The Ashes: England were outplayed and selection in Adelaide made no cricketing sense, says Mike Atherton | Cricket News

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Michael Atherton

Cricket Expert & Columnist

“The thinking behind the team selection here in Adelaide was really worrying and confusing”; speaking on the Sky Sports Cricket podcast, Mike Atherton, Nasser Hussain and Rob Key look at some of the reasons behind another Ashes defeat for England in Australia

Last Updated: 20/12/21 4:47pm

England find themselves 2-0 with their selection in both Tests widely questioned

England find themselves 2-0 with their selection in both Tests widely questioned

After a heavy defeat in Adelaide, England are 2-0 down in The Ashes and their hopes are regaining the urn are rapidly fading.

Despite a valiant effort on the final day from Jos Buttler, the tourists slipped to a 275-run defeat as Australia took the final wicket early in the evening session.

With question marks over just about every aspect of the England team after the first two Tests, speaking on the Sky Sports Cricket podcast, Mike Atherton, Nasser Hussain and Rob Key reflected on what has been going wrong for England and why…

Mike Atherton

I thought England were poor in this game. Obviously, they had a very good final afternoon where they fought tremendously hard, showed a lot of spirit and following Ollie Pope’s early dismissal, all the batsmen really had to be prised out so they could certainly be proud of the way they fought this afternoon.

Former England assistant coach Paul Farbrace says England don't have enough batters who are able to cope with the scrutiny of Test cricket

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Former England assistant coach Paul Farbrace says England don’t have enough batters who are able to cope with the scrutiny of Test cricket

Former England assistant coach Paul Farbrace says England don’t have enough batters who are able to cope with the scrutiny of Test cricket

But that was on the back of four poor days, I thought England were outplayed in all facets of the game here. I thought they selected badly, I thought their strategy with the ball was poor, they obviously didn’t get enough runs on a good Adelaide pitch; they were really outplayed by Australia and Australia were without two of their main bowlers, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.

What happened this afternoon shouldn’t camouflage that, albeit it was great to see that fighting spirit.

I’d make the point that Australia’s bowling attack is excellent, and England are just not batting well enough and haven’t done for a long time.

That is partly personnel, one assumes it is partly confidence now because when you go through a period of time when you’re not putting runs on the board, that confidence must start to drain away, but batting is an individual game and while Root is getting runs, no one else is getting enough of them – and that is simply a personnel matter.

Rory Burns and the England top-order have struggled for runs so far in the series

Rory Burns and the England top-order have struggled for runs so far in the series

The thinking behind the team selection here in Adelaide was really worrying and confusing. When you looked at the selection of that team, for this surface, four kind of new-ball bowlers, five right-arm seamers, all within a narrow range of pace, leaving out your man of extreme pace – resting him, they said he was fully fit, resting for what? They’re 2-0 down – and the spinner.

It just didn’t make sense. I couldn’t see any situation where that selection made sense this game and I find that quite concerning because they must talk about the selection, obviously, ahead of the game and there is no cricketing common sense that comes up with that team on that pitch.

Nasser Hussain

I think it went wrong again before a ball went down. For the life of me, I can’t work out how on a green top in Brisbane you win the toss and bat and play a balanced attack with a spinner – and leave out Broad and Anderson – and then you turn up to a flat, dry hot one in Adelaide, with no cloud cover throughout the Test match, and you play five seamers and leave out your spinner.

Stuart Broad was one of five right-arm seamers in the England bowling attack at the Adelaide Oval

Stuart Broad was one of five right-arm seamers in the England bowling attack at the Adelaide Oval

So again, like the first Test match, before a ball went down, they are making poor decisions off the field. Then catches (dropped) again, wickets off no balls again, bowlers just a bit short on length again – even their stock ball was half a metre short of where it needs to be in Adelaide, a similar mistake to the one they made four years ago.

With all that, the bottom line is the batting. On a good pitch in Adelaide they scored 230 in the first innings and 190 in the second, so the batting – with the exception of Root – continues to be a serious concern for English cricket.

Rob Key

It’s far too reliant on Joe Root and has been for the last two years, in fact, even longer than that because we were talking like this when we were saying they were reliant on Cook and then Root. So, it has been a long, long time since we were able to bank on players coming in and getting runs.

Joe Root says he was 'really annoyed' at his dismissal in the first innings of England's second Ashes Test defeat by Australia

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Joe Root says he was ‘really annoyed’ at his dismissal in the first innings of England’s second Ashes Test defeat by Australia

Joe Root says he was ‘really annoyed’ at his dismissal in the first innings of England’s second Ashes Test defeat by Australia

The biggest concern from that, I think, is what do you do from here if you’re a coach in that set up? It’s the same thing with the spin, really. They made a shocking decision to leave out the spinner in this one and play him on a green seamer but the fact is, they don’t rate their spinner at all.

The same thing with the batting: what do you do? Who do you bring in? You’ve basically got youngsters to come in. These guys like Rory Burns, people like that, they’re the ones that are meant to be the senior, trusted players that are meant to go on to become good Test cricketers at the least.

If you’re not getting that from them then you’re looking to your youngsters who should be there learning and taking it for a bit of experience.

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