Ashes 2013-14: Four talking points as Australia win second Test

Ashes 2013-14: Four talking points as Australia win the second Test by 218 runs in Adelaide as England continue to struggle

By Jonny Green

England undone by short ball again

To save the test, England needed to bat out the whole day or hope the weather would save them. In the end, the tourists could only last 70 balls as they failed to cope with the pace and bounce offered by the Australian bowlers. Stuart Broad and Matt Prior were both caught on the boundary hooking, the same way that Alastair Cook and Michael Carberry had been dismissed on day four. The tourists have now been ousted 21 times to leg-side catches in the series, with eight of those being caught on the boundary. Furthermore, all ten wickets in the second innings fell to deliveries which would not have hit the stumps. With the batsmen struggling at Adelaide, which has one of the slower pitches on the tour, it raises serious concerns ahead of the third Test starting on Friday with Perth’s WACA ground having one of the fastest pitches in the world.

Prior regains some form

Prior finally found some sort of form with the bat as he scored his first half-century in 17 innings. After being named England’s player of the year for 2012-13 following seven half-centuries and his match-saving 110 not out against New Zealand in March, the wicket-keeper had undergone a barren spell with the bat. Before Monday’s score of 69, Prior had scored just 180 runs in the 16 innings since that knock in Auckland and only four runs in his last three innings. England will be hoping he can push on from here and restore some solidity to the middle order.

Stokes and Johnson avoid punishment

Ben Stokes and Mitchell Johnson are free to play in the third Test after misconduct charges against them were dropped by the International Cricket Council (ICC). The two collided on Sunday as Stokes ran a single off Johnson’s bowling and in the aftermath they had to be separated by umpire Kumar Dharmasena. They were charged with “inappropriate and deliberate conduct” which, being a Level Two offence, could have resulted in a punishment ranging from a fine of 50 per cent of the players’ match fee to a one-Test ban. Both players pleaded not guilty and match referee Jeff Crowe dismissed the charges but gave the players a warning about their future conduct.

Changes for Perth

There will no doubt be some changes by England ahead of the third Test. Tim Bresnan will almost certainly come into the side after recovering from the stress fracture in his lower back, replacing one of the spinners. Graeme Swann could find his position under threat, with Monty Panesar having looked the more threatening spinner in Adelaide. However, given the pace of the WACA pitch, England may opt to go with four front-line seam bowlers and use the part-time spin of Kevin Pietersen and Joe Root. This could see Steve Finn come into the side or perhaps see a surprise call up for Tymal Mills from the performance squad. Mills made headlines in the build-up to this series by striking Cook on the arm in the nets which led to heavy bruising and the England captain regards Mills as one of the fastest bowlers in England. Batting wise, Gary Ballance will again be knocking on the door for selection while Australian-born Sam Robson scored a century for the Performance squad in Brisbane at the end of last month and may come into consideration. However, the England selectors may give their current batsmen another chance to show their worth in what is now a must win game after there were some signs of improvement as England finally scored over 300 in the series.

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