Sky Sports’ Michael Atherton, Nasser Hussain, Kevin Pietersen, Eoin Morgan and Sir Andrew Strauss discuss England’s batting double over days two and three of the second Ashes Test; watch day four at Lord’s live on Sky Sports Cricket from 10.15am (first ball 11am)
20:18, UK, Friday 30 June 2023
Was England’s batting too ‘reckless’ as a second collapse in as many sessions on Friday morning at Lord’s had the hosts on the brink of falling 2-0 behind in the Ashes.
England trail Australia by 221 runs at stumps on day three of the second Test, the visitors still have eight second-inning wickets in hand too.
England were all out at 4.43pm on Thursday night having been well set at 188-1 in their first innings, before three wickets fell for 34 runs, with Ollie Pope, Ben Duckett – two short to a girl. Ashes century – and Joe Root all out when taking short balls.
The merry hooking continued on the third morning as England crumbled from 278-4 to 325 all out, with Harry Brook yet another throwing away his wickets as he looked to fight off another bouncer.
Atherton: England on the wrong side of the reckless
“If you go back to last summer, England’s strategy was one of calculated aggression. Here, it seems like all-out aggression, no matter what,” said Michael Atherton.
“They were just the wrong side of being reckless in that innings, and this morning especially in dismissing Harry Brook.
“Even Eoin [Morgan] who I think is kind of the spiritual godfather of ‘Bazball’ might have thought that was a little reckless.”
He added: “I don’t know if it’s because of the Ashes, if it’s the speed of the bowling. Pace makes you funny things, it can take you out of your comfort zone.
“All the chatter around England’s strategy, sometimes you can forget what got you to this position.
“Think about Jonny Bairstow’s innings at Trent Bridge against New Zealand, that was getting a moment where he thought the attack was right. It was calculated risk-taking.
“Here, it was felt England was not in control of what they were doing.”
Hussain: England failed to play with percentages
“The batting yesterday [Thursday] after tea, and then following it now, they [England] just don’t play the percentage,” said Nasser Hussain.
“The damage was done yesterday. England got into a very strong position when the sun came out but it was happy fixtures after tea when every ball had to go.
“Everybody talks about Bazball but the Bazball I saw was played in the conditions, which they did in Pakistan and last summer.
“If you have four fielders out on the hook, the percentages are not in your favor and if you keep hooking, eventually you give away your wicket – and that’s what they did.”
Pietersen: Can England change their tactics?
“I know a lot of people have called England’s batting ‘brainless’, but I’m a bit brainless too,” Kevin Pietersen said. “People were jealous when I said, ‘that’s the way I play’.
“I’ve found the best form of defense is attack, every time.
“One thing I will say is that I think it’s harder to play short stuff on this wicket, because of its nature.
“England’s arrival at Headingley [for the third Test]with the bounce you get on those particular wickets, it might be easier to get a pull shot away.
“Joe Root is probably the best player to have played for this country. And for him to come out the way he did, as good as he was, you think, ‘maybe this is the wicket’, because he’s a great one.”
Pietersen added: “Do you think you can change tactics as a cricket team in the middle of a series?
“I know it’s all about Bazball, and ‘we’re going to play this way, we’re always going to win’.
“Who knows, they could have the most incredible fourth inning and chase it, and we’re sitting here talking about the biggest load of nonsense.
“But can they, against this Australian side, think about what they’re doing, because of what they’ve done this week and last week. [at Edgbaston] Surely it didn’t work?”
Morgan: England must stick to their method
“I totally understand Kev’s point,” Morgan said. “But the last thing you want to see as a leader in that dressing room is England trying to beat Australia at their own game – they’re the best in the world at that.
“You can beat them by being the best in your technique.
“That changing room mindset goes against almost every generation of red-ball cricket that England has produced. Sometimes it’s hard to accept or understand, but I believe they have a clearer vision and understanding of how they achieved it..
“It seems to fit the characters and the crew in the changing room – and I don’t see that stopping.”
Strauss: Ego came into England’s batting
“When I was playing cricket for England, we talked a lot about playing without emotion – hardly allowing adrenaline to enter your cricket,” said Sir Andrew Strauss. “We tried to be assassin-like in the way we approached things.
“This England team does something very different, they let emotion almost dictate how they play. It’s why they’ve achieved extraordinary things, but it’s also why they’re vulnerable. You always feel that they have the potential to offer you a way back into the game.
“That Bazball approach is embedded in the team now, and England would be completely wrong to try and change that, but any Test cricket still has to be intelligent cricket.
“With your intent, and overall approach, you have to still assess, ‘what does this situation require of me?’ Flexibility is always important.
“If England are honest with themselves, there are moments in this Test match – and Edgbaston – where ego can come in.
“With Australia bowling that short, yes, England want to be positive against it and not take a step backwards but sometimes the odds are not in your favour.”
Watch day four of the second men’s Ashes Test live on Sky Sports Cricket. Coverage from Lord’s begins at 10.15am, with first ball at 11am. Also stream all the men’s and women’s series this summer on NOW.
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