Posted by: tootingtrumpet | November 25, 2013

First Ashes Test – The Report Cards

Alastair Cook takes his batting unit for a drive

Alastair Cook takes his batting unit for a drive round Brisbane

Alastair Cook (13 and 65) – Will be pleased to have got a score, his highest since 130 vs New Zealand in May, but the takeaway bag of positives is otherwise rather empty. Just about kept the ship afloat as Australia charged to their declaration on Day Three, but will wonder how all the preparation and support available to England has produced so dismal a performance. Will take some comfort from being in exactly the same position almost exactly a year ago. From losing the First Test in India, he was able to conjure a magnificent series win – he will need plenty of that magic now.

Michael Carberry (40 and 0) – Batted nearly three hours in the first innings and had every right to expect rather more from his colleagues having done his job of seeing off the new ball. Will need to find a way to rotate the strike a little more often – 107 dots from 127 balls builds bowlers’ confidence and saps his own. Destined to be a quiz question in the future – his second innings unlucky play-on was the only England wicket that was not recorded as caught.

Jonathan Trott (10 and 9) – If a run of nine Tests with a top score of 76 isn’t worrying enough, his transformation from dour, calm accumulator to frenetic, jumpy walking wicket (on this evidence) is very concerning. Was lucky to survive the 30 balls he faced before twice being caught on the legside. Will probably stay in the Number Three slot for Adelaide because that’s what England does these days, but will have to reconstruct a disintegrating technique in fewer than two weeks, having made no apparent progress in two months of pre-tour preparations.

Kevin Pietersen (18 and 26) – Got in and got out twice when England really needed a score from the matchwinner celebrating his 100th cap. Hit the ball straight at fielders placed on the legside for catches, suckered by good plans well executed – and by his own impetuosity.

Ian Bell (5 and 32) – No heroics this time from England’s man of the previous summer, edges from either side of his bat seeing him off, with the excellence of Siddle’s delivery no compensation for his triggering England’s second collapse of the match, five wickets falling for 21 runs. A glimpse for Australians of what might have been had they snared him early a couple of times in England.

Joe Root (2 and 26*, 0-5 and 0-57) – Joined England’s first procession chasing a wide delivery that a more experienced man would have left and tried in vain to bat for Day Five in the second. Australia got in his face with the sledging but will have taken time to note a technique that shows some reluctance to commit fully forward or back. England won three Tests in 2010-11 with just 82 runs coming from the Number Six slot – Root will need to do a lot more there this time round.

Matt Prior (0 and 4, 3ct) – There are times when bowling is too much for a batsman and there are times when almost any bowling will do. Australia, once Clark had set typically well-thought out fields, merely had to wait for Prior to surrender his wicket meekly. Quite what made him touch legside deliveries straight into the leg trap is beyond the ken of an observer (and maybe Matt Prior too), but the slump of 2013 continues.

Stuart Broad (32 and 4, 6-81 and 2-55) – Reveled in the hostility of a nation in returning it with interest to its chosen champions with bowling full of intent and venom. Six of his eight wickets were drawn from Australia’s top four and he could have had more when the second innings slogs were at their peak. Even had to rescue England from the indignity of the follow-on with some forthright smiting. Thick skin and a decent helmet will be required for the next four Tests too.

Graeme Swann (0 and  0, 0-80 and 2-135) – That he didn’t find much turn at the Gabba will come as no surprise – he got two for a hundred and plenty on his last visit too. The sight of the under-rated Nathan Lyon extracting more turn and bounce will be rather more of a revelation to the man whom England can least afford to endure a lacklustre series. They say that you shouldn’t pick a team on the basis of the opposition, but Swanny has only Chris Rogers and the two swingers from the hip, David Warner and Mitchell Johnson, as southpaw opponents and that seemed to stymie his usual brio. Needs a decent return at Adelaide before going to the pacemen’s paradise at Perth.

Chris Tremlett (8 and  7 , 1-51 and 3-69) – Batted with heart but bowled without heat, his figures flattering his medium pace. As any Surrey fan can tell you, the injuries and advancing years have taken their toll on an always fragile fitness and the snap and bounce have largely gone. Didn’t let his captain down, but looks less than half the bowler whose three Tests on the last Ashes tour brought 17 wickets at 23. If sacrificed, the comments will flow about a bowler paying for the batsmen’s failings, but batsmen need opportunities to show whether they still have it – Tremlett’s 36 overs in this match suggest that he doesn’t.

Jimmy Anderson (2 and 2, 2-67 and 0-73) – Got the ball off gun-barrel straight but not enough, nor often enough, to get the rewards to which he has become accustomed. Things won’t get any easier at Adelaide either. Got involved right at the end of the match with Michael Clark and others, something he can expect after plenty of of his own verbals over the last three series – I’m not sure he has much to gain from mixing it.

David Warner (49 and 124) – Back at home and possibly smarting after his being left out of the one day team, he was also back to his best, slamming the bowlers and sledging the batsmen. When the ball deviates little through the air or off the pitch, his quick feet and small stature allow him to drive fullish balls and  cut and pull almost anything else. England need to find a length that works for Warner or he will simply add to a boundary count already just eight short of all 11 England batsmen combined.

Chris Rogers (1 and 16) – Out to Broad in both innings, but again found a way to contribute with his second innings 16 stretched over 23 overs helping to move the Australian lead from a healthy 162 to a distant 229.

Shane Watson (22 and 6, 0-0) – Not fit enough to bowl much and out to two bad shots, his under par performance will be buried in an avalanche of Australian good news. England will have noticed though and have something to work with for Adelaide.

Michael Clarke (1 and 113) – As always at the start of a series, all eyes were on Clark’s back and his first innings pop up from a well-directed Broad bouncer suggested all was not well. His second innings suggested the opposite, with a fluent century to take the game completely away from England. Will have exorcised a few ghosts, especially when calling in his men to set a target of 561, and will now look at the series as a golden opportunity for redemption.

Steve Smith (31 and 0, 0-15) – Done twice by Tremlett with two decent deliveries edged behind. Still doesn’t look like an Australian Number Five, but we know that he has plenty of heart to go with a good eye and growing confidence. Like three other members of the batting unit, he’ll be pleased that not too much attention will be given to its inconsistency, despite the margin of victory.

George Bailey (3 and 34) – Looked understandably nervous in the first dig but played with freedom second time around to enjoy a winning start to his Test career. Took the sharp chance from KP in the first dig to precipitate England’s first collapse.

Brad Haddin (94 and 53, 5ct) – Enjoyed himself at Brisbane again, involving himself in stands worth 302 runs, just 13 short of England’s match aggregate. If Australia wrest The Ashes from England, his first day partnership of 114 with Man of the Match, Mitchell Johnson will be identified as the key stand of the series. Kept well too. Must now get his body and mind together for four Tests in 34 days starting on December 5 – quite an ask for a 36 year-old keeper-batsman.

Mitchell Johnson (64 and 39*, 4-61 and 5-42) – “He bowls to the left, he bowls to the right. That Mitchell Johnson, his bowling caused fright”. England had no answer to the 90mph man who took confidence from his brilliant counter-attack from Number 8 to terrorise England with pace and bounce. There was some ill-directed stuff too, but, rather like the response Imran Khan got from his cornered tigers in the World Cup Final all those years ago, being told to go out and bowl fast and furious has worked for Mitchell. There’s no guarantee that, like the flashing storms around Brisbane on Sunday, the donner and blitzen might disappear quickly (and well before Christmas Eve from England’s point of view), but he’s delivered one of the three Tests Australia need to win and the gamble is paying off.

Peter Siddle (7 and 4*, 1-24 and 1-25) – Only two wickets, but an armchair ride for the third seamer behind the mercurial Johnson and magnificent Harris. He’ll be pleased that one of them was Ian Bell with England comfortable at 130-3 and time about to be lost to the weather – 28 overs later, he walked off a winner.

Ryan Harris (9, 3-28 and 2-49) – Just keeps coming at good pace offering little to hit and much to think about. Five more economical wickets gives him 78 in 17 Tests at 21.8 – stats of which Glenn McGrath would be proud. Keeping him fit and firing will be Australia’s number one priority between Tests. Finding a way to deal with his length and nibble off the seam will be England’s – after they’ve worked out something for the short ball.

Nathan Lyon (1*, 2-17 and 2-46) – Incredibly he sat out the first two Ashes Tests in England in favour of a lovely lad who is a decent bat but no more a Test spinner than I am. Lyon’s big wind up and uncoiling at the crease gets plenty of revs on the ball which he controls well, especially round the wicket to right-handers. He probably won’t find batsmen quite so keen to oblige him during the next four Tests, but he is surely the long awaited successor to Warne. Having just turned 26, he has the chance to take up residency in the Test XI until 2020 and beyond.

You can tweet me at @garynaylor999



  1. I think Swann will do well in Adelaide and Perth as he’ll have a breeze to work with rather than bowling in that bowl at the ‘Gabba. Rankin or Finn have to come in ahead of Tremlett. England would take 13 wickets from Finn at this stage.

    Prior’s fall-off since Auckland is a major concern, Bairstow’s not good enough either.

    Australia played well at key moments and pulled themselves from the fire at 132-6. Time for Cook and Flower to come to the fore.

    BTW Bell batted at 6 in 2010-11. Collingwood was at 5.

  2. Hi Paul. Are you sure about the breeze at Adelaide after its redevelopment? Maybe.

    I looked up the stats – we didn’t need much at all at Six in the three wins last time. Bell was the designated Six, but a bit of nightwatchmanning put Colly there for one or two of the winning Tests.

    • One end is still open so while it’s not as open as some cricket grounds, it’s still as open as Lord’s is (having sat in the Compton Lower for the New Zealand test in May I can inform that the breeze/storm-force gale does still blow through).

  3. Good write-up. Swanny will bounce back. Thought he bowled ok in 1st innings.

  4. Leg Theory works. Who knew?

    Biggest worry for England isn’t the keeper making runs, it isn’t the third seamer, it isn’t first drop, it’s the first seamer!
    Just as Australia were able to keep Siddle for what he is built for, the bullock work of third seamer rather than the attack leader. Anderson’s poor game has seen the focus put onto Tremlett’s inability to pick up the slack. Bresnan will be back at some point to fill the third seamer position, but only time will show where the actual problem lies.

  5. Love the picture. very apt. I also have to disagree with some people here… Anderson is still the premier bowler on either side.
    I will be blogging on the series from here :)

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