Every week Geoff Boycott updates his site with fresh views on the world of cricket. Don't miss it.
Posted on | December 16, 2010 | No Comments
Modern-day teams are frightened to death of playing five batsmen and five bowlers but Australia have to take the risk because they need to win two out of three Tests to regain the Ashes.
Teams are now so scared of weakening the batting but for Australia it is a case of needs must. It is gambling time. Not quite the last throw of the dice, but it will require some special improvements from various individuals in the Australian team to stop England.
I know Australia need to take 20 wickets to win the game but in my view batting has let them down. They have not had enough solid top-order performances so it is a bold and positive decision by the selectors to go down this route. It is also a great novelty to pick two spinners at Perth.
It is going to be their leggie, Steven Smith, and left-arm new boy Michael Beer, versus Graeme Swann, the No 1 spinner in the International Cricket Council rankings. Now there is a contest within a game. I realise recently there have been some flatter, no-pace pitches in Perth. But beating England with spin is a calculated risk that the England team and none of us saw coming.
With the Australian seamers it is a merry-go-round. Doug Bollinger has been their best wicket-taking bowler in the past 12 months. He was told to miss a Shield game to rest for the first Test and then they didn’t pick him because he was low on match fitness. Then they bring him back for Adelaide and now they drop him again. After Brisbane they dropped Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus. Now they are back and Peter Siddle looks like he is going to get the push. It is a shambles. No wonder the Australian public don’t know what is going on. There is no clear thinking from the selectors.
Traditionally, when Australia are in trouble they go for raw youth. They usually are very clear about bringing youngsters in and sticking with them. They have not done that for the last two years. I think somebody needs to drop the selectors, not the players.
The best thing Ricky Ponting can do is make a big hundred because anyone who makes big scores in the first three batsmen helps control the innings, pulls it all together and it is a big step towards the team getting huge totals.
I will say it again, batting well will not guarantee a win. What it does do is create scoreboard pressure on the opposition. Putting big runs on the board, is the key for Australia because many teams have collapsed when faced with a mountain of runs.
For England it is crucial we pick a team to win and don’t start the match by thinking a draw is all we need to get us closer to the Ashes. It would be like a football team who begin the match with a point and defend and defend until the other side eventually score late in the game and they lose.
We need to guard against negative thoughts because if you get into a defensive frame of mind it stunts your shot-playing ability, you become cautious and it inhibits clear thinking. You get too tense, it dulls the mind and you make poor decisions.
Once you play in a lethargic way, waiting for the match to end and get a draw, it is very difficult, in fact nearly impossible, to change gear if needed and become positive.
The best thing is not to go there. Stay upbeat. Try to win another Test and then the Ashes are ours. Try to kibosh Australia here in Perth.
How wonderful that would be. We could all sit back and watch the Australians self-destruct. The Aussie media would crucify the selectors, the captain would get the sack, there would be more player changes and just remember over the past few years, we have been given so much grief by Australian teams here in Australia. It would be lovely to see the internal chaos, the bickering, the recriminations, sackings, maybe career ending for some, as we play the last two Tests for fun.
If Perth is bouncy it is crucial we don’t bowl too short. So many bowlers get excited when they see the ball flying past the batsman’s nose. What you have to remember is Australians are great cutters and pullers off the back foot.
They have more experience of playing here than us and they know how to deal with pace and bounce better. Fullish length gets the best results, not half-volleys. Discipline and a cool head are important for the bowlers and Andrew Strauss will have to keep a check on the fast bowlers’ emotions. If they get carried away and lose the plot, runs can add up fast and the game run away from you. You also have to remember this is one of the windiest cities in the world. The wind’s nickname is the Fremantle Doctor and when it blows strongly around lunchtime, and you have to bowl into it, you must not fight it. You will lose control and direction. It is crucial you find guys who can bowl within themselves and do a job bowling tight and defensively.
When batting, play straight, and if you are going to cut, cut high over gully and point, using the pace and bounce to your benefit. Don’t try to keep it down.
Article reproduced with kind permission from the Daily Telegraph