Ashes 2013: Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott will face less pressure with the urn in the bag

Alastair Cook (left) and Jonathan Trott have been unusually out of runs in the ongoing Ashes series © Getty Images

England’s batsmen have delivered impact performances, and the usually prolific Jonathan Trott and Alastair Cook have been uncharacteristically quiet. With the urn in the bag, the duo may have less pressure to handle which may help them get out of the rut. Nishad Pai Vaidya explains.

The urn may be in the bag, but the series is still alive. Being the clinical side they have been in the last few years, England wouldn’t rest and would aim to seal the deal. At Manchester, they were tested by Australia and the clouds gave way when it was turning into an intriguing contest. Take the Lord’s Test away and one would realise that Australia have fought — had a few moments gone their way, the scoreline could have been different. Nevertheless, Michael Clarke’s men can at best draw the series and that too if they play very good cricket.

The pressure on England would be lesser when they take the field at Chester-le-Street, Durham, for the fourth Test. A lot of the focus would be on captain Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott — batsmen who have been unusually quiet during the ongoing Ashes 2013. Cook averages 24.16, while Trott records 20.33 so far. The duo have been the backbone of England’s success in the last few years and have been major contributors to their victories. With the pressure off, they have the chance to express themselves and get back into some run-making rhythm.

England’s other batsmen have risen to the occasion to make up for the failures of Trott and Cook. Ian Bell has been their most prolific batsman, Joe Root stepped up at Lord’s and Kevin Pietersen delivered at Manchester. These impact performances have been the key to England retaining the urn. A look at their batting records would reveal that most of them haven’t been at their best. Stuart Broad averages more than Pietersen and Jonny Bairstow, but those game-changing performances have come at the right time for England. That, when backed up by their bowling, has helped England overcome their relatively under-strength opponents. A stronger side like a South Africa may not have given England such a margin for error.

Having said that, there is always a danger lurking when Cook and Trott are quiet for too long. They are determined and gritty — with powers of intense concentration to fight the odds. In the summer of 2010, Cook was going through a rough time and flew to Australia with a lot to prove. Under intense pressure, Cook returned victorious from Down Under and was a changed player who showed the ability to record big scores. Similarly, Trott also can produce big knocks to break the shackles. In India last year, he had a quiet time in the first few Tests, but smashed a ton in the final game to ensure England complete a memorable series victory.

Thus, there still is a lot to play for both sides. For England, it is about ironing out the wrinkles and to ensure each component delivers. Australia continue their transition and are yet to find a settled unit. Perhaps, there may be a case for a few changes for both sides, but one may not expect the excitement to die down. There is never a dull moment at the Ashes and fans would hope for more riveting action in the next two games.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)