England still too reliant on Broad and Anderson
Next generation failed to take their chance this summer so the old stagers remain unchallenged
The problem England have is that James Anderson and Stuart Broad will both be in Australia for the next Ashes, because the younger bowlers who have been picked this summer have not done well enough.
They are not taking enough wickets to put pressure on those two. Sam Curran did not have a massive opportunity, but when he did play he did not take a bagful of wickets. Jofra Archer went wicketless in the last Test.
Who were the wicket-takers for England? Broad and Anderson again and that was the frustration this summer.
Other bowlers have had an opportunity but not taken it, so England had to revert to the senior pair.
Archer is still working out what kind of bowler he is, which is fine for a young player. Jason Gillespie, his coach at Sussex, says he is the type of bowler who hits the top of off stump with the odd sharp bouncer.
Recently he has been used as the short-pitched battering ram. I do not think that is going to work with a soft ball on a slow wicket.
I think all tall bowlers at Test level should just hit the top of off stump. Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh and Glenn McGrath all hit the top of off stump and bowled the odd bouncer.
Every now and again the quick bouncer is awkward to face. As a batsman it is much easier when you know the bouncer is coming all the time.
It is the element of surprise that causes problems.
Mark Wood should have played more. They are asking too much of him just to bowl overseas. We know his body is not going to last five matches in Australia. If you can get three of the five Tests out of him that would be great. He needs to be given confidence that he can play three Tests in a series.
England have to decide how they are going to get out of Brisbane next year without losing the first Test. Is it going to be settling in and trying to emulate the 2010-11 team by just batting long periods, or do they go for broke and try to win the game and be more positive in the field?
Spin is the big problem. How can you win overseas without a spinner? Dom Bess is 23 and
Dom Bess has spirit and confidence, but I was disappointed with him this week
young, but he has played all six Test matches this summer after England put confidence in him.
I like his character. He has spirit and confidence, but I was disappointed with him this week. With 583 on the board, I wanted him to be braver with field settings. Why did he have a cover point on the boundary when he had so many runs to play with?
There were 42 overs to bowl on the last day and it was impossible for Pakistan to go beyond England’s score. It was a chance for Bess to bowl with men around the bat and create pressure, which will be needed by England in Asia this winter. But all he had was a short leg.
Either he, or the captain, were not brave enough to bowl with fielders around the bat. For England to win overseas he has to get used to bowling with men close in to bowl teams out.
This was an opportunity missed to say to Dom: “Can you do it?” Not once did he have a silly point to right-handers. I found that staggering. If it had been a low-scoring game, then fair enough. But with 583 it cannot be right that he did not have a silly point. As a right-hand batsman, I know that if there is no silly point I can lunge forward and play with the spin.
With a silly point there, I know if I play forward to a ball that spits out the rough, I could get an inside edge that could balloon to the fielder in close on the off side, which it did on one occasion off Azhar Ali, but there was no fielder there. He had cover point on the boundary instead. It did not make sense.
England cannot play safe with an orthodox off-spinner. He has to conjure something around the bat that cons the batsman into thinking he is creating something when he is not.
Once he is in rhythm, Bess has to attack and force the batsmen into doing something different. It is hard for an off-spinner against right-handers, even Nathan Lyon struggles, but he would have had a silly point and a leg slip in the final session.
My concern is what were England worried about? Were they trying to protect him to make sure his figures were not too bad? I would not have cared if my spinner had gone for a few runs on Tuesday. I just wanted wickets and opportunities created.
They can play safe and sensibly with the bat, but you cannot be safe with the ball, not with England’s attack. There was not a chance in a million years that the ball would go in the air to deep point.
A lot of good things have happened this summer, but England have not addressed the problems they have overseas.