Australia v England, 5th Test, Sydney, 1st day January 3, 2014

England contribute to own downfall

As England again wilted in the face of an Australia counterattack, inadequacies in the national team environment were laid bare
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#PoliteEnquiries: A bad Warne clone

Déjà vu is never so good the fourth time around. England may have juggled their squad, found a new allrounder, called-up a new fast bowler and taken a chance with a young legspinner, but it all came to the same end.

For the fifth time in five Australia first innings this series, England earned themselves a decent position, only to concede it to a counterattack that had Brad Haddin's fingerprints all over it. Mitchell Johnson may well win the Man of the Series award, but Haddin has enjoyed a magnificent campaign and will haunt the nightmares of this England side long after the tour is over. From an England perspective, it was as wearingly familiar as drizzle and slate-grey skies.

The contrasting fortunes of the two lower-orders has been a feature of this series. While Australia's first five wickets contributed only 16 more runs than England's in the first innings of the four completed Tests of the series so far (612 against 596), their last five added an extra 624 (842 to 218). The value of Johnson against the England lower-order and the success of Haddin against England's tiring bowlers has largely defined this Ashes.

Once again, though, England will reflect that they had a hand in their own downfall. The side that dropped Steven Finn for his lack of economy conceded 4.28 an over throughout the Australia innings and during the key sixth-wicket partnership of 128 in 27.2 overs were punished for 21 boundaries.

It should not be a complete surprise. When you call-up a 23-year-old legspinner who was 14th in his county's bowling averages last year, a fast bowler who has not played in over a month and rely on a 22-year-old allrounder who admits he is still learning his trade as a seamer, then you are, in part at least, trusting to chance. The last time an England legspinner took a wicket in a victory for England was in 1968. The bowler was Ken Barrington and the batsman was Seymour Nurse. Scott Borthwick's economy rate in his first innings for England was actually worse than Simon Kerrigan's at The Oval in August.

That even James Anderson was guilty of pitching short was also a reflection of some poor field placements. Lured into overdoing the short ball by the carry of the pitch, there were two men back for the hook throughout much of the stand, with the bowlers discouraged from pitching the ball as full as they might have done.

And, if your attention to detail is going to extend to producing a cookbook, should it not also extend to ensuring there is a set of stumps at both ends in net sessions and ensuring that bowlers do not overstep or dislodge the bails as Ben Stokes did on several times on the first day here? As it is, England's bowlers routinely overstep in practice and need only avoid a single stump.

While Stokes, the silver lining in this gloomy series for England, impressed with his persistence and lively pace, his success was offset by the news that Joe Root had been dropped. For several months, Root has been touted as the future. To see him derailed, at least temporarily, has dimmed a ray of light at the end of this dark tunnel.

But the faults in the English system go back much further than that. If England really want to be able to dispose of lower orders in the way that Johnson and co have managed, then they could sorely do with a bowler of such pace or a match-winning spinner.

But the system designed to produce them is actually holding them back. Not the county system - the environment which has given England Finn, Tymal Mills, the Overton twins, Stuart Meaker and many others - but the extended England environment.

At an open day at the ECB's National Performance Centre not so long ago, there was a presentation that talked with pride about the speeds achieved by some young English bowlers under laboratory conditions. Dig a little deeper, however, and you discover that fastest pace achieved was by Meaker, the Surrey bowler who deteriorated markedly for his exposure to the England environment this time last year, on his first visit to the site. On each subsequent visit, burdened by more advice from ECB specialists, he has become a touch slower.

The experts there will also tell you, with barely concealed pride, that a bowler such as Saeed Ajmal, a man who has been proved to have a legal action, would not be able to progress in English cricket. The experience of Maurice Holmes underlines how hard it is for unorthodox spinners to develop in England.

Around the counties, directors of cricket talk in exasperation of the damaging effects of exposure to the England environment on their players. Look at Finn, or Meaker or Chris Woakes. Even James Anderson, after he had lost his pace, his ability to swing the ball and developed a stress fracture, admitted that he progressed only by going back to what had served him well when he first broke through at Lancashire.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that all the money spent on developing the best players is, in part, holding them back.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • IndianInnerEdge on January 5, 2014, 12:08 GMT

    To be honest much of what is described in the above article is mirrored in indian cricket also. We've had quickies start off at 145 kmph or thereabout and after their first season they turn out to be medium pace trundlers. Eg Ajit Agarkar, ankola, abey kuruvilla, irfan pathan, zaheer khan, MUNAF PATEL. vrv singh, ISHANT SHARMA. The only guy i see who sees himself and bowls like an out and out quickie is Umesh Yadav and hopefull this will continue. All others have their action tampered with, or are told to loose pace for accuracy or their wrist position, bio mechanics, alignment of the planets/stars etc is not good, also with the advent of IPL these guys end up as cannon fodder - biggest example is munaf and ishant. I hope the BCCI selects Craig McDermott as indias bowling coach else these guys have no future and will be glorified off spinners. For England, their setup is much better than india's will always have abetter bowling attack than india's-which is pathetric.....

  • on January 5, 2014, 9:50 GMT

    It's the same issue with India. When you watch the likes of Akram or Shoaib Akhtar on TV, you get a sense that in Pakistan, young fast bowlers are told to do one thing: go and bowl as fast as you can. Technique doesn't enter the picture until much much later.

    In India, the BCCI "experts" are so obsessed with intricacies like wrist position, biomechanics, etc, they forget that the job of a fast bowler is to bowl fast!

    That's the difference between the two sides in why Pakistan has a Junaid Khan that regularly clocks 145 kph and we have a Bhuvneshwar Kumar that clocks 125 kph.

    The only decent fast bowler we have today is Mohammed Shami, who has a beautiful and fast bowling action because he was never corrupted by our "academies."

    Otherwise he might have also ended up with an orthodox, but artificial bowling action like Varun Aaron who is injured two days for every day that he is fit.

  • ruester on January 5, 2014, 7:08 GMT

    Bharadwaj will you get over Sachin, he was a great player but that does not mean his records can't be broken?! Cook despite his recent poor form has an amazing record also. He will get it back and score lots of runs, especially against India, you seem to forget England have pretty good record against India which included Sachin. I am not saying cook will amass more runs than Sachin but I do know the ecb won't be changing tours and arranging test matches against weak opposition just to give him a send off when he retires!

  • hyclass on January 5, 2014, 3:10 GMT

    I well recollect advice that Ian Chappell gave to an up and coming batsman on arrival in the Australian team. 'You got here doing things your own way. I don't want you to change a thing.' That is the mind of an enlightened leader speaking. When Phil Hughes joined the Aus squad in '09, he had scored 1637 runs at 96 on 3 continents in the preceding 10 matches, including 8 centuries. The 2 vs SA were against an attack of Steyn, Ntini, Morkel, Kallis and Harris, with 1100+ Test wickets between them at that time. Then suddenly he couldn't play and was described as being 'found out', by the far inferior attack of Flintoff and Co. That myth has survived to this day. What actually occurred, as reported by his then long time mentor, DeCosta, was that he was 'forced to prepare in a way that wasn't suited to him-wasn't suited to his game.' Nielsen described how they had Watson penned in all along as the Ashes opener. My heart goes out to Hughes and the many players destroyed by dangerous coaches.

  • on January 4, 2014, 16:35 GMT

    Australia lineup against south Africa should be: rogers warner doolan Clarke smith Watson haddin Johnson harris lyon siddle. the other squad players should be: bird pattinson hughes faulkner

  • StaalBurgher on January 4, 2014, 11:42 GMT

    There is a reason why most of the best fast bowlers come from outside big metropolitan school areas where they are allowed to settle into a bowling action that suite their individual bio-mechanics - mostly because the intense coaching is not available. While batsmen come from big metropolitan schools where they received lots of game time and intense coaching that honed their batting instinct at a young age. Coaching approaches need to differ between the two skill areas.

  • IndiaNumeroUno on January 4, 2014, 10:59 GMT

    The problem is cricket coaching in England and its cricketing structure. County cricket produces batsmen who cannot bat freely, seamers who cant bowl unless they get help from weather and pitch conditions. Spinning skills are non existent. Cricket is "taught" systematically with textbook/ emulation methods which curbs natural talent. The result is that someone like a Malinga/Dhoni/Sehwag/Johnson etc would never come up from such a system... they would have an army of coaches tweaking their action and ultimately spoiling any natural gift they might have. Look at poor Finn!

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on January 4, 2014, 9:56 GMT

    But in 2011, when India toured England, we were told that brits and ECB like test cricket and test cricket only, and that they will go to any lengths to prepare meticulously for it along with unbeatable bench strength to boot, and how BCCI should learn from ECB in giving respect and importance to test cricket!!! What happened to all that gloating and crowing?

  • Mill1 on January 4, 2014, 9:05 GMT

    You are rightly criticising the selection of Borthwick the leg spinner. But can I remind you that in one of your previous articles after the last lest you were advocating the inclusion of Borthwick!!! That's double standards and playing to the crowd! You were quick to suggest Panesar who has done nothing wrong be dropped! Panesar is by a long way England's best spinner, yet England seen to have a "anyone but Panesar" policy. It's bad treatment for someone who can actually win England matches if treated properly. On that basis, England deserve everything they are getting and nobody should feel sorry for them.

  • Chris_Howard on January 4, 2014, 7:01 GMT

    Six months ago it was the development system that was why England were good. For example, Robson played inEngland because more opportunities for first class matches. Etc.

    Now the system is the problem?!

  • IndianInnerEdge on January 5, 2014, 12:08 GMT

    To be honest much of what is described in the above article is mirrored in indian cricket also. We've had quickies start off at 145 kmph or thereabout and after their first season they turn out to be medium pace trundlers. Eg Ajit Agarkar, ankola, abey kuruvilla, irfan pathan, zaheer khan, MUNAF PATEL. vrv singh, ISHANT SHARMA. The only guy i see who sees himself and bowls like an out and out quickie is Umesh Yadav and hopefull this will continue. All others have their action tampered with, or are told to loose pace for accuracy or their wrist position, bio mechanics, alignment of the planets/stars etc is not good, also with the advent of IPL these guys end up as cannon fodder - biggest example is munaf and ishant. I hope the BCCI selects Craig McDermott as indias bowling coach else these guys have no future and will be glorified off spinners. For England, their setup is much better than india's will always have abetter bowling attack than india's-which is pathetric.....

  • on January 5, 2014, 9:50 GMT

    It's the same issue with India. When you watch the likes of Akram or Shoaib Akhtar on TV, you get a sense that in Pakistan, young fast bowlers are told to do one thing: go and bowl as fast as you can. Technique doesn't enter the picture until much much later.

    In India, the BCCI "experts" are so obsessed with intricacies like wrist position, biomechanics, etc, they forget that the job of a fast bowler is to bowl fast!

    That's the difference between the two sides in why Pakistan has a Junaid Khan that regularly clocks 145 kph and we have a Bhuvneshwar Kumar that clocks 125 kph.

    The only decent fast bowler we have today is Mohammed Shami, who has a beautiful and fast bowling action because he was never corrupted by our "academies."

    Otherwise he might have also ended up with an orthodox, but artificial bowling action like Varun Aaron who is injured two days for every day that he is fit.

  • ruester on January 5, 2014, 7:08 GMT

    Bharadwaj will you get over Sachin, he was a great player but that does not mean his records can't be broken?! Cook despite his recent poor form has an amazing record also. He will get it back and score lots of runs, especially against India, you seem to forget England have pretty good record against India which included Sachin. I am not saying cook will amass more runs than Sachin but I do know the ecb won't be changing tours and arranging test matches against weak opposition just to give him a send off when he retires!

  • hyclass on January 5, 2014, 3:10 GMT

    I well recollect advice that Ian Chappell gave to an up and coming batsman on arrival in the Australian team. 'You got here doing things your own way. I don't want you to change a thing.' That is the mind of an enlightened leader speaking. When Phil Hughes joined the Aus squad in '09, he had scored 1637 runs at 96 on 3 continents in the preceding 10 matches, including 8 centuries. The 2 vs SA were against an attack of Steyn, Ntini, Morkel, Kallis and Harris, with 1100+ Test wickets between them at that time. Then suddenly he couldn't play and was described as being 'found out', by the far inferior attack of Flintoff and Co. That myth has survived to this day. What actually occurred, as reported by his then long time mentor, DeCosta, was that he was 'forced to prepare in a way that wasn't suited to him-wasn't suited to his game.' Nielsen described how they had Watson penned in all along as the Ashes opener. My heart goes out to Hughes and the many players destroyed by dangerous coaches.

  • on January 4, 2014, 16:35 GMT

    Australia lineup against south Africa should be: rogers warner doolan Clarke smith Watson haddin Johnson harris lyon siddle. the other squad players should be: bird pattinson hughes faulkner

  • StaalBurgher on January 4, 2014, 11:42 GMT

    There is a reason why most of the best fast bowlers come from outside big metropolitan school areas where they are allowed to settle into a bowling action that suite their individual bio-mechanics - mostly because the intense coaching is not available. While batsmen come from big metropolitan schools where they received lots of game time and intense coaching that honed their batting instinct at a young age. Coaching approaches need to differ between the two skill areas.

  • IndiaNumeroUno on January 4, 2014, 10:59 GMT

    The problem is cricket coaching in England and its cricketing structure. County cricket produces batsmen who cannot bat freely, seamers who cant bowl unless they get help from weather and pitch conditions. Spinning skills are non existent. Cricket is "taught" systematically with textbook/ emulation methods which curbs natural talent. The result is that someone like a Malinga/Dhoni/Sehwag/Johnson etc would never come up from such a system... they would have an army of coaches tweaking their action and ultimately spoiling any natural gift they might have. Look at poor Finn!

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on January 4, 2014, 9:56 GMT

    But in 2011, when India toured England, we were told that brits and ECB like test cricket and test cricket only, and that they will go to any lengths to prepare meticulously for it along with unbeatable bench strength to boot, and how BCCI should learn from ECB in giving respect and importance to test cricket!!! What happened to all that gloating and crowing?

  • Mill1 on January 4, 2014, 9:05 GMT

    You are rightly criticising the selection of Borthwick the leg spinner. But can I remind you that in one of your previous articles after the last lest you were advocating the inclusion of Borthwick!!! That's double standards and playing to the crowd! You were quick to suggest Panesar who has done nothing wrong be dropped! Panesar is by a long way England's best spinner, yet England seen to have a "anyone but Panesar" policy. It's bad treatment for someone who can actually win England matches if treated properly. On that basis, England deserve everything they are getting and nobody should feel sorry for them.

  • Chris_Howard on January 4, 2014, 7:01 GMT

    Six months ago it was the development system that was why England were good. For example, Robson played inEngland because more opportunities for first class matches. Etc.

    Now the system is the problem?!

  • FreddyForPrimeMinister on January 4, 2014, 2:14 GMT

    @MianMoosa on (January 3, 2014, 15:36 GMT) - line and length bowling wins you matches on any surface, even those in Australia. Harris and especially Siddle and Watson have excelled in their line and length and got their just rewards. By contrast, the English bowlers, and most disappointingly, Jimmy Anderson, have bowled too short all series. Why Jimmy has given up his tried and trusted weapon in an attempt to match Mitchell Johnson (but at around 10mph slower) is a total mystery. You have to question the bowling coach. And as far as the batting is concerned, I'd sack the England psychologist - why else are our batsmen acting like rabbits in headlights?!!

  • Thegimp on January 4, 2014, 2:09 GMT

    @MianMoosa I don't know mate, Siddle and Harris have both bowled line and length. My opinion is that England need to use the same cricket balls as everyone else. Get rid of the Duke ball as it exagerates swing, seam and reverse and when your bowlers don't get it whilst playing overseas they struggle. Same with producing dry slow wickets at home, the minute they get on fast bouncy wickets their batsmen struggle (See India 1950-present)

    It's funny that when England beat Aust, their "System" was touted as world class, now the shoe is on the other foot it's the reason they are losing....

    Do those two things I mentioned and you will have a chance of producing a great team. Change Duke, produce good wickets........Oh and bring in more South Africans lol. Seriously though, what I have seen of players coming through the ranks of English cricket is positive.

  • on January 4, 2014, 0:33 GMT

    A couple of months ago some of the over ambitious pommy fans claimed that Alister cook would cross Sachins record of most number of test runs and centuries by just playing almost three fourth matches of what Sachin played. Are you kidding me??? will he atleast be part of the english side for the next tournament which England would play,leave alone breaking of records?? Sachin played one the best crop of bowlers through out he world and scored his runs and cook is struggling across this aussie lineup made of mediocre (yes mediocre when compared to Ambrose,Walsh,Marshal,Wasim,Waquar etc) bowlers.I know this article is not about Sachin but just wanted to remind the English fans of what they said earlier and which player they wanted to compare with a Legend. By the way I am a big Sachin hater. Cric info please publish.

  • on January 4, 2014, 0:28 GMT

    Steve Finn was dropped in a stroke of madness by Strauss and flower.onions should have been here and omg tremlett and Rankin are clones.greenery now 33 and 79 mph and Boyd 85 mph and 29. This 5th test line-up is suicide.root and prior dropped the latter just as he came back into semblance of form and Barstow out of his depth.await a record low innings score

  • on January 4, 2014, 0:08 GMT

    Have to agree with Michael Flynn. Even the competitions below club cricket and country cricket have an intensity about them. Just go to any suburban park on a Saturday and watch the games. The skills may not be there but the passion is.

  • on January 3, 2014, 23:22 GMT

    One suspects that Carberry has been sacrifiiced, and Root saved further humiliation at the hands of the vastly more confident Australians. Even when England were winning, we didn't quite have the up beat approach that the Aussies are enjoying under their new coach. I have long believed that a top psychological coach or psychologist is required for England.

  • Yorks1 on January 3, 2014, 23:10 GMT

    Geoff Boycott made a great comment with regard to Stokes; "with a bit of encouragement and a little bit of understanding, we might have a good cricketer here". I think that speaks volumes. With all the distractions in the England team, the player/jounalists who need to make up their mind which profession they are in and the "you must perform now or die" attitude of the management (Flower, Gooch anyone?) is there any wonder at the overall sad state of the team (is it a team?) and newcomers. Hopefully the change at the top of the ECB will see something positive happening. Encouragement, understanding, that's a good place to start.

  • heathrf1974 on January 3, 2014, 22:37 GMT

    Mitchell Johnson changed his run up style by lifting his left arm when he ran. This gave him better balance and more control in bowling. It took a couple of years to get right but the rewards are now showing. I think the scientific method is too restrictive on bowler's natural movement. It seems they need an experienced bowling coach who can give them advice without hindering their natural style.

  • 200ondebut on January 3, 2014, 22:36 GMT

    You can always count on Dobbie to stick the knife in Englands back.

  • Blakey on January 3, 2014, 22:18 GMT

    @hatsforbats, maybe they are suffering from 'carbo-burn & need time to digest their menu.

  • dunger.bob on January 3, 2014, 21:43 GMT

    I've been a cricket nut for a long time but I've never seen anything quite like the Houdini acts the Haddin has come up with on this tour. .. Amazing actually.

    It's got to be super frustrating for the English and while we Aussies might outwardly be saying it's all very funny many of us are concerned about our repeated top order failures. Haddin can't be expected to keep this up indefinitely and it would be much better for us if he didn't have to.

    England have some problems but then again so do we.

  • bigwonder on January 3, 2014, 21:27 GMT

    Who would have guessed, the media hyped England batsman - flat track bullies but are sacred to play on pacy pitches. Irony at its greatest.

  • on January 3, 2014, 21:18 GMT

    Well, the English are nothing if not predictable. Good bowling early thrown away by defensive captaincy and a threadbare attack, followed by Mitchell Johnson monstering them. Everything is running to script - 5-0 beckons!

  • ygkd on January 3, 2014, 21:12 GMT

    Reported on Sept 21: "Debates over the identity of the second spinner, reserve wicketkeeper and reserve batsmen will occupy the minds of the England selectors ....on Monday". This could easily be republished today. England are not really producing enough Test-quality players. The borrowing from other countries was always going to come back to haunt them, for while there's absolutely nothing wrong with an top individual pursuing a career overseas, it remains the job of a national board, does it not, to fully develop their own players, that is, beyond U19 level? Thus, the debate continues. Is Monty the spinner? Is there any desire for higher wicket-keeping standards or have limited overs killed that off completely? Can English Test batting in a T20 world pace itself properly? There are a lot of questions that the last few years have not answered. Australia have done well, but are not a great team. England did well with a mix of the imported and home-grown. Neither can match SA though.

  • Jaffa79 on January 3, 2014, 20:45 GMT

    @Michael Flynn...the Aussie system has NOT always produced top class spinners, pacemen and attacking batsmen as claimed. The Aussie system has been much criticised by all and sundry over the last few years for doing to opposite to what you claim (especially in the batting department). Where, in the last 30 years, are the top quality spinners you speak of apart from Warne and MacGill? You lean too heavily on the team of the mid 90s to mid 00s and a heavy dose of self righteousness for your views. After every Ashes series, the losing team blames their own system and has a 'review'. After 2010/11, the English system was being lauded. The answer really, is to play the game hard and hopefully win but not to wallow in self reflection if you lose. C'est la vie.

  • MrPud on January 3, 2014, 20:45 GMT

    All promising young Aussie batsmen in the last 20 years were exposed to Test cricket and then send back to the Shield. They were forced to create an insatiable hunger for runs while also fighting tooth and nail for their wicket. These players include both Waughs, Martyn, Hayden, Langer and Ponting to name but a few. Joe Root will come back a very good batsman.

  • HatsforBats on January 3, 2014, 19:36 GMT

    Another concern could be that Dobell considers Haddin's success to have been achieved against a tired England attack. Haddin's rescue efforts have started (on average) in the 37th over, if the England attack is tired so soon after the lunch break they might need to reconsider the merits of their 80-page cookbook.

  • class9ryan on January 3, 2014, 17:33 GMT

    Not sure what but there is something missing in this England curry - may be fire and some guts.

  • thejesusofcool on January 3, 2014, 17:02 GMT

    Second thing-we have never adapted properly to the change from 3 to 4-day county cricket. Everywhere you play, the pitch is usually the same, slow, even and made for cheap runs-understandable, because they want 4 day's worth of admisiions, but it doesn't encourage either fast bowlers or sharp spinners who can rattle out a tail.

    Third, central contracts. Because we have more first-class games per season than anyone else, we should be at an advantage. But, once the Tests start, every year, the Test squad never plays a game for their counties. Yeh, they do also need a rest, too, but not everybody is the same.

    Some batsmen & even some bowlers need to keep playing and keep striving to retain or regain their form. The present system isn't flexible enough to recognise that a team will only remain strong if each individual within it is encouraged to perform, by individual means, to their best to make the team unit stronger and that comes back to the robot theme.

  • on January 3, 2014, 16:28 GMT

    great article ......... congratulations ......... the system is what it is ....... the dice get tossed and you still know what you`ll watch .....

  • disco_bob on January 3, 2014, 16:09 GMT

    Joe Root does have some pluck, it took MJ till the end of the fourth match before he managed to wipe the slightly mad grin from Root's visage, nevertheless I am still surprised that he was dropped. England should have stuck with Root at 6 and Prior, with Bell at 3.

  • disco_bob on January 3, 2014, 16:01 GMT

    England really needs to look at the fact that they have had Australia on the ropes in each match only to lose by a large margin, when it could so very easily have been a very large margin.

  • on January 3, 2014, 16:00 GMT

    Why can't England produce great batsmen in the modern era? We have produced any number of good players but if you take a yardstick of a test batting average of 50 plus over an extended test career to qualify as a "great player" then since the finish of Kenny Barrington!s career in 1968 England have had none. In the same period Australia have had 7, West Indies 4, India 3, Pakistan 3 and South Africa 3. We have had players like KP and Trott for example who were over that mark, but they all seem to fall below it eventually.

  • MianMoosa on January 3, 2014, 15:36 GMT

    In 1986-87 when England win the ashes series, then they have to wait for 18 years to regain the ashes, and the reason is during that 18 years they keep on persisting with that damned method of scientific approach, defensive, & when in 2005 they regain the ashes they got it with aggression, reverse swing, bouncers with over 90 mph, pace etc, but then again they go back to their old rubbish method & they succeed with it only b,coz the aussies were too weak, but this time all english approach, methods, tactics were blown away by fire power of Australians, only mitchell johnson proof to be enough for them in bowlers & even batsman play with flair & aggression, its not a rocket science to understand that on australian pitches u need pace & bounce, not line & length seam bowling

  • on January 3, 2014, 15:14 GMT

    The Aussie system will always produce top class spinners, pacemen and attacking batsmen. The grade cricket is very tough and not too much cricket is played. The games that are played are very intense.

  • ZkAneela on January 3, 2014, 14:48 GMT

    England is too much defensive in their approach.They can't win even if they play 10 more tests with this approach.Not to forget johnson horror show as well.I hope England players get their sleep right.Johnson noightmares must be there.

  • Paul_Somerset on January 3, 2014, 14:44 GMT

    Have a horrible feeling that the teenage Jamie Overton is already adversely affected by exposure to this England set-up. The last 12 months have seen him go from bowling really fast balls with sometimes skid and sometimes fearsome bounce, but always with a wonderful acceleration to the crease, to an erratic and expensive bowler who has been banned for bowling beamers and is currently, inevitably, sidelined with injury.

    As a County cricket lover, I've gone from not really caring about England's national team to actively disliking it.

  • Speng on January 3, 2014, 14:19 GMT

    Perhaps a more fundamental issue, which is only alluded to, is why England have no bowling depth. After Swann there are no spinners and after Anderson and Broad the pace cupboard is pretty bare. As it is India can sit Yadav and Bhuv Kumar on the bench while England would happily play them at this point.

  • SDHM on January 3, 2014, 14:14 GMT

    Spot on. Maybe someone like Paul Downton, having been appointed from outside the cricketing fold as it were (I know he played for England, but hasn't been involved in the game for some time), will be able to spot things like this more easily. Or maybe he might not be able to spot them at all. Either way, it seems odd that England insist on doing it when virtually everyone, including the county coaches, can see and are telling them it isn't working.

  • on January 3, 2014, 13:33 GMT

    One of the Sky commentators made the comment about Chris Woakes during the Oval test match last summer that he looks "well coached". George declines to mention that Stuart Broad rightly refused to implement changes to his action recommended up at Loughborough as it felt all wrong. Kevin Shine and his team are obsessed with bio-mechanics and are ruining bowlers actions as they claim they help prevent injury. All bodies are different and they need to remember that.

  • Mitty2 on January 3, 2014, 13:31 GMT

    Really enjoying these articles, George, as they are very reflective and revealing, whilst also getting to the root of the problem. However, as is the nature of sport, just last Ashes series you did write an article condemning the Australian system and how we should try to emulate the English system. As an outsider, would like to know the reasoning behind trimming down the pace. Anderson, perhaps as compensation for his lack of swing, has bowled much faster than he did last ashes - hitting 140 km/h alot and staying in the high 130's - and both stokes and broad have been seen hitting over 140, although both can't keep it up over that mark. I'm not sure where it's all gone wrong for the Eng pacers - perhaps it hasn't, bad fielding, bad batting (no rest), the lack of a form/effective spinner and poor field placings have been very detrimental. Cook and Eng relied on Swann heavily, and i cant help but feel that the figures of broad and jimmy will decline without an adequate replacement.

  • Newlandsfaithful on January 3, 2014, 13:28 GMT

    Not only England. SA's Paul Adams was coached from being a erratic but significant wicket taker to being a bowler of no consequence.

  • on January 3, 2014, 13:27 GMT

    very thoughtfully compiled article. Indeed its ECB structure that needs to change its approach. Cricket is evolving and whether ECB likes it or not bowlers like Murli and Ajmal will come. Its time ECB learn to adapt to this change and give chance to bowlers with ability to bowl something different i.e. within the limits. For admission of Rankin over Finn, is not evident that theory of line and length doesn't works if you have no pace to back it up. If Siddle and Harris are providing control than Johnson is providing the fire power. England have two good line length bowler with Broad with more pace. Question is why English management is blind and what they have against Finn. The over all economy of English bowling today hardly proves their point.

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  • on January 3, 2014, 13:27 GMT

    very thoughtfully compiled article. Indeed its ECB structure that needs to change its approach. Cricket is evolving and whether ECB likes it or not bowlers like Murli and Ajmal will come. Its time ECB learn to adapt to this change and give chance to bowlers with ability to bowl something different i.e. within the limits. For admission of Rankin over Finn, is not evident that theory of line and length doesn't works if you have no pace to back it up. If Siddle and Harris are providing control than Johnson is providing the fire power. England have two good line length bowler with Broad with more pace. Question is why English management is blind and what they have against Finn. The over all economy of English bowling today hardly proves their point.

  • Newlandsfaithful on January 3, 2014, 13:28 GMT

    Not only England. SA's Paul Adams was coached from being a erratic but significant wicket taker to being a bowler of no consequence.

  • Mitty2 on January 3, 2014, 13:31 GMT

    Really enjoying these articles, George, as they are very reflective and revealing, whilst also getting to the root of the problem. However, as is the nature of sport, just last Ashes series you did write an article condemning the Australian system and how we should try to emulate the English system. As an outsider, would like to know the reasoning behind trimming down the pace. Anderson, perhaps as compensation for his lack of swing, has bowled much faster than he did last ashes - hitting 140 km/h alot and staying in the high 130's - and both stokes and broad have been seen hitting over 140, although both can't keep it up over that mark. I'm not sure where it's all gone wrong for the Eng pacers - perhaps it hasn't, bad fielding, bad batting (no rest), the lack of a form/effective spinner and poor field placings have been very detrimental. Cook and Eng relied on Swann heavily, and i cant help but feel that the figures of broad and jimmy will decline without an adequate replacement.

  • on January 3, 2014, 13:33 GMT

    One of the Sky commentators made the comment about Chris Woakes during the Oval test match last summer that he looks "well coached". George declines to mention that Stuart Broad rightly refused to implement changes to his action recommended up at Loughborough as it felt all wrong. Kevin Shine and his team are obsessed with bio-mechanics and are ruining bowlers actions as they claim they help prevent injury. All bodies are different and they need to remember that.

  • SDHM on January 3, 2014, 14:14 GMT

    Spot on. Maybe someone like Paul Downton, having been appointed from outside the cricketing fold as it were (I know he played for England, but hasn't been involved in the game for some time), will be able to spot things like this more easily. Or maybe he might not be able to spot them at all. Either way, it seems odd that England insist on doing it when virtually everyone, including the county coaches, can see and are telling them it isn't working.

  • Speng on January 3, 2014, 14:19 GMT

    Perhaps a more fundamental issue, which is only alluded to, is why England have no bowling depth. After Swann there are no spinners and after Anderson and Broad the pace cupboard is pretty bare. As it is India can sit Yadav and Bhuv Kumar on the bench while England would happily play them at this point.

  • Paul_Somerset on January 3, 2014, 14:44 GMT

    Have a horrible feeling that the teenage Jamie Overton is already adversely affected by exposure to this England set-up. The last 12 months have seen him go from bowling really fast balls with sometimes skid and sometimes fearsome bounce, but always with a wonderful acceleration to the crease, to an erratic and expensive bowler who has been banned for bowling beamers and is currently, inevitably, sidelined with injury.

    As a County cricket lover, I've gone from not really caring about England's national team to actively disliking it.

  • ZkAneela on January 3, 2014, 14:48 GMT

    England is too much defensive in their approach.They can't win even if they play 10 more tests with this approach.Not to forget johnson horror show as well.I hope England players get their sleep right.Johnson noightmares must be there.

  • on January 3, 2014, 15:14 GMT

    The Aussie system will always produce top class spinners, pacemen and attacking batsmen. The grade cricket is very tough and not too much cricket is played. The games that are played are very intense.

  • MianMoosa on January 3, 2014, 15:36 GMT

    In 1986-87 when England win the ashes series, then they have to wait for 18 years to regain the ashes, and the reason is during that 18 years they keep on persisting with that damned method of scientific approach, defensive, & when in 2005 they regain the ashes they got it with aggression, reverse swing, bouncers with over 90 mph, pace etc, but then again they go back to their old rubbish method & they succeed with it only b,coz the aussies were too weak, but this time all english approach, methods, tactics were blown away by fire power of Australians, only mitchell johnson proof to be enough for them in bowlers & even batsman play with flair & aggression, its not a rocket science to understand that on australian pitches u need pace & bounce, not line & length seam bowling