I love laughing at Australia, and when a crushing defeat is followed by internal turmoil it reminds me of England tours of a bygone era. Throw in the fact that Mitchell Johnson and Shane Watson are involved and it really is the perfect situation for all of us to laugh at. Except there’s a problem. We nearly, very nearly, just lost to a New Zealand side who were bowled out for 45 only two months ago.
Alright, one bad match does not make for a bad team, but all the talk beforehand was how England were going to run away with this one, before an even more one-sided affair back in Blighty in May. “Not so cocky now are you bro?” is what every barman in south London is saying this week.
Where did England go wrong? From the outside it is impossible to tell. I hate blaming complacency, I’m an outsider so have no idea what was going on inside what most agree is a very professional set up these days, so instead I’ll return to my usual chest beating about one day cricket.
The shot selection in the first innings was shambolic, and can only really be attributed to befuddled minds. After all, the final Test in India was three months ago now and there have been eight ODIs since then plus the three match T20 series, and just one warm up game…which England lost.
That warm up defeat clearly did not act as a wakeup call, and instead England were forced to remember that Test cricket involves a bit of application and so bat out two days, something they have become very good at in recent times, but these really are not positions they should be falling in to. How to arrest such a slide comes down to Andy Flower, but I wonder if he gave Ashley Giles a call and asked him to explain what exactly he’d been teaching.
I’m delighted for Nick Compton. Why his place was under threat was beyond me, and I highly doubt that all the speculation did him any favours. He has a solid technique and the ability to bat time, which is what a Test opener needs. Throwing Joe Root in because he is flavour of the month was not the right move, let the lad bed in at six and his time at the top will surely come.
There have been some huge scores lately, and as such the debate linking flat pitches and dismal crowds is on again. This pitch was as flat as could be and gave absolutely nothing to the bowlers, almost as little as the bowlers got in Galle where 1613 runs were scored for the loss of 19 wickets. Eight centurions in a match cheapens an achievement no matter how you look at it. No wonder truly fast bowlers on the subcontinent are going the way of the dodo.
Hopefully England will bounce back, and hopefully in style. I am sure they at least will be doing their homework. Most eyes will surely be on the India vs Australia now though. A seismic beating from an Indian side that hardly had its head in the clouds could be on the cards, and provided England don’t meltdown again, the pre-Ashes self confidence could be about to go into overdrive.