Andy Flower’s men will welcome the outsiders’ tag ahead of the must-win second test in Leeds next Thursday. The World’s number 1 test match team were spanked at the Oval.
England were guilty of self-destruction in south London even before their capitulation on the morning of Day Two.
There were whispers that a slow wicket was requested, mirroring the Ashes dust-bowl of 2009 because the management backed Graeme Swann to out-bowl Imran Tahir. In the event, it was perhaps the England’s thinking that was a little ‘slow’ – it was England’s spinner who was one-dimensional.
The conditions in Leeds should be much more, well, English. It might be wise for the management team to keep schtum.
The contrast between triple-centurion Hashim Amla and the hapless Ravi Bopara could not have been more-stark but it is unfair to isolate the Essex batsman.
There is a need for common sense and focus in the England batting across the board. All of the top six, aside from vice-captain Alastair Cook, were guilty of poor shot selection in their dismal dismissals, and Enland’s much-heralded wagging tail was pathetically limp.
The implosion at the end of day four was especially concerning, coming so hot on the heels of the England collapse on the second morning.
Cometh the hour, Cometh the Finn. England’s attack was toothless in the absence of swing – both conventional and reverse. The Middlesex bowler would introduce an injection of much needed bounce plus extra pace. The trio of Anderson, Broad and Bresnan were too similar a combination on a flat track.
Strauss’ predictable tactics could also be reworked; his opposite number Graeme Smith opened the bowling with Morne Morkel ahead of Dale Steyn on Day One and was rewarded with the England captain’s dismissal for a duck. Strauss returned to the pavilion where he could sit unhappily with coach Andy Flower and share the Dunce’s Cap, a feature of good Olde England that should perhaps be brought back for naughty boys.
School report would say ‘Must try harder’.
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