NASSER HUSSAIN: My blueprint for destroying Australia in the ashes
NASSER HUSSAIN: My blueprint for beating the Aussies – England must attack David Warner, have a plan B with the ball and score big runs in the first innings
- England need to get off to a good start and put pressure on a vulnerable Australia
- Joe Root must remember that pitches and circumstances change very quickly
- The battle between the English bowlers and David Warner will be absolutely vital
It was hard enough for me to decide what to do after winning the toss one meter from the Gabba field so I’m not sure if I should judge it from this distance.
But if Joe Root believes England’s best option is to bowl first on Tuesday night, he shouldn’t be put off by Brisbane’s history.
That field certainly looks bowler-friendly in the photos from one day to the next, but the problem with the Gabba is that you make a decision too early. The grass could have easily disappeared by the time, weather permitting, the captains walk out for the toss the first morning.
Joe Root’s England must get off to a good start and put pressure on a vulnerable Australia
Root has to go with his gut, but he has to remember that fields and conditions in Australia change very quickly and you have to think about what it can be like towards the end of a test when it can turn or get uneven.
It was interesting to hear Ollie Robinson talk about the Kookaburra balls used in this series and how they swing more than usual. It’s the same side that was used against India early this year and could bring England into these Ashes.
Flexibility is the key. Two years ago, when Chris Silverwood took over as coach, he immediately spoke of preparing an attack that could win in Australia and everything was geared towards wanting as much pace as possible for the big moment.
Now that Jofra Archer and Olly Stone are out, they are talking about ‘dry bowling’ and trying to starve Australia, as the England squad that performed so well in Australia ten years ago once did.
The battle between the English bowlers and David Warner (above) will be absolutely vital
But they must realize that it is not one or the other. You need a balanced attack throughout the game and a captain who can handle them and the changing conditions.
In England, after about 70 overs, the Dukes are usually still swinging and you can stick to Plan A, but in other parts of the world you need something different.
That’s when Root needs extra speed or spin and he will need it in Australia too. Jack Leach was able to be used defensively in the first innings to rest the seamen and then in an offensive role in the second round.
The battle between the English bowlers and David Warner will be absolutely crucial to the outcome of these Ashes. Stuart Broad has passed him as a result in Test cricket in England and that is another consideration when Root and Silverwood round out their team. They need to attack Warner, unlike the latter from Ashes when England threw sweepers at him at the start of his innings. If Warner sends Australia to a flyer and Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne come in with runs on the board, England will chase the match. They should avoid that at all costs.
Conditions can change quickly and you need a balanced attack throughout the game
Australia has vulnerabilities. Warner tries to revive his testing career as Marcus Harris and Travis Head start over. England may be a little light in some areas, but so is Australia and, as India proved in the last Test played in Brisbane, the Gabba is no longer a fortress.
England can win if they get the basics right and stay flexible, but the most important thing is they need to get big runs in the first innings.
At the final test in Brisbane, England did well with 145 for two while James Vince was hitting beautifully and it looked like they would make it 400-450 which would have been par. But Vince was exhausted, England were knocked out for 302 and they lost the game and then the series 4-0.
That Dukes ball score would win the most games. But unless the fields are truly green, weather patterns have a major impact and the Kookaburra has turned into a magical swinging ball, 300 will lose the most games in Australia in the first innings.
Spinner Jack Leach could be key for England in both a defensive and attacking role
Except for Root and to some extent Ben Stokes, the English batsmen haven’t had the mentality to get big runs in the first innings and big hundreds. The top three of Rory Burns, Haseeb Hameed and Dawid Malan must now really get big.
This Australian team has a formidable attack, but it really is a great place to hit. The fields are good, the outfields fast and they have good ‘seeing’ terrain. The nets are brilliant for prep and the Kookaburra ball should soften quickly. The English batsmen need not fear what awaits them.
History teaches you how hard it is to win in Australia and England have lost nine of their last 10 tests there, but they do have a chance. Yes, they are undercooked and all of Australia will be ready to sit on their backs, but that could soon change if the home side and their new captain Pat Cummins fail to perform.
England need to get off to a good start, to really put pressure on a vulnerable Australia.