Graham Thorpe defends England selection after tough opening day in Adelaide
Assistant coach Graham Thorpe brushed aside concerns over the make-up of England’s bowling attack in the second Ashes Test despite a punishing first day that saw Australia reach 221 for two in Adelaide.
Having controversially rested their only genuine 90mph bowler, Mark Wood, and dropped spinner Jack Leach following his tough time in Brisbane, the tourists laboured for minimal reward as David Warner made 95 and Marnus Labuschagne finished not out for the same score.
James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes were all part of the attack that was deemed too similar and too one-paced on England’s last tour Down Under, when they lost 4-0, but the trio were reunited for this day-night clash alongside a fourth fast-medium seamer in Ollie Robinson.
Ben Stokes rounded off the pace attack and captain Joe Root chipped in with 11 overs of off-breaks in Leach’s absence, but there was a nagging sense of familiarity about England’s inability to crack open a good batting pitch.
Thorpe was bullish when asked about the team selection, insisting: “We picked the right team for this match. They might all be right-arm bowlers but they are all slightly different style.
“Australia have won the first day. We’d have loved to have more wickets down at the end of the day but the run-rate didn’t go too far.
“We tried a couple of different things, with Ben Stokes going shorter, which unsettled them.
“I don’t think our plans were too bad throughout the day. If we’d bowled poorly, we’d have gone for more, a lot more.
“So it’s not a case of feeling sorry for ourselves when we come in again. We’ve got to roll our sleeves up and show some fight.”
England had started brightly after being sent into the field, with Jos Buttler taking a fine diving catch to remove Marcus Harris with just four runs on the board.
The wicketkeeper did not know it at the time but that was the high point of a day that was about to unravel.
First he dropped Labuschagne down the leg side while he was on just 21 and then he put down the easiest of chances when Anderson found the number three’s outside edge in the closing moments.
It was the kind of catch that sticks 99 per cent of the time and the horror moment was lapped up by 32,000 locals fans as it was replayed in slow motion on the big screen.
Buttler looked aghast, but Thorpe expects him to rally round and play his part in a badly-needed fightback.
“Jos is going to hurt, but he is going to have to get out of bed, come again and enjoy his day tomorrow because that’s what Test cricket is all about,” he said.
“Anyone who’s played this game drops a catch, it’s always disappointing. He’s a human being. It’s a bit like being a goalkeeper, being a wicketkeeper, you can keep magnificently throughout the day but if you drop a catch it gets highlighted.
“We’ll get round him and try to be philosophical about it, you have to be.”
Australia opener Warner appeared to take a gentle dig at England’s plans with the ball, suggesting that they had failed to adjust their natural length in overseas conditions and making light of Stokes’ bouncer theory.
“The length they bowled here isn’t hitting the stumps, but that length in England is. That’s the difference,” he said after a knock that saw him score one run in the first hour before cutting loose and settling in.
“That (short bowling) is a tactic they have obviously tried to put through to us, but I don’t know why they were doing that.”
Warner had been an injury doubt for the game having suffered bruised ribs from a previous Stokes barrage, but was clear that he always intended on playing.
“Unless I have no leg I am not going to not walk out on the field,” he said.
“I was in a bit of pain and agony, not able to pick up my kids. But you don’t want to miss a Test for your country, if I can get out on the park I will do everything I can to do that.
“At the end of the day I had a Test match to play and there is a series on the line so I wanted to commit to that.”
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