English cricket is currently in the worst state it has been for a long time. After suffering an Ashes defeat in Australia with two tests to go, questions need to be asked.
Yes, England have been thoroughly outplayed by an Australian side who have dominated the series straight from ball one. Many people were saying during this series that both sides went into this Ashes battle underprepared. But realistically that isn’t the case. England have played a lot of test cricket in this calendar year, whilst Australia were playing their first test for almost a year.
12 days of Australian dominance
It has taken Australia 12 days of dominance to retain the Ashes with England losing every test comprehensively.
Before the series was contested, on paper this series looked a level playing field. No preparation for both sides, two pink ball tests and no match in Perth. But in truth this series has been a total mismatch.
Any body could of told you that England went into this series under prepared. So many of their batsman had hardly played any form of cricket for a while. Some Australian batsman had warmed up for the battle ahead by playing in the Sheffield Shield.
Oh for England to post a decent total
Batting is the key to England’s problems- this has been the case for a while now. Take this Ashes series for instance. Totals of 147, 297, 236, 192, 185 and 68 are nowhere near good enough.
How many times have England posted at least 300 in their first innings? Answer. You would have to go back a while to find the answer. In any form of red ball cricket, in your first k nock you must post a competitive total on the board, if not you won’t win matches.
Sides have known for a while that if you can get a first innings lead- no matter how small- against England you will normally go on and win the test match.
England crumble in second innings
England under pressure in second innings simply crumble. The top order cannot put runs on the board in any innings. The England management have tried various combinations, which just haven’t worked. The middle order is brittle and it is normally left to the tail to add some late runs.
We have know about England’s batting frailties for a while and now this highlights how batsman are prepared for Test cricket.
The county championship- which after all should be producing players who can adapt to test cricket- but it isn’t. The schedule allows for a couple of games in early April, with the bulk of the games shunted to the end of the season to prioritise one day cricket. No preparation for batsman or bowlers to find out what lies ahead of them in test cricket.
Defensive cricket is a thing of the past
Players nowadays are not taught to be defensive, more to be flamboyant. The big concerns from the ECB has been for a while white ball cricket. Yes of course it brings in the money, but it won’t produce test players.
After this latest Ashes debacle there will be inquests, understandably so. It is going to be difficult for Joe Root to remain as captain, however this latest shambles is not down to him, it’s the system.
Root has led by example both on and off the field. However in place of Root there are no standout successors. Head coach Chris Silverwood has to shoulder a lot of the responsibility due to some strange decisions. Not playing either both or one of James Anderson and Stuart Broad in the opening test was a massive mistake. Going into test with no recognised spinner either another huge error.
Giles needs to answer questions
Ashley Giles sacked Ed Smith in April and put his faith in Silverwood and must surely admit to this error. Putting a coach as a national selector proved to be another bad move.
Silverwood is never going to be in the league of former foreign coaches, Duncan Fletcher, Andy Flower and Trevor Bayliss.
Where do England go from here is a superb question. Unfortunately the answer seems a long way off right now.