Mark Taylor praises courage of Pat Cummins at coin toss


Former Australian captain Mark Taylor praised the courage of returning skipper Pat Cummins in electing to send England in to bat after winning the toss on Boxing Day. 

“That was a brave decision — a lot of Australian captains, me included, have always wanted to put runs on the board but he knows England’s bats are a worry, and he backed his bowlers,” Taylor told Wide World of Sports. 

“There’s not many positives for England, I don’t think — it’s amazing when the game’s not going your way, it’s really not going your way.

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“They would have liked to bowl today as Joe Root said at the toss, and it’s always the tosses you really need to win that you don’t.”

Instead, a ruthless Australia sent them in and tactically outclassed them throughout the day. Taylor noted that the dismissal of Ben Stokes came as a result of a long-term game plan.

“Stokes’ dismissal was brought about by good pressure from Nathan Lyon and Cameron Green,” he said.

“They stopped them scoring for 10 to 15 minutes and then, I think, Ben Stokes had in his mind ‘the next short one’s going over the slips’ but it wasn’t the right ball for that shot.

“Too much of his batting in this series is premeditated, whether it’s walking down the pitch or across his stumps, or that ball today.

“And dare I say, it’s indicative of England — too much of their cricket is pre-planned and they’re getting outplayed, that’s the bottom line.”

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Stokes was one of just four English bats to make 20 or more, with skipper Joe Root top scoring with 50 — before once again failing to go on with the job. 

Root had looked utterly unfazed through his half-century, until immediately succumbing after reaching that milestone. It’s now the ninth time Root has made 50 in Australia, and he is still yet to reach a three-figure score.

“It’s not just mental, it’s also the Australian attack who are keeping the pressure on,” Taylor said.

“There’s been too many times in recent Test history where a player gets to 40 or 50, and the next 50 or 60 runs come far too easily.

“Test cricket shouldn’t be like that, you should have to play well for a long period of time, and I think that’s where the Australian attack is different right now.”

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Of course, thoughts must linger in the back of Root’s mind that he’s playing a lone hand in a very disappointing team.

“He’ll say that’s not the case, but it certainly is to an extent. He’s the only one, at the moment, who’s out-and-out world class,” Taylor said.

“There’s some decent players in there, but the rest of their top six all average in the mid 30s at best. David Warner averages 48, Steve Smith 61 and Marnus Labuschagne 62.

“That’s a different class of player at the moment.”

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