Should England opt to rest seamer Mark Wood and recall Steven Finn, I fear that their bowling unit might lack variation in what is a pivotal five days against Australia at Edgbaston.
Whether it was an ankle injury or tiredness from playing back-to-back Tests, Wood did not really bring anything distinct to the table at Lord’s. Against New Zealand and in the first Test at Cardiff, he brought a different pace and trajectory to England’s attack.
In general, though, I have been really impressed with Wood during his four Test appearances and, ideally, I would like to see him play ahead of Finn, who has not played a Test for England since the 2013 Ashes series.
Finn is a very good bowler who has taken 90 wickets in 23 Tests and, by all accounts, he is getting back towards the level he was earlier in his career and prior to being sent home early from the 2013-14 tour of Australia. I may be proven wrong but I just feel England’s attack would miss some variety if Finn plays. He is pretty similar to Stuart Broad.
I’m quite surprised that Derbyshire’s left-arm seamer Mark Footitt wasn’t added to the squad. It would have been a big shout to bring in someone without any Test experience, but I am concerned that the bowling unit looks pretty samey without someone generating speeds of 88-89mph, which Wood was doing at Cardiff. However, whoever plays between Wood and Finn, the England attack has to collectively up its game. In the first Test in the Welsh capital, they looked hungrier than the Aussies, they bowled better areas and were on it from ball one.
But they were well down on pace in the second Test at Lord’s and did not have the same energy levels. This was in complete contrast to the Australian seamers, who came out and dismantled England on a slow wicket.
Hopefully the break in between the Test matches will have helped England’s bowlers find some energy and get their paces up to around 85mph. There were times when Broad was clocked at 78mph, which is not what you need at Test level.
The pitch of course could play an important role in proceedings. I’m not sure that Australia’s bowlers are as skilful as Lancashire’s James Anderson or Broad when there is a bit in the wicket and the ball is nipping around.
For their part, the England batsmen need to try and conquer the short ball as there are a few guys in the side susceptible to it. The lower-order in particular tends to get blown away by the mere thought of having to face short bowling.
The tourists have a lot of momentum from their 405-run win at Lord’s but England need to get out there this morning and set the tone with either bat or ball. This third Test at Edgbaston is massive and key to the whole series.
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