Yes, you read that right. England can still win the Ashes. I know it currently sounds hard to believe but someone’s got to be slightly optimistic.
For those who are unaware of what’s been happening (maybe the late nights have been putting you off) here’s the state of play after two Tests.
England lost the first Test by 10 wickets at the Gabba and then by 120 runs in the first ever day-night Test match at Adelaide this week, so confidence is low, but there are still three Tests left and plenty to play for.
If Trevor Bayliss reads this (I’ve got more chance of playing in the Third test than him reading this) then here are my tips to give England a chance of making sure the little urn comes back to Blightly.
1. Get some pace into the side
The first two Tests have shown something particularly clear, England’s bowling attack lacks any real pace. No England bowler is capable of bowling 90mph at the minute and there are a couple of players who in my mind should be in the bowling attack. What has Liam Plunkett done to mean that he is not in Test contention, he can bowl at 90mph and can provide some batting resistance down the order. Is he better than Craig Overton or Jake Ball (I’d say yes!). One small problem, he’s not currently in Australia, but someone who is could provide the answer. Durham’s own Mark Wood. Whenever England’s bowling problems rear their ugly head, Wood gets a mention. He bowls 90mph and sometimes a bit more, and could be the morale boost that the side need to get them in the right frame of mind ahead of the Perth Test and beyond.
2. Try Mason Crane
Moeen Ali has struggled in this series with both the bat and the ball so maybe England need to turn to the someone who despite having never played Test Cricket before, has spent a substantial amount of time down under. Last year he played for New South Wales and was team mates with practically all of the Australia squad (well six to be more precise; those six being Steve Smith, David Warner, Josh Hazelwood, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon) so he has experience against the Aussies. It might seem as if I’m clutching at straws but anything could help England get past the Australians. His leg spin could provide a challenge for the Aussie batsman, and leg spinners normally do quite well down under.
I’m not saying England need to learn how to bat, but England need to learn how to concentrate while batting. Take for example the second Test. England went into the final day needing 178 runs to win the match and had six wickets in hand. Sounds fairly reasonable. Yet this is England. 42 runs later, England are all out and the W word is starting to circulate through the press box. What i’m trying to say is don’t give your wicket away. I may not be the most qualified person to talk about England’s batting and how to bat but surely England should know how to defend. If I had to make one change to the side, I would drop Dawid Malan and recall Ian Bell. Ian Bell you may say but he’s a batsman who has control, he’s won the Ashes FIVE TIMES between 2005 and 2015 so he knows how to win down under. It may be seen as a backward step but sometimes you have to take a step back to take two steps forward. (Just make sure you don’t hit your own wicket!)