Huge sympathy with England

I have a lot of sympathy for England’s players at the moment.

There’s so much happening away from the field. I know from experience that to win this kind of series, you need everything in your life to be settled. These players are following the news back home, and worrying about rule changes and potential quarantine themselves.

Being so far away from home, in a different time zone, is just a nightmare scenario at the moment.

When you’re sleeping they’re awake, and vice versa. It must be very unsettling.

It makes winning a series like this very, very difficult.

England won’t come back from 2-0

Unfortunately, I know from experience that once you go 2-0 down in an Ashes series away from home there is no belief in the camp that you’re going to turn things around.

You continue to try, you continue to do the right things, but I knew in 2006/07 and 2013/14 – and these players will know now – that there’s no realistic way back.

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Previously, we had to go to the WACA, where England always lose. At least this time they’re going straight to Melbourne, but there is nothing in these performances to suggest that England are capable of winning a Test match.

Every time they engineer a little bit of hope, they have another horrible session. They’re just not capable of putting a few good sessions and days together.

Where is a score of 500 coming from?

Scores of 200 will not do. I wrote before the series that England were relying on Joe Root for runs and it’s been proven correct.

Dawid Malan has done OK, but Ben Stokes is playing on reputation alone at the moment because he hasn’t contributed for a while.

The others are nowhere near good enough.

Where are the scores of 500 or 600 coming from? It’s all very well talking about the bowling, as Joe Root did in his post-match press conference, but the bowling would look a whole lot better if they had some runs to play with.

If England were racking up big scores, the bowlers would get two new balls, and might not be so worried about bowling fuller deliveries that could be driven for runs.

Don’t blame the personnel

It’s no good blaming these batsmen specifically, they are just a product of the system that has developed them.

It’s something I’ve written and spoken about for a while.

The county system is absolute rubbish. It’s producing no batsmen, no spinners and we’re still relying on Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson.

Until the ECB transform its first-class competition into something genuinely elite and high-quality, by reducing the number of players and producing better pitches, then disasters like we’re seeing in Australia are going to keep happening.

Blaming Haseeb Hameed, Ollie Pope or anybody else is not the point – they have been selected because they are among the best batsmen in county cricket. Pope averaged 78 in county cricket last season and looks all over the place down under. What does that say about our domestic game?

Until it gets sorted, basing selection on county cricket statistics is pointless, so England need to go back to picking on character.

Liam Livingstone should have been on this tour and Harry Brook is another who is going to be an elite player.

Picking players who have the talent is the only way to go while the gap between county cricket and Test match cricket is so big.

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