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Simon Hughes: English conditions have cruelly exposed Australia’s batting frailties

08 Aug | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Simon Hughes: English conditions have cruelly exposed Australia’s batting frailties

It's all over! An astonishing fourth Test has ended and the tiny urn is back with England. The series took a decisive turn once pitches were produced to suit England's pace attack.

It has taken England just 200 overs to regain the Ashes. That is how many the England bowlers sent down to dismiss Australia four times in the last two tests for a grand total of just 714 runs.

On average their innings have barely lasted half a day. You are not going to win many test matches with that kind of batting.

No less than 27 of those 40 wickets have been taken caught by the wicketkeeper or in the slips. That is clear evidence that the Australians cannot play the moving ball.

As soon as England got the pitches right for their persistent fast bowlers, the game was up. None of the Australian batsmen, with the exception of Chris Rogers – who himself has made 38 centuries in England for various counties – could work out a method.

These pitches were not minefields. They would be regarded as ‘flat’ in amateur cricket. But give highly accomplished seam and swing bowlers a bit of live grass to aim at with a new Dukes ball, with its deep shine and proud seam, and they will be a handful.

Stuart Broad bowled superbly in both Australian innings, using an unusual angle to the left handers, letting the ball go wide on the crease from round the wicket, slanting the ball in and then swinging it away.

He took a remarkable 8-15 in the first and 1-36 in the second. The difference was in the second innings the Aussie batsmen played and missed rather than edged.

It was high quality bowling but the batsmen were still making the same basic errors of going hard at balls they could have left. The ‘leave’ does not seem to be in the Aussie vernacular. Their batsmen’s approach is to try and hit their way out of trouble.

On this kind of surface against these persistent and well drilled bowlers, that is a flawed policy. They were lucky to get as many as 265 in the second innings.

It is, for the impartial, sad to watch apparently talented batsmen fall into such obvious traps but cricket pitches round the world are so uniform that players conditioned day-in day-out to bat a certain way in all forms of the game find it difficult to adapt. And, unless Australia are prepared to adjust their approach at the Oval and there is a bit of grass on the pitch, the same will happen again.