Is heavy reliance on Joe Root and Malan hurting England’s chances at The Ashes?

Image Credit: ICC

1882, Melbourne Cricket Ground – Australia and England played the first-ever test match in the history of cricket. 139 years later, it’s one of the greatest sporting rivalries on planet earth. Be it Sir Donald Bradman not being able to score those four runs, which would have taken his average to 100 or Andrew Flintoff helping England earn the urn after a gap of 16 years in 2005, The Ashes has seen it all. Going by stats, Australia and England are necks to the neck, with the former having one more series victory than the latter. However, it has been tough for England to break Australia’s fortress at home, which has further blemished their overall record. Although, not every team in this world has the luxury of having a ‘Rishabh Pant and not every ground in the world is ‘Gabba’. 

Here are some of the topics which have been the talk of the town since The Ashes began: 

England’s opening pair conundrum:  A fullish late inswinger from Mitchell Starc, Rory Burns, looking to clip it down the leg, ends up getting bowled on the first delivery of the tour. The opening line sums up England’s story at The Ashes 2021 so far. Their opening pair has been clueless against the likes of Starc and co. With an unorthodox technique, Rory Burns has found it hard to counter a high-profile bowling attack in helpful conditions. On the other hand, Haseeb Hameed, who is a newbie when it comes to Test Cricket, has found it hard to get going, too.160 and 126 are the number of balls faced by Hameed and Burns in their four innings on this tour so far, respectively. Forget the number of runs scored; an opener’s primary job in test cricket is to lessen the shine on a red cherry by surviving on the wicket. Eventually, the middle order is exposed to some hostile bowling by the Aussies, leading to a collapse.  

Haseeb Hameed and Rory Burns’ stats at the Ashes 2021: 

Stat Credit: Cricinfo 
  1. England failing to maintain a decent over rate: 

A 100% fee deduction and loss of 5 World Test Championship Points were takeaways for England from the first Test match at Brisbane. Playing an all-pace attack for the pink ball Test at Adelaide Oval didn’t help either. To save themselves from not further reducing their points tally, the English skipper asked Ollie Robinson, a fast bowler, to bowl a few off-breaks just so they’re over rate is maintained. Jack Leach, the lone spinner for England at Gabba, was taken to the cleaners by Travis Head during his counter-attacking innings, meaning he had to be left out from the starting eleven at Adelaide. If they fail to resolve this, instead of taking some points out of this tour, the English might just end up giving away what they already have in their kitty. 

  1. Australia’s struggle to find a perfect opening partner for Warner: 

Having someone as consistent as David Warner in your ranks and still not being able to get the ideal starts hurts. Such has been the story for Australia lately. Despite trying some consistent performers at the top from The Sheffield Shield, their jigsaw puzzle seems to be missing a piece. A top-tier nation with the kind of domestic structure that it possesses, the right man might not be far away. 

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  1. Lack of a top-quality spinner in the ranks of England: 

“One of the things we have a massive competitive advantage is we have a world-class spinner “, as quoted by Justin Langer to the native broadcaster in Australia. No matter how helpful the conditions are for fast bowlers in Australia, having a world-class spinner up in your sleeves is always a good option. Spin Bowling in The Down Under is an art that even some of the legendary overseas spinners couldn’t conquer upon; it would be interesting to see how the likes of Dom Bess and Jack Leach deal with it. 

  1. Heavy Reliance on Joe Root and Dawid Malan: 

With a fragile opening pair and a struggling lower-middle order, it all comes upon Malan and Root to score the majority junk of England’s runs. A misfiring Stokes and an under-performing Ollie Pope is not helping England’s cause. Apart from that resilient knock on Day 5 at Adelaide, Butler hasn’t done much either. A nation that gave birth to Test Cricket failing to find a decent batting lineup is a matter of concern, although! 

The Ashes so far has been far from what was being expected out of it, with Australia racing away towards a clean sweep. A fierce battle between bat and ball is what every cricket fan is craving for. Let’s hope for the best when the two teams step on the ground at Melbourne for the much-awaited Boxing Day Test. 

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