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Jonathan Agnew column

Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent

Kevin Pietersen celebrates victory
Pietersen now understands the value of his wicket and how important it is to score big hundreds

England's first win over Australia by an innings and more for 24 years certainly ranks among the greatest victories I have seen overseas.

Andrew Strauss's team are a fantastically drilled, very fit outfit playing at the height of their abilities.

Their fielding in Adelaide was exceptional and apart from Matt Prior's tough chance, when he dropped Mike Hussey off Graeme Swann's bowling early on the final day, they caught everything.

Jonathan Trott's superb direct hit to dismiss Simon Katich in the first over of the match set the tone for a thoroughly clinical performance.

But for me, the one individual who stood out above the others was Kevin Pietersen.

I interviewed him after he received his Man-of-the-Match award and what impressed me was his new-found approach to batting. He now understands the value of his wicket and how important it is to score big hundreds, all the things we have wanted to hear since his arrival into the England side.

Graeme Swann's return to form also illustrated just what a class act he is. After his performance in Brisbane, where he said he "bowled like a 12-year-old", he has once again shown why he has reinvigorated finger spinning.

He gives every delivery a serious tweak, but has a superb arm ball, perfectly illustrated by the sliders that dismissed Ricky Ponting and Xavier Doherty - he is a brilliant spin bowler.

England's celebrations will be tempered by the news that Stuart Broad is out of the series with a stomach strain.

Broad has made a huge contribution in this series with the ball, even though he hasn't taken a lot of wickets.

So who will England choose as his successor? I think Tim Bresnan is ahead of his rivals at the moment.

For the Perth Test, which starts on 16 December, England will want a third seamer to bowl into the wind, famously known as the 'Fremantle Doctor'.

Bresnan is more of a traditional swinger than Yorkshire team-mate Ajmal Shahzad or Chris Tremlett, which works in his favour, although the Waca is traditionally the fastest and bounciest pitch in Australia, which will suit the bowling styles of the other two seamers.

The selectors will have a chance to consider their options when England play Victoria in a three-day match in Melbourne, which begins on Friday.

Their dilemma is relatively minor compared to Australia, who are in complete disarray.

Australia captain Ricky Ponting
Ponting will face the wrath of an angry Australian media on Wednesday

With Simon Katich ruled out because of an Achilles injury, Australia are likely to turn to opener Phil Hughes, who was dumped after two Tests in last year's Ashes in England.

The 22-year-old is a high-risk player at the top of the innings and England won't to be scared of him because they have successfully devised plans to get him out.

As well as a new opener, Australia will need a new spinner and changes to their pace attack because Ricky Ponting will want fresh bowling options in Perth.

I suspect they may bring back Nathan Hauritz in place of the ineffective Xavier Doherty and drop Doug Bollinger, who was poor in Adelaide, with Ben Hilfenhaus returning to the pace attack.

Australia's chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch is under immense pressure. Its seems they have no long-term plans, judging by their depleted reserves of talent, and the Australian media want answers.

This saga will run and run. There have even been calls for the return of Shane Warne and it is all demoralising for the hosts.

Warne is not going to be playing in this series, those who want him in the team need to face up to reality.


Jonathan Agnew was talking to BBC Sport's Pranav Soneji

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see also
Justin Langer's column
07 Dec 10 |  Cricket
England complete Adelaide triumph
07 Dec 10 |  Cricket
Strauss confident of series win
07 Dec 10 |  Cricket
Injured Broad ruled out of Ashes
07 Dec 10 |  Cricket
Ponting urges Aussie improvement
07 Dec 10 |  Australia
Katich set to miss rest of series
07 Dec 10 |  Australia
Second Ashes Test in photos
07 Dec 10 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
06 Dec 10 |  Cricket
England in Australia 2010-11
08 Oct 09 |  Cricket
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket


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