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Saturday, 18 August, 2001, 19:07 GMT 20:07 UK
England tactically confused
BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew writes for Sport Online
BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew believes England need a more intelligent batting approach.

This has been a Test match played at a frenetic pace.

We have become used to the Australians chasing runs quickly, but this afternoon it was England's lower order that batted as if this was a 10-over slog rather than a five-day Test.

It was difficult to fathom out England's tactics - not for the first time in this match, mind you.

In a ghastly start England lost Hussain, cruelly lbw for 46, Butcher mindlessly run out for 47 and Afzaal snapped up by Warne at first slip for 14.

Stewart and Ramprakash then batted studiously as they eased England towards their target of avoiding the follow on.

However, when Ramprakash slashed a catch to Gilchrist off the decidedly pacey Brett Lee for 40, Stewart suddenly begun to fling the bat: goodness knows what possessed him!

Darren Gough skies Glenn McGrath
Gough typified England's slogging approach

The problem with this approach was that it encouraged the tail enders - who are not nearly so talented nor brave - to do the same thing.

Caddick and Gough both teed off from square leg and although Caddick was unfortunate to receive a poor umpiring decision for 5, the innings disintegrated in no time.

If Stewart is to drop to number seven permanently, he must reconsider his approach when batting with numbers nine, 10 and 11.

It is no fun to face Glenn McGrath at any time, let alone on a pitch such as this, on which the ball either rears past your nose, or creeps past your boots from the same length.

Aggressive

Not every delivery is misbehaving, but just enough in order to unsettle the batsmen.

McGrath exploited this expertly to finish with seven for 76 and I have little doubt that England's curious approach to their innings was largely as a result of his aggressive bowling.

Alex Stewart hit a fine innings of 76
Stewart needs to reassess tactics

Gough and Caddick discovered that the uneven bounce was there for them, too, but they simply did not put enough balls in the right place.

Ponting could have been taken by Atherton off Gough when he had scored only four, but his reprieve allowed him, once again, to murder anything pitched short.

The rate at which he and his colleagues score their runs should mean that Australia will have time to dismiss England a second time.

 

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