England coming apart at the seams

England on the brink

Humiliation for England in Australia is nothing new. Prior to the first cut at the Gabbatoir, they had not won a Test on their previous two tours. And they have managed only two series wins stretching back to 1986.

Nor did they exactly go into the contest in storming form. Before Brisbane they had won one of their last nine Tests. England were (and are) a poor team.

And yet there is a sense of disappointment or, surprise, even. Perhaps it is because this Australia team are not great shakes themselves. Perhaps it is because there appears to be, from this seat thousands of miles away, a distinct lack of the usual hostility from Australia and its public. The Aussies are having a laugh and a joke with England rather than at them. Even the commentators can’t quite bring themselves to stick the boot in.

It was never like this. Not when Australia were the best on the planet and there was not even a scintilla of hope that England could be competitive.

Perhaps it is because Australians, softened by the crisis in the world, can recognise a team on the brink of physical and mental collapse. A captain, coach, senior players and junior ones whose careers could come to a sudden stop. Maybe that’s not so much fun anymore. Root’s leadership, Chris Silverwood’s job and the careers of James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Haseeb Hameed, Chris Woakes and Jack Leach are in the death throes.

In days of yore if an England team had picked consecutive XIs as if they were drawing lots the home media would have savaged them on back page and front. The beating on the pitch was matched off it.

Instead we have seen dismay. Ricky Ponting was incredulous when Joe Root blamed his bowlers for not pitching it up in Adelaide, pointing out it was his job to put it right. Instead of a blistering attack, Ponting was just dumbfounded, unable to comprehend what he had heard.

Silverwood’s nonsense

The unspoken theme was that this is a touring team coming apart at the seams, and there’s just not much joy to be had in watching them unravel into a torrid mess.

That is all is not well in the England camp was pretty obvious from Root’s assessment. Either England’s bowlers ignored him because they don’t respect his judgement. Or Root was unable to adequately verbalise what he wanted. Neither explanation is good.

Likewise Silverwood’s extraordinary doubling down on team selection. Silverwood, offered a time machine, said he would not change anything about the make-up of the team for either Brisbane or Adelaide.

Silverwood is either lying or…well, I think you know. Let’s hope he’s lying because it is probably the lesser of the two possibilities.

But it’s not great news. If Silverwood is refusing to budge in a misguided attempt at a show of strength or power, then it suggests he has grave insecurities which are not likely to be soothed any time soon. He’s trying to prove something to his players and himself.

No-one is fooled. Players are unlikely to respect such a view because it further undermines the confidence of players who weren’t deemed ready, good enough or fit enough for either of the first two Tests.

It will look particularly foolish when Silverwood, as the all-powerful lead selector, makes an expected four changes for the Boxing Day Test. Zak Crawley, Jonny Bairstow, Dom Bess or Jack Leach and Mark Wood are expected to play instead of Haseeb Hameed, Ollie Pope, Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad respectively.

Whitewash incoming

After all, if Silverwood was “happy with the skill sets” in the first two matches, why does he only now feel the need to change?

A sudden improvement in England’s batting looks unlikely. If Hameed and Pope were replaced by Crawley and Bairstow the net return in terms of averages over the last two years is minus one.

And get the sympathy card ready for Bess or Leach. Both have been treated poorly by the Silverwood set-up, damaging their confidence with a lack of faith when the pair have come under pressure. It would be amazing if either man felt like they belonged in the England dressing-room and the belief that they could do the job at the highest level.

Australia, of course, will look to exploit that weakness and we can expect their batsmen to go after whichever spinner plays. It could a be another difficult watch.

Maybe Silverwood has been canny. Maybe he knows that the talent at his disposal is so thin that to rip things up and start again by game two would have left with no options by game four and five.

By the time Sydney and Hobart come around, England could well be in such a state that their fans back home would prefer their nightmares to staying up until the small hours.

Such is the expected demolition that Australia are as short as 2.962/1 to win 5-0, a price which is less value than backing them per match. A 4-0 win is 4.10. Could that be the bet? Possibly, although England’s best hope of a ‘draw’ is a match falling by the wayside because of a Covid outbreak.

Best boxing Day bets on Cricket…Only Bettor

Author: wpadmin

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