OPINION: 5 Things England Need To Do To Win The Test

1. Forget The ODIs

England will rightly feel humiliated after that performance at Canterbury – that’s not how they want to be playing their cricket. At some point, they will need to look back through the video footage, do some proper analysis, and try to work out exactly what went wrong. But the time for that isn’t now. “We’ve got to get a bit of calmness, take stock and get a bit of space,” coach Mark Robinson said after the third ODI. Calmness is the right word: England are a good side and the issue isn’t that they don’t know how to bat – it’s all about what’s going on upstairs. With just a few days to readjust before the must-win Test begins on Thursday, they need to look forward, not back, or the problems will only get worse.

2. Bat Like It’s A Test

Obvious, but tricky, given how little multi-format cricket that any of these players get to participate in. With just one 3-day warm-up to adjust, at Millfield School this weekend, England need to work out a way to shift things down a gear in a relatively short space of time. On the other hand they also need to NOT approach things like they did at Canterbury 4 years ago, when they seemed to fold in on themselves completely and see “Test-match batting” as meaning “I don’t need to score any runs”. It’s a tricky balance to strike: the real answer is more women’s Tests, but sadly that doesn’t seem to be about to change any time soon… in the meantime, the Ashes are at stake!

3. Make Some Radical Selections

Mark Robinson has gone down a highly conservative route so far this series, with the same squad of players contesting all 3 ODIs, and none of the newbies getting so much as a sniff at selection. Maybe that made sense at the start, but given England’s lack of success so far, and how inexperienced almost all his players are at the 4-day format, there is no time like the present for a bit of experimenting.

Syd has already suggested that Eve Jones could be worth her weight in gold when it comes to the Test match format. In the past 10 days, she’s hit 125 for club side Porthill Park, which has added fuel to the fire. Another possible contender could be Kirstie Gordon, who took 6-85 against the main Australian side in the Academy match at Marlborough yesterday, including the wickets of Meg Lanning and Ellyse Perry. The Test is a must-win – so why not be bold?

4. Find Their Knight In Shining Armour

No one has made a Test century for England since Heather Knight’s mammoth effort at Wormsley in 2013: this would be a good time for one of the top 6 to bring that particular drought to an end. A good contender to do so is Tammy Beaumont, who will almost certainly be opening the batting and will no doubt be keen to add a Test match hundred to her glittering international CV. Whoever it might be, England need someone to shoulder the responsibility and go big on what is likely to be a good batting track at Taunton (the same place where two world record T20 scores were hit on the same day last year).

5. Pray For Brunt

Somehow, you don’t quite realise how irreplaceable Katherine Brunt is until you see England play without her: she just seems to fire up the rest of the team in a way that’s difficult to put your finger on (and her wickets are pretty handy, too!) Having caught sight of her stomping around angrily after England lost the the 3rd ODI – presumably fed up with a) her own self-inflicted ankle injury, and b) the way her teammates capitulated – I reckon it’s even more imperative that she makes it back in time for the Test: no batsman wants to face down an angry Katherine Brunt. In the long term, there’s obviously a worry about what happens when she finally, inevitably, retires: for now, she’ll be raring to go – let’s hope she gets the chance!

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14 thoughts on “OPINION: 5 Things England Need To Do To Win The Test

  1. Is there at last a light appearing at the end of a dark tunnel after Canterbury?
    Good batting performance by England v Australia A.
    Some good individual performances by the Academy v full Aussie team.
    Will MR use this to develop and revitalise his planning…….? Open to debate!
    However, looking through the list of fringe players “invited” to play in the Academy match or even attached to the full squad smacks of “who you know gets you in”.
    I doubt if the Aussies would be trembling if some of those were eventually included in a full England team.

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  2. OPINION: Now for some things Raf and Syd need to do at the test

    It’s good to see that Raf thinks that England is a good side. She’s right, notwithstanding the result in the 3rd ODI.

    Even better is the following quote from her post:

    “… the real answer is more women’s Tests …”

    Exactly.

    Okay Raf and Syd – now here are the real questions, which you should be asking as many players as possible over the next week:

    * Should you be playing more tests?
    * Should England and Australia be playing tests against (at least) India and New Zealand?
    * Should (at least) India and New Zealand be playing tests against each other?
    * Should there be at least one test every English summer?
    * Should there be at least one test every Australian summer?
    * Should the format of the Rose Bowl series be the same as for the Ashes?
    * Is it fair that the Afghan and Irish men have already played two tests and Suzie Bates has never played even one?
    * Should England’s women be playing a test against Ireland like England’s men?

    etc, etc

    Incidentally, if the forthcoming test is anything like the last one in North Sydney, there will be lots of non-playing players available to interview as well. Not just non playing England and Australian players past and present, but others, too, eg South Africans (including even Dane van Niekerk).

    Go to it ..

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    • I’m not quite as much of an advocate for extra women’s Tests. We really need a multi-day format national structure first, and as that’s not likely to be given priority above developing 50 overs, T20 and “The Hundred” I just can’t see it happening. Tests could work in theory, but it would be a risk to divert funds away from other formats of the women’s game.

      Test Match interest / attendance in many countries is pretty low even for men’s Tests so it’s a big ask to expect them to be popular with many cricket fans. Countries like WI and SL just do not have the funds to support women’s Tests. To me it’s more about celebrating & preserving the current Ashes Test (something that as an England fan I’m not sure actually helps England move forward anyway).

      I’m interested if/why you think that the players themselves have any influence on whether more Tests can be played in other bilateral series. The players might want them, but from the national and international perspective it’s a lot of investment for not much immediately perceptible reward.

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  3. Two things I can’t really see happening:
    1) England scoring more runs in both innings than Australia
    2) England bowling Australia out twice

    Therefore, England’s chances of winning are low to none and their chances of drawing are middling to low.

    If England hope to win they must bowl Australia out twice and, as it will also take the match as deep as possible (England could be done with a slow first innings, even with a big total, as Aus could simply bat out a draw), they should be looking to bowl first. Therefore, England must play an attacking bowling line-up and just hope that their batsmen can score the required runs.

    None of the England players, with the possible exception of Knight, have a very good Test Match record. I do believe that England should play one or two surprise players, and E. Jones and Gordon seem as good a choice as any other available. At least they have some form. Spin could be the way to go at Taunton as well, it’s a turning pitch these days. At least it would give the Aussies something to think about. But Robinson’s selections this series have been disappointingly conservative so far, and it’s clearly not worked. Experience has just been bad experience as far as playing against Australia is concerned.

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  4. What form has Eve Jones shown to possibly warrant a test selection even warrant getting a mention James?
    Which of the non contracted players have shown any form at all against the Australian A team?
    We’ve just seen our girls absolutely demolish the Australian A team which is the same team who has hammered our next group of best players in the ODIs.

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    • Well it was more speculation than anything else as I don’t give the current players much of a chance based on the last ODI. But, as I can’t tell if your questions are serious or rhetorical – Jones scored 125 as it says above in club match and Gordon got 6 wickets vs. Aus in the tour match. Presumably Elwiss will play again too, as she’s done quite well in previous tests. I don’t know what happened in the Eng v Aus A game so can make no comment on that.

      Did we do well? The only thing I’d say is that the real Aus will come at us much harder than that. I can only find the Aus v Eng A game on Cricinfo as it’s a tour match, so it’s the only info I have. They are not the same team as Aus-A, since they played at the same time. The England Academy were playing the full Aussie side and the full England side were playing Aus-A. Hence “warm-ups”.

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  5. With respect to Eve Jones, I think she is a bit of a long shot, or shot in the dark.
    Mr Robinson has picked his favoured few and will have to depend on them!
    He has been working with them for four years! Some did perform well v Aussies A,B or whatever and will need to transfer those shows of expertise into the test arena.
    The England men had a four year plan and it seems to have paid off!!
    Over to you now ladies.
    Good Luck!

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  6. You can find the scores on the ECB app.
    They give a full scorecard of both warm up games.
    England played the Australian A team whilst Australia played our next best.
    England won very emphatically. They didn’t lose a wicket in the first inning with 100s retired for Jones and Beaumont. Knight was unbeaten on 65 and Elwiss not out 45.
    Aussie A then got bowled out for 214 before England again scored over 300 three down, with Sciver retiring on a 100, Knight on 68 whilst Taylor made 61 and Elwiss 36.
    England then knocked the Aussie A team over for only 124.
    Yes of course the main Australian team will come harder but I’m sure runs in this match is better than runs in a club game!

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  7. Yes, seen it now. So everyone seems to think point number 3 above is not relevant! I just think this will be a tough Test for England and it’s riskier to play the same team than a different one. Changes will be needed after the series so might as well make them now. I have tickets for days 2 and 3 of the Test – but we’ll see how day 1 goes first.

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  8. I’m jealous of you, James. Taunton is too far away for me to make it to this Test.

    It’s good to see that both teams did well in the warm up matches, with multiple centuries and wicket hauls in each. Beaumont, Knight and Elwiss all batted well in North Sydney, and they all seem to be in good form again.

    Here’s hoping that both teams can bat in more lively a fashion than at North Sydney (of course the pitch was partly the problem there). But I think the bowling will be the key to the outcome – to win the Test, one of the teams has to be able to take 20 wickets.

    If and to the extent that point 3 is relevant to Australia, I’m expecting Vlaeminck and Molineux to be selected. I’m also expecting Gardner (who didn’t play at North Sydney) to be omitted. Not sure about the other one. If recent form is any guide, one possibility is Bolton, with Mooney being moved up to open, and Molineux taking Mooney’s place in the batting order.

    As for the advocacy point, what the players say is actually really important. Virat Kohli is known to be a strong advocate for (men’s) Test cricket, and that has had an effect on crowds and TV audiences in India. Both Lanning and her deputy/stand-in Haynes have also been advocating for more (women’s) Tests, and Lanning has rightly made the point that India is the key.

    A Test match is more than just a sporting contest. It’s also several consecutive days of entertainment opportunities. The success of the North Sydney Test has led Cricket Australia to stage a number of “festival weekends” at that and similar venues, involving multiple WBBL matches and more. Further such weekends are scheduled for the forthcoming WBBL|05 series.

    It’s not too much to ask the cricket authorities to make a festival of an annual Test match as well. Certainly the Richies could help out – they turned up in substantial numbers in North Sydney (with Mel Jones as their mascot), as did Steve Smith (before Sandpapergate) and even Australia’s former PM John Howard.

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  9. R.R.R why do you always have to have digs at the coach or Academy?
    Who are the favoured few? Which players have been over looked for the Academy? What would your team be? Who would you leave out? Knight, Taylor, Jones, non of them scored a run in the ODIs but all 3 have done well in the past.
    It’s easy and cheap to have digs at people and make hidden comments without ever having to substantiate them.
    I’ve looked back to 2017 in the last Ashes when we lost the first 2 games and the comments written were very similar.
    Whatever happens from here I think England have a tough hand given that Australia have over 90 pros to pick from and we have just 19.
    Until we invest properly in our structure we are always going to struggle to keep up with Australian no matter who’s in charge.

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  10. Sorry to have apparently upset you JL. In my humble opinion the management do not seem to inspire the correct mental attitude into the players. No doubting the players physical abilities and I hope they can give a good performance in the test and future games. The main squad is the group of (mainly) our best players.
    The Academy however does leave room for improvement. This will not change until the England set up invests more money in the selection process at all levels from 16 years of age. Then again a plan to identify any late developers. It is pointless to name individuals in this discussion area as each contributor has their own ideas of players who should be in or out.
    It is the process that has to be more open and honest.

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  11. Raf thanks for creating what might be a first for the Cheshire Women’s League in point 3, it certainly made me smile. This is surely the first time someone has used a performance in one of our league games to support someone’s case for Test selection

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