A lot of people have written pieces on how England can level the series. Almost all of them involve a) winning the toss and batting first and b) playing Monty Panesar. I need hardly add that, for either strategy to be a success, England need to post 450 in their first innings.
England have been in defiant mood since the Brisbane anti-climax, though they would have undeniably benefited for a warm-up game between Tests. If Glenn McGrath misses out through injury, then, besides the inevitable Edgbaston comparison, England will face either fiery left-armer Mitchell Johnson or explosive tearaway Shaun Tait. A seam attack of Brett Lee, Stuart Clark and Johnson or Tait, on the relatively docile Adelaide pitch, hardly appears the stuff of nightmares.
For England, James Anderson will certainly be dropped. Despite Australia refraining from selecting Stuart MacGill, England may well play two spinners. Panesar, who offers both attacking threat and enormous control (his Test economy rate is 2.58), has the mental strength to cope with being attacked by Australia’s batsmen, and must play.
But Ashley Giles shouldn’t. Though he scored 47 runs in the first Test, he took just a solitary wicket; meanwhile, his bowling average crept above 40, which should only emphasis how lucky we appear to be to have discovered Panesar. What is the point of playing two left-arm spinners when one is as palpably unthreatening as Giles?
It may weaken the batting a touch, but I would select Sajid Mahmood, who offers a reverse-swinging threat and genuine hostility, in addition to Panesar. In doing so, England would bring in two of the four most likely match-winners they have in their squad, imperative considering they are 1-0 down and another potential match-winner, Stephen Harmison, is less GBH and more harmless.
England will be dreaming of winning the toss, batting first, reaching 300-3 after day one before topping 500. But, if they lose the toss once more, they will be happier in the knowledge they have Mahmood and Panesar in their ranks.
Tagged with: Monty Panesar, Ashley Giles, Sajid Mahmood