Yet another poor display by the England cricketers in Adelaide has cast into doubt their ability to retain the Ashes at the end of the current series against Australia. Having lost the first two tests, Alastair Cook must somehow rally the England players into believing that they can regain some momentum for the third test match in Perth beginning on December 13th.
That will not be an easy job for the England captain as he watched his team being outplayed by an opposition team which is becoming increasingly more confident. On a batsman’s wicket in Adelaide, Australia romped to 570-9 declared in their first innings with England expected to score their highest score of the series in response.
Closing on 35-1 on the second day, it was hoped that Joe Root and Michael Carberry would lay the foundations for a solid England total which would comfortably surpass the embarrassing first test totals of 136 and 179.
Alas, it was not be as Mitchell Johnston reaped havoc on the English batting in taking seven wickets while only 172 was scored by the tourists. Cook could be thankful for Ian Bell’s 72 for escaping without even more humiliation.
With a 398 run lead from the first innings, it was a surprise when Australia did not enforce the follow-on. Surely they could not have expected England to score that many runs to avoid an innings defeat.
As it happened, the hosts stayed at the crease for only 39 overs before declaring and allowing their opponents to build the more respectful total of 312 before inevitable defeat.
The inquests have already begun for the nightmare England start to this series, but there must also be questions asked about team selection. With Johnson proving that pace and accuracy was an important commodity in Adelaide, the presence of spinners Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar in the English bowling attack may not have been the wisest of decisions.
Yet a top score of 312, and the first over 200, are not the sort of batting performances which will win test matches and none of the English players have yet to record a century in contrast to four compiled by the Aussies. Most English batsman have registered at least one decent innings but it is their other paltry efforts which are costing the team dearly.
It may be important for England to win the toss in Perth and then elect to bat. Posting a reasonable score will be the key to regaining the initiative as a degree of patience while scoring from the inevitable poor deliveries may frustrate and unsettle the Australian team.
Otherwise, the Ashes may be lost by December 17th.