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Simon Hughes: Fielding will be fundamental to the outcome of this test

10 Jul | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Simon Hughes: Fielding will be fundamental to the outcome of this test

Slow pitch in Cardiff will mean less batsman bowled, runs harder to come by and a greater emphisis on field positions, says The Analyst

England already have the physical and psychological edge in this test.

Winning the toss was crucial but they made it count. Joe Root’s innings was a masterclass of how to bat on a slow pitch and defuse a dangerous attack.

He, Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali reduced the feared Mitchell Johnson to a comedy act, donning his cap to the crowd when 100 runs were racked up against his name, for no wickets taken.

11/2 – Mitchell Johnson not to take a wicket in the first two tests

The drop of Root on nought by Brad Haddin was absolutely crucial. It would have reduced England to 43-4. It was the precursor to a poor display by Haddin who was showing his age (37) and was soon being dubbed Brad Haddit.

In fact, a fair bit of Australia’s fielding was surprisingly geriatric emphasized by the Barmy Army trumpeter playing the Dad’s Army theme tune. England’s fielding, by contrast, has been razor sharp.

Memories of the error-strewn performances against New Zealand had been quickly banished by the time Alastair Cook had taken a sharp diving catch at slip to get rid of David Warner, another awkward one to dismiss Steve Smith and Moeen Ali had pouched a stinging return catch from Michael Clarke. Ben Stokes saved numerous runs in the outfield. The hand of the new coach Trevor Bayliss is detectable here.

Fielding will be fundamental to the outcome of this test. Because the pitch is slow, there will be fewer batsmen bowled and more caught playing the ball too early.

England have bowled better and set smarter fields – men in catching positions on the drive and at short mid wicket – than Australia. They have more accurate bowlers better equipped to exploit the conditions. It is not a pitch to try to blast people out.

If England get a lead of 75 they will be in the box seat. Scoring runs will be harder as the match progresses. You are never quite ‘in’ on this pitch. There will be lots of batsmen out in the 20s and 30s.

Rain, forecast for Sunday, may affect the outcome. But, irrespective of that, England have already reassured their supporters that they have a much better chance of winning this series than some have predicted.

Bet in-play on the Ashes 1st Test

4/1 – Joe Root to score 4 or more series centuries

6/4 – England to win the Ashes Series