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Andrew Strauss
Cricket Expert & Columnist

Ashes 2013/14: Jonathan Trott must find quick solution to short-ball problems

Jonathan Trott must re-think his shot selection against the short ball if he is to be England's rock at number three in this Ashes series, says Andrew Strauss.

Trott fell to Australian Mitchell Johnson for just nine in England's second innings, steering the paceman tamely to Nathan Lyon on another tough day for the tourists.

With two days of the Test remaining England are 24-2, needing another 537 to win after Australia declared their second innings close on 401-7. Michael Carberry is the other batsman out after playing Ryan Harris on.

But while the opener could consider himself unfortunate, Strauss said there was an uneasy inevitability about Trott's dismissal.

Frazzled

"It's a tough time for Jonathan right at the moment," said the former England skipper. "He has been such a prolific scorer for England but this is clearly a problem for him - and it's a problem he doesn't quite know how to deal with right now.

"He went for the pull shot option, which looked high-risk today; I don't think that was a good option for him.

"He's such a good player that he will find the way but the question is how quickly? At the moment you can see that his mind isn't working properly against Mitchell Johnson, in particular; he's not thinking clearly at the moment.

"In Test cricket your mind can get a bit frazzled. Jonathan has got to think about allowing himself to get hit once or twice and getting his hands down.

"If he can try and get out of the way, that will help; but as soon as he keeps his hands up or plays a pull shot, his chances of getting out goes right up.

"He's just got to settle it all down so that Australia go for another plan. If he keeps playing that shot, they'll just keep with that plan, time and time again."

Counter

Trott has struggled for runs against Australia in 2013, scoring 312 in six Tests, with a high score of 59 - figures that compare starkly to his form in the 2010/11 Ashes, when the Warwickshire batsman scored 445 runs at an average of 89.

Australian opener David Warner, who scored his first Ashes century on day three, branded Trott's second innings dismissal as "pretty poor and pretty weak" and Sky Cricket pundit Sir Ian Botham says the Englishman must come up with a run-riposte soon.

Perfect day for Warner

"The short ball has caused him problems," reflected Botham. "We saw it as the summer went on in the UK, we saw Australia bowl more and more short balls.

"Benedict [Bermange] said it was 17 per cent at Lord's and towards the series it was up to 40 per cent, so they obviously think there is something there and they've been proven right.

"The big thing now is for Jonathan Trott to counter that - and that's what he's got to do. We all know what Jonathan Trott is like. I'm sure he'll find a solution but, when?

"It needs to be sooner than later because England rely on their number three. He's been the rock, along with the captain for so long now, they need him out in the middle."

Plan

England will start day four on 24-2 with skipper Alastair Cook (11no) and Kevin Pietersen at the crease and Strauss says the pair's best chance of saving the Test is to go out and play their natural game.

"The plan is you've just got to bat, bat and bat again. Alastair Cook has done it before, so he knows he can do it. Can Kevin Pietersen bat for a long period of time in his 100th Test?

"England backs are so firmly against the wall right at the moment. It has been all Australia today, just as it was yesterday.

"It's unlikely that England are going to get anything out of this game but the way they bat tomorrow is important. They've got to show fight and they've got to make it hard for Australia."

Watch highlights of today's play on Sky Sports 2 and On Demand from 6.30pm before The Ashes Verdict (9pm) and Ashes Extra (11pm) hit your screens ahead of coverage of day four, from 11.30pm - also on Sky Sports 2.