After the heroics of Headingley you just knew what would follow, the England cricket don’t perform when praised, they need the kick up the backside of criticism to fight.
Praise doesn’t work. Every time they’re talked up they flop. Every time they are castigated they gout there with the mindset of trying to prove the critics wrong and pull their finger out. Even Root giving them a rollicking, twice, didn’t actually produce much.
At Old Trafford they were again deficient in all three aspects of the game. Batting, bowling and fielding. And did anyone really believe they could pull it off two games on the trot? Out for next to nothing. Bowling too short. Ineffectual bowling once the opening pair were tired. Dolly drops. And the most dangerous place when an England fielder is shying for the stumps is the boundary.
At the start of the series it was said that Australia only had two batsmen. Smith and Warner. Warner has become, all of a sudden, Broad’s bunny, only reaching double figures so far in eight innings to go with three ducks in his last three innings. But then they introduce Labuschagne, when Smith was felled and well that number of batsmen is back up to two. With his second inning 11 in the 4th test meaning the new man has failed to get 50 only once in his five innings so far.
Smith. Well, Smith. England decided that they were going to ignore him, no sledging. Well, how has that worked out for ’em? Three and a half games and they’ve made him the highest test run scorer in 2019. Someone pointed out that amongst all the tics of Smith is insistence that his batting partner stays out of his eye-line. Well, England stuck some bugger in it. A fielder or two to just catch his eye, get him out of his comfort zone.
But we’ve got a plan.
Whose plan? Root? Bayliss? Ed Smith? Whose ever, it ain’t working. But then what is? Root? Bayliss? Ed Smith?
Bayliss is gone. Should be gone now. Brought in for his one day stuff, he succeeded. Test matches? He failed. In the one day stuff the reins though were pretty much taken by the captain, Morgan, he got the team he wanted and got them to play the way he wanted, with as little interference from Bayliss as possible.
Root on the other hand isn’t as forceful so was handed a bunch not suitable for test cricket by Ed Smith and just left to get on with it by Bayliss. Root has suffered as the team suffered. With little or no captaincy experience he seemed to take his cue from Cook. A couple of fours and the field is spread. Bowling by the numbers. No imagination in the field, see Smith above.
It’s done for Root’s batting. He still gets the 50s but the 100s don’t follow. He’s the best batsman in the side, the one true batsman but while Smith’s lowest score so far is 82, Root’s highest is 77. He’s spending his time in the field at slip, where you have to concentrate for every ball then having been shunted to three in the batting order, to make up for the inadequacies elsewhere, he’s pretty much an opener against the new ball, with England’s highest opening partnership being 22.
He’s not the best captain but he’s been thrown under the bus by an inept selector. Ed Smith. Jason Roy can’t play a forward defence. It’s the first shot every cricketer is taught as a child and yet here he is appearing in The Ashes and he’s not capable of keeping bat and pad together. And yet here he is possibly going to feature in the final test depending on who is fit. He’s not a test player. He’ll never be a test player and trying to make him one will probably have a detrimental effect on his one day game.
Root probably has to stay as captain, there’s nobody else. He needs a strong coach, that is Jason Gillespie, who Root flourished under when the Aussie was coach at Yorkshire. Root needs to stamp his mark on his team, not what is handed to him. And if he is going to be the Test captain he has to be remunerated to a level to stop him trying to get in every 20 Twenty league going. It hasn’t helped his game one bit.
The World Cup was the goal of this season. it was achieved but now that’s over it’s time to focus on the real thing. Separate the teams, two coaches and under the central contracts make sure those that you want as the basis for your side are like Root paid not to schlep around the world in search for money.
Replace the selector with someone who has a clue, along with the man above him, the dullard Ashley Giles – who has got quite far on the back of being someone’s friend – and see that County Cricket can help you find players, I mean it hasn’t done Labuschagne much harm being in a middling team in the second division.
But no next year they’ll be concentrating on the 100 and trying to destroy England’s chances in the Ashes even further.
The next test is tough to call. Is it a dead rubber? There’s still a series to draw, even if the Ashes have gone. Now in the old days they always turned up for the Oval dead rubber and after some of the criticism coming their way since this latest loss they have points to prove. But then they still have to get Smith out…