Ashes 2013/14: Gary Ballance deserves to make his Test debut in Sydney, say Atherton and Strauss
Carberry and Bresnan face fight to keep their places as England strive to avoid whitewash...
Last Updated: 29/12/13 10:37am
After the tourists' fourth heavy defeat in as many games, our Ashes Panel of Mike Atherton, Andrew Strauss, David Lloyd, Nasser Hussain and Sir Ian Botham delivers its verdict...
ATHERS: I'd be tempted to leave Michael Carberry out, promote Joe Root to opener, put Ian Bell at three and bring in Gary Ballance and give him a game. Tim Bresnan's place would be under threat from either Boyd Rankin or Steve Finn. But it's difficult to see how England can win in Sydney because they look very downhearted.
ANDREW: I would be looking to get Ballance in too - he's got a very good reputation around the counties. This is an opportunity to see if he is ready for Test cricket. Maybe now is also the time to give Steven Finn the ball again and say 'ok, you haven't been in great nick but we know you are a quality player - get out there in the middle and prove your worth to this England side because you are one guy that could play for the next 10 years; we can build a side around you'.
BUMBLE: Many people have said that Ian Bell should bat at No 3 to give the innings impetus - to give it that attack - but it hasn't happened. That's a subtle change that England could go with. That would mean that Root would open instead of Carberry. They might want to look at Ballance but I don't think you have a look at somebody in a Test match. He's got to be good enough to get in or there has got to be enough reasons - and maybe there are because we're 4-0 down - to say 'I'm going to leave him out and play this kid'.
NASSER: Yesterday, Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen were playing in a World XI. I wouldn't like to describe who was batting at the other end, to be honest. You can't leave Cook and Pietersen out because you won't make 170 if you do. So it does come down to those two getting bigger runs - 100s and 150s - and the young guns saying 'this is my opportunity. There will be a lot of cricket played in the future. I want to be the next Cook, Pietersen, Trott, Prior'.
BUMBLE: The next series in England is against Sri Lanka and that would be the time to bring in some young kids come in, the likely lads - Jamie Overton for one. But as we are now, we've got to pick from this squad. The caveat to that is that Scott Borthwick is now one of the tourists. How can you just throw a young kid in at Sydney? There's no point playing Monty Panesar because Cook doesn't bowl him! But the three fast bowlers - Chris Tremlett, Steven Finn and Boyd Rankin are like Lord Lucan! Who has seen them? Where are they?
BEEFY: I don't see the point in picking these guys and saying 'we're going to take three tall, quick bowlers and give it a go' and then not play them. They discovered that Tremlett's pace was down in the first game and apparently Finn is having all kinds of problems with confidence, so Rankin is the man there. He's strong, he's big and he bowls as quick as Tremlett and Finn, why don't we give him a go?
ATHERS: It's not so much about the personnel changes now. It's the general lack of confidence that is the issue. They look demoralised and frazzled. They look shot against Mitchell Johnson.
The fact that Nathan Lyon can pick up five wickets on a pitch that doesn't spin says more about what they are thinking about what is happening at the other end than what is going on against Lyon. They look a side completely devoid of confidence.
ANDREW: Now is not the time to look at long-term strategy. I think you've got to buy yourself some time, allow the emotion to settle and get the selectors in a room together and start thinking rationally about what the best side is going forward. England have got one game to go here and they've got an opportunity to learn something more about some of the players who haven't played in the series so far.
BUMBLE: Overall, there's one team - Australia - playing a really attacking brand of cricket. They are getting right into England with bat and ball, whereas England are playing defensive, timid cricket. They are not offering anything to the game. Australia have the mind-set 'attack, attack, attack' while England have backed off throughout this series.
NASSER: Make no mistake, though, these England players are working their socks off. They are good players and they are trying but at the moment some of them just aren't good enough.
The selectors must look one or two steps ahead and try to invest for the future. I don't think that happened at the Oval this summer. They picked Chris Woakes and Simon Kerrigan and left Tremlett out. One of the consequences of that decision was that the selectors didn't know that Tremlett had lost two yards of pace.
They should have seen that at the Oval, but they didn't, so they picked Tremlett for the Ashes tour and they had to take Finn - but they weren't sure about both of them so they had to take Rankin, which meant that Graham Onions had to stay at home. Then they thought about the wicketkeeper. At no stage did they believe that Matt Prior would be left out, so they picked Jonny Bairstow. So beware - any selection they make for Sydney could come back to haunt them in two or three months' time. Selections must be for the future, not just for a one-off Test. Never just give someone an England cap - they've got to earn it.
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Watch day one of the fifth and final Test match between Australia and England from 10.30pm on Thursday on Sky Sports 2.