KEN PIESSE says another whitewash looms after England forfeited the high ground with its inconceivable decision to bowl first on Saturday:
Ricky Ponting could well be right. England could go down five-nil. Again. Joe Root’s gamble in bowling instead of batting first in Adelaide could well be highlighted as the pivotal moment in a one-sided series lurching irretrievably into the mire.
But to be fair England’s young captain wanted to give his two Dad’s Army new ball bowlers every opportunity to scythe through the Australians under cloudy skies, even if the wicket did look like a belter.
Was it his decision? Or was he talked into it?
Too much was made of teams batting first losing in the two previous day-night Tests at the ground. Had Root forgotten that his pacemen bowled 136 overs in Brisbane and were still at it on the Monday of the first Test?
On the opening days of this match, Jimmy Anderson was poor, Stuart Broad big-hearted, Craig Overton nervous and Chris Woakes pedestrian. Moeen Ali came on too late against Usman Khawaja and once Root gave himself a bowl, all of Australia was celebrating Christmas early.
Adelaide was England’s big chance to square the series. Big runs on the board are invariably crucial to a team’s chances batting first.
It seemed little went England’s way in the opening days. And to see top-order specialists Alastair Cook and James Vince collide while trying to take a ballooned catch in the slips late in Sunday’s play underlined the tourist’s plight.
From here all the talk will revolve around Ben Stokes and his chances of being brought back into England’s faltering XI, before the next Test in Perth starting on December 14.
I sincerely hope not. But not for cricket reasons…. purely because of what he did after midnight in the streets of Bristol.
That crazy night he forfeited his right to play for his country.
Nothing has changed to alter my opinion that as a repeat offender, he deserved a suspension. A lengthy one. And shame on NZ and Canterbury Cricket for offering him a lifeline. Cricket needs to unite. And Stokes needs to learn his lesson.
Author: Ken Piesse
KEN PIESSE has covered cricket and football for more than 30 years in Melbourne. He has written, edited and published more than 70 sports books. Signed copies of his latest cricket book Heroes of the Hour, cricket’s quintessential moments from Bradman and Lillee to Warne and Steve Smith, is available from www.cricketbooks.com.au