The Ashes 2013: Dos and Don'ts for Australia at Lord's
Bat longer in the first innings
(Read: try and occupy the crease when the going is tough)
Batting only for 60-odd overs in the first innings of a Test match doesn’t bode well for a team’s chances, more so in the Ashes where stakes are so high. Australian coach Darren Lehmann himself has pulled up his batsmen for a rather dismal batting performance, with the only saving grace coming from highly unlikely quarters at the tail end of the batting line-up.
Though one might argue that the English did not fare particularly well in this facet either, a closer look would bring to light the fact that the specialist batsmen did the bulk of the batting in their first innings as compared to the Aussie batsmen, who were all but done somewhere around the 30th over, but were spared further embarrassment courtesy of Agar’s heroics.
Batsmen need to be a bit more careful in their shot selection. Cowan was guilty of unnecessary attempts rash cover drives that led to both his dismissals in the first Test. This is something that one doesn’t generally associate with Cowan, who has a reputation of being an obdurate occupant of the crease. Consequently, his place in the side is up for grabs. Being a specialist opener, maybe he deserves another chance at no. 3, maybe not. But such rashness doesn’t help his cause.
Even Watson tried to enforce himself on the English bowlers in the first innings when biding time would have been the appropriate thing to do, and consequently was back in the pavilion after facing a paltry 14 deliveries.
Notwithstanding the fact that they are the laggards in the series, the Australians must have taken heart from the fact that they fought hard. And as vice-captain Haddin pointed out, the loss had only strengthened their resolve.
However, much has been spoken and written about the Australian team and a few specific players after the filing of a lawsuit by ex-coach Mickey Arthur against CA following his unceremonious sacking, and media reports are rife about a feud in the team. And the old rumours of Watson and Clarke being at loggerheads have resurfaced once again.
The team members must not let these allegations and reports of mud-slinging come as a distraction, and instead should channelize their focus to accomplish the task at hand.
Overhaul the batting order
The opening pair was in tatters in the first innings, but made up for it with a respectable partnership in the second. That should hold them in good stead.
Then, there is Cowan, who is under fire for his lacklustre outings at the vital No.3 position. A team’s best batsman bats there, and if Clarke doesn’t propel himself up the order, Hughes must step in. The overflowing opening talent in the batting line up must be nothing short of a headache for Lehmann and Clarke, where openers are batting as low as no.6.
With a heat wave prevailing throughout the country, conditions are expected to be conducive for stroke making. The Aussies can opt for another pacer in Ryan Harris to strengthen the bowling attack, as the swinging conditions, similar to those in the Indian sub-continent, might assist him.