By Gaurav Joshi
David Saker, England’s bowling coach hinted at a selection blunder during the course of the day and by the end of day he would have admitted to it, at least in his mind.
England brought over a group of fast bowlers that more resembled a basketball team because they expected them to prosper on the bouncy tracks in Australia. But despite being in the doldrums in the series, England refused to pick them. England dropped one after the 1st Test, and starved the other two of an opportunity on a track that was tailor made for them.
The axing of Chris Tremlett is self explanatory, the giant bowler from Surrey had lost a yard of pace that made him such a threat last time England toured these shores. Listening to a series of press conferences on the tour, Steven Finn has not bowled as per the coach’s expectations despite constantly clocking around the 90mph. Which leaves us with the third tall timber, Boyd Rankin, the former Ireland player was rushed into the England Test squad on the basics of strong performance against the Australians in the ODI series in England. Rankin’s ability to extract excruciating bounce and bowl close to 90mph troubled the Australians.
Today England could well have done with a bowler capable of bowling over 140kmph constantly. The only time England bowler’s extracted disconcerting bounce for the Australian batsmen was when Stuart Broad bowled an inspiring spell leading up to the Bailey wicket. Broad really bent his back, bowled each ball over 140km/h and got his rewards when Bailey was beaten by pace. Brad Haddin, Australia’s in-form batsmen also looked clueless at times as the ball wrapped him on the body three times in the space of 12 balls. All of a sudden, the wicket seemed to spring to life.
On a day when centurion Steven Smith hit seven savage pull shots to the boundary, only one was executed off Broad.
Throughout the series, the Australian bowlers have bowled faster, hit the deck harder to trouble the English batsmen with pace and bounce. In the process, they have showed England the way to bowl on the hard Australian wickets with the Kookaburra ball.
England had a chance of taking the game by the scruff of the neck not once, not twice, but three times in this series, only to be undone by a resilient Australian lower order. Any lower order struggles to cope with pace and bounce, but only when it is over 140 Kmph, especially the Australian tale that has been bred on the bouncy tracks. The issue is England simply hasn’t had a quick bowler at their disposal. A decision they could well live to regret given the stock that was available.
(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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