'Don't know why': Australia baffled by bizarre England tactic

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·Sports Reporter
·5-min read
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  • David Warner
    David Warner
    Australian cricketer
  • Pat Cummins
    Pat Cummins
    Australian cricketer
  • Marnus Labuschagne
    South African-born Australian cricketer
  • Stuart Broad
    English cricketer (born 1986)
  • Jos Buttler
    Jos Buttler
    English cricketer
Australia's David Warner said he found England's bowling tactics on day one somewhat confusing as he batted his way to an innings of 95. (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)
Australia's David Warner said he found England's bowling tactics on day one somewhat confusing as he batted his way to an innings of 95. (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)

Australia's Test players, both former and current, were left baffled by England's bowling tactics on the first day of the second Ashes Test in Adelaide.

The home side finished the day in a strong position at 2/221 at stumps, with Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith at the crease.

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It was only thanks to an extraordinary bit of wicketkeeping from England gloveman Jos Buttler and and errant shot in the nervous 90s from David Warner that the visitors were able to make a breakthrough at all.

Save for a strong early spell from recalled veteran fast bowling duo Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson, cricket experts were largely left perplexed by the visitors' strategy on an Adelaide Oval wicket which seemed to offer a bit for the bowlers on day one.

Sustained periods of short-pitched bowling from the likes of Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes featured more heavily as the day wore on.

Speaking after stumps, Warner admitted the tactic left the Australian camp puzzled, as it was difficult to discern exactly what the visitors were trying to achieve - particularly as the first innings score began to slowly tick upwards.

"I don't know why they were doing that," Warner said.

"I batted out of my crease and Marnus did too, to be able to adapt to leave the ball on a good length.

"We backed ourselves the ball would go over the stumps.

"That (short bowling) is a tactic they have obviously tried to put through to us. I don't know why they were doing that ... it worked into our plan a bit."

Former Australian captain Mark Taylor was much more blunt in his assessment of England's tactics on Triple M, emphatically declaring 'they stink'.

But England's assistant coach Graham Thorpe suggested it was the rub of the baggy green, rather than poor tactics, which cost the tourists.

"It unsettled, it gives you an option and a way of attacking," Thorpe said of the short barrages.

"I don't think you can attack like that all the time due to what it physically takes out of your bowlers.

"We stuck at it well. But we didn't quite get the rub today.

"Labuschagne played and missed on probably a dozen occasions out there and on another day if he gets one on the edge...

"And a couple of (dropped) chances for us have led to day one being a tough day for us. But we're not out of it."

England left to rue missed chances as Australia in commanding Ashes position

The catching chances went to wicketkeeper Jos Buttler who twice turfed regulation edges from Labuschagne, when the Australian was on 21 and 95.

The basic blunders were all the more stark given Buttler reeled in a spectacular diving one-hander to dismiss Marcus Harris.

"Everyone ... who has played this game drops a catch, is always disappointed," Thorpe said.

"But he's a human being. And it's a bit like being a goalkeeper, a wicketkeeper - you can keep magnificently throughout the day but if you drop a catch, it gets highlighted.

"But we will get around him and try to be philosophical about it as well because I think you have to be. At the end of the day we're playing a game of cricket." 

Former English captain Mike Atherton said what began as an optimistic day for the visitors, thanks to the news of Pat Cummins being ruled out and the early wicket of Marcus Harris, was soon replaced the a harsh reality.

Australian captain Pat Cummins was ruled out of the second Ashes Test in Adelaide.
After losing the toss and being sent into the field, England are yet to capitalise on the absence of Australian captain Pat Cummins. (Photo by PATRICK HAMILTON/AFP /AFP via Getty Images)

The Australian top order had dug in and their game plan simply wasn't working, nor was it taking advantage of the unique condistions presented by the day-night conditions at the Adelaide Oval.

“Although David Warner struggled, he only scored a single in the first hour, it wasn’t easy going, you could see that the pitch was quite flat, there wasn’t any sideways movement and England picked a five-man seam attack that all looked fairly same-y, in a way reminiscent of what they did in 2017 when they said ‘we’re not going to go down that path again’,” Atherton said.

“Their tactics were barren and stale in the afternoon, reduced to just whacking it in halfway down, loads of men on the leg side and they were on their knees when David Warner gave them their second wicket. 

"They should have had a third, Jos Buttler put down a terrible catch and put down two fairly straightforward on, both to Labuschagne.”

With AAP

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