Australia v England, 3rd Test, Perth, 1st day December 13, 2013

Frustrated Saker wonders about selection blunder

David Saker, England's bowling coach, made no attempt to disguise his disappointment at the end of the first day at the Waca, even conceding that England's selection might have been mistaken as a result
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David Saker, England's bowling coach, could not conceal his disappointment after England "let it slip" at the Waca, suggesting that the bowlers became over excited and, as a result of their performance, even threw England's selection into question.

England brought three giant fast bowlers to Australia with the pace and bounce available in Perth very much in mind, but Boyd Rankin, Steve Finn and Chris Tremlett have all to varying degrees failed to press their claims for selection during the tour and all sat out the game as Australia amassed 6 for 326.

The reality is that rightly or wrongly England just have the tallest drinks waiters in cricket.

"We assess things all the time and try to make sure we get selection right," Saker said on Sky TV. "Like everything, we make mistakes, like cricketers make mistakes.

"We could have made a mistake this game, but I'm sure if our bowlers bowled to their capabilities we wouldn't have got it wrong. We picked the side we thought would get 20 wickets and I still think we can."

By the time he spoke to the print media, Saker had adopted a calmer analysis. "We thought that the balance of the team would be best with Tim Bresnan in," he said. "If we then bring in another tall bowler to have another quick we probably leave ourselves short somewhere else. Yes, it probably is an ideal place to have one of the taller bowlers but we thought the best balance of the team was Tim Bresnan."

Australia had slipped to 5 for 143 on an excellent batting surface before Steve Smith and Brad Haddin took the game away from England with a sixth-wicket stand of 124. It left England's Ashes hopes hanging by a thread. Two-nil down with three games to play, England are going to have to produce their best batting performance for many months if they are to avoid defeat.

While Smith and Haddin deserve credit for their batting, the cause of Saker's "disappointment" - a word he repeated seven times in his post-play media conference - was the self-inflicted nature of England's injuries.

Having selected - some might say controversially selected - a team full of accurate fast-medium swing bowlers, Bresnan included, England's tactic was clear: they were to bowl tight and frustrate Australia's batsmen.

It almost worked, too. So desperate were Australia to destroy England, to make amends for the last four years and crush their opponents into the dirt, they briefly threatened to squander their opportunity to efficiently dispose of them.

So instead of waiting for the poor ball, the Australian top-order went looking for it. Every one of the six wickets to fall owed a great deal to batsmen error, with two men falling to pulls, two more to loose drives and another to a run-out. England were on top.

But then their bowlers - experienced men who really should have known better - went chasing the game. They stopped attempting to bowl 'dry,' as the England camp call it, and instead went for the kill. They stopped delivering a nagging length outside off stump and started searching for bouncers and yorkers. Both Stuart Broad and James Anderson were timed at 90mph over the course of the day. The result was a surfeit of run-scoring opportunities which dissipated any pressure and allowed the batsmen to pick-up runs without risk.

There are mitigating factors. Losing the toss here, in scorching heat and just days after the Adelaide Test, was a tough blow, while the excellence of the pitch from a batting perspective leaves precious little margin for error.

But Broad, in particular, will be disappointed with a performance that cost 4.58 runs per over. His second new ball spell was quite ghastly.

"We let it slip," Saker admitted. "And probably not for the first time this series. We had them on the ropes and we didn't finish the job. It's partly down to the way they played with the bat, but we also didn't deliver what we should have delivered today.

"We pride ourselves on being able to hold lengths and hold good areas, bringing the batsmen forward and always making it hard for the opposition to score. It's always hard in Perth to stop teams scoring because it's a fast outfield and a good place to play your shots. We found it really hard to do that. It can be disappointing when you plan these things, but we didn't do it right.

"It's disappointing we can't finish teams off. We've usually good a good record that way and, other than today, I don't think we've done too much wrong at that stage.

"But today we mixed our lengths and went to the short ball too much. We didn't hold our lengths for long enough to put pressure on them. We know that. We're not going to shy away from that. There are some disappointed bowlers in there and a disappointed bowling coach."

England's bowlers have, by and large, performed admirably this series. They reduced Australia to 6 for 132 in the first innings in Brisbane and, had Michael Carberry taken a simple catch to dismiss Brad Haddin, would have had Australia 6 for 266 in Adelaide.

Any weakness has tended to come in the second innings when they have been forced back into action without adequate rest and with Australia's batsmen enjoying the freedom of an enviable match situation to play aggressively. But here, perhaps as a result of England's desperate position in the series, the cracks began to show.

"The disappointing thing today is we did chase wickets," Saker said. "And that's probably one of the first times we've done that as a group for as long as I've been in charge. That was a little bit disappointing.

"We didn't bowl the areas we would have liked, but we had a chance to put some really good pressure on and we didn't take that. To be fair we probably bowled a little too short. We drilled into the group not to do that but we probably got a bit excited and that's not good enough."

With the pitch likely to quicken on the second day, however, England will need a vastly improved batting performance if Ashes defeat is not to be confirmed some time over the next three or four days.

There left the debate about the fast bowlers who did not play. There was a reason that England selected three unusually tall seamers for this tour. The intention was that at least one of them would play in Perth in the hope their pace and bounce would make life uncomfortable for Australia. It looked, at first glance, an attractive proposition.

The fact that none of the three has been deemed suitable for selection raises questions about the selection or coaching of the side. It should, for example, have been obvious to the selectors that the Tremlett who played for Surrey in the 2013 county season was a lesser bowler than the Tremlett who bowled for Surrey in 2010.

Equally, it should have been obvious that this version of Finn is nothing like the bowler he threatened to become a year or two ago. On his performance on the tour to date, there is no way he could have been picked for this game. If the selectors felt that the England coaching system would work wonders on them, their naivety has been punished.

Saker's own record requires some scrutiny, too. To be presented with bowlers with such obvious attributes and make so little of them reflects poorly on him. Even Rankin, who looked so imposing towards the end of the England season, has gone backwards while on tour and was not trusted to hit the correct length here.

That is not to say the match selection was wrong. Picking Finn in such form would not have been picking a man to fight fire with fire; it would have been fighting fire with petrol. Tremlett lacks the pace to prosper at this level. It wasn't England's selection that was wrong - not on the day, anyway - so much as their performance.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • JG2704 on December 14, 2013, 18:02 GMT

    @Chris_P on (December 13, 2013, 22:48 GMT) I still find the selections baffling. Folk say our selectors don't get much wrong. I'm starting to think they get quite alot wrong

  • Alexk400 on December 14, 2013, 4:53 GMT

    Even though bresnan is most clever of the bunch , he is good for slow low indian pitches where his cleverness can fetch wickets. Picking bresnan instead of real fast bowler is a blunder on england coaches part.

  • Alexk400 on December 14, 2013, 4:52 GMT

    What england lack is one aggressive fast bowler. Broad is good but you need two to balance a side. Key reason for england failure other than batting lack of wickets for anderson make other bowlers looking for wickets. Also swan is neutralized here. So only broad and other bowlers has to get 7 wickets between them which not gona be easy.

    England do not want to change team like india toured australia. Sword gona come down on anderson at end of series if england do not win single Test.

    If there is no rain , aussies gona sweep.

  • caught_knott_bowled_old on December 14, 2013, 3:55 GMT

    Its all about being realistic. Hyping ordinary/average sportsmen as being world champions is the old English way...and its no different with Jimmy Anderson. The fact of the matter is, he's an average medium fast bowler who's experienced enough to exploit favorable English conditions against retiring/rebuilding/weak teams and coming out looking like he's the best bowler in the world. The English fans would be well advised to NOT be delusional about their bowling.

  • inefekt on December 14, 2013, 1:58 GMT

    @maximum6, no you are not playing the same side you 'hammered' in the English summer. That side didn't have a rampant Mitchell Johnson in it. Though rare in his career to date, when he is at the top of his game not even the number one ranked test team on the planet can handle him........and I'm not just talking about his bowling but his batting as well. Also, the likes of Cowan, Agar, Khawaja, Pattinson, Starc and Hughes were in that squad, none of whom are in this rendition. The closest that team came to resembling the one we have now is the one that followed the Lords debacle. Weather robbed them of victory in the 3rd test, they were narrowly defeated in the 4th and they dominated the 5th test until a VERY sporting declaration by Clarke gave England a good sniff towards the end. So, I would say you have your facts completely wrong in this particular instance.

  • valvolux on December 14, 2013, 1:58 GMT

    Tremlett did nothing wrong in Brisbane. A bit down on pace maybe - he was still putting it on a dime and I think if you look at his wickets, he got all of the batsmen out where broad and Anderson prospered mainly from terrible shots...and continue to. Australia has declared 3 of the 4 innings - that's a poor reflection on the bowling group. Where was the swing yesterday? I can guarantee Johnson will get some.

  • Avagoumug on December 14, 2013, 0:47 GMT

    There are two problems with Anderson, one is ego. He has a huge ego thrusting his arms out every time he gets a wicket and giving huge send off's. His attitude in the last series in England was over the top, no wonder the Aussies are revving him up here.The other problem is he is a very average bowler when the ball is not swinging and he drops his head. Just look at him in the last two tests and yesterday in Perth. He needs to be dropped and made to earn his spot back in the side.Give a young, keen tearaway a go!!!!

  • on December 14, 2013, 0:35 GMT

    I always thought that Finn would be England's Mitchell Johnson when I first saw him a few agos. But they screwed him so they have to use medium pacers on the fastest pitch on the world, lol.

  • Happiness_is on December 14, 2013, 0:22 GMT

    @maximum6 did you even watch the series in England? Sure, England were the better side and, yes, they very much deserved to win. But the margin is extremely misleading. Australia were hammered in one test, the rest could have gone either way. But, hey, keep living your denial. The Aussies are by no means back to being world beaters, but they seem to have found some fight ... and some honesty.

  • RJHB on December 14, 2013, 0:07 GMT

    It's a little ironic that in these last few years England fans have regularly maligned Australia's fast bowlers in particular, Johnson especially and not without reason for him, when their own house beneath the frontliners has been well short of ordered. But much was based on that extraordinary series three years ago when Cook hit the biggest purple patch of form in his life when perhaps even the great McGrath and Warne may have struggled to get him out on those flat decks. And everything else England tried turned to gold. Those fans seemed to think that was just normal and repeat over and over. Wrong! All the hot air about Finn seems to have been just that, he's gone backwards. This Rankin, more hot air but they won't play him. Tremlett was picked on hope and nothing else. More hot air about Onions but he's never cracked it for a regular game. England are extremely fortunate Anderson and Swan miss few games and Broads there more than not. The backup is RUBBISH!

  • JG2704 on December 14, 2013, 18:02 GMT

    @Chris_P on (December 13, 2013, 22:48 GMT) I still find the selections baffling. Folk say our selectors don't get much wrong. I'm starting to think they get quite alot wrong

  • Alexk400 on December 14, 2013, 4:53 GMT

    Even though bresnan is most clever of the bunch , he is good for slow low indian pitches where his cleverness can fetch wickets. Picking bresnan instead of real fast bowler is a blunder on england coaches part.

  • Alexk400 on December 14, 2013, 4:52 GMT

    What england lack is one aggressive fast bowler. Broad is good but you need two to balance a side. Key reason for england failure other than batting lack of wickets for anderson make other bowlers looking for wickets. Also swan is neutralized here. So only broad and other bowlers has to get 7 wickets between them which not gona be easy.

    England do not want to change team like india toured australia. Sword gona come down on anderson at end of series if england do not win single Test.

    If there is no rain , aussies gona sweep.

  • caught_knott_bowled_old on December 14, 2013, 3:55 GMT

    Its all about being realistic. Hyping ordinary/average sportsmen as being world champions is the old English way...and its no different with Jimmy Anderson. The fact of the matter is, he's an average medium fast bowler who's experienced enough to exploit favorable English conditions against retiring/rebuilding/weak teams and coming out looking like he's the best bowler in the world. The English fans would be well advised to NOT be delusional about their bowling.

  • inefekt on December 14, 2013, 1:58 GMT

    @maximum6, no you are not playing the same side you 'hammered' in the English summer. That side didn't have a rampant Mitchell Johnson in it. Though rare in his career to date, when he is at the top of his game not even the number one ranked test team on the planet can handle him........and I'm not just talking about his bowling but his batting as well. Also, the likes of Cowan, Agar, Khawaja, Pattinson, Starc and Hughes were in that squad, none of whom are in this rendition. The closest that team came to resembling the one we have now is the one that followed the Lords debacle. Weather robbed them of victory in the 3rd test, they were narrowly defeated in the 4th and they dominated the 5th test until a VERY sporting declaration by Clarke gave England a good sniff towards the end. So, I would say you have your facts completely wrong in this particular instance.

  • valvolux on December 14, 2013, 1:58 GMT

    Tremlett did nothing wrong in Brisbane. A bit down on pace maybe - he was still putting it on a dime and I think if you look at his wickets, he got all of the batsmen out where broad and Anderson prospered mainly from terrible shots...and continue to. Australia has declared 3 of the 4 innings - that's a poor reflection on the bowling group. Where was the swing yesterday? I can guarantee Johnson will get some.

  • Avagoumug on December 14, 2013, 0:47 GMT

    There are two problems with Anderson, one is ego. He has a huge ego thrusting his arms out every time he gets a wicket and giving huge send off's. His attitude in the last series in England was over the top, no wonder the Aussies are revving him up here.The other problem is he is a very average bowler when the ball is not swinging and he drops his head. Just look at him in the last two tests and yesterday in Perth. He needs to be dropped and made to earn his spot back in the side.Give a young, keen tearaway a go!!!!

  • on December 14, 2013, 0:35 GMT

    I always thought that Finn would be England's Mitchell Johnson when I first saw him a few agos. But they screwed him so they have to use medium pacers on the fastest pitch on the world, lol.

  • Happiness_is on December 14, 2013, 0:22 GMT

    @maximum6 did you even watch the series in England? Sure, England were the better side and, yes, they very much deserved to win. But the margin is extremely misleading. Australia were hammered in one test, the rest could have gone either way. But, hey, keep living your denial. The Aussies are by no means back to being world beaters, but they seem to have found some fight ... and some honesty.

  • RJHB on December 14, 2013, 0:07 GMT

    It's a little ironic that in these last few years England fans have regularly maligned Australia's fast bowlers in particular, Johnson especially and not without reason for him, when their own house beneath the frontliners has been well short of ordered. But much was based on that extraordinary series three years ago when Cook hit the biggest purple patch of form in his life when perhaps even the great McGrath and Warne may have struggled to get him out on those flat decks. And everything else England tried turned to gold. Those fans seemed to think that was just normal and repeat over and over. Wrong! All the hot air about Finn seems to have been just that, he's gone backwards. This Rankin, more hot air but they won't play him. Tremlett was picked on hope and nothing else. More hot air about Onions but he's never cracked it for a regular game. England are extremely fortunate Anderson and Swan miss few games and Broads there more than not. The backup is RUBBISH!

  • righthandbat on December 13, 2013, 23:29 GMT

    In sport, like stats, confounding variables exist. It is overly simplistic to say that England have merely been poor - Australia have also been good (at least, several of their players have) and have had the home advantage, if you like.

    As dunger.bob sagaciously pointed out - these bowlers have been some of the best England has produced, collectively. They also are some of the best tail-enders (if not the best) England has produced. If you look at their batting averages: Broad 24.30, Swann 22.80, Bresnan 30.05, Anderson 10.44 (and one must take into account his frequent nightwatchman appearances). England's selectors must have the six-out, all-out thing on their minds.

    On the issue of speed - some of the best fast bowlers like McGrath and Pollock have not been express - but most of the best have been genuinely quick - and England desperately could use a couple of more intimidating quicks.

    Finally - England need to think about Ballance for the last two games of the series.

  • Chris_P on December 13, 2013, 22:48 GMT

    @JG207 & @landl47. I am still at a loss of why England went with the "Tall Timber" bowling option, omitting form bowlers & not carrying out their plan? Surely there must have been a definitive thought process to gear these guys up & initiate the plan to its fullest? They weren't utilized in early games to the extent they should have been & I was even questioning their inclusion during the Australia A game thinking they were not going to be a factor in this Ashes contest, at least initially. Still trying to figure that one out. We still got our problems as well, we are not that good, nor are you guys that bad.

  • Ozcricketwriter on December 13, 2013, 22:23 GMT

    Many people saw the 3-0 scoreline in England and thought that Australia were flogged. But in reality England only dominated 1 test (the 2nd) and the other two that they won were purely because they won the toss - and in the other 2 England were flogged, but rain saved them. England were, in reality, thoroughly beaten at home, but the delusion of the 3-0 scoreline led them to false confidence and this is the result. England should have waked up to the reality check that the kind of luck they got in England was never going to continue, and that they needed to make some big changes to get close in Australia. Instead, they were deluded into thinking that they deserved that luck. This series has proven to be a heavy dose of reality for England and at least they won't be able to deny that they were thoroughly beaten this time around.

  • JG2704 on December 13, 2013, 22:11 GMT

    @maximum6 - 1- we never hammered Australia this summer. We did in one test but the other 2 wins were hard fought and of the 2 drawn matches we were hammered in one but totally saved by the rain and Aus had advantage in the other before both teams tried to manufacture a result due to weather. The bowlers arent blameless but I'd say our batsmen have let us down more often in the last few years and we've often won matches more because of what our bowlers have done than what our batsmen have done. The last 2 home series scorecards tell us that much. I still believe the full on rot started with the batsmen in this series. Yes it's frustrating that our bowlers are getting OZ 5 down and then Oz going on to make big totals but pre series Cook himself was talking about 400 totals being a bare minimum out here and the best they've done is scrape 300 once in 4 inns and the batsmen didn't top 200 in the 1st test and the commentators were all saying it was a fill your boots batsman's pitch

  • JG2704 on December 13, 2013, 21:55 GMT

    @InsideHedge on (December 13, 2013, 18:30 GMT) Pretty much agree with everything you say there. The worst thing is that they strengthened the back up in that area and then only used one of the 3 (and the least hostile of the 3) in one of the tests. I would have tried Rankin as I reckon he'll probably be the freshest of the trio (and surely the poundings the Oz batsmen have given our bowlers must have an effect on them) . He's also possibly the most eager to prove a point. Also he's more of an unknown quantity so maybe Australian batsmen wouldn't have set plans for him.

  • VivGilchrist on December 13, 2013, 21:55 GMT

    So Bresnan was chosen so England weren't deficient in other areas? So in effect they have chosen a bowler to strengthen the batting rather than choosing the best bowler for the conditions. 0-2 in the series and they STILL operate with a defensive mindset! Unreal....

  • on December 13, 2013, 21:54 GMT

    The bowling coach instead of the the coach or a player speaking on behalf of the team? Who's next in line for the press tomorrow? The dinner-lady???

    Go Aussie!!! Bring on the pain!!!5-0!!!

  • CamH on December 13, 2013, 21:36 GMT

    Surely there is an over emphasis on absolute pace here by Dobell and many of the England posters here. Sure Tremlett is not express but on a quick, bouncy track he probably doesn't need to be. At his height if he were to consistently hit a good full length on th WACCA pitch he would hit the bat high and be a chance for edges coming from the shoulder of the bat etc. To be fair to Tremlett he is about the same pace as Glen McGrath was and he was a great bowler at the WACCA. Just goes to show how much England has been spooked by Johnson. I also think some of the comments about Anderson are spot on. He is the bowling version of a flat track bully.

  • bobmartin on December 13, 2013, 21:24 GMT

    I'm afraid it's the old England all over again. They are simply too complacent and too comfortable.. Listen to the after match cliches, read players newspaper columns. Full of the standrad phrases.. "we know we're not performing" " we know we must do better" "we always come back from behind"... " a good performance is just round the corner" etc etc and boring etc.. Well guys, you're a helluva long way behind now. and the corner is a million miles away. No finger pointing. it's a team failure.. The bowlers have failed to finish the job after a good start... and the batters have failed to compile competitive totals...Now it's a simple fact that a good team doesn't become a bad one overnight.. but halfway through a third molestation.. one begins to wonder if the urge to win is still there... And lets face it.. the only difference between the teams that competed only a few months ago is Johnson..and surely he can't make that much difference... can he ? It seems he can.

  • FieryFerg on December 13, 2013, 20:18 GMT

    Looking forward to seeing Johnson & Harris bowling 'coz according to that speed gun they should be up around 110mph! Anderson never has been quick and he's very medium pace now despite what that gun says. Tremlett should never have gone - over the hill, Finn they've ruined by constantly trying to change him and how is Rankin supposed to feel confident when they've continually been looking to get Bres the donkey back in front of him. Onions must be sitting in the rain in SA laughing his head off.

  • 2.14istherunrate on December 13, 2013, 19:28 GMT

    We are playing the same side we hammered in England just few months ago and yet just over this short period we seem to have gone into a downward spiral so rapidly that my mind can barely keep up with it. We have good first halves of first days and then just go into suicide mode. It is unacceptable that this team should play this type of cricket. It is obvious that the mistakes made at the choosing of the team have come to haunt us. The 3 giants are a national joke- completely hopeless in their failure to work out why they are there and the batsmen have just proved inadequate against accurate fast bowling which takes some application and skill but hardly superhuman powers. Unlike some I do not see the bowling as blameless. To fail to bowl out a side from 136-5 once is ungfortunate.....etc. The fault lies just as much with the bowlers. Perhaps their pockets need hurting.It's the only language some understand. Garbage effort again!

  • MaruthuDelft on December 13, 2013, 19:06 GMT

    I don't why they retain Anderson and why they ever thought he's good. He is someone with no fight in him. England bowlers should be Broad, Finn, Tremlett and Swan.

  • CodandChips on December 13, 2013, 18:35 GMT

    "We picked the side we thought would get 20 wickets"- yeah for a lot of runs. At least Finn and Rankin take wickets on any pitch, let alone on pitches tailor-made for them. I don't care too much on economy rates.

    Makes the exclusion of county performers seem very bizzare. Perhaps Onions or Jordan would have been a better pick than one of the lankies (Tremlett in my opinion). But Onions is hardly doing brilliant in South Africa.

  • InsideHedge on December 13, 2013, 18:30 GMT

    Everyone knew that taking Tremlett, Finn and Rankin was a strange move. In all likelihood, they were going to be in contention for Perth but instead England went with the tried and trusted Bressie Lad. I really thought they'd take risks here, win the Test and put some jeepers creepers up Australia.

    Ironically, Tremlett didn't do badly in the 1st Test - statistically - but I agree with Georgie here, he was ordinary the whole of last season in county cricket. He was even one of the reasons why Surrey got relegated!

    Rankin was an even bigger risk, the man has rarely played a handful of consecutive first class games for Warwickshire without breaking down. I doubt his ability to string together two Tests in a row. In fairness, he bowled well in the ODIs, and was OK as a backup pick, he could even have been used as a shock tactic in this Perth Test.

    Finn is a top bowler, but this England we're talking about - they always want everything perfectly, all stars must be aligned.

  • on December 13, 2013, 18:20 GMT

    Slow,low pitches,Defensive fields with boundary riders,batsmen with iffy techniques,Overhead swinging conditions,reverse swing--those are the perfect conditions for the floaty Anderson and Bresnan types and even Swann wherein these bowlers can bring LBW into play or bore the opposition out.These guys are innocuouc on hard pitches against confident opposition.Broad is different and the best England bowler by miles.Finn HAD to play..HAD TO....at Perth.England have been out thought ,outfought and out captained.They are at a loss on hard bouncy faster pitches and will need a miracle to win at Perth now.If it doesnt happen in the first hour tomorrow then goodbye Ashes!

  • shillingsworth on December 13, 2013, 16:27 GMT

    @C.Gull - You seem to be labouring under the delusion that 'England' ever said such a thing.

  • Puffin on December 13, 2013, 16:27 GMT

    I can't see the point of bringing along those 3 tall fast bowlers if they're not going to be given a game, especially on a pitch ideally suited to their ilk. We keep hearing the excuses (so-and-so is out of form, a few yards short on pace, whatever) well how about bringing along someone else? A bit too much reliance on hoping for the best here.

  • chitti_cricket on December 13, 2013, 16:10 GMT

    Friends I think these Aussies are carrying some kind of grudge or vengeance against their past ashes tormentors like Anderson, Swan and Broad, no matter what and how well they bowl they are going to get this treatment by Aussies. So let England throw some new faces where Aussies have no grudge and no idea on how they bowl. Like Ronkin, Stokes etc and even Monty P who they played OK but targeted more off Swan. I know I sound silly by saying so but that looks to me another fact as well. Because some of the shots played by Warner, Clarke, Haddin and Smith all seem to be on good balls. Good length not halfvollys but still spanked to fours. That just prompted me think, these Aussies were hurt very very badly in their previous Ashes and now think are paying back.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on December 13, 2013, 15:55 GMT

    I'm here to give out the hugs but alas wherefore art thou Lunge? Scouring an almanac somewhere to find some dirt on Australia. More likely in counselling, such is the state of this series and the return to form of Australia. Yes we have some holes in the batting, let's not let these crunching winning margins hide that but we are plenty too good for England and will have the Ashes back on Sunday.

  • shillingsworth on December 13, 2013, 15:32 GMT

    Only a few short weeks ago before the series started, Saker was touted as a fantastic coach and some of the lesser lights in the media were suggesting that the Australian back room staff had much to learn from him. Now Saker's record 'requires scrutiny'. I'd suggest that the knowledge of some in the media requires just as much scrutiny. We've grown used to players being built up in order to knock them down as soon as they fail. It seems that this has now spread to coaching staff. Finn and Rankin are experienced professional cricketers and it's up to them to work out their best method. Saker's there to provide them with whatever assistance they need but they and no one else are ultimately accountable for what happens on the field.

  • on December 13, 2013, 15:29 GMT

    England is in the same place it was when it toured Australia in 2006-7. The only difference is unlike just one Ashes series win, this time they had three continuous series win in its kitty when it arrived. But whatever the reason then and reason now it is clear England has completely lost its marbles and is totally overwhelmed by the mission on hand more than the opposition. Trott perhaps is an extreme but representative case of what is going in the minds of not only its players but also officials and support staff. The pressure to perform comes both from within as well from every quarter back home - board, media, fans. That seems to have overwhelmed everyone around. It is time we step aside and evaluate at human cost we are playing sport? Is sport supposed to be a release and relaxation to regenerate our lives or is it itself a cause for pressure and turmoil in the name of pride, performance and excellence. England is displaying a collective freeze of faculties.

  • on December 13, 2013, 15:26 GMT

    This match is a carbon copy of the first two Tests. England lack the penetration and pace to bowl Australia out for under 250. Blokes like Finn and Tremlett should have played in Perth. Yet another colossal error from the England mis-management team. This tour has been a monumental disaster for the Poms from the very beginning and it is about to get worse. An innings defeat here and onwards to 5-0

  • C.Gull on December 13, 2013, 15:16 GMT

    England still seem to be labouring under the delusion that Anderson and Swann are McGrath and Warne.

  • on December 13, 2013, 14:49 GMT

    I agree that England made an error today by not playing Tremlett/Finn. But whoever are vouching for an Onions selection for this tour, please tell me what is the logic behind this? Do you want another military medium line and length, swing bowler to be sitting in the dug out? Don't you have Anderson in the playing 11 (he is rightly the spearhead of the attack)? What special is he going to bring to the table on non friendly conditions? Mind you Onions is just another swing bowler who can bowl the occasional cutters. Remember Fin/Onions trying to get Best and Ramdin out?

  • chitti_cricket on December 13, 2013, 14:45 GMT

    Let us call spade a spade, let us also give credit to Smith and Haddin, they played good cricket. Left alone the balls that were pitched up at off stump line. Balls pitched short and too full were cashed in. England bowlers when they had Aussies down @ 150 odd for 5 if went for defensive bowling would have been criticized otherwise they went for kill and Aussies batted simply well, that is the fact of the day. What a thin line between success and failure is it not..! These very Aussies were called names during English Summer and now the English during Aussie Summer. What a sarcastic game this cricket is. Until a couple of months J.Anderson was top class bowler, Swan the best spinner in the game in contemporary cricket, now they are at the receiving end. M.Johnson was all left and right bowler with no good length and line, now a roller coaster over England.Cricket you are such a beauty of unpredictability.

  • JG2704 on December 13, 2013, 14:32 GMT

    @mickjim on (December 13, 2013, 14:02 GMT) I wouldn't be calling for Swann's head. He turned the game for a while today - just that they couldn't capitalise. Also I think you need a spinner at most grounds and Swann is surely a better bet than Monty (who was tried as a lone spinner in NZ and outbowled by his ordinary looking NZ counterpart and who has been poor since last winter) and Kerrigan who Austrlia hit out of the game in less than 10 overs several months back. I think Kerrigan can come again but not while Oz are so much on top and with how they treated him last time. However I'll agree Eng (despite some fans saying they don't get much wrong) have IMO made some huge blunders over recent years such as only picking one spinner for the 1st test in UAE and then not learning from it when they did the same in India later that year.Dropping Swann for a test vs SA for 4 pacers when Tahir had the best test of his series for SA. Picking 2 spinners at Oval and now this

  • siddhartha87 on December 13, 2013, 14:29 GMT

    Bresnan's inclusion really surprised me. True he had a good Ashes series two years back but since than his performance is terrible. In last 24 months he has taken just 26 wickets in 12 tests (average 48 SR-92) on the other hand Finn has taken 40 wickets in 11 tests (avge 32 SR 56).Trailing the series by 0-2 they should have opted for more attacking option i.e Finn.Anderson is a great bowler but in last 24 months his SR is 66(avg 30).Trio of Anderson,Broad and Finn would have been more attackin for sure looking at these numbers.

  • on December 13, 2013, 14:11 GMT

    Get rid of David Saker, Hire Ian Pont, Give Tymal Mills a go, Onions should have been on this tour the tall fast bowler fad is nonsense, pick your best bowlers for the tour and Onions is a regular performer in county cricket if you dont reward success then county cricket is devalued

  • mickjim on December 13, 2013, 14:02 GMT

    England's selectors have not had a good year - look at the Oval for instance. The continuity policy is good up to a point but they seem to ignore the fact that certain players have been under-performing for some time. Graham Swann has won a few matches over the past few years but in general has been less effectiive than he was in his first couple of years in test cricket. You could say the selectors don't have a lot of options and this is our best team but how do you explain Onion's omission. It doesn't make sense. I'm not saying he's a world beater but his record last season was pretty good and surely picking the 3 big guys was a gamble which has backfired. Anderson looks spent but I think that's a result of England's 4 bowler policy. On bowler friendly pitches it's fine but too often in recent years the bowlers have toiled away. 2 years ago they could contain sides but not now. The signs were all there last summer - could have been 3-0 to Australia easily.

  • BradmanBestEver on December 13, 2013, 13:58 GMT

    Whenever you that little bit extra you should always add onions... and by cripes (to quote Sir Les Patterson), do England need that little bit extra.

  • BradmanBestEver on December 13, 2013, 13:48 GMT

    England's main problem is that if Anderson and Swann are not taking wickets their other bowlers are not able to come to the party and contribute.

    The English selectors must go back to the drawing board and pick quality players with a big heart. Substance and strength of character is what they are missing the most in their bowling attack.

    It will take them quite some time to get back to being a competitive team but such a strategy will pay off in the long run.

  • on December 13, 2013, 13:31 GMT

    You want to pick a needling, line-and-length bowler who's recently come back to the game after MONTHS out with a stress fracture in his back to bowl the lions share of the overs in 37+ degree sun when one of your strike bowlers is averaging over 70?

    England needed some bravery here. Call me nuts but I'd have dropped Swann, retained Monty (bowls better with bounce than Swanny) and brought in Rankin. If you have three quicks with unimpressive form, surely you pick the quickest one? While I was at it I'd have considered the unthinkable - leaving Anderson out for a match and picking maybe Tremlett. (While cursing the guys who picked the squad for not giving me Chris Jordan or Graham Onions. Seriously, what the hell is this England squad?)

  • DRicherby on December 13, 2013, 13:12 GMT

    @Ms.Cricket I'm not sure how somebody who's only played nine tests counts as a "Test specialist".

  • Bodders70 on December 13, 2013, 13:08 GMT

    Bob,

    I think the faster it goes off the bat to the slips is a lot more likely. Very odd selection by England will have compounded our problems but we'd needed to have restricted you to 200 or so to have had a chance regardless so I don't think it matters that much in the grand scheme of things.

  • Front-Foot-Sponge on December 13, 2013, 13:05 GMT

    The selection blunder was persevering with players who have been out of form for an eternity. I suspect we will declare on about 450, roll England, enforce the follow on and be home for tea on Sunday. Normal Ashes service has resumed. Congrats to Mitch for out scoring all the English batsman too, not bad for the guy everyone wrote off. I hope he gets his ton tomorrow, he deserves it.

  • Ms.Cricket on December 13, 2013, 12:52 GMT

    Nick Compton - dropping him in the beginning of the last series was the biggest mistake. England have not managed a single good Test innings after this Test specialist was injustly dropped.

  • Jaffa79 on December 13, 2013, 12:38 GMT

    @BradmanBestEver - the majority of your batting averager in the 30s so that would qualify them 'serviceable' category you'd agree? Don't get hung up on statistics. Jimmy Anderson is a fine bowler, who has been just behing Steyn for about 4 or 5 years now. Harris and MJ are bowling better than him but lets see if Harris can perform for a set period of time and MJ is blowing hot but has blowed cold a lot more than Jimmy has, @Front-Foot_lunge - don't get hung up on pace. I know it is the Aussie macho thing but it means nothing. I remember a couple of years back, all of the Aussies banging on about their 'five guys over 150 clicks' garbage and they all went around the park and England won 4-0. Who has been the best Aussie seamer of recent memory? McGrath. He rarely cranked it above 85-86 at his peak and at the end of his career, he was 80 on a good day downhill. It is about the skill of the bowler, not how quick he bowls it.

  • Jimmers on December 13, 2013, 12:33 GMT

    The mistake if there was one, was brining 3 big tall bowlers in the first place. Tremlett was picked on his form from the last tour, Rankin is too inexperienced to send out to these lions, and Finn was underwhelming in the warm-up games.

    Bresnan I think does belong here - we've seen over the years how he's able to keep charging in on these flat pitches, but whether he's fully fit is another question. Stokes I haven't got a problem with, he's as quick as anyone we've got at the moment - he might not be ready to bat at 6 yet, but the top order need to do their job for the first time in this series and then it won't be so much of an issue.

  • heathrf1974 on December 13, 2013, 12:28 GMT

    People need to notice that so far it is Swann who has taken most wickets so far. Besides who were they going to drop? It is the same when all teams are losing, blame the selectors, but the fact of the matter is, it is the players who should perform.

  • Dr.Scott on December 13, 2013, 12:26 GMT

    Australia have a decent score but 4 quick wickets in the morning and the match is fairly even providing England bat better than they have done. If England bat well then they are still in the test. If England bat badly then they will lose the test but that probably would happen whether Australia scored 250 or 450 in the first innings.

  • cloudmess on December 13, 2013, 12:21 GMT

    Just don't understand why Stokes is playing. It's the usual England selectorial blunder, very common in the 1990s - you feel insecure about both your bowling and batting, so pick a guy who can does bit of both without quite being up to test standard with either. Surely one of the lankies was worth a try insteadw - England had little to lose - or even Monty, who took 8 wickets here in 2006.

  • Front-Foot_lunge on December 13, 2013, 12:12 GMT

    As an England fan, the most noticeable stat, apart from the horrendous score lines, were the fact that English bowlers are a good 5-10kmh slower than their australian counterparts. That is a massive gulf to bridge.

    We are , effectively, a bowling unit of trundlers delivering very hitt-able balls to batsmen who have played the majority of time on these wickets.

    When it comes time to bowl, the Australian bowling unit will be streets ahead of their English counterparts, not because the pitch quickens on day three, but because they've been streets ahead on bouncy tracks in Brisbane, and absolute roads in Adelaide. They will also be able to handle the heat. Toss or no toss, poor selections or not, the Australian bowling unit is now that much better than England's. As an English fan, it pains me to admit this.

    Whereas we wilt, Australians will thrive in the furnace of competition. Sad days ahead for english cricket, 'winter is coming'.

  • dunger.bob on December 13, 2013, 12:03 GMT

    At this rate England will probably pick all 3 quicks in Sydney, the spinningest track we've got. If you ain't gonna play at least one of them in Perth why even bring them?

    Actually, I think I can understand why England are loathe to change their bowling line-up. It's been a good one for them. Probably one of their better 3 man combo's ever. If you add up all the wickets Anderson, Broad and Swann have taken as a unit I suspect there wouldn't be too many in front of it. Dropping any of these guys is a very serious move for England I'd say. Very, very serious.

    Anyway, lets see how everything looks when the Aussies have a bowl. As Saker said, the faster it comes off the pitch, the faster it goes off the bat. Our bowlers might also bowl a metre too short and England could make plenty.

  • 122notoutWestByfleet1996 on December 13, 2013, 12:03 GMT

    Finn should have played in this game. sure he goes for around 4 an over, but he is fast, tall and takes wickets. if he had taken 4 for 100 or so I am sure England would have been happy.

    Cant understand keeping stokes in given that Bresnan was picked. A extra batsman at 6 would have been a better ploy.

    Cook, Carberry, Root, KP, Bell, Bairstow/Ballance, Prior, Broad, Swann, Anderson, Finn.

  • JG2704 on December 13, 2013, 11:58 GMT

    @nickduck on (December 13, 2013, 11:12 GMT) I suppose Monty and Bres are literally (physically) BIG players so I suppose changing one for another is a BIG change

  • MarkTaffin on December 13, 2013, 11:56 GMT

    England seem to have developed an unhealthy obsession with Bresnan and the famed Perth reputation for a breeze and reverse swing. Meanwhile, the three big lads who surely must have been taken with Perth in mind act as drinks waiters. And sadly, Stokes is a work in progress, probably incapable of warranting his place as either a bowler or a batter. And Jimmy looks shot. And so does Swanny.

  • JG2704 on December 13, 2013, 11:56 GMT

    Ctd - I can understand why they would be wary of playing Finn who has leaked runs but not balanced it out with his usual quota of wickets but surely Rankin seems to have more control and adds another dimension to the attack.It's all very well saying about getting the selections wrong etc but why not at least try a guy who was brought on tour to do a particular job? Sure Rankin hasn't done that much but by the same token he did much more than Stokes. Also re "We normally pride ourselves in being able to restrict teams,"

    Without a finishing part to the sentence like "When we're not taking wickets" it almost sounds like he's saying that's the prime objective. I'd say at 2 tests down , taking wickets should be the prome objective

    I (among others) said about the omission of Onions and was questioned re Onions going for loads of runs in non suitable conditions. Well at least the players we have out there are keeping the RR in check

  • ste13 on December 13, 2013, 11:54 GMT

    Incredible selection. Drop Panesar, retain Swann. Omit Finn, who is genuine wicket-taker. I also believe that days of Anderson glory are far far away and will never be back. Just after the summer Ashes I wrote on this forum that 3-0 scoreline to England was misleading. Unfortunatley, England has to rebuild the whole team, with Trott, Pietersen, Prior, Anderson, Broad and Swann no longer offering world class skills. But to be fair, they were good at their peak.

  • BradmanBestEver on December 13, 2013, 11:52 GMT

    Anderson averages 30 in test cricket over a long period which puts him in the "serviceable" category of test cricketers and that is all.

    Some have overrated him to a large degree.

  • AltafPatel on December 13, 2013, 11:52 GMT

    Considering Aus pressure in terms of sleding stuffs, Eng should have come with some fresh, fearless players in team like Bairstow, Compton etc.

  • jackiethepen on December 13, 2013, 11:48 GMT

    It was a colossal misjudgement to rely on a trio of giant bowlers who never ever looked ready to do the job. Finn has been out of sorts for a while and was dropped from the summer Ashes, so why was he recalled to the squad? Rankin showed he was still raw and inconsistent but the best of the bunch. Tremlett was known to be down on pace and a shadow of his former self. This was known to fans but not to Flower? Onions is a good death bowler but was inexplicably omitted despite his championship record. A catalogue of errors and we don't even start on the ever widening search for No 6. Just because Flower says it is ALL the batsmen's fault think again. The Australia bowlers have always been very good, the Australian batting fragile by comparison. Work out the equation. The management got the bowling wrong and quite a bit else. About time Flower took responsibility as Director of Cricket and resign.

  • edrich on December 13, 2013, 11:47 GMT

    "We could have made a mistake in this game". A little bit of understatement I think. Bresnan should have played in Adelaide not here.Finn absolutely should have played here as should Tremlett.Both Swann and Anderson should have sat Perth out and considered their test careers close to the end.Ditto Prior. Where were all these changes promised by Flower? In each Test so far we have had the Aussies 5 down but have been unable to press the advantage.It is a selectoral debacle.

    Cook,Carberry,Root,KP,Bell,Bairstow,Stokes,Broad,Finn,Tremlett/Rankin,Panesar.

  • on December 13, 2013, 11:47 GMT

    Bad decisions Finn should be in first eleven right from beggining of the series.I don't know what this tour selection committee is thinking.

  • JG2704 on December 13, 2013, 11:44 GMT

    In the midst of Eng being dominated once more I had forgotten that England had selected 3 lankies in their squad to begin with. Said at the time how unbalanced it was having 3 such bowlers inthe squad as they were only ever likely to play1 in any 1 test.As it happens they have just made their selection look even worse - if that's possible - by not playing any of them in the last 2 matches. To be fair, Tremlett - who I was extremely critical of the selection of - was not as bad as I thought he'd be in the 1st test but then has not got a look in since - maybe a bowler being sacrificed for the batsmen's failures again? Stokes has not disgraced himself but his inclusion could not have been based on warm up games form and I just get the impression that all he's likely to do is (at best) contribute a 40 or 50 or take a couple of wkts - nothing game changing.

  • on December 13, 2013, 11:23 GMT

    Since the 1st Test of the year in Nottingham Anderson has averaged around 45 a wicket and he continued that poor form her today. Looks like his best days are far behind him and a gentle retirement is the best option.

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on December 13, 2013, 11:17 GMT

    He's right - and not pretending and voiding the facts - that it quickens up on day 2/3 . With Aus looking like pocketing up a sizeable 1st inngs. score in 400-450 range , the pace bowlers will again have a free reign to let rip at the Eng bats. I am sure he as bowling coach will like his bats to put up a fighting 1st inngs score and playing the shots on a quick pitch .Well,they might get away a few shots off Watson's F/ Medium stuff but try telling them to do that against likes of Siddle ,Harris where they would be just happy to survive any length of time out in middle. And , I have not even had a mention of M Johnson where they will be happy to just Survive .(full stop!)

  • crickeymate on December 13, 2013, 11:16 GMT

    It won't get any easier if they can't see the ball david. Please Mitch, one more time and even the score mate. Especially for David.

  • nickduck on December 13, 2013, 11:12 GMT

    Yes, well done Andy Flower!!! 'BIG CHANGES' for the Perth test match was his response to the Adelaide debacle. Bresnan for Panesar. What a huge change to the England line up. What an inspired selection. Drop a bowler as usual when it is the batsmen who have failed miserably so far on this tour. Also drop a bowler who had a great time on this pitch 3 years ago. Instead pick a medium pacer for the fast bouncy Perth wicket when you have 3 fast bowling giants on the sidelines waiting for a game. Must be the most conservative reaction to 2 drubbings ever. This could be an innings defeat depending on whether the hapless English batsmen pass 150 in the first innings. England deserve everything they get in this test match for failing to make the BIG CHANGES that were promised.

  • nlpdave on December 13, 2013, 11:09 GMT

    Another miserable performance and mystifying team selection resulting in a disastrous day and the inevitable loss that will surely result. Not only have the entire squad lost the plot but also seem to either be terrified or already resigned to a humiliating ashes drubbing from a still mediocre Australian side. Is it time to change the regime?

  • zzby on December 13, 2013, 10:55 GMT

    Good to see he is admitting this, they are playing Andresson and Brensen on thier past performnces. They should have given a go to Rankin,Finn and Tremlett.

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  • zzby on December 13, 2013, 10:55 GMT

    Good to see he is admitting this, they are playing Andresson and Brensen on thier past performnces. They should have given a go to Rankin,Finn and Tremlett.

  • nlpdave on December 13, 2013, 11:09 GMT

    Another miserable performance and mystifying team selection resulting in a disastrous day and the inevitable loss that will surely result. Not only have the entire squad lost the plot but also seem to either be terrified or already resigned to a humiliating ashes drubbing from a still mediocre Australian side. Is it time to change the regime?

  • nickduck on December 13, 2013, 11:12 GMT

    Yes, well done Andy Flower!!! 'BIG CHANGES' for the Perth test match was his response to the Adelaide debacle. Bresnan for Panesar. What a huge change to the England line up. What an inspired selection. Drop a bowler as usual when it is the batsmen who have failed miserably so far on this tour. Also drop a bowler who had a great time on this pitch 3 years ago. Instead pick a medium pacer for the fast bouncy Perth wicket when you have 3 fast bowling giants on the sidelines waiting for a game. Must be the most conservative reaction to 2 drubbings ever. This could be an innings defeat depending on whether the hapless English batsmen pass 150 in the first innings. England deserve everything they get in this test match for failing to make the BIG CHANGES that were promised.

  • crickeymate on December 13, 2013, 11:16 GMT

    It won't get any easier if they can't see the ball david. Please Mitch, one more time and even the score mate. Especially for David.

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on December 13, 2013, 11:17 GMT

    He's right - and not pretending and voiding the facts - that it quickens up on day 2/3 . With Aus looking like pocketing up a sizeable 1st inngs. score in 400-450 range , the pace bowlers will again have a free reign to let rip at the Eng bats. I am sure he as bowling coach will like his bats to put up a fighting 1st inngs score and playing the shots on a quick pitch .Well,they might get away a few shots off Watson's F/ Medium stuff but try telling them to do that against likes of Siddle ,Harris where they would be just happy to survive any length of time out in middle. And , I have not even had a mention of M Johnson where they will be happy to just Survive .(full stop!)

  • on December 13, 2013, 11:23 GMT

    Since the 1st Test of the year in Nottingham Anderson has averaged around 45 a wicket and he continued that poor form her today. Looks like his best days are far behind him and a gentle retirement is the best option.

  • JG2704 on December 13, 2013, 11:44 GMT

    In the midst of Eng being dominated once more I had forgotten that England had selected 3 lankies in their squad to begin with. Said at the time how unbalanced it was having 3 such bowlers inthe squad as they were only ever likely to play1 in any 1 test.As it happens they have just made their selection look even worse - if that's possible - by not playing any of them in the last 2 matches. To be fair, Tremlett - who I was extremely critical of the selection of - was not as bad as I thought he'd be in the 1st test but then has not got a look in since - maybe a bowler being sacrificed for the batsmen's failures again? Stokes has not disgraced himself but his inclusion could not have been based on warm up games form and I just get the impression that all he's likely to do is (at best) contribute a 40 or 50 or take a couple of wkts - nothing game changing.

  • on December 13, 2013, 11:47 GMT

    Bad decisions Finn should be in first eleven right from beggining of the series.I don't know what this tour selection committee is thinking.

  • edrich on December 13, 2013, 11:47 GMT

    "We could have made a mistake in this game". A little bit of understatement I think. Bresnan should have played in Adelaide not here.Finn absolutely should have played here as should Tremlett.Both Swann and Anderson should have sat Perth out and considered their test careers close to the end.Ditto Prior. Where were all these changes promised by Flower? In each Test so far we have had the Aussies 5 down but have been unable to press the advantage.It is a selectoral debacle.

    Cook,Carberry,Root,KP,Bell,Bairstow,Stokes,Broad,Finn,Tremlett/Rankin,Panesar.

  • jackiethepen on December 13, 2013, 11:48 GMT

    It was a colossal misjudgement to rely on a trio of giant bowlers who never ever looked ready to do the job. Finn has been out of sorts for a while and was dropped from the summer Ashes, so why was he recalled to the squad? Rankin showed he was still raw and inconsistent but the best of the bunch. Tremlett was known to be down on pace and a shadow of his former self. This was known to fans but not to Flower? Onions is a good death bowler but was inexplicably omitted despite his championship record. A catalogue of errors and we don't even start on the ever widening search for No 6. Just because Flower says it is ALL the batsmen's fault think again. The Australia bowlers have always been very good, the Australian batting fragile by comparison. Work out the equation. The management got the bowling wrong and quite a bit else. About time Flower took responsibility as Director of Cricket and resign.