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2013/14 Ashes: 5 Things England Must Consider to Save the Series

Chris TealeFeatured ColumnistDecember 11, 2013

2013/14 Ashes: 5 Things England Must Consider to Save the Series

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    England are in a real battle to retain the Ashes after going 2-0 down to a rampant Australia side in Adelaide.

    If things are to change for the tourists, they will need to start thinking about some changes ahead of the third Test in Perth, and think fast.

    Here are five things for England to consider if they are to salvage anything from this Ashes series.

Find a Way to Combat Mitchell Johnson

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    The most pressing concern is that England still seem unable to deal with the threat of left-arm seam bowler Mitchell Johnson, Australia’s leading wicket-taker in the series so far.

    If the tourists are to have any hope of retaining the Ashes, they will need to find a way to cope with his threat and practice facing the kind of deliveries he will be sending in.

    Perhaps England could bring in more left-arm seamers as net bowlers or have bouncier wickets prepared for their practices.

    Either way, they have to do something about the man who has a stranglehold over their batsmen.

An Extra Batsman at No. 6

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    Ben Stokes was handed his Test debut in the Adelaide game and batted at No. 6, allowing England to play Monty Panesar as a second spinner on the notoriously flat pitch at the Adelaide Oval.

    However, if England are to get back into this series, they need to score more runs and may well consider drafting in another batsman instead of Stokes to bat at No 6.

    Their options are both very inexperienced, with Yorkshire pair Gary Ballance and Jonny Bairstow waiting in the wings for their chance.

    It is not ideal to throw inexperienced players into the cauldron at the WACA, but England need to score more runs and need more batsmen to do so.

Move Ian Bell to No. 3

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    In a similar vein to the previous slide, if England wished to re-jig their batting order, they could also move Ian Bell to No. 3 instead of Joe Root.

    Bell has consistently shown resolve against the irrepressible Mitchell Johnson and has almost single-handedly ensured their scores are not a complete embarrassment.

    If England wish to send him in earlier to give him more of a chance to score big runs, it may be advisable given the current poor form of those around him.

Drop Graeme Swann

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    England’s struggles extend to some of the bowlers, most notably off-spinner Graeme Swann whose place in the team has been questioned by some including former Australia captain Ian Chappell, per ESPNCricinfo.

    Swann averages 99.25 for his four wickets and, at times, has seen his bowling carted around by the dominant Australian batsman.

    With his economy rate also a very high 4.05 runs per over, captain Alastair Cook may want some more control from a spin bowler in the upcoming matches.

    Perhaps Swann could be replaced by Monty Panesar as England’s only spinner for the next Test, if the tourists wish to only play one spin-bowler.

Drop Matt Prior

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    It may seem like an extreme option, but wicket-keeper Matt Prior has been in such poor form that it may do him and England good to be replaced.

    He may have scored 69 last time out, but that was when the game was gone and does not mask his very poor scores in other innings.

    Take away Prior’s 69 in Adelaide, and, in fact, he has scored just four runs in three other innings during the Ashes, a poor return for such a talented batsman.

    Bairstow is the reserve keeper on tour and would be the one to come in, and it may help Prior rediscover his touch and confidence away from the pressure of the Test matches.

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