There are times when you simply do not want to see James Anderson’s face. Switching on the TV at 6am was therefore a bleak moment. Upon noticing that he wasn’t wearing a helmet, the mental calculations were rapid, even at that hour. There was, quite simply, no way that this could be a good thing.
Batting even worse than Australia’s
Andrew Strauss made a good point on commentary. He said that players hide behind collective responsibility at times like this. Listen for it. Listen for: “We need to perform better as a batting unit.”
No. You need to perform better. You need to perform better and he needs to perform better and so does he. Do that and the ‘unit’ will take care of itself.
So in the spirit of humanising the unit, we’d like to put Jonathan Trott, Joe Root and Matt Prior forward for greatest opprobrium (although really no-one should escape).
Trott was strangled down the leg-side, which might be forgivable if it hadn’t happened several times before and Mitchell Johnson hadn’t spent the last few weeks scheduling an appointment for strangulation. Joe Root played a crappy shot, doubtless looking to ‘be positive’ and for some reason thinking that playing away from his body at a ball angling across him was the time to do that. Matt Prior kindly provided an action replay of Ian Bell’s dismissal for those who had missed it the ball before.
The only real difference between Australia’s poor innings and England’s dire one was that numbers seven and eight didn’t bail the tourists out. However, if you’re setting your standards according to what Australia’s batsmen achieve, you’re not going to win too many Test matches.
Rough ’em up
The worst thing about this collapse and the fact that two of the specialist batsmen got out to short balls is that it encourages the Australian fantasy that they’re a nation of hirsute hardcases.
Note to Australia: Mitchell Johnson is your hard man. He is hairy for precisely one-twelfth of a year and he’s as brittle as the wishbone of a bird.
On the other hand, he is currently a fast bowler and we’re a fan of those regardless of nationality. Their rarity multiplied by the infrequency of even slightly hard pitches equals a rare opportunity to see one of the greatest aspects of cricket – batsmen struggling to cope with pace.
Trends and facts
It’s no longer a trend; it’s just a fact. England’s first innings on every Test tour will be an absolute horror show. The batsmen don’t hit the ground running. They hit the ground and then stand there, wincing at the resultant knee pain.
Here’s a suggestion: whatever you do before the second innings of the tour – why don’t you do that before the first innings?