Yesterday Syd suggested that, should England win the toss, they should elect to bowl first in the Test. I think he’s wrong.
First things first: by all accounts, Canterbury is likely to be a good batting wicket. The last 4-day game played there (admittedly back in June) was the tour game between Kent and the Australian men’s team, and it was a run-fest: the Aussies made 507-8 dec. in the first day and a half.
Secondly, while it’s true that England’s bowling is a lot stronger than their batting, it’s also true that the Test format will suit England’s batsmen – who aren’t generally the most aggressive in their approach – much more than the ODI or the T20 format. (This is perhaps best exemplified by Laura “The Wall” Marsh’s 55 off 304 balls in the 2013 Wormsley Test.) If the pitch does look a good ‘un, you’ve surely got to show some faith in England’s batsmen to make runs.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, one thing England’s batsmen don’t seem to be naturals at right now is responding to scoreboard pressure. Charlotte Edwards elected to field first at both Bristol and Worcester; both times her side were left chasing pretty mammoth totals and both times they collapsed without even getting close.
England’s bowling attack might be good, but can we really see them knocking over Meg Lanning and Ellyse Perry and Alex “seeing it like a watermelon” Blackwell cheaply on day 1 at Canterbury?
If not, then putting Australia in to bat is almost guaranteed to produce the kind of scoreboard pressure on the second day of the Test which England’s batsmen just don’t seem capable of handling right now.
If we turn to recent history for a minute: Australia won the toss at Wormsley in 2013, chose to bat, and ended Day 1 243-3. It didn’t look great for England; fortunately Heather Knight stepped up to the plate and played the innings of her career to save the match for England. Honestly, based on form in the ODIs, can we really guarantee that anyone would do the same at Canterbury?
England don’t want to be playing catch-up this time around.
Syd thinks that if England bowl, the worst that could happen is that Australia end Day 1 250-0. Yep. But that would be just as much of a disaster as Australia bowling England out on Day 1 and finishing 50-0…because if Australia end Day 1 on 250-0, it’s quite likely akin to England having lost the Ashes.
So there you go Charlotte Edwards…now we’ve really confused you!
But what do you think?