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Simon Hughes: Perhaps England’s performance is a good thing

21 Aug | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Simon Hughes: Perhaps England’s performance is a good thing

The rest of this fifth Ashes Test is about saving face - there is still a lot to play for, says The Analyst

England are nursing their wounds this morning.

They know they haven’t been up to scratch in this Test match.

In the post mortems they realise they have not bowled full enough or straight enough and the application with the bat was non-existent.

Perhaps they gave so much intensity to seal this amazing Ashes win in the dramatic Test matches at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge that they had nothing left to give.

Ashes Test matches are extraordinarily draining mentally and physically.

They are also much more tightly packed – this one lasting barely six weeks – than they used to be.

Those are the excuses for England being in this pickle. Perhaps it is a good thing.

A 4-1 Ashes victory could possibly have prompted complacency. There is no chance of that now.

And even a 3-2 win – not predicted by anyone except the arch patriot Ian Botham – should not camouflage certain deficiencies.

England rely too heavily on Alastair Cook and Joe Root with the bat and Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad with the ball.

They desperately need a solid opening partner for Cook who has had seven accomplices since the retirement of Andrew Strauss, a dependable third seamer and a decent spinner.

Today will be about saving face. There is a lot to play for.

The pitch rewards persevering seam bowling to a full length – as exhibited to the loyal workhorse Peter Siddle and the underrated Mitchell Marsh too – there will be a touch more pace for Johnson and Starc and some spin for Nathan Lyon.

The batting will have to much more disciplined than in England’s first innings.

Adam Lyth is playing for his Test place. He has one more innings to illustrate that he has the aptitude for Test cricket.

Up to now he has a best score in this series of 37 and has found too many different ways of getting out.

Most of all he has exhibited an nervousness and anxiety at the crease which hasn’t enhanced the mood.

He is undoubtedly talented but perhaps he is too edgy a character – in more senses than one – for the real rigours of Test cricket.

It could be a big day for Ian Bell too, attempting to demonstrate that he is not in permanent decline.

He is averaging just 17.57 in nine Tests since mid-April in the Caribbean.

And for the supremely-talented Jos Buttler it is an opportunity to show that talent and cast off his nemesis.

He has faced 21 balls from Lyon in this series and been dismissed 4 times at a cost of 8 runs. He hasn’t done a lot better against anyone else.

So lots for England’s batsmen to play for.

If they apply themselves they should be capable of getting close to 300 for the loss of four wickets if and when they follow on.

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