12 December 2013

Do or die

So England have to defy history and momentum to stop Australia taking the Ashes over the next 5 days in Perth.   5 days if England are lucky many will think.   But I'm not quite as negative as many!

Yes, England have looked shocking in the first two Tests but the primary problem has been with the batting.   You look down the side and there's only Stokes who there's any doubt about.   Cook, Bell, Pietersen and Prior are class players who, apart from Bell, have been off form.   They will regain form.   Root and Carberry are inexperienced but fighting hard.   Cook needs to win the toss, bat and lead the way.   Two hundreds in the first innings of the match and the game will be England's to lose.

It's a massive if given the struggles England have had with the bat in 2013, but if they can get runs on the board the next challenge is getting 20 wickets.   Interesting to hear the side that Cricinfo have suggested is likely- they suggest one change from Adelaide which is Bresnan for Panesar.   That's the most likely team and the one I would go for, partly because of Swann's catching at second slip.   But I wonder how much thought England are giving to a side that involves Ballance and Stokes, as Alec Stewart has proposed, but no Swann.   Stokes would have to bowl a lot more overs than in Adelaide, possibly nearly as many in a day than the 25 he bowled in the match there.   But a batting line up that has Bresnan at 9 and Broad at 10 theoretically gives England a long batting line up.

I'd love to be a fly on the wall.   I'd play Swann, but it's a marginal call and I wouldn't be too disappointed if he was dropped.   I imagine England have looked at the stats of how many batsmen are caught at slip and are weighing up the dropping of one of their specialists in that position.

The main thing is the batting - the largest partnership in the first two Tests was 111 and other than that it's 62...not good enough!   A small momentum change like Cook getting a big score after being dropped, or two of England's top 4 getting big runs in the first innings of the match could turn things in England favour - Australia's batting is pretty brittle, despite the big scores in the first two Tests.

"Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torment of man" (Friedrich Nietzsche).

I haven't given up hope yet but the toss is crucial!
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