The Ashes 2013-14 October 23, 2013

England top order must revive old habits

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Alastair Cook has put the onus on England's top order to lay the foundations for another Ashes success, well aware they are unlikely to be able to afford the same stuttering batting displays which characterised the home series.

England did not reach 400 once during the previous series with their highest total being the 377 they made at The Oval. Australia, by comparison, went comfortably past that mark twice but the counter to that is they suffered more match-defining collapses. However, while it may appear quibbling after a 3-0 scoreline, Australia is not a place so forgiving of underweighted batting displays.

In 2010-11, England began with a disappointing 260 at the Gabba and were under immense pressure when Australia replied with 481, but then went on a run-scoring surge which was only interrupted by the Mitchell Johnson-inspired reversal at the WACA. A world record 517 for 1 to save the Brisbane Test was followed by first-innings totals of 620 for 5, 513 and 644 in the three matches England won by an innings to take the series 3-1.

"Clearly top-order runs out in Australia are vitally important," Cook said at Heathrow airport ahead of the team's departure. "Last time we saw that big runs make a massive difference and set the game up. Sometimes in England 240-250 can be a good score with the overhead conditions, but the majority of the time in Australia 400 is the bare minimum. That's the job of the top order to make sure we do that."

Cook was central to England's run glut three years ago with a monumental 766 in the series followed by 544 from Jonathan Trott at No. 3. In the recent home series the pair managed 570 runs between them without a century; Cook's reduced output could be partly put down to the strains of captaining in an Ashes series, but Trott had his technique unpicked by Australia's quicks and his response to that will be one of the early themes of the return contest.

"You'd love to score runs every time you bat. I could have done better, a lot better," Cook said. "As captain you want to lead from the front. I did quite a lot of the hard work and if you don't go onto make big scores as an opener there's always a few low ones around the corner against the new ball."

"I had a good time last time in Australia. It would be great to repeat some of those feats. I enjoy batting in those conditions, the ball can be flying past your ears quite a lot, it is a real test of the skill you need to play fast bowling. We are going to get plenty of that over the next two months. The first 15-20 overs with the Kookaburra ball can swing more than the Dukes, but get through that stage, in the afternoon sessions, it's fantastic to bat."

Despite the concerns about the top three - Joe Root, despite his 180 at Lord's, also found life tough (which is not a sin) in his first stint as a Test opener - England depart for Perth as favourites to make it consecutive away Ashes victories and four in a row, the latter not achieved since the 1890s. England have not always been at their best when billed as frontrunners but Cook believes his side, who spent last weekend in the Midlands for a team bonding trip that he termed "interesting", are comfortable with the tag.

"When you win the last three series, and the last series was just two months ago, that's a fair description," he said. "Last summer was the first time we'd gone into an Ashes series as favourites and I thought we coped with that pretty well, the outcome suggested we did.

"If you look how many sides go to Australia, winning there is no mean feat. Speaking to the lads over the last weekend, everyone is excited by the opportunity we have. As an Englishmen you know it will be like. It will be quite hostile at times."

Andrew McGlashan is as senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY cloudmess on | October 23, 2013, 23:08 GMT

    I'd expect Cook, Trott and co to score more runs on Australia's flatter pitches - the worry is whether Anderson, Broad and Swann have the same penetration on these less helpful surfaces. They looked quite anodyne at Edgbaston and the Oval last summer, which may be down to a combination of ageing and tiredness, but they will have to re-find their bite this winter. And neither Bresnan nor Tremlett are quite the bowlers they were in 2010/11. Even as an England supporter, I doubt very much England are favourites - this series is far more open than that.

  • POSTED BY Macker60 on | October 26, 2013, 8:06 GMT

    Looking at the weather to date I think the Pitches this year will be fiery, England will be Lucky to score 300, As Australian Bowling stocks Are pretty even down to about 10 back up bowlers in Australia Which is a vast difference to the last time England tour Aus Where Aus would have had 3-4 class Bowlers. . Look at the leading wicket taker for Last season in Aus he would be rated about 6 in the pecking order, As for Finns Pace there are about 6 bowlers in Aus bowling that equal or Better his speed. The big difference they know the pitches, As for Batting Aus will have a team that Can score 350 - 400 each time. England is 1-2 bowlers short of Disaster. And remember Hot 35 to 40 degree days will tax their Older bowlers more than the Aussie's

  • POSTED BY 5wombats on | October 26, 2013, 7:02 GMT

    Hi guys. Yep - it's all warming up! @landl47 I see that you are in fine from once again - just like last time! Pitches here ARE going to be bouncy and fast. It has been a dry and mild winter in Sydney and bush fire season has started unusually early. More than ever I'm backing England to win this. Aus will puff their chests out like they always do - but it won't be enough. Aus are weaker now than they were in 2010/11 and they were pretty weak then. England are not as strong as they were in 2010/11 either - but even if our batting only half fires (as in England in this year) it will still be too much for Australia. England's bowling is better than Australia's and it's bowling that wins Test matches.

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | October 25, 2013, 8:03 GMT

    @ShutTheGate on (October 24, 2013, 22:17 GMT) Bell's a strange one. Technically - when he's on top of his game - he is superb , but there are times when he has looked mentally weak. For me he's a player who goes through purple patches and when he's in a purple patch you wonder how he struggled in other series and when he's in a slump you wonder how he ever looked so brilliant when he was going through a purple patch. I don't think it's a case of him doing well/struggling on certain pitches. He was awful on slower pitches early in 2012 and has done well against pacemen on pacier pitches. It really just depends on which version turns up

  • POSTED BY ShutTheGate on | October 24, 2013, 22:17 GMT

    @JG2704 - Youre right I haven't been following Bell's career from 2011 until pre ashes.

    Watching the last ashes I thought that the slower pitches suited Bell and wondered how he would fair with more pace, bounce and seam. Mentally he's still strong and focused but I'm really looking forward to seeing the contest between Bell and our quicks down here. Should be great viewing.

    I'm going to go ahead and make a claim. I think Watson will be the form batter of the ashes, he'll play to his potential and score a few tons.

  • POSTED BY Vinod_Fab on | October 24, 2013, 19:12 GMT

    There we go..ASHES countdown begins..!! Less than a month left for the last complete test series.This could very well be my last test match series as far as viewing is concerned. We will be privileged to see the legends KP and Clarke playing their 100th test resp. alongside Cook.I would say this invincible ENG side are all set to create a record of winning 4 ashes test series after 1900. I would like ENG to shut all the mouth's who were saying like AUS should have won irregardless of lacking knockout punch during crucial junctures.You all can see the difference between 2 sides. ENG are set to play warm up test matches and AUS are playing meaningless ODI's. Their lies the difference in Mindset and preparation. I sincerely want ECB to take the decision of touring PAK(Dubai) and SA in 2014 to complete their dominance in World Cricket. I predict KP and Trott pummel them throughout this ASHES. In one liner "AUS weakest ever side versus ENG strongest ever side with BALANCE in ENG squad too"

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | October 24, 2013, 17:39 GMT

    @ ScottStevo on (October 24, 2013, 10:09 GMT) You are right in that the top order have not been doing what they did a few years ago but another way of looking at it is that the results are still good and the lower middle order have at times put on pivotal partnerships - which is something that was not happening before this year - so you could ask what will happen when the top order find their form again. So many imponderables - I genuinely think it's a series which should be close but it would not overly surprise me if either side wins 3-0

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | October 24, 2013, 17:27 GMT

    @landl47 on (October 24, 2013, 12:19 GMT) To be honest stating the 5-2-0 record is enough. If we start doing the could have/would have thing then there would pretty certainly have been a 1 in the 3rd column and you'd have to say Aus were on top of the other drawn test , before rain intervention/declarations etc

  • POSTED BY jackiethepen on | October 24, 2013, 17:14 GMT

    What is missing in this analysis is pressure in Ashes Tests. Who stands up to pressure better? Well Cook who was Ashes captain for the first time didn't do that well. He isn't a natural captain and stress took its toll on his batting. Joe Root certainly didn't cope with pressure apart from one big innings and neither did Bairstow. Trott out of form was targeted.That left KP and Bell, old Ashes hands by now. KP isn't that affected by pressure and Bell has proved very adept at rescuing England in the last few years. If he's asked to stick in he will. Batting in Australia requires different skills but Cook, Trott, KP and Bell all batted well last time round. It doesn't need everyone to fire each time but it needs three/four out of the six. Given that Root and Bairstow are suspect that is a lot of work for 1,3,4,and 5. We carried one such batsman last time because Colly was fading. To carry two is going to weaken the batting. That should have been sorted by now.

  • POSTED BY ScottStevo on | October 24, 2013, 15:32 GMT

    @landl47, apologies if I wasn't clear enough in stating I was discussing the batting line up that wasn't doing too well - even thoguh that's exactly the point I was making when replying to a comment made referring to the top order failing - or is the whole team in the top order now? Based on 4 shoddy innings you would say that deck was a 200 and a bit deck? Hardly. Just because one team batted very poorly and the other team even more so doesn't mean the wicket wasn't better than 200 runs. And how do you exactly is mentioning something along the lines of 5+ series is a too narrow for you? Pfft, almost certainly wouldn't have come close to the last test had it not rained, and were more likely going to lose other than an extremely sporting declaration from Clarke made something of the match. Rose tinted view, my friend.

  • POSTED BY cloudmess on | October 23, 2013, 23:08 GMT

    I'd expect Cook, Trott and co to score more runs on Australia's flatter pitches - the worry is whether Anderson, Broad and Swann have the same penetration on these less helpful surfaces. They looked quite anodyne at Edgbaston and the Oval last summer, which may be down to a combination of ageing and tiredness, but they will have to re-find their bite this winter. And neither Bresnan nor Tremlett are quite the bowlers they were in 2010/11. Even as an England supporter, I doubt very much England are favourites - this series is far more open than that.

  • POSTED BY Macker60 on | October 26, 2013, 8:06 GMT

    Looking at the weather to date I think the Pitches this year will be fiery, England will be Lucky to score 300, As Australian Bowling stocks Are pretty even down to about 10 back up bowlers in Australia Which is a vast difference to the last time England tour Aus Where Aus would have had 3-4 class Bowlers. . Look at the leading wicket taker for Last season in Aus he would be rated about 6 in the pecking order, As for Finns Pace there are about 6 bowlers in Aus bowling that equal or Better his speed. The big difference they know the pitches, As for Batting Aus will have a team that Can score 350 - 400 each time. England is 1-2 bowlers short of Disaster. And remember Hot 35 to 40 degree days will tax their Older bowlers more than the Aussie's

  • POSTED BY 5wombats on | October 26, 2013, 7:02 GMT

    Hi guys. Yep - it's all warming up! @landl47 I see that you are in fine from once again - just like last time! Pitches here ARE going to be bouncy and fast. It has been a dry and mild winter in Sydney and bush fire season has started unusually early. More than ever I'm backing England to win this. Aus will puff their chests out like they always do - but it won't be enough. Aus are weaker now than they were in 2010/11 and they were pretty weak then. England are not as strong as they were in 2010/11 either - but even if our batting only half fires (as in England in this year) it will still be too much for Australia. England's bowling is better than Australia's and it's bowling that wins Test matches.

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | October 25, 2013, 8:03 GMT

    @ShutTheGate on (October 24, 2013, 22:17 GMT) Bell's a strange one. Technically - when he's on top of his game - he is superb , but there are times when he has looked mentally weak. For me he's a player who goes through purple patches and when he's in a purple patch you wonder how he struggled in other series and when he's in a slump you wonder how he ever looked so brilliant when he was going through a purple patch. I don't think it's a case of him doing well/struggling on certain pitches. He was awful on slower pitches early in 2012 and has done well against pacemen on pacier pitches. It really just depends on which version turns up

  • POSTED BY ShutTheGate on | October 24, 2013, 22:17 GMT

    @JG2704 - Youre right I haven't been following Bell's career from 2011 until pre ashes.

    Watching the last ashes I thought that the slower pitches suited Bell and wondered how he would fair with more pace, bounce and seam. Mentally he's still strong and focused but I'm really looking forward to seeing the contest between Bell and our quicks down here. Should be great viewing.

    I'm going to go ahead and make a claim. I think Watson will be the form batter of the ashes, he'll play to his potential and score a few tons.

  • POSTED BY Vinod_Fab on | October 24, 2013, 19:12 GMT

    There we go..ASHES countdown begins..!! Less than a month left for the last complete test series.This could very well be my last test match series as far as viewing is concerned. We will be privileged to see the legends KP and Clarke playing their 100th test resp. alongside Cook.I would say this invincible ENG side are all set to create a record of winning 4 ashes test series after 1900. I would like ENG to shut all the mouth's who were saying like AUS should have won irregardless of lacking knockout punch during crucial junctures.You all can see the difference between 2 sides. ENG are set to play warm up test matches and AUS are playing meaningless ODI's. Their lies the difference in Mindset and preparation. I sincerely want ECB to take the decision of touring PAK(Dubai) and SA in 2014 to complete their dominance in World Cricket. I predict KP and Trott pummel them throughout this ASHES. In one liner "AUS weakest ever side versus ENG strongest ever side with BALANCE in ENG squad too"

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | October 24, 2013, 17:39 GMT

    @ ScottStevo on (October 24, 2013, 10:09 GMT) You are right in that the top order have not been doing what they did a few years ago but another way of looking at it is that the results are still good and the lower middle order have at times put on pivotal partnerships - which is something that was not happening before this year - so you could ask what will happen when the top order find their form again. So many imponderables - I genuinely think it's a series which should be close but it would not overly surprise me if either side wins 3-0

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | October 24, 2013, 17:27 GMT

    @landl47 on (October 24, 2013, 12:19 GMT) To be honest stating the 5-2-0 record is enough. If we start doing the could have/would have thing then there would pretty certainly have been a 1 in the 3rd column and you'd have to say Aus were on top of the other drawn test , before rain intervention/declarations etc

  • POSTED BY jackiethepen on | October 24, 2013, 17:14 GMT

    What is missing in this analysis is pressure in Ashes Tests. Who stands up to pressure better? Well Cook who was Ashes captain for the first time didn't do that well. He isn't a natural captain and stress took its toll on his batting. Joe Root certainly didn't cope with pressure apart from one big innings and neither did Bairstow. Trott out of form was targeted.That left KP and Bell, old Ashes hands by now. KP isn't that affected by pressure and Bell has proved very adept at rescuing England in the last few years. If he's asked to stick in he will. Batting in Australia requires different skills but Cook, Trott, KP and Bell all batted well last time round. It doesn't need everyone to fire each time but it needs three/four out of the six. Given that Root and Bairstow are suspect that is a lot of work for 1,3,4,and 5. We carried one such batsman last time because Colly was fading. To carry two is going to weaken the batting. That should have been sorted by now.

  • POSTED BY ScottStevo on | October 24, 2013, 15:32 GMT

    @landl47, apologies if I wasn't clear enough in stating I was discussing the batting line up that wasn't doing too well - even thoguh that's exactly the point I was making when replying to a comment made referring to the top order failing - or is the whole team in the top order now? Based on 4 shoddy innings you would say that deck was a 200 and a bit deck? Hardly. Just because one team batted very poorly and the other team even more so doesn't mean the wicket wasn't better than 200 runs. And how do you exactly is mentioning something along the lines of 5+ series is a too narrow for you? Pfft, almost certainly wouldn't have come close to the last test had it not rained, and were more likely going to lose other than an extremely sporting declaration from Clarke made something of the match. Rose tinted view, my friend.

  • POSTED BY electric_loco_WAP4 on | October 24, 2013, 15:03 GMT

    Yep the good 'old habits' of Eng not that long ago. To be fair they had 1 of the greatest of all teams - the mighty Aus to deal with. But this Ashes, Aus would like to return Eng to the said 'old habits' ,and they don't have to look too far back for the last of them.Yes, famous 5-0 W/Wash by the -still mighty- Aus that glorious ed of year that also marked the end of an era in cricket history with the end of a few legendary careers. Aus will be delighted with something like that ,but it is going to be much tougher task. Although with their pace stocks, home pitches and Clarke they have a great chance for creating their own history with win back of the Ashes. 5/0 or not .

  • POSTED BY Juiceoftheapple on | October 24, 2013, 13:21 GMT

    Great series ahead with Aus finally finding a batting line up on the Eng tour. But, was it experience that won us the critical moments? was it swing that undid Trott et al, whereas on truer trajectories (albeit faster) would you bet against the likes of KP, Trott and Cook scoring runs? Plus Aus bowling whilst good has injuries and is not settled. Finn will be dangeours due to pace and bounce, plus Tremlett's first class figures are decieving this year, as the Oval is notably flatter these days, and his economy rate good (and some long spells), and if Eng have had a good look at him surely they know if he retains his x factor. Finn takes wickets, Tremlett strangles through line and length. Root loves to play off the back foot. Prior is due a good one. Swann rarely fails to take wickets or strangle the run rate, or both. We bat to 9. We arent unbeatable, but we have few weaknesses, and the fragility of old has gone. Whilst an inexperienced Aus side have to be at their best every session.

  • POSTED BY balajik1968 on | October 24, 2013, 12:56 GMT

    I would pick England to win this series, but back to back series, where the players are under enormous pressure could take a toll. Australia as the weaker team will be taking every positive they can. We need to really see where the English bowling attack will be at the end of the series; they may be exhausted with nothing left in the tank.

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | October 24, 2013, 12:19 GMT

    @ScottStevo: actually you didn't say that England had batted poorly, you just said England 'didn't do all that well'. They won by 170 and 247 runs in the two tests, which are fairly easy wins. Trying to narrow down a general statement by saying you just meant the batting in one of the tests wasn't very good is a bit disingenuous, don't you think?

    In the Lord's test NZ got 207 and 68, so England's scores in both innings were better than NZ's best effort. I'm not sure what the justification is for your statement that these weren't 200 and a bit wickets; based on the scores, that's exactly what they were and that's not surprising in England in May. The England v. Australia game wasn't a high-scoring game either and that was two months later, in mid-Summer.

    England were 5-2-0 in the 7 tests they played in the English Summer and they almost certainly would have won the last test (21 in 24 balls, 5 wickets in hand before bad light intervened). Not a bad Summer's work.

  • POSTED BY ScottStevo on | October 24, 2013, 11:37 GMT

    @JG2704, I've assumed he's implying that if a victory is the end result, then you've batted well enough. To some extent, that may be true, but the decks played on weren't 200 and a bit decks, they were much better than that and England had batted poorly in both of those innings. Agree that Aus weakness is their batting, so I can't imagine spicier wickets will do our fragile line up any favours.

    @Yevghenny, Not in this instance as Australia weren't playing in the Eng vs NZ series! Overall, yes, we're in a sorry state where Aus keep getting into positions where victory is the more likely outcome, only to capitulate and not only lose, but lose miserably.

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | October 24, 2013, 10:31 GMT

    @ ScottStevo on (October 24, 2013, 10:09 GMT) Yes , but Landl does not once say that the batting was good - but so long as your bowling is making up for batting deficiencies , the team by and large is getting results. Some on here are saying that on bowler friendly pitches will help Australia because England's batting has been fragile but Aus batting has also been fragile too so surely if it's going to be tougher for the English batsmen it will also be tougher for the Aus batsmen?

  • POSTED BY Yevghenny on | October 24, 2013, 10:20 GMT

    That Eng's batting order were saved from defeat by an outstanding bowling effort doesn't mean that the batting wasn't poor, does it?==

    Doesn't it make Australia's in a poorer state if they were never able to capitalise on it?

  • POSTED BY ScottStevo on | October 24, 2013, 10:09 GMT

    @Dr.Thirsty, exactly, neither of the scroes Eng made were 240-250 - and I assure you, neither of them were 'good scores' for the decks they were playing on. Leaving 239 as a target was a very get-able score. That NZ got rumbled for 60 odd is irrelevant as Eng's top order had once again failed and were saved by the bowling department...

    @JG2704, asking me to check the scores I assumed meant that he'd like me to review those batting displays which I'd said were poor. The scores were 232 and 213. And as my reply suggested, regardless of the outcome, these are batting failures. That Eng's batting order were saved from defeat by an outstanding bowling effort doesn't mean that the batting wasn't poor, does it?

    @itsjustagameboys, I think you'll find it was only 1 of the 3 series won where England batted anywhere near as well as you describe. Why do you assume there'll be less movement than that offered on the dry decks prepared in the last series?

  • POSTED BY MarkTaffin on | October 24, 2013, 10:02 GMT

    @Train Stationer October 24, 2103, 8.37 GMT - can't see Carberry getting much at all. His technique won't work at all in Oz. Besides, he's only in the tour party as the Flower-Miller "anyone but Compton" pick.

    Tremlett will take wickets if he's fit and get's picked. But I can't see us winning 5-0 unless the Aussies play worse than they did this summer. We - England - just aren't that good; we can't repeatedly roll sides unless sides play very poorly.

  • POSTED BY on | October 24, 2013, 9:43 GMT

    a 5-0 whitewash at homegrounds awaits australia. they would be first test team in history to be whitewashed at homegrounds 5-0. that will be big achievement for English team, if they achieve it. COOK to be MOS(MAN OF SERIES).

  • POSTED BY Yevghenny on | October 24, 2013, 9:24 GMT

    so much said about England's batting, australia's consistent batting collapses at key moments seem to be little more than a foot note

  • POSTED BY itsjustagameboys on | October 24, 2013, 8:51 GMT

    England beat Australia in 3 tests with hardly any meaningful contribution from their top three batsmen. In previous Ashes series it has been the England top three that have ground Aus into the dirt and if Cook and Trott can get into their stride this series, then Australia are in for a terrible hiding. In England, Australia were impressively disciplined in line and length, but I felt that the top three allowed them to dictate, whereas KP and particularly Bell attacked the consistent line and length once the early movement had diminished. Trott looked really good in England, before getting out when looking set. Hopefully he has worked out how to counter the mid wickets that Clarke used to cut off his favourite shot. I thought Australia bowled well to Cook, cutting off runs from his cut. With a little less movement in Australia I think Cook will be much harder to dislodge. Root is a back foot player, it will be interesting to see if this helps him in Aus more than it does in England.

  • POSTED BY YorkshirePudding on | October 24, 2013, 8:41 GMT

    @ShutTheGate, I agree with you about the battting, the big concern is that we have 2 relatively new players, Root, Bairstow and Ballance being completely untried at international level, that means 2 of the 6 are still unsteady.

    The think is that Cook likes the ball to come on which it tends to do in Australia, rather than England, Trott can go either way if hes in his shell the pressure mounts and he tends gets himself out, playing wide. Bell is a key man at 5 as 3 quick wickets would need him to play the role he did during last summer, KP who knows he can be inconsistent. Prior had a bad series mainly becasue he was exposed too early due to a failing top order.

    Bowling wise, Broad should like the slightly quicker wickets, Anderson will be in his element in the first 15-20 overs, and if it starts to reverse in the 60-80 overs. Swann is a concern on Aussie pitches, and Finn can be wayward.

  • POSTED BY on | October 24, 2013, 8:37 GMT

    I think Tremlett will take a bunch of wickets and Carberry will score big.The Aussies don't have any bowlers and don't have any batsmen. An embarrassing 5-0 whitewash. Poor old OZ

  • POSTED BY xtrafalgarx on | October 24, 2013, 8:32 GMT

    @cloudness, Flatter? Where did you get that idea from? Pitches in Australia are green not flat like your guys pitches.

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | October 24, 2013, 8:22 GMT

    I wonder why Cook has said scoring so big is essential? Mind games? IMO it may backfire and put added pressure on the England batsmen - esp Root and whoever they put in at number 6

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | October 24, 2013, 8:22 GMT

    ShutTheGate on (October 24, 2013, 4:53 GMT) re Bell being consistent as always - I'm guessing you've not really followed his England career between India in 2011 and Ashes 2013?

    @ScottStevo on (October 24, 2013, 6:06 GMT) Where does Landl actually say that England's batting has been good or scored well? He doesn't. He just says Eng beat NZ pretty easily.

  • POSTED BY CodandChips on | October 24, 2013, 8:21 GMT

    I think we should have our replacement batters ready. Moeen for Trott, Taylor/Vince for Bell, Ballance for Pietersen and Robson/Carberry for the openers and Buttler as a future replacement WK for Prior. We have some excellent young players who need to be given opportunities, because our test side is ageing. Bairstow should be given a year to go back to domestic cricket and score runs, and make the progression he has failed to make in the Test side. I do like him but he just isn't scoring enough runs, and is really only in the side still because he can keep, is young and he scored that 95 vs South Africa.

  • POSTED BY dr.thirsty on | October 24, 2013, 8:11 GMT

    @ScottStevo - With regards England's low scores against NZ, I would refer you to Alastair Cooks comments above. Specifically, "Sometimes in England 240-250 can be a good score with the overhead conditions, but the majority of the time in Australia 400 is the bare minimum." The thrust of the article is that 400+ is a necessity in Australia, given the pitches and conditions. I appreciate you were only responding to someone else's post, but we seem to be getting drawn a bit off topic.

  • POSTED BY R_U_4_REAL_NICK on | October 24, 2013, 8:10 GMT

    I can't see the likes of Cook and Trott staying in poor form for a second series in a row, and Prior should come good as well. The worries for me this series will be Broad, Root, and whoever gets shoved into the number 6 position. Broad is notorious for following one good series with a shocker one, and seems to get preferential treatment from England selectors so is never replaced in the team with someone in better form. Root - still not convinced with him opening yet; would be much more comfortable with him down in the middle with Bell. Infamous number 6 position... JB did not disgrace last Ashes, but hardly silenced the doubters either. I can see England doing their leap-frog rotation policy all over again, which will only work if they assess each pitch/game/conditions etc. carefully.

  • POSTED BY Charlie101 on | October 24, 2013, 7:29 GMT

    Is the key to the Ashes result the fitness of Harris / Clarke or more importantly Australia's selectors ability to make a complete hash of selection ???

    They had their moments in the last series and I expect an odd gaff in the spinning department and perhaps also batting this time around.

  • POSTED BY PrasPunter on | October 24, 2013, 6:43 GMT

    I wonder whether the coach instructs the batsmen this when they come in the middle of a collapse - just play out as many overs as he can - leave the ones outside off stump, just block the straight one - go through the tough period - and so forth. If at all we had done this during that 4th day evening , we could easily have won test #4 .

  • POSTED BY ScottStevo on | October 24, 2013, 6:06 GMT

    @landl47, I have checked them. In the Lords test Eng scored 232 and 213. NZ needed 239 to win. They were bowled out for 60, but it's not as if Eng's batting line up didn't fail in both of these innings, or are you considering these good scores now? Regardless of the result, these were poor showings with the bat from Eng...

  • POSTED BY ShutTheGate on | October 24, 2013, 5:49 GMT

    @land47 that's right but what you haven't mentioned is that the two draws which were both weather affected England couldn't get the Aussies out and we declared in both of those matches.

    We also took 20 wickets in the first and 4th tests even tough we lost those tests.

    I'm comfortable with our bowling, what I'm concerned is having the mental strength to avoid a callapse when then pressure is on

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | October 24, 2013, 5:24 GMT

    All the reports we've been seeing are that Australian pitches have become much more friendly to seamers in the last couple of years. I don't think that's a problem for England at all, but it does mean the scores might not be anything like the run-fest England put on in 2010/11. That's fine by me, I'd rather see games with scores in the 250-300 range and the batsmen having to work hard than 5/600 blitzes on flat tracks.

    @ScottStevo: you might want to check the scores of the England-NZ series which preceded the Ashes; I think you'll find England won pretty easily.

    @ShutTheGate: Aus only took 20 England wickets twice in the recent Ashes series (and they lost both those games). I'm not sure that could be called consistent, and since England took 20 Aus wickets 3 times (and won all three games) I don't see much in those numbers to hearten Australian fans.

  • POSTED BY ShutTheGate on | October 24, 2013, 5:03 GMT

    @kensohatter - are you sure you're picking a combined team based on form not a players legacy reputation?

    In the last ashes 4 of the top 6 run scorers were Australian and some of the players didn't play all 5 tests. The top run scorers were Bell, Watson, KP, Clarke, Rogers, Smith.

    Also note that Ryan Harris would have almost certainly been the highest series wicket taker if he played the 5 tests. (which I agree seems unlikely).

    From a wicket keeping perspective Haddin scored more runs than Prior and took more catches.

    So perhaps a combined team based on form would have more than one player from Aus. Maybe cast your mind back to the 2005 ashes when a group of up and coming Englishmen won the ashes against and Australian side with massive reputations.

    It's not un plausible that the reverse can't happen this series. I doubt it will be a lopsided series but a thrilling contest.

  • POSTED BY ShutTheGate on | October 24, 2013, 4:53 GMT

    Only eight weeks to go until the ashes - I can't wait.

    I think England's biggest threat with be KP and Bell will be consistent as always. Cook doesn't seem to be the batter he was since becoming captain and I'd expect a learning curve from Root and Bairstow. Trott and Prior will have to re find their form as they were flat in the last ashes series.

    The Aussies will struggle without Clarke if he's injured IMO but the promising thing for the Aussies is that some of the fringe players are finding form in Johnson, Bailey, Kawajha, Finch and Faulkner. The early shield games will be interesting.

    The Aussies can now consistently take 20 wickets in a match which will be a massive improvement over the last home ashes.

    All in all I'm expecting a thrilling series.

  • POSTED BY kensohatter on | October 23, 2013, 23:37 GMT

    I like to judge a series based on how many players from each side would make a combined XI. Based on available players only Clarke (and he is under an injury cloud) would make it from the Australian contingent. Ill be generous maybe one of Siddle or Harris could get the nod for the 3rd paceman spot in home conditions. Its lop sided I cant see where Australia get 400 runs from and without Starc, Pattison or cummings 20wickets could be a push as well

  • POSTED BY GeoffreysMother on | October 23, 2013, 22:33 GMT

    England scoring 500 plus regularly hinges on two factors, neither of which are England's to fully control: i) Ryan Harris' fitness ( he was pretty much the man who caused England's key players problems. ii) Mitchell Johnson's consistency. He has looked better in ODI matches since his return ( though recently in India he has sprayed more around - perhaps because he is no longer as fresh as he was) but does this translate to the concentration needed for a bowler in 5 day matches. As Australia (and Steven Finn found) when scores are tight someone who releases the pressure valve for just a few overs can have a negative impact on the whole game.

  • POSTED BY on | October 23, 2013, 22:12 GMT

    @maximum6, they HAVE just failed to deliver in two series running.

    Although, despite this fact, I do think that our predominantly back-foot batsman actually do better in Aus anyway. The pitches there aren't universally hard and fast anymore but they are generally quicker than in England AND crucially our top order will have confidence batting there.

  • POSTED BY ScottStevo on | October 23, 2013, 22:04 GMT

    @maximum6, it would make it 3 in a row as you didn't do all that well against NZ in Eng before the Ashes...and were bowled out for around 200 in both the tests played in N although doing well in the other innings, which you could argue would makes 3 failed series looking at 4. Prior to that you scored big in India, but could only pass 400 once against SA in 3 tests. Before that you only managed one decent innings in 2 tests in SL and were woeful in 3 tests in UAE....Seems to me it's a case of which England batting line up shows up for a series. Albeit, against Aus, 2 mediocre innings put together usually beats one decent innings and one farcical....

  • POSTED BY 2.14istherunrate on | October 23, 2013, 20:42 GMT

    Cook is certainly right about 4/500 scores being essential. I would find it hard to believe though that the top 7 would fail deliver properly in two series running.

  • POSTED BY 2.14istherunrate on | October 23, 2013, 20:42 GMT

    Cook is certainly right about 4/500 scores being essential. I would find it hard to believe though that the top 7 would fail deliver properly in two series running.

  • POSTED BY ScottStevo on | October 23, 2013, 22:04 GMT

    @maximum6, it would make it 3 in a row as you didn't do all that well against NZ in Eng before the Ashes...and were bowled out for around 200 in both the tests played in N although doing well in the other innings, which you could argue would makes 3 failed series looking at 4. Prior to that you scored big in India, but could only pass 400 once against SA in 3 tests. Before that you only managed one decent innings in 2 tests in SL and were woeful in 3 tests in UAE....Seems to me it's a case of which England batting line up shows up for a series. Albeit, against Aus, 2 mediocre innings put together usually beats one decent innings and one farcical....

  • POSTED BY on | October 23, 2013, 22:12 GMT

    @maximum6, they HAVE just failed to deliver in two series running.

    Although, despite this fact, I do think that our predominantly back-foot batsman actually do better in Aus anyway. The pitches there aren't universally hard and fast anymore but they are generally quicker than in England AND crucially our top order will have confidence batting there.

  • POSTED BY GeoffreysMother on | October 23, 2013, 22:33 GMT

    England scoring 500 plus regularly hinges on two factors, neither of which are England's to fully control: i) Ryan Harris' fitness ( he was pretty much the man who caused England's key players problems. ii) Mitchell Johnson's consistency. He has looked better in ODI matches since his return ( though recently in India he has sprayed more around - perhaps because he is no longer as fresh as he was) but does this translate to the concentration needed for a bowler in 5 day matches. As Australia (and Steven Finn found) when scores are tight someone who releases the pressure valve for just a few overs can have a negative impact on the whole game.

  • POSTED BY kensohatter on | October 23, 2013, 23:37 GMT

    I like to judge a series based on how many players from each side would make a combined XI. Based on available players only Clarke (and he is under an injury cloud) would make it from the Australian contingent. Ill be generous maybe one of Siddle or Harris could get the nod for the 3rd paceman spot in home conditions. Its lop sided I cant see where Australia get 400 runs from and without Starc, Pattison or cummings 20wickets could be a push as well

  • POSTED BY ShutTheGate on | October 24, 2013, 4:53 GMT

    Only eight weeks to go until the ashes - I can't wait.

    I think England's biggest threat with be KP and Bell will be consistent as always. Cook doesn't seem to be the batter he was since becoming captain and I'd expect a learning curve from Root and Bairstow. Trott and Prior will have to re find their form as they were flat in the last ashes series.

    The Aussies will struggle without Clarke if he's injured IMO but the promising thing for the Aussies is that some of the fringe players are finding form in Johnson, Bailey, Kawajha, Finch and Faulkner. The early shield games will be interesting.

    The Aussies can now consistently take 20 wickets in a match which will be a massive improvement over the last home ashes.

    All in all I'm expecting a thrilling series.

  • POSTED BY ShutTheGate on | October 24, 2013, 5:03 GMT

    @kensohatter - are you sure you're picking a combined team based on form not a players legacy reputation?

    In the last ashes 4 of the top 6 run scorers were Australian and some of the players didn't play all 5 tests. The top run scorers were Bell, Watson, KP, Clarke, Rogers, Smith.

    Also note that Ryan Harris would have almost certainly been the highest series wicket taker if he played the 5 tests. (which I agree seems unlikely).

    From a wicket keeping perspective Haddin scored more runs than Prior and took more catches.

    So perhaps a combined team based on form would have more than one player from Aus. Maybe cast your mind back to the 2005 ashes when a group of up and coming Englishmen won the ashes against and Australian side with massive reputations.

    It's not un plausible that the reverse can't happen this series. I doubt it will be a lopsided series but a thrilling contest.

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | October 24, 2013, 5:24 GMT

    All the reports we've been seeing are that Australian pitches have become much more friendly to seamers in the last couple of years. I don't think that's a problem for England at all, but it does mean the scores might not be anything like the run-fest England put on in 2010/11. That's fine by me, I'd rather see games with scores in the 250-300 range and the batsmen having to work hard than 5/600 blitzes on flat tracks.

    @ScottStevo: you might want to check the scores of the England-NZ series which preceded the Ashes; I think you'll find England won pretty easily.

    @ShutTheGate: Aus only took 20 England wickets twice in the recent Ashes series (and they lost both those games). I'm not sure that could be called consistent, and since England took 20 Aus wickets 3 times (and won all three games) I don't see much in those numbers to hearten Australian fans.

  • POSTED BY ShutTheGate on | October 24, 2013, 5:49 GMT

    @land47 that's right but what you haven't mentioned is that the two draws which were both weather affected England couldn't get the Aussies out and we declared in both of those matches.

    We also took 20 wickets in the first and 4th tests even tough we lost those tests.

    I'm comfortable with our bowling, what I'm concerned is having the mental strength to avoid a callapse when then pressure is on

  • POSTED BY ScottStevo on | October 24, 2013, 6:06 GMT

    @landl47, I have checked them. In the Lords test Eng scored 232 and 213. NZ needed 239 to win. They were bowled out for 60, but it's not as if Eng's batting line up didn't fail in both of these innings, or are you considering these good scores now? Regardless of the result, these were poor showings with the bat from Eng...