If the 10-wicket thumping of England at the hands of the Aussies is anything to go by, then the visitors are in for a horror tour Down Under. A beleaguered England – due to a suspended Ben Stokes and a list of injuries – arrived in Australia with a host of problems. While they put up a significant fight during the first three days of the Gabba Test, it’s the fourth day where they lost the plot. Here are some of the takeaways for England from the first Test.
England's usual lower batting order strength became their weakness at the Gabba, with failures in both innings. The tourists lost six for 56 in the first dig and six for 82 at the second time at bat. The tourists keenly missed the absence of star all-rounder Ben Stokes, who bats at six. Mitchell Starc took four of his six wickets amongst the tail which looms as a problem area for the tourists. By comparison, the Australians added 252 runs for their last six wickets in the first innings.
Joe Root was out twice leg before wicket, making it 18 times in 61 Tests, four more than Steve Smith over a similar amount of Tests. Root is England's big batting hope in the series, but could not extend his score beyond 51 in the second innings to the big hundred the tourists were desperately seeking to put pressure on the Australians. Root only averaged 27.42 from eight innings on England's last tour to Australia four years ago. England’s troubles were further compounded by the failure of their former skipper Alastair Cook in both innings.
As good as they were in the first innings, James Vince and Dawid Malan were clueless in the second. England’s misery was exacerbated by the failure of both Cook and Root. Vince, who stood tall to the pace barrage on the first day of the Gabba Test and scored 83, got out for just two. Malan was also clueless against Lyon in the second innings having scored a fighting fifty in the first. Stoneman was one of the positives, but he also seemed clueless against Lyon – who was zipping through on the fourth day at the Gabba. One thing that both Malan and Stoneman will need to learn is to use their feet against Lyon, which English batsmen rarely did as compared to the Aussies against Moeen Ali.
Australia’s pace attack is far superior to England when it comes to pure pace. The example came on day four of the Test. While the English were skittled out by some genuine pace from Starc and Pattinson, English didn’t have a single bowler to match that prowess. Their trump-card Jake Ball wasn’t potent either. And most of all, their leading pair were not able to exploit the conditions as Aussies chased down the target without losing a wicket in the final innings.
Things need to change quickly for the English, who need their pace attack to fire under the lights in Adelaide. Their batters need to score runs, and most importantly, they need to avoid any more controversies, given the news of an altercation between Jonny Bairstow and Cameron Bancroft.