PREVIEW: Paul Allott on the Fourth Ashes Test
Lancashire’s Director of Cricket Paul Allott is hoping to see lessons learnt from England’s Ashes defeat, chiefly that you need “somebody with that X Factor” with the ball.
Allott has been disappointed by England’s failure to keep pace with an on song Australian side, also highlighting their lack of ruthlessness with the bat.
They are 3-0 down heading into Tuesday’s Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, the fourth of five in the series.
“What’s in the rest of the series for them? They've got to try and save a bit of face,” said Allott, a seamer who played 13 Tests for England between 1981 and 1985.
“They’ve got to prove they're not down and out and go and win a Test Match, preferably two.
“It will be difficult. They need a performance from their batsmen as well.
“It’s no good getting 400 in modern day cricket. It’s proved time and time again that you can lose games with that total on the board.
“We’ve not been ruthless enough. We should have got 550 in the first innings at Perth.
“They’ve done ok at times, but that’s not good enough.
“It’s been very disappointing.
“At the outset, I thought we might scramble a draw. That was based more on their deficiencies than our strengths because I wondered whether their bowlers were going to stay upright.
“But it’s quite obvious that Starc, Cummins and Hazlewood have outperformed our seam bowlers.
“(Josh) Hazlewood is a class act. He’s put on a bit of pace over the last few years. We’re only talking two, three or four miles an hour - half a yard - but it makes a bit difference.
“Jimmy has bowled well when conditions have suited. He’s kept going, and I wouldn't have expected anything else from him. But he can’t carry an attack.
“We’re basically a four-pronged seam attack where everybody bowls the same pace.
“Unless conditions help, you aren't going to win in international cricket with that.
“Moeen Ali has been a disappointment. He’s not spinning the ball.
“I don’t know how much his side injury has impacted. It obviously hampered his preparation, and then he’s had this finger problem.
“He’s just been outclassed by Nathan Lyon.”
There has been questions raised over the last few days about how long England’s senior players will be around, mainly out-of-form duo Stuart Broad and Alastair Cook.
Surprisingly, Jimmy Anderson has also been mentioned in the regard by some writers and pundits.
“You always get these questions in such scenarios,” continued Allott.
“These guys have played 100 or 150 Tests. How long do they carry on?
“Bowling, especially, is hard work.
“Broad has taken a lot of wickets. Nearly 400. You don't do that without being a good bowler, but he does tend to blow hot and cold more than most. He has hot streaks and will then slide down the scale.
“Jimmy has been more consistent, although his record away isn't as good as at home. But that stands to reason.
“He took wickets in Adelaide when it hooped around and has plugged away around that.
“Let’s not worry about him too much.
“I was actually amazed when Liam Plunkett was not called upon.
“Mark Wood is obviously not fit otherwise he would have played.
“You can afford, in an attack like ours, to have a gamble. You need something different - a bit of extra pace or somebody who bowls something different out the back of the hand or a wrist spinner.
“We haven't really got too many.
“We’ve taken Mason Crane, but it looks like being a bit too early for him at the moment.
“But the policy and plan of trying to bat for as long as you can and trying to wear the Australian bowlers down and then boring them to death by bowling dry as they call it, it’s a pretty flawed tactic.
“If that’s the best you can do when you’re going to Australia…It worked five years ago, but that Australian side was nowhere near as good as this one.
“You’re not talking about a quick coming in and bowling 25 overs a day. You just want 15 overs of quick stuff.
“Whether Plunkett wasn't fit, that’s another question. But I understand that he was.
“I’m clutching at straws really because who are our quick bowlers?
“There was a piece in the Daily Mail yesterday highlighting names such as Tom Helm, Olly Stone, Josh Tongue, Saqib Mahmood with us.
“But these guys have only played a handful of games.
“People will look back at Bob Willis in 1971 when he’d only played a handful of games, but how often does that happen?
“This series has been a heads up for English cricket that when you play overseas on unresponsive pitches, you need somebody with that X Factor. Either extra pace or spin. It can be orthodox spin, but you have to spin it.
“We don't produce enough of that type of cricketer."
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