The Investec Ashes 2013 July 23, 2013

While England plan, Australia dream

England can be pragmatic robots but they have found a way to win; Australia are left holding out for miracles and heroes
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Any fan of science fiction will know that no matter how good and impenetrable the machines, robots or alien overlords, eventually the humans will find the weakness. Neo sees the matrix in code. Jeff Trent destroys Eros' spaceship with a fight in Plan 9 from Outer Space. In Mars Attacks, Richie Norris blows up alien heads with Slim Whitman's "Indian love call". And God gives us the common cold in The War of the Worlds to poison the aliens.

It is a familiar narrative about no matter how stupid, fat, lazy and useless we are, as long as we retain our human endeavour, band together and keep on fighting, we'll find a way.

Sport often gives the same sort of narrative.

No matter how perfect and robotic a team can be, flair and creativity will win. Detroit Pistons played hard, defensive, rough basketball, and won two straight NBA championships. Then Michael Jordan came in and defeated them with his floating-on-air, never-seen-before brilliance. But it took years before the Bulls were any good, and only after Phil Jackson teamed Michael Jordan with Scottie Pippen and a triangle offense.

Michael Jordan wasn't Luke Skywalker, he didn't use the force, or even have a background killing womp rats back home. The Bulls created a side, found an offensive plan, built some defence and used that to beat one of the toughest teams in basketball history.

It wasn't the emergence of a special sporting disciple; it was a team working as one.

***

England's batting plan is pretty simple. It's not all that different to parts of Moneyball, or even rope-a-dope. They went to make the opposition tired. They want the opposition's new ball bowlers to go into fourth and fifth spells. If that means that their batsmen play fewer shots than other top-orders around the world, that is ok. That is right. They will dull you, and then let their middle-order feed on the carcass.

Their bowling plans are more varied. They are not just a top-of-off-stump side. They have individual plans for each batsman. With Michael Clarke they want to be very full. With Shane Watson they are aiming at his front pad. With Chris Rogers they started trying to get him caught in the cordon, and ended with a slower ball at the stumps.

But when Ashton Agar came out to bat, England had few, if any, plans. He was a 19-year-old No. 11. They would have known that he could bat a bit. But they wouldn't have had hours of footage on him. They wouldn't have studied much analytical data. They wouldn't have even been able to talk to many players they trusted about how to bowl to him.

They started bowling to him like a young tailender. Then they bowled to him like a tailender who could bat a bit. Then they tried to bounce him. Then they lost their plot.

And it was only just before he got out that they cottoned on to the fact he would often play shots based on field movements. That you could play with his mind a bit by moving a fielder, telling him about it, and then he would often think about it as he faced the next ball.

By then, with a bit of luck from grainy crease footage, he had scored 98 and made England look like they didn't have a single thought between them that hadn't be pre-programmed earlier.

Agar might make runs again, but England know about him now. They will have plans. They will have data. If they're beaten by him again, it's because he's special, and not because he's unknown.

***

In the 2010-11 Ashes, England started off by using DRS like it was something to get rid of. They showed almost no knowledge of the system, how it can be best used to gain maximum effect and seemed confused as how to tame it. Australia used it randomly.

By the end of that series, England had worked it out. They'd improved. Australia had not.

In the Lord's Test, a flash behind from England was appealed like they knew they had taken the wicket. It was the sort of appeal that you can't back down from. They simply had to review it because of how certain they were.

But instead of rushing to a review, they talked about it. Everyone from first slip to the bowler seemed very positive that this was worth reviewing. Everyone, except Matt Prior, who had not appealed as much as everyone else. They talked about it, took emotion out of it, and Prior convinced them not to review. It was not out.

According to Brad Haddin, Australia go on feel for DRS. Just as they did at the start of the Ashes series three years ago.

***

When Alastair Cook first fielded in the slips, it seemed like it was a recurring in-joke perpetrated by the England management. Obviously, Andy Flower has never joked, so what they were really doing was trying to force Cook into becoming a slip fielder. It was, for a couple of years, like trying to force an entire rhinoceros into a Happy Meal container.

Cook's main job seemed to be stopping the ball from going to the rope. His hands refused to be soft. His reactions were always late. He looked anxious and ill at ease. But he was eager, and he refused to allow himself to be rubbish. Many times he would be out on the ground doing drills on his own. He almost forced himself through hard work and will to be a good slipper.

Australia's keeper and slip cordon is experienced, three men in their 30s. Haddin was brought back mostly for leadership, although there is no doubt he is also a better keeper than Matthew Wade. Clarke is an exceptional slip fielder. And Watson doesn't miss many catches that come at him. In this series the ball has sailed through them. Not through their hands, but through the gaps between them.

Root was one of those missed. He was on 8 at the time. He was still there at stumps the following day.

Cook took three catches on the final morning in Trent Bridge while dropping one, almost completely reversing how his slip catching used to be. And he won a Test by doing it.

***

Part of Darren Lehmann's strategy to improve Australia is to get the legends back on board. Before this Test, Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist and Shane Warne were hanging out with the boys, with Lehmann hoping their genius would rub off on his new team. Almost every time the West Indies struggle, a similar thing is mentioned. As if all Runako Morton or Daren Ganga ever needed was to share a rum with Viv Richards.

Australia do it often. They tend to feel more comfortable with famous friendly faces.

England don't seem to care as much about their legends. Their coach is a Zimbabwean. Their bowling attack is coached by a Shield cricket journeyman. Their spin by a Pakistani leggie. And their fielding coach is Richard Halsall, someone who could be sitting beside you while you're reading this piece and you'd never recognise him. Only in Graham Gooch, the batting coach, do they have a former England player in their set up.

Over the last couple of years Australia have employed Craig McDermott (former bowling coach) and Justin Langer (former batting and then assistant coach). It didn't help. Their current spin bowling coach and fielding coach is a former Australia keeper, Steve Rixon.

When your default position is picking former players of your own team, you're chasing a dream, an old feeling, a familiarity that you think will breed success. But that can't change the instant reality. Neither could bringing Lehmann in. The English coaches have spent months preparing for this. Lehmann hasn't. And special guest stars won't change that.

***

In Clarke and Cook, you have two players who were both obvious choices as captain when their predecessors stood down.

When Andrew Strauss retired, despite it being improbable that anyone other than Alastair Cook would get the top job, Stuart Broad, Ian Bell and Eoin Morgan were also interviewed.

Now this might have been a proper interview where the players brought in PowerPoint displays and had pie charts. Or it could have been just a casual sit down and talk. The ECB didn't say. But we know it made 100% sure before hiring Cook that they weren't sitting on some unknown captaincy gold that could have been better.

Ricky Ponting stepped down one night and the next day, without even applying for the job, Clarke was told he was captain of Australia. This is the second most important job in the country according to some, and yet he didn't need to talk, prove his worth, or even say he wanted it. It was just his.

***

For several years now, the Australia batting line up has had dramatic series-losing collapses. They've failed to score 100 a few times. They've failed to score an adequate amount more than a few times. They seem prone to go out to any ball that deviates off the straight, whether from spin or swing. This has been happening with three coaches, two captains, two chairmen of selectors, one high performance manager and one CEO.

In three 2013 Ashes innings they have had three collapses. All of them have meant giving up good positions - two were saved by great tail-end performances, one was not. In all their inconsistency over the last few years, their batting collapses have remained the constant.

England went to the UAE to play Pakistan as the No. 1 side. They struggled on the slow, low wickets. They tried to sweep. Their plan to dull the new ball and tire out the seam bowlers meant little on those pitches and they lost the series. In Sri Lanka, they lost the first Test: Rangana Herath and bad shots were the reason. But they won the next Test. And then they went to India and they beat India. In three series, they found a problem, they worked on a problem, they overcame a problem.

Three years ago, against Pakistan at Headingley, Australia were bowled out for 88 with a team that had Clarke, Watson and Steven Smith in it.

***

England do personality tests. They judge their players at all times. But when they select them, they don't bother with surprises. Sure, they might pick one bowler over another in a manner that might confuse you. But they don't pick two players from outside their squad. They don't drop a consistent performer who has taken nine wickets in his last Test because they want to throw a teenager in.

It's consistent, boring, English. When they selected Nick Compton it was against the grain. He was from outside the England set-up but they felt he had earned his chance. Then, after seeing a bit of him, they decided that although he was the sort of dour stayer they wanted, he was perhaps too dour, and not the perfect fit for their team. He failed the final part of their personality test. His county runs might never get him back.

Australia have now recalled Phillip Hughes three times. He has been dropped twice because of two separate technical problems the selectors believed he had. Steven Smith is on his second real chance, but his third if you count the fact that when he was first picked, it was as a bowler. Ashton Agar was picked on a hope and prayer. It worked once. It has not worked in his any of his bowling spells, or his three hits since.

It was Joe Root who replaced Nick Compton. England believe they know every single detail about Root from pretty much the second he was born. It was Root who repelled Australia's last chance not to be embarrassed at Lord's.

***

The appointment of Lehmann was seen as a masterstroke by ex-cricketers, cricket fans and the media.

Lehmann understands the ways of Australian cricket. He can bring people together. He has cricket in his blood. He will be bold. He will be different. He will make a difference.

There is no doubt this is a happier team than the one he took over, but what of the rest.

England are an experienced team with world-class players, a coach who took over as an interim and had his team bowled out for 51 but who two years later had them No. 1, and a support structure that does everything in its power to manage (and occasionally micro-manage) them to success.

Australia shocked England with random selection, persistent bowlers and team unity at Trent Bridge.

At Lord's, they had no more mystery, England tired out their bowlers and their team unity couldn't overcome their flaws.

They are relying on a sporting miracle to win from here.

At their worst, England can be pragmatic robots. But they have found a way to win. It isn't pretty but they know it works, especially against inferior opposition, and they refuse to try something different unless they run into something truly special.

For Australia to win a Test, they need a carnivorous seven-wicket haul from James Pattinson (and he is now out of the series so that is no longer an option) or a double-hundred from Clarke. They need Agar to discover he is Jim Laker. Or Shane Watson to dominate like he does in the IPL.

England just need to keep checking their boxes, playing as a unit, taking their chances, analysing their footage and staying focused.

"The coaches will not allow continuous errors. Their vigilance is necessary for perpetual success."

One is a plan. The other is a dream.

***

In V for Vendetta, Detective Finch is asked a question about how the inspired masses will go against the angry military force of the government. Finch says, "What usually happens when people without guns stand up to people with guns?" In the film, V saves the day, and the masses take back their country.

Right now, Australia are a team without a hero.

***

I should go out for a beer with the boys. But I really just want to sit in my room and do nothing. This is important, Boof is trying to bond us. I don't want Boof to think I'm not one. I'm just so tired.

"You comin' out tonight, mate."

"Yeah, I s'pose."

"What, have you got better things to do?"

"No, course not, I'll be down in five."

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • suman2 on July 24, 2013, 12:51 GMT

    Let us not over-analyse a simple game. Since I started following the game the basic ingredient in every champion cricket team (West Indies, briefly India and then Pakistan,Australia and to an extent South Africa/India) were great talents. Talents that need honing and refinement perhaps (James Anderson, Ponting) but talents nevertheless, and therefore a system should work to find the talents from the grassroots. Coaching can help talents when talented players exists. Australia seem to have less of them compared to England now and no amount of great coaching can give birth to a Shane Warne. Conversely, how much can Phil Hughes improve even with great system or coaching or hard work? There is exception to this rule, such as Steve Waugh but he is a rare psychological talent in his own inimitable way.

  • 2.14istherunrate on July 23, 2013, 19:48 GMT

    I thnk the differing attitudes to DRS sums it up. Haddin says the Aussies go on 'feel'. Hence the duff results. England go on rationality and logic. Hence the successful use of DRS. QED. Australia might just as well be buying Kashmir sweaters, not playing cricket. Obviously there is a place for intuition such as which bowling change to make. A captain makes a bowling change and the bowler takes a wicket first over, and he is hailed a genius. But it may have been loigic too to make the same change. But the main point about the differences overall between England and Australia is that England operate most of the time on logic and rationality. It works. Australia less so. Watson aims another of his expansive drives and gets rapped on the pad. Was it logic or just Watson trying to make an impression on the bowling. He can do that to lesser attacks. To Anderson and Broad etc it is less reliable. One should choose to view each ball on merit alone. Defensive shots have their uses.

  • KhanMitch on July 23, 2013, 18:21 GMT

    We can come back but need to show some believe in our young crop. Khawaja and Smith deserve to be persisted with because: (a) they're all young; (b) they've all shown at least something in recent matches; and (c) they all at least have something in them that shows they could be valuable players down the track (Khawaja looks a million dollars when on song and looks like our future number 3 and a solid test prospect, particularly against pace, Hughes has been shaky but is a run scorer while even Smith looks a good option on the many turning tracks we're going to have to deal with overseas in coming years, bowls occasionally and fields very well). Warner is in the same boat as these guys so should probably be brought back once his head is right and he's regained some form -- probably for the Duke-specialist Rogers in time for the Australian Ashes series (I have no issue with him opening the batting on Australian pitches).

  • on July 25, 2013, 10:05 GMT

    I don't suppose Boof is big on evidence-based selection (though maybe I'm wrong). But Hughes has a consistent average of 27, if you exclude his first two Tests. This cannot continue. Cowan is not by any means a great player, but his record is half a class better than that. To drop him after a match that he spent vomiting between innings seems irrational, having picked him in the first place. Warner having clicked in South Africa, this modestly successful opening partnership should be re-assembled. Watson should drop to number six, or out of the side. Rogers looks too old and slow, and should go. Lyon did well enough until he was dropped in India, and should return in place of Agar, who is unfit anyway.

  • nervousnineties on July 25, 2013, 7:36 GMT

    Aus Top 6?

    Cowan, Warner, Khawaja, Marsh, Clarke, Watson.

    By the way I know Quiney is injured and he didn't shine against South Africa in Tests but surely he's worth giving another chance.

  • kjambur on July 25, 2013, 6:53 GMT

    The Australian team wants DRS to be replaced by Ricky Ponting as an umpire for the remainder of the series. Apparently the Aussies are referring to Ponting's excellent eye-sight and judgement skills he displayed during the 2008 Sydney test versus India.

  • on July 25, 2013, 0:50 GMT

    bring shuan marsh and callum ferguson back

  • aarpee2 on July 24, 2013, 16:35 GMT

    Time for an objective analysis of team Australia. The bowlers restricted England in 3 of the 4 innings. They also went on to add value with contribution with the bat Unless the top 5 in the batting get their act right by posting century partnerships England will win the series with no major threats-all things being equal,the bat of the Aussies better start talking or it will be lop-sided contest.

  • JimDavis on July 24, 2013, 15:33 GMT

    Hey Jarrod - Is Glen Maxwell still the answer?

  • on July 24, 2013, 10:44 GMT

    I am not sure whether Lehman needs a hero here. But what he needs is to understand the psychographics of each and every player before the next test. The easiest thing is to find fault with the boys and the difficult thing is to understand them. You do not have to impose on the Aussie players and instead understand the player SWOT and work the team SWOT. Then you need to do each match SWOT. Then the strategic approach and the tactical ploys will emerge. The best thing for Aussies under the circumstances is to forget the two tests, particular the second one and live in present moment and not even future. Of course easily said than done, but that is the only way forward for the team Australia

  • suman2 on July 24, 2013, 12:51 GMT

    Let us not over-analyse a simple game. Since I started following the game the basic ingredient in every champion cricket team (West Indies, briefly India and then Pakistan,Australia and to an extent South Africa/India) were great talents. Talents that need honing and refinement perhaps (James Anderson, Ponting) but talents nevertheless, and therefore a system should work to find the talents from the grassroots. Coaching can help talents when talented players exists. Australia seem to have less of them compared to England now and no amount of great coaching can give birth to a Shane Warne. Conversely, how much can Phil Hughes improve even with great system or coaching or hard work? There is exception to this rule, such as Steve Waugh but he is a rare psychological talent in his own inimitable way.

  • 2.14istherunrate on July 23, 2013, 19:48 GMT

    I thnk the differing attitudes to DRS sums it up. Haddin says the Aussies go on 'feel'. Hence the duff results. England go on rationality and logic. Hence the successful use of DRS. QED. Australia might just as well be buying Kashmir sweaters, not playing cricket. Obviously there is a place for intuition such as which bowling change to make. A captain makes a bowling change and the bowler takes a wicket first over, and he is hailed a genius. But it may have been loigic too to make the same change. But the main point about the differences overall between England and Australia is that England operate most of the time on logic and rationality. It works. Australia less so. Watson aims another of his expansive drives and gets rapped on the pad. Was it logic or just Watson trying to make an impression on the bowling. He can do that to lesser attacks. To Anderson and Broad etc it is less reliable. One should choose to view each ball on merit alone. Defensive shots have their uses.

  • KhanMitch on July 23, 2013, 18:21 GMT

    We can come back but need to show some believe in our young crop. Khawaja and Smith deserve to be persisted with because: (a) they're all young; (b) they've all shown at least something in recent matches; and (c) they all at least have something in them that shows they could be valuable players down the track (Khawaja looks a million dollars when on song and looks like our future number 3 and a solid test prospect, particularly against pace, Hughes has been shaky but is a run scorer while even Smith looks a good option on the many turning tracks we're going to have to deal with overseas in coming years, bowls occasionally and fields very well). Warner is in the same boat as these guys so should probably be brought back once his head is right and he's regained some form -- probably for the Duke-specialist Rogers in time for the Australian Ashes series (I have no issue with him opening the batting on Australian pitches).

  • on July 25, 2013, 10:05 GMT

    I don't suppose Boof is big on evidence-based selection (though maybe I'm wrong). But Hughes has a consistent average of 27, if you exclude his first two Tests. This cannot continue. Cowan is not by any means a great player, but his record is half a class better than that. To drop him after a match that he spent vomiting between innings seems irrational, having picked him in the first place. Warner having clicked in South Africa, this modestly successful opening partnership should be re-assembled. Watson should drop to number six, or out of the side. Rogers looks too old and slow, and should go. Lyon did well enough until he was dropped in India, and should return in place of Agar, who is unfit anyway.

  • nervousnineties on July 25, 2013, 7:36 GMT

    Aus Top 6?

    Cowan, Warner, Khawaja, Marsh, Clarke, Watson.

    By the way I know Quiney is injured and he didn't shine against South Africa in Tests but surely he's worth giving another chance.

  • kjambur on July 25, 2013, 6:53 GMT

    The Australian team wants DRS to be replaced by Ricky Ponting as an umpire for the remainder of the series. Apparently the Aussies are referring to Ponting's excellent eye-sight and judgement skills he displayed during the 2008 Sydney test versus India.

  • on July 25, 2013, 0:50 GMT

    bring shuan marsh and callum ferguson back

  • aarpee2 on July 24, 2013, 16:35 GMT

    Time for an objective analysis of team Australia. The bowlers restricted England in 3 of the 4 innings. They also went on to add value with contribution with the bat Unless the top 5 in the batting get their act right by posting century partnerships England will win the series with no major threats-all things being equal,the bat of the Aussies better start talking or it will be lop-sided contest.

  • JimDavis on July 24, 2013, 15:33 GMT

    Hey Jarrod - Is Glen Maxwell still the answer?

  • on July 24, 2013, 10:44 GMT

    I am not sure whether Lehman needs a hero here. But what he needs is to understand the psychographics of each and every player before the next test. The easiest thing is to find fault with the boys and the difficult thing is to understand them. You do not have to impose on the Aussie players and instead understand the player SWOT and work the team SWOT. Then you need to do each match SWOT. Then the strategic approach and the tactical ploys will emerge. The best thing for Aussies under the circumstances is to forget the two tests, particular the second one and live in present moment and not even future. Of course easily said than done, but that is the only way forward for the team Australia

  • cozens on July 24, 2013, 10:18 GMT

    Its a similar situation to England in the 90's. We tried to drag in the likes of Botham to 'chat' to the players and inspire them. Trouble being the players are (were) rubbish, so no amount of chatting to a legend of the game will work. Lehman should focus on kicking his batsmen up the backside, rather than dragging in yesterdays heroes.

  • on July 24, 2013, 9:33 GMT

    An excellent breakdown of proceedings. The one thing that stands out in this account is - the constants "one high performance manager and one CEO." - With all the inconsistency going on these two. Sutherland and Howard have been the constant. Why have their positions not been called into review? Would be Australia's wisest use of a review system right there. Love your work Mr. Kimber

  • jackiethepen on July 24, 2013, 9:25 GMT

    You are wrong about Cook being interviewed for the captaincy of the Test side. He wasn't. He was moved up from Test Vice Captain. He was interviewed for the captaincy of the ODI side which was contentious at the time because he wasn't even selected for the ODI squad. Bell and Broad were interviewed as well to give it credibility. It was an outrageous move by Flower who was determined to get Cook into the ODI side. Fortunately it paid off but Cook has never been a good captain of any side. He's a terrific run machine but captaincy is not his strong suit. He continues to make real errors. Kimber finds England boring because he's a fan of t20 type batting. This is the very error that is leading the Australian side astray. They don't know how to play Test cricket. Kimber doesn't know how to watch Test cricket. Bell is a great batsmen to watch if you have an eye for grace and elegance. Kimber prefers whacks over the boundary. Each to his own.

  • liz1558 on July 24, 2013, 9:01 GMT

    I'm confused Jarrod; are England the ghastly robot that everyone despises or the more dynamic human being who defeats the system with flair and creativity? It's a perfectly valid Australian view of English success, and has been for a long time. Richie Benaud, when commenting on the success of the 60/61 series against WI, remarked that he and his team wanted to restore excitement to the game after a fairly turgid last 10 years. Those previous 10 years had been dominated by a great England side. In the same way, the Aussie Rugby supremo, on the eve of the 1995 World Cup in SA, implored Michael Lynagh, 'if you don't win it, then please make sure that England don't'. A robotic England of the rolling maul. Either way, Aussie cricketing success during the 90s and noughites was far more robotic than creative. Perfect plans for every batsman, a metronomiic medium pacer, ruthless efficiency; a far cry from the days of Lillee and Thommo - forces of nature, larrikins, fair dinkum Aussie blokes.

  • thebrotherswaugh on July 24, 2013, 9:00 GMT

    First & foremost, there are no quick fixes for the OZ side. They must persist with the players they've selected. 6 of the top 7 batsmen have all scored a '50' in the series thus far, but nobody has went on. This proves they have some ability, even if they are not in the same class as their opposition. Clarke's record is as good as any of his opponents, that's a fact. He must lead from the front with the bat, and batting at #4 is a start. Anderson and Swann are very good, but they aren't in the same league as a McGrath, Warne, or Steyn (yes, he is that good, may be the best of all time by the end of his career), so they can be overcome by decent batsmen. All I want to see from OZ is that they bat for at least 140 overs in the 1st innings and score 280+, and for at least 100 overs in the 2nd innings (200+ runs). We may be beaten, but at least we'll make them work for it, and time becomes an issue, so we might be able to hang on for some draws. Show some pride and fight!

  • TATTUs on July 24, 2013, 8:56 GMT

    Now that England are winning everything they are doing will be systematic but boring while when Australia was winning all that they did was 'Australian way' and true hard cricket while the English were 'too English' and 'boring'.

  • 64blip on July 24, 2013, 8:55 GMT

    Please stop all these claims of doctored pitches to take advantage of Australia's 'weakness' against spin and aid our world-class spinner. We've just had a heatwave, which in this country is always unexpected! No doubt if we'd had a wet spring and early summer, like last year, there'd be accusations of preparing green-tops to exploit Australia's 'weakness' against the swinging ball and aid our world-class swing-bowler. I've put weakness in inverted commas because they don't seem too clever with balls that seam or go straight on either.

  • sando31 on July 24, 2013, 8:48 GMT

    I know it sounds like wishful thinking, and it may well be but the fact of the matter is that the English batsmen -with the exception of Bell and most recently Root-have struggled against good bowling from a good Aussie bowling line-up, mainly from Siddle and now Harris which should have included Lyon from the start. If only we could string together meaningful partnerships we could easily contest England for the remainder of the series. Personally, I think our only batting hopes are Khawaja, Rogers, Clarke and Haddin

  • CricketPlayer1 on July 24, 2013, 7:38 GMT

    @spindizzy are you suggesting some sort of umpiring conspiracy? Surely the appointment of neutral umpires means that all the umpires in England games are 'non-English'? By virtue of the elite panal England get the same 8 umpires doing most of thier games (the same four in the case of the 2 ashes series). I think talking of an investigation is ridiculous, most of the umpiring errors that wind people up (broad, a couple of caught behinds and bells gully 'drop' etc) have been made such howlers by poor application of the DRS by the third umpire or by the onfield umpires referring a decision to the 3rd umpire when everyone would prefer them to make thier own decision. Until the 3rd umpire has his own tv feed (not one from the tv network) and access to sniko mistakes will still be made

  • srriaj317 on July 24, 2013, 7:37 GMT

    While it is true that England's meticulous, dull and robotic planning has helped them learn and succeed a lot over the last few years, as a sports fan, it is horrible to see such a team play. I find it exciting when underdogs fight with their talent and scrap a win - that's what the fun in sports is about. Not ticking boxes everyday and collecting trophies on your shelf and go "Trophy? Tick. Fun? Time for next box to tick."

  • heathrf1974 on July 24, 2013, 7:34 GMT

    If you were so insightful Jarrod why wasn't this article published before the series began?

  • DylanBrah on July 24, 2013, 7:28 GMT

    The top 6 need to bat with some pride; I hope they took offence to Border's comments.

  • SettingSun on July 24, 2013, 7:07 GMT

    What an absolutely tremendous article. Great stuff, Jarrod.

  • PFEL on July 24, 2013, 7:06 GMT

    @spindizzy, one of the main reasons umpiring standards have been poor in England, and this series in particular, is because of the rule that umpires must be neutral. 8 out of the best 12 umpires in the world currently are either English or Australian, and not allowed to officiate in these matches, as such we are left with the best of the rest which has proven very ordinary.

  • on July 24, 2013, 6:42 GMT

    The way Aussie are losing in current Ashes, 4 day test matches are not a bad idea, we can save lot of money :-)

  • on July 24, 2013, 6:38 GMT

    This is a really dumb piece . Its easy to claim success for all sorts of chance happenings. Take Joe Root. If Haddin had done what he would have done 9 times out of ten England would have been 30 for 4. Australia did many things right - holding back Smith, picking Rogers, bringing in Harris in at the right time. England are a really boring side and only the author can make a virtue out of drudgery. England is good not great , australia is mediocre not pathetic. I think it is easy to look at success and look for patterns where none exist. Note that Cook, Trott and KP have done very little so far . Thankfully Bell has done well whereas Prior is nowhere near successful as he was. Australia"s batting weaknesses have been hidden by Clarke's huge scores last year. They have good bowlers and if some of their batsmen start scoring it may be interesting. But this eulogy of England is pathetic. A team that has to make wickets that suits Swann and reverse can hardly be better than Pakistan!

  • OneEyedAussie on July 24, 2013, 5:57 GMT

    I don't think things are bad as what is being made out by various cricket writers. England have homeground advantage. They know Australia don't have a wicket taking spinner and so have prepared drier pitches - they did the reverse in 2005. Cook has so far won both tosses, which has given his team a large advantage in both games. And so far, Australia have gotten the balance of some pretty rotten umpiring decisions.

    I still think England are a better team and statistically should score 50 more runs than Australia in each innings - but the results so far in this series are exaggerated slightly by Australia's ill-fortune.

  • muzika_tchaikovskogo on July 24, 2013, 5:42 GMT

    Talk of role reversals. This is so reminiscent of the articles English writers used to write while comparing their team with Australia a generation ago. Its simple really: the Australians are just not as good as their predecessors and England are massive improvement over their counterparts from a decade ago. No system/ coach can create a Warne/ Ponting. Players like them just happen.

  • AidanFX on July 24, 2013, 4:33 GMT

    Looking to the next series I hope Cummings is in alongside Mitch Marsh as the allrounder. He is a serious talent. He is a good bowler since we don't know if watson will bowl anymore each match. The talent is there.

  • Chris_Howard on July 24, 2013, 4:25 GMT

    Australia has a plan: Pin your hope on what worked in the past! Clarke to 5; Watson to open; and get Aussie coach

    Now you hear folks calling for Katich, Hussey, S Marsh etc.

    Replicating the past is no guarantee of success in the present. That is just dreaming.

    Stop dreaming tho and start looking at reality.

    e.g. I heard someone even say recently Watson is our best batsman! Many others say he's our second best. Wake up!

    Watson is dismissed 48% of the time, missing the ball!!! (LBW, bowled, stumped).

    To put that in perspective, Ponting, 34%; Taylor, 36%; Hayden, 28%; Slater, 35%; and Freddie Flintoff, the man who inspired CA's obsession with Watson, was out missing the ball only 29% of the time.

    These numbers show in Watson both poor technique and a lack of concentration. No wonder he can't play the big innings.

    Plonking your foot down the pitch is a classic tailender's technique.

    Play Watson as an all rounder at 6 and then averaging 35 is valuable (it's better than Flintoff)

  • spindizzy on July 24, 2013, 3:31 GMT

    Why no mention of the appalling umpiring so far?

    The third force in the games need far more scrutiny than they've received. Why are umpiring standards in England always lower and why does this never get addressed?

    And I don't just mean in the Ashes, it's been in every recent tour of England - so why no investigation?

  • dutchy on July 24, 2013, 2:56 GMT

    At last - a cricket article that refers to an Ed Wood movie!

  • on July 24, 2013, 2:02 GMT

    Australia will surprise England and win the ashes downunder in Australian soil. Australia have got some good batsmen in domestic cricket. alex doolan, shaun marsh and david warner will replace cowan, hughes and smith. I also expect fawad ahmed to make a difference as a spinner. chadd sayers and pat cummins will also destroy England.

  • Angry_of_Wembley on July 24, 2013, 1:20 GMT

    A thoughtful piece, in some ways, but I think a poor one - based on misguided notion of having an outcome and then retrofitting an argument to support it. If Haddin's feather edge in the 2nd dig at Nottingham had not occurred, you can turn about 80% of this article on its head. Intuition? Great. Dourness? Cost the Poms the match. The pitch - Swann barely turned it. Coaching? They couldn't figure Sleep out. And Siddle? They had no idea, despite his lengthy record and known attributes. No homework there. It just missed working out that way, of course, but one can only credibly argue everything is pre-ordained when wriiting ahead of time. 20/20, hindsight, etc. Fact is, the batting is not good enough. Two or three batsmen are repeat "tried and failed" types - Hughes the most notable. Watson too. But is this due to superior planning and better quality FC cricket? Then, someone answer this: how come Hughes dominates at County level? Even hindsight won't solve that one. AoW

  • on July 24, 2013, 1:09 GMT

    Australia seem all over the place. First Michael Clarke makes a big deal about going up to #3. For one innings, then if I recall correctly in the second innings he again dropped back to #4 right away, now he's been at #4 again this tour, then after one test, boom he's back at #5. Lehman says it's because that's where he likes to bat. So why are they moving him around?

    Phil Hughes doesn't know where he's supposed to be batting. He's a career opener, was batting at #3 against Sri Lanka and South Africa, then had his best innings yet at #6, immediately shuttled up the order this time to #4.

    I figured Watson would either be opening or dropped. Again, it seems that's just where he wants to bat right? Averages 45 there sounds good right? So Cowan is made #3, again though, just for one match. Where is the long term planning?

    I suspect Cowan will come back in to team with Rogers now though. So either Watson axed or moved down the order, but either way it's just more instability.

  • wrenx on July 24, 2013, 1:04 GMT

    If batting is Australia's weakness, shouldn't England be "turning the screws" by picking 5 bowlers? Where's the need to have another batsman to plod along and accumulate tooth-achingly slow runs. If Pietersen's injured, drop him and move Prior up - the keeper's not had a good series so far, but he's got the talent to turn it around. They can then bring in a fifth bowler, like Onions, to keep the pressure up. Surely that would be the way to press for the whitewash, no?

  • landl47 on July 24, 2013, 1:03 GMT

    This is one of the most insightful and enjoyable to read articles I have seen on Cricinfo. It highlights exactly the difference between this Australian side and the current England set-up.

    Obviously not everything is planning and implementation- the talent has to be there to start with- but making the most of the talent you have is a key factor in test cricket. Correctly identifying problems is also a key component and one of the failures of this Australian side has been its inability to see what the real problems are.

    Thanks, Jarrod; and if the Australian team management has any sense it will print this article and put it on the wall for constant reference.

  • Happy_hamster on July 23, 2013, 23:44 GMT

    We won the last test with suprising ease and would have won the first in similar fashion but for a couple of last wicket stands HOWEVER we have not won the series. I think Clarke is more of an unorthadox captain then AC but that is often out of neccessity. As much as i revelled in the one sided 2nd test I was left with a bit of a feeling of anti-climax and hope for more of an even contest in the rest of the series, lets see if Aussie winning the toss makes any difference. Australia will be back they just need a revmp of the domestic set up and prioritising if it is about making money (T20 or meaningless ODI series like the one sandwiched in between the 2 Ashes) or getting back to being a force in test cricket.

  • becham100 on July 23, 2013, 23:23 GMT

    The point that the English coaches had months to prepare for the series while Lehman had no clue he was going to be the coach makes a lot of sense to me.

    Also, most of the Australian batsmen are not up to the mark to be playing international cricket. What exactly has Watson done to deserve a permanent place in the team? Is Smith really a long term prospect for the test side? Wasn't Hughes exposed horribly in India against spin? If the aussies are hoping to win with this team then yes....they do need a miracle.

  • Swampy5 on July 23, 2013, 22:45 GMT

    Many points in the article are valid, especially about some of Australia's shortcomings, but overall it's a little over the top. England are a fine team, but not that well-oiled a machine as Jarrod makes out. Whatever meticulous planning they had came to nothing against South Africa last year, and they were lucky to not lose the series in NZ this year. No question they are well ahead of Australia at the moment, but it's just a case of a good team dominating a weak team - or more specifically, a weak batting line-up.

  • Cpt.Meanster on July 23, 2013, 22:18 GMT

    I think England are at the top of the cycle now. It will end one day and another team will come to the top. The WI and Australian teams of the past went through similar cycles. SA could argue that they currently share the cycle with England as the best test match playing team. This is where England's fans need to show class and be careful as to not overdo their feelings of superiority. Their team is very good at the moment because of good players in the test format. It will all surely come to an end one day and it will be back to the old days for England as Australia are currently experiencing. This is the unwritten cycle of test cricket and every team will endure it.

  • SirViv1973 on July 23, 2013, 22:09 GMT

    @Scottstevo, I can't believe you insist on having a pop at Eng every time you post a comment. The facts are that right now Eng are a better side than Aus, any sensible cricket fan can see that. Noone is saying this a great Eng team but it is a good one. Clearly there are massive issues with Aus at the moment you have lost 6 tests on the bounce & of the 6 only TB was close. Following what happened in Ind there was perhaps a sense of denial from some Aus fans & CA that there was even a problem, but I think most are no coming round to the fact that there are major issues, particularly with the batting. You still seem to think everything is ok & that somehow Aus are going to turn the series round & even if they don't you will win in oz. Anything is possible in sport but if your looking at things realistically there is more pain ahead for Aus especially given that once the back 2 back ashes series is completed Aus have to go to SAF & play Pak in UAE.

  • Rabies on July 23, 2013, 22:08 GMT

    Flower has done a great job of building on what Fletcher started- planning meticulously and then executing with players capable of doing the job. I hate to say this- but if Flower was the Oz coach I doubt he would get the same outcome- simply because Oz players are not good enough at executing even the most basic plan in test cricket- not throwing your wicket away. That said, there are other well managed teams around- SA is the case in point- don't tell me England did not plan to beat them last summer, and they still were on the wrong end of a pasting, and there's the rub, there are quite simply better test players in the Proteas now than anywhere else- a probable world 11 would not be far off Cook (Pujara), Smith (capt) Amla, Sangakarra (Shiv), Kallis, De Villiers, Prior, Herath (Ajmal), Morkel (Anderson?) Philander and Steyn- so, at best, 3 English players, and no Aussies. One final thought- Oz are currently ranked 4th- but would probably lose to WI and SL- making them probably 6th

  • RohanMarkJay on July 23, 2013, 21:53 GMT

    Terrific Article Jarrod. Loved reading it.

  • Malx on July 23, 2013, 21:39 GMT

    Who cares bout Lehmann, he doesn't bowl or bat?? It's the players who win matches NOT these so called coaches. Too much media hype is made about these coaches, they're NOT Alex Ferguson !! Australia doesn't have any fight in their team, something is wrong within ?? They don't like Clarke !

  • tamperbay on July 23, 2013, 20:55 GMT

    Love this article. Jarrod has it spot on and added some poetic flair to garnish it. England employ a number cruncher in their set-up. His actual nickname is "numbers". Much like in Moneyball, he does all the analysis to work out the best tactics to get the desired result in every situation. This is just part of the systematic and rational approach England have to their test cricket. And it works. 1% advantage here, 1% there, and soon enough you have a 10% advantage which is enough to win games by big margins. Did you notice the guy on the changeroom balcony giving signals to help the guys with the referrals? Its a dozen things like this that give them the edge. The substitue fielders are on the field almost permanently to help rest the bowlers. Gooch reinforces to the players every day that it doesn't matter that they are 0 of 50 balls - just wait for the bad ball, the one that goes slightly down leg side, and tickle it around the corner. Do that all day and you won't lose.

  • 64blip on July 23, 2013, 20:52 GMT

    Interesting narrative. I'm not sold on the preparation through management thread. Did Warne, McGrath, Ponting etc. have such micro-management? No. Would they have sorted out how best to use DRS? Yes. Did they have plans for batsmen? Yes. This Aussie team just aren't very good. Why? Because the individual members aren't very good (international) cricketers. I'm not saying attention to detail isn't important, it is. Simply, it is what good cricketers do, and discuss, without being told to. @ScottStevo No-one will be choking on anything. England aren't a great side, but don't need to be to beat this rabble. Maybe it will be closer back in Aus. Maybe.

  • on July 23, 2013, 20:27 GMT

    this article is highlighting professionalism. The time has come for being fully prepared on everything, the attitude to DRS highlights this to a tee. For all John Buchanan lacked instinct he did have a knack for picking a part the playing conditions to whatever advantage can be found, they would not have been this inept in his reign on something that is clearly manageable. England have paid more attention to detail and it is paying off! This is something the coach can instill, Australia might not win, but they will be more competative

  • trav29 on July 23, 2013, 20:16 GMT

    @scottstevo you are missing the point , as usual. no-one is saying that England are a great team, this article is saying that you need to work with the talent you have and put in place structures to support that and try to get the best out of the talent you have.

    England are 2-0 up without our three best batsmen really doing much yet.

    you keep banging on about how close you were to winning the first test, that was due to 40% of your runs being scored by the 2 last wicket partnerships, something that was fairly improbable and ended up making the final score make you look a lot better than you deserved.

    you say you didn't play well in the second test, well neither did we really, we lost our first 3 wickets in both innings for under 30 runs but still managed to score ~350 in both innings.

    keep telling yourself everything is ok however.

  • SidsIPLTeam on July 23, 2013, 20:02 GMT

    England have spotted Australia's evident weakness against spin in India & have prepared very similar tracks with a high quality bowling option like Swann in their attack. Australian batsmen, more often than not, have either been trying to be too aggressive early on (Watson,Smith), or have gone into a shell thinking its only about survival (Hughes,Cowan), leading to their dismissals. However, honestly, due to inadequacies in their techniques against the turning ball in dry conditions, they might be better advised to try and look for scoring opportunities all the time instead of just trying to bat time and then get out. And hopefully they might be able to put the English spinners off their length. There is no point in discussing how Australia got to this situation. They've just got to believe that if they have come so far they must be good enough players & just think smart and make better choices. And who knows there might still be a little bit left in the series against all odds.

  • paraloid on July 23, 2013, 20:01 GMT

    @crindo77 - You ask "The q is, the Ashes is HUGE for England; do Oz see it the same way?" Well, there is an anecdote recorded a million times on the web (here from Malcolm Knox in The Age): "In 1984, Ian Chappell's first advice to new captain Allan Border was, ''Whatever else you do, don't lose to the Poms!'' Ashes cricket was, is and will be the benchmark of an Australian captain's success." THE enemy is England, for cultural, historical, and many other reasons, but mainly because Australia (we feel) just shoudn't be beaten by the Poms - it is against the natural order of things. Though must admit I have no clear ideas about how the world can be put the right way up again.

  • KishoreSharma on July 23, 2013, 19:57 GMT

    This article is a little too negative. Having Craig McDermott as bowling did immensely help the Australian bowlers, while he was there. Also, we should not compare Australia with West Indies. The state of grass roots cricket is stronger in Australia - the changes really need to come at the top in terms of getting rid of the Big Bash league and reempowering the Sheffield Shield. I think that making a sweeping change of the Board, inclydung hodling James Sutherland and his acolytes accountable for the money-making focus at the expense of Australian cricket, would also be necessary.

  • ScottStevo on July 23, 2013, 19:21 GMT

    All I hear at the moment on cricinfo from these authors is, "we've been on the end of it for so long, let's tell everyone just how bad Australia are and how great England is". It's borne from a pain of being totally dominated for 20 years. I can see why they're like that, the English are an arrogant mob that usually get much louder once things start going in their favour. Nonetheless, I get the feeling that this English cricket side is nowhere near the talent they "dream" it is. We almost won the first test and we had one of our worst matches I've seen in the last. I know one thing, if we do manage to beat them in the next test, a whole host of choking will be going on as these big talkers eat their words. I hope we realise that this English side are ranked 3, and for good reason, they've had very indifferent results-those which indicate that they are an average team - and they can be beaten, easily too, as SA showed when they walked on them..

  • crindo77 on July 23, 2013, 18:42 GMT

    Everytime one of the big 4, England, Australia, India and SA lose a big series or competition, be it, Ashes, Tests or WC, writers come up with these articles that read like a cross between Catcher in the Rye and Freakonomics. What most people are studiously refusing to acknowledge ( deliberately? ) is that the world has moved on. Some see Test cricket as the way to sustain cricketing fortunes, financially included. England. ODIs and T20, India. Some are caught in between and are getting flogged. Australia. The q is, the Ashes is HUGE for England; do Oz see it the same way? If they don't , Ashes victories will amount to zilch. Same sort of glee at besting Bangladesh or Ireland. Ironically, for their own sake, England should pray for Australia to take Test cricket seriously, for signs are, already seems like they're looking elsewhere. Can't blame them. Investing in cricket for 4 and 5 days in this day and age has to be a conscious decision, not taken for granted.

  • whatawicket on July 23, 2013, 18:40 GMT

    from earlier

    i thought when they went to India they could come away with a result, especially as England had come away with a win. even though winning the toss each test which in India is a great advantage, but they were well beaten. its early days yet but i was thinking similar in the ashes 1 - 1 with 3 draws was my bet. but at 2 - 0 down they have a lot to do to get back into the series. today's news have not helped as Pattinson was the better of their bowlers over the 2 tests, of those who played, much to do over the next month if what many are thinking 5 - 0. what most English supporters are wondering can they win again in oz making it 2 away ashes victories.now that would be good

  • ali14pakistani on July 23, 2013, 18:21 GMT

    Somebody is in for a fall, no two guesses!!!

  • whatawicket on July 23, 2013, 18:19 GMT

    i have just listened on cricinfo to a 4 man google+ with 2 of them been Dan Brettig and Jarrod Kimber, as a pom we get Aussie supporters on here always blowing their side and some even thinking they are a better team than England and we only have 1 good bowler. but to hear these 2 and the worry they have about their game was a bit of an eye opener. as a frequent visitor to oz up to the end of last decade and watching a fair bit of state cricket. i wonder were did it all go so wrong. the game always looked strong and even after the last ashes in oz, ian chappell was quite scathing. but then not long after a plethora of fast bowlers arrived which gave supporters confidence that they had turned the corner but with them coming also showed batting was an even bigger problem. to continue

  • Shan156 on July 23, 2013, 18:16 GMT

    For 75 years, Australia were undefeated at Lord's. That spell was broken in 2009 but now it looks like Eng. will make it their own fortress. Now, if only we could beat SA...

  • on July 23, 2013, 17:50 GMT

    Jarrod makes some excellent points, as usual. I do believe that the clinching factor is England being better prepared than the Aussies rather than a huge difference between the sides skill-wise. England aren't really a "great" side and they don't have very many great players either; but they do play the percentages better than most sides. The fact that this England sides decimated the Indians in their own backyard with a young side and few, if any, legends of the game is a testimony to their better preparation and ability to grasp the opportunities. If they do come up against truly great sides like South Africa in 2012, they will struggle but under Flower's tutelage they ensure that it is never easy to beat them.

  • Tlotoxl on July 23, 2013, 17:49 GMT

    Brilliant article.

    I never, ever bet but even I have been tempted to go for 5-0, 5-0 and that is a shame, Aus have 1 good batsman, a few good bowlers that are nowhere near consistent enough and prone to injury, and they can't beat a significantly below par England team - If England start playing to their potential it really could be a horror show for the Aussies.

  • blink182alex on July 23, 2013, 17:47 GMT

    I will make one correction, Craig McDermott did drastically help Australia's bowlers. Look back to the 2010-11 Ashes, only at Perth did we look like taking 20 wickets, since then when McDermott came in Siddle has become a world class bowler and the likes of Pattinson, Starc and Hilfenhaus all blossomed in test cricket. He did an excellent job as bowling coach in all lot of people's opinions.

  • Amith_S on July 23, 2013, 17:46 GMT

    We don't need to dream, we have the batsman to have a solid batting unit. Khawaja showed his class in lords in the second innings and with a solid go at 3 he can be our next number 3 and a good test batsman. I also have seen improvement in Smith and would give him a chance and outside Burns and Maddinson are talents in waiting. Our batting stocks are good but we need to show faith in our young batsman.

  • trav29 on July 23, 2013, 17:42 GMT

    biggest difference I think between the two is England recognised it wasn't going to be an overnight fix, they put the structure in place and stuck to a policy of identifying players early and in the main sticking to them even during poor spells. look at cook in 2010 , his spot was in serious jeopardy in the lead up to the away ashes but they knew they had invested time in him, knew he had the ability so stuck with him and it paid off. not saying its all been success stories but by and large the policy has been good.

    Australia over the last couple of years look like they have constantly been searching for a miracle cure, try a player for a couple of games, if he doesn't shine immediately drop him and move on to the next guy. its basically like they are having a hard time admitting they are not the dominant team anymore and want to take short cuts to get back there rather than the hard work that's needed.

  • Andross on July 23, 2013, 17:03 GMT

    Firstly, congratulations on a very entertaining and concisely brilliant article, I like the points you made about both teams. However, I do feel that you left out, or perhaps didn't emphasise, a rather important consideration, which is that in the constant shuffling of the team and the positions & the effect that it has had on the team. Australia on paper are not a bad team, & many of the players have scored well recently in shield & tests, yet they don't seem to have the confidence to bat well. Lets face it, even in their brilliance, Australia had a proclivity for upper and middle order collapses, but always, there would be the saving partnership or innings that would get them back on their feet. For what ever reason, Australia's batsman can't do that now, and anyone who seems as though they may be, falls after making a start. How you solve that is a mystery, but I believe that if you could solve the apparent mental issues; on paper the team can & would stand toe to toe with England.

  • OzHorse on July 23, 2013, 17:01 GMT

    Very good observations. The bit about the Pakistan Test in England in 2010 is a bit dodgy though. Mr Katich, Ponting and Hussey were also part of that team. It was a minefield on the first morning, exploited well by some very good fast bowlers in Amir, Asif and Gul. And we went on to nearly win that Test!

    Only one trick left now for Australia...sack Boof. Whenever popular coaches get sacked, the players inevitably rise to perform aboves themselves. Trouble is that temporary high won't last 3 Tests. We need to conjure up a draw in the 3rd, then sack Boof, then hope the player motivation lasts for the final 2 and thus earn a draw in the series!

  • Long-Leg on July 23, 2013, 16:57 GMT

    What a superb, insightful article. Wonderful clear thinking too. Cricket writing doesn't get any better than this. I think the worrying thing from an Australian perspective is that England have not really been at their best so far in this series. Cook, Trott and KP have not contributed much with the bat and there has been a tendency for the top order to collapse. Finn was disappointing too in the first test. I'm hoping for a Cook 100 soon.

  • on July 23, 2013, 16:55 GMT

    Wow superb writing just spot on

  • Behind_the_bowlers_arm on July 23, 2013, 16:44 GMT

    Think I read this article when Australia were winning and England weren't listing all the things Australia did well and England didn't. All those sounded like obvious statements as to how the better team played better. Agree that Englands is a mostly cautious defensive strategy. What it means is that you have too much patience for teams with poor technique like Australia but you lack any spark of creativity to put a team of similar or more talent like S Africa under pressure. As was proved last summer when a patient team batted the dry bowling into the dust and England were routed.

  • wibblewibble on July 23, 2013, 16:37 GMT

    There's not just Gooch, Bruce French works with Matt Prior.

  • Nutcutlet on July 23, 2013, 16:20 GMT

    Brilliant & incisive writing. The more the plot unravels, the more I realise Lehmann's been handed a poisoned chalice - no chance of a honeymoon sipping from that. I refuse to believe that Australian cricketing pride has suddenly evaporated, but somewhere, sometime soon, some wise heads have to sit down for a very long evening & thrash out how Oz cricket in all its facets (structure, priorities, policies, specialist coaches & backroom staff with pedigree) gets up off the floor. I'd like to have Steve Waugh & Gideon Haigh on board. And Lehmann. There's no room for outsize egos now.

  • on July 23, 2013, 15:57 GMT

    Australia need to dump hughes and cowan asap. they have been given 15-20 odd test matches and still cant find the consistency. Watson and khawaja are quality players. they just need to perform in the next three test matches. Australia also need to bring warner, doolan, s.marsh and tim paine.

  • on July 23, 2013, 15:47 GMT

    Alot of factors come into this, on paper England are clearly a stronger squad than Australia. But despite being outplayed at Trent Bridge, they came so close to pulling off a unlikely victory, with the kind of hard, competitive spirit i expect from Australia. But how the batsmen collasped with a wimper on day two at Lords was a worrying sight. England didn't bowl that well to cause a 128 all out, but they just probed consistantly in the right areas and the top order self-destructed. The Aussie bowlers have held their own and have contributed with the bat, but the recognised batsmen, just like they did in India, have let them down horribly. If they can address that part of the game and put some partnerships together, we could still see a good competitive series. And what must Nathan Lyon be thinking, his last test match he took 7-94 against India, then gets dropped. Ashton Agar's fearless batting debut was great to watch, but as a bowler he's not ready yet.

  • on July 23, 2013, 15:31 GMT

    Curious but brilliant writing. Spot on about the sides.

  • on July 23, 2013, 15:21 GMT

    Wow. . an excellent analysis and superb article. the parelells are just realllly coool....

  • RichardG on July 23, 2013, 15:08 GMT

    Excellent stuff. However, "Part of Darren Lehmann's strategy to improve Australia is to get the legends back on board."

    This was a trap that England fell into during our darkest years. Ted Dexter, Raymond Illingworth, repeated calls to get Botham involved, etc... It took an unheralded Zimbabwean and a gritty-but-unspectacular Essex batsman to get us back on track. McGrath, Warne and co are no use to Australia now. All they do is remind people of what Australia used to be - freakishly good - fans, opponents, and crucially the current set of players.

    Australia need to find their Duncan Fletcher and Nasser Hussain. And they need to give them time. As much as I love Boof as a Yorkshire fan, I'm not 100% certain that he's the man to do it. And Clarke certainly isn't the captain to make the tough decisions and stick to them. He's been far too nice this summer. I always want England to be number one in the world, but with Australia as number two. Here's to a more competitive 2015.

  • RichardG on July 23, 2013, 15:08 GMT

    Excellent stuff. However, "Part of Darren Lehmann's strategy to improve Australia is to get the legends back on board."

    This was a trap that England fell into during our darkest years. Ted Dexter, Raymond Illingworth, repeated calls to get Botham involved, etc... It took an unheralded Zimbabwean and a gritty-but-unspectacular Essex batsman to get us back on track. McGrath, Warne and co are no use to Australia now. All they do is remind people of what Australia used to be - freakishly good - fans, opponents, and crucially the current set of players.

    Australia need to find their Duncan Fletcher and Nasser Hussain. And they need to give them time. As much as I love Boof as a Yorkshire fan, I'm not 100% certain that he's the man to do it. And Clarke certainly isn't the captain to make the tough decisions and stick to them. He's been far too nice this summer. I always want England to be number one in the world, but with Australia as number two. Here's to a more competitive 2015.

  • on July 23, 2013, 15:21 GMT

    Wow. . an excellent analysis and superb article. the parelells are just realllly coool....

  • on July 23, 2013, 15:31 GMT

    Curious but brilliant writing. Spot on about the sides.

  • on July 23, 2013, 15:47 GMT

    Alot of factors come into this, on paper England are clearly a stronger squad than Australia. But despite being outplayed at Trent Bridge, they came so close to pulling off a unlikely victory, with the kind of hard, competitive spirit i expect from Australia. But how the batsmen collasped with a wimper on day two at Lords was a worrying sight. England didn't bowl that well to cause a 128 all out, but they just probed consistantly in the right areas and the top order self-destructed. The Aussie bowlers have held their own and have contributed with the bat, but the recognised batsmen, just like they did in India, have let them down horribly. If they can address that part of the game and put some partnerships together, we could still see a good competitive series. And what must Nathan Lyon be thinking, his last test match he took 7-94 against India, then gets dropped. Ashton Agar's fearless batting debut was great to watch, but as a bowler he's not ready yet.

  • on July 23, 2013, 15:57 GMT

    Australia need to dump hughes and cowan asap. they have been given 15-20 odd test matches and still cant find the consistency. Watson and khawaja are quality players. they just need to perform in the next three test matches. Australia also need to bring warner, doolan, s.marsh and tim paine.

  • Nutcutlet on July 23, 2013, 16:20 GMT

    Brilliant & incisive writing. The more the plot unravels, the more I realise Lehmann's been handed a poisoned chalice - no chance of a honeymoon sipping from that. I refuse to believe that Australian cricketing pride has suddenly evaporated, but somewhere, sometime soon, some wise heads have to sit down for a very long evening & thrash out how Oz cricket in all its facets (structure, priorities, policies, specialist coaches & backroom staff with pedigree) gets up off the floor. I'd like to have Steve Waugh & Gideon Haigh on board. And Lehmann. There's no room for outsize egos now.

  • wibblewibble on July 23, 2013, 16:37 GMT

    There's not just Gooch, Bruce French works with Matt Prior.

  • Behind_the_bowlers_arm on July 23, 2013, 16:44 GMT

    Think I read this article when Australia were winning and England weren't listing all the things Australia did well and England didn't. All those sounded like obvious statements as to how the better team played better. Agree that Englands is a mostly cautious defensive strategy. What it means is that you have too much patience for teams with poor technique like Australia but you lack any spark of creativity to put a team of similar or more talent like S Africa under pressure. As was proved last summer when a patient team batted the dry bowling into the dust and England were routed.

  • on July 23, 2013, 16:55 GMT

    Wow superb writing just spot on

  • Long-Leg on July 23, 2013, 16:57 GMT

    What a superb, insightful article. Wonderful clear thinking too. Cricket writing doesn't get any better than this. I think the worrying thing from an Australian perspective is that England have not really been at their best so far in this series. Cook, Trott and KP have not contributed much with the bat and there has been a tendency for the top order to collapse. Finn was disappointing too in the first test. I'm hoping for a Cook 100 soon.