Saturday, 16 December 2017

The writing on the wall

The Ashes series is fractionally passed the halfway point and already it seems inevitable that the metaphorical Urn will stay down under.  Two nil down after two and half way through the third where we cannot hope to win.  In truth it's very possible that England could escape Perth with a draw meaning victory in the last two matches would see us retain the Ashes.  But that isn't going to happen.

The problems started before we left home, obviously the absent Ben Stokes would have made a massive difference but I'd have picked Alex Hales too.  So it's the selectors to whom I'm going to give most of the blame; they have been piss poor ever since... well the last Ashes series down under!  They have consistently failed to pick the right players, most notably batsmen have come and gone all too regularly.  They pick a squad that includes three of four unproven batsmen and expect to win in Australia.  To be fair Stoneman is at last looking like an opening partner for Cook but how long will the latter keep playing?  Hopefully a while because even though his skills might be on the wane, he's still the best we've got.  Also Dawad Malan has scored a big century, fantastic now go get another one.  Vince is unconvincing and will Ballance even get a bat?

On home soil we literally have bowlers queuing up to do a job in what is often good bowling conditions but on most foreign surfaces most are unable to threaten.  This was the case in India a year ago and is even more apparent in Australia right now.  At least Anderson is able to maintain control but Broad has been well below par and Woakes hasn't impressed.  Overton has been as good as anybody.  What we really need from our bowlers is height, bounce and above all pace.  England had all three in 2010/11 but not in the two tours since.

Finally I have to give the captain some stick.  His tactics at Brisbane, when Australia were under pressure, were bizarre.  By not bowling Anderson Root seemed to be making some kind of "I'm the boss' statement, something that has already rebounded on him during his tenure.  This time it might even have cost the match?   His decision to bowl first at Adelaide seemed to be another kind of statement, 'Attacking option', really?  It was naive at best, but more likely just plain stupid.

Think positive, England are playing better than they did here four years ago (but it would be inconceivable for them to be any worse), they are competing for periods in every game and there isn't really much to choose between the two sets of players.  This is all true but we could still find ourselves on the end of a 5-0 scoreline.  If we can avoid that, this England fan would settle right now.