Sportsdesk Comment: Hosts must change policy to escape Ashes defeat

Sportsdesk Comment with Andy Bloomfield
Sportsdesk Comment with Andy Bloomfield
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The war of words ahead of this summer’s Ashes has kicked into gear with Aussie all-rounder Steve Smith appearing to have written off the hosts’ chances.

He said “I can’t wait to get over there and play another Ashes against England in their conditions.

“After beating them so convincingly in Australia it’s going to be nice to go into their backyard. If we continue to play the same way we’ve played over the last 12 to 18 months, I don’t think they’ll come close to us to be honest.”

Despite the nine-wicket win in Grenada last week, I agree England are underdogs for the Ashes and will continue to be so if head coach Peter Moores and skipper Alistair Cook maintain their conservative, no risks approach to Test team selection.

The heroics of Yorkshire’s Joe Root and Gary Ballance, allied to a stunning display by James Anderson on the morning of the final day may have steered England to victory, but are merely papering over the cracks.

Surely Adil Rashid should have been given a chance in the second Test, and opener Adam Lyth’s award-winning form in 2014 has seen him join his Yorkshire teammate in the drink-carrying duties, while a number three batsman has struggled to open alongside Cook.

Jonathan Trott is not an opening batsman, there is no argument that, when full of confidence and on top form, he is a world-class number three batsman.

But to ignore the county game’s best batsman is baffling.

Messing around with the line-up and sticking Trott in as an opener is playing into the hands of the Aussies, who will be rubbing their hands at the prospects of an opening pair short on confidence.

Hopefully both Rashid and Lyth will play in the third and final Test, which starts in Bridgetown tomorrow, while paceman Liam Plunkett must also be pushing for a place ahead of Chris Jordan.

When you also consider that Jonny Bairstow is in the Caribbean as understudy to Jos Buttler, Yorkshire have done very well to make a bright start to the LV County Championship division one season.

But injuries to Aussie import Aaron Finch and Ryan Sidebottom mean that Yorkshire will gladly welcome back then likes of Rashid, Lyth & Co if England do not want them.