Marcus North column

Forget the urn if Mitch keeps form

Australia bounced back exactly as I said they would in this column but I won’t be joining my countrymen in writing England off just yet.

England showed what they could do in Cardiff but Australia have been playing brilliant cricket for two years now and were always going to come back hard.

They were far from complacent in the first Test, England just played better and perhaps made a mistake by prodding them so hard in the opener to make them angry!

I’ve loved the way captain Michael Clarke has spoken after each game. In the first Test he wasn’t happy but didn’t get carried away and after Lord’s he said it was just the start – I know how desperate he is to play in a winning side over here before he retires.

No Australian team has won here since 2001 and this is the best squad since the 2005 party – it showed with the way Peter Nevill and Mitchell Marsh came in and performed so well.

The innings of Chris Rogers and Steve Smith set the game up at Lord’s but what really impressed me was the way Mitchell Johnson bowled.

I saw good signs at Cardiff but he stepped up at Lord’s and was all over the England batsman.

His control never gave the English batsmen a chance and that will please him every bit as much as his wickets.

To take 6-80 from 30 overs on that pitch was some effort and I’m sure it will give the batsmen a few fears going forward to Edgbaston. If Mitchell bowls like that in the rest of the series there’s no chance of England regaining the urn.

Despite the manner of the victory I’d still make a change heading to Birmingham and bring Brad Haddin back in for Nevill. Peter did absolutely nothing wrong at Lord’s but he’s here as back-up to Brad and if Brad is in a better place, which he must to be playing at Derbyshire in the tour match, then he plays for me.

Peter showed that he’s the successor in waiting like Brad showed when deputising for Adam Gilchrist and he will have a fine international career when Brad hangs up the gloves for good.

And I hope Rogers recovers in time to take his place at the top of the order. It was a worrying sight to see him go off at Lord’s but he still has time to come back for Birmingham.

After the tragic passing of Phil Hughes last winter there will be absolutely no risks taken but from what I’m hearing he’s making good progress so far.

Even if he isn’t it’s not disastrous news as Shaun Marsh, who played when Chris was concussed in the Caribbean recently, is a wonderful player with plenty of top level experience.


Gary had to go but he’ll be back

JUDGING by some of the reaction to England’s defeat you’d think they were 4-0 down in the series not level at 1-1 – you guys love to build people up then knock them down!

By making just one change England have done the right thing and I’d have done exactly the same.

Gary Ballance is a fine player with a brilliant Test record so far but at the moment he has serious technical and confidence issues that shouldn’t be exposed at the top level.

He will be back – the likes of Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Steve Smith – have all come back after being dropped and he will do the same but Jonny Bairstow has battered the door down for inclusion. I hope he goes well as he’s always impressed.

And it could work well for the team with Ian Bell at three – going up the order will give him extra responsibility that could take his game back to its best. It also splits up the left-handers at the top of the order that Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood thrive bowling at.

Adam Lyth has also come under the microscope for his failings outside off-stump but he deserves time to work Test cricket out because of his sheer weight of runs in county cricket.

He’s been asked to learn at this level against New Zealand and then Australia – he should really have been given the three Tests in the Caribbean to bed in.


This piece originally featured in The Cricket Paper on Friday July 24, 2015

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