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Jonathan Agnew column

Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent in Perth

England's performance on day four was rather predictable given the way they played throughout the match.

It is disappointing when a team subsides quite as dramatically as that but I think they got themselves into the mindset where they knew they were going to lose. But that's no excuse for giving it away quite so lamely.

Paul Collingwood
Collingwood has only made 62 runs in four innings this series

Ryan Harris is a wholehearted sort of fellow but he ripped through them much too easily. It was a disappointing end to a very disappointing performance by England.

England are going to have to completely review their line-up - they need to think hard about the balance and make-up of the side.

Do they really, honestly think that four bowlers is the best way to go, particularly if there is grass on the pitch and Graeme Swann is going to be ineffective? I believe the answer to that is no.

One of the reasons England lost this game is because Australia got away from 69-5 to 268 all out in the first innings. We didn't have that extra person to come in and apply the killer punch.

They are expecting an enormous amount of bowling from three fast bowlers, two of whom are very inexperienced.

If they do bring in an extra bowler, the obvious thing is that Paul Collingwood would have to make way for Tim Bresnan.

Collingwood's batting is all over the shop. He has taken great catches, but he's not making any runs.

England have been so doggedly determined about four bowlers that I know they will be reluctant to change their policy.

I'm not calling for wholesale changes because I still believe England are the better side. But an extra bowler would keep up the pressure on Australia's batting, which is extremely frail.


Indeed, it is Australia who still have all the problems in terms of form.

Ricky Ponting's finger injury will be a distraction and he won't be able to practise just when he needs to rediscover his touch.

Should they continue with Steve Smith at six? Mitchell Johnson remains a mercurial player - can he get it right in two consecutive matches? And they still haven't got a spinner.

The real question is how much confidence has been given to Australia from their Perth victory and how much has been taken away from England? Do England still believe they are the better side or are Australia now the more confident side?

It is difficult to know what to expect in Melbourne for the Boxing Day Test because it is a drop-in pitch and they are notoriously unpredictable.

They usually have a bit of damp about them and the one England played on was horribly flat - it might have been made in Karachi. The weather is unpredictable - and until we get there and look at the forecast, the machinations are hard to know.

It all bodes for an absolutely fantastic spectacle in Melbourne. There is probably going to be the biggest crowd ever to see a day of Test cricket on Boxing Day - 90,000 or so.

It's going to be massive and Australia still have to win one of these next two games if they are going to win the Ashes.

England have taken a knock but they have to get themselves back on the horse and prove what a good side they still are.

Jonathan Agnew was speaking to BBC Sport's Sam Sheringham.

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see also
England crash to heavy Ashes loss
19 Dec 10 |  England
Strauss will not rule out changes
19 Dec 10 |  England
Injured Ponting targets MCG clash
19 Dec 10 |  England
Third Ashes Test in photos
19 Dec 10 |  England
Sunday's Ashes gossip column
19 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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