England get it badly wrong

A fantastic day for Australia but England got their selection horribly wrong for this Headingley Test and it is a very long way back for them already.

I wouldn’t put it as strongly as saying they have lost their chance of regaining the Ashes, but it does seem as if this particular match has gone.

Australia bowled well in that incredible first session but there were some pretty indifferent cricket shots played by a succession of England batsmen.

Of all the wickets to fall in the top order I would absolve only Paul Collingwood and Ian Bell from blame. Collingwood copped a good one and Ian Bell had a short one from Mitchell Johnson which got big on him.

After the decision on Andrew Flintoff was made, I think England should definitely have played Jonathan Trott at six, with Matt Prior dropping down to seven.

Stuart Broad is very good young player but batting him at seven is too big an ask for him at this stage of his career. He found himself coming in not long before lunch and he didn’t even make it through to the interval.

Ironically, Broad was the pick of the England bowlers later in the day, but by then the game was flying away from England as Ricky Ponting and Shane Watson went for their strokes. In fact, I would have left Broad out of the starting line-up.

Australia’s bowlers were all good, with Stuart Clark getting things going on his return to the team. He picked up wickets with the fuller ball and I have been harping on all series about the need for Australia’s quicker bowlers to bowl a line and length.

Ben Hilfenhaus set the tone in a good new ball spell, and perhaps should have had a wicket with the very first ball of the match. Peter Siddle then cleaned up to finish with five wickets, and he was aggressive and fast and justified his retention in the team.

But where the Australia selectors got it right, England got it wrong and the only faint hope they have is that they possess the only specialist spinner in the game in Graeme Swann and I think this pitch will definitely turn. Australia, technically, have to bat last on it – but, of course, after the events of day one it might not get that far.

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