It’s a common Myth that Australia do not lose games, especially against England at the WACA oval in Perth. They do lose games, they have lost at the WACA the last 3 times South Africa have toured, and India beat them there in 2008 not to mention New Zealand held the home side to a draw in 2015 where Ross Taylor posted 290, the highest test score by a visiting batsman in Australia.
It could almost be said that The WACA is the ground where Australia are most vulnerable; however, when England are involved, it is a far different story. The Poms have beaten the Aussies just once at the WACA in history, and the final results have not made pretty reading for the visitors. In 2006, Adam Gilchrist smashed what was at the time the 2nd fastest century in test history to help Australia to a 206 run win.
Even in 2010 when the England team were dominating down under they suffered an even bigger 267 run loss at the WACA. History isn’t the be all and end all in cricket, but it highlights a severe weakness that the English team have in Perth. Root and Bayless will have to come into Thursday with a fresh and unique game plan if they are to keep the Ashes alive. England must get at least a draw to have any chance of retaining the series, and even that is not likely to be enough.
It came to light just hours after the conclusion of the 2nd test in Adelaide that Mitchell Marsh had been recalled to replace Chad Sayers in the 13 man squad for the 3rd test. It is widely believed that, despite flaunting an average of just 21.74 with the bat and a respectable (for a batting all-rounder) 37.48 with the ball through his first 21 tests, Marsh will replace moderately out of form Handscomb and bat at 7 to provide relief for Australia’s tiring fast bowlers’ cartel.
England’s off-field antics
Yet another off-field incident surfaced during the week, with England fringe player Ben Duckett allegedly pouring a beer over James Anderson’s head. I don’t think there is much to be said about the incident itself and Jimmy himself said there was nothing malicious about it but the ECB have taken swift action. Sending Duckett home from the English Lions tour shows that they are perhaps on edge as to the level of control they have over their contracted players in the aftermath of both the Ben Stokes and Johnny Bairstow incidents along with numerous other allegations. There is nothing particularly wrong about what Duckett did but it doesn’t make life any easier with the increased media attention and scrutiny of the English players when they are 2-0 down and defending the most important trophy in world cricket.
Is Root’s conversion rate a problem?
When Joe Root is compared to Steve Smith, the same statistic is used to push the Case for Smith each time. Joe Root has 13 test centuries and 34 half-centuries whereas Smith has 21 and 21 respectively. Had Root pushed on to make a hundred in the 2nd innings of both test matches, the final result might have been different. Obviously, it’s not all Root’s fault entirely, and blame must be shared evenly between all batsman and bowlers, but the captain’s inability to convert starts into bigger scores has already somewhat cost his team 2 results this series already.
English batting order
Heading into the 3rd test, it is likely that England will change their batting order even if they do not change their lineup. There are calls for Bairstow to move up to 5 pushing both Malan and Moeen Ali down to 6 and 7 respectively. Similarly, there is pressure on Joe Root to push himself up to Number 3 and push James Vince down to 4.
I personally believe that each of these changes is a good move and will ultimately strengthen the English order. Bairstow has been starved of opportunities to show his talent, often finding himself pushing it uphill with a fragile tail end whereas Moeen Ali’s natural aggression is more suited to the number 7 position where he can begin to establish himself as a genuine All-rounder. Apart from that, it is obvious that Joe Root is a far more talented batsman than anyone else in the side and batting at 3 is the best way to solidify the top order. Only time will tell, but these are simple adjustments that I believe will make a significant difference to the Visitors.
Its shaping up to be an interesting test match. England need a win; it’s as simple as that. With the already fragile nature of their tour, a loss here will lower their confidence further, and with nothing to play for, will almost certainly lead to a 3rd 5-0 whitewash in the last 4 series down under.
The Australian Fast bowlers will be chomping at the bit to send down some chin music at the English top order and wrap up the ashes giving the WACA that finally send-off that it deserves.