9 December 2013

England's latest self-destruction confirms fall from grace

Photograph from Wikipedia Commons

England's lower order inevitably folded amidst a flurry of feeble shots parallel to those played by their more heralded team-mates yesterday. The biggest worry for Andy Flower, Alastair Cook and the beleaguered batting line-up is that they can't put together an acceptable innings on pitches flatter than the Dutch landscape, and against an Australian side who hadn't won a Test in nine before this series.

The shot that Cook played yesterday morning set the tone for a disappointing effort at batting for two days, but it was the way they subsided to a successive first innings collapse that will worry Englishmen the most. 

The simple fact is, too many of the tourists have lost their heads with the bat, and it is as much because of the brilliance of Mitchell Johnson's bowling as the surprise factor of the Aussie insurgency. 

What can England do to turn it round I hear you say? The obvious answer: not a lot. The home side have won their last six Ashes Tests at the WACA and it is the moustached-assailant's favourite corner. But with the batsmen in such poor form, the tourists's only hope is for their seamers to drag them out of the mire as they did in the summer, and there is a better chance of that happening in Perth. 

James Anderson and Stuart Broad must take early wickets and maybe, just maybe, one or two batters will ensure their team doesn't do as badly as their opponents. For one thing is certain, this Australian batting line-up still has huge flaws and are still not even in the shadow of the side from the bygone era.

But it is hard for anyone to imagine that unlikely scenario taking place, the most ardent Barmy Army member included. The way that Johnson gave them a wave showed how confident the men in green and gold are and just how difficult it will be for Cook and co to turn the tide. 

They have to go back to basics. The biggest problem is the shot selection and the way they gave away their wickets. For all the batsmen to be out to deliveries that were missing the stumps, and on a low deck, shows how poorly they played. 

In Perth the batsmen will have to leave the ball much better and play like Joe Root did for his 87. Make the bowlers bowl to them; just like Cook did in his golden winter three years past. The chances of England retaining the Ashes are all but gone, but they could at least go down with a fight. 

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