Above all others, there was one glaring statistic from this Test. When only five per cent of the deliveries England bowled on the opening day were going on to hit the stumps, how did they expect to bowl Australia out?
I wouldn’t anticipate the proportion being as high as 50 per cent but challenging that off-stump regularly has simply got to be part of a team’s bowling plan.
Without it, you’re taking out two dismissals instantly — bowled and leg before wicket. Historically, one in five dismissals in Test cricket is bowled and one in six lbw.
England’s tactics in Adelaide have raised eyebrows with the bowlers pitching the ball too short
So, when a team only bowls one in 20 deliveries that cater for those possibilities, it does not make sense.
Yes, England were trying to manage the run rate, but it’s easier to set a field for bowling fuller than it is bowling shorter.
There is no reason you cannot post mid-on and mid-off a fraction deeper and straighter and challenge your opponents to hit the ball wide of them.
If you’re challenging the top of off-stump or fourth stump all the time, hammering a length which makes the batter’s first instinct to defend it on the front foot, then add scoreboard pressure, the batters will start looking to play aggressive shots off the front foot.
England’s bowlers failed to make inroads with the new ball during the first innings
James Anderson took two wickets in the first innings as Australia declared on 473-9
Perhaps they will drive at something that isn’t quite there. If they miss it and it nibbles back in, bowled or lbw come into play. If it moves away, it brings in the wicketkeeper and slips.
Sure, if it’s swinging to the right-hander, push your mid-off wider. But the risk versus reward balance was not there for England.
Jimmy Anderson is the best in the business at getting the right length. And I have always believed Stuart Broad is at the top of his game when he bowls fuller. He may go for a few more runs but his strike-rate is always a lot lower when he has pitched the ball up.
Ben Stokes peppered the Australian batsmen with short balls but got more success when he pitched the ball up
Ollie Robinson bowled well but lacks the kind of express pace Mark Wood can offer
I recall the Ashes Test at Chester-le-Street in 2013. He took 11 wickets in the match with what was a blueprint length for him to bowl. For me, that was Broad at the absolute peak of his powers.
When he runs through teams, his length is fuller. Think of his eight for 15 versus Australia at Trent Bridge in 2015. I will bet my house that when he’s been on his hot streaks of five wickets-plus, most of the successful balls have been fuller ones.
Ben Stokes was asked to take on the enforcer role this week, but he dismissed Cameron Green with the length I have been banging on about. Stokes has a wonderful wrist position and great control of it.
Bio-mechanically, he’s not the most technically perfect bowler. But as we know, the textbook doesn’t always make good bowlers.
Wood was a surprise omission for the second Ashes Test in Adelaide after playing in Brisbane
England have not used the weapons at their disposal effectively. Mark Wood was the point of difference for them here. Broad, Ollie Robinson and Chris Woakes do the same thing.
In my opinion, as good a player as Woakes is, he is in Wood’s position in the team. Wood coming in and hitting 90mph, getting the ball into batters’ armpits, creating indecision, should not be underestimated.
What that type of bowling does is help the rest of the attack. If Wood is ruffling feathers at one end, it can create opportunities at the other.
If England felt Chris Woakes’ batting was so important that he had to play, it’s the wrong call
If England felt Woakes’ batting was so important that he had to play, it’s the wrong call. Trust your top six to do their jobs and if you’re not confident they can, make a change there.
In Tests, you can score as many runs as you want but if you don’t bowl the opposition out twice you almost certainly don’t win.
And what a wicket-taker Mitchell Starc is. I was delighted he went past me into eighth place in Australia’s Test wicket-takers’ list yesterday. I once signed him as an overseas player for Yorkshire and it was a pleasure to raise a glass of red to him last night.