Sorry that we keep harping on about that period of play when England got caught in fast-medium purgatory, but it really was when the game got away from England. A number of factors conspired to create the horror. As well as poor bowling and limp captaincy, tiredness played a part. Anderson and Broad, in particular, looked shattered and Liam Plunkett lacked that tiny bit of extra pace which is essentially the sole reason he’s in the side.
Was it a fitness thing?
Not really. Everyone has their limits.
England were bowling last Monday, pushing for a win in the first Test – an intense effort – and then they were bowling again on the Friday at the start of the second Test. By Sunday, they were tired. By Monday, they were spent. Back-to-back Tests are tough and this is why it’s so important to field five bowlers to share the workload.
Only the workload isn’t currently shared. If it’s the new ball, Cook looks to Broad and Anderson. If he’s pushing for a win, he looks to Broad and Anderson. If he desperately needs to break a partnership, he looks to Broad and Anderson. Plan B is to use Jordan and Plunkett and if that doesn’t work, it’s back to Broad and Anderson.
Fatigue is cumulative and Cook steadily invested throughout this series. Day four at Headingley was when it all came back to haunt him.
Spin bowling is a little less physical than fast bowling, so spinners can tolerate greater workloads. That’s really useful and yet how much has Moeen Ali bowled in comparison to the quicks?
Moeen Ali’s bowling workload
Here’s how many overs Moeen Ali bowled versus the seam bowler who bowled the least in each innings over the course of this series.
- First innings at Lord’s: 16 overs versus Chris Jordan’s 27.4
- Second innings at Lord’s: 12 overs versus Liam Plunkett’s 16
- First innings at Headingley: 3 overs versus Stuart Broad’s 15
- Second innings at Headingley: 21 overs versus James Andersons’s 25.5
It’s also worth noting that the last one is totally misleading. Moeen may have bowled 21 overs in the end, but this was only because the quick bowlers were spent. His second over came when Broad already had 16 overs under his belt and his 11th over was the 110th of the innings – even though he had 2-32 at that point.
If Alastair Cook doesn’t trust Moeen Ali’s bowling, either give him a spinner he does trust, or slap him across the chops and tell him to belt up.