Media wrap: England’s loss in Leeds

Blog Opinion

With New Zealand winning the second Test against England at Headingley, thus leveling the series the media online and in the UK papers were understandably alarmed, what with the Ashes being played in a month.

Cricinfo's George Dobell cautioned against panic, saying it would take time for the team to settle, and that expecting miracles after one win at Lord's was folly: "They have experimented with fickle selection and it brought only failure. Now is not the time to abandon plans. Now is not the time to lose faith in talented players who have shown, in glimpses at least, that they prosper at this level.

"There are seven young or inexperienced players in this England team. Inconsistency is inevitable. They are going to require patience if they are to fulfill their potential. The ECB can't sack the coach every time they lose a game. As Paul Farbrace, the interim coach put it, 'there will be some pain on the way, but it's worth it in the long run.'"

Jonathan Liew in the Telegraph lamented England's inability to save the second Test: "Winning a Test and saving a Test are quite different skills. The 3-0 victory against India last year, the recent triumphs in Grenada and at Lord’s, demonstrated that England are becoming increasingly adept at creating winning positions and closing them out.

"But the great teams also forget how to lose. The England teams under Andrew Strauss and Michael Vaughan may have been pretty good at winning, but they had not losing down to a fine art. Whatever it took to avoid defeat – scoring 510 for one at Brisbane, playing out Muttiah Muralitharan maidens for an entire day, sending out Panesar to block out the last 11 overs – somehow they managed it."

Also in the Telegraph, former England batsman Geoff Boycott, never one to shy away from an opinion, blamed the senior players for the defeat: "I get the impression that the two senior bowlers, Broad and James Anderson, can do whatever they want. That cannot be right. The captain has to dictate tactics.

"For example, as soon as Broad gets hit for a boundary he signals he wants a slip taken out and moved to where the ball went. Our captain lets him do it even when he has bowled a bad ball and every cricketer knows you should never set fields for bad bowling."

The Guardian's Vic Marks was in agreement with Boycs, saying Ian Bell needed to regain his form, and fast: "Bell is supposed to be one of the bankers for Alastair Cook in this Ashes summer. In 2013 he held the side together against Australia, scoring 562 runs at an average of 62, with three centuries. Given the odd controversial ostracism, Bell is critical to England’s plans this summer, yet he cannot buy a run. He does not look to be in particularly bad form. It does not look a foreign game to him but he keeps getting out."

Former England all-rounder Ian Botham wrote in the Daily Mirror that England would need to buck up in all areas if they are to stand any chance in the Ashes: "They have the ability to play at a higher level than this and they will need to against the Aussies, who will come at them just as hard. They will be better for this test by New Zealand and they must come up with some better answers."

The Daily Mail's Nasser Hussain, former England captain, shared the general worry about Bell and Ballance: "It is best not to get too up after a victory and too down after a defeat, but there are clearly areas of concern for England ahead of the Ashes series, in particular the form of Gary Ballance and Ian Bell at Nos 3 and 4 respectively.

"Lyth played really well here and looks a good player but he will be starting his first Ashes Test in Cardiff next month and you don't know how he will cope when he faces Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc for the first time. And if you are following a lad who has played in just two Tests with a three and four who are horribly out of nick, as Ballance and Bell clearly are, then that is a major worry for me."

The BBC's Jonathan Agnew was also worried about the top order, but had concerns about the spin department ahead of the Ashes: "Some will call for Yorkshire leg-spinner Adil Rashid to be included and he might be able to take wickets, but would he provide the discipline that is needed?

"There is an argument that the likes of Kent's James Tredwell or Surrey's Gareth Batty might be more suited to doing a holding role in English conditions. However, whoever is in the England side will be targeted by the Australians.

"If that is set to be Moeen, then he needs to get back to Worcestershire and bowl, bowl, bowl. It is very difficult for him to learn his craft in the Test arena and is surely one of the reasons why he has been rested from the one-day squad."