THE County Championship is an easy target following England’s Ashes defeat but Phil DeFreitas believes it is the quality of the wickets in England which is the bigger issue.
Despite Alastair Cook’s heroics in Melbourne, the domestic game in England has come in for plenty of criticism in the aftermath of the series loss but for DeFreitas, who took more than 250 wickets for England between 1986 and 1996, the bigger issue is the standard of pitches over here.
And if England are to start producing quicker bowlers, and more importantly, bowlers capable of thriving without help from the conditions, it’s up to the counties to produce flatter tracks.
DeFreitas said: “One thing I would say, is that you look at results, particularly in second division cricket and sides are being bowled out cheaply. Are we preparing flat wickets that replicate Test wickets?
“In county cricket, if you’ve got a wicket that helps you and a ball that swings round a corner, you’re not really doing much are you? It’s happening for you and it’s easy.
“If you’ve got a flat wicket then you’ve got to come up with something to be able to bowl on those wickets. Rather than saying county cricket is why we’re not producing decent bowlers, maybe we should look at the wickets that we’re playing on and maybe change that.
“Try to replicate like you would a Test wicket. Something’s got to happen because if you go to Australia, it’s a tough place to play.”
Stuart Broad’s first innings performance at the MCG has cooled the talk of a change to the English attack but the lack of express pace remains a concern.
And DeFreitas, who played alongside the likes of Devon Malcolm and Darren Gough, believes a chance should have been taken on either Mark Wood or Liam Plunkett to offer a little more variety.
He added: “The only question I would ask is if we’ve got the Lions tour and the next crop coming through, have we got quick bowlers coming through? And if so, where are they?
“I was surprised that there wasn’t a Plunkett or a Wood with that extra bit of pace. You need someone who is going to bowl your late 80s, 90s. I’m not saying our bowlers are not capable of doing it but if you look at the seamers, they are all the same pace.
“They are all very similar and you need something different like a Wood where you can say to him, for four or five overs just run in. The other guys can get on with it.
“For fast bowlers, you can’t turn someone who bowls 82mph suddenly into someone who bowls 90mph. Being a fast bowler is something you do naturally. That’s my personal opinion.
“You can turn an 81/82mph into an 85mph bowler, tweaking him to get an extra couple of yards. But generally with these things, you’re lucky. These Aussie guys, they are quick bowlers and have been brought up being quick bowlers – that’s the difference.”