Who are the batsmen who have really troubled England in home Tests in recent years? Rahul Dravid, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Marlon Samuels. And what characterises those three batsmen? An unhurried method, we’d say – they don’t go chasing after the ball. Is this a coincidence?
When the ball doesn’t swing, England’s policy is to ‘bowl dry’ (or ‘bowl defensively’ as we like to put it). The theory is that modern batsmen like to feel bat on ball and will overreach and get themselves out. Generally, this works, but it doesn’t work for some batsmen and what do you do then?
For all their strengths, we think this is a big flaw with England’s bowling attack and it is one that has been exposed by a batting line-up featuring Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis. Don’t blame the conditions – bowlers have to deal with whatever conditions arise; they have to find a way. If nothing changes, those batsmen are liable to do this again.
Bowling dry is Plan B and it is a very good plan. However, in certain circumstances you also need access to a Plan C and we’re not sure England do.