Saker ponders possible selection error


England bowling coach David Saker has admitted the selectors may have erred in not picking any of their three tall fast bowlers for the third Ashes test at the Waca.

England bowling coach David Saker has admitted the selectors may have erred in not picking any of their three tall fast bowlers for the third Ashes test at the WACA.

Chris Tremlett, Steven Finn and Boyd Rankin all made the England squad with the intention of making full use of Australia's characteristically rock hard pitches, but not one of them was picked for this week's Waca test, despite it being one of the fastest surfaces in world cricket.

The reasons for their omissions are varied. Tremlett is no longer viewed as the potent force he once was, Finn is seen as having lost confidence and Rankin was judged not yet ready for the Ashes cauldron.

Despite these appraisals, England might well have preferred to have these men bowling at Australia on Wednesday, rather than the medium-pace seam of Tim Bresnan, the man who was preferred to come into the side in place of Monty Panesar.

"We try to make sure we get selection right," said Saker. "Like everything, we make mistakes, like cricketers make mistakes. It probably is an ideal place for the taller bowlers to bowl, but we thought the best balance of the team is with Tim Bresnan in it. If we then bring another tall bowler in to have another quick, we would probably leave ourselves short somewhere else."

Saker was also disappointed with the amount of short balls delivered on Wednesday, a trap he said he'd tried to get the bowlers to avoid.

"We didn't bowl the areas we would have liked but we had a chance to put some really good pressure on and we didn't take that," he said. "To be fair we probably bowled a little too short. We drilled into the group not to do that but we probably got a bit excited but that's not good enough.

"There's no doubt we let it slip. And probably not for the first time this series. We had them on the ropes and we didn't finish the job. It's partly down to the way they played with the bat. We didn't deliver what we should have delivered today."

Saker also admitted that the sweltering heat in Perth did little to help their cause, though he refused to use it as an excuse.

"In the heat, no doubt it's tough," said Saker. "But you prepare yourself to play Test cricket all round the world and we've played in conditions like this – if not worse – before and acquitted ourselves really well.

"There's no way we can blame the weather. There are five days of cricket and this is only the first day. It's going to be hot every day. We've got the chance when we bat to keep the Australians out there for as long as we can."

Of no little concern to England will be the performances of James Anderson. Australia have chosen to adopt a cautious approach to the lynchpin seamer and wait for the less dangerous bowlers to replace him, and it's a strategy that's worked very well for them.

"Yeah he's probably been disappointing, and he'd be the first to say it's been disappointing he hasn't got wickets," said Saker. "He bowled some fantastic spells in this series and he bowled some good spells after Trent Bridge as well. We actually talked this week and he said 'I need to get some wickets'.

"But for all our bowlers it's just about doing what they do really well. Don't go searching for wickets, don't panic, just do what you do really well. Jimmy's a really skillful bowler. The ball hasn't swung as much, to be fair, as I thought it would.

"But I still think he's bowling some good spells. Today again he bowled some fantastic spells without luck. But we probably didn't do that collectively as a group. That's why the scorecard is the way he is."