Their problem is that they don’t bat all the way up to number one. The lower order punches above its weight. The tail frequently wags. It’s the rest of the dog that is sick and lifeless.
Lower order resilience can be undervalued – or used as a stick with which to beat failing batsmen – but it is a strength. Australia’s top and middle order don’t need to improve too much to make life very difficult for England, particularly with only one bowler doing much of note thus far.
James Anderson bowled 56 overs in the first Test. A bit more fight from the Aussie batsmen and there’d be little left of Jimmy for Alastair Cook to ‘go to’. That workload alone might even count for something in the second Test on Thursday. Points are there to be laboured, so we’ll once again express our hatred of back-to-back Tests and the fact that they might compromise the performance of any player.
We enjoy watching Jimmy Anderson bowl precisely because he’s so good. Watching him perform at something like 86 per cent of his capability rather undermines that.