Saturday, 20 July 2013

The #Ashes - England's batsmen need to step up

I spent more time than I'm proud of thinking of a 'punny' title for this, and couldn't.  What a disappointment.  If you have a good one (or even a bad one), write it in the comments.

This series of The Ashes is (so far) proving to be an excellent series from England's point-of-view.  Having won the first Test, Australia have been totally under the cosh throughout the second, with the result that at Close Of Play on the third day England have a lead of over 500 runs, and are still going strong.  However, there are still a few worrying signs in England's batting order, which leads me to believe that things might not all be quite as rosy as they seem...

England's openers are meant to be specialist batsmen, selected for their abilities to score runs not just highly, but consistently highly.  So far, they have not delivered - despite the commanding position in which England find themselves, three of the top four batting order have failed to score more than fifteen runs apiece in each innings, and to my mind, that simply isn't good enough.  Yes, England have built up a very good lead, and amassed a large number of runs, but in both innings this has been predominantly down to one batsman - Ian Bell in the first innings, Joe Root in the second - and that worries me.  (Indeed, of England's current second innings score of 333-5, 309 of those runs were contributed by just three of the seven English batsmen who have so far faced the Australian attack.)

You can never write the Australians off, and with only one Test completed the series can still, technically, go either way.  Based on performances so far, England are certainly the favourites - but that doesn't mean that our top batsmen can sit back and rely on the Australians' ineptitudes to wipe the egg from their faces.

Personally, I would rather see the runs shared more equally, with every player in the squad pulling their weight - it would be more encouraging to see the top six or seven batsmen all making around 40 to 60 runs each, rather than one guy making a Double Century, while the others get themselves out before they reach double figures.  Everyone has better days and worse days at the crease, and of course there are a myriad of factors which can affect this, but the likes of Alastair Cook (12, 8 this Test) and Kevin Pietersen (2, 5 this Test) need to step up pretty soon.  It's not that I think Cook or Pietersen are bad cricketers (on the contrary, in fact, I have a lot of respect for both of them), but test cricket is a long game, and the Ashes is a series of five Tests - ultimately, consistency is key, and if it weren't for the Australia's woeful performance so far during this Test I fear England would already have been found out.

1 comment:

Vicky Carlin said...

Not quite bowled over by England? ...

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