Ian Baker - England paper over the cracks
03 Aug 2010 - 09:29:26
A crushing 354 run victory in less than 10 sessions should not produce any pessimism at all. Especially when your leading strike bowler takes 11 wickets and the opposition lose 20 wickets for 262 runs.
But I genuinely feel far less convinced that England will retain the Ashes than I did before their first Test hammering of Pakistan at Trent Bridge. And here's why.
Despite Eoin Morgan's classy first innings knock and Matt Prior's battling second innings effort, England struggled to look lethal with the bat. Alastair Cook - back injury or no back injury - looks like a walking wicket for Pakistan, Australia, whoever.
Jonathan Trott has struggled to really look impressive at international level, bar his Test debut against Australia. A woefully out-of-form Kevin Pietersen needs to get his head together and sort himself out. He looks a shadow of his former self and the aura that made him one of the most destructive batsmen in world cricket appears to have gone.
Paul Collingwood will always provide grit as his first innings 82 proved. He will give everything for the team but he is no superstar. And at the moment you do wonder if he is capable of a match winning innings.
Then the bowlers. It's all well and good destroying a youthful Pakistan in helpful conditions. England probably have the best bowlers in world cricket when it comes to exploiting the swing. But Australian wickets are a whole different kettle of fish.
The Kookaburra ball will just not do as much and the likes of Jimmy Anderson could go for runs. I can see Anderson, Stuart Broad, Steve Finn and Graeme Swann toiling all day in sweltering batsmen friendly conditions.
Sadly there is no answer. England have no alternative to Andrew Strauss and Cook as openers and will simply not change a winning team either. It appears to be totally the wrong series to prepare Strauss' men for the battle ahead and they seem very set in their ways anyway.
You can only hope that England's chosen 11 or 12 can fill their boots now - batsmen and bowlers - and at least get their confidence levels up.
They simply cannot get carried away. England have plenty of food for thought despite such an easy win.
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