Nick Teale - We shouldn't have written off Johnson
20 Dec 2010 - 13:55:58
In the early hours of Friday morning, as England began day two of the third test on 29-0 having dismissed Australia for 268, I began writing my latest Ashes blog.
I was considering if England had ever gained or retained the Ashes after the third test of a five-match series before (we did it in 1928, by the way). And the second day started so well.
After 45 minutes we'd moved to 78 without loss and it looked like England would take a big lead into the second innings. But then Mitchell Johnson struck with the first wicket of a superb spell.
Alistair Cook, Jonathon Trott and Kevin Pietersen were all dismissed in the space of about 15 minutes and this Ashes series was suddenly alive.From there Australia completely dominated the test and Johnson was unlucky to only take nine of England's 20 wickets.
He's been ridiculed in some parts of the British press of late but he proved that form is only temporary, and writing both him and his nation off so soon was a dangerous mistake.
There have been questions over Ricky Ponting's captaincy too but that's just nonsense. He's been out of form but he, like Johnson, will come good and England will be fearing that moment.
One Australia batsman who hasn't been lacking in form - despite questions over him too before the Ashes began - is Mike Hussey. England have never been able to figure out how to dismiss 'Mr Cricket' but the players and coaching staff must work overtime before the Boxing Day test to figure out how to stop him destroying our hopes of retaining the little urn.
Some pundits have suggested playing five bowlers at the MCG. Rubbish. It's quite clear our troubles in the third test came as a result of a poor batting performance, so taking a batsman out to replace him with a bowler would be ridiculous.
Graeme Swann, James Anderson and Steve Finn have been doing well and Chris Tremlett proved in the first innings why he deserved a chance. We don't need an extra bowler, we need to try and strengthen the batting.
One idea is to move Ian Bell up the order to five. I'd like to see England go one better and put him in at four. Pietersen did well in the second test but still struggles to get big scores when England really need him. Bell, on the other hand, has been playing well for some time and his presence at number four could only make our top order more formidable.
Finally, a word on Virtual Eye. What's with this margin for error on where the ball pitches?
You can never be 100 per cent sure if the ball is going on to hit the stumps after striking a batsman's pads because it is only a prediction. But why can't this piece of technology tell us exactly where the ball pitched?
Hawkeye can do it and its technology has been implemented perfectly in tennis. But Virtual Eye, which Australian broadcaster Channel Nine uses to aid the third umpire in referred decisions, has a degree of inaccuracy which means some calls cannot be decided by the technology.
What's the point of using technology that might not be able to make a decision?