Denly put at risk by stupidly repeating the same old error
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.