Australia v England, 2nd Test, Adelaide December 3, 2013

England face up to rebuilding phase

Months of planning go into each Ashes series yet, ahead of this Test, England are in the uncomfortable position of having doubts over at least three positions in their side
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Like the Adelaide ground in which they will seek to recover from 1-0 down in the series, the England side finds itself in a rebuilding phase on the eve of the second Ashes Test. Just as England still have the likes of Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell, Adelaide Oval still has green and lush grass banks and offers a view - just about - of the spire of St Peter's Cathedral. But for both ground and team much has changed and the fact is that neither will be the finished article heading into this game.

Months of planning go into each Ashes series yet, ahead of this Test, England are in the uncomfortable position of having doubts over at least three positions in their side. They require a new No. 3, are likely to have a debutant at No. 6 and have a decision to make about the fourth member of their bowling attack. It is far from ideal for a team that prides itself on continuity. Even after their defeats in the UAE and Ahmedabad, England had fewer selection dilemmas and a settled spine to their side.

It might have been even worse. Bell has become the latest player to be struck in the nets by a ball thrown by Graham Gooch's 'dog thrower' device but, after treatment on his shoulder, he has been cleared to play. It seems likely that his desire to bat at No. 3 will be denied, though, with Joe Root more likely to be promoted.

It is not an ideal solution. Not only has Root struggled to convince against the harder, newer ball to date in his Test career - he was undone by bounce in both innings in Alice Springs - it will also mean that two of England's top three have much to prove at the top of the order. It was not meant to be this way.

But England - and Andy Flower, in particular - have great faith in Root. In the longer term, they still aspire to him opening the batting. He has shown an admirable temperament and decent technique and, on the slower pitch anticipated in Adelaide, might find life more comfortable.

The Adelaide curator, Damian Hough, admits he cannot predict exactly how his first drop-in Test pitch will behave. But, made as it is of the same soil and grass varieties as previous Adelaide tracks, he anticipates it will have "all the characteristics of a typical Adelaide pitch."

"It will definitely not be as quick as the Gabba," Hough told ESPNcricinfo. "Hopefully there will be a little bit for the quicks early on, but then it will be a very good batting track. It might start reversing and it should deteriorate and take some spin, but it will be a good batting track."

With that in mind, there is an outside chance that England could play two spinners. It is true that Monty Panesar's left-arm spin might prove more effective against Australia's army of right-hand batsmen, but his form last season was modest and the addition of his limited batting and fielding would be a risk in a line-up that batted so poorly in Brisbane.

Instead, the final bowling place will probably be contested by Tim Bresnan and Chris Tremlett. Bresnan said he was "definitely ready to play in this Test" and he might also add some depth to the batting. It is worth noting, however, that Bresnan has only once scored more than 30 in an innings when England have not made more than 400.

It is England's failure to make 400 in any of their previous 17 Test innings - a run that stretches back to Wellington in March - that remains at the heart of their difficulties. Perhaps because of mental weariness - a key issue in forcing Jonathan Trott home - there have been diminishing returns from England's top seven for some time. Maybe it is the schedule, maybe it is the intensity of the England environment, but batsmen who have proved themselves proficient at this level are struggling to rediscover the form that took England to the top of the Test rankings.

It is possible, however, that the manner of defeat in Brisbane has exaggerated the magnitude of their problem. England looked rattled by Mitchell Johnson and co. in the first Test and there is no doubt that bowlers of such uncommon pace present difficulties.

But it is also likely that, in the second innings at least, the England dressing room was not the calm and stable place it might have been in normal circumstances. As the extent of Trott's torment became known - and it appears it was following his second-innings dismissal that it became most apparent - it is only natural that his team-mates were distracted and unsettled. They will have an opportunity to show their batting timidity was an aberration when this Test starts on Thursday.

Certainly all the talk coming from the England camp is encouraging. Bresnan was in Churchillian mood when talking of the side's "mental fortitude" in adversity and insisted that England were "a group of guys that, especially when our backs are against the wall, come out fighting." Such talk is all well and good and, up to a point, England have a fine record in that regard. But Bresnan could be expected to say little else and it is actions, not talk, which will decide this series.

There are, in theory, three men in contention for the No. 6 position: Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes and Gary Ballance. It appears likely that Ballance is in pole position at present though, if Panesar is included as a bowler, it is possible Stokes' all-round skills will win him a place. With Matt Prior in a slump with the bat, however, and Ballance having impressed most in Alice Springs, it is his role as a specialist batsman that England are likely to favour.

The sense remains that England are playing not just a team but a nation. The latest front page story to greet England's arrival in a new town suggested that two of their players were out late drinking. That they barely drink alcohol and were quite entitled to be out late hardly warranted a mention.

The England camp received the 'news' with amusement and even pleasure. The players involved - Pietersen and Stuart Broad - have not always been the closest of friends and the sight of them enjoying social time together might be perceived as encouraging. This series is assuredly not lacking in propaganda and spin.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • satkaru1 on December 9, 2013, 3:19 GMT

    I believe.. England will turn it around... The good part now is that.. All their batsman had a chance to make at-least a half century..

    I mean all of them.. including Matt Prior... So that is really great news.. all of them had time in the middle and that will make a huge difference going forward...

    They need to go with 4 pacers in Adelaide.. dump Swann & Panesar...

  • on December 8, 2013, 17:36 GMT

    I think the problems that the media are portraying about media is exaggerated, but so is everything in the news. I do however, think that there needs to be some changes in the England team.

    1) England need a consistent number 6, the last number six I think think that England had that would be a regular face on the england teamsheet would be Andrew Flintoff.

    2) The big players for England, need to step up, and this gets chucked around a lot, but its simple, the big players that get a great deal of attention NEED to make runs, in particular Cook and Pietersen. If Michael Clarke can do it, surely the english batsmen can, it's not like the pitch was to blame in both matches.

    3) I think England are also lacking a bowler like Mitchell Johnson, a bowler with real pace through the air, it makes such a difference, I wish Steven Finn was the bowler that we were expecting from him by now, because he's the perfect fit. Personally I would play him anyway because he's a genuine wicket taker.

  • xylo on December 5, 2013, 5:16 GMT

    between the two sides, i would tag the aussies as a side that is rebuilding, not england.

  • hhillbumper on December 4, 2013, 21:29 GMT

    to be fair we could rebuild for the next six years and still have had a better run then recent aussie teams.

    @ paul Mcallister. There are actually rules to play for England which unlike Aus are not that flexible. We have an unusual position being the only European test playing nation and eu Rules. But indeed we seem to love a saffer even when that means we have nonentities like Dernbach foisted on us. There is plenty of young English talent but will it get chosen.

  • on December 4, 2013, 3:51 GMT

    The Team they should select for the test is

    Cook Carberry Bell Pietersen Root Prior Bresnan Broad Swann Anderson Panesar/Finn

  • on December 4, 2013, 3:50 GMT

    @Jim, Broad is definitely NOT an allrounder, bresnan is much better batsman but broad is a bowler who can bat a bit, the common rule of thumb is to say that to be an allrounder your bowling average should be lower than your batting average and broads is nowhere near that, an allrounder is someone who can bag 5 wickets and score a hundred, not a bowler who takes 5 wickets and adds the odd 20/30 runs lol, their is very few allrounders in the modern game today definitely Kallis maybe Johnson/Ashwin at a stretch.

  • jimbond on December 4, 2013, 2:58 GMT

    Comparing Anderson and Swann to McGrath and Warne is stretching it too much- McGrath and Warne were much better bowlers and their best continued for a long time. More than anything else, England needs to shed its defensive mindset (at least now that they are 1 behind in the series) and go with their best five bowlers- (yes they should play five bowlers). If Panesar is among the best five bowlers, he should be played, irrespective of his batting abilities, and the same applies for Finn. Anderson, Broad and Swann would obviously take the first three bowling slots.In shedding its defensive mindset, England should also have faith in Prior's batting to allow him to play at 6; Broad is good enough to play at 7, and Swann is capable at 8. Unless England thrust more batting responsibilities on Prior and Broad, they will not excel as allrounders- which they are.

  • cricket_ahan on December 4, 2013, 0:59 GMT

    Ballance's recent county form, as well as his performance in the recent tour game, should earn him a spot at no. 6. Jonny Bairstow is not technically great, and given the barrage MJ and co. threw at England at the Gabba, they would be wise to chose a more skillful player who has the added bonus of having scored a lot of recent runs. Bowling wise, Bresnan could be key in this match, as he fulfills much the same role as Siddle by giving his captain a large quantity of overs. He is also roaring to get back into the team, so his attitude will also be a plus given Tremlett may not be on the greatest morale high after Brisbane. England are not in as bad a shape as they think - but I think they need to bat first to get the advantage in Adelaide. Can't wait!

  • sillymidcover on December 3, 2013, 22:36 GMT

    Very foolish not to have taken Compton on this tour: too late now?

  • couchpundit on December 3, 2013, 22:19 GMT

    @EnglishFan - MasterClass!!

  • satkaru1 on December 9, 2013, 3:19 GMT

    I believe.. England will turn it around... The good part now is that.. All their batsman had a chance to make at-least a half century..

    I mean all of them.. including Matt Prior... So that is really great news.. all of them had time in the middle and that will make a huge difference going forward...

    They need to go with 4 pacers in Adelaide.. dump Swann & Panesar...

  • on December 8, 2013, 17:36 GMT

    I think the problems that the media are portraying about media is exaggerated, but so is everything in the news. I do however, think that there needs to be some changes in the England team.

    1) England need a consistent number 6, the last number six I think think that England had that would be a regular face on the england teamsheet would be Andrew Flintoff.

    2) The big players for England, need to step up, and this gets chucked around a lot, but its simple, the big players that get a great deal of attention NEED to make runs, in particular Cook and Pietersen. If Michael Clarke can do it, surely the english batsmen can, it's not like the pitch was to blame in both matches.

    3) I think England are also lacking a bowler like Mitchell Johnson, a bowler with real pace through the air, it makes such a difference, I wish Steven Finn was the bowler that we were expecting from him by now, because he's the perfect fit. Personally I would play him anyway because he's a genuine wicket taker.

  • xylo on December 5, 2013, 5:16 GMT

    between the two sides, i would tag the aussies as a side that is rebuilding, not england.

  • hhillbumper on December 4, 2013, 21:29 GMT

    to be fair we could rebuild for the next six years and still have had a better run then recent aussie teams.

    @ paul Mcallister. There are actually rules to play for England which unlike Aus are not that flexible. We have an unusual position being the only European test playing nation and eu Rules. But indeed we seem to love a saffer even when that means we have nonentities like Dernbach foisted on us. There is plenty of young English talent but will it get chosen.

  • on December 4, 2013, 3:51 GMT

    The Team they should select for the test is

    Cook Carberry Bell Pietersen Root Prior Bresnan Broad Swann Anderson Panesar/Finn

  • on December 4, 2013, 3:50 GMT

    @Jim, Broad is definitely NOT an allrounder, bresnan is much better batsman but broad is a bowler who can bat a bit, the common rule of thumb is to say that to be an allrounder your bowling average should be lower than your batting average and broads is nowhere near that, an allrounder is someone who can bag 5 wickets and score a hundred, not a bowler who takes 5 wickets and adds the odd 20/30 runs lol, their is very few allrounders in the modern game today definitely Kallis maybe Johnson/Ashwin at a stretch.

  • jimbond on December 4, 2013, 2:58 GMT

    Comparing Anderson and Swann to McGrath and Warne is stretching it too much- McGrath and Warne were much better bowlers and their best continued for a long time. More than anything else, England needs to shed its defensive mindset (at least now that they are 1 behind in the series) and go with their best five bowlers- (yes they should play five bowlers). If Panesar is among the best five bowlers, he should be played, irrespective of his batting abilities, and the same applies for Finn. Anderson, Broad and Swann would obviously take the first three bowling slots.In shedding its defensive mindset, England should also have faith in Prior's batting to allow him to play at 6; Broad is good enough to play at 7, and Swann is capable at 8. Unless England thrust more batting responsibilities on Prior and Broad, they will not excel as allrounders- which they are.

  • cricket_ahan on December 4, 2013, 0:59 GMT

    Ballance's recent county form, as well as his performance in the recent tour game, should earn him a spot at no. 6. Jonny Bairstow is not technically great, and given the barrage MJ and co. threw at England at the Gabba, they would be wise to chose a more skillful player who has the added bonus of having scored a lot of recent runs. Bowling wise, Bresnan could be key in this match, as he fulfills much the same role as Siddle by giving his captain a large quantity of overs. He is also roaring to get back into the team, so his attitude will also be a plus given Tremlett may not be on the greatest morale high after Brisbane. England are not in as bad a shape as they think - but I think they need to bat first to get the advantage in Adelaide. Can't wait!

  • sillymidcover on December 3, 2013, 22:36 GMT

    Very foolish not to have taken Compton on this tour: too late now?

  • couchpundit on December 3, 2013, 22:19 GMT

    @EnglishFan - MasterClass!!

  • disco_bob on December 3, 2013, 21:58 GMT

    They could have used Monty P's aggression against the bouncers in Brissy. If England play two spinners in Adelaide it will only be as a desperate gamble that will result in a certain loss.

  • Yorks1 on December 3, 2013, 21:20 GMT

    If you take all Bairstow's test innings and match them against the equal number of Prior' s last innings, Bairstow has double the runs, and that's including Prior's 110 not out. Time to run with Bairstow as the w/k at No7. Give him a strong run, not one match here and there. When Bairstow plays regular cricket and is not screwed around he generally performs well. He also has good chemistry with Root. That should be the first move and now Flower and his brain's trust can see who they want to replace Trott, and yes it could be Ballance. Bell and Petersen can act as vice captains for Cook and give leadership. Prior's input should be "sit me out for the series!".

  • gagagaga on December 3, 2013, 20:31 GMT

    @Englishfan. You cant look back and think 'what if'. Just be happy with the players you've been able to recruit.

    My Eng-South Africa test 11:1.Cook, 2.Carberry, 3.Root, 4.Pietersen, 5.Bell, 6.Ballance, 7.Prior, 8.Broad, 9.Bresnan, 10. Swann, 11.Anderson.

    Its a little English top heavy, but with the loss of Trott i couldnt do any better.

  • on December 3, 2013, 20:25 GMT

    if in doubt, pick another South African/Zimbabwean/Irishman/New Zealander. that seems to be England Modus operandi solution to calling up new faces to the team.

  • CodandChips on December 3, 2013, 18:36 GMT

    My combined Eng-South Africa test 11: 1.Cook 2.Smith 3.Amla 4.AB (WK) 5.KP 6.Bell 7.Kallis 8.Philander 9.Broad 10.Swann 11.Steyn- not a bad team.

  • mukesh_LOVE.cricket on December 3, 2013, 18:09 GMT

    every single batting line up in the world would have been troubled by the MJ that showed up at gabba , i don't think the situation is as hopeless for England as everyone is making it out to be , they are still a solid team with enough class in Cook , bell and KP , but i still don't understand why the hell they dropped nick compton , the guy was a solid opener , real worrying sign for England is Anderson seems to be becoming pretty ineffective , he has the skills but his pace may be dropping making him much like Indian pacemen , easy to see off

  • GeoffreysMother on December 3, 2013, 18:04 GMT

    first drop - you need to read the article and my response carefully. The point is about rebuilding and who is secure in the side rather than who has done well in the last 6 months. Cook, Pieterson, Bell and Root are pretty secure and Prior is (given his past record. This is partly because they are the best players available. Using the same criteria only Clark, Watson and Warner are secure batsmen in Australia and even the last are a bit flaky. The point you make about Root can also be made about Clarke who had a missed stumping before he got to single figures. These things are called not out in England. Don't mistake Australia naming a side early as the same thing as having a settled side - that requires people to do well over a significant period of time - and that leaves only Clarke.

  • JG2704 on December 3, 2013, 18:04 GMT

    @First_Drop - Difficult to tell. I'd say Cook is better than Alviro and Bell and KP are better than Dumminy. Also would say either Jimmy or Broad would get into the side ahead of Morkel although a tough call. Morkel may have a better average but then he has had by far the best bowler in the world for years at the other end creating pressure. I reckon that must be a help to have Philander and Steyn as the other bowlers in your side

  • JG2704 on December 3, 2013, 18:04 GMT

    @Nutcutlet - Of course it's worrying - the size/manner of defeat but I've said on numerous occasions , in recent Ashes cricket , what happened in the previous test has often had little impact on what happens in the next.Of course we could do what we did in UAE , but even then the 2nd and 3rd tests were much closer and in those tests Eng had times of ascendancy.If I was to read into what happened in the 1st test - with no history taken into consideration then it looks very much doom and gloom. Take history into the equation and there's always a chance Eng can turn it around

  • on December 3, 2013, 17:54 GMT

    xtrafalgarx, I have to agree. I would like a tight contest but I am not sure what England have in the bag. I expect a run or two from them in Adelaide but nothing much really. I think they will lose the series in Perth.

  • BigINDFan on December 3, 2013, 17:54 GMT

    I think people are overanalyzing the Eng team after one defeat which to be fair was a thrashing from Mitch Johnson. But Eng have two choices - let the boring 1-D thinking of Andy Flower and Cook continue and they lose the series OR make a mind shift and try to be aggressive and innovative. For example, get Bell at No. 3 not Root. Move Swann and Bresnan up the order ahead of the struggling Prior. If needed bring Broad as a nightwatchman. As for bowling, Anderson should increase his pace and swing and Broad should bounce the Aussies. Bresnan can tighten. This is what Aussies do - Harris, Siddle and Mitch all have different roles and hunt in packs.

    The talent and experience is there but there is no courage or imagination from Cook. He is like MSD boring and conservative. At least in MSD's case he does not have quality bowling to be daring.

    KP can tear this attack apart whats he waiting for and where is his mind? Getting out to hooks not knowing where the fielder is - really?

  • The_Tired_Bowler on December 3, 2013, 17:53 GMT

    Nice stat regarding Bresnan's batting. He's often struck me as someone who scores runs when England are already well on top (the Durham Test last summer an exception) and this tends to support that. If the top order gets blown away, you can't rely on a guy batting at 8 or 9 to get you out of trouble. Yes it can happen (as with Mitch at the Gabba) but normally it does not.

  • CodandChips on December 3, 2013, 16:40 GMT

    I would like a look at Ballance. I see him as a long-term KP replacement.

    I reiterate that I think we're declining. We have some talented youngsters like Taylor Moeen and Woakes who I hope get a go sooner rather than later. We just arent scoring big anymore and it's worrying and frustrating.

    On Anderson he has been great over the past 3 years but in the recent ashes got less and less effective. He needs to be looked after.

    If Panesar plays I would consider Stokes as an extra seam option, but it's a huge batting risk.

  • on December 3, 2013, 16:32 GMT

    If England are worried about playing Panesar based on his poor batting and fielding then they really have confidence issues. The central question is: is Anderson over the hill? He had a very indifferent match at the Gabba. If he does not perform well at Adelaide then he probably won't do any better at Perth etc. England need Anderson to knock out two or three Aussies cheaply. If Anderson no longer has their respect England will lose the series regardless of what the batsmen do. The same applies to Swann. The analogy to Australia losing McGrath and Warne simultaneously is obvious.

  • chitti_cricket on December 3, 2013, 16:31 GMT

    This England team is good but not certainly comparable to Windies 80s, Aussies late 90s and early 2000s, and SA late 2000s. I feel very sad for some of their great players in making gone early like Michael V, Andrew S, Collingwood, Andrew Jones etc. Truly their potential would and long playing would have made the team more stronger and their dominance and continuity would have been more. James Anderson looks good when ball reverse swings and pitches are usually dry and low bounce. On Australia and SA he seems to me not that convincing. Broad is good bowler but he needs support. Swan though a good bowler is not effective on bouncy pitches. Coming to batting only Cook and KP are top class and once England lose them rest of the batting looks vulnerable. This Ashes don't think England will show their previous results.Wish them good luck.

  • neiljturner on December 3, 2013, 15:51 GMT

    @First_Drop: In fairness, I think Cook WOULD make the South African team - Alviro Peterson is a solid opener, but nothing more than that, and Cook's record is considerably better.

    Likewise, I think perhaps a place could be found for either Pietersen or Bell (though probably not both), since de Villiers's decision to take up the gloves means there's room for seven batsmen these days, and there are indications that Faf du Plessis' early brilliance may have been just a flash in the pan.

    Swann would of course be welcomed with open arms, but I can't see Broad displacing Philander, nor Anderson replacing Morkel (who, lest we forget, has a better career bowling average, and also offers steep bounce that complements Steyn's style better than Anderson's would).

  • Stevros3 on December 3, 2013, 15:34 GMT

    Regarding Jimmy's figures

    If you take out the early years of his career in which when touring he averaged 74, 48 & 55 (and most people agree he didn't develop any consistency till late on in his career, if you'd told me in 2006 Anderson would have been one of the long term replacements of the fab 4 of 2005 I'd have laughed, I thought he was a stop gap at best because he was way to inconsistent) He actually averages 32 playing away from home with the ball which is not massivly lethal but not a bad average.

    Johnson actually reminds me of Anderson early in his career at his best can wipe opposition away though all to often he is wayward and can get spanked, let's not forget last series he single handedly destroyed Englands batting order in one match and one match last time down under and was spanked all round the park for the rest of the series. We'll see if this new incarnation is the consistent world beater Jimmy became.

    If the Aussies could select Anderson they would.

  • on December 3, 2013, 15:22 GMT

    Surely this is why James Taylor was brought into the squad during the summer when KP had his injury scare? I don't understand why he was not included in this squad. Taylor would have slotted into this team perfectly.

  • xtrafalgarx on December 3, 2013, 15:21 GMT

    In Australia's 2nd innings at the GABBA when England had conceded a lead of 130+, that was Jimmy and Co's opportunity to run in hard and stop the rot. To my surprise, 125kph half trackers was all they had, that was the moment i though "They are done." No fighting spirit left in this English side, their only comfort is that they have done it before, but this time they have no answers.

  • JimDavis on December 3, 2013, 15:03 GMT

    "The sense remains that England are playing not just a team but a nation. " Isn't that what has fed this series for over 100 years? Isn't that why the Ashes is more than just a normal series? Don't Australia feel this from the English when they visit?

  • First_Drop on December 3, 2013, 14:09 GMT

    @nareshgb1 - you're right. I was just looking through Jimmy's figures and its actually worse than that. At home, Jimmy's great - an average of 27 over 51 tests. Away from home, he is poor - bowling at an average of 36(!?) He wouldn't make many test teams on those figures. It appears he has always been poor bowling on tour. @Facebook person - no, Jimmy wouldn't make the Aussie team either. Only Swann would get a look in in the bowling dept.

  • Mitty2 on December 3, 2013, 14:06 GMT

    @nareshgb1, yes his last haul was at TB which admittedly although match winning and defining, had just 4 top order wickets out of 10. He's struggled to Watson, Rogers, Haddin, and now even Clarke and the only batsman who's had genuine struggles to him is Peter Siddle - a tailender. His figures last Ashes were inflated due to some cheap wickets in the last test when we were trying to bash some quick runs and I reckon he's on the decline with him not being as penetrative.

    @First_Drop, not to mention the dropped catch! Cook has averaged under 30 in three Ashes series with just the one good (great) series in '10/'11 and he is verging on becoming Harris' bunny. Not sure what to make of the Eng batters form (other than the easy suggestion that they're on the decline) considering that they've managed to score over 500 just once in the space of two years and haven't passed 18 the 400 mark in 18 innings. If only they ever collectively fired, then they would be a world class team.

  • milepost on December 3, 2013, 14:02 GMT

    @cricketcricket1987, sorry, don't think so. Form is our best guide and England have it with neither bat or ball. All the players you mention are out of it. Australia on the other hand have it in abundance and our Shield players are playing really well. I really I can't see England winning a test, it's going to be a nightmare tour for them.

  • nareshgb1 on December 3, 2013, 13:43 GMT

    funny how nobody talks of Anderson's steadily declining returns in the wickets column. Its been happening for a while now - I mean I know he is not Sachin to be subjected to that much scrutiny, but seriously - "spearheads" dont post that kind of returns for that long.

    Come on Jimmy - do it.

  • First_Drop on December 3, 2013, 13:31 GMT

    @facebook person; Cook, Pietersen, Bell, Andersen, Broad and Swann would walk into any team in the world? I don't think any of them would make it into the SA team (except Swann). And based on the last series and this one, Only Bell would make it into the Aussie team (Cook averaging 25 and KP 36 - warner ave 39, Rogers 36, Clarke 49.5, Watson 37). As for the bowlers, we might take Andersen (but that's only because 4 of our world class bowelrs are injured) and Swann.

  • Harlequin. on December 3, 2013, 12:59 GMT

    This is all very exciting to be honest! Will it be as in India, coming back from 1-nil down, or will it be a procession like the UAE? Unfortunately my feeling is that it will be the UAE. In the last few years, whenever England's batting has been tested by a good bowling attack; Pakistan, South Africa, even NZ, the batting just hasn't been able to stand up to it. And make no mistake, this Aussie bowling is good. I am still holding on to some positives though; whenever Cook is doubted, he delivers the goods, as does KP when the pressure is on. And I am still in love with the cover drives Belly was playing in Durham.

    This game could quite easily go either way.

    Ashes cricket rocks.

  • izzidole on December 3, 2013, 12:33 GMT

    The Adelaide test match is a crucial game for England as this test will prove more than anything else which way the ashes is heading. Since winning the first test at the Gabba convincingly Australia will try to dominate the game right from the start and put a lot of pressure on the poms so that they don't gain any confidence whatsoever. The team that wins the toss would need to get a good start and pile up the runs to make sure it has enough runs to force a victory. While the fielding side will do their best to keep the runs down to the minimum. This new drop in Adelaide wicket unlke in previous years initially is expected to be a batsman's paradise and should assist the spinners later on. This is a must win situation for England which they cannot afford to lose before they head to Perth which could decide the outcome of the ashes.

  • gramedgar on December 3, 2013, 12:07 GMT

    @nutcutlet, my fear is that you are right. I have horrible visions of our batting crumbling again and the Aussies being all over us. There is nothing worse than seeing your team overturned by a higher level of desire.

    Having said all this if England can bounce back Aus are still very vulnerable, and that would make for another episode of an excellent Ashes series.

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on December 3, 2013, 12:02 GMT

    @cricketcricket1987

    As much as I enjoy Johnson on his day Harris is clearly in a whole different league to him, and definitely world class. I doubt anybody could or would argue that.

    As far as England go I think Bell to 3 is the obviously correct move, he's the only batsman I really worry about as an Australian fan, never coughs up his wicket cheaply and always looks a class act, solid in defense, watches the ball as closely as humanly possible and can play all the shots. Absolutely no reason to leave him all the way down at 5 to salvage things if England's top order fails again. I've not seen much of Bairstow but if he's as good a WK as Prior why not make the change, surely he can't do any worse in the batting. 3rd seamer seems to be the only difficult question England really have IMO. Paper scissors rock tournament for that one.

  • on December 3, 2013, 12:00 GMT

    I dont understand the panic the media are trying to put into the England squad. Yes we got totally out played for 3 out of 4 days but we have too good of a side to be rolled over like that consistantly. Cook, Pietersen and Bell would walk into any team in the world and drastically improve that team as would Anderson, Broad and Swann. Im convinced that our batsman made Mitchell Johnson look alot better than he is, he is still too inconsistent and i think we may see that in this test match without the help from the pitch. Lyon is a decent player but not one that should put the fear of god into the team. I also maintain that if you take Clarke, Harris and Haddin out of this team then what you have is a very average cricket team....I expect an England performance at Adelaide like last winters performance in Mumbai to level the series

  • cloudmess on December 3, 2013, 11:38 GMT

    Play 5 bowlers, with Bresnan at 7. 5th bowler toss-up between Tremlett and Panesar, but I'd go for Panesar as the Adelaide pitch usually takes a bit of spin after day 3. 6 batsmen should be enough for a good pitch. However, I know the increasingly reactive England management will ignore this and pick a side for the last test, hence bolster the batting.

  • First_Drop on December 3, 2013, 11:27 GMT

    @Geoffreysmother: bowling is clearly not England's only issue. Carberry is new. For this series and the last one in England, Cook is averaging about 25 against the Aussies, KP and Root are averaging 36 (much lower for Root if you exclude his century under no pressure at Lords), Prior is averaging 15(!) Trott is (Sadly) gone and you are looking for a new no. 3 and No.6. In fact, Bell is your only performing Bat. The 4th bowler is very clearly not the only issue for England.

  • Nutcutlet on December 3, 2013, 11:14 GMT

    This Adelaide Test has assumed an importance that is far greater than it merely the second Test of a major series. Many England supporters will take a little comfort from the familiarity of the position - the loss of the first Test. Another defeat in this one will, however, make the retention of the Ashes monumentally difficult and it is the manner of the defeat at the Gabba that should concern England's team & supporters; it was, as I have said before, a defeat with scarcely a shred of dignity. England's limitations were laid bare & for me there was an overwhelming sense of, oh well, we're out-gunned by pace, aggression and, when it counted, telling accuracy. There were, I think, three positives: Broad's bowling, esp. in the first innings; Cook's resistance in the second knock & Joe Root not being fazed as the match rolled to its conclusion. These are crumbs of comfort, well short of a half loaf. This is the fulcrum Test and the wind's set against a revival. Sorry, folks!

  • on December 3, 2013, 10:59 GMT

    England will definitely fight back, no doubt about that. But the defeating mentality Aussies are in at the moment is a huge plus point for them. No matter what and who Aus wants to win the series , not just win but humiliate Eng with whatever they can. So they will go the extra mile to do that, and that is exactly what Eng should not allow them to do.

  • RednWhiteArmy on December 3, 2013, 10:48 GMT

    haha. australia must have been seriously hurting for these last 3 ashes series. Mmmmm.

  • GeoffreysMother on December 3, 2013, 10:47 GMT

    I'm not sure this article stacks up George. In India England also had three places that were up for grabs - opener, number 6 and 3rd bowler (indeed the same three as now only involving different candidates) and in the UAE and against S.Africa they were unsure over the third bowler and a batsman (Morgan).

    Number 6 simply means who is your 6th best batsman , as the best 5 bat 1-5! It is not surprising that in most teams this is where the personnel change most. What has happened is that England have moved on from one generation of '6th batsmen' (Morgan/Bopara) to a new one (Ballance/Bairstow and Stokes) which are younger but inevitably less experienced. Unlike George Bailey , for example, they have time to develop.

    The real issue is the thinning out of third bowler reserve stocks and this is, in the 4th and 5th tests where Australia could have a distinct advantage.

  • xtrafalgarx on December 3, 2013, 10:30 GMT

    @cricketcricket1987: Anderson and Swann average about 40 on our pitches, Cook has only ever had 1 good ashes series out of four, 2010/11 is beginning to look more and more of a fluke where he averaged well over 50 but 3 other times he has averaged under 30. The fact that Doherty/Smith/Beer/Bollinger/Hilfenhaus were our main bowlers that series says it all.

    Bell is the danger, but i rate our chances against Pietersen, he might play a good innings here or there, but i back our boys to shut him down for the most part.

  • jackiethepen on December 3, 2013, 10:01 GMT

    Do you think there is an obsession with 400 runs? Some games are low scoring by nature. The important thing is to win. Diminishing returns for the top seven? If Bell could turn his game around for the summer Ashes so spectacularly - and you can hardly include him in that summary - why not Cook, Pietersen or Prior? The first two haven't been that out of form, Cook over-extended due to captaincy, and KP did chip in with a century at Lords which is his way. Prior does seem to be heading for a gulf but he's also a tough cookie and could find a way out. The loss of Trott must have affected the team severely and it sounds as if scenes in the dressing room - obviously hushed up - must have been alarming for those waiting to bat next, as it happens, Bell. KP and Cook out there probably had no idea what was going on. You are the first person in the media to mention it. But it does throw a light on the problems of the second innings and the tensions for the lower middle order and the tail.

  • JG2704 on December 3, 2013, 9:38 GMT

    One thing I'll say is I think Jonny should come in for Prior right now.

    Yes Prior has been immense over the years and probably also the victim of his own high standards with the bat when he has these lean periods but I've always said , I'm happy to keep an underperforming player in the side when the team is doing well - until he comes back into form. But in the last test Prior the aggressor looked to be lacking in confidence with the bat with carbon copy lame dismissals which would resemble leg slip catching practice. If Eng go 2-0 down and then they pick JB then there's too much on his shoulders IMO. If they back MP in the next test then they should back him for the series

  • cricketcricket1987 on December 3, 2013, 9:21 GMT

    England to win this test and the series 3-2. Oz will win at the Waca and England to win at the MCG and Sydney.

    England always start poorly to a series - too many world class players in the England team - Cook, Pietersen, Bell, Anderson, Swann.

    How many have Oz got?? - Clarke and Johnson on his day.

    I have full faith England will turn it around

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  • cricketcricket1987 on December 3, 2013, 9:21 GMT

    England to win this test and the series 3-2. Oz will win at the Waca and England to win at the MCG and Sydney.

    England always start poorly to a series - too many world class players in the England team - Cook, Pietersen, Bell, Anderson, Swann.

    How many have Oz got?? - Clarke and Johnson on his day.

    I have full faith England will turn it around

  • JG2704 on December 3, 2013, 9:38 GMT

    One thing I'll say is I think Jonny should come in for Prior right now.

    Yes Prior has been immense over the years and probably also the victim of his own high standards with the bat when he has these lean periods but I've always said , I'm happy to keep an underperforming player in the side when the team is doing well - until he comes back into form. But in the last test Prior the aggressor looked to be lacking in confidence with the bat with carbon copy lame dismissals which would resemble leg slip catching practice. If Eng go 2-0 down and then they pick JB then there's too much on his shoulders IMO. If they back MP in the next test then they should back him for the series

  • jackiethepen on December 3, 2013, 10:01 GMT

    Do you think there is an obsession with 400 runs? Some games are low scoring by nature. The important thing is to win. Diminishing returns for the top seven? If Bell could turn his game around for the summer Ashes so spectacularly - and you can hardly include him in that summary - why not Cook, Pietersen or Prior? The first two haven't been that out of form, Cook over-extended due to captaincy, and KP did chip in with a century at Lords which is his way. Prior does seem to be heading for a gulf but he's also a tough cookie and could find a way out. The loss of Trott must have affected the team severely and it sounds as if scenes in the dressing room - obviously hushed up - must have been alarming for those waiting to bat next, as it happens, Bell. KP and Cook out there probably had no idea what was going on. You are the first person in the media to mention it. But it does throw a light on the problems of the second innings and the tensions for the lower middle order and the tail.

  • xtrafalgarx on December 3, 2013, 10:30 GMT

    @cricketcricket1987: Anderson and Swann average about 40 on our pitches, Cook has only ever had 1 good ashes series out of four, 2010/11 is beginning to look more and more of a fluke where he averaged well over 50 but 3 other times he has averaged under 30. The fact that Doherty/Smith/Beer/Bollinger/Hilfenhaus were our main bowlers that series says it all.

    Bell is the danger, but i rate our chances against Pietersen, he might play a good innings here or there, but i back our boys to shut him down for the most part.

  • GeoffreysMother on December 3, 2013, 10:47 GMT

    I'm not sure this article stacks up George. In India England also had three places that were up for grabs - opener, number 6 and 3rd bowler (indeed the same three as now only involving different candidates) and in the UAE and against S.Africa they were unsure over the third bowler and a batsman (Morgan).

    Number 6 simply means who is your 6th best batsman , as the best 5 bat 1-5! It is not surprising that in most teams this is where the personnel change most. What has happened is that England have moved on from one generation of '6th batsmen' (Morgan/Bopara) to a new one (Ballance/Bairstow and Stokes) which are younger but inevitably less experienced. Unlike George Bailey , for example, they have time to develop.

    The real issue is the thinning out of third bowler reserve stocks and this is, in the 4th and 5th tests where Australia could have a distinct advantage.

  • RednWhiteArmy on December 3, 2013, 10:48 GMT

    haha. australia must have been seriously hurting for these last 3 ashes series. Mmmmm.

  • on December 3, 2013, 10:59 GMT

    England will definitely fight back, no doubt about that. But the defeating mentality Aussies are in at the moment is a huge plus point for them. No matter what and who Aus wants to win the series , not just win but humiliate Eng with whatever they can. So they will go the extra mile to do that, and that is exactly what Eng should not allow them to do.

  • Nutcutlet on December 3, 2013, 11:14 GMT

    This Adelaide Test has assumed an importance that is far greater than it merely the second Test of a major series. Many England supporters will take a little comfort from the familiarity of the position - the loss of the first Test. Another defeat in this one will, however, make the retention of the Ashes monumentally difficult and it is the manner of the defeat at the Gabba that should concern England's team & supporters; it was, as I have said before, a defeat with scarcely a shred of dignity. England's limitations were laid bare & for me there was an overwhelming sense of, oh well, we're out-gunned by pace, aggression and, when it counted, telling accuracy. There were, I think, three positives: Broad's bowling, esp. in the first innings; Cook's resistance in the second knock & Joe Root not being fazed as the match rolled to its conclusion. These are crumbs of comfort, well short of a half loaf. This is the fulcrum Test and the wind's set against a revival. Sorry, folks!

  • First_Drop on December 3, 2013, 11:27 GMT

    @Geoffreysmother: bowling is clearly not England's only issue. Carberry is new. For this series and the last one in England, Cook is averaging about 25 against the Aussies, KP and Root are averaging 36 (much lower for Root if you exclude his century under no pressure at Lords), Prior is averaging 15(!) Trott is (Sadly) gone and you are looking for a new no. 3 and No.6. In fact, Bell is your only performing Bat. The 4th bowler is very clearly not the only issue for England.

  • cloudmess on December 3, 2013, 11:38 GMT

    Play 5 bowlers, with Bresnan at 7. 5th bowler toss-up between Tremlett and Panesar, but I'd go for Panesar as the Adelaide pitch usually takes a bit of spin after day 3. 6 batsmen should be enough for a good pitch. However, I know the increasingly reactive England management will ignore this and pick a side for the last test, hence bolster the batting.