Flem­ing at­tacks ‘worst’ bats­men

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

SYD­NEY: Former Aus­tralia quick Damien Flem­ing says Eng­land’s top six con­tains some of the worst bats­men he has seen play Test cricket, and be­lieves the home pace at­tack will run through them in the Ashes se­ries at the end of the year.

While Flem­ing con­ceded that all-rounders Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali, as well as wick­et­keeper Jonny Bairstow, would cause prob­lems for Aus­tralia, he was scathing in his as­sess­ment of Keaton Jen­nings, Tom West­ley and Dawid Malan.

“Eng­land needs three decent bats­man in their top six,” Flem­ing, who played 20 Tests and 88 One-Day­ers when Aus­tralia were in their pomp in the 1990s, said.

“Watch­ing the South African se­ries, they’re some of the worst bats­men I’ve ever seen play Test cricket.”

Eng­land beat South Africa 3-1 in the just-com­pleted se­ries, but Flem­ing said the re­ten­tion for the Ashes of opener Jen­nings and top or­der bats­man West­ley would of­fer plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties for the Aus­tralian bowlers.

“(Jen­nings) scored 127 runs at an av­er­age of 15. I used to bat nine in Test matches and I would just be happy with that, av­er­ag­ing 15. Just be happy. He’s open­ing the bat­ting,” Flem­ing added.

“I don’t like his tech­nique, closed grip, he’s go­ing to nick peo­ple that can an­gle the ball across him and bowlers that can ac­tu­ally get the ball to shape back in, that gap be­tween bat and front pad. This is an open­ing bats­man.

“West­ley has a sim­i­lar tech­nique. He is squared up, he has hands that are a long way in front of his body with a closed grip. How does he hit the ball through the off side? He’s go­ing to nick off or get in trou­ble with the ball that comes in.

“Where are 80per cent of the de­liv­er­ies go­ing to be to Jen­nings and West­ley? Out­side off stump, maybe shap­ing away. They don’t have a tech­nique to cope with that.”

West­ley and Malan made their Test de­buts in the third Test against the Proteas, with the former tak­ing over at “first drop” from the in­jured Gary Ballance, who did not es­cape Flem­ing’s bru­tal anal­y­sis.

“How did Gary Ballance play Test cricket again af­ter that last se­ries two years ago there?” Flem­ing asked, re­fer­ring to the bats­man’s ax­ing af­ter two Tests of the 2015 Ashes.

“Young Malan scored 35 runs at an av­er­age of eight.

“So there’s real op­por­tu­ni­ties for Aus­tralia to run through the top or­der.”

Eng­land, who won the 2015 se­ries 3-2, be­gin their de­fence of the Ashes in Bris­bane on Novem­ber 23. – Reuters

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