Give them a battering
Bob Willis explains why England should not have declared on the final day of the drawn Brisbane Test.
Last Updated: 29/11/10 9:07am
Roll on Adelaide.
England have the psychological edge ahead of this week's second Test after producing a phenomenal effort with the bat to save this game.
After all the build-up the players will be relieved to have this game under their belt and while England shouldn't get too cocky yet, Australia have all of the problems.
Only two of their bowlers - Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus - are firing while Mitchell Johnson and Xavier Doherty look well-below Test standard at the moment.
To focus on those deficiencies would be to detract from England's batting effort though - after all, it's not often we see them 500-odd for one!
Alastair Cook, Andrew Strauss and Jonathan Trott deserve every credit for getting stuck in and the runs they've scored will give them a lot of confidence for the remainder of the series.
Cook has tinkered with his technique in the last year and now has essentially gone back to the method he used at the start of his career. It is certainly paying dividends.
Last summer he was Graham Gooch-like, looking at the bat behind him to make sure he was picking it up straight but that's no longer the case and his balance at the crease looks much better.
He was helped by the inability of the Australian bowlers to get the ball in the right areas, particularly on day four when they kept on pitching the ball short because Cook feeds off that.
Like many batsmen there's only one place to bowl at him - and that's about nine inches outside off stump; that's where he has all of his problems but Australia weren't good enough to bowl consistently in that corridor.
Cook and Trott are similar in the regard that they look unflappable at the crease - both are mentally tough even when runs are hard to come by.
Trott was particularly scratchy in the first innings but second time around he was supremely confident and didn't look in any bother at all.
With two hundreds in two Ashes Tests in a row, I suspect he'd quite fancy playing Australia all of the time.
England must now find a way to score over 400 in their first innings - something they fail to achieve far too often - so that they can build a much more solid platform from which to win the game.
Andrew Strauss' declaration was perfectly understandable but I would have batted through the day, hoped to have won the toss in Adelaide and then got Australia back in the field again straight away.
That would have really rubbed Australia's noses in it plus - had England lost any more wickets (which looked unlikely) - Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood would have benefitted from another hour or so in the middle.
In contrast, I didn't feel that the seamers needed another run out although, admittedly, Graeme Swann did need the chance to get more overs under his belt.
As it was, Ricky Ponting got the chance to demonstrate what great nick he is in and it underlined that both sides - not just Australia - have to try to come up with a formula to get 20 wickets.
In truth, the pitch was the winner in the end and the next one will be pretty similar so there is plenty more hard work for the bowlers to do.
In the curator's defence he had to deal with plenty of poor weather in the lead up to the Test, but still it is disappointing to see Australian pitches gone the same way as most pitches around the world - that is, becoming flat batting paradises.
The thought remains that both these sides need a fifth bowler because both went for long periods of time without taking a wicket; the bowlers will be on their knees come Christmas if the pitches continue in this vein.