ENG­LAND STEWING

IAN CHAP­PELL sorts the bowlers and the ban­ter

Sunday Tasmanian - - Sport -

THERE was no let-up in the argy bargy when Aus­tralia and Eng­land took the field for the 2nd Ashes Test at the Adelaide Oval yes­ter­day.

Eng­land un­leashed a siz­zling ver­bal as­sault on David Warner and Steve Smith as ten­sions reached boil­ing point.

Stu­art Broad led the sus­tained sledg­ing bar­rage, rip­ping into the Aus­tralian lead­er­ship as he fol­lowed through on pre-match threats to seek re­venge over what the visi­tors view as mis­treat­ment of Jonny Bairstow in Bris­bane.

THE Adelaide day/night Test is a so­cial oc­ca­sion with wine and con­ver­sa­tion flow­ing freely out back of the grand­stand.

On the other side of the pav­il­ion, how­ever, it will be any­thing but a pic­nic, espe­cially for the Eng­land team.

Aus­tralia’s short-pitched on­slaught at the Gabba worked so suc­cess­fully on Eng­land’s lower or­der bat­ting that it could be­come a more widely used weapon for the rest of the se­ries.

This has been hinted at by the ref­er­ence to Adelaide Oval as “the fastest wicket around Aus­tralia at night”.

Con­sid­er­ing this un­likely theme was pro­moted by the Aus­tralian coach Darren Lehmann, it could also be the clas­sic dou­ble bluff — pre­pare the Eng­land bats­men for mis­siles whistling around their ears and then bom­bard them with swing­ing and seam­ing de­liv­er­ies pitched on a fuller length.

De­spite the con­jec­ture over the mode of at­tack, a cou­ple of things are cer­tain.

The Eng­land lower or­der will re­ceive a plethora of short­pitched de­liv­er­ies and go­ing by the ad­ju­di­cat­ing in the first Test, the wil­low wield­ers should not ex­pect any pro­tec­tion from the um­pires.

This does not bode well for Eng­land’s fast bowlers.

Mitchell Starc and Pat Cum­mins are rea­son­ably com­fort­able against short-pitched de­liv­er­ies and do not fear any threat of re­tal­i­a­tion. Em­bold­ened fast bowlers blessed with skill and men­ace are not a pleas­ant propo­si­tion.

Con­se­quently, the Eng­land bowlers need to come up with a much im­proved plan when bat­ting. Stand­ing and de­fend­ing the short-pitched de­liv­ery — no mat­ter how tall you are — is not a vi­able long-term op­tion in Aus­tralia.

There are two dan­gers. Firstly, when the ball climbs steeply it is im­pos­si­ble to con­trol the shot and, sec­ondly, there is a dan­ger of a bro­ken finger as the bowl­ing hand is in the fir­ing line.

The com­bi­na­tion of a pink ball and play­ing un­der lights will suit Eng­land’s swing and seam at­tack.

How­ever, the Eng­land bats­men have to con­front the same test­ing con­di­tions and a re­peat of their Gabba per­for­mance, where they failed to con­vert starts into match­win­ning scores will re­sult in good bowl­ing go­ing to waste.

No mat­ter how dif­fi­cult the cir­cum­stances, the Eng­land fast bowlers, led by Chris Woakes, debu­tant Craig Over­ton and Stu­art Broad, have to adopt a more ag­gres­sive ap­proach to Aus­tralia’s short­pitched as­sault.

At the very least, some form of counter-at­tack may cause the Aussie pace­men to pitch even shorter and then bats­men could find the ball pass­ing harm­lessly to the keeper.

As if Eng­land does not have enough headaches on the field, the Ben Stokes saga has been fur­ther fu­elled by his play­ing pres­ence in New Zealand.

De­spite the prospect of a Stokes ap­pear­ance in the Ashes se­ries dwin­dling, with the po­lice re­fer­ring the mat­ter for charg­ing ad­vice, his pres- ence nearby is a dis­trac­tion Eng­land could well do with­out com­ing on the heels of the Jonny Bairstow drama.

Aus­tralia must be care­ful if it in­tends us­ing Stokes as the butt of on-field com­ments.

Firstly, any com­ments should at­tract the at­ten­tion of the um­pires and, sec­ondly, the Aussies do not want to fur­ther arouse an Eng­land side al­ready an­noyed by some of the Aus­tralian an­tics in Bris­bane.

That aside, the Aussies must have been look­ing for­ward to Adelaide Oval as ea­gerly as the lawn loung­ing revellers at the back of the grand­stand.

Not only did Aus­tralia es­tab­lish a psy­cho­log­i­cal ad­van- tage through their fast bowlers but Steve Smith achieved the same with his res­o­lute bat­ting.

As des­per­ately as the Eng­land fast bowlers need to find a so­lu­tion with bat in hand, they are even more in need of a plan de­vised to dis­miss the pro­lific Aus­tralian cap­tain.

Adding to Smith’s dom­i­nance was the sec­ond in­nings rev­e­la­tion that the ag­gres­sive David Warner may have found the ideal open­ing part­ner in Cameron Ban­croft.

Ban­croft played much of his sec­ond in­nings knock to the sound­track of the Barmy Army trum­peter play­ing the Si­mon and Gar­funkel hit tune Mrs Robin­son. This was a ref­er­ence to Anne Ban­croft, the ac­tress who played Mrs Robin­son in the film The Grad­u­ate.

The song be­came more rel­e­vant as Ban­croft the crick­eter quickly grad­u­ated from debu­tant to fully fledged Test opener. His calm pres­ence helped so­lid­ify the Aus­tralian line-up.

The Eng­land bat­ting, de­spite a cou­ple of im­pres­sive Ashes de­buts from Mark Stone­man and James Vince, has a frag­ile look. If the Aus­tralian bowlers can ex­ploit this brit­tle­ness, it will be an­other rea­son for the Adelaide Oval pun­ters to clink their glasses and cel­e­brate, as vic­tory would put Eng­land’s Ashes de­fence on a down­hill slope to obliv­ion.

Pic­ture: AFP/AAP

BOUNCER: Steve Smith ex­changes words with Eng­land pace­man Stu­art Broad.

Pic­ture: GETTY IMAGES

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