Putting issues like walking and the Decision Review System to one side, if we can get that close playing at those levels I definitely like our chances of heading out of The Oval with the urn in hand, and if we can’t quite manage that I reckon we’re looking good to have the prize reclaimed by the end of the Australian summer.
I’m not in the business of assigning percentages to the opposition, though I’m fairly definite in saying England were playing somewhere beyond 100% back in 2005. That’s an easy call. They were playing out of their skins, far better than they, or anyone else, had a right to expect.
So I’m not sure about the level of performance from this England side in that particular Test, but I’d rate our batting somewhere between 75 and 80% and the bowling somewhere between 85 and 90. There’s room for substantial improvement with the bat and a significant lift with the ball and we still only fell 14 runs short.
Pattinson, Starc, Siddle and Agar may well be our best specialist bowling quartet, but there’s room for improvement in the lines we bowl and the percentage of deliveries we force their batsmen to play at. If Trent Bridge is a sign of the surfaces we’re going to see through the rest of the English summer we’re not going to see anything resembling bowler friendly conditions unless weather and atmospherics intervene so attack off stump, get the length right and we’re going to be a big show.
Looking at the English bowling, this particular quartet is handy, and they under bowled Broad in the first dig after he got collected in the shoulder. There may be room for improvement there, but not having seen enough of them in the past it’d difficult to judge. There’s no doubting Anderson’s class, but I think there’s a fair gap between this group and their 2005 combo, which was boosted by the Flintoff all rounder factor.
If you scratch your head and wonder why we get our knickers in a knot looking for a Botham or Flintoff, take a look at our lineup and ask yourself how good it would look with Watson assuming a fair proportion of the workload. Four overs in the first innings and fifteen in the second when his four colleagues were all in the thirties doesn’t rank as a fair proportion of the workload from where I’m sitting.
At his best he’s not far behind the best of them for pace and aggression, which is why I’ve never been happy about having him open the batting, but that, it seems, is where he’ll be staying for the foreseeable future, so there you go.
The batting is the department where there’s the most room for improvement, and the first thing I’d do is issue an edict that an unsuccessful referral will result in a thousand dollar fine. No, make that ten thousand. Let’s see an end to the speculative or opportunistic referral, and limit them to setting the absolute howlers right rather than allowing a batsman who’s made a mistake the possibility of a lifeline.
At the moment it seems to be a case of maybe I can get away with one here rather than hang on a minute, that decision was wrong.