But a defeat at the Waca
– in the same dashing mode as when he was No8 in the 2015 Ashes – and Jonny Bairstow; and at least one of the Australian bowlers breaking down.
None of these scenarios happened. So, it was perhaps merciful the obsequies were brief. The chief complicating factor was that, on an almost hot afternoon, Australia’s pace bowlers all started to make the old ball reverse-swing – and England’s batsmen could do nothing to reverse Australia’s reverse, whether they blocked or bashed.
Hazlewood nipped out Woakes and Root in his first two overs. Even the Barmy Army were silenced. Hazlewood hits a deck harder than any of England’s bowlers and he got some movement off the worn surface: for Woakes, the ball moved away, for Root, it not only came back but kept low and took the bottom edge. Yet such was the speed – 92mph – it still carried to Tim Paine.
From this standing, or stumbling, start Moeen and Bairstow could hardly switch from all guns muzzled to all guns blazing. Bairstow cover-drove but Moeen was still stuck, on two after 19 balls, when he
Ever since Stokes was arrested, it was unrealistic to expect England to retain the Ashes
went to sweep Lyon and missed – and Moeen is the only England lefthanded batsman, out of six, to have played any shots at him.
The strongest straw for England to cling to is that they have outcaught Australia. It might not be fair to compare Bairstow and Paine, because Paine has had to keep to an off-spinner who has made the ball bounce extravagantly. Simply when comparing the 10 outfielders, Australia have dropped five chances and England only one, when Mark Stoneman missed a ball at long-leg that would at some stage have come out of a background of lamps along the roofs of Adelaide’s stands.
Given that they dropped 16 chances in three Tests against West Indies, England’s higher successrate in catching is a tribute to Paul Collingwood, who surely has to be lured away as soon as possible from the captaincy of Durham. In title, Collingwood is England’s fielding coach, but he will also oversee the bowlers for the rest of this series now that Shane Bond has completed his temporary assignment; and Collingwood’s input was no doubt integral to England matching Australia in Adelaide sledge for sledge.
More than that, a side’s fielding is always equated with their morale. England’s fielding is sound – as it has been all tour – and, accordingly, they must still be sound of heart. But they have yet to reach the Waca, their most unsuccessful Test ground. Did not bat Bowling
England First Innings
AN Cook MD Stoneman JM Vince
DJ Malan Moeen Ali
†JM Bairstow CR Woakes C Overton
SCJ Broad JM Anderson Extras
Total (76.1 overs) Fall of wickets