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Adapt a tough stance

'England must score heavily on all pitches to become best in world'

Bob Willis Posted 19th December 2010 view comments

Sadly, there was something all too predictable about England's rapid demise in Perth.

Graham Gooch admitted the game was as good as up after day three so I wasn't surprised that there wasn't any longevity about the remainder of their second innings on day four.

Quite simply, the damage had already been done.

Bell is tolling: Harris celebrates after sending England's last hope, Ian Bell, on his way

Bell is tolling: Harris celebrates after sending England's last hope, Ian Bell, on his way

I thought Nasser Hussain made a great point on commentary when he pointed out that our tail-enders simply don't fancy batting at Perth - all they can see is a bit of pain coming their way.

Perhaps that's why Jimmy Anderson didn't take that single late on day three that preceded Paul Collingwood's dismissal.

Either way, England can't get out of Perth quick enough - history proves that they don't have what it takes to play on the unique pitches at the WACA - and it's time to move on.

Rewards

Ryan Harris reaped the rewards in England's second innings by trusting in pace, accuracy and sheer endeavour.

England can't get out of Perth quick enough - history proves that they don't have what it takes to play on the unique pitches at the WACA - and it's time to move on.

Bob Willis
Quotes of the week

FOURTH ASHES TEST
Australia v England

11.30pm, Christmast Day, Sky Sports HD1
Follow the Ashes wherever you are - on Sky Sports HD1, Sky Player, Sky Mobile and skysports.com

While he's not quite as quick as Brett Lee, he makes batsmen play more so if he can stay he will be a real handful for the remainder of the series.

I know Beefy thinks it is time to spice up some of our Test pitches in England to give us a better chance of performing at places like Perth and I'd go along with that.

Unfortunately, though, I can't see those responsible for running our game giving up the four-day sell-outs (which often come with the bonus of some fifth-day action too) any time soon.

Old Trafford has produced some great five-day matches in recent years but for the most part the administrators still prefer 'chief executive wickets' and I can see it staying that way for the foreseeable future.

That is a problem.

Amid all the euphoria surrounding England's batting in Brisbane second time around and at Adelaide, there is enough evidence around to suggest that as soon as a pitch starts to do anything our players struggle to adapt.

Our performances at Perth, at Headingley against Australia in 2009 and against South Africa at the Wanderers are three examples that spring to mind.

Confidence

As heavy as this defeat was, though, I don't think it will leave a lasting impression on England's psyche - it will be quickly forgotten once the Melbourne Test comes around.

Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower are very calm thinkers and this shouldn't affect the morale to any great degree. They remain a very tight unit and England will certainly play better in the last two matches.

The bigger issue is that is has boosted the confidence of the opposition.

If you'd drawn up a composite Ashes XI before this Test this Test then probably only Mike Hussey and Brad Haddin would have got in it. Now you can throw in Mitchell Johnson, Shane Watson and Harris to even things up a little.

That means the series is now set up perfectly for the Boxing Day Test at the MCG and I for one can't wait for that first session to roll around.

Comments (15)

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Oli Sherlock says...

My response to George is never change a winning team. Getting hundreds and double hundreds, I wouldn't describe as not performing. If you look at the likes of Panesar and Morgan who are in the firing line for a place, that's how you improve, by competition for places. England's 12th men would be straight into the Australia side.

Posted 00:54 6th January 2011

Andrew Muir says...

Bring back Harmison!

Posted 17:02 24th December 2010

George Staples says...

How can England improve whilst the selectors refuse to change the team. Players like Pieterson , Collingwood and Prior are not performing - Prior's glove work is shoddy., he should be rested. The Aussies are never afrais to change a team if players are not performing. Look at the effect on Mitchell Johnson. Flower and Strauss should think about the team, not about individuals staying as part of a close unit. What nonsense. I fear the same team will play at the MCG and will always play, some of them have guaranteed places regardless of form. How unfair. What message does that policy send to the rest of thge touring party? George Staples

Posted 17:45 22nd December 2010

Daniel Tabrett says...

Whats Ian Blair on about? They deserved 500 when get got rolled for 150. Unfortunatley u guys should still win the ashes ... but only because u already hold them.

Posted 23:49 21st December 2010

Julian Bates says...

I definitely would consider Morgan in place of Collingwood -in spite of his beautiful catch.. He's calm, assured, v gifted, someone who wouldn't succumb to the collapse - at least as some of the others do fairly often. Trott has to score lots, Pieterson has got to wake up and play each ball on its merit (Like he did at Adeleide). Good luck in asserting your dominance in the first hour England... Be Big!

Posted 05:31 21st December 2010

Greg Ranger says...

I think a lot of English supporters need to take a deep breath. Your side is over rated by your media as is ours. We have both got some handy players, but, no out and out champions. Yes Nassar, Philip Hughes has a dodgy technique, but, what about Alistair Cook? We beat you on home soil, is that a surprise? Hardly. We will win back the Ashes as I don't think Graeme Swan will get any more than 5 wickets for the rest of the series, and he is your best bowler normally. Jimmy Anderson needs a Duke ball, green pitch and a overcast sky. Guess what Jimmy, you're in Australia, it's Summer mate! And Beefy, did you bet anyone that your lot would win 2 nil?? Humble pie, egg on your face???? Keep up the good work Sky Sports Cricket, love the team, very objective analysis of test cricket and not as biaised as the Channel 9 team in OZ. Aussie, Aussie, oi, oi, oi, go you good thing!!!

Posted 03:10 21st December 2010

Will Eden says...

i thought andrew strauss was very impressive on interview after the perth debacle. he was spot on to say they would "keep a sense of perspective" and did not spin it by saying anything other than england played a bad game! strangely until the last 18 months or so england used to bat quite well on fast pitches that did a bit and it was batting on slow pitches and manouvering of spin they were critisised for. i have always felt though that on this tour they should have picked a reserve batsmen who could slot into the top 3 incase there was a double collapse ( like we have just witnessed), which is why i would have picked gale over morgan. also why do none of the english batsmen apart from collingwood and reluctantly pietersen seem to not be able to or dont want to bowl? this would then at least give you a five man attack of sorts!

Posted 21:39 20th December 2010

James Collier says...

Think we made a mistake with playing Swan in this test match this strip was not suitable for him with that we should have played Bresnen and Collingwood should be ommited for Morgan in Melbourne as he cannot handle the quicks,as for Finn i am afraid hes not ready for test cricket yet so we should bring the guy from yorkshire in [his is name ashzad] hes supposed to be a good bowler against left handers so he should target Hussey.

Posted 19:07 20th December 2010

Ian Blair says...

Australia were very lucky. England batted really well and deseved at least 500 all out. This is just a blip. Johnson isnt a good bowler, it was a one hit wonder. Cook to hit another century in MCG

Posted 12:02 20th December 2010

Martin Ridgley says...

However disappointing the performance was against Australia, we must not lose sight of the fact that the real stars of the show play regularly on that wicket, namely Hussey and Johnson. We must again question our administrators as to whether they are giving us the best opportunity to win when our players have little or no time to acclimatise to the unique Perth conditions. We travelled there via a slow dead wicket in Melbourne with the hope that our players could adjust - clearly they couldn't! Obviously Bell needs to move up the order for the next test and they need to decide whether Collingwood, an excellent player of spin bowling, has a place against a team without one. Great bloke, huge tryer, lacks the class and technique against good pace bowling.

Posted 23:02 19th December 2010

Alex Clegg says...

Despite his outstanding fielding and his ability to bowl a few overs to rest the seamers, Collingwood should be replaced by Eoin Morgan in the 4th test who did enough in the pakistan series to show he can play test cricket.

Posted 22:52 19th December 2010

Adam Diggle says...

Spot on Bob, as soon as we experience the ball doing a bit for a change we come unstuck, but to be honest English batsmen aren't alone in that, the aussies capitulated against quality swing bowling when they played pakistan over here and vice versa. Batsmen all over the world have been flattered by favourable conditions of late, the once fast pitches in the west indies have gone, apart from perth australian pitches have gone the same way, that's why every fast bowler is now desperate to master reverse swing, once the ball gets old it's run scoring time. It's really sad, it's made for longer matches and more money making oppertunities but ultimately less drama and excitment.

Posted 22:32 19th December 2010

Matt S says...

Finn is over hyped..Despite is 6' 4" height he collapses at the point of release so does not utilise his best qualities. Perhaps he could speak to Troy Cooley who just worked wonders with Johnson!!

Posted 21:57 19th December 2010

Jim Labouchardiere says...

First well done the Aussies proving that they are a team of some talent and resilience to come back strong from a heavy defeat.First innings runs were the key and England should have bowled them out for 200; that extra sixty odd made a real difference. The question is have England got the same resolve; recent evidence suggests that this team are able to put defeats behind them and providing the line up is right for last two tests there is no reason to believe that the ashes will be returning to England. Some changes are required (though i suspect that all that will happen is Bell and Collingwood will swap places) A three man pace attack can only work if Swann holds up an end, otherwise in hot weather they tend to wilt at the same time that the ball gets soft and Hussey takes a toll on the tired bowlers. England need to be bold, so five man attack with Bresnan in for Collingwood. Bresnan can bat at seven and Colly looks at sea anyway. Real shame that Broad is out as he was missed not for wickets as he did not get a lot but for the pressure he was able to apply, which sadly Finn leaking at getting on for 5 an over is not doing.

Posted 14:35 19th December 2010

Martin Hicks says...

There are a lot of issues arising from this Test. Good sides are consistent and only suffer the occassional blip. England are not yet that consistent. At the GABBA we needed our magnificent second innings to compensate for being so far behind after our first innings. That second innings momentum helped us at Adelaide but we were unable to repeat our GABBA heroics in either innings here. Alhough England could have bowled better here they dismissed Australia for 2 par scores and to lose by the equivelent of an innings is woeful. In our first innings some credit must go to Johnson for bowling accurately but he was helped by our batsmen. Most fast bowlers dream of someone playing back to a yorker. I also thought the face of the bat was defending towards mid off when to play straight it should have been more towards mid on. (At my lowly level I opened my stance). The second innings was even worse. I was told that if the ball isn't hitting the stumps you only play it if you are attempting to score runs. None of Harris's wickets were hitting the stumps and our batsmen got out defending. Harris's line outside off stump might have been designed to test patience but none of our batsmen were there long enough to become impatient. As regards pitch conditions I thought all grounds were unique. Nobody could claim the pitches at Lords, Headingly and the Oval are similar and that is why statistics at different venues can be so markedly different. The conditions at Perth seemed to be as expected and nobody other than Ponting was suggesting it didn't suit us.

Posted 11:30 19th December 2010

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