the series beginning, the England selectors have once again not learnt from their previous mistakes.
It might turnaround in Adelaide, where the ball should certainly swing under lights and where perhaps the English bowling attack has the best chance to make inroads into this Aussie line up; however if we end up losing in Adelaide this could be a long and painful series. Something we have all endured before…
Absolutely spot on, Sean (and welcome back). Alarm bells started to ring even when England couldn’t bowl out Cricket Australia XI twice in the warm-up game at Townsville. Moeen and Crane took two each in the second innings but Broad, Woakes and Overton went wicketless while CA XI amassed 364/4. Brisbane further underlined the problem. I’ve thought for a while that it’ll be the lack of incisive bowling (vs an effective Aussie pace attack and a very capable spinner in Lyon) that will do for us this time (even more surely than the batting frailties). Whatever happens at Adelaide won’t necessarily matter much in the context of the series as a whole.
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Not sure. I think a win In Adelaide keeps it open. Perth is likely to be a write off but the MCG does offer some lateral assistance (or at least has in the past).
Yeah, but England could well be 2-1 down by then and I just don’t see this team coming back from behind in Australia – even if technically there were still everything to play for on Boxing Day. Just a gut feeling and I’d be delighted to be proven wrong. I suppose injuries or an exceptional individual performance could change the equation. Unknown unknowns; cometh the hour, cometh the man and all that…
I’m completely in agreement with you Oreston, about our chances of coming back. If Steve Smith pulls his hamstring in Adelaide and one of their quirks gets injured, then you never know (probably our only chance!)
If one more person calla this team “new” or “young” I will not be responsible for my actio s. I also assume they are still “learning”
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Apologies for typose. Ipad keyboard
Quite right. Chris Woakes is 28, after all. I do feel that for him, if not now, when? These should be his peak years, but do we have to wait for another green batting line up from the subcontinent to turn up at grey skies at Lords for his next 5 wicket haul?
Don’t say that on Twitter. Mr Woakes searches for his name on there and anything but fulsome praise equals an instant block (yes he has blocked me).
Really? If that’s true he’s gone down in my estimation. He want’s to make sure he doesn’t become the team’s whipping boy – think of all the “fun” that could be had with a fake KP Genius type account.
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It’s true unfortunately. I still haven’t grasped why you would even search your name in the snake pit that is Twitter…
Probably his management company has an intern running his Twitter account.
To be fair (although I don’t know why!), the press pack haven’t been playing the “young, inexperienced team” card much. However if it all heads south in Adelaide we could start hearing it so for the record and based on the First Test XIs:
1) England are the older side. The collective ages of the two teams were 322 to 313. The oldest player on the pitch was English and the two youngest (Cummins and Bancroft) both Australian. Starc is younger than Woakes. Lyon is younger than Ali. England had six players over 30 and it’s difficult to argue anyone much in the England side is there to “learn” and will be at their peak for the next Ashes tour (Vince possibly?).
2) England are massively the more experienced side. The England has 581 caps compared to Australia’s 335. England have three players with over 100 caps whereas Australia have none (and none even particularly close). Cook has as many caps as Australia’s top four combined and Anderson or Broad have more caps than Australia’s pace attack combined.
The one they can try to argue it is that three of England’s top five are in single figures in terms of Test appearances. However, as this was a choice and was supposedly a good thing (lack of mental scarring and all that), they’ll be clutching at straws if they start using it now.
Sad to see Plunkett become the forgotten man.
As a Sussex fan i have probably seen more of George Garton than most and was chuffed when he was called up to cover Jake Ball in the warm ups.
If the first test is anything to go by Balls role in the attack is to just bowl bouncers to keep the ball out of Smiths reach. It is very soon for Garton who has bowled less than 2000 deliveries in his first class career but would definately offer a bit of variety.
Gartons bowls left arm medium fast with an action that sees his head end up between his legs and occasionally sprawled face down on the pitch, he will need to become more traditional side on or his knees and back will give out before his late twenties.
That said bowling front on with a late release and low angle of trajectory makes his yorker and slower ball hard to pick so he gets most of his wickets bowled or LBW. His stock ball skims off the surface and comes on to the bat heavy and occaisionally gets one that rises to chin height off a length.
He bowls a wicket to wicket line mostly, ive not seen hime come round the wicket there would be a danger of Aussie left handers going after him and dispatching easy runs on the on side.
If we are as i suspect three or four nil down i would love to see him get a go though with nothing to lose.
Etheridge on why they didn’t select Plunkett:
“The worry about Plunkett is that he does not move the ball enough to be a threat in Test cricket.
He bowls at a decent pace – but in straight lines”.
I think I did see that but I tend to ignore most stuff from Etheridge.
As as an alternative, which I guess we’ve gone for is that our bowlers can bowl a decent medium pace….in a straight line too…
He’s not the only one I’ve seen relaying this “doesn’t do enough with the ball” so it’s clearly the line they’ve been given. He was the only source I could find in a search!
Thanks Matt. I’ve only seen a couple of matches played by Garton (and those were white ball matches), so hard for me judge his talent.
Would very much like him to progress, it seems like ages since we’ve had a decent left arm quick..
Not negative just realistic. Fast bowling has been selectively bred out of the county game.
Chris Russell at Worcester. George Edwards at Surrey. Cast aside now. And through injury Tymal Mills. Three fast bowlers who 30 years ago could have been selected for this series. Snow, Willis Devon put it up them on an Ashes tour. Someone out of Wood, Plunkett or Stone could have made a difference at the Gabba.
4 right armers bowling mid 80s not going to cut it no matter how good.
Yup! Fast bowling, and I would contend spin bowling too have got no chance in a world dominated by 2020 with short boundaries and flat pitches. Also,as a lot fast bowlers tended to come from state school working class kids, now they know don’t even know what cricket is let alone fast bowling
Soon 20/20 will dispense with bowlers altogether and replace them with bowling machines. That way they can pick 10 frontline batsman and a wicket keeper.
Don’t give the ECB any more ideas! 5 overs a side anyone..
In fact, wrist spinners are making their way back in odis and t-20s because of the nature of the format and they well start playing test cricket soon.
So, not sure your contention about spin bowling is right. This could be an issue in England because of the way counties or establishment view sound but not in the rest of the world.
I also think t-20s will give scope for fast bowlers like mills who are injury prone and can’t manage the long format. The thrill of watching them will in turn encourage a lot more to bowl fast.
Let me bring the name of jasprit bumrah here. Started with t-20s, bowls 145+ and is an outside chance of making the Indian test squad for South Africa.
I think the fears often are escalated more than they should be.
View spin not sound. ☺
I agree with a lot of that. I wonder why Plunkett isn’t even considered given his pace, or why a leg spinner who has taken lots of wickets in Australia (big bash admittedly) isn’t even considered?
However Cummins playing only 6 tests in 5 years shows that we aren’t the only ones to struggle with fast bowlers (or at least keeping them fit), the same applies to James Pattinson who is quick but has suffered multiple injuries.
I would however respectfully disagree that the Australian attack is ‘far’ superior, I like Lyon, but for all of my life English batsmen have had the ability to make an ordinary spinner look like the lovechild of Shane Warne and Anil Kumble, so whilst Lyon has had the best year of his life, he’s not the messiah, he’s not even a half a Lovejoy.
Starc and Hazlewood are ‘daisy’s’ and are capable of supplying a test match full of dross.
None of that diminishes your main point, which reminds me of Einsteins definition of insanity (doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result). In 2013 we took 4 fast medium right-handers and lost 5-0, so we take another battery of fast-medium right-handers. In 2011 we had different bowlers, Finn was quick, expensive and took wickets, Tremlett was a quick(ish) and bouncy, and Bresnan was at the peak of his powers, and (Finn apart) they all bowled a line that gave nothing away. From what I saw the Australian batsmen showed respect to Anderson and Broad, because they knew that after their spells they could cash-in.
I do feel a bit for Moeen, he isn’t as good as Lyon, but all spinners need rhythm, and he has had virtually no bowling prior to the test, to compound that with a cut on his spinning finger means he looked ordinary and innocuous.
I do however think if we get the best of the conditions at Adelaide we could easily draw level (to lose at Perth, but Melbourne is a good ground for our bowlers).
A final test in Sydney with all to play for is the best we can hope for.
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I think in the main we’re in agreement here. I agree Lovejoy in his prime is a better player than Lyon. I grew up with English spinners such as the likes of Peter Such, Min Patel and Richard Dawson, so I’m likely to have a blind spot here. I’d still snap up Lyon in an instance if he were English.
Agreed, we’re not the only ones to have injuries to the quicks, though I do have some respect for the Aussies in how they’ve managed Cummins. He has pretty much been fit for the last 18 months and looks the real deal. I actually rate Hazlewood far higher than Starc and think he’s a very underrated bowler. This is purely my opinion and I know many disagree on that (including a couple of the Editors)..
Yes I would love Lyon in our team. He has the proverbial Aussie ‘ticker’ which can be the difference in a tight test.
Agree on Hazlewood too (being better than Starc), but I think he bowls too many ‘sighters’ to be a proper opening bowler.
I just wish we could realise that unless (as in 2011) we have 4 bowlers who can consistently strangle a batsman with line and length we need much more variety in our attack. A left armer just to bring a different angle would surely be better than Woakes, Ball or Overton.
I suspect if we lose again we will bring Wood in from the Lions tour, and if we win in Adelaide I strongly suspect that regardless of what the CPS do, Stokes will be back for Melbourne (personally I think he should be playing anyway, i have no truck with role models or any grainy video without sound, I just believe in innocent until proven guilty, and that whilst someone is innocent they should be free to carry on with their chosen profession until a court and jury determines otherwise).
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Couldn’t be in agreement more if I tried…
I’m not with you on Stokes at all. Nothing to do with being a role model, but just that whatever happens with the CPS and the Police, the whole situation demands that he should be being treated much more like an immature player who needs serious help with his off-field issues and not a player who is SO important that barring a prison sentence, the ECB will move heaven and earth to slot him into the team.
To be honest, it’s kind of pathetic to behold the desperation of so many folk in the media and cricket establishment to brush things under the carpet so long as the player is deemed indispensable.
Northernlight, that is a very fair point. I just can’t make Stokes out. On the one hand given the right cajoling, he can be a leader in the dressing room and a fantastic player; on the other hand, once he is away from the agreed norms, then it goes straight out of the window.
Unfortunately I’ve managed a few of these types in my time and don’t have the silver bullet. The general rule is don’t fire you’re star sales guy unless it’s unredeemable…
If he is found guilty then he should be dealt with accordingly. I just think that if he should be in the team until he is tried.
Anything else is rank hypocrisy, Lovejoy was charged with driving drunk with little or no censure.
A grainy video produced by an Australian owned newspaper (who has form for publishing damaging stories pre Ashes) isn’t enough evidence for me as to what has happened.
Avon and Somerset constabulary haven’t helped by taking a long time to come to the decision of ‘nothing to do with us we’ll pass it up the chain of command’ which at least implies there is some doubt regardless of the injuries the bottle thrower was left with.
Like I said he should be able to play unless his Liberty is removed. Any other decision is just ECB marketing
The Sun is Australian? Wow, that’s a long bow!
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Oi! You got a problem with Peter Such, then you got a problem with me, right?
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And what you got against Min Patel, Sean?? Criminally treated by selectors until mysterious undefined injuries sustained while teaching P.E. put an and to his career.
Got Sanjay Manjrekar out in a test once and everything.
Yep, his one and only Test wicket. I’m very happy to add to my crap English spinners of the 90’s. Mike Watkinson anyone, Ian Salisbury, Neil Smith?? Oh the glory days..
Seriously, didn’t Min take hatfulls in the county championship for a few seasons?
You care to list the batsmen Such dismissed on debut? He took 6/67.
Still not getting all this love for Peter Such. He’s England’s National spin bowling guru at Loughborough and we all know how well that has gone…
What do we know? The selectors seem very reluctant to pick bowlers. We will probably never know whether Leach is better than Moeen. We know that Rashid took wickets but even his batting wasn’t good enough to keep him in the side
I am not as convinced that Adelaide will help our ‘quicks’ any more than any other wicket, even under lights. Albeit a limited sample size, but the stats dont bear out the idea of night time cricket being a dream for bowlers.
What happened to Footitt?
Taking Crane for tour experience ahead of actual bowlers with experience of actually bowling, like Rashid or Leach, looks absolutely insane right now.
Good question – what did happen to Footitt?
I think the faster bowlers on both sides may enjoy the conditions in Adelaide.
Would it be fair to say that the problems in the middle order is the cause for the bowler selection? They are selected on batting and economy rather than wicket taking ability. And faces.
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The problem is that none of the issues that Sean mentions in his article are new at all, but they don’t seem to have been rectified. The lack of pace in the bowling line-up could have been spotted a year back and it is only exacerbated with the loss of Stokes who can crank it up from time to time, as well as at least in theory make the middle-order a tad stronger than it is at the moment. I think here, the blame does start to go with the Comma. I had his card marked after the awful back-up preparations for the Lions with them only playing hit and giggle stuff in the middle east, while the senior team were playing tests in India. This year they are playing some minor games in Australia that really won’t act as preparation.
Mixed feelings about Plunkett. On the one hand having an ‘impact’ bowler just to run in for 4-5 overs is much needed, but I take the point that he barely plays first class cricket for Yorkshire. Plenty of problems, the ones charged with finding solutions are pretty much saying, “Not me guv”.
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Agreed. In fact, I’m getting a sense of deja vu. Going back to 2005, Duncan Fletcher found 4 quick bowlers in county cricket and we all know what they did to the top Aussie team. Maybe Bayliss could phone him up and ask for tips.
I’m not convinced that an experienced bowler like Plunkett would have difficulty switching from white ball mode to red (or pink). The ability to set the fields you want and, it appears, bowl 5 bouncers in an over must be very inviting. Obviously you need to be fitter to play 5 days but England have a battalion of coaches, so can fix it.
I read that our No 1 bowler has decided to target Smith in the next test. Does that mean he’ll crank it up to 84 mph?
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The battalion of coaches is the only thing wrong with your comment. They have the ability to fix things for sure, but usually not in the way you want. More like Plunkett to bowl 8 over spells with a stock pace of 83mph?
I was looking for something else regarding Hales (a rumour bring peddled by Dennis Does Cricket -probably as much as I can say here without getting in trouble), and stumbled across this:
Bairstow is described as an “angry man when he gets out”.
Hales says: “I once saw him destroy a helmet using his own head. He just kept head-butting it.”
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I usually enjoy Dennis’s “trolling” but that rant was pretty poor.
As this is a bowling related thread, this seems quite appropriate. Heard Jimmy Anderson on the radio this morning complaining about the short pitched bowling at the tail, and Aggers pitched in with his typical ‘in the rulebook but not in the spirit of cricket’ type thing
Rank hypocrisy. What’s the betting that if England could, they would. All of our bowling plans to the tail over the past few years has been bounce them out, particularly the subcontinent players as ‘they can’t handle it’. Didn’t Broad used to be called the Enforcer?
Aggers also went on to say that he didn’t want to mention it too much else their media would be all over us with the whinging poms headlines. Sounds pretty fair to me when Jimmy is having words with umpire about the lengths that the Aussies are bowling
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There’s also a column in the Telegraph by St. James of Burnley (you wonder how he finds the time…) but with more of an emphasis on verbal abuse. Again, butter wouldn’t melt (just ask Ravi Jadeja). He’s not going to be intimidated by that nasty David Warner, oh no…
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Indeed. One gets the impression that Mr Anderson, very much like his good friend Mr Swann, is going to do a pretty fine job of making us forget just how good a bowler he was when he’s into his retirement.
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That might be the most self-defeating complaint I’ve ever heard. If the England team learnt to better deal with short balls, (especially on placid, slow pitches like at Brisbane), the Australians would probably stop bowling short. You can only be out caught if it’s pitched halfway down. Think about it.
It’s not terribly wise to come out in public and say this stuff. I do actually think the umpires should have stepped in with all the short bowling, because they did push it a bit far as per the playing conditions.
However, I don’t have the slightest sympathy with England on it, and nor do I think it is something they shouldn’t be able to handle. It is really boring though.
But having gone public, media and players will go big on England being scared, and the tail will get targeted even more. And that’s pretty dim. Work on the umpire by all means, yes; tell it to the media? No. Are you mad? Whinging Poms etc.
If we lose it’ll be because those uncouth Australian fellows (backed-up by complicit umpires) employ such unfair tactics. In all his years in the game, poor innocent little Jimmy has never experienced such unsporting conduct.
I think that Tom Curran has more zip than Ball, in fact I’d prefer Sam Curran (Left-arm) to be around the England set-up. I think Plunkett could have been useful just like Footitt could have been in short sharp burst but if Ball plays again I back him to take wickets. Neither Anderson, Woakes or Broad for that matter set the world on fire in the infancy of their Test careers.