The First Ashes Test, Days 3 & 4
England 13-0 require another 385 runs to win the first test
The joy of writing your own blog is that there are no deadlines, no requirement to write every day or file a certain number of words or column inches. Yesterday was for me a case in point, I was so disenchanted with this England team that I couldn’t be motivated to write anything. Today was worse, but I’ve set myself a task and I mean to keep to it.
Exactly three weeks ago the England cricket team was being feted as the greatest, now with coloured clothes swapped for whites and the ball colour changed in the opposite direction they are being lambasted from all angles.
Simply put, they have found it impossible to bowl Australia out twice, albeit handicapped by the loss on Thursday of their leading bowler but also by their selections and leadership. From a distance I’ve wondered for a while if Joe Root is the man for the job and it seems to me that this is no longer open for debate. England seemed for the last session yesterday and the whole of today to have no plan. Not only do they seem totally unable to bowl to Steve Smith in a way that restricts his scoring options let alone get him out, but to lack any coherence of purpose in the field.
The Edgbaston surface can take a fair share of the blame, slow, lifeless and offering little in lateral movement but international class bowlers should be able to adapt to such a challenge but England’s bowling attack in this game apart from Stuart Broad is not international class and it showed.
Steve Smith continued his path to redemption with a second hundred, 142 to go with his 144 in the first innings, Travis Head made 51 and Matthew Wade 110 while Australia’s 7,8 & 9 were 87-1 on their own to rub further salt into the wounds.
The task facing England is immense, virtually impossible. It would require them batting to tea at over three an over while losing only a couple of wickets and then an onslaught from Stokes, Buttler and Bairstow of epic proportions.
Escaping with a draw will be an achievement.
The selectors will have to think long and hard before choosing their side for Lord’s. Moeen seems the most likely casualty but Bairstow is also vulnerable and they will need to hope Woakes (only because of his extraordinary Lord’s record) and Broad recover in time. If England fail to bat out tomorrow and the selectors don’t get it right for two weeks time 2 down after 2 seems very probable.