Cricket Comment: England must clinch Ashes this week as Oval will favour Aussies

England profited in seaming conditions at Edgbaston and must hope for more of the same
THIS Ashes is almost impossible to predict but I think England need to try and wrap it up at Trent Bridge this week. A drawn series would see Australia retain the urn and England don’t want to wait until the Oval, where I think conditions will favour the tourists.

The ball swung around in the third Test at Edgbaston, where England won by eight wickets, and the Aussies had no idea how to play on it. They complained about the wicket in their first-Test defeat at Cardiff but thought they had showed us all at Lords, where they levelled the series, that they could beat England on any wicket.

Well, they are eating humble pie now because they didn’t bat or bowl well at all last week in seaming conditions. Let’s hope Trent Bridge does the same because that’s England’s best chance of beating Australia.

STRUGGLING
It was a great effort by England at Edgbaston and particularly Steven Finn who I rate as a top-class bowler, but I was shocked at how poor Australia were in their first innings. Once a side is bowled out for 136 it’s almost impossible to come back.

England bowled well but there were some very indifferent shots played by the tourists. Skipper Michael Clarke is really struggling and, as for their best batsman Steven Smith, yes he scored runs at Lords, but can he get runs on seaming wickets? The question mark is still there.

England got just about enough runs in the first innings at Edgbaston and Joe Root once again did fantastically well. He is a class act and I love his attitude.

He’s fun and mischievous and has all the attributes to be a great player. He just enjoys life. Robin Smith was a bit like that but I think Root has got more natural talent.

People talk about him being an England captain but for now just let him grow as a cricketer and score loads for runs for England.

Ian Bell is a class act as well. He hadn’t been performing well and I know exactly what he will have been going through, but he put it all behind him in the third Test and showed his qualities.

WEAPON
Bell should have been batting at No3 for England for years, in my opinion, and that’s where he has to be from now on.

Fast bowler Mitchell Johnson is undoubtedly Australia’s main weapon and England need to try and play his shorter ball a bit better. The big thing to play quick bowling is to drop your hands and weave out the way although it’s harder at the start of your innings.

Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow were caught off-guard during that fabulous Johnson over early on day two at Edgbaston but the short ball was always coming so you should be ready for it.

Allan Lamb is chairman of selectors for an all-star Twenty20 charity match being played at the Kia Oval on Thursday 17 September to raise funds for Help for Heroes. Tickets cost £20 for adults and £1 for under-16s and proceeds will be donated to Help for Heroes. Tickets can be bought online at www.cricketforheroes.com

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