Without a change in their approach with the bat, England’s chances of winning the Ashes are bleak.
Agnew acknowledges the importance of playing positive cricket but believes England’s current approach has transformed into stubbornness, as they failed to learn from their defeat at Edgbaston last week.
The first Test at Edgbaston presented a clear opportunity for England to secure a victory. They dominated significant portions of the game, especially during the second innings, until Joe Root, Harry Brook, and Jonny Bairstow carelessly gave away their wickets after getting decent starts.
Agnew emphasized the need for England to maintain the chaos of Bazball but choose the opportune moments to do so, a strategy they failed to execute at Edgbaston and even more so at Lord’s.
England’s Ashes aspirations now hang precariously, following a disastrous day on the field.
Concerns arise as Australia’s Lyon faces uncertainty for the rest of the series.
Agnew asserts that England always had to adapt to face the formidable Australian team.
To win a Test match, England cannot afford to squander a commanding position and gift it to the opposition.
England’s aggressive style of play yielded success over the past year, with Captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum revamping the Test team. Their achievement of winning 11 out of their first 12 Tests and generating enthusiasm around the game deserved applause. However, facing the Australian team was always going to be a different challenge—a significant step up considering their status as world champions.
Last year, England defeated New Zealand and India, who had limited exposure to red-ball cricket, as well as a South Africa side lacking top-class batsmen. Despite those victories, England needed to refine their approach. Going all out against an Australian XI like this is an imprudent choice.
Adding to the frustration, England found themselves in control at 188-1 on day two.
Australia resorted to short-pitched bowling due to a lack of alternatives, successfully trapping Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, and Root, who all fell into the same trap. This pattern continued on day three, with Brook replicating their mistakes by attempting a baseball shot to extra cover off Mitchell Starc.
As a former pace bowler, Agnew recognizes the arduousness of persistently employing such bowling tactics. Sustaining it for four or five overs at most is physically demanding, and getting a batsman out with a hook or pull shot is considered a bonus. Witnessing four England batters fall into this trap defies all logical reasoning.
Agnew urges either the coach or captain to take charge and assert themselves.
England had a simple task—play intelligently, evade the ball for a few overs, without compromising their original intentions. It is a matter of common sense rather than defensive play.
When five fielders are poised to catch you, attempting certain shots becomes unwise, not a defensive move.
Comparing England’s performance to club cricket would be an insult to amateur players.
Agnew spoke with a former player who contemplated leaving, as the game was being played contrary to established norms.
Acknowledging the mental intensity of an Ashes battle, Agnew suggests that a message from the dressing room should have been sent out when Australia’s bouncer tactic began and Pope and Duckett were visibly struggling.
If the message does not come from Stokes, then McCullum needs to assert his authority on the situation.
Someone needs to convey a message that states, “We will be flexible, and that is okay.” This could be accompanied by a pair of gloves.
Following the match, players defended their approach, leaving them with little choice.
Duckett, in particular, expressed his determination not to change their style of play, displaying defiance in an interview with Agnew on Test Match Special.
England must win this game, as they have never recovered from a 2-0 deficit to claim the Ashes in the contest’s history. They had a golden opportunity to secure a strong position to do so.
It is disheartening to witness England’s chances slipping away, disappointing both England fans and those seeking an enthralling series.
Jonathan Agnew shared his insights with Sport News Center’s Matthew Henry.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Ashes
What is Jonathan Agnew’s opinion on England’s batting approach in the Ashes?
Jonathan Agnew criticizes England’s batting approach, stating that they are being too stubborn and failing to adapt. He believes they have not learned from their previous defeats and need to change their style to have a chance of winning the Ashes.