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By Gaurav Joshi
It might have been Mitchell Johnson’s hostility after lunch but before the interval it was England’s subdued batting approach that started the influx of wickets on a batting paradise on the third day of the second Ashes Test.
Joe Root and Michael Carberry showed very little intent right from the start by scoring only 21 runs in the first 10 overs of the day. The pair struggled to rotate the strike which allowed the Australian pacers to apply a stranglehold. It was eventually the willingness to break free that caused Joe Root to play an ambitious sweep shot from the very first ball he faced off Nathan Lyon. It was rush of blood and you could sense Root wanted to release the pressure which led to his downfall.
In comparison Brad Haddin and Michael Clarke added 41 in the first ten overs on Day Two. Clarke’s intent was evident when he used his feet and launched Panesar off the very first ball of the day. It nearly cost him his wicket but also showcased Australia aggressive intent.
Even when Australia lost 3 for 19 on second day, the new batsmen never allowed England to gain the upper hand. Bailey ran down the wicket to deposit Panesar into the stands and Clarke used his wrists cleverly to rotate the strike. The pair still added 30 runs in the next 10 overs and England could not apply the clamps. England cannot rely on Pietersen to change the tempo on each occasion because he looks like a man trying to fill up the hole the batsmen ahead of him are digging England into.
Carberry needs to be told to be bold, he has a reputation of slog sweeping spinners into the stands but right now he is content on just nudging Lyon around the field. He might have been out to a stunning catch but the 33 dot balls that preceded his dismissal was a classic example of English batsmen digging themselves a hole.
Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle and Shane Watson have been impeccable with their line but unless the English batsmen learn to work the ball into the vast gaps, they will continue to be strangled by the Australian bowlers.
(Gaurav Joshi is an Indian-born Australian who played with Michael Clarke in his junior days. He coaches and reports for a Sydney radio station. Over the years he has freelanced for Australia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and is a regular on ABC cricket show Cow Corner. He is the author of the book “Teen Thunder Down Under” – The inside story of India’s 2012 U19 World Cup Triumph)
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