ENGLAND captain Andrew Strauss claims there is no need to make drastic changes despite Australia steamrollering his side by 267 runs in the third Ashes Test and levelling the series at 1-1 in the process.
Australia required just 10 overs on the fourth morning to blow away England’s remaining five wickets – Ryan Harris finishing with Test best figures of six for 37 – and complete a remarkable swing in momentum.
With two Tests in Melbourne and Sydney remaining, it is now the tourists who face a public and internal inquisition. The composition of England’s bowling attack and order of their batting line-up – so settled prior to Stuart Broad’s tour ending injury in Adelaide – is suddenly of grave concern.
Strauss (inset) admitted he and coach Andy Flower will go back to the drawing board after events in Perth – which saw England score a combined total of just 310 runs in their two innings – but ruled out the sort of wholesale changes which saw the Aussies drop four men for the WACA Test.
Asked about team selection, Strauss said: “I won’t rule it out [making changes], we have to look on what we can do better. But ultimately this is not a time for panic, we have to keep a cool head.”
Of principal concern is the form of Paul Collingwood, who is averaging 16.50 on this tour. At the very least, England may opt to promote in-form Ian Bell ahead of the Durham man.
In addition, 21-year-old Steven Finn, despite retaining his position as leading wicket-taker in the series, appears to be on the brink of burnout.
But Strauss argued: “We have got to keep perspective about things and realise there has been a hell of a lot of good batting on this tour so far.
“We have played a lot of good consistent cricket recently and we’re going to need to do something similar in these last two matches. It’s all about bouncing back.
“We have a got a few days to take stock of the situation. There are definitely lessons to be learned from this game, it would be wrong for us to wash our hands of it completely.
“But our intensity in the field was pretty good and the bowlers for the majority of the time did a very good job.
“Bowling Australia out for 260 and 300 on a pretty reasonable wicket was a decent effort.”
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RECORD CROWD AT MCG?
What a difference a week makes. Prior to their destruction of England in Perth, tickets for the fourth Test in Melbourne were not exactly selling like hot cakes. With a crushing victory under their belts suddenly the Australian public’s appetite for cricket is back, to the tune of a potential 90,000 plus crowd at the MCG for the Boxing Day Test. Cricket Victoria chief executive, Tony Dodemaide, said: “We will now do all we can to ensure that all seats that are available are taken. I think the high 80s, perhaps even up to 90,000, will certainly be a chance.”
You’d have thought the safety of the commentary box would have been a far comfier place for Stuart Broad than the England dressing room. But when Geoff Boycott is in top “it was tougher in my day” mode” that’s not the case. Broad was on the end of a Boycott bashing following defeat in Perth – here’s a brief transcript.
GB: We’ve been thrashed. We didn’t show any fight. If it would have been Sir Alex Ferguson, he wouldn’t let them out the dressing room. Stuart, were you in Jo’burg?
SB: Yes, I was.
GB: Yes, I remember. When you were out but didn’t walk. I won’t get into that now. It was a pitch with pace and bounce and we were thrashed. I can’t stand the way we talk in platitudes. Are you taught to speak PR speak Stuart? Why don’t they talk sense and come out and say they played rubbish?
SB: No sportsman takes defeat easily. There were some positives in this game and we’ll look to take those into the game in Melbourne.
GB: I don’t want to fall out with you Stuart. You’re a nice lad. But I disagree with you. We had them five down for 60 odd. You have to kill them.
Intensive fitness rehab or a stint in the commentary box with Boycott? Broad may think twice next time he receives the BBC invite.