Australia v England, 1st Test, Brisbane, 4th day November 28, 2010

Watson bemoans collective failure


Shane Watson says all of the Australian bowlers should be blamed for the side's lack of penetration on the fourth day as England stormed back into the opening Test. The locals started with a 202-run lead but by stumps were 88 behind after the visiting top three took advantage of an inconsistent attack to post 1 for 309.

Mitchell Johnson struggled with his line and Ben Hilfenhaus was unthreatening for long periods, while Peter Siddle could not build on his impressive six-wicket return in the first innings. "I don't think you can single out Mitchell today," Watson said. "All of us, the bowlers, didn't perform particularly well, me included."

Andrew Strauss (110) and Alastair Cook (132 not out) were regularly given balls to cut, pull and drive, and the wayward approach also allowed them constant singles. Jonathan Trott joined the fun after Strauss was out stumped to Marcus North, the only wicket to fall on an extremely difficult day for the hosts.

"It came down to sustaining pressure and unfortunately we weren't able to do that," Watson said. "We did it for little periods but weren't able to execute for long enough. The English guys batted well, particularly Strauss and Cook, but all of us as a bowling group weren't able to consistently execute to build the pressure that was needed."

The problem has been a feature of Australia's attack since the last Ashes series and is highlighted on flat pitches when the bowlers can't make things happen. "That's something we are continuing to work on as a group," Watson said. "We know how important it is on flat wickets and there's no doubt that there's going to be a lot of flat wickets throughout this whole summer. We have to continue to improve, to make sure we get better at it."

This surface was supportive to the fast men for the first two days but has flattened out. There are a few cracks to aim for but England's position is so strong that they may be in a position to push for victory over the second half of the final day. That depends on lifting their scoring rate in the morning, something Watson hopes they try to achieve.

"It would be nice if they did," he said. "It might give us a few more opportunities to be able to take some wickets."

Although England were reluctant to think too far ahead in the game, Australia's former captain Ian Chappell said that a positive approach in the final stages of the game could have a major bearing on the momentum of the series, much as was the case when England snatched a draw from the jaws of defeat at Cardiff in 2009.

"A draw has got to be the favourite, but England should at some point just start to push a little bit, and try to frighten Australia," Chappell told ESPNcricinfo. "I don't for a moment think they will bowl them out - if they do you'll be talking about this one in the same terms as Headingley 1981, or India's victory over Australia in Calcutta. But even if England can push Australia into a bit of a corner and get five of them out and put the frighteners on them, then they would go to Adelaide with a huge psychological boost."

Despite the swift momentum shift, Watson said Australia were still in the game. "But we do have to turn it around very quickly," he said. "We still need to get nine wickets and that seems a long way away at the moment. But there's definitely still quite a bit of hope for us."

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • sunil on November 29, 2010, 15:11 GMT

    @Mitcher.. Please keep on praying. I love to watch ASHES, even though I am Indian but there are few people that made us make comments. But still Inda vs RSA will be a good series. I only want to watch the games that have results, i do not care who is playing. YES ASHES was big, but it's not anymore. Lets face it. Currently World is looking forward to the RSA/IND series, which has more weight than the current ASHES. IND/PAK were Rivals but now pakistan is no where near. It is not because of India it is Pak's own mistake, lot of Politics here. And the same is what you guys always talk about selectors being biased. Only people suffer are the people who are watching these games not selectors or politicians.We all are cricket lovers who is taking there frustration out in putting these comments. We Indian have rivalry with Australia now and we are just reacting. Cheers...

  • Mick on November 29, 2010, 6:18 GMT

    I want the India-Sth Africa series to start almost as badly as the Indian fans. Mainly in the hope it will attract their attention from these articles and we'll (I pray) be spared their moaning. The Ashes is a big series because of the long history of the contest and while it would be better if both sides were of a better quality it doesn't diminish that history. How often have India-Pakistan series been hyped despite both sides being average? And its fair enough because people recognise the importance of battles between the two sides/nations. If you don't get it and don't care for the Ashes, don't watch it. But more importantly spare us your constant whingeing. Oh, and one other reason i look forward to the India-sth africa series: To see those flat/home track bullies taken apart by the Saffers!!!

  • Dummy4 on November 29, 2010, 5:45 GMT

    Watson's right - this has been a collective failure. Mitch did come off a 5-for and a century in the Shield game leading up to this game too. Although I'm mindful of how Mitch's poor form contributed to our loss in the last Ashes series, he deserves another chance. North, however, has surely used up all of his chances!

  • sunil on November 29, 2010, 4:09 GMT

    @ Chapelau...Please wake up it is morning. Wake up and smell the rose. The best test series is always between #1 & #2 teams and that starts on December16th. Two best teams will compete and it will be good test match. As far as Ashes is concerned England didnt play good First day and the first innings of Australia and 2nd Innings of England clearly shows this is a flat pitch. I only put a comment to get the truth out of your mouth. I am so good Yeehaaaa. Ashes are not the same as it used to be. Australia is bitting the dust these days. GO ENGLAND GO, Beat the overhyped oz... This is called kicking the rear... IND vs CSA will be the best series of 2010...

  • Deepak on November 29, 2010, 2:13 GMT

    I think bowlers like johnson, watson, huritz (bhajji also) & batsman like viru, srt, vvs (bhajji also) make pitches look like dead. but bowlers like zak, stayn, some times ishant & batsman like ponting, clark (& left hand openers against zak ) make same pitch look like live. So understood what makes pitch flat & live.

  • Dummy4 on November 28, 2010, 23:57 GMT

    @Chapelau: There is no doubt that Ashes has glorious past, and cricket fans all over the world keep an eye! However, the merit of any series depends on the quality of the participating sides - and in that sense, this year Ashes is being played between two teams with rankings 4 and 5. On the other hand India Vs South Africa series will be played between 1 and 2 ranked. Therefore, general cricket lovers can expect a better cricket to be play there than in Ashes-2010-11.

  • Dummy4 on November 28, 2010, 22:30 GMT

    Is the pitch really that flat? England made 260 on the first day. Only 2 Australian batsmen managed to score runs. England batsmen have cashed in today today. Two bowlers have taken 6 wickets on this pitch, and they did it by pitching it up (Siddle) or getting good short balls with extra bounce (Finn). Apart from Anderson's unlucky spell yesterday, the rest of the bowling has been rubbish. Not enough balls on the full length, if they are it is too wide to do anything, and the short balls have been rubbish. If the bowlers actually bowled better, it would have been a different story. Johnson needs to be made an example of now. In the first innings, his bowling gave England momentum because it was too wayward. Now he is showing that he can't step it up when needed as the attack leader. All facets of his game have failed in this match, and as the apparant "go-to" man it is up to him to deliver. Bollinger needs to play, and Harris not far behind.

  • Arun on November 28, 2010, 21:44 GMT

    @phoenixsteve: On the one hand you say this: "What is the difference between a flat pitch and a good batting wicket? Largely about quality bowloing I guess"... and then say "not Indian flat, anyhow". Shouldn't you take your own advice? Indian pitches are as flat for fast-medium bowlers as Aussie wickets are for finger spinners and medium pacers. Most indian wickets offer turn and bounce for spinners. Once the ball stops swinging, Aussie pitches in the last 15 yrs or so have been good batting tracks with true bounce. The difference was McGrath and Warne, backed up by a formidable batting lineup. Today you have the mediocrity of Johnson and Watson. And Marcus north. Why does it surprise anyone that Brisbane is made to look a flatter track than it truly is?

  • Chris on November 28, 2010, 21:27 GMT

    What garbage talking of India v RSA as the Ashes - there is only one contest worthy of a special title - England v Australia. AS to the series in RSA - Boring series ahead there ... I wonder if India will have more than Zaheer in their attack? The rest including Singh are cannon fodder.

  • Harvey on November 28, 2010, 21:15 GMT

    Watson is saying you can't single out Mitchell. Why? I read elsewhere that he has had 11 wickets @ 55 in his last 5 tests. Its an ongoing performance problem. Until the selectors have some guts and make some calls instead of leaving it to Ponting who just picks his mates, Australia's demise will continue.

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