While Steven Smith emerged as England’s enigma in the recent Ashes at Gabba, the nuts and bolts of the latter’s form need a retrospection. The series is yet to catch on a full momentum and England’s defeat in the first tussle is not enough to determine the result. For Australia as well as for England, the series is pretty much alive with a stretch to go. The aspects that went wrong in the first match were the mismatches between the teams. Australia emerged as the champion, almost with a one-man army. England players could not par with Steven Smith’s resilience to surrender.
England did not only lag in batting, the team wobbled in bowling as well. The Gabba pitch was forecasted to be bouncier after the first inning play and it followed. Against this backdrop, Australia players came up with spin option mixing them with the normal attacks of seam and bounce. Team England yielding in the second inning for a below average score was due to the inability of the visitors to customize their plays. The first inning knock was excellent. The team might have prepared more for the bounces and pace options keeping in view the Gabba venue. This put them a bit behind the required resistance to play spin attacks on the bouncy pitch. The result was apparent in the contrasting difference between first and second inning play of the team.
Whatever might be the reason, both England and Australia seem to be missing the angry young men, Ben Stokes!
The visitors are missing Ben Stokes. He is being a crucial ensemble in the team, and could have rendered the missing piece of England’s complete ensemble. The advantage with Stokes was the two-pronged use of the player. The bouncy pitch at Gabba would have provide an excellent condition for the player to bowl. At the same time, he would have been a handy player along with the likes of James Vince and Joe Root. England need a strong resistance in the lower middle order. Keeping a keeper in the position have become a necessary change throughout every team, especially after team India implemented the method practically. MS Dhoni, is now transformed as the keeper of the batting line-up as well, at the lower order. Ben’s significance in team England is imperative as that of Ashwin or Jadeja in team India.
Ahead of the Test, there were perspectives that Shaun Marsh’s inclusion did not have any relevance. This was rendered wrong when the player came up with the 99-run partnership with Steven Smith, steering the inning when they needed it the most. Also, Cameron Bancroft emerged as a resolute, bold, and tough cricketer in the second inning to open his account in international Test. His unflinching attitude to the direct throw from Mitchell Starc was quite iconic.
Joe Root has been a successful captain for his team so far and a single defeat cannot take away his power to bounce back. Team England has little options to change the team. If somehow, although unexpected, Ben Stokes is cleared to play, the there would be a new vigor. Else, getting new combinations at work with the available players at hand is the only way for Root to keep on the fight alive.
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