England can’t bat and Australia can’t bat

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Okay, let’s take stock. England can’t bat and Australia can’t bat. Generalising masks specific truths, but this is actually a fair summary of where we stand.

Mo’tchell Johnson has gathered headlines, but England also failed to score off Ryan Harris (forgivable) and shed middle order wickets against Nathan Lyon (probably not forgivable). Peter Siddle did okay too. That pretty much amounts to not batting well in all kinds of different ways. There’s a suggestion they didn’t cope well with the crowd either. There’s a lot to correct.

With the exception of Michael Clarke, Australia just can’t bat. Most of them are capable of scoring runs, but you don’t really need to get them out; you just need to avoid doing anything stupid and eventually they’ll get themselves out.

However, this is easier said than done for England, whose bowling currently looks thinner than Michael Rasmussen. There used to be a fight to be third seamer. Now it’s a fight to evade the position. Steven Finn and Boyd Rankin are taking every opportunity to press for exclusion and so Chris Tremlett might retain his place simply through spurning incompetence.

Then there is the intriguing Graeme Swann subplot, where some sort of diktat has gone out to every Australian that they should take a bat and try and launch him over the top. They want rid. But how committed are they to this? Suicidally committed? It’ll be interesting to see how this one pans out.


If England are to get anything from this series, they need to start batting well in Adelaide – no later. With just a few days’ gap between the second and third Tests, long innings this week will be doubly valuable and a draw in which you’ve done most of the batting could pumice the edge off fast bowlers looking forward to the bounce of the Waca.

Darren Lehmann says that Australia don’t rotate any more and it doesn’t look like England even have the option. The second Test isn’t a must-win game; it’s a must-not-lose game with a view to dulling fast bowlers for the following game through time-consuming attrition.

Put that on a T-shirt.


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  1. This is true. The battingery in this last test was woeful. Batting is a mental test; the English players seem to need a reason to concentrate in order to be any good at it. They probably only got their school homework in on time after four detentions and not being allowed to go on a school trip to Chester.

    But England does have form for turning their batting around:

    2005 – England bat badly, Australia wins first test, England wins series

    2009 – England bat badly, Australia nearly wins first test, England wins series

    2010 – England bat badly (1st innings), Australia should have won first test, England wins series

    2013 – England bat badly, Australia nearly wins first test, England wins series

    2013 again – England bat badly, Australia wins first test…

    So on balance, a good start for England.

    1. I believe it’s spelled Ballance.

      Anyway, to respond to the article, surely Bresnan comes in for Tremors Tremlett if he’s fit. Everyone seems to have forgotten what a good player Bressie lad is. Appen it’s because he’s northern. If he played for Surrey and had a flash haircut he’d be hailed as the savior of all rounderingism.

    2. On the contrary, aren’t people starting to remember him as somehow more than he ever was?

      We say this as someone who thinks a lot of Bresnan, but players missing from poor-performing teams tend to get talked up a bit.

  2. Regarding the second section of the article, it seems Australia may well play James Faulkner instead of George Bailey, which will give them five proper bowlers, a bit of Shane Watson, plus some Steve Smith flukey shod.

    Or is that suggestion merely a means of goading England into playing a fifth bowler and further weakening their batting?

    1. Ahead of the first test we hear that Bailey is in the form of his life, and will provide some stable leadership which the team desperately needs. The next test he could be out on his arse in favor of a bowler who can bat a bit. Last time Australia played 5 bowlers and batted a keeper at 6 was in India, and we all know how that turned out.
      Of course, according to the media here England is a spent force and Australia is back to their best, so there may be enough hubris around to give it a go.
      On the flip side England would be mad to play a 5th bowler in place of Ballance. If Bresnan plays it has to be in place of Tremlett, even if it leaves the team several inches short of their minimum height.
      I guess I’m saying that neither team is batting well enough to play less than 6 specialist batsmen, and any team trying it on will lose the test comfortably.

  3. It’s not ideal to have three inexperienced players in your top seven, and one of your experienced ones in the worst form of his career. England are essentially relying on just three senior test batsmen to score them runs.

    On the other hand, it could be worse: we could have just one senior test batsman, and a ramshackle collection of T20 sloggers.

    Australia outbatted us in the first test, but I can’t see them doing so us over five tests.

  4. England really need to win at Adelaide.

    If we merely draw at Adelaide, I think we’ll struggle subsequently to:
    * win one and draw two or
    * win two out of three or
    * win three out of three…

    …but we’d need to do one of those things to retain the Ashes.

    Wake up, smell the coffee, pick Stokes in place of Trott. He’s got more front than Seaham.


    1. He has overcome major injury to establish him as the best bowler last season. I can only think that they accidentally filed him next to Nick Compton in the “did exactly what we asked him” pile.

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