Matthew Hoggard: James Anderson irreplaceable for England
Edgbaston was fantastic, and England may have the impetus, but one thing’s for sure: James Anderson is pretty much irreplaceable.
He’s the number two bowler in the world and showed just how good a bowler he is leading from the front, seting the tone for the match with his six-for in the first innings.
I did offer my services to Andrew Strauss at the weekend, but bizarrely he politely declined my approach!
Mark Footitt and Liam Plunkett have been added to the squad and its either going to be a baptism of fire for the former or a chance for Plunkett to work his way back into the set-up.
The other option could be a return for Mark Wood. Obviously he hasn’t played a game since Lord’s, but that was only two weeks ago and with the term used being that he “wasn’t risked” suggesting he could have played last time, he could get the nod, although reports coming out of the camp haven’t been favourable for him.
Whoever comes in, they won’t be Jimmy Anderson, and I think that will give the Australian batsmen a little bit of confidence and a little bit of hope.
The dynamic has really changed in the England bowling line-up.
It’s now up to Stuart Broad. Hopefully he can put some extra pressure on the visitors and go some way to filling the hole that Anderson has left.
I think he can hold his hands up and perform on his home ground, and it is clear why he is joint-favourite to be England’s leading wicket-taker in the opening innings.
Changeable series has me fascinated
The ebb and flow of this series has been amazing, not necessarily just the game, because the Tests haven’t had any ebb and flow.
At Edgbaston one side has started well and finished well, and the game has been put to bed within the space of two days, we were always going to go on and win.
So with that in mind, I’d love to know how two teams can play so well and so poorly in the space of two weeks.
If you look at the conditions that caused Australia most problems, you look at Cardiff which had a little bit of sideways movement and they struggled to cope with it and our bowlers bowled very well.
Lord’s had none and the Aussies dominated. Edgbaston had lots and England dominated, so in English conditions we are very, very good.
That being said, while I’m not saying one man makes a team, I’m not sure I’d be steaming in to the 9/4 about a Anderson-less England claiming the series in Nottingham.
Clarke taking one for the team
I don’t think Australia are at panic stations just yet but it’s now time to perform.
Darren Lehmann is a massive believer that you are allowed to make mistakes, you’re allowed to make two mistakes, but if you keep making the same mistakes over and over again then you have problems.
The Australian batsmen, when it comes to lateral movement, are making some poor decisions.
I think you will see some changes in the batting. You might see another Marsh come in to bolster their top order and they dearly want Michael Clarke to return to some kind of form.
Their captain has mooted a drop down the order for the next Test in an attempt to rekindle his spark.
You could call it a sign weakness, that he is unwilling to back himself to score runs, but it’s also a sign of saying “I’m not afraid to do what’s right for the team”.
You need to pick an XI that is the best XI for the given time and surface you are playing on. And if the best thing for Australia is Michael Clarke to move down then that’s what he will do.
Sometimes you hide behind averages, and things you may have done in the past. But at the moment Michael Clarke isn’t scoring runs and I’m sure if he moves down the order that will allow Marsh to come in and bat higher up.
Mitchell Johnson faced the wrath of the Edgbaston crowd last week, with the masses giving him plenty of stick from stands.
Whether it affects you or not depends what sort of character you are. I didn’t get a lot a stick myself, maybe I wasn’t seen as a big enough threat for anybody to try and get at me.
When the crowd and papers got at Stuart Broad during the last Ashes series in Australia, and the whole “He who shall not be named” debacle, he got a six-for in the first game, absolutely blasted them away.
It can be annoying but you’ve got to have a coping method with that.
If the crowd can get into him and get him to perform less well, then go on the Barmy Army, let’s get at Mitchell Johnson and get as much of an advantage as we can!
Test cricket going through a transitional period
If you look at the run rate, it used to be down at two and a half, three runs an over and now we are up nearer four.
I think it’s a spin-off from the T20 and the batsmen now know what shots they can play.
I’m not saying they can play those innovative yet stupid shots that they play in T20, but they now know that they can hit the ball.
This new idea of attacking cricket and putting pressure back on the bowlers and making the bowlers think “if I don’t get it right then I’m going to go for four”. I think that is the way. When you play more aggressively, you are going to get more chances.
There is a mixture that you need in a team. There’s been a lot of talk of our top three not being dynamic enough, not scoring quickly enough and that allows the bowlers to get at them and get into some rhythm.
I think it’s a good thing that we’ve moved Ian Bell up the order, he’s scoring at nearly a run a ball. Root’s up there at four now and it puts pressure on the opposition. I think it’s a sign that Test cricket is getting faster and the games might be over sooner.
If that continues in Nottingham then anyone backing the draw could well be reliant on the weather.
Matthew Hoggard was hired from the Champions After Dinner Speakers Agency.
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