It wasn’t the expected scenario, but the fact is that England will have to hand the Ashes back to the Aussies in case they go on to lose the Perth Test. Not only would that be a major disappointment for the English fans, but it would also mean the next two Tests are rendered meaningless. That would be a massive anti-climax to what was expected to be a closely-contested series. Here are few things England will need to get in place if they want to stay in the hunt post Perth.
Batsmen must score hundreds: In four completed innings not a single English batsman has made a century. Joe Root’s 87 in the second innings at Adelaide is the highest of them in the series so far. The disappointing aspect is that a number of them have crossed fifties over the two Tests, but haven’t carried on. Cook made 65 at Brisbane while Carberry, Ian Bell, Root, Pietersen and Matt Prior all got fifties at Adelaide. In contrast, Warner and Clarke got hundreds at Brisbane and Clarke and Haddin made tons at Adelaide.
Deal with Mitchell Johnson better: This is England’s biggest worry. While it is not the first time that the Englishmen are facing the left-arm pacer, it is also a fact that they haven’t seen him in such ferocious form before. Johnson has run in, dug the ball short and troubled the best of English batsmen with his pace and aggression. England lost nine wickets to Johnson at Brisbane and eight at Adelaide. The sole consolation could be that the left-arm fast bowler grabbed only one wicket in the second innings at Adelaide. England could look at that positively.
They cannot let opportunities slip: Irrespective of the losses, England have had their chances in both the Tests. At Gabba, they had Australia down at 132 for 6, but allowed them to recover and post 295.They still had a chance to make amends with the bat, but succumbed to 136 and lost the Test there itself. The story was similar to an extent at Adelaide. After a good start, England reduced Australia to 174 for 4, but some undisciplined bowling and extremely shoddy fielding saw the Aussies through the tough phase, and they never allowed England back in the Test again. Their batting in the first innings was equally poor,
Spinners must do better: The slower bowlers aren’t expected to cause much damage in Australia, but Graeme Swann would himself admit that he can do a lot better than his performance in the two Tests. He has picked up four wickets in the series, but has conceded well over 100 runs in two of the innings. That’s not all; his economy rate in the two Tests has hovered between four and five, which is way too high by Test standards. Monty Panesar was brought into the picture at Adelaide, but even he looked totally out of sorts for most part.
--By A Cricket Analyst