Denly put at risk by stupidly re­peat­ing the same old er­ror

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport | First Test - Sir Ge­of­frey Boy­cott

Atotal of 204 was not a great one but it was OK. On this pitch, bat­ting was never go­ing to be easy, and every­one had to scrap and fight and hang in there to make what­ever runs they could.

With the bowlers on top, it was go­ing to be an ex­am­i­na­tion of the bats­man’s de­fen­sive tech­nique. Nor­mally, the modern-day bats­man plays on flat, dry sur­faces and is able to try lots of strokes. They do not think too much about de­fence. It is all about scor­ing rates – how many fours and sixes they hit.

In this first in­nings, Eng­land had to de­fend, and foot­work is the key to all bat­ting. If you can get your feet in great po­si­tions then it is much eas­ier to get bat to ball.

Three of the wick­ets that went down were poor foot­work. When Joe Denly plays for­ward, his left foot goes inches in front of the bat­ting crease in­stead of a few feet. Once you are caught on the crease, or just in front of the crease, then the bat au­to­mat­i­cally goes way in front of the front pad, cre­at­ing a huge gap that the nip-back ball goes through.

Denly needs to make a big­ger stride so that his head comes fur­ther over his front pad, then keep bat and pad to­gether so that there is no gap. Then he would have a bet­ter chance of play­ing the ball.

He has been mak­ing this same mis­take all the time he has been play­ing Test cricket. He is in his 15th Test and he is av­er­ag­ing about 30, which in Test cricket is or­di­nary.

Mak­ing mis­takes is hu­man, we all make them. But to keep mak­ing the same mis­take is stupid. If he does not im­prove quickly he will not stay in the team.

Rory Burns is an­other guy who has looked good. He has played 15 Tests and is av­er­ag­ing 33, which again is OK but not spe­cial, and he needs to get bet­ter.

When seam­ers bowl over the wicket to him, they can pitch out­side leg stump and he squares him­self up chest-on, full down the pitch.

On his dis­missal, he got his foot too far over on the off­side of the ball, which is the wrong side, and then his head starts fall­ing over to the off. It was a full de­liv­ery from Shannon Gabriel that nearly yorked him and he got in a bit of a tan­gle.

When seam­ers come around the wicket, he looks even more vul­ner­a­ble. When balls are com­ing into him he gets even more square on, with his chest fac­ing down the pitch. It is a side­ways game Rory, it al­ways has been.

Bowlers are study­ing your bat­ting and work­ing you out and if you do not im­prove, even­tu­ally you get dropped.

Zak Craw­ley, a young kid mak­ing his way, was late mov­ing for­ward to the pitch of the ball.

As the ball passed his bat, his front foot had the toe of the boot in the air, which means his foot never got to the pitch of the ball early enough.

So, three bats­men could, and should, have done bet­ter yes­ter­day. Ol­lie Pope got a good ball, so did Jos But­tler and Ben Stokes.

Three of the wick­ets on the sec­ond day got good balls and three made mis­takes. That could be the dif­fer­ence be­tween 204 and 280.

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