'Some of the worst batsmen ever to play Test cricket'

 

Aussie bowling great Damien Fleming has fired a massive shot at England ahead of this summer's Ashes.

England are coming off a 3-1 series win over South Africa, but a number of question marks hang over the side's batting order.

Fleming says the Poms need to sort out their top order, taking aim at newcomers Keaton Jennings, David Malan and Tom Westley.

Jennings made a centruy on debut in India and followed that with a half century in the next Test, but in four Tests against South Africa he didn't make it to 50 once.

He finished the home series against the Proteas with 127 runs at an average of less than 16.

Jennings. Image: Getty

"England needs three decent batsmen in their top six," Fleming said on RSN radio.

"Watching the South African series, they're some of the worst batsmen I’ve ever seen play Test cricket.

"Young Jennings and the debate is, 'Does he get another opportunity?' He scored 127 runs at an average of 15. I used to bat nine in Test matches and I would just be happy with that, averaging 15. Just be happy. He’s opening the batting.

"I don't like his technique, closed grip, he's going to nick people that can angle the ball across him and for bowlers that can actually get the ball to shape back in, that gap between bat and front pad (is a target). This is an opening batsman."

Flemmo in his heyday. Image: Getty

Westley and Malan both played the final two Tests of the series, Westley scoring 59 in his second Test innings and finishing with 122 runs at 30.5.

However Malan made just 35 runs in four innings at 8.75 with a top score of 18.

"Westley has a similar technique (to Jennings)," Fleming said. "He is squared up, he has hands that are a long way in front of his body with a closed grip. How does he hit the ball through the off side? He's going to nick off or get in trouble with the ball that comes in.

"Where are 80 per cent of the deliveries going to be to Jennings and Westley? Outside off stump, maybe shaping away. They don't have a technique to cope with that.

Westley. Image: Getty

"Young Malan, 35 runs at an average of eight — there's real opportunities for Australia to run through the top order."

Fellow struggler Gary Ballance was recalled for the South Africa series before breaking his thumb in the second Test.

Fleming reckons the Aussie pacemen will be licking their lips if Ballance finds his way back into the XI for the Ashes.

"How did Gary Ballance play Test cricket again after that last series two years ago there?" Fleming said.

"He goes back in the crease, he blocks half-volleys so he doesn't hurt you.

"If you're getting your half-volleys blocked you know it's only a matter of time before he nicks one or gets caught on the crease and (is trapped) LBW."

However Fleming wasn't as scathing of England's middle and lower order.

"Where I will give England a tick, their middle order all-rounders and their wicketkeeper Bairstow, they're stars. They're fantastic players," Fleming said.

"Stokes is a match-winner with bat and ball and he's a very good fieldsman as well. Bairstow's probably the best wicketkeeper batsman at the moment."


feedback