Ashes 2017: England lack of fast bowlers is coming back to bite them… but Australia will continue bowling short and speedy

THE most glaring difference between England and Australia is we don’t have anyone who can bowl fast. It means Joe Root’s team, and particularly the lower order, will continue to be bombed by a barrage of short balls.

 England and in particular the tail have struggled against Australia's speedy bowling attack

Australia’s plan of bouncing England’s tail is very effective. If Engl­and lose their last five wickets for 30 runs in every Test, they are never going to post match-winning totals of 400 or 450.

Even Chris Woakes was bounced out in Brisbane and looks to be out of touch. Stuart Broad has struggled desperately since being hit on the swede a few years ago and Jake Ball is incapable with the bat.

 England legend Bob Willis believes England are being made to pay for the way they set up
England legend Bob Willis believes England are being made to pay for the way they set up. And he was pretty disappointing with the ball, too. Don’t forget, the pitch at the Gabba was slow.

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But they are fast, extracted bounce and got the ball flying around.

Having been beaten in Brisbane, England’s only possible lifeline is to hope the pink ball moves around during the twilight period and win the day-night Second Test in Adelaide.

England are so obsessed with swing that, if the ball doesn’t move, they look completely innocuous.

To try to solve this, England should promote Jonny Bairstow to No 5. In Brisbane, he was demoted below Moeen Ali and I just don’t get that.

 Australia had all the answers to comprehensively win the first Test against England

Even if Ben Stokes was here in Australia, I’d want Bairstow batting above him because keeping wicket is less tiring than bowling. Bairstow’s brain was confused during the First Test and he ended up playing unnecessary high-risk shots before it was required.

Steve Smith did not change his tempo until Australia were eight wickets down, he had faith in people around him. Intimidating the tail can really unsettle and debilitate teams.There used to be a fast bowlers’ union with a rule that balls would be pitched up, the rabbit would have a swish, hit a couple of fours and get out. England Cricket captain Joe Root looks back at Australia’s 10-wicket victory in Ashes first test


England’s Ashes ODI schedule

Jan 11 vs CA XI (Sydney)
Jan 14 First ODI (Melbourne)
Jan 19 Second ODI (Brisbane)
Jan 21 Third ODI (Sydney)
Jan 26 Fourth ODI (Adelaide)
Jan 28 Fifth ODI (Perth)

That was in pre-helmet days, of course, and now fast bowlers, without compunction, just bomb tailenders bedecked in padding. I remember facing Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson in 1974-75 and it was absolutely bloody terrifying. I couldn’t bat and they just kept assaulting me with bouncers. Mind you, I was probably guilty of starting it with bouncers of my own in the first innings.

I’ve seen all the West Indies quicks — Harold Larwood, Frank Tyson, Brett Lee, Shoaib Akhtar — and I cannot believe anybody has ever bowled as fast as Thomson. He had this incredible catapult, javelin-style action. I’m amazed it hasn’t been taught or copied. Go behind the scenes with BT Sport at the Ashes First Cricket Test at the Gabba in Melbourne

After all, everyone in the high jump used to do the straddle until Dick Fosbury came along — and suddenly they all switched to the Fosbury Flop. why not teach the Thomson fling? Thommo used to say that he loved seeing blood and teeth on the pitch — but I was never macho like that.

I hit a few batsmen, though. I broke Rick McCosker’s jaw in the Centenary Test in 1977 and I can still hear the horrible cracking noise. Pakistan’s Iqbal Qasim took a nasty smack in the mouth and that created a huge furore. But my argument was that he wasn’t a tailender because he came in at No 3 as nightwatchman.

Then, during the 1978-79 Ashes, I hit batsman Rick Darling in the chest and his chewing gum became lodged in his throat. He collapsed and needed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. That was a horrible moment.

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