Posted by: tootingtrumpet | August 16, 2019

Second Ashes Test Day Two – The Final Over of the Day

Ball One – Roy – a prince of the white ball but a pauper of the red

Too many of England’s batsmen make it too easy for the bowlers to take their wickets. The Australian attack deliver their fair share of good balls but the ineluctable fact is that they don’t really need to.

This is Jason Roy’s third ball (after a waft and being beaten on the outside edge for the previous two). The ball pitches on a sixth stump line and went down the hill a little – for 135 years, England openers would have left it alone. But, and one can hardly blame him since he has been picked to play his natural game in which leaves are about as common as they are in an orchard at Christmas, Roy fences at it. But look at the still above. Not one component of the anatomy of batting – feet, hands, head and ball – are aligned. This is a technical issue and it’s not going to be solved in the cauldron of Ashes cricket.

Ball Two – Rooted to the spot

Joe Root has a different technical issue, the longstanding problem of playing round the front pad as the feet go nowhere and the head topples over to the offside.

He is hardly the first batsman to have to deal with askew balance – indeed, it sometimes seems that only the best develop this tic – but he might be the first who will have just a Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to work on it before the next Test. Oh, and rest up, undertake media duties, discuss selection, work on tactics, motivate the team…

Ball Three – Hazlewood cracks the whip

One of the reasons Glenn McGrath bowled so well at Lord’s was his impeccable control of length. The slope (and, until you come here, it’s hard to appreciate just how steep it is) is always going to give you a bit of lateral movement, so it’s important to get the batsmen forward to balls that aren’t quite there. Josh Hazlewood gave a decent impression of the great McGrath, albeit from the other end, squatting full or slightly full of a length with the occasional bouncer to keep the batsmen honest. Such discipline will induce mistakes (and you’re never far away from one of those when England are batting), but it’ll also get set batsmen out. Joe Denly looked loose at times. though he could little with one that he had to play but that moved that McGrathian half bat’s width down the hill. Very smart stuff from the big New South Wales quick.

Ball Four – Tonight they’re gonna party like it’s 1989.

It’s a paradox (at least I think it is) that England’s World Cup heroes have played both too little and too much cricket. Between 30 May and 14 July, they played a maximum of 11 days cricket, which shouldn’t tax a professional sportsman… except mentally, the burden of being hosts and favourites not to be underestimated. That’s left Jason Roy, Joe Root, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali both undercooked and exhausted. They don’t look like they have a century amongst them – or even between them – and there’s no time to work through the horrendous technical issues they’re exhibiting, most obviously in the complete lack of balance, forward or back and across the crease. 1989 might look like a picnic before this series is out.

Ball Five – Batsman of the Day

At Edgbaston, Jonny Bairstow looked as jaded as any of England’s World Cup winners, two tired shots seeing him off for single figure scores. He wasn’t quite back to his best in his innings of 52, out slogging, nine down, but he waited for the ball, lined it up and controlled his bottom hand much more rigorously. It seems that Jonny is affected more than most by criticism, not really doing phlegmatic, preferring feisty – the redhead stereotype ringing true. If the questioning of his place in what is still, even in a World Cup year, the marquee series (and maybe his last chance to play in one at home) prompted such improvement, then well played YJB. And if it didn’t? Then, well played YJB anyway.

Ball Six – Bowler of the Day

One can criticise Patrick Cummins for bowling too many bouncers at the tail and one can criticise Tim Paine for cynically delivering 13 overs per hour to protect his four strong attack (especially after putting England in) but it’s hard to complain about Cummins’ heart. He was at full throttle all day, ultra-aggressive but never out of control and always bowling to a plan. It took him a while to get his just deserts, but he bounced out Rory Burns (53), Chris Woakes (32) and Jofra Archer (12) with some old school chin music and gave a good indication of how Australia will approach the rest of the series. With Headingley only seven days away, I suspect he might need rotating out to ease his back, which might give England’s batsmen a better night’s sleep. Just Mitchell Starc to execute the same tactic…

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Responses

  1. Let’s hope the bowling attack looks better in 30 years time than de Freitas, Foster, Newport, Pringle, Gooch and Barnett does now.

    • They’re not going to frighten the horses are they?

  2. One thing that always irritates me is someone (especially my wife) telling me to do something I was about to do anyway. Perhaps that’s YJB’s temperamental quirk – he’s such a hard worker and good learner, he generally knows when he’s been going too hard at the ball or playing all around it or shovelling to the leg side with his bottom hand. So when he gets criticism, perhaps it’s a case of “Yes, I KNOW. I was GOING TO DO THAT ANYWAY !!

    • Or Uncle Thorpy told me that last week!!

      • On reflection, I don’t think Jonny needs Uncle Thorpey to tell him. Reading “A Clear Blue Sky” about coming back to Yorkshire in 2014, dropped by England, he worked with Ian Dews, but he knew what he wanted to work on: being balanced, playing later and lining up straight. Jason Gillespie said he had a pact with Jonny not to say too much and let him work on his own batting. In May 2016, none other than Ted Dexter was praising how long he kept still waiting for the ball.

        The fact that Jonny often has to revisit those principles perhaps shows how hard they are to stick to, and what a wonder Steve Smith is. Both for his plethora of movements before he’s still, and for how consistently he bats at that level.

        • I think they are fair points.

          Everyone has a natural weakness and keeping it at bay is mentally and physically trying. What I would say is that if he has to work so hard to avoid those problems, he should probably give up the gloves and do what he does best, better.


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