Chris Tremlett: It’s curtains for England’s Ashes if they lose second Test
At 1-0 down in the Ashes, after falling to a nine-wicket defeat at the Gabba on Saturday, England are in a very difficult position but not completely out of the series.
Should they lose the second Test, a day-nighter in Adelaide which starts on Thursday, however, that will probably be curtains for their hopes of winning back the urn.
I know Joe Root said he had no regrets about choosing to bat first in Brisbane after winning the toss but that was a big call.
Conditions at the Gabba looked good for bowling, although I can appreciate it wasn’t easy to go for that given the history of Nasser Hussain’s England trying it and failing in 2002.
I was very surprised, though, that neither Jimmy Anderson nor Stuart Broad, with more than 1,000 Test wickets between them, were selected.
If Anderson was carrying a niggle I can understand that, but Broad has bowled well on that pitch before, where the ball can nip around in the first innings – he took 6-81 in 2013.
The main problem, however, was not England’s bowling but yet another batting collapse.
You have to give Australia a lot of credit. They set the tone from the very first ball, Mitchell Starc’s absolute jaffa of a legside yorker. That took a lot of skill and made things very difficult for Root’s men immediately.
As we’ve seen before, England seem prone to losing early wickets and suffering quick batting collapses. When those doubts creep in, Australia is probably the hardest place in the world to play.
In England’s defence, quarantine rules and the weather have left them badly short of practice, so both batters and bowlers are underdone.
England positives from the first Ashes Test
There are some positives to cling on to. On the whole, England bowled pretty well.
Ollie Robinson bowled well, finishing with four wickets in the match, and it as good to see him carry on his strong form from back home.
For the first 60 or 70 overs the bowlers did a good job and at 195-5 Australia looked to have a fight on their hands.
But they tired easily due to that lack of preparation and the hosts took full advantage. The Aussies targeted Jack Leach, who I felt sorry for.
England’s batters did show some fight in the second innings, with Root and Dawid Malan putting on 162 for the third wicket.
I did think some of the talk after day three of the tourists getting to 500, like in the first Test of the 2010-11 Ashes, was pie in the sky, though. When was the last time England did that?
It was great to see Root, who we rely on so much, lead from the front. Hopefully others will learn from him and get their temperament right.
England just need to find a way of setting themselves and digging in. Once Malan got his eye in, he made it look quite easy.
This week’s day-night Test should offer quite different conditions. Adelaide is renowned for being very slow and flat but the pink ball does seam around a bit and when the lights are on it can go crazy.
Obviously the closer to English conditions that we see, the better, and if you want Anderson and Broad to be involved in any of the matches in this series then it’s this one.
It’s vital that they don’t lose this one, and with a result one way or the other likely, let’s hope it’s the win that they need.