Nasser Hussain says the tough conditions should not hide the fact that England’s bowlers had a poor day at Old Trafford.
Let’s be honest, England were poor today. But I think you have to put it in a bit of context, it’s been a very, very difficult day for bowling. Any bowler who has played in such windy conditions, it was freezing cold as well, will tell you have difficult it is to get into any kind of rhythm.
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After a long hard summer, a day like that was hard work and it also looks a bit flat. The pitch is an absolute belter and also after what happened at Headingley, everything is going to look a little bit flat. You’ve gone from one extreme to another.
Also, just the body language on a freezing cold day like that – and it was arctic cold out there – players do walk around with their hands in their pockets because you’ve got handwarmers in your pockets so it looks a bit flat.
You have to give it a bit of context but that doesn’t take away from the fact that I thought they were poor.
England vs Australia
September 5, 2019, 10:00am
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Stuart Broad bowled a brilliant new-ball spell, but I thought it was wrong that Jofra Archer only bowled seven balls at Steve Smith before the lunch break.
That was the contest that was key and once Smith was in, Joe Root had two options: to keep Archer going after he had already bowled five overs and bowl him for a longer spell, eight or nine overs, and go at him. Or take him off and then bring him back just before lunch, you’ve given him a rest so then you can ask him to really steam in for three or four overs of hostility.
We got neither and that allowed Smith to settle and we all know once he settles he is a very hard rock to dislodge.
He hasn’t really looked troubled at all but has there really been a period of sustained hostility at him? Has anyone gone around the wicket at him? Has anyone really targeted him? A little bit but not really, and it is also a better pitch to play the short ball on.
2:34 Catch up with the action from the first day of the fourth Ashes Test between England and Australia at Old Trafford
Smith said himself on interview this morning that he was looking forward to batting on it because it does go through, it’s a little bit like an Australian pitch. It’s not fast but you can trust the bounce so when it does go in short, you can get out of the way if it.
Some of the other pitches in this series have been two-paced and you don’t know whether to duck or sway. I think they have changed their technique slightly too, Smith and Marnus Labuschagne were swaying to try and avoid Archer’s bouncers but because he nips the ball in the ball was following them so what they have done now is duck out of the way, offside of it and let the ball go.
Personally, I would like to have a bit more of an explanation on Chris Woakes and why he was left out. He’s a very good cricketer and England might know something about his fitness, he is going into the ‘red zone’ or his knee but, for me, a fully fit Woakes would still be in my side. That is nothing against Craig Overton, he’s a good cricketer and he has done pretty well today.
The ball to get Labuschagne was an absolute beauty, there is not a lot in the pitch and everything I’ve said about the conditions throughout the day applies to Overton as it does to Archer and everyone else – it has not been an easy day.
I was pretty surprised they didn’t have the heavy bails at Old Trafford. I couldn’t believe that, especially up here and with the forecast being what it was.
I’ve played in many a game where they have called for the heavy bails and the other day I was watching my son play in the Essex league where they just took the bails off, like they did today, so I’ve seen it in club cricket but not in international cricket before!
For a while, conditions were appalling; it was freezing cold, blustery wind, the bails were falling off all the time, crisp packets and at one stage a beach ball was blowing across the ground.